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How to survive a long car journey with kids

by LaurettaCWright
car journey

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.

Manage expectations

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.

car journey

I mean, seriously…who looks this happy in a car? Like, ever?

Bribe them…

…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.

car journey

Here's an idea – kids travel in the boot!

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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Linking up with…

Musings Of A Tired Mummy


Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... 14th October 2018 - 9:49 pm

We tend to break journeys up into 90 minute or 2 hour chunks. We play lots of games and sing songs to keep people occupied. Thanks for linking up with #stayclassymama

Claire Rocks 12th October 2018 - 5:29 pm

you have got some really good points here! thanks

LaurettaCWright 14th October 2018 - 6:35 am

Hope they were useful Claire – thanks!

Mummy here and there 12th October 2018 - 9:44 am

Handy tips for us parents thanks for sharing X

Paul Mills 6th May 2018 - 2:38 pm

These are really great tips! Going on a road trip is definitely exciting with the kids. The idea of making fake conversations is so funny and useful. All children are different, but this text is so universal! I travel often with my family and I’m barely surviving. But with this list I’m safe 😀
How often do you travel with your kiddos?

LaurettaCWright 6th May 2018 - 3:42 pm

Glad you like the tips Paul – we try to limit long car journeys – even short ones can be a bit of a mare. If we read them the riot act before we go, we’re usually ok! And if we’re making a long journey I’ll refer to this list!

Quais os melhores cursos de inglês online 31st October 2017 - 10:40 am

My family would just give food and food for their kids, so they would be quiet alll the journy ! kkk

LaurettaCWright 31st October 2017 - 10:47 am

That’s another way to get them to be quiet I guess!

Cal at Family Makes 28th August 2017 - 2:02 pm

After all of our long car journeys to France, I thought I’d tried every trick in the book, but no, I haven’t! The ‘make up a story about someone’ trick is one I’ve never heard before, and I must admit I’ve not tried separating them by sitting one in the front seat either. Very clever!

LaurettaCWright 29th August 2017 - 6:37 am

OOoh let me know how you get on – and if it worked! No guarantees of course but you can try!

Krystal herrera 24th August 2017 - 8:33 am

This is so funny but helpful for the kids. Going on a road trip is definitely exciting with the kiddos. You’re right it’s all about preparations. But, I never tried the fake conversations to triggered them to join in haha. Anyways, lovely post indeed. Looking forward to more! 🙂

LaurettaCWright 24th August 2017 - 9:53 am

Thanks Krystal – glad you enjoyed it and it inspired you!

Helen 22nd August 2017 - 9:49 pm

I never did long haul car trips with Ellie when she was little. I can imagine they are a nightmare though! All your tips sound fab. Preparation for it definitely seems to be the key.
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LaurettaCWright 26th August 2017 - 8:47 pm

I think it was the scouts who said ‘be prepared’ wasn’t it? They weren’t wrong!

Agata 22nd August 2017 - 10:53 am

Well, they need to have something to do… a car TV comes very handy on long drives… kids always love watching a good movie or a cartoon.

LaurettaCWright 22nd August 2017 - 4:42 pm

Yes 100% agree – a movie is a great idea! Thanks Agata!

Kirsty 22nd August 2017 - 10:20 am

I dread this when Mia is older. Thanks for the handy tips and tricks they will certainly be of use.

LaurettaCWright 22nd August 2017 - 4:41 pm

I hope it has helped – let’s hope we don’t have to make as many long journeys in the car!

Ami 22nd August 2017 - 9:39 am

Haha I love the idea of making fake conversations. Children are so inquisitive so they’ll definitely want to know what’s going on.

Ami xxx

LaurettaCWright 22nd August 2017 - 4:40 pm

That’s the idea Ami! Anything to keep the peace!

Rhian Westbury 22nd August 2017 - 8:34 am

I used to love car journeys as a kid, but I was quite lucky as I loved reading so I’d do that for most of the journey x

LaurettaCWright 22nd August 2017 - 8:40 am

Trouble is kids don’t read nowadays – and if I tried to get them to read they’d say they were car sick!

Jacinta 22nd August 2017 - 8:30 am

Yep – confiscate devices – it works like a charm overtime. Some great tips here. I find that as they get older, the bickering is the worst on a car journey.

LaurettaCWright 22nd August 2017 - 8:39 am

I have to agree – mine are tweens now and argue like crazy – it might be worse when they are teens – they might start throwing curse words in there!

Ana De- Jesus 21st August 2017 - 8:19 pm

Being on a car journey with kids can be difficult but I agree that preparation is key. By planning in advance we can ensure that car journeys run more smoothly!

LaurettaCWright 21st August 2017 - 8:48 pm

Thanks Ana!

Mel 21st August 2017 - 7:50 pm

These are some great tips! Long car journeys with kids can be so stressful if you don’t organise things before – headphones are a must!

LaurettaCWright 21st August 2017 - 7:53 pm

I actually keep two spare pairs permanently in the back of the car so we never forget them!

Kara 21st August 2017 - 4:53 pm

I alwys curse if we forget the headphones – nothing worse than listening to their games / film when you are driving. We do have some fun games we play too

LaurettaCWright 21st August 2017 - 7:28 pm

Yes – and then the kids have volume level battles to annoy each other – headphones are an absolute must!

Vesna 21st August 2017 - 9:35 am

Preparation is the key! Prepare your child for the journey. talk to them before the journey, and I mean weeks before. It worked every time for us!

LaurettaCWright 21st August 2017 - 12:43 pm

Fab – thanks for your handy advice!


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