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Tips For Surviving Road Trips with Kids

Tips For Surviving Road Trips with Kids

It’s that age old debate… when you have kids does the life of holidays you once knew have to stop? Well in our house we said heck no!

Pre-children we lived for our holidays, whether it be a trek through the Borneo rainforest or taking a tram through San Fransisco. Just because we have children we weren’t ready to pack away our passports. In particular, the one thing we love in our house is a good old road trip! Las Vegas to LA or even Cheltenham to Scotland.

When our youngest turned 12 weeks old she had already completed her first holiday to France and was about to embark on the joyous 7-hour drive to North Berwick in Scotland. I have a bit of a panic – would she be bored, would she cry, what if she did a poo and there was no where to stop (because of course service stations don’t exist in the North…). But it quickly became apparent that we had created an A* traveller.

So after a few more UK based road trips, and a few more short haul flights, we set off on what was to be Isla’s biggest holiday and car journey so far… a road trip from Boston to Washington. Yet again she was a star, making up games such as ‘The Ice-Cream’ game – basically you get to ask for an ice-cream and sprinkles, and she makes it… fun right? After the first 100 times, not so much, but hey if it kept her entertained.

The holiday was amazing.

Fast forward a year and along came baby number 2, again we were determined to still make sure we had the holidays we have always had. So at 12 weeks we took off to Portugal and then when he was 5 months it was Barcelona.

So much for thinking that if you have made one good traveller that the second would follow suit. The first couple of times he complied – hey he was a baby so he didn’t have much choice but the older he got the less he liked to be confined. I am learning that the difference between boys and girls is rather great.

Still, we didn’t let it put us off and persevered with our trips away, hoping that he would get used to it.

When we decided to visit France this year and travel a distance of about 1200 miles I thought we had finally lost the plot. But, as my mum has relocated there we thought it would be fun to go over and also visit Disney and a French Centerparcs, so we sucked up it up and made the plans. The big question was how to do the journey. Did we ferry it or fly and rent, or try the Channel Tunnel. We opted for the Tunnel; I didn’t much fancy the risk of seasickness.

It is super easy and quick, within 40 minutes we had checked in at Folkestone and arrived in France, winner! No unloading all your stuff, no worrying if you can fit all your stuff into 15kg, and no limit to the amount of toys you can take!!

Now for the journey itself, and hopefully some little nuggets of info that will help you on your road trip travels:

Some days were long and some were short but we managed it and thankfully this time both the kids rather enjoyed it.

  • One of the game changers for him I think was the car seat. He is very chatty and observant; previously he had always been in a rear facing car seat. We opted to buy a new seat (The Cosatto Hug Isofix). It is super padded, and has about 5 recline options, he felt more included and was able to see what was going on in the car.
  • Try to make sure you have a couple of days of no driving in between, otherwise it can get very monotonous. We had 4 major days of driving and the rest were for day trips or no car use at all.
  • An extra thing we took this time for Isla were audio books. She loves reading books in the car so we thought it might make a nice change to be able to listen to them – you can also get the read along books to go with them so they can look at the pictures. You can hire lots of different ones from local libraries.

  • Planning is key. It sounds anal but it really can be make or break for a good days travelling. Make sure you pre-plan when you are going to stop for your 2 hourly stretch/toilet stops. In some places the service stops can be very few and far between – and if you do come across one it can be just a hole in the ground (rather amusing for Isla), and no food outlets. There is nothing worse then everyone getting cranky and not knowing when you can next pull over, you can also make a game of the countdown to the next stop etc.
  • If they are young enough make sure to take a potty for when you are miles from a stop.
  • Food glorious food. Snacks are obviously super important, they can also cure boredom too as it gives the kids something to do. Make sure to include a variety, and not just picky bits.
  • Now, I’m not saying that you need to go out and buy a new car… BUT, we’ve found that we enjoy our trips more since getting a bigger car. More space to put everything in the boot so it leaves the foot wells clear for toys – and also it is then easier to find said dropped toys.
  • Kindles/Fire/Ipad for those moments when you can no longer bare the prospect of ‘Eye spy’

So, I hear you ask… where next? Rome in December and we have already started planning our next major road trip for 2018 (my 30th eek!) – Chicago to Nashville, yee hah!

A Guest Blog from Frankie Chapman

About Frankie

Frankie lives in Charlton Kings with her Husband Ian, 4 year old little girl Isla and 1 year old Grayson – along with their 2 cats Sven and Bojangles. When they aren’t holidaying they enjoy fun days out (which they always find at the ever so helpful Cheltenham rocks), hanging out at the park and getting wrestled by the baby. Frankie has her own Social Media Marketing company; Boss Media and also runs Melody Mamas Choir for Mums. You can follow Frankie and Boss Media on Instagram.

Enjoyed this read? Make sure you check out all of the CheltenhamMaman recommendations over at Maman Pages.


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  1. September 13, 2017 / 7:11 am

    I’m in awe of your road tripping Frankie! My son, now nearly three, has always hated the car. We drove to the South of France last summer and it was the WORST journey. The confinement is a massive issue, and also he projectile vomits if he watches the iPad in the car so our entertainment options are rather limited! He’s not been keen on audio books in the car either, but we had a recent breakthrough with a set of Head Foams wireless headphones for children – for some reason he’s far happier listening with his own special earphones on. We managed London-Devon-break-Gloucestershire with no screaming and tears a few weeks ago! We conquered London-Scotland by leaving at 2am so he was asleep for almost the entire journey – we stopped for breakfast and a break at 7am then finished the journey with him awake. Less traffic so the journey was so much quicker, and no screaming. We will not be conquered…! Jenny x

    • Kate Starkey
      September 13, 2017 / 6:27 pm

      Oh man that sounds tough!

  2. becky
    September 13, 2017 / 1:33 pm

    Travelling with 2 children no problem, one child each, however with 4 small children it isn’ t quite as easy however much you plan especially the car sickness!!

    • Kate Starkey
      September 13, 2017 / 6:27 pm

      Nothing worse than car sickness!

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