Since we’ve had little b, we’ve travelled quite a bit in the car. My parents live a good two hours away, my nana lives a good three hours and Mr D’s granddad is up in Yorkshire! When b was a baby, the journeys were pretty easy. B slept and we’d make a couple of stops for feeds and nappy changes. As b got older and more interested (and bored), the drives started to become more challenging. They usually consisted of me trying to twist and turn to pick up dropped toys, snacks, teddies and blankets. It just wasn’t relaxing and I’d end up peed off, with a bad back! Over the past three years, here are the things that have made long car journeys a bit easier for us. What are your tips?!
Plan! If you know you have a long journey ahead then do some pre-planning. Take a look at the route, familiarise yourself with the service stops and look at what other things you could do along the way. I find just looking on Google Maps is useful to see what’s near the motorway we will travel on. I also find the site Baby Routes really good for stop off ideas! I find planning important because it just isn’t relaxing to scroll through google maps and whatnot on my phone, trying to find somewhere to stop while hubby is asking should we stay on or get off the motorway and toddler is whinging that he is bored. So plan! Plan, plan and plan some more!
Split up the journey. If you are doing a long journey, be sure to split it up with a proper stop, not just a dash to the loo and M&S stop. When we go up to Yorkshire, we stop just off the M1 near Nottingham. This is approximately half way through the journey and is ideal. We found a soft play just off the motorway for wet weather and we found a park (about 10 minutes from the motorway) around Derby. Both have been ideal for getting some lunch and allowing b to have a proper run around.
Entertainment. We got a DVD player for the car and have never looked back. It keeps B entertained and he is quite happy to watch film after film. I’d say it is one of the best “baby/toddler” purchases ever haha!
Snacks. It goes without saying doesn’t it! If you have a toddler, prepare to pack lots of snacks. When b was younger, we found these snack pots in the pound shop were GREAT for journeys. He can get his hand in to get a snack but if he drops the pot, the snacks stay inside. Genius!
Swap driving if you can. I don’t know why but Mr D always assumes the driving position on a journey. I actually drive more miles per week than D does so it is quite feasible that I would and could drive our long distance trips! I just tend to migrate to passenger side and he to drivers side! If b starts to get bored of the DVD or needs a bit of a break, I find sitting in the back and reading or playing games is handy. The problem for me, this makes me feel horribly travelsick and anxious. Luckily Mr D has no problem with faffing on his phone or iPad in the back of a car. So this is when we typically swap and I am driver for a bit 🙂
Play some music. It sounds stupid but it doesn’t have to be nursery rhymes for five hours. I don’t think we have EVER played a baby/child CD with nursery rhyme type songs on it. It would drive my up the bloody wall. We just pop on the radio or one of our playlists on Spotify. B is loving the Beatles at the mo, so much so that every car journey he requests “Yellow Submarine”. It’s getting a bit much but if he’s getting twitchy in the back, it goes on and all is calm again 😉 Mr D and I are very much into alternative and heavy metal music. Many a time it lulls b off into a nap when I’d least expect it!
Relax. Sounds stupid but I find if I already feel stressed and het up then this makes the trip a thousand times worse. I’ve learnt to just take a deep breath, keep in mind that the trip WILL end – we will get there and that getting stressed does not help with anything. I’ve also learnt that I can’t do everything and if my son wants to have a moan and a cry about it then so be it – this particularly goes for things that he dropped and I can’t reach them. I’m not stopping on the hard shoulder to pick up the teeny tiny toy I told you NOT to drop!
And on the subject of toys, I don’t mind b having something to play with or hold but if it is small I typically say no or tell him plenty of times that if he drops it, I cannot get it straight away. The best things I’ve found are soft toys that are quite large. If they slide down the side of his seat, I can usually grab them back out!
So there, happy, safe travels!