How I Survive Long Car Journeys With Toddlers

We’ve done quite a few 2+ hour car journeys with the kids now, and along the way we’ve learnt some pretty important lessons. Hubby’s family live 120 miles away, so we’ve been driving long distances since the kids were teeny weeny.

The first lesson we learnt was that life is much easier for everyone if mum can sit in the back with baby when you’re likely to need to stop for a feed en route. Trust me – Getting out of the car to walk get baby out of their carseat for a feed in December is no fun! Life is much easier (and warmer) if you can just pull into the services (or lay by), remove baby from their car seat and feed them without having to get cold or wet in the process! (This wasn’t possible once baby 2 came along, and I definitely missed it).

Sitting in the back with slightly older kids is another good way to reduce their tears and tantrums – especially if they are still in rear facing car seats. If you’re back there with them, they can see you and you can play with them or sing to them, while maintaining eye contact.

We also try to time long car journeys with the kids around naps and feeding times. We find setting off straight after breakfast means they’ve got full tummies but won’t be tired enough for a nap. Setting off after lunch usually means our youngest will sleep for an hour, which makes the long journey much easier for everyone to cope with. If we were going to do a long journey (3+ hours), I would try to do it in the evening, with the kids in their pyjamas so they can be transferred straight to bed upon arrival. 

Now Sam is 3, naps in the car don’t really happen. This means we do have to find ways to keep him entertained. Sam has autism and isn’t talking much yet, so the usual games like I spy aren’t an option for us. We usually let him have his iPad in the car. We have a case for it which attaches to the rear of the driver seat, so the iPad is like a TV. I tend to put Sam’s favourite TV shows on when he gets bored of listening to music. Syd will happily watch as well – when she’s awake. The guys at Parkdean have recently done a survey which showed 64% of parents are now using tech to keep kids entertained on long journeys – I can see why! ipads + headphones = peace and quiet!

We always keep plenty of water and non messy snacks to hand as well. (Apples and bananas are usually my go to snacks for in the car as they don’t smell and don’t leave crumbs everywhere).  My two are still in nappies, so we don’t need to worry about lots of stops to avoid accidents – YET!

Do you have any tips for surviving long car journeys with kids? How many times do you hear the phrase “Are we nearly there yet”?

In association with Parkdean Holidays.

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