15 Jul 2014

Long Driving With Children Under 3

We recently went to sunny Queensland for a week. I have family up there and when I was a lot younger my family would travel up frequently; and now that I have a family of my own we find ourselves making the trip often as well. Personally, I love Queensland. The warmer year round temperatures, the beaches, how cheaper everything is compared to Sydney; and I guess it's feels like home, having once lived there too. 

Again we drove up to Queensland. It just made sense economically to drive up when petrol is covered under our car lease. Plus if we flew not only would we be forking out money for fares but also a car rental, car seats and insurance. Then there's the hassle of carrying luggage and equipment, with two kids under three onto the plane ... no thanks. 

The drive to Queensland from Sydney is roughly about 10 hours without stopping, depending on who you ask and which route you take. I've been asked by a few people what's it like long driving with two kids and what advice do I have? So I've put together my tips on how to survive a long haul drive with children:

1. Pack lots of their favourite foods and drinks - even the food you don't like them having too frequently. The more bad it is for them the better, as this will distract and satisfy their boredom the most. This will also minimise the need to stop to get food.

2. Load the iPad or tablet with their favourite shows, movies, games or music. Eli watched a few Play School episodes online and played the Sesame Street Alphabet game until he got over it. 

3. Keep them comfortable. Put them in comfortable clothing and shoes. It was cold the morning we left so we also kept them warm with blankets. Place within their reach anything you think they need that will keep them comfortable, such as their favourite toys. 

4. Talk and have conversations with your children, given your child is already talking or thrives in conversation. Eli likes to be included in our conversations. If Ian and I are speaking and haven't addressed him in awhile he'll interrupt us and say "Talk to me!" We just spoke to him throughout the ride to keep in entertained and to pass the time. We asked him what he did last at childcare? Who is friends were? What's his favourite thing to do there? A conversation we probably repeated four times during the drive. We used the long period of time as an opportunity to teach, as we asked Eli to count as far as he could and tried to teach him the days of the week and what he did that day of the week. 

4. Play games with your children. If they're old enough you could play car games or maybe even create new one's together. Eli was entertained by the mountains he saw outside the window, so we'd make him count how many he can see. Not an overly interesting game but hearing his answers, then probing him to elaborate more on his responses, again distracts him from the long drive. 

5. Stop frequently and get everyone to stretch their legs. Admittedly this was something we didn't do only because we decided we would gauaged how our boys were doing to determine when we would stop. We agreed we would stop for toilet breaks, meals and for out of control crying. 

6. Play their favourite songs in the car. Have their favourite cd or tracks ready to play when you need another form of distraction. Sing along and encourage your child to participate. 

7. Be flexible and have realistic expectations of how the experience will be. I actually thought the worst and so I was pleasantly surprised of how well the drive ended up being. We were also open to potentially staying over night somewhere in the event we felt the boys were not settled and had had enough of sitting in the car.

8. Drive over night. This tip was actually recommended to us and crossed our minds. However decided not to do it because we feared we'd get "lucky" and they wont actually sleep during the night drive. Plus we would not have gotten any rest during the day leading up to the drive that evening. Driving over night does make sense because this is the period of time they're mostly sleeping anyways but I think its a strategy best suited for kids a little older or maybe infants. And if parents got rest during the day too - don't drive if you're tired parents!!

Overall I think the key to successfully driving for several hours with children is having lots of distraction strategies in place in the event they become restless; and being open to stopping frequently if required. For us we just let the boys be and enjoy the ride, pulling out one of mentioned strategies above when we noticed they were getting bored. The drive up we only stopped for petrol and an hour for lunch and we arrived at our destination in 11 hours. The drive back we stopped three times and for longer periods of time and end up arriving home 12 hours later.

What are your tips and recommendations for long haul travel with small children? What worked and what didn't work for your family?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share Buttons

Share this post with friends