While I wouldn’t say that we’re a family of ‘proper’ travellers (yet!) we do seem to do our fair share of travel; whether that be going abroad, driving around the country or just during every day life. It seems that when we travel most of it is spent travelling in the car. It’s how we get around since we rarely use public transport and it hasn’t really been the right weather for a bike ride.
I’ll give it to you straight. I hate car journeys with the kids. They wind me up like you wouldn’t believe. If they’re not moaning, struggling to get out, crying or annoying each other then you can only assume one of them has fallen asleep. We recently drove to France for our skiing trip and, while it was better than last year’s by a very long mile, it was still quite stressful – for me anyway. There’s always the worry about how comfortable they are, if they’re occupied/stimulated enough, if they need the toilet or a nappy change, if they’re hungry, thirsty or just plain bored. And that’s just a few things I worry about.
We’ve done France and back a couple of times now so I’m putting together this post with the aim of providing you guys with some top tips on how to make travel easier with kids. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t take away from the fact that travelling with kids is hectic, especially my two little ones, but hopefully these little things will make your life that little bit easier.
Pick A Decent Car Seat
This is one of the things I always consider now when thinking about a car seat. When both my boys moved up from their infant carriers one of the factors we considered when choosing was whether it could tilt/recline or not. I find that when you’re going long distance being able to change their position from upright to slightly laid back really, really helped especially when we were doing an overnight trip.
Not only that but it’s got to be comfortable. We looked at all the extra padding it had, whether the head support was just right, what kind of impact provisions it had in place (extra airbags or none at all?). Were the buckles and shoulder straps comfortable? These are absolutely things you need to consider because the worst thing is having something digging into their neck and them making a fuss about it half way through the journey.
Does it grow with them? The last thing you want to do is buy a new car seat every couple of years because they’ve grown. Get ones with adjustable shoulder strap height, if you want to do extended rear facing make sure it goes up to the age you want it to as some will require you to forward face after a certain age. All things to consider!
Are the covers removable? I always ask this because there is nothing worse, believe you me, than your child puking up in the back of your car and you not being able to remove the cover to wash it. The smell never goes away and I have thrown out one particular car seat because of this! Luckily we have provisions in place for this now so it’s not an utter essential for us but it’s definitely something to think about.
One car seat that ticked all of our boxes, and one that was eventually compatible with our car (damn those awkward seats!) was the Joie Tilt from Kiddies Kingdom. Joie is obviously a very well known and trusted brand, it fit our car and had everything we needed. Their designs are incredibly simple, the products are basically brilliant and they’re always so cleverly designed with the parent in mind.
Travel Easier With Kids By Creating A Space They Want To Be In
On long journeys you really want the back of the car to be the home away from home – or as much as it can be anyway. Yes the kiddos are a lot more restricted than they would be if they were roaming around the living room but if they have everything to hand that they could possibly want or need, the journey will run much smoother. So, what does it take?
A Tablet And A Holder
Yes, one for the headache you’ll have. Kidding. I’m talking an iPad, a Kindle, just something the kids can either watch or play with. If you can only afford one tablet I would highly, highly recommend investing in a holder that sets the tablet up like a TV between the two front seats so both children can watch at the same time.
That way they don’t argue if they both want to play a game on it. Obviously if one is asleep and the other wants to play on it, I won’t judge, but arguments are best left to a minimum! Make sure to download films to the actual tablet, unless you have a data plan, otherwise you’ll be unlikely to get wifi on the roads and so that’ll be an epic fail!
If you do the overnight trips like we do, or you know there will be a good chance of you driving through the night at some point, then these Trunki Snoozihedz look pretty much perfect for putting in the car. They come in all different characters and everything is kind of packed up.
I’ve been eyeing up the ‘Dudley’ and ‘Felix’ ones for the boys so they’re already on the Christmas list (yes I said the ‘C’ word, sorry!) but only as we don’t plan to do much overnight travelling in the near future. However, if we do then these are on my ‘to get ASAP’ list too.
A Rear Seat Organiser
Whether you choose to go for an organiser that hangs off of the back seat or one that sits between two car seats in the back, if you don’t have one then get one! They are just amazing for stocking up with things that the kids can do and everything is easily accessible. If I were you, I would pack similar things for them, although if there’s a huge age difference then they should be ok playing with their ‘own’ toys (sharing is caring though).
Things like portable Aquadoodles are fab. Mini colouring books and crayons, travel bingo (things they can tick off if they see them out of the windows), home made lap trays and ring binder activity books. There are loads and loads of ideas. It’s also good for holding drinks and snacks – kids love to be able to just eat and drink whenever they want anyway and it saves you rummaging around in a cool bag for those all important ‘cwispies and waisins’.
Extra Towels (ALWAYS!)
If, in the unfortunate event that your child is poorly, you can’t remove their car seat covers or they’ve wet themselves or for whatever other reason you need to remove the covers just use a towel or a thick fleece to help. Always take a couple of spares in the car because they will inevitably save you one way or another. I’m not talking beautiful, cotton fresh, fluffy towels. I’m talking ‘spare’ towels. Ones you don’t mind getting dirty!
Baby Wipes And Toilet Roll
Because you will never have enough and baby wipes work on everything. Dusting the dashboard, shining your shoes and all that cool stuff but most importantly, other than wiping the kids bottom area clean they’re good for the three ‘S’s’ that you’ll inevitably encounter on a journey – snot, sick and sticky snack hands. You just know it’ll happen, you can basically see it happening. Pack enough!
The toilet roll is great if you’re in another country and the “service” station toilets have no loo roll! Or, if in the UK, and the kid’s gotta go in the bush, you’ll need it then too!
And those, my friends, are some of my top tips for travelling with kids! Now I want to hear yours!
*The Joie Tilt car seat was sent to me in return for being featured in this post. All views and opinions are my own.
*This post may also contain affiliate links. I may receive a small sum should you choose to buy a product but it will not effect you or your purchase.