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road trip with kids
  1. Breakdown
13th May 2021

Tips for a stress-free road trip with kids

Tips on planning a stress-free car trip with kids, plus six things to take to make the journey easier.

Car Insurance from just £125 per year

“I’m bored,” “I need a wee,” and “Are we there yet?” – three phrases that can easily spoil your journey when you’re heading off on a road trip with kids in the car. So how do you keep children happy and fully occupied on a road trip?

Super-considerate mums and dads from the team at Sterling Insurance have come up with their checklist for keeping kids occupied the next time you take them out on a trip.

And they all agreed that preparation is key if you are planning a road trip with kids. Here’s what they advise.

road trip with kids

Battery? Check. Oil? Check. Water…

There’s nothing worse than being stranded on the hard shoulder with hot and hungry kids in the car because your engine has overheated.

Before your trip, check the battery, oil, water, lubricants, tyres, lights, electrical components, wiper blades and windscreen washer levels. You can find several other items you might need to check in our blog about what to remember when you breakdown.

Consider Sterling breakdown cover, which can cost as little as £25.42 a year – a fraction of the cost of an emergency call out, tow and repairs at a garage miles away from home. To find out more about the value of breakdown cover, read our blog on the true cost of not having breakdown cover.

A little research can go a long way

You’ll probably use a satnav for directions but it’s well worth taking a look at an old fashioned map to familiarise yourself with the route before you set out on a road trip with kids.

Identify places of interest that you’ll pass or you can detour to, and plan stops to break the journey so everyone can have a rest, stretch their legs, drink some water and pop to the loo. 

If there are landmarks along the way, stopping to check these out can be a great way of engaging your children, and learning a few facts about each place can work wonders. Kids will often have questions about what they see en route, so imagine how impressed they’ll be if you can deliver a few nuggets of wisdom. 

Timing is key

If you’re travelling a long way on a road trip with kids it may be worth leaving before they wake. Imagine how exciting it would be for them to go to bed at home and then wake up at a ferry port waiting to be whisked off to the continent. 

Leave plenty of time for the journey too. Wherever you are headed, you will probably run into delays. Whether it’s roadworks, a crash or simply being stuck behind a tractor on a country lane, the journey will usually take longer than you imagined. 

Give yourself at least an hour longer than you think the journey will take, otherwise you may find yourself rushing the last 40 miles. In such cases, tempers can rise quickly, so it’s better if you aren’t in any rush.

Get there fast, but don’t race

If you are headed for the seaside funfair or a theme park, the white knuckle ride can wait till you get there.

Accelerate, brake and corner gently to give the kids in the car a comfortable ride. Shouting at the vehicle in front to get out of the middle lane will just get everyone on edge. Stay calm, count to 10, and think of your passengers’ wellbeing rather than your frustration at the inconsiderate driving of others.

Make a playlist for all your passengers

Your favourite music won’t necessarily be top of the pops on a road trip with kids. Plan a varied playlist that reflects all your passengers’ musical tastes. Another option is an audiobook; go for a tale that all the family will enjoy.

And watch the volume, if you can’t hear one another speak comfortably, it’s probably too loud. 

Pack snacks and drinks for the road trip

Children, adults, grandparents, most people enjoy a little nibble when they get bored, and they may get bored if your road trip takes you along mile after mile of dull motorway. 

Pack a variety of snacks and drinks but avoid chocolate, which can melt in a warm full car. Mints, fruit and crisps are ideal, but make sure you have a rubbish bag handy for wrappers, packages, peel and pips.

Go for water rather than sugar-laden soft drinks or energy drinks. Those alternatives on a road trip with kids could make them – and possibly granny – a little hyperactive.

Be sympathetic to demands for comfort breaks

If someone needs a break, let them have one. There’s little worse than sitting with your legs crossed in the back of a car for hours on end. 

If you’ve planned properly and given yourself plenty of time for your road trip with kids, there’s no reason for you not to stop for a comfort break every time someone asks.

road trip with kids

Plan some games for the trip

Take your passengers’ minds off the journey, and hopefully off their need for the loo, by playing games en route. Anything from ‘I Spy’ to ‘Hangman’ will make the journey go a little faster.

You can get the kids to guess the miles between stops or look out for particular landmarks that you spotted earlier during your pre-route planning.

You can also get them to put their initials on the walls of your car tyres before you set out and the child whose initials are nearest the ground each time you stop can win a prize.

Pack travel bags for everyone

People get great comfort from having a few personal possessions around them, and the kids will be no different. Let each family member pack their small travel bag for the road trip.

This can include their favourite sweets, perhaps a small teddy, pack of cards, computer game or gadget – anything that makes them happy, as long as it doesn’t take up too much room.

Six essentials to pack for a road trip with kids

Blankets and sleeping bags

Pack blankets or sleeping bags in case the kids in the car are cold after a trip to the beach or are soaking wet from the rain. Pillows are a bonus.

Disposable bags

Have plenty of carrier bags handy. You can use them for sick passengers, as nappy sacks and rubbish bags.

First aid kit

Pack a first-aid kit with plasters, gauze pads, safety pins, tape, antiseptic cream or spray, insect repellent, sting cream, swabs, pain relief, thermometer, tweezers, scissors and saline solution to clean wounds.

Sun protection

Take spare hats, sun visors and plenty of sunblock and after sun moisturising cream for the kids in the car — you never know, we may get a summer!

Towels

Don’t forget towels. British weather is unpredictable so the risk of getting soaked in a downpour is high. Bringing towels can help everyone get dried off before getting back in the car for a more comfortable journey. A towel can also be used as an emergency seat cover if one of the kids in the car gets travel sick. 

Protective masks, gloves and sanitiser

It’s a good idea to pack plenty of PPE (face masks and latex gloves) in these times. Don’t forget an ample supply of hand sanitiser.

Don’t go anywhere without peace of mind insurance cover

Sterling can provide affordable peace of mind protection whatever your insurance needs. If you’re planning your next road trip and need car insurance, give us a call on 0344 381 9990.

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