This is a collaborative post with Tyre Plus for their #WheelsOfTheWorld campaign. All words and opinions are my own.
Long before we had Luisa Matt and I went on the trip of a lifetime to the West Coast of America with Matts brother and his girlfriend. They flew out a week before us and left a week earlier but we had tow weeks of overlap in the middle. We met in San Francisco and took the long drive to LA, where we spent a week navigating the enormous city and having our minds blow by a totally different culture than what we were used to.
The drive was long, parts of it were spectacular with amazing costal scenery and lots of interesting places to stop while others were dry and beyond hot. The rental car we had chosen really struggled with some of the long, albeit gentle, hills. In the searing heat and weighed down with four cases it really started to struggle. Thankfully we made it to LA relatively unscathed but we had a few tense moments.
Since that trip in 2012 we’ve been on several slightly less epic road trips. We drove the length of Ireland twice with a 4 month old, across Scotland two months later and recently caught a bus from Philadelphia to Washington DC with a toddler.
If you’ve got a long drive coming up or you’re thinking of doing some touring in Europe this summer here are some things I learnt the hard way, so you don’t have to.
- If at all possible, have multiple drivers. Even if it’s only going to take you a few hours to get to your destination everyone will be happier if you can share the load – or at least have that option there.
- Above all make sure that your car is in good condition and you’ve got a basic repair kit on board. You don’t need to have a full service, although that’s not a bad idea! Just make sure you’ve got oil, coolant and a spare tyre in the boot.
- In a similar vein, make sure you’ve got the right tyres on your car – especially if you’re heading abroad. It might be fairly bright in the UK this March but if you’re driving off to Val Thorens or Zermatt to go skiing you will want to think about different tyres. Check out TyrePlus where you can enter your reg to find tyres suitable for your car and then filter by driving conditions.
- Bring snacks, books and more snacks for kids. If they get bored you’re going to hear all about it and there’s nothing worse than being trapped in a car with a grumpy toddler.
- If you’ve got a tablet load it up with some of their favourite shows and apps that will work if/when you’ve no 3g reception.
- Plan in some stops to have a meal or stretch your legs. A bit of air will help to blow away any tensions too! I’m looking at you, backseat driver…
- Even for a short or familiar journey make sure you have directions to hand. We use the sat nav function on our phones for day to day driving but for a road trip we always get out the proper sat nav as it won’t run out of battery.
- Always have a change of clothes and a few extra nappies. You never know when you kid will spill a drink, have an accident or get car sick. It’s always best to be prepared.
If you’ve got any more tips or tricks for surviving long drives with young kids I’d love to hear them. We went on a lot of camping trips when we were younger and good old game of I-spy got us through many an long journey but being the adult in the situation is a bit harder than I realised at the time!