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Make your car journey more fun

Posted on 15 March 2010 by Dan Johnson

One of the hardest parts of any holiday can be the journey, especially if you’re travelling with young children. The dreaded cry of “are we nearly there yet?” is a staple of any joke about family travel, but it’s not laughing matter for parents who have so much to think about.

Whether negotiating a busy airport or embarking on a long drive, we have collected many ideas for keeping your little ones entertained, interested, or asleep – whichever suits you best!

And please add your own tips and ideas so we can share them with other readers.

Travelling with toddlers
When travelling with a toddler, try to plan your journey so that they are tired out when you set off. That way, you can guarantee you’ll get some peace before you need to start entertaining them.

If your little one doesn’t drop off that easily then prepare your in car entertainment! New toys and books with multi-images per page, with funny noises, textures and flaps to open and shut will occupy your toddler for longer. Colouring books and pencils or crayons are also a must.

Plan your stops
If you’re travelling by car, work out when your toddler is likely to need a break and work out your motorway exits. If it’s a long trip you’re going to need a couple or even more, which will probably add an hour or two on to your journey. Yes, the journey will take longer, but at least your toddler will burn off some energy running around the service stations (which are fabulous in France) and you can relax with a cup of tea and a croissant. French motorways also have toilet stops every few kilometres.

Choose your music
All kids love music and in a car especially, it’s a great way to keep them occupied. All right, so you were hoping to listen to Michael Buble rather than the Pirate Club hits, but at least this way you’ll have a quiet life.

If you prefer to fly-drive, there are a few things to consider.
 

Protecting your child’s ears on the plane
Taking off and landing can be painful for both adults and children. Allow your tot to suck either your breast, bottle or chew a gum during take off and landing since pressurisation of the cabin on take off and depressurisation on landing is tough on little ears. The flight attendants are usually very helpful on all flights about providing blankets for privacy if you ask.

Some popular ways of preventing ears from getting blocked during the flights are:

Hot Towels: place one hot towel over each ear. The heat expands the air in the middle ear relieving the negative pressure on the eardrum.

Blowing: if your toddler knows how to, get them to blow through their nose, while you hold the nostrils closed. This pops the ears and relieves the pressure.

Screaming: this is the easiest for toddlers to do, despite being annoying for others. Screaming in fact reduces the pressure on your toddler’s eardrums and eases the pain.

When travelling to Europe it is very easy to get hold of the usual baby items such as nappies and food, so don’t worry about filling up the car with two weeks worth of supplies.

You can also hire out many of the essential items, including travel cots, baby baths, buggies and high chairs from as little as 50p per night.

What are your top tips for keeping kids entertained on the holiday journey?

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4 Responses to “Make your car journey more fun”

  1. Kate Locke says:

    The introduction of the portable DVD player has made entertaining children on long car journeys easy and painless. Simply plug in, choose your DVDs, and set off. We’ve made 6 hour journeys with barely a peep from the back.

  2. mumof2 says:

    Does anyone know a good place to stop overnight with kids on the way to Bonne anse plage from the eurotunnel?

  3. campinginfrancefan says:

    Hi – I stopped at the siblu parc Croix de Vieux Pont, just to the west of Paris for a couple of nights when I went down south. You could always ring up to ask if you could stay there, or even Domaine de Dugny is on the way. But I think there is a minimum number of nights you can stay (2 or 3). On the way back we stopped at a hotel. You could try looking at the Accor hotels website, think they show Ibis as well. If you just want somewhere to sleep and may arrive late I recommend booking a hotel near an airport, as they are always easier to find! (Follow the airplane direction signs and all the hotels are together).

  4. Kate Locke says:

    Hi Mumof2, when we travel down through France, we use one of the route finder websites to find the best route (the siblu website has a good one under the “getting there” tab; then pick a town midway and find a novotel or similar that is as close as possible to the main route. Novotels work well for us because they have family rooms with 2 double beds that are a reasonably cheap option for 2 adults and 2 smallish kids. Plus they are totally set up for children which is always a relief.

    The best route from Calais to Bonne Anse goes through Le Mans and Tours -there’s a Novotel at Tours which we are going to try this summer – here’s the link.http://www.novotel.com/gb/reservation/liste_hotels.shtml.

    Hope it works for you.


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