4 undeniable truths about long car journeys with children

586 miles in a Nissan Almera. That’s the long, long round trip recently achieved by me, husband and two young kids.

Note the use of ‘achieve’ in that last sentence:

achieve [verb] Successfully bring about or reach (a desired objective or result) by effort, skill, or courage.

There was a whole lot of effort and courage involved in that car journey. Skill? Yes, that too. This is our fifth go at the annual pilgrimage to London to visit family and friends. And this time round we nearly got it right.

London trip
Crawling along the M25. What fun!

So here are the 4 takeaways from this year’s journey. I hope they will help some other poor souls over the summer break:

1. Travel sickness tablets will save your car and your sanity.

This is the first year – THE FIRST YEAR – that no one has been car sick. Usually at least one, often both, of the kids is really, really sick. And that usually happens about 10 minutes into the car journey. Then every couple of hours or so until we finally arrive at Grandma’s house – the kids naked because the spare clothes have all been puked on. The car liberally doused with baking powder to prevent the ensuing stench from getting any worse. Everyone crying, wailing and thoroughly miserable. I can’t believe we haven’t used them before. I guess they were both too young for a long time. But thanks to a fortuitous pre-journey conversation with another mum of sicky kids, I got some. And they worked wonders. Thank you Chloe! I am eternally in your debt.

2. You’ll all eat more sweets and crisps than you usually do in a month. And that’s ok.

Seriously, get over it. Sure, fill a very large tupperware box with raw carrots, organic oat bars, and pumpkin seeds. But also be prepared to give them way too many fruit pastels and cheesy wotzits if that gives you all some reprieve from the tedium of a long journey. Clearly I’m advocating this because, having discovered the joys of travel sickness tablets (see truth #1), I no longer have to fret that everything they put in their mouth is soon on its way back out.

3. A very large tupperware box will serve many purposes.

More than a receptacle for raw carrots, organic oat bars and cheesy wotzits, that tupperware will save you in your hour of need. Bored of playing Eye-Spy with two pre-literate children? How many fun things can you turn a tupperware into? OK, so maybe just two. But that’s forty seconds of tedium shaved off your journey. Worth it. Forgot the travel sickness tablets? If you’re quick enough, that tupperware could save you a fortune in baking powder (see truth #1). Travelling at a snail’s pace on the M25 with a four-year-old girl who needs a wee? That beauty is now a portaloo. Versatile, dishwasher safe, and affordable, the very large tupperware is a car journey essential.

4. Splitting the kids up makes the journey less hellish.

We’ve had our boy in the front of the car for a while now thanks to the car sickness and we stuck with that formula for this journey despite having discovered travel sickness tablets (see truth #1). That meant I had to sit in the back with the girl. I too have the car sickness gene. Think of me as the vomiter barometer. If I feel like I’m going to puke, so do they. This means that, having taken my own travel sickness tablet, I knew just how many fruit pastilles and cheesy wotzits we could all safely handle (see truth #2). It also meant I could be on hand for emergency tupperware wees (see truth #3). Plus, it was physically impossible for them to fight. Enough said. Worth taking one for the team. Every time.

So that’s how we nearly smashed this year’s road trip. I won’t smugly lecture you on how getting up at 4am to miss the rush hour shaved three hours off our journey time because we didn’t manage that. We never do.

However I firmly believe that these very small nuggets of wisdom will help you somewhat in your hour of need. Happy motoring.

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