Remember back to one of your favourite childhood memories, chances are it involved travelling…. A long distance… in a car or plane!!! For children travelling a long distance in a car or plane for them usually means a grand adventure with lots of things to see and do.
Once you become a parent, these long car rides with young children take lots of planning. It at times can be a challenge, however the more prep work you do before you set of on your adventure the more treasured experience you will all have.
Planning Your Trip
At least a week before your due to embark on your adventure, write a list of what you need to take with you and start collecting these items ready for packing. Ensure that you give yourself plenty of time to pack, do the chores and organise the pets so that you are not having to rush around last minute. This will also give you time to source items from the shop if you need too.
Use google maps or similar to check out the route beforehand for parks, tourist attractions, playground, petrol stations and other potential stopping points along the way. It is unrealistic to expect a young child to sit for 2 – 3 hour at time, so plan your stops along the way. Allow for extra time for these stops so that you don’t become rushed when stopping. Planning the stops also allows you to be able to answer your child with exactly when you going to stop next and how long until you reach your destination.
The day before your due to leave, charge your phone, the electronics and any toys that may require charging. Pack the car strategically with the items that you need to access during the road trip being packed into the car last. Last but not least stock up with food and drinks for along the way.
Food and Drink
The best in car snacks are those that won’t be accidentally spilled, that don’t make a huge mess and that are easily eaten along the way. Rice crackers, fruit, muesli bars and sandwiches are some great ideas. For really young children one of those non-spill snack containers filled with their favourite treats are a must. Keep in mind that you have a long trip ahead so too many ‘sugary’ snacks/drinks might make the trip even longer… if you know what I mean. Another must for your travels is having plenty of water on hand to drink, preferably in non-spill bottles or cups to prevent any spillages.
When planning your long car rides with young children with food stops along the way, ensure that they are child friendly. Children will want to burn some energy so if stopping at a restaurant choose one with a play area or maybe plan to have a meal in the playground or park. Make each time you stop a pleasant experience that is not rushed, allow children time to prepare themselves for the next leg of your adventure.
As we all know children are designed to be active, not to sit in a care for long periods of time. So, to cure their boredom we need to plan well in advance for this. While electronics and in car DVD players are certainly a great option, the use of these on a long trip should be restricted to short periods at a time. This will help to prevent carsickness, nausea or headaches and will also encourage them to check out their surroundings.
For young children books, a new toy (something that doesn’t have small parts that can be dropped on – causing frustration) or a doodling board are some great options. For older children magnetic travel board games, their own music player or a diary for writing in with offer some amusement for a length of time.
Some other ideas are your classic games of “I spy” or “Spotto” or why not plan ahead and print out a “Scavenger Hunt Game” (see example Below) – where children get a point for items on the list that they spy along the way. These games are a great way for them to see things along the way, they may however bring out some healthy competition between your children.
Some other things to consider when planning your trip:
- Pack a bag in the car that easily accessible with items such as hat, sunscreen, bathers, towels, wet wipes, change of clothing, jumpers, a ball and a frisbee. This will mean your fully prepared for any outdoor opportunity that may arise along the way.
- If you have a really young child – plan your trip around their sleep times. Feed and change your child, then place them in the car when they would normally nap.
- If your child is toilet training – pack a potty or bucket for them to be able to use along the way. This will ease the need for urgent stops and prevent them from getting upset if they have an accident.
- If you have tried to keep your child entertained but they are still not happy, why not sit in the back with them. Read them a book, play a game or just cuddle up and talk about what they can see outside.
- Pillows are a great option to have in the car with your child, they may encourage a nap along the way, or they can be used as a barrier between themselves and the ‘annoying’ sibling next them!!
Travelling with the children is the best way to create memories and for them to learn new things. Planning ahead, having discussions with your children and by getting a good night’s sleep before the travel you are guaranteed to maximise the amount of fun and learning you have. Each time you travel you will find new and better ways to make it work for your family. So, pack your bags, grab your keys and go make some amazing memories… don’t forget to take some snaps along the way!!