How to keep children occupied on long car journeys

Anyone with young children will know the struggle and stress of trying to take them on long car journeys. Whether it’s to the airport, a British seaside holiday or to a relative’s house, it’s likely to be a hassle. Here’s some advice on how to make it easier for everyone involved.

Make sure your children have been to the loo right before you leave; you’ll want to prevent stopping too frequently. It may also help if they are tired before the trip – a sleepy child is a quiet child and a quiet child is a relaxed parent! Some exercise and play time an hour or two before you set off should help, and if you’re lucky, they may even have a nap in the car. To encourage this, pack a couple of pillows, blankets and stuffed toys. This will help them nod off and aid in comforting them if they’re anxious travellers. A car window blind, eye mask and earplugs will also help to keep the light and noise out. Ensure they’re comfortable by checking their car seat is adjusted correctly and fits them well if they are still very young.

If they get travel sick on long car journeys, you might want to try over-the-counter medication, acupressure wrist bands or travel sweets. Keep the windows slightly open and a bottle of water, wet wipes and a paper bag handy (should the worst happen) and locate service stations to stop at along the way for fresh air, a walk, the loo and food. That being said, packing your own snacks is essential so make sure you have something everyone likes.

As for entertaining your little ones, you have a few options. Some are content just with colouring or listening to music, but others may want something more engaging, so pack books and a handheld gaming device or tablet too. For a lot of parents, having your child glued to a screen is not ideal, but once in a while for long car journeys is not a bad thing for more excitable children! Portable movie players are also a great option and can often be purchased relatively cheaply. If you’ve forgotten any of these things or exhausted all other options, a car game like I-Spy or 20 Questions will keep everyone busy for a while.

The last and possibly most important thing to remember is to not take your stress out on your children. While travelling and holidays can be challenging, shouting and getting cross will only upset them and cause arguments. Stay cool and calmly explain to them what you want them to do (refer back to the travel sweets if a bribe is necessary at this point).

Happy travelling!