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How to survive a driving holiday with small kids


If you enjoy making road trips, then why stop when you have kids? For many people, the thought of spending hours in the car with a tiny person is enough to bring on a breakdown! The shouts of, ‘are we nearly there yet?’ or, ‘I’m bored’ are a familiar refrain to any family, that has to drive any distance. How can you make a successful driving holiday with kids in tow?

Plan Ahead

Have a look at where you are going on the holiday, how long it will take to get to the key places you want to visit, and try to work out an itinerary that will allow you to include everything, but doesn’t involve hours and hours of driving. Don’t forget toilet and meal breaks when planning. Hungry and desperate children do not make for a calm trip! For example if you are driving to continental Europe, on the way there try to plan in some rest breaks for the kids to stretch their legs, go to the toilet or, just get fresh air. Some people, with babies and young children, find it helpful to travel at night. However, it does mean that you may be very tired for the next day. You could mix up the travel by taking the train to your destination, and hiring a car. There are lots of car hire companies, including Alamo car hire, which have competitive car hire rates.

Don’t Cram too Much in

When you’re on holiday, the temptation is to cram as much into the schedule as possible. But, this can lead to everyone getting frazzled and irritable, which does not make a good holiday! Consider staying over for a couple of nights in one or two places, so that you can relax and get to know a place, before moving on to the next place. It’s not fair to expect kids to sit still for hours on end, so a day off driving will be good for them. Stop in a place that has lots to see and do, so you can stroll around when you’re sightseeing.


Opinions are divided on the use of DVD players in the car. Some people think they are great, where others would argue that they are not good for children and don’t help them become good travellers. With a bit of imagination and planning, it is possible to avoid the DVD route. For toddlers, try putting some of their favourite toys in a bag and hand them out one at a time, so when they get bored with one toy, there is another one to distract them. For older children, pack a rucksack with crayons, writing stuff, paper, activity books, reading books and small toys. It may end up all over the back seat, but it will keep them quiet! Also, don’t forget games! Even a toddler can play I spy if you use colours instead of letters. There are some good tips and games on this Australian site and Baby abroad.

To sum up, driving holidays with children can work, and be enjoyable for everyone. With a bit of planning and flexibility, you can enjoy the ride with the whole family.

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