Tips for Car Journeys With Kids

Long car journeys can fill even the most laid back parent with dread and as both mine and Mr ATWWAH’s families live miles away from us packing up the car and putting the kids in the back is something we have had to get used to fairly quickly.  When they are babies, providing they don’t get car sick, long journeys aren’t too bad.  Master and Mini ATWWAH have always been lulled to sleep by the car although Mini ATWWAH will give you a good 20 minutes of unexplained crying first.

It’s more when they are toddlers and can speak, and more importantly ask questions, that the fun really begins.  No matter where we are going Master ATWWAH almost always now asks ‘are we nearly there yet?’ by the time we’ve got to the end of our road.  So, it’s no surprise that recent research by Parkdean Holidays found that within the first hour of any car journey is when you’re likely to hear ‘are we nearly there yet?’ and not just the once either.

They surveyed 1478 parents all about family holiday car journeys as part of their quest to find tips on travelling with kids.  Unsurprisingly, being prepared seems to be the key to a smooth-ish car journey.

boy driving car

‘are we nearly there yet?’


Having entertainment up your sleeve is the best way to stave off boredom on a long car journey.  Books and electronic devices are the fail safes with lots of favourite content being downloaded.  In the ATWWAH household we’re big fans of downloading Cbeebies favourites onto the ipad from iplayer, although make sure the battery is well charged before setting off.

Traditional games like I Spy are favourites.  Master ATWWAH loves playing tell us what you can see and even though it’s a motorway journey so you see much of the same it still keeps him entertained.  He also points out things or explains things in a way you wouldn’t necessarily do as an adult, for instance whenever we go past a Premier Inn he shouts ‘moon hotel’ because of the logo.


Before I had kids our car was a food free zone.  I have always hated getting in a car that stinks of food or has wrappers everywhere, it just reminds me of a mini cab.  But when you have kids standards drop and not only is the house now a haven of plastic fantastic toys but the car now has its own family of raisins living in the back.

Food which is easy to handle, and even more importantly easy to pass from the front seat to the back include raisins, crisps and bananas.  Drinks are trickier.  Master ATWWAH rarely finishes a drink in one go so I try to get the mini water bottles which have the pop up top to drink from so he can push it back down.  Although realistically there is always spillage which is why I avoid anything else.

Ginger biscuits came up in the Parkdean Holidays research as a good snack for holding off car sickness too.

Regular Stops

As tempting as it is to stay in the car and just get to your destination when you have kids regular stops are important.  Babies need feeding regularly so now we have Mini ATWWAH to consider we always leave just after he’s had some milk so we can buy ourselves three or four hours.  Getting some fresh air and moving their legs is important for children on long car journeys.

Service stations are still not the nicest places to stop at but the ones in the UK are trying to be more family friendly and you can often find a play area in there and microwaves/bottle warmers etc.  I’m never organised enough to take a picnic so we often spend the first 10 minutes discussing arguing about what we are going to eat.  Mr ATWWAH sees it as an opportunity to get a Burger King.

We also try to do really long journeys in the evening after bath time so that the kids are sleepy anyway.  This doesn’t necessarily always work though as when you get to your destination they often think it’s the morning when in fact it’s the middle of the night and all you want to do is go to sleep.

For more tips on travelling with kids in the car check out this animation from Parkdean Holidays which sums up their research findings.

This post was written in association with Parkdean Holidays, an award winning British holiday company.  If you have any tips on travelling with the kids in the car then share them on Twitter @Parkdean using #AreWeNearlyThereYet

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  1. Food is vital, you are right! In our experience, so are cds (we’re old school) for a singalong, plus books/activity books and pencils. It all gets easier when they’re older too. Trust me on that!!

    • Thanks Sarah, we’re old school too on the CD’s. I live by my no kids nursery rhyme CD’s etc in the car. They listen to our music choices but it does mean Master ATWWAH can do a good rendition of Belle and Sebastian’s version of Here Comes The Sun 🙂

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