With that in mind, here are our tips for staying sane on car journeys with your loved ones.
Plan your route
In a survey of 2,200 people it was found that most in-car arguments are about getting lost. 65% said disagreements flared up due to their partner’s poor navigation, whilst 80% of women and 65% of men complained that their partners never checked the route before setting off. In addition, 85% said they argued because the driver refused to ask directions.
So what is the solution? Agreeing on your route before you set off could help to reduce bickering in the car later. Of course, diversions can throw a spanner in the works so don’t forget an up-to-date map or sat nav.
Although regular service station stops are necessary for toilet breaks, leg-stretching and refreshment, avoid unnecessary food stops by taking your own snacks and drinks in an easy-to-access cool bag. Here are our top snack tips.
• Fruit – take some pre-cut pieces in a plastic bowl, or take whole fruit that won’t create much mess.
• Vegetables – celery and cucumber sticks, carrot batons and cherry tomatoes are all manageable in the car.
• Hummus and pita bread or breadsticks.
• Mini sausages and cheeses.
• Popcorn – take your favourite kind or, alternatively, low-fat crisps.
• Cereal bars.
Do take sweets or chocolates too – a few will certainly take the sting out of sitting for hours in the car.
Make it fun
There are loads of things that will keep the whole family amused on a long car journey. Here are our top three recommendations for each age group.
• Sticker books. You or an older child may have to help with the stickers, but for the most part they are great mess-free fun.
• Colouring books and drawing paper. Give them something to lean on, a bag of crayons and away they’ll go.
• Films. Portable DVD players aren’t cheap, but your toddler will stay quiet for hours watching one of their favourite TV shows or movies. Take headphones for them to use if you don’t want to listen as well.
• Interactive games. Try spotting things and counting them, like purple cars. Of course, there’s also ‘I spy’, and the ‘number plate game’, where you use the last three letters on the plate to make up a word or phrase. You could also play the ‘alphabet game’, where you choose a category and think of an example beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Finally, there’s ‘the story game’, where you take turns to each make up one line of an ongoing story.
• Puzzle books/magazines. These will keep their busy minds active. Lots of kids’ magazines have puzzles, along with quizzes, games and stories, so they’re well worth the investment.
• Games console. Just plug them in and enjoy the quiet. Don’t forget to take headphones, a charger and a selection of games.
• Books, newspapers and magazines. Magazines can be a wise investment, and so can a good book. Newspapers and magazines also often include puzzles, such as crosswords or sudoku. If you get carsick from reading, however, you can always take along an audiobook or two.
• iPod/MP3 player. Older kids love zoning out to their favourite tunes. If you can’t stand their music taste, make sure they have headphones – and don’t forget the charger.
• Map. Bring along a map so your teen can see the route you’re taking. It’ll involve them in the journey, as well as improve their ability to navigate.
Preparing for every eventuality before a long car journey will ensure you and your family are comfortable on the road. But for true peace of mind when driving, make sure you get the right car insurance cover.
(I have not been paid to publish this post on my blog. I was offered this post as part of my membership of the Sainsbury's Finance Family Blogger Network. As part of my membership, I have been given a Sainsbury's gift card but this does not obligate me to publish this post. I have chosen to do so.)