How to make long car journeys with the kids bearable

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We know the all-too-familiar scene of going on long family journeys in the car, either as parents, kids or as both!

The distance, no matter how long or short can seem like it lasts forever in the minds of children who have a completely different concept of how time passes. For this reason, holiday journeys, which are usually very long, can be a real test of patience for everyone who’s in the car.

Kids can start bickering or complaining, just because they’re bored, which can really bring the mood down in the car and make things stressful for the parents up front.

Don’t worry though, as we have some top tips to help you keep the kids entertained until you get to the end of your journey at one of our excellent family hotels in London.

Get your car loaded up with gear

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need every latest gadget under the sun to keep your kids entertained, instead these are things that will make them more comfortable.

During summer months, the sun is more likely to be out making the car warm up and potentially overheat.

Not all glass protects you or your family from the sun’s rays and you run the risk of sunburn if you’re in the car for a prolonged time. To prevent this happening and to keep the car cooler, attach sun shades to the sides of windows – if the windows aren’t already tinted.

Although most cars have air-conditioning to keep the heat down, this can sometimes make the car too cold for children. If this happens, you can either turn it off for a while, or make sure you have blankets in the back of the car to warm the kids up again.

Battery-operated fans are also a good idea to give to each person in the car, as this will save using all your petrol/diesel during your journey.

For extra comfort pack small pillows, or if you can, let kids bring their favourite pillow or cushion from home so that they can take a nap. Neck pillows can be particularly helpful if you have three kids in the back seat, as the one in the middle won’t have anything to lean against.

Seat schedules

This one might sound a little out of the ordinary, but it can actually be a stroke of genius if you have kids who are always fighting about where they want to sit in the car.

Seat schedules will organise who sits where and when – you might want to plan the changes for whenever you’ve decided to make stops to eat or go sightseeing during your road trip.

Try to divide the time up according to how many children you have, for example, if there’s three kids then create an equal number of time slots.

Of course, this will only work if all your kids are out of car seats, if they aren’t you shouldn’t have them swap seats.

What works really well is letting the kids choose their slots, so it won’t cause any arguments later in the day. After all, you’re organising this so the journey will be fun, not to make it unbearable.

Don’t forget to keep the schedule at the front of the car with you, to avoid any last-minute switching or tom-foolery!

Keep it comfortable

Being in the car for a long time is not the moment to wear uncomfortable clothes so make sure that everyone is dressed in clothes that aren’t constricting or tight.

Oversized t-shirts can be good for kids and taking their shoes off in the car is also a good idea for added comfort.

If you’re worried about looking a bit sloppy when you get out of the car, you can say to the little ones to bring light sweatshirts or jackets with them to cover up their baggy t-shirts. This will also be useful if one of the kids is cold but the others are still warm, it will help to cause less of an issue and keep everyone happy.

Food and drinks are important

Snacks in the car are extremely important, not just for kids but also for the parents and guardians who are driving.

Pack ones with you, including healthy things like apples, bananas, sandwiches and bottles of water or juice. Sugary and unhealthy snacks are best avoided, unless you want three kids on a sugar rush in the back of the car!

Snacks should be given out every couple of hours or so but don’t overdo the beverages, otherwise you’re going to have to make a lot more unscheduled stops as a result.

Activities

Each child will probably want to do something different for an activity, so tell them that they can bring a couple of things with them to keep themselves amused in the car.

Their favourite stuffed animal, video games or other toys will go a long way to creating a peaceful journey. If your kids want to bring books, be aware that reading in a car can cause motion sickness, so use your judgement on that one!

You can also play games together to make the experience more fun as a family, old classics like I Spy can make the time pass a lot more quickly.

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