Driving

Top tips for a peaceful family road trip

Travelling with your family can sometimes be a stressful time, especially if you’re planning a long stint in a vehicle. However, with a little bit of forward-planning there are a few steps that you can take to ensure that the journey flies by! Check out these tips below.

Planning

One of the most crucial elements of your road trip is the planning process. Although this is especially important if you’re travelling across the country for a holiday, it can also come in useful when travelling within the South West region. The South West has so much to offer, from the beautiful scenery at Dartmoor to fantastic cities such as Exeter and Plymouth and travelling by car is one of the best ways to discover the area!

If you’re following a route that you’ve never taken before, for example when in the search for a great hidden beach, working out how long it will take you to get there is important. This will allow you to factor in how you’ll keep your little ones entertained. Plus, if you’re heading out early for a slightly longer journey, arranging the drive whilst your children typically sleep can allow the hours to pass quickly. Although driving through the night may seem like an unusual option, the roads are typically quieter, limiting the number of traffic jams that you come into contact with, and your kids will, most likely, sleep through.

Carrie from Flying with a Baby agrees that this is vital in creating a peaceful road trip environment. “Plan the route and have a rough idea of where you can stop and stretch your legs. Try to limit the amount of stops you have to short pitstops, so you can reach your destination faster, rather than be demoralised watching the ETA draw on and on.”

“Long road trips with children are always a challenge, no matter how old the kids are – they are just not made to sit still! So, my best tip would be to plan enough stops along the way. Plan a short walk to a nice viewpoint along the road, have a picnic, or stop at a playground. Kids need to be able to move and there is no better way to tire them out than spending some time outdoors”, says Jurga from Full Suitcase.

Snacks

Apples

“Pack more snacks than you think you need, and a range of them,” says Carrie, advising to “try to avoid chocolate or sticky food for obvious reasons and hand out one item at a time”. Snacks are a great distraction tactic for children and it may allow you a couple of peaceful minutes as they devour the treats that you’ve packed. One of the most important things to consider when it comes to packing food for your car journey is how they will be handled. As Carrie mentioned, chocolate and items which will struggle with heat – whether that’s from the car or your child’s hands – can melt and become messy. Instead, opt for food that is contained, such as packets of crisps, or healthy snacks, such as carrot sticks. With this in mind, keep a pile of napkins, as well as wet wipes, on hand in case of any mishaps!

Although snacks are great at keeping everyone happy, they can also have the opposite effect. One of the ways in which this can happen is if arguments arise between who wants what. This can be avoided by packing individual packs of snacks for everyone, with cool bags being perfect for this if you need to keep things chilled.

Comfort

One of the biggest problems when it comes to road trips is being uncomfortable in your vehicle. Being crammed into the back of a small car can make children feel claustrophobic and agitated quicker. When it comes to buying a car, why not select one that is fantastic for a family? Selecting one that is slightly bigger means that arguments are less likely to arise. Plus, a larger boot space means that you can easily load all of your family’s bits and bobs into there, creating more space

for you all in the car.

Jane from Family Traveller shared some great tips on when to plan your drive: “If it’s a longer car journey, I take the children’s pillows from their beds and a comfy throw. Quite frankly there’s nothing that beats a long nap in the car for kids. It’s a great way to pass the time and means they arrive fresher. Leaving very early in the morning does mean getting them out of bed early, but a quick transition to a cosy car also means you can get there faster and before the traffic starts to build. This works particularly well for Bank Holidays and start of school holiday getaways when everyone is hitting the road for those hotspots like Cornwall and Devon.”

Electronics

Reading

There are often a lot of questions surrounding whether or not you should allow your children to spend time on electronics. However, when travelling for long distances, they can come in particularly useful, especially if your little ones are getting a bit fed up! Although this doesn’t mean that they should be glued to a screen for hours on end, they can come in useful several hours into your trip. “Bring a couple of power packs if you only have one charging point for tablets. We usually limit screen time before a trip, so it’s a real treat on a long journey”, shares Carrie.

Whereas portable DVD players used to be a great go-to for car journeys, iPads are now a perfect alternative. Not only are your children no longer limited to a couple of DVDs, but they can also have games pre-downloaded for them to enjoy on the journey. With a wide variety of apps available, from educational options to those made for music streaming, such as Spotify, your kids will have a range of choice to occupy them.

“When your children are awake, lively chats can happen in the car, or you can put the radio on and sing along. Keeping the mood happy and part of the holiday makes everyone feel better. Alternatively give them an iPad with headphones with a great kid’s film you know they haven’t seen before.” shares Jane. A family sing-along can be the perfect bonding time for you all, so make sure that you have a few of your favourite albums ready to go!

Fran from Whinge Whinge Wine tells us that her girls “love listening to movie sound tracks while we are on the road. Moana and Mamma Mia keep them entertained for ages. We stream these to our car stereo using Apple Play and have a few good old-fashioned CDs for back up”.

Hopefully these tips have offered some inspiration for your next road trip. If you’re looking for a new car before you embark on your next journey, take a look at our Mercedes Benz approved used models available at our dealerships.