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Travel + Fun

16th May 2021

Staycation summer: 5 tried-and-tested tips for going on a road trip with kids

Trine Jensen-Burke

road trips with kids

Growing up, and going on road trip summer holidays through Sweden and Norway every summer, I think my mum spent more time wedged between the front and back seat, trying to negotiate constant fights between myself and my 18 months younger sister.

I also remember always having to pee at the most awkward of times, like 10 minutes after we had left the petrol station we stopped at, and my dad telling me I had to hold it, because you can’t just pull over on a motorway.

But I also remember all the fun. The car games and the snack breaks and the adventures of just stopping new places and discovering new towns or areas. I remember the conversations and sing-alongs and the car naps and honestly, road trips are the best. And what true family memories are made of.

And now, as a mum, I love taking my own children on road trips. We have spent the past couple of summers on driving holidays in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, and we have had some amazing – and also some not-so-amazing– times along the way.

I’d like to think I have also learned some lessons – and so if you are also hitting the road this summer with your little ones in the back, I hope these road trip sanity tips might just be of some help.

1. Plan ahead

Don’t underestimate the power of prep. As in, plan out some things before you even set foot in the car! Take a look at your map app and plan out some stops along the way. Look up where you can find those larger petrol stations that have play areas, kid-friendly food and bathrooms with changing facilities. Don’t try to wing it, and don’t go too long in between stops. Here’s the thing – it’s always better to stop on the early side than to push your luck waiting for the next rest area.

2. Timing is everything

If your children are still of an age where they nap during the day, it can be a good idea to set out right before nap time. Why? Because road trips with a sleeping child in the back is a lot more fun than one where your child is howling for miles. Trust me.

Also, if you are on a schedule in terms of getting to somewhere by a certain time, always remember to budget extra time for each stop – and the overall drive. Best case scenario, things go smoothly and you arrive ahead of schedule!

3. Entertainment for all

Pack cleverly and make sure you bring some books, toys, games, colouring things, sticker books etc, all age-appropriate for your child, of course. Another option is to download some kids’ podcasts, or audiobooks that they will love listening to.

4. Have things handy

Have both toys, snacks and nappies/wipes handy, and not all stashed away in the boot of the car. Also, depending on the age of your child, it might be a good idea to also pack a change of clothes somewhere you can easily reach them if needed. Make sure you bring enough to eat and drink, and keep it somewhere within reach, from experience, everyone gets really hungry while in the car!

5. Just cut everyone some slack and be patient

There will be some stressful moments. Sometimes kids have to pee again five minutes after you have left the garage and are back on the motorway. Sometimes they get car sick. Sometimes you want to die if you have to hear the Frozen 2 soundtrack one more time. But know this: You’ll be OK in the end, it will be grand. You are making memories here, so enjoy the journey.