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Hit the Road with Ease: Holiday Travel Tips for Driving Long Distances with Children


Having the Easter weekend upon us, for many families, means travelling on a road trip to visit family or have a quick getaway. To travel a long distances for a holiday with our young children can be a bit of a daunting task, but with a bit of planning and some tips, it can be a smooth and fun journey for the whole family. After recently travelling my two-year-old and my ten-month-old all the way from Gauteng to the Western Cape, I have learnt that travelling can be tough on little bodies. So, I thought what better than to put down a couple of things that I have learnt while still fresh in my memory.


Toddler on a beach swing


1.     Plan Your Route


Plot out your route ahead of time. Remember to plan for rest stops. Research done in 2016 by the University of Bristol, studied the health impact on babies travelling in car seats, and found that young babies could be at risk of breathing difficulties if in an upright position in for long periods of time. (


Plan for meal breaks and if possible, points of interest along the way. My kids seemed to eat a lot less while traveling so it works well if you pack some food that they enjoy just to make sure that you get them to eat. It works well to plan a break at a place which has a nice play area or something interesting to stimulate your baby as you go along. Remember being tied down in a car seat can be extremely uncomfortable and boring for little people. Try to aim for a good balance of driving time and breaks to keep everyone refreshed and entertained.


2.     Pack Smart


Packing well is the key to a successful road trip. Make a list of basics such as snacks, drinks, nappies, wet wipes, a first-aid kit, something for entertainment, and any medications your kids may need. I filled up two large flasks so that I had some hot water to make bottles on the move and we had the tablet preloaded with some favourite movies. Pack these things in a bag behind your seat or in an organizer for quick access during the trip.


3.     Comfort is Key


Make sure your child is comfortable by dressing them in soft, breathable clothing. Bring their favorite blanket or stuffed animal. Adjust car seat straps to fit snugly but comfortably and use sunshades to block the sun (the old-fashioned blanket in the window works well too) and keeps the car cool.


4.     Entertainment Galore


Long drives can be very hard for kids, so pack many options to keep them entertained. Bring along coloring books, travel games, storybooks, or a tablet with their favorite movies. You could even create a road trip playlist with some fun kids songs.


5.     Snack Station


If your children are older, make a snack station in the car with a mix of healthy foods and their favourite snacks. Pack things that are easy to eat on the go, like fruits, cheese, fruit puree pouches, and crackers. Don't forget to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.


6.     Plan Pit Stops


Schedule regular breaks to stretch legs, use the bathroom, and let your kids burn off a bit of energy. Look for playgrounds or scenic spots where the whole family can take a break from driving. Take a short walk or do some simple stretching exercises to keep everyone refreshed.


7.     Keep Them Engaged


For an older child, engage them in the trip by pointing out interesting places, playing car games like "I Spy" or "20 Questions," or creating a travel journal together. Get them to spot different license plates or count red cars along the way for a fun and educational experience.


8.     Safety First, Always


Safety should always be top priority. Make sure that all children are buckled up properly, in an age-appropriate car seat or booster seat before hitting the road. You can teach older kids about road safety and remind them to stay in their seats while you are moving.


9.      Stay Relaxed and Flexible


Keep a relaxed and flexible attitude during your trip. Unexpected delays or changes in plans can happen, so be able to change as needed and focus on enjoying the time spent together as a family. Being positive and calm will help keep the environment and set the tone for a memorable road trip.


Bonus Tip


I found that both of my children became incredibly constipated during the two-day drive. Make sure that you plan for some high fiber meals and keep them well hydrated on the trip so that their tummies work well. Movement is also important to prevent constipation which is another reason why you should make sure that you stop often for them to move a bit.


Finally remember, driving long distances with young children can be a rewarding experience filled with bonding moments and memorable adventures. By following these tips and planning well, you can embark on your trip with confidence, knowing that you are well-prepared for the journey ahead. Safe travels, happy trails, and may your holiday be filled with joy and wonderful memories!

Baby on the beach




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