My Top Tips For Family Road Trips – Surviving Long Drives With Small Children

If you follow me on Instagram then you might’ve spotted that we booked a super super last minute getaway this week, and me and Dil are jetting off to the beautiful Greek island of Rhodes on Saturday. Before booking I was checking out the weather forecast, and was very tempted to swap our dreams of flying off abroad for booking a stay-cation within the UK. Ultimately (mainly due to Dil’s desperation to ride in a plane and the fact that thanks to this heat wave holidays abroad are a bit of a bargain) we decided to head away from the UK this time, but it got me thinking about all of the beautiful places there are to visit in our own country.

We love jumping in the car and heading off on an adventure, and I love how we can be in a totally new place and have so many different experiences after just a few hours of driving. Living in Norfolk means going any where is usually quite a journey, I often joke that everything in Norfolk is an hour away, so we have become pros at family road trips. Today I’ve teamed up with MINI Countryman to bring you my top tips for a road trip adventure.

Pack plenty of snacks, and keep them in reaching distance

Back when I was a perfect parent (so before I had a child..) I swore blind that my child would never eat in their car seat. Sometimes I like to sit and laugh about how naive I was. My number one top tip for a super long road trip (or for parenting in general actually) is to offer snacks, and to keep them coming. One of the tips I learnt about kids and snacking from my friend Laura was to choose the right kind of snacks depending on what their purpose is. If you’ll be travelling during a meal time and you want something to keep them full until you arrive then try pairing protein and carbs together. If you’re on a long journey and you might be using snacks to keep them occupied a little (no judgement – we all do it) then choose less filling snacks like rice cakes. I also highly advise choosing the cleanest snacks possible, no one wants to get their child out of the car at the other end to discover they’ve been sitting on a piece of chocolate cake for 3 hours in white shorts – been there. If you’ve just splashed out on a used MINI Countryman and are heading off on holiday, the last thing you want to do is spend your time cleaning up mushed cake or mouldy banana from under their car seat.

I’ve seen some brilliant ideas on Pinterest where parents have packed little snack bags or bento lunch boxes for long trips. I tend to just hit Tesco before we set off and raid the snacks aisle, but whatever works best for your child – snacks of any kind are always a winner in my experience.

Car-aoke

My favourite thing about road trips has always been the music, I’ve been that way from the moment I passed my driving test. Me and my friends would plan a trip, then spend hours creating the perfect playlist to be the soundtrack of our journey. Even now certain songs take me back to different trips and adventures we got up to back then. It’s even easier these days with things like Spotify and Bluetooth – back in the day we had to burn an actual CD! Thanks to a few MINI Countryman accessories you can play great sounding music straight from your smart phone with just a few clicks.

My rule for road trip music is there is no judgement about song choice. Whether you want to jam away to the Spice Girls (me), get down to some 90s RnB (also me), enjoy some 80s power ballads (often me), or listen to Wheels on the Bus* on repeat the whole way (definitely me, thanks Dil..). Stick on anything you can sing along to, turn it up loud and turn the trip into a music concert staring you and all your passengers. You’ll be surprised at how quickly time passes while you’re performing and having fun.

*actually his favourite song currently is Big Shaq – Man’s Not Hot. I think I’d prefer Wheels on the Bus!

I Spy With My Little Eye..

Speaking of fun, what’s more fun than a few classic car games. Depending on how old your little ones are there are a variety of easy games you can play as you travel across the country, or just down the road. We tend to avoid tablets/reading/colouring etc whilst driving because Dil is just like me and gets quite car sick, so we stick to playing a lot of games that include looking out of the windows. Some of our favourites are:

  • I Spy – the absolute classic, we all know it. If your children aren’t too interested in letters yet, you can change it to “I spy with my little eye something [insert colour]” instead – still lots of fun!
  • I packed my bag.. – another one I played a lot as a kid. “I packed my bag and in it I put…” Each person takes it in turns to add something to the bag, and you must remember all of the previous things. Traditionally we played it following the alphabet (eg. Apple, Bag, Cat, etc) but again if your children are a bit young for that then random choices works great too.
  • Story game – this is a great one for vivid young imaginations. One person starts with a line from a story (eg. “Once upon a time there was a little boy called Dilan who was off on an adventure..”), the next person will then add another line and you keep going until you’ve made up some incredible far fetched imaginary tale. Ours usually end up revolving around poo but hopefully you’ll make some better ones!
  • Make up your own! Depending on the interests of the little people in your car you can make up whatever game suits. Dil is quite into cars and car manufacturers, so he quite likes making me shout out each make as it drives passed us, but you could see who can spot a certain letter or different animals or whatever will keep them interested.

So there you go! There are a few of my top tips for surviving a family road trip. I still haven’t quite figured out how to avoid the dreaded “are we there yet?” questions, but we are in the car often and Dil doesn’t do too badly. The main things are to be prepared and to have fun!

What are some of your best tips for road trips with young kids? And where are some of your favourite places to visit in the UK? I’m getting a destination list ready for a summer of adventuring!

*This is a collaborative post*

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