1. How do you prepare your children before a long car journey?
Involve the children.
- If you have a small child (1-3 years old) you should start talking about the journey about two weeks before. Tell them what’s going to happen during the journey, but only positive things.
- When your children are old enough you can plan the journey together with them. Show them maps and tell them about the sights they need to keep a look out for.
- Let your children pack their own suitcase. They can pack their favourite things, clothes and toys that they want to take with them on the journey.
- Let your children stay up a little later the night before the longer stages of the journey so they’ll be calmer in the car.
2. Is there any simple advice to make the car journey a little more exciting? What should we think about in terms of children of different ages?
Try and make the time in the car as pleasant as possible. Children of different ages need different stimulation. Find things that don’t lead to loud discussions. An audio book is good because everyone gets to listen to the story. Audio books, colouring or puzzle books and electronic items like MP3s and video games are of course good in these situations.
3. How do we create a cosier environment for the children in the car?
There are three musts when your child starts getting tired:
- A small cushion that fits the child’s neck
- A fleece blanket to prevent the child getting cold
- Favourite cuddly toy. Don’t forget the cuddly toy!
4. Limited space and sitting still makes it hard to play and have fun in the back seat. What’s the best advice for playing in the car?
Learn a lot of word association games to play with the children in the car. Car quizzes, “I spy” and singing songs are favourites. You can also find lots of websites that list games suitable for playing in the car.
5. Small children find it difficult to understand the concept of time. How do we explain how far we’re going to travel, when the next stop will be and when we’ll be at our destination?
You never know what’s going to happen so never give an exact time of when you’ll arrive. The best advice is to count down how many miles you’ve got left of the journey with the help of the mileometer. Another alternative for the children to understand better is to compare the time the journey will take with other journeys you’ve taken with them.
6. What should we think about in the way of food and snacks? What should we give the children to keep them in a good mood and avoid hyperactivity?
The key is to keep their blood sugar levels even. Don’t give the children sweets or sugary drinks. Give them water instead. Examples of good, practical snacks in the car are carrots, rice cakes, nuts and fruit.
7. How do we keep things calm in the back seat when travelling with more than one child?
Make sure that they’ve all got their things nearby. Choose audio books that everyone in the family wants to listen to. If arguments arise then a distraction is the best solution. Suggest a car quiz or stop at a service station. Do something energetic with the children. This will make you tired too, but that’s more preferable than screaming children.
8. When ‘disaster’ strikes with screams and arguments how do you get the children to stop and think of something else?
Unfortunately there’s not a simple answer to that. You often know best how your child reacts and what works best in these situations. But a distraction probably counts as the best strategy when screaming and arguments start. Prepare a bag with secret surprises (toys, games, snacks etc.) that you can portion out in these situations.
9. List three things that you shouldn’t forget to take on a car holiday with the children.
Favourite toy, a colouring book/puzzle book with pens, and a supply of surprises that you can portion out when needed during the journey.
10. What provisions should you always have in the car on holiday?
Toilet roll, plastic bags for rubbish, wet-wipes, water and some extra clothes close at hand.