What to Take with You
When travelling with a young baby, it’s important to remember that not all car journeys go as planned.
Pack plenty of essential items like nappies and wipes, along with a change of clothes. This way you’re always prepared for the inevitable poop explosion, or sicky burp.
If you’re taking your baby on holiday, then it might be that you can pick up some supplies when you eventually arrive – but bear in mind that foreign countries might not supply the exact items that you’re used to.
During hot weather, be sure that the baby is properly hydrated by taking plenty of water. A few choice toys can also make a world of difference – just one cuddly animal might provide the companionship they need to get through the trip without a tantrum.
When to Travel
The best time to travel with a baby is when they’re likely to be asleep. If they snooze through the entire journey, then it’ll go that much more smoothly. You might even consider travelling through the night – though for short trips this might prove more trouble than it’s worth. Bear in the mind that your brain has adapted over millions of years to find the sound of a crying baby intolerable – and so it’s worth doing everything in your power to limit the likelihood that you’ll have to listen to it!
Another thing to consider is mealtimes. If your baby’s stomach is too full of milk or food, then they’ll be that much more likely to become upset during the journey. Many families prefer to travel with one parent in the back seat, so that they can provide a small baby with attention whenever it’s required.
How to Survive a Long Car Journey with a Toddler
What to Take with You
Toddlers are a little less dependent than babies – though, if presented with the chance, they’ll throw tantrums just as willingly.
Take with you all the essentials we’ve mentioned, along with a few of the games and distractions we’ll touch upon later. A book is an excellent distraction but following text can produce car sickness in some children. An alternative comes in the form of an audio-book. Ensure that they’re dressed in something comfortable and breathable, and you’ve a better chance of avoiding discomfort and bad behaviour.
When to Travel
Ideally, you should set off when they’re close to exhausted. Getting them to indulge in some exercise, like a long walk, shortly before bundling them into the back seat, is a great idea. That way, they’ll be able to nod off in the car and you won’t have a problem. By contrast, if they’re full of energy with no way to vent it, then you’ll almost certainly have a serious problem.
Similarly, you’ll also want to time your trip according to the mealtime schedule – don’t set out when they’re hungry, and don’t allow them to drink too much before you set out. Instructing them to go to the toilet before you set out is probably a good idea.
Top Survival Tips for Travelling with Children
Here are our top tips for surviving long car journeys with your kids all wrapped in to a handy list.
Snacks aren’t just a source of nourishment – they’re a terrific way to break up a trip, and reward good behaviour. Informing your children that you’re going to bust open a pack of grapes, nuts, or Cadbury’s Heroes when you hit junction 4A will distract them into paying attention to the outside world. Of course, for the reward to be any incentive, it’ll have to be a snack that they’d like to eat.
Plenty of fun games can be played while you’re hurtling along a motorway. Some of them are even suitable for children! The classics involve making words and phrases from the registrations of passing cars, memorising made-up shopping lists and of course, spying things out of the car window. If you’re feeling particularly irked, there’s always the ‘who can keep their mouths shut for the longest’ game – thought it’s unlikely to entertain small children for very long.
While a screen is no real substitute for wholesome outdoor activities and book-reading, it’s a godsend in a long-car journey. Compulsive games on a tablet, mobile phone or dedicated game system will command their utmost attention, alleviate boredom, and prevent them from becoming restless. In fact, you’ll probably wish that you’d packed one for yourself by the end of the trip. Just be wary of motion-sickness and ask how they’re feeling every so often. And be sure that you’ve packed a charger, too!
Take a Break
Being cooped up in a small space for hours on end is likely to drive even adults around the twist – so what chance does that leave small, restless children? Taking the occasional break doesn’t just count as a reward for good behaviour – walking around will allow you all to stretch your legs and enjoy some fresh air (or at least, the freshest air motorway service stations have available). Afterwards, you’ll all feel that little bit more refreshed, and better-equipped to cope with the rest of your long drive!
Since travelling with kids will necessitate more frequent breaks, it’s worth planning a few extended stops in parks and other fun places along the way – that way you’ll be able to break the trip down into smaller journeys, and the kids will always have something to look forward to.
A long drive with an infant needn’t be an ordeal – pack a few choice items, and time your trip properly, and you’ll be able to get through it without raising your voice
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