Travelling with children is no small feat, be it by car, plane, train or coach. The longer the transport takes, the more likely the children are to get bored, hungry, or irritated. Fortunately for you, if you decide to travel by your own car, you get much more flexibility in organizing the trip in a way that will make it easier both for yourself and your kids.
This is because you are the one in control of all that is happening in your car; you decide on breaks, for an hour or so or the whole night, and on what you take with you. Need a few extra toys on the way? No problem. To make sure even the youngest passengers enjoy the time spent in the car, take some time to plan the trip and prepare yourself.
Work out how to best plan travelling with children
It would be best if your child just slept through the whole time you’re driving, of course. You would then have no problem driving without any extra breaks or having to keep the little one entertained. This is why a number of parents decide to travel at night, especially that it also allows them to not get stuck in a traffic jam. Remember that night driving is not for everyone, though: if you tend to get sleepy or have problems concentrating, do stay in bed. There is no point putting yourself and your child at risk. It’ll be much better to go to sleep early and set out at 4 or 5 a.m. The first few morning hours should be as good for driving as the middle of the night with no traffic and no high temperatures; at the same time, your child will most likely sleep through a part of the driving anyway.
Travelling with children, or all you need to know about perfect organization of your trip
When planning a trip, remember to also think about the way you want to finish it. If you don’t figure out how to make your child sleep through all of your driving, you surely won’t get to your destination within the time suggested by your GPS device. To calculate the actual time it will take you to get there, add from a quarter to an hour of a break every 2 hours of driving. Whenever you have a choice, take these breaks in smaller car parks where you will have some peace and quiet and your child will have a chance to run a bit and simply get tired. If you’re lucky, this should give you at least half an hour of driving with a child who’s fallen asleep.
Should your calculations show that the trip is going to take very long, consider staying somewhere for the night when you have driven more or less half of the whole distance. You will need this e.g. if you’re driving to Croatia, Italy or Bulgaria. On the way to these destinations you will be passing through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and other countries where you can enjoy the short stay, do some sightseeing and make sure the time spent there is not wasted.
Since getting to your destination may take you longer than you would like it to take, it would be best to make the whole holiday as long as you can; if you can, make it more than two weeks long. Some people claim that for the child, it is best to leave for up to 6 weeks; kids take long to adapt and until they do, they can be either sleepy or irritated. This doesn’t help them enjoy the holiday at all. Realistically, though, hardly anyone has a chance to even request such a long holiday; for a regular employee 3 weeks will already be a luxury.
You should also remember that even a seemingly perfect plan will not have solutions to all problems you may face on the way. This is why, no matter how proud of it you are, don’t get too attached to it; the more flexible your approach, the more satisfied you will be in the end.
Good organization is the key to driving with children
There is no plan good enough to guarantee you have no problems driving with children; organization is the key to success here. First of all, you will definitely need to prepare the back seat for your kid. You will need a proper child seat, of course; do we have to mention it must be comfortable and in perfect condition? You should also put a blanket on the back seat; it is important that it is pleasant to the touch and easy to clean. If there is anything you can be sure about when it comes to travelling with children, it is the fact that your child will spill some drinks or drop some food on the seat. You should also install some curtains or sunshades on the side windows in the back. If you want your kid to sleep well, take a travelling pillow (unless the seat already has one built in) and their favourite fairy tales, as an audio book or a book you will be able to read aloud.
You should also have a bag with all the “equipment” you may need for your kid inside the car. Make sure it contains diapers, dry and wet wipes, water, an anti-bacterial gel, a change of clothes, a blanket, a first aid kit, different drinks and snacks, food and a lot of toys. Don’t give the kid all the toys at once or they’ll get bored long before you reach your destination. If you’re travelling with a baby, be sure to also take pacifiers, teething rings and rattles for them. Remember: putting these things in the trunk is pointless; it will force you to stop every time you need any of them. It is better to have them all at hand, even if this means less space (and comfort) in the car. More and more parents also decide to purchase a portable media player which can be installed in the headrest; the price is about 300 PLN. Just remember to give the remote and the bag with your kid’s stuff to the passenger; when you’re driving, you should focus all your attention on driving.
When you run out of films and your child is bored with all the toys you took, you will need to resort to using all the creativity you can find in yourself: make your kid watch the clouds to figure out which one looks like a dragon, count the cattle or storks, or do whatever else it is you will come up with. These simple activities will make it much easier for your child to enjoy the time spent in the car. Singing together can work wonders, too. Make sure you also drive smoothly; do not speed up or use the breaks too suddenly. Smooth driving makes it more likely that your child will fall asleep; it will also reduce the risk of them having stomach problems.
But most importantly, be positive! Travelling with children surely is more difficult than travelling alone but it is time spent with your family; you will remember it for years. Whatever happens, keep smiling and enjoy the holiday; you will miss these moments when you are older and your kid moves out.