Over the next few months we have a couple of long car journeys to undertake including traveling around Ireland. The thought of dragging 3 kids around in the car for hours is enough to fill any parent with dread but we’ve had a quite a bit of practice at this now so I’m hoping we’ll be ok, especially in our new Citreon C4 Grand Picasso where we have so much more space and can travel in comfort.
When planning our trips we always look at how long the journey will take and plan in 1 or 2 pit stops at the services to break up the journey (depending on how far it is). This gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs, use the toilet and have a bite to eat, then we can carry on the journey feeling refreshed. The lovely Samantha from www.northeastfamilyfun.co.uk has suggested swapping traditional service stations for a National Trust site just off the motorway instead which I think is a brilliant idea! In fact I have looked at our route from one destination on our Ireland trip to the next and found a National Trust site half way so that is now on the route plan to help break up our journey. This is definitely something I will be looking at doing more often now that we have our annual passes.
Games in the car are an absolute must for any family. As a child I remember very well the games of I spy with my Mum and sister while Dad drove. We also live near a large landmark which can be seen for miles around – Didcot Power Station. On any journey home it was always a competition to see who could spot the power station first. I’m pretty sure Dad almost always won as he knew just where to look! You knew when you could see the power station it wasn’t much further to go. Unfortunately most of it has now been demolished so my children wont be able to play this game much longer.
A recent addition to our games list actually came from my stepdaughter Lilian, called ‘What Am I?’. You give clues describing an animal, person or object and the others have to guess what you are. This game works great as any age can play. Cody likes this better than I Spy as he’s a little bit young to get the letters right for things at the moment.
Katie from www.mummysdiary.co.uk plays games with her children where you have to count all the red cars you see or every time you see a lorry you have to shout its colour. Great games for little ones learning their colours. I remember when we used to drive to the New Forest me, my Mum and my sister had competitions to see who could count the most ponies!
Aside from games there are a few car journey ‘essentials’ that are always packed, most importantly – sick bags. Lilian has a tendency to get travel sickness so these are an absolute must when she is on any trip with us and a spare set of clothes in an easily accessible place just in case she misses the bag. We’ve been caught out a couple of times without the bags and its been an absolute nightmare so they are now in the car permanently. They are joined by a pack of baby wipes and I always take a bottle of water too. We make sure she sits in the middle seat so she can look straight ahead which also helps but I am going to look into getting a travel bracelet or anti-sickness tablets for her too – any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
Jemma from www.thimbleandtwig.com has some fantastic suggestions on her blog including sticker books (why didn’t I think of this before?! Adds to shopping list….). Story CDs was another suggestion, which I must admit I have never been keen on the idea of these but actually this could work really well, especially on evening journeys when we want them calm and settled. The Roald Dahl collection sounds perfect so that has also been added to my shopping list. The third idea I love is eye spy cards. This is essentially a list of things to spot on their journey. Now my kids love ticking off a checklist so I know this will be a huge hit with them!
For me good music is essential. As the family chauffeur I have to keep my eyes on the road so music is my only entertainment and also gives me the option of drowning out any arguments in the back if I need to! We have just purchased a stereo for the car that we can connect our phones to so we have access to all our favourite playlists as well as the usual CDs and radio stations.
We have got a pair of DVD players that can play separate DVDs or can be connected to play the same one. They attach easily to the headrests and are great for keeping the kids occupied. The only issue we have found is that it does make Lilian more likely to be sick if she is looking at a screen so we don’t tend to use them if she is with us.
For Cody there is only one car journey essential – his sunglasses 🙂