How to prepare for a long car ride with kids

long car ride with kids


Buckle up, because we're about to embark on the ultimate adventure: A long car ride with kids!

Whether it's a road trip to grandma's house or a family vacation to a magical wonderland, preparing for hours on the road with kids requires some strategic planning and a dash of humour to keep us sane.

In this blog post, I'm excited to share some tried-and-tested tips to make your upcoming car journey smoother than a freshly paved highway. From packing the right snacks (cue the endless snack requests) to unleashing the magic of car games that will keep them entertained without causing "are we there yet?" on repeat.

So, tighten your seatbelts, stock up on patience (and maybe some earplugs), and prepare to make this long car ride with kids a journey to remember ... for all the right reasons.

Plan your route with lots of toilet and fun stops

Research the best route for your destination in the fastest time while travelling via fuel stations, amenities and interesting landmarks. This will allow you to have timely pit stops to use the loo, to refuel, and to make road trip memories.

Pulling over to take photos with your kids at beautiful spots, welcome signages, or interesting architecture makes the trip more enjoyable and memorable!

Pack snacks and drinks

To avoid the temptation of pulling into every drive-thru you see and to ensure that you keep moving on the road for as long as you can tolerate, pack snacks and drinks for everyone before setting off.

You get to choose what to make and pack (healthy sandwiches and some fresh fruits are always a great option!) and you avoid unnecessary expenses during travel that could easily pile up if you are not mindful.

Preparing your own beverages and water also lets you monitor your kids' fluid intake throughout your journey.

But don't let them drink too much before the journey

Too much fluid intake before the journey means full diapers in a couple of hours and more toilet breaks along the way.

Make sure that everyone has drunk their water for the last time at least 2 hours before you all leave the house.

So you and your kids can be reassured against the agony of searching for a loo for several kilometres, make it a habit to remind your kids to use the toilet first before they climb in the car.

Have a change of clothes at the ready (for them, not you!)

Heat, food, dust, and dirt. These could all make your kid's clothes dirty while you are travelling. Your kids can easily get sweaty too if it's a hot day, even if they are only napping and getting out for pit stops.

Don't forget to pack an extra set of clothes or a full outfit for the road that your kids can change into should they soil the clothes they are wearing.

Opt for pieces that are comfortable and easy to change into; you never know if they will need to change inside the car, on the roadside or a random car park!

And all the entertainment you can think of

Don't forget bub's favourite plushie or your little ones iPad when going on a long car ride with kids.

Keeping them occupied and entertained during the trip is important so they don't grow irritable, bored, and uncomfortable with the day-long driving situation.

Think tablets, gaming devices, and travel games. Anything that will occupy them while you keep your eyes firmly on the road ahead.

Download music, audio books and videos

But what would be the use of all those devices unless they are uploaded with plenty of games and entertainment? Don't forget to download all sorts of files that will help you mentally get through the trip when you are on a long car ride with kids.

Put in some kid-friendly movies and everyone's favourite music playlists. And while you're at it, include some fun educational games and top-rated audiobooks which are age-appropriate for your kids.

Charge all devices (don't forget charging cables)

Ensuring devices are fully charged before embarking on a lengthy car journey with kids is key to a peaceful trip!

A depleted battery could transform a potentially smooth ride into a chaotic one, with bored and restless children.

By preemptively charging tablets, smartphones, and portable gaming consoles, you're equipping yourself with a valuable arsenal of entertainment.

Adequately charged devices not only maintain peace but also provide a sense of security, as they serve as a lifeline for communication and navigation during the journey.

Have nappies and portable potties at the ready

This is important to remember especially if you are travelling overnight. Given the frequent snacking and continuous movement due to travel, nature calls are inevitable.

Depending on your route, you may also find yourself driving for an extended period of time with no public bathroom in sight. In these instances, nappies and potties will be a great reassurance for both you and your kids.

Remember blankets, pillows and comforters

Bringing blankets, pillows, and comforters on extended car journeys with children is a wise move.

These familiar comforts transform the vehicle into a cozy haven, promoting relaxation and even sleep.

Long rides often lead to fatigue and restlessness, especially among youngsters. Having soft pillows and warm blankets at hand can make the difference between a restless trip and a peaceful one. These items not only provide physical comfort but also a sense of security, helping kids feel more at ease in an unfamiliar setting.

A well-prepared car becomes a haven of tranquility, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable journey for everyone.

Pack clever so you can reach everything

Efficient packing for a lengthy car journey with kids involves strategic organisation and foresight!

Here are my top tips:

  • Prioritise essentials like snacks, water, and medication within easy reach.
  • Utilise space by packing versatile clothing, minimising bulky items. Opt for travel-sized toiletries and a compact first aid kit.
  • Allocate a bag for each child, including their entertainment essentials like books, toys, and devices.
  • Use seat-back organisers to maintain order and accessibility.
  • Pack a separate bag for rest stops, containing extra clothes, wipes, and necessities.
  • Maximise trunk space by using vacuum bags for bedding and non-essential items.

Clever packing ensures a smoother ride, addressing needs promptly while keeping the journey enjoyable.

Have motion sickness medication if needed

Even as an adult, I know the struggle of motion sickness. It's not fun going somewhere, especially on a long car ride with kids when you (or your child) constantly feels like throwing up or passing out because of growing nausea.

Things like this can be avoided if you take some antihistamines that are also prescribed for motion sickness. Make sure to ask your doctor and your pharmacy to find the right medication to take and pack.

Encourage napping

Every few hours, after meal or snack times, encourage your kids to take naps. This will allow them to combat travel fatigue and will give you some peace and quiet as you drive and sit with your own thoughts.

I know we're supposed to have fun with our kids. But after three hours of listening to their audiobooks and hearing them watch all the Paw Patrol they could consume, it'll be nice to just be able to drive with your preferred music (or silence) as your kids take some much-needed rest.

Don't forget the car karaoke

As a kid, I am pretty sure I learned all the words to those 80s hair band songs because I belted them out with my dad while travelling to the beach!

Long car rides with kids are the perfect venue for karaoke parties with your little ones. Use the trip as an opportunity for music education by Mum and get your kids to fall in love with your favourite songs by giving them positive memories and emotions to associate those songs with.

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Beanstalk Single Mum Team

About the author

Beanstalk is run by a team of single mums who share their expertise about single motherhood to help other women on a similar journey to them. This article was written from experience and with love to help single mothers in Australia and across the world.

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