Car journeys with the kids
Drive the kids at night
If you have a long car journey ahead of you, think about whether you could do the drive at night. Follow their usual routine, particularly if you have younger kids, and once they are in their pyjamas, âtuck them in' to their car seats. Some mums swear by giving kids warm milk as they set of â it's just enough to tip the balance from âexciting adventureâ to âsleeeeeeepâ! Do be mindful of your own alertness â don't drive if you are too tired. Also think about the temperature of your children - evening drivers tend to crank up the heat, but if your kids are wrapped in duvets, they will quickly overheat.
Avoid car sick children
Plan to use motorways where possible if your children are prone to motion sickness. They make for boring driving, but they are faster and the constant speed can help reduce car sickness. Other top tips are to keep the car cool with air con (many find the noise of an open window makes it worse), try to keep them looking ahead or out of the window (i.e. no iPad!), get rid of any nauseating air fresheners or strong perfumes, have a bag of dry snacks to hand and if they are old enough, let them sit in the front seat.
If the back of the car does turn into a scene from The Exorcist, the benefit of motorways is that you are never too far from a service station!
Keep kids entertained
Nowadays, in-car entertainment is almost always required to keep the peace. Portable DVD players or iPad holders are available, turning the car into a mini television room, or they can plug into phones or iPods and choose their own music. Younger kids may require an âage appropriate' soundtrack on the main car stereo â good luck with trying not to let â5 little ducksâ or âold Macdonaldâ get stuck in your head!
Play family car games
One of the best ways to distract your whole family from a monotonous drive, as well as keep the car sickness at bay, is to play games. âYellow car' offers a point to anyone that spots a yellow car first. âAnimal, vegetable or mineral' is an old classic, doubling as an educational game that teaches the children the difference between the three. '20 questions' and âBuzz' (where you count to a hundred in turn, replacing any multiple of 7 with the word âbuzz) have both stood the test of time too. If you want more ideas, you can download apps full of car game ideas.
Keep it in the car
It's worth keeping some things in the car. Bin bags, travel potty, sick bags, blankets etc. are all useful, but making up an âeasy-access' games bag is a good idea too. You can attach this to the back of your seat so that the kids can easily grab their colouring pencils, music players, small toys etc.
If you are travelling abroad, make sure you look into car seat regulations before you go. Hire companies will often provide seats at an extra charge, and you will need to book them in advance. One top tip is to check with your airline to see if they will take your car seats in the hold. Many carriers, even budget airlines, allow for each child to carry a couple of pieces of âequipment' that can go for free.
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