Long Drives and Small Children

Saturday is going to be a long long day, with a very early start, a six hour ferry trip across to France, and a four hour car journey before we get to our destination.  I usually love a long car journey.  Before we had our babies, Ross and I went on a road trip to Wales.  We had no plan, we just sort of winged it, in our little Ford KA and a lot of loud music.  It was amazing.  We ended up staying one night in a very scary hotel in Pontypridd (because that is where Ross’ favourite band at the time Lost Prophets were from) one night at a B&B just outside Fishguard, and one night in a very dodgy part of Cardiff.  We had lunch in Swansea, chatted to some lovely old ladies, drove to Cardigan, which was deserted, and we saw the same girl doing what I reckon was the walk of shame around town three times.  We drove to Llanddewi Brefi, because why the hell not?  And I bought a Welsh Love Spoon because I thought it was cute, not because I knew it was a love spoon.  Ross broke it not long after we got home.  An entirely successful weekend mini-break.

Anyway, I digress.  Massively.

Long day, stuck on a boat and then in a car with two children who have a combined age of five.  I am aiming to appease them with Roo’s Disney Princesses CD and my iPod, endless games of I Spy, our iPad and a lot of snacky food.  Hopefully they’ll sleep for a bit, and I am told there are plenty of rest stops, or Aires, so we can stop for wees, nappy changes and leg stretches.

I sent out a tweet the other day, asking for ideas on car-friendly picnic food, and got some great responses (thanks everyone).  Breakfast on Saturday will be homemade sausage sandwiches snarfed down at the ferry port, with coffee and juice boxes.  I’ve bought Hula Hoops, Nature Valley bars, frubes (that I’ve frozen), grapes and sesame snaps to munch on during the drive to Vendee.

It’s going to be all right, oui? We’ll arrive unscathed and smiling at our destination.

Does anyone have any other tips on surviving long drives with small children?


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  1. My advice is to not let children think that eating in a car is normal. However young they are they must learn to go for a few hours without chomping.

  2. Good luck lovely I am sure it will be ok!! Eeeeek! it’s a long way but snacks and songs are good fun! We are travelling up to Berkshire tomorrow for a wedding and that’s far enough!
    Enjoy yor holiday xx

  3. We have the luxury (the best £90 we’ve spent for a long time!) of a double portable DVD player that runs of the cigarette lighter socket in the car. The screens strap onto our headrests and should we so wish the children can have headphones too. We’ve got strict rules about how long a journey has to be before they’re allowed to have them (yours would most definitely qualify!)
    We also have ‘special’ (*ahem* it’s all in the sales pitch) boxes of snacks for the journey containing loads of chopped up veggies, cheese strings/babybels (they don’t crumble), fruit, dried fruit bars etc which mean that we generally don’t have to stop for an eye-wateringly priced lunch somewhere. There’s also a bag of ‘use up what we have in the fridge’ sandwiches but they are rationed out – if my DH doesn’t eat them all first!
    We did journeys like yours as children, the same ages in a Vauxhall Chevette – with story tapes that drove my parents mad – as they still remind us now!

  4. I took mine one a four hour drive (ON MY OWN) when K was pre-school and L was small. I put a tub of toys/books on the seat between them. It wasn’t easy but it was actually fine. I think the more stressed you are, the more they play up, so I decided to listen to music that I enjoy and to just drive and drive and drive.

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