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Getting prepared for a long journey with the children

Keep your kids happy and entertained in the car without spending a fortune.

family on beach

Holidays are an enjoyable time for all the family but sometimes the travel to and from can be exhausting. Children can get very excited about going on holiday but quickly lose that excitement when faced with a long car drive or a wait in an airport. Having everything you need with you when that moment arises can save many tears.

Some children will want to take their electronic gadgets with them to keep them occupied and, if they are, you may want to consider gadget insurance just in case it gets lost or stolen.Not everyone has gadgets or tv screens in their car, nor on the flight and listening to children's songs can test even the most hardened parent! Taking other entertainment options will save you from this option.Many of us will remember I-Spy books from our childhood. They are still available but often children cannot read in the car without feeling unwell. If you have children of different ages, particularly very young children who are unable to read, they may not be suitable. It is very easy to make personalised spotting books for children with scrap paper and pictures cut from magazines or printed off the internet. For very long journeys, you can put together a whole bag of surprises for each child containing snacks and mini puzzles or games.

It probably goes without saying that having food and drink is absolutely vital. Keep hold of small sized plastic water bottles and refill them before your journey. Buying any drinks or food at airports or service stations can be very expensive. Using disposable bottles also means that you can dispose of them before boarding a flight. If possible put them in the freezer overnight and that will ensure the drinks stay cold, especially useful when driving in warmer climates. The frozen bottles also then serve as icepacks if you plan on taking any food items that need to stay cold. Providing each child with an open carrier bag as a plate is a good way of avoiding too many crumbs and stopping rubbish being dropped on the floor. Nobody likes to spend ages at the end of their holiday cleaning out the hire car.

If you have a child who is prone to car sickness, take a kit. You know they are likely to leave it to the last possible (usually most inconvenient) moment to tell you. If you can't manage to stop in time, an old damp flannel, a change of clothes, and a towel plus a few carrier bags will all come in very handy.

With any luck at some point in your journey, your precious cargo will want to sleep. It can be very uncomfortable for them particularly when they no longer use a car seat with a head support. There are now products available to help such as the Sneck by Bubblebum. They also produce the Junkie which is a useful carry and storage organiser for all the children's bits and pieces especially when you are in your own car. It can sit between children on the back seat and even provides cup holders and a mount for an electronic device.

Wherever and however you are travelling with your children, their safety is paramount. Ensuring they are in the correct car seat with regard to the laws of the country you are driving in is also important. The laws can vary from country to country worldwide. It is best to check before you go and lastly make sure that you have checked your child's passport is still valid and they have a GHIC card (for most people this replaces the EHIC card) if you are travelling within Europe.

This content was last reviewed on 18/12/2023