Surviving Long Car Journeys With Kids

Surviving Long Car Journeys With Kids


Five little words that can strike fear into the heart of any parent.

But according to a survey commissioned by, parents are pretty savvy when it comes to getting through long car journeys with their children. Unsurprisingly, playing traditional car games like iSpy or 20 Questions tops the list of ways to cope with long car trips with kids. But one in eight (13%) of us have a less traditional coping mechanism – visualising the first drink on the bar once you reach your destination.

The survey asked parents that had hired a car about the top techniques they use to survive long (more than 2 hour) car journeys. Here are the findings:

1. “Something beginning with P…”: Nearly half (47%) of parents said that they used classic car games, like iSpy and 20 Questions, to entertain their children. In our house, due to the littlest not being of an age to handle spelling, we play the 'Something coloured blue' version of iSpy. Which works great until she muddles up green and blue and we spend 45 minutes listing every blue item we can think of, only to discover she meant green.

2.The Wheels Go Round & Round & Round: Over a third (34%) listened to their child’s favourite song on repeat in the car. Oh man. I now refuse to leave the house without ensuring all the children have their own music listening devices with their own personal set of headphones. There are only so many times you can listen to the Disney Frozen soundtrack on a loop in the car before you start contemplating abandoning the vehicle and running for the hills.

3.Plug ‘em in: One in four (24%) admitted that they allowed electronic devices to be used for longer than they would normally allow at home. Only one in four? I'm surprised this wasn't top of the list, to be honest.

4.Bedtime rules / routine thrown out the car window: A quarter (25%) admitted to allowing their children to stay awake in the car later than their usual bed time. Allowing them? Have you ever tried making a child go to sleep on demand in a moving vehicle?

5.Not caring about the car looking like an emptied dustbin.: A quarter (25%) said that on long car journeys they are more relaxed about the mess being made by their children – what’s a box of raisins, strewn breadsticks, crisps and drinks’ cartons everywhere between family anyway?! Yup. Except, let's be honest, my car looks like this on any given day. Three kids and neat car interiors just aren't compatible.

6.“Another sweet darling?”: One in four (24%) parents admitted to bribing their children to be well behaved with treated and sweets. Yes. And not just in the car.

7.Plug ‘em in but don’t forget the headphones: To promote a tranquil car: one in five (19%) provide headphones for electronic devices so they don’t have to listen to that bleeping game, YouTube video or film perhaps? Yes. See above.

8.Fast food pit stops: One in five (19%) have bribed their children to behave with the promise of a visit to a fast food outlet. Uh-huh. The McFlurry is an astonishingly effective carrot on a stick.

9.Visualising that first drink on the bar at the end of the road: 13% of parents have survived a long car journey by visualising their first pint or glass of wine on arrival. Oh dear. I don't think I've ever done a car journey that was long enough to warrant this coping technique but I'm not judging.

10.Speak in code: 12% have spoken in code about distance to destination and possible rest stops so children don’t pick up on the conversation. 6% have also promised ridiculous rewards to their children if they would stop asking the usual “are we nearly there question?”. Ha. If only kids weren't so darned brilliant at deciphering code, right?!

We'd love to hear your best tips for coping with long car journeys with the kids. Leave us a comment here or come and join the conversation over on our Facebook page.


  • Mandi C.

    Yeah it's called a fully charged tablet and plenty of snacks :joy::joy::joy:

    • Mandi C.

      I was the exact same, there were loads of things i said i wouldn't do like put the tv on for more than half an hour just so i could finish my breakfast and get some housework done :joy: doesn't make us bad mothers just human.

  • Penny B.

    Seriously debating installing a sound proof barrier like you get in London cabs :joy: its amazing how the short car ride to Tesco brings out, "I feel sick..." Yet the almost hour ride to the local trampoline park doesn't...strange that...

  • Helen W.

    Top tip: Never go on long journeys in a car with kids stick to aeroplanes

  • Claire B.

    Lock them in the boot and don't let them out until you arrive. Works a treat.

  • Louise B.

    Drive late! 6 hour journey with my two 3&4.... gave them tea bath n put pjs on n set off at 7.30! Less traffic than day and they slept most of journey

    • Kate E.

      Second that!! Best plan ever

    • Louise B.

      Note I said "most of journey" :joy: I'm not a magician

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