We’re hoping to visit Europa Park and the Black Forest in Germany next year and VIP keeps suggesting we drive there instead of flying.
The very thought of spending just one hour in a confined space with my kids gives me heart palpitations. So how on earth am I expected to survive an extra long car journey with them?
So this got me thinking – if we did opt to do a road trip, how would I cope without arriving at the other end looking five years older and wanting to punch something (or someone)? Booze might help but it’s not a great idea in case I need to take the wheel; instead I needed a concrete plan. And here’s what I came up with.
Before heading off, sit the kids down and let them know what’s acceptable and what’s not on the journey. i.e. throwing insults, physical contact, name calling etc are all off limits.
So when the arguments start (notice I said ‘when’, not ‘if’ – I’m being realistic here!), I have every reason to issue a first warning – and if that’s ignored – I dish out the punishment (usually remove their devices).
Preparation is key
Have everything they could possibly want on the trip – drinks, headphones (a godsend), a blanket, pillow, tech devices etc…you know what your kids like and want – so make life easier by not forgetting to take their favourite items with you.
…with sweets, promises of spending money or something they really want. i.e So you’ll say to them “If you manage to be nice to each other for the next two hours, we will stop at a service station and buy you a magazine and your favourite sweets”.
Have at least five go-to games that you can play in the car. You could also make up your own games – or ask your kids interesting questions like these.
And if all else fails and arguments ensue, I have three go-to tips:
1. Create a fake conversation with your partner: without naming names, start slating someone you both know. Your kids will want to eavesdrop and will ask who you are talking about – but don’t tell them. Make up crazy stuff that the person does or how they behave. Your kids will be fascinated to listen in and will want to know who their parents are so disgruntled with. You could even turn it into a game by asking them to guess who it is you are talking about. And then watch their faces when you tell them you made the whole thing up.
2. Give them one warning that you will confiscate their devices if they do whatever they have done to upset you again. And then do it. Always follow through on promises! They get in such a stink about not having it that they’ll probably go quiet and start sulking – but hey….it will be a peaceful journey!
3. If you or your partner doesn’t suffer from car sickness, then separate the kids. One of the parents sits in the back with them – and the kids can take it in turn to sit in the front.
I recently read an interesting survey commissioned by iCarhireinsurance.com which asked parents that had hired a car about the top techniques they use to survive long (more than two-hour) car journeys.
Here are the results – and some more inspiration for you to survive that long car journey!
- “Something beginning with P…”: Nearly half (47%) of parents said that they used classic car games, like iSpy and 20 Questions, to entertain their children.
- The Wheels Go Round & Round & Round: Over a third (34%) listened to their child’s favourite song on repeat in the car.
- Plug ‘em in: One in four (24%) admitted that they allowed electronic devices to be used for longer than they would normally allow at home.
- Bedtime rules/routine thrown out the car window: A quarter (25%) admitted to allowing their children to stay awake in the car later than their usual bed time.
- Not caring about the car looking like an emptied dustbin.: A quarter (25%) said that on long car journeys they are more relaxed about the mess being made by their children – what’s a box of raisins, strewn breadsticks, crisps and drinks’ cartons everywhere between family anyway?!
- “Another sweet darling?”: One in four (24%) parents admitted to bribing their children to be well behaved with treated and sweets.
- Plug ‘em in but don’t forget the headphones: To promote a tranquil car: one in five (19%) provide headphones for electronic devices so they don’t have to listen to that bleeping game, YouTube video or film perhaps?
- Fast food pit stops: One in five (19%) have bribed their children to behave with the promise of a visit to a fast food outlet.
- Visualising that first drink on the bar at the end of the road: 13% of parents have survived a long car journey by visualising their first pint or glass of wine on arrival.
- Speak in code: 12% have spoken in code about distance to destination and possible rest stops so children don’t pick up on the conversation. 6% have also promised ridiculous rewards to their children if they would stop asking the usual “are we nearly there question?”.
Do you have any great tips for keeping the peace when travelling with kids?
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