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Kids And Long Car Trips

We motoring enthusiasts choose our cars for comfort and when it comes time to go on holiday, whether it’s for a long weekend or for a getaway of a week or more, we prefer to take our cars. Load up the family, pack all the gear into the boot, hitch up the caravan and off we go! Now, a long-haul road trip is usually plenty of fun for the driver and those who can appreciate the changing scenery, but what about the younger members of the family? If you fail to keep them amused, eruptions in the back seat are inevitable – which doesn’t make for a very relaxing trip. So what can you do to prevent World War III from breaking out behind you?


For a start, you can position the potential combatants strategically. If you only have two kids and you have an averaged sized sedan such as a Honda Accord, you can stow something in the middle seat to act as a barrier (the esky is a good choice). The barrier can be used as a table for drawing or even for playing cards, but also stops the stupid game that involves squashing one’s sibling when going around a corner or the squabble involving He/She Is Poking Me And Hitting Me. This gets a bit harder with three kids in a sedan, for obvious reasons. If you have a larger MPV with three rows of seats such as a Honda Odyssey or a Mitsubishi Grandis (or a van or a large seven-seater 4×4 or SUV such as a Volvo XC90), you can space the kids out even more and/or put them right at the back where you can’t hear the bickering as much so it won’t drive you nuts. If you are the typical family with mum, dad, three kids and a Toyota Corolla, then allow plenty of breaks and rotate seats – put the non-driving parent between combatants from time to time if this is the only way to preserve peace.


But no matter where you put them, children are less likely to fight and grumble if they are entertained. Vehicles that have a rear seat DVD player are a modern solution; the older method was to hand out books and magazines. While these work a treat on straight roads, they are not so good if the road starts to wind, because if a child – or a non-driving adult – stares at something fixed rather than out the window, they are more likely to get carsick. This is where games like I Spy and audio books are useful, especially the audio books. It is possible to read while on a winding road without getting carsick – you make use of your peripheral vision to keep your brain informed of the movement around you – but this has to be learned. Possibly, the non-driving adult who has learned the trick can read aloud instead of playing an audio book.


Of course, no matter how much you like driving, you’re going to have to stop and have a leg-stretch every so often. The experts tell us that we should be doing this anyway, whether we have kids in the back or not, just so we don’t get fatigued. It’s especially important with kids, who need to burn off energy and get more fractious after long periods of sitting still. They also have smaller bladders, and you don’t really want the upholstery getting unpleasant stains if someone can’t quite hold on that long. Plan your breaks and take advantage of lookouts, short walks, picnic areas and the like. You’re on holiday, after all!