Top tips for reducing travel stress with children!

In a recent survey commissioned by APH 15.6% of people thought that travelling with children was one of the main causes of “travel stress” in the UK – if I’m honest I’m surprised the percentage isn’t higher! 

This year we will be taking our first family holiday abroad and rather than try to manage three excitable children on an aeroplane we’re taking the road trip angle.  

Although our holiday is a couple of months away I’m already starting to plan for the journey.  With around 800 miles to cover, approximately 5.5 hours drive in England followed by 7 hours on the ferry and a further 2 hours drive in France we’ve got plenty of travelling to get through. 

A photo posted by Colette B (@goingonanadventureblog) on Feb 22, 2015 at 7:15am PST

So far these are my plans for keeping the three of them occupied from door to door . . .

1. Sleep 

This may be wishful thinking but we will be setting off in the early hours of the morning (by which I mean actually the middle of the night!).  I realise they will likely be excited when we wake them up to get in the car but my plan is to literally pick them up in their pjs, put them in the car and tuck them in with blankets and hope that they nod off again.  We’re going to be meeting my parents and little sister somewhere near Birmingham so we’ll get dressed and have breakfast there before setting off again.

2.  Regular rest stops

I think regular rest stops are one of the most important things to consider when travelling with little ones.  If it’s just Dave & I, we tend to just suck it up and try to get most of a long journey done in one go – maybe a quick stop for the toilet and a coffee if needs must however travelling with the kids is a completely different ball game.  Stopping, even just to go to the toilet, breaks things up a bit for them and allows them chance to stretch their legs – though adds SO much time to the journey by the time you’ve got everyone out of their seats, to the toilets, fastened back in etc etc.  If possible try to factor in more exciting stops than your average service station, perhaps one which has a play area or even move slightly further off the main road and see if you can find a more appealing stop. 

3.  Snacks 

Car snacks for the win.  A secret stash of car snacks and drinks can be worth their weight in gold. Things which won’t leak or spill, foods which will clean up easily (so not jam sandwiches or squeezy yoghurt!)  

4. Games 

Although our children are quite young and the range of “in car” games we can play is quite limited I think I Spy will be a big one this year!  Chloe is getting really good with her phonics now so should be able to join in with that now.  Dave and I sometimes play word games, usually trying to take it in turns to say words beginning with a certain letter of the alphabet which Ben should also be able to do now.  in the past, Ben and I have had lengthy conversations imagining what we think might be in certain trucks – this can get quite fanciful but is always enjoyable and great for developing thinking skills! 

5. Screens

There’s a time and a place for screen time and long car journeys are top of the list.  This summer Chloe will be getting a new tablet for her birthday which will be loaded up with appropriate games and films, Ben will also have his tablet.  Amy will have a DVD player if necessary.  (Oh and headphones – purely for our own sanity!)  I’m not saying for a second I will be giving them their screens the moment they get into the car but they will be saved for when we really need them! 

A photo posted by Colette B (@goingonanadventureblog) on Apr 4, 2015 at 3:48am PDT

Alongside all of the above we also have the added bonus of travelling with my parents which means they have space in their car for a child (most likely Ben).  I’m hoping this will ease the pressure in our car as they won’t be quite so squished in with one another! 

I’d love to know your top tips for coping with long car journeys – have I missed anything?

*Disclaimer – We have received a small gift in return for writing this post*


  1. May 30, 2015 / 8:56 pm

    I love planning for journeys but there is so much to remember especially when you have little ones. We are going on a four hour flight this summer and I am worrying about keeping our two year busy for the duration. I just hope he sleeps haha xx Mummy2Monkeys xx

    • June 1, 2015 / 8:50 am

      Yes I'm quite nervous about al the things we need to do to prepare over the coming weeks!

  2. Karen Monkeyfooted Mummy
    May 31, 2015 / 7:12 am

    We love a road trip and our favourite is picture bingo (trees cars by colour animals etc) and we don't leave home without snacks an drinks

    • June 1, 2015 / 8:51 am

      Oh picture bingo – I like the idea of that.

  3. Janine
    May 31, 2015 / 10:37 pm

    I wasn't brave enough to start a car journey with the 2 kids yet. I done one with hubby and Matthew for 4 1/2 hours but that was it. I planned to go to Peppa pig world but take the ferry because we live in Ireland but I don't know yet. I would love Matthew to see it

    • June 1, 2015 / 8:51 am

      I think often the idea of it is worse than actually doing it – we drove everyone down to Swansea at Feb half term and that was LONG but we survived! x

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