Top Tips for a Long Journey with Children
Long journeys with children of all ages can be challenging and stressful. From travel sickness to boredom, the Bettersafe team has compiled a top tips checklist to help you reach your destination with minimal disruption. Happy driving and happy travels.
Packing for a long journey with children
Less is more – don’t over-pack
For long journeys, it is easier to over-pack than to opt for a less is more mantra. Let’s face it – we’ve all done it! However, did you know that cars have official weight limits? You can receive a fine for overloading a vehicle. Check your handbook to ensure you are within the weight limit.
The same is true for your hand luggage and suitcases to check-in for flights. Weigh everything in good time so you are not rushing to offload items under duress.
Easy access to essentials for long journeys with children is – well – essential!
Make sure that essentials are easy to find during all legs of your journey and stop-breaks. That means baby milk bottles, nappies and changes of clothes should be easily accessible to avoid stress and discomfort. Similarly, keep medications such as an inhaler or epi-pen in easy to reach places.
Your Child’s Favourite Comfort Toy or blanket
Some children simply cannot settle or sleep without their favourite comfort toy or blankie. The risks of losing it on holiday or a family visit are likely outweighed by the trauma of missing it while they’re away.
Tips from parents who have learnt the hard way!
- You have to keep an eye on that favourite toy, otherwise, it will get left behind. That’s a nightmare for a long journey.
- Buy a spare if you can so you can replace it if the worst should happen.
- Have it to hand for flights – hand luggage rather than in the hold.
Long journeys with kids: Where are the toilets?
“I need the toilet.” Second only to, “Are we nearly there yet?” this question can cause fear and dread for parents on long journeys, especially the driver. Plan ahead, avoid excessive fluid intake and follow these simple tips:
- Plot the route and the schedule for the day. That includes rest stops, pre-check in, pre-departure and arrivals before transitioning to the onward journey.
- Have you washed your hands? Pack some anti-bacterial gel or spray to be sure.
- Keep hold of the water bottle so that children only drink when they are actually thirsty. They will be tempted to sip more often if not.
- Everyone should get into the habit of going to the loo before leaving the house or service station – whether they think they need to or not.
- Fold-away travel potties are handy for toddlers and training pants are peace of mind just in case there’s a little accident.
Travel entertainment for long journeys with children
Download music, films and games early whilst you have good wi-fi connection.
Make sure you have backup power. Charge everything before you set off.
Only one device? If children have to share, stick to realistic schedules and have other attractions to hand. Avoid tears, tantrums and arguments during the journey.
Good headphones are a must to avoid annoying fellow passengers.
Check child car seats carefully
Your children may be perfectly happy in their car seats for the nursery run and routine trips. However it can be a different story for longer journeys and as always, safety comes first. Therefore it is worth ensuring they are as comfortable as possible well in advance of a long journey.
- Check that your car seats are fitted properly and that they are still the appropriate size for your children.
- Remove bulky or padded coats so that your child is securely fastened in with the seat belt.
- Replace a car seat after an accident, even if it looks normal, in case there is any damage you cannot see.
- Check to ensure that no food, toys or pacifiers such as dummies have fallen underneath the seating, making the uneven surface uncomfortable on a long journey.
Travel sickness tips for long journeys with children
Even if no one in your family has experienced travel sickness before, a long journey can bring on motion sickness in any of us. Also, children are more likely to sleep during a long journey, whether there are breaks or not, and that can make them more susceptible to travel sickness symptoms.
For those who are longer-term sufferers, it really pays off to plan ahead. Talk to a pharmacist about preventative remedies and treatments as well as over-the-counter medications to treat nausea and other symptoms when they occur.
What causes travel sickness?
Travel sickness or motion sickness is caused by repeated movements. This may be the rocking motion of a boat, slowing and speeding up of a car, driving over bumps or making turns. Children may not be used to long journeys or a specific mode of transport which could lead to a spell of travel sickness.
The inner ear sends different signals to your brain in comparison to what you are seeing. This can cause some of us to feel unwell, particularly during longer journeys.
How can I prevent travel sickness?
Always get advice from a pharmacist or medical professional. They can advise on
- Tablets for motion sickness
- Acupressure bands
How can I avoid travel sickness without medication?
To avoid feeling ill on a long journey with children, you may want to take as many steps as possible to mitigate the risk of travel sickness. The NHS lists some tried and tested methods to help. Here are some simple dos and don’ts
- Front Seat: Sitting still and stable, in the front of the car if possible, minimises motion
- Fixed Focus: Try to focus on a fixed point ahead
- H2O: Fresh air can help. Open a car window or take a break
- Breathing Exercises: Breathe slowly, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Distraction Method: Distract children with stories, favourite music and singing together
- Plan the Journey: Break up long journeys to get some fresh air, drink water or take a walk
- Visit the Pharmacy: Get advice on medication, ginger products and wearable solutions such as anti-nausea wrist bands.
- Do not read, play games on a device or watch films as these activities can make motion sickness worse
- Do not look at moving objects such as passing cars
- Do not eat heavy, sugary or spicy foods ahead of or during the journey
What are the symptoms of travel sickness?
Not all people feeling travel sickness have the same symptoms and this list is not exhaustive. However, if you feel any of the following symptoms when travelling, you may be suffering from travel sickness or motion sickness:
- Nausea and or vomiting
- Excessive saliva production
- Excessive sweating
- Feeling unwell generally