“Are we nearly there yet?” Surviving the Car Journey to your Holiday Cottage
We’ve all been there, you’ve finally packed the car with practically everything you own, checked the house (if you’re anything like me at least ten times) and you’re off. Literally five minutes into the journey a little voice pipes up
“Are we nearly there yet?”
You resist the temptation to scream.
“We’ve only just left the village, it’s five hours yet!!!” But instead come back with “Not yet darling, not long now, just watch your DVD quietly”.
I have to admit, I take my hat off to previous generations who managed long car journeys without DVD players, iPads and other such gadgetry! How did they do it? If I suggest a bit of ‘Non-screen time’ it doesn’t go down too well with my two. With ‘I Spy with My Little Eye’ we seem to lack the imagination beyond the obvious ‘car’, ‘road’, ‘sky’ and quickly run out of steam. We’ve also tried the telling ‘a bit of a story each’ game which seems to end in tears with my oldest quickly giving characters my youngest has invented grisly deaths!
In fact, it usually works out better if the children aren’t interacting with each other and just watch their own films. Otherwise, if they are not distracted they fall out over ‘space division’ in the back seat and looking at each other funny. Yes, travelling a long distance with little ones to put it politely can be a test of one’s nerves! Here are a few tips for surviving the car journey.
1) Start off with low expectations
One memorable journey back from a holiday cottage in Cornwall we decided to try the night time travelling approach. We left after dinner and bath at the holiday cottage and got the girls into their pyjamas and bundled them into the car. “They’ll sleep the whole way back!” we smugly said to each other. ‘We’ll be able to talk to each other!” Hah! How wrong we were! It did work for our oldest after about half an hour she nodded off to her DVD. However, the youngest cried and whinged all the way from Cornwall to Birmingham! I arrived home feeling like I needed vast quantities of gin, intravenously! Lesson learnt, treat the journey as a means to an end and expect a ‘few bumps’ along the way. Unless you’re very lucky, travelling with little ones is rarely easy.
2) Take lots of snacks
I keep, in the front of the car, with me a bag full of snacks, which I dish out at times of crisis i.e. whinging, crying and fighting. There are healthy snacks but sometimes nothing will do but full on sugar-laden sweets to keep the little darlings quiet. One just has to hope the sugar rush isn’t too bad whilst strapped in a car seat. We never have chocolate in the car- far too messy and will involve Daddy having a meltdown along with the children!
3) Pack some fun things to do
I also keep in my trusty bag some new DVDS, sticker and or colouring books and colouring pencils (note: NOT felt tips as this would also involve a Daddy melt down!) Again, I only try and produce these goodies at crisis time! We’ve just brought my eldest a pack of cards that has different suggestions for games in the car which we will trial on our next cottage holiday. As well as this, some friends have suggested audio stories which work well with their children; we will invest in some for the next long journey (I’ll try anything for a bit of peace and quiet!)
4) Break the journey up.
Anything over three hours and we will break the journey. We try to stop around lunchtime for a picnic and loo break. We often stop at National Trust places as there is usually something for the children to do, even if it is just a run around to let off some steam!
5) Be prepared
I keep a plastic bag in the front with me that tends to get used for rubbish or as an emergency sick bag! I also make sure I have about my person, wipes, tissues, and hand gel. Yes, I should have been in the Scouts!
6) Travelling with children does get easier!
I, personally, found when the oldest was a baby, and the only child, travelling was easy, she would just sleep all the time. The REALLY hard bit was travelling with a toddler AND a baby, the toddler doesn’t need the sleep and they have the attention span of a fish and can’t be distracted by DVDs and books. You’re also desperately trying to keep them quiet so they don’t wake the baby and then you have two to deal with!
However, they do grow up and then can be more easily distracted with iPads, phones, sweets and books. You just have to get through the tricky early years. Any tips of your own for surviving the car journey? Please let us know!