A little while ago I made a solo seven-hour round car trip on my own with a pre-schooler! Fortunately it all went fairly smoothly and I had some amazing top tips before I left. So I’m sharing my experiences in this post in case you’re looking for ways to survive such a journey this summer!
1.) Pack Well
I took two canvas style shopping bags with me and propped them, open, in the front seat next to me as the driver. One was full of toys and activities and the other food and drink! With the Small Boy in the back it made it much easier for me to reach and find things easily to pass to him.
2.) Toys to take
Toys that were a hit were things I’d packaged up well before I went. I filled sandwich bags with little characters that the Small Boy could have fun opening and getting out and putting away again! A soft cloth bag filled with random hits of the moment including sunglasses, super hero character, pretend mobile phones. And small books are always a winner!
3.) Package up the food well
I realised I didn’t want to be chucking food and snacks back to the Small Boy for the whole journey so I packaged it up in smaller containers so he could help himself without having too much in one go. The jelly babies in these little pots were a life saver!
4.) Non-spill drinks
I took water in sippy cups, even though the Small Boy has long since been out of them and I also took Fruit Shoots which are nicely sealed so he could pop up and down the lid without help! Phew! Luckily I timed the drink giving well too – as I didn’t want him being dehydrated but equally didn’t want to stop for toilet trips every five minutes!
4.) Take a bin
I used a plastic bag and opened it up on to the floor of the passengers footwell so I could easily throw unwanted bits and bobs into it. My empties as well as the Small Boys. I find if the car stays semi-organised I feel like I’m more in control.
5.) iPad/DVD player with headphones
What did the Mamas of the world do before iPads? It’s a question I often ponder, and not just on long car journeys! Ours is an iPad mounted on to the headrest in-front to avoid any travel sickness from looking down. The headphones are for my own sanity as I’m not sure I can take three hours of Disney Moana songs blaring out at me, as much as I love her. I had the radio on in the front and we were all happy, for the one and a half hour duration of a film anyway!
6.) iPad/DVD charger!
I remembered the charger, which was helpful as we neared our destination since it was soon to run out of power. Luckily the charger plugged into the car whilst we were driving and charged the iPad at the same time as watching so no time lost there! Phew!
7.) Good Sat Nav
Fortunately I knew mainly where I was going, but the driving near the end of the journey was, as it can be, a bit stressful. The Small Boy was getting restless and I was tiring and as wasn’t quite so sure where we were going at that fiddly last bit – so thank the Lord for Sat Nav!
8.) Stop for coffee and good food
We stopped both on the way down and the way back. I needed a break as much as the Small Boy. Driving a long way on your own is a big enough task, but trying to keep a pre-schooler happy in the process, is really hard. So I stopped and treated myself to a Starbucks and a pat on the back, the Small Boy ran off some steam and it really helped for the next phase.
9.) Explain the trip a lot
From past experience I have learnt that the Small People really don’t know what’s going on unless you tell them! I know it sounds obvious, but the reason they ask ‘are we nearly there yet’ all the time is because they have no idea about time or distance. I started telling the Small Boy a few days before the trip that it was a REALLY long way, and took lots and lots of time to get there, and it would be very boring, and a very long journey! I did say it’d be fun though as we can stop at a cafe, you can watch the iPad and you can have snacks and drinks and toys in your car seat too. I kept on updating him during the trip how far we had come and how far there was to go and telling him how well he was doing too, it seemed to help him understand a bit more.
10.) Look after yourself too
Don’t forget to consider yourself in all the planning too. Pack your sunglasses, tissues, wipes and water to have at hand for yourself. I ate well when I stopped, had a healthy, hot meal and some fruit, rather than a quick fix coffee and some biscuits, and felt much better for it. It’s perfectly okay to be proud of yourself for making the journey too! It’s a stressful one, so high five yourself for making it solo!