10 Tips for a Long Car Journey with Kids

Tips for long car journeys

There is nothing worse than something happening on a long car journey that delays you and means you get stuck somewhere for hours on end. Even worse what if you were stuck with children, no food or anything to drink and nothing to entertain them. Ok most people plan for long car journeys but sometimes when you think its not that long like an hour then if you get stuck that could turn the journey into several hours. It could turn into a nightmare.

A couple of weeks ago the youngest two children were having a sleepover at Nanny’s house, they live an hour away. So my wonderful husband said he would go and get the kids and I said I would clean the house while he went. I hate cleaning but the chance to have the house to myself (even if it was to clean) is heaven to me because usually they are behind me making more mess as I clean. Plus it also meant my choice of music for how ever long and however loud I wanted it. Having both of us working from home means we never really get the house to ourselves much, I was really getting loads done when I got a phone call from my husband, he was still on the way to collect the children and hadn’t arrived yet but he had a problem. There was something on the motorway that had hit the tyres and one of them burst, he got himself off the motorway and managed to park safely. Now our car is a Mazda 3 and doesn’t hold a spare tyre in the boot like most other cars. There is a can of that foam filler, he tried to use this but it didn’t work. I think driving on the burst tyre was the reason for this but I guess it was worth a shot if it meant he could finish his journey without anymore hassle.

Most of the time we never think about these things happening before the event and so when it happens we are totally unprepared. He called me again to ask me where the instruction manual for the car was. My response was to think it was in the car, how silly of me, that would be the last place we should look. The instruction manual for the car was in my husbands wardrobe, of course!  So I then had endless phone calls from my husband to discuss how he gets out of the situation with the least amount of hassle and money. Wait a minute I have the house to myself and I’m loving it, this wasn’t meant to happen. I should be dancing around like a loony with a duster.

So he couldn’t get 3 or 4g from where he was and I had to try and help to get him back on his journey. Had we been prepared for this we would know that as the car is on lease meaning he could be towed to his destination for free, the key fob with the number on was cleverly placed in the folder with the manual, not on his keys. My husband is impatient and couldn’t get through so eventually we got things moving and were able to get towed to a local tyre fitting company. In case, you have a spare tyre, Point S explain the process of changing tyres on their website.

With all this in mind for the future I have put together some tips to be prepared for this type of situation. If something like this ever happens to me it will be when I am on my own with all 4 kids, they will all be hungry, thirsty, need the toilet and be annoying the hell out of each other. But the difference here is that the key fob is going on my keys so I will know what to do without panicking. Here’s my list and at the bottom you can grab the free printable “Road Trip Scavenger Hunt” game.

10 Tips for a Long Car Journey with Kids

  • Plan ahead – Make sure you have phone numbers for any cover that you have. Some insurance companies cover breakdowns or you may have cover with another recovery company. If not it might be an idea to have a list of nationwide companies that will cover the area you are in or travelling to.
  • Take drinks and snacks. In the event that you do get stranded for several hours and you have children with you, this could cut down the amount of time your kids are whining for food and drink, they always wait until a time when there is nothing at hand to be so starving hungry. I’m talking famine, it will be so dramatic and draining when you are stressing about getting the hell out of the sodding hard shoulder.
  • Take entertainment – Yes take the devices and the chargers that we all think are so bad because there is too much technology in kids lives. At this moment of despair you will be pleased you gave in. Head phones! or you could have several devices blaring out all at once. Take anything else that will keep their minds busy and that you can fit in the car – no not the kitchen sink you can’t make them do the dishes in the car. Magazines, stickers, colouring, magnetic games. Ok your car may get covered in stickers if you have a toddler but stickers are better than bogeys… trust me on this one!
  • If you are one of those super organised mums you will already have one of those hanging organisers in your car which will be loaded with all the essentials you will need in the event of a national disaster but if not, like me. Then maybe you should do this, I have seen them on Pinterest, they are like the things that hang on doors that you can use as shoe storage, the same as the ones you get at soft play. My husband would be less than pleased if I turned his car into an over sized handbag because the truth is in our family if we had this, nothing would be put back in its specified pocket, it would be strewn all over the car. Leaving my husband stressed and doing his best impression of a grumpy old git who moans about any mess in the car.
  • Be prepared for the weather in case you have to stand outside the car, they say it’s safer to do this than sitting in your car. I get the reason for this but try this with toddlers and a 5 year old with adhd, then tell me its safer.  Say it’s dark and it’s raining and you have small kids, what would you really do? I think I would stay in the car with the hazard lights firmly on and if I had one of those reflective triangles I would put that behind the car to warn other drivers.
  • Pack pull ups if you have a child who is potty training, this will save any leaks.
  • Let your child pack their own bag for the journey – This will result in a bag full of plastic tat that has absolutely no use on a car journey but at least they will be happy rummaging around and making a complete mess of the foot wells in the back.  They drop each piece of tat one by one, it then rolls under the seat in front where it will stay for several months until your husband has gone so deeply into grumpy old git mode every time he gets in the car that you end up bagging the lot up and dumping it in the hallway.  It then stays there until a child decides it should be emptied and strewn all over the hallway at the dogs delight like a child at a pick n mix stand choosing which item to chew and consume first. Of course any crumbs or food packets come top of the list but usually any inedible tat will do.
  • On a more serious note. If anyone travelling has allergies or health conditions it would be a good idea to bring any medication with you and write it all down, in the event of an accident this information could save a life. There is a way to input this medical info into your iPhone by using the my health app which is preinstalled into the phone. Still if your child has any medical conditions it would still be a good idea to write in down and keep it in the glove box.
  • Give them a present. It doesn’t have to be big but a book, or small activity that will travel well can be wrapped up and given as a surprise. Of course the paper will join the other tat in the foot wells but anything for a happy and relaxed journey.
  • Sing songs and Play games with them. Ones that don’t need any physical objects to be brought along with you. Ok you might have to be imaginative for this one but we always play the alphabet game, finding things in or out of the car or even makes and models of car, one tip here is that the letter u has always presented a problem for us and it took weeks to eventually find one locally in a drive way that meant we could actually finish the game but its fun all the same. You could try eye spy, a quiz or even races to find the first thing on a list of items that you might see on a car Journey. I have made a free printable for you to download and keep in the car in case you ever get stuck or hit by boredom. Just click here and the printable will load up in a new tab or page and you can print it as many times as you like.




This is a collaborative post.
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