The stress-free guide to planning a road trip with the kids
Whether you’re taking your kids out for a day of fun, visiting a distant relative, or heading off on holiday, keeping your children entertained throughout a road trip can be a real struggle. No child enjoys being confined in a car for the duration of a road trip — and neither do many adults. But there’s plenty you can do to keep your kids entertained and make the journey go as smoothly as possible.
To help you out, here’s our guide to planning a stress-free road trip with the kids.
Always travel with treats:
To help keep your kids happy throughout the journey, stock the car up with a selection of their favourite snacks. However, make sure to balance the sweets with some healthy choices as well, as adding too many E numbers to the mix will quickly backfire. Check out Parent’s pick of the 20 best healthy snacks for kids for ideas on what to take on your car trip to keep tummies from grumbling.
Allow them screen time:
The majority of parents try to keep children off their screens as much as possible, but on particularly long car journeys, you’ll be better off temporarily relaxing your rules. While it’s not a habit you want to get into, it really is the best way to calm your children down for a few hours and make the trip go as smoothly as possible.
A word of warning, however: you should only use their tablets as a last resort. If your kids already have their noses buried in their iPads before you’ve even left the drive, it’s unlikely to keep them entertained throughout a lengthy journey. Once they’re bored of Minecraft, your dilemma will be that a game of I-spy won’t seem nearly as appealing in comparison. It’s therefore a good idea to delay the introduction of the iPad for as long as possible, and instead use it to entertain your kids in those last few hours when you’re all really starting to flag.
Once the iPads are out, it’s essential you keep them from running out of battery if you want to avoid any tantrums! Buy a Sakura twin USB car cigarette lighter adaptor, which you can pick up with next-day delivery from DriveDen, for the capacity to charge two tablets at once and make sure your kids stay happy.
Plan frequent stops:
Stopping off to let the kids stretch their legs and grab something to eat is absolutely essential for any long road trip. During particularly long journeys, you may want to make a few stops.
While roadside services are definitely convenient, they’re hardly the most relaxing places in the world. If you fancy a more pleasant break from the road, check the National Trust website to find gorgeous country estates to stop off at. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy a bite to eat and maybe play a bit of sport to help your children get rid of some pent-up energy. Stopping at one of these locations could only slightly extend your journey, and it’s guaranteed to be much more pleasant than the motorway services.
Make sure you know where you’re going:
Kids often mirror their parents, and if you and your spouse get frustrated and start snapping at each other after getting hopelessly lost, your little ones are likely to follow your example. To make sure the journey goes as smoothly as possible, invest in a good-quality satnav to keep you on track. It’s also a good idea to have a plan B in case your satnav gives up the ghost while you’re in the middle of nowhere, so make sure to download the excellent Here app onto your smartphone for a backup — download the relevant map onto your device before you set off, and you can even use the app offline so it doesn’t eat up your data.
Keep these tips in mind and you’re sure to have as hassle-free a car journey as possible with your kids. This will leave you in the best mood possible to enjoy the rest of the trip.