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Thursday, 18 May 2017

How NOT to road trip with kids

Summer's coming. And that can only mean one thing: traipsing across the country to visit friends or family, attending weddings, making memories at the seaside, or risking your precious sanity at a theme park (all hail those who've battled Peppa Pig World and survived).

There was a time, not that long ago, when travelling to my parents' house meant three and a half hours of napping, snacking and intentionally avoiding any kind of strenuous mental exercise, save for the gratuitous 'what's your beach style?' quiz in whatever magazine I'd settled on from WHSmith. This was, of course, back in the days when I could book a ticket for one on Virgin Trains and request a table seat just for the hell of it, rather than because I needed the space for Paw Patrol colouring books and a hoard of Cadbury chocolate buttons.

Those were the days... the pre-kids days.

Now I have to make the journey in the car. Funnily enough, it still takes three and half physical hours (excluding breaks) but on a bad day can feel like an absolute age (yes, it's a breakdown truck, NOW GET A SODDING MOVE ON).

And having been blessed with my sanity-testing little urchins for a number of years now (love you both really, promise), I thought I'd impart my limited wisdom in these matters. Hopefully it serves to provide some useful tips, should you be considering such a journey yourselves.

Here are my top tips on what NOT to do on a road trip with kids:

1. Not bring snacks or drinks. 

This is my absolute rule number one. Second to the tablet, snacks are the guaranteed best way to placate/bribe/distract your child if they're firmly of the mindset that not being in the car seat is 100% better than being in it.

And they don't have to be unhealthy snacks - include some fruit (if they'll eat it) or raisins. Just don't let them catch sight of the Galaxy Caramel bar you'd sneaked in for yourself.

I also recommend popping a strong, coffee in an insulated cup just before you leave. Never underestimate the power of caffeine-fuelled optimism. It does wonders for willpower.

2. Consume all snacks and drinks within the first half hour of the journey. 

This is a mistake you only make once due to its many and varied inevitable consequences.

3. Forget to bring that gizmo that allows you to hang a tablet on the back of the front seat 

Because who doesn't bring a tablet on a road trip with kids? That's one mechanical babysitter right there. Until the film finishes anyway - then you're on your own.

4. Allow your three year old use of felt tip pens whilst on the motorway, when you can't confiscate them

Amateur mistake. AMATEUR.

5. Forget that your one year old's arms are long enough to be passed said pens by his brother, so that he can proceed to chew them and consequently end up looking the colour of a smurf


6. Forget to bring tissues and/or wipes 

How else am I going to clean my BLUE child? 

Also: "Mummy, there's something up my nose". I was close to 100% sure it was a bogey and that the exploratory finger was only going to make the situation, and the snot content of my upholstery, worse.

7. Forget to bring the travel potty

Remember, you're not allowed to stop on the hard shoulder for a toddler tinkle, but at least you'll have a back-up if Little Precious refuses to use the 'big toilets' at the services.

8. Not consider the potential for travel-sickness

Touch wood, my two seem OK, but I really suffered with this as a child (and sometimes still do). Just make sure the chosen bag doesn't have air-holes in the bottom of it.

9. Pack the changing bag a metre deep under the buggy, cases, food, toys and pillows in the boot of the car

You really don't want to be unloading all of your possessions onto the tarmac of Watford Gap car park for everyone and their granny to see. Think ahead.

10. Don't stop for a break

Be kind to yourself. If you think 'I'll just keep going and get it over and done with', please think again. Even without kids in the car, you need to give your bum cheek nerve endings a chance to wake up. And a walk and a breath of fresh air will help provide the energy to survive the next sixty miles of "Are we there yet?"

Good luck.


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  1. Oh my goodness! Yes to all of this!! I have to say we have definitely done number 3! #SharingtheBlogLove

  2. Ohhh the number of times we've arrived at our destination, to discover our toddler is now every colour of the rainbow! Haha. I always think, "it's a nice quiet activity that will keep them entertained" and then chunter when we arrive and remember all the washing and scrubbing that we have to do to make the presentable again! Haha #sharingthebloglove

  3. Aargh we have one hell of a road trip to North wales this summer and I'm basically planning my whole potty training adventure around it! Note to self: buy portable DVD players!
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

  4. Road trips and small children, the thing of nightmares. We definitely have to hold off on the snacks as long as possible, they're great for bribery. Thankfully we've never thought of taking pens in the car, now if the thought ever does come up I will know to ignore it!

  5. We've been lucky so far that my girls have both been brilliant on long car journeys. The longest we've done is 4 hours. We use a lap tray and they colour and do stickers. Snacks are definitely a big win for us. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  6. haha all too true. snacks are great for distraction if the little man says he needs a wee. we did a two hour drive yesterday and had to stop 4 times to pee. twice I had to come off the motorway and find the nearest safe place to stop. kids ey! #KCACOLS

  7. All very, VERY true. My little one is hardly interested in eating a good majority of the time. As soon as that seatbelt goes click though it's " I want a snack" Until they are all demolished.

    Thanks for linking up. Happy travelling.

  8. Hahaha yep we have done all of these lol #kcacols

  9. Completely relate to all of this! No snacks though is just a big no-no! #KCACOLS

  10. That made me chuckle! We always bring the iPad and the gizmo to attach it to the seat in front! Sanity would be gone without that! #KCACOLS

  11. This has just reminded me that we REALLY need to invest in a travel potty! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

  12. Absolutely yes to all of these, which I have pretty much done at one point or another! #blogstravaganza

  13. Oh good golly, I could only imagine a what happened with the felt tip pens! #Blogstravaganza

  14. I will have to keep these in mind for the future! No kids to entertain right not but I remember road tripping as a child!! It's most definitely why I hate driving anywhere these day!!

  15. Ha, Great post! I need to start planning a road trip ASAP

  16. Popping back from #Blogstravaganza! Xx

  17. Great ideas! Last year, we had a 15 hour drive. Having treat bags to open at certain intervals helped. Some of the treats were snacks and some were things like silly string to have a silly string fight while we gassed up.

  18. Found myself nodding along to these, especially the travel potty. You can almost guarantee that it will be needed ten minutes into the journey...!

  19. These are great tips. Mine have been used to long car trips ever since they were babies as my stepson lives 4 hours away and we have always made trips up to see him. We bought DVD players for the back of the car and it was the best money we ever spent!

  20. hahahaha! this brings back so many road tripping memories with my toddlers. It was a 'fun' time. I can honestly say I'm really glad they have grown out of most of the annoying bits.