How to survive long car journeys with young kids

Having survived a round trip of over 500 miles whilst camping last month, I have put together a collection of survival tips which should help you keep your cool and delay the inevitable ‘are we there yet?’ dialogue. As much as I wish this is a definitive list and will ensure that your children will remain quiet the whole journey, they won’t. They will ask are we there yet but hopefully only 16 times not 436 times. The summer is upon us, so grab some bags and get out on the road but don’t forget the following things!

Assign them a job

This time we gave Flo her bunny, who was accompanied with her own medical bag. This was basically an envelope with some plasters, an empty Calpol syringe and a bit of bandage. She had a ‘prescription’ and he needed to be checked every hour (we had a 6 hour journey ahead of us). It worked a treat!


Give them a pack of colours and colouring books, it is fun but will not last long. You will need to implement other ideas while they are occupied. However, it will give you a good 20 minutes to regain some of your patience.

Portable DVD player

Whether you like it or not, putting kids in front of a screen helps pass time. What is worse? Them screaming down the car because they don’t understand the concept of time or letting them watch Frozen while they travel? I know which one I am banking on! Although invest in some headphones for them too and a contraption that will secure it to the back of the drivers headrest because no one needs to hear let it go for the 1000th time!


Snacks and some more. Make sure they are ready to grab and pass at the blink of an eye. You do not want a meltdown because you cant get the cheese butty to them in record time. Packing some of the handy fruit pouches can save the hunger pangs. For some reason travelling makes everyone hungry and thirsty but limit the liquids. No one needs a service station trip every 20 miles. Going rogue without any sweets is a dangerous game, do not do it. Buy the sweets. Use them to your advantage.

car lunchbox, fun food art for kids

Pack an emergency bag

I use those handy grab bags, pack some wipes a muslin, some Calpol, plasters and some nappy bags. They are handy for catching anything from chewed up unwanted Soreen to placing the used wipes in. Make sure to add in anything that you think you will need.

Travel in comfort

Those neck cushions and a soft blanket can help small children feel that little more comfortable on as long journey. Although, don’t give the baby one though!

Image source: Mother Freckle

Add in some wriggle room

Overestimate how long it will take you to get to your destination. The kids won’t understand but the last thing you need is high expectations that you will arrive for dinner, and be stuck on the M6 with a packet of pombears to share between four of you. It also allows for plenty of rest stops, because apparently sitting in traffic will bring on the need to pee.

Schedule it

I know, I know, kids do not work well with timings. If you could see me getting out of the house with both kids of a morning you would know how much I struggle to get them both out within 20 minutes. However, if you can set off when they are due their nap then what an absolute diamond of a morning that would be. Nice warm milk and a freshly changed nappy and that baby should be fast asleep in no time at all. Unless you have a car seat hater then buy some earplugs and I wish you well! The same goes for toddlers, if you have a very long journey then set off at bedtime and stop over somewhere. The cost of a hotel is worth it for the easier journey.

Two kids asleep in the backseat, seen from the rearview vanity mirror

Cool as a cucumber

Remember that the kids will vibe off you. If you can take a couple of seconds before you get in the car to just take a few deep breaths then you can hopefully give your brain the extra oxygen it requires to meet the demands of traveling with small children. Do not forget to take your own snacks and drinks, and if you can feel your annoyance towards your other half rising just do your best Elsa impression and let it go.

You will be there in no time at all!

Image source: Mother Freckle

If you have any other tips then do share them!



Sammi-Jo Freckle

Hello! My name is Sammi-Jo, a nearly 30 year old mother of 2, wife to one. I am a supporter of mothers, women and humans and I have a genuine love for cake and sleep.... although the latter is a distant memory.

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