We have just returned from Camping de Mathevies in The Dordogne, France and from our home in the North East of England that was around a 15-hour car journey. So I thought I would share with our top tips for surviving a long car journey with kids.
I know that we could have flown to France, but we don’t really travel light and we LOVE french food and wine so driving enables us to pack a cool box and bring stuff back with us. It also enables us to take the boys sports stuff and bikes. Driving in France really is a joy and nothing to be feared. I have a great checklist on driving in France here.
Top tips for surviving a LONG car journey with kids
Make sure everyone has sufficient space. We were loaned a Peugeot 308 SW and it was a really spacious estate style car, which ensured that the boys had enough personal space for the long journey. Mini at nine was still in his high backed booster as per French legislation, which meant that he was supported for sleep too.
Pack lots of individual travel packs and drinks. This is key for us, it means no bickering or fighting over snacks and drinks. We always take small bottles of water with sports caps. I have seen the containers with lots of snacks in them, but they do not work for us as if they are tipped over then all the snacks are all over the car, so I use small bags instead. I stick to dry foods and no chocolate (too messy)! I packed dried fruit (coconut, banana raisins), nuts, dried cereal, popcorn, crisps, fresh fruit and vegetables (carrot sticks and cucumber). To make it easier each person has their own cool bag to keep everything in.
Try and find a second use for things. As we were travelling overnight, the boys used towels instead of blankets. This kept them warm and snuggle, but also saved me on space. Oh and why we are talking about towels, we LOVE these Turkish towels, they take up so much less space.
Don’t rule out gadgets, they are a real saviour when it comes to being cooped up travelling. But make sure you have the ability to charge them on your trip. We used this car charger, which is great as it takes 4 USB’s and 2 lighter charging sockets and it reached to the rear. I also would never be without my lipstick charger. As the boys are getting older headphones were indispensable on this trip so that they could listen to audio books and their own music.
Make travel packs. We save small toys from Mcdonalds and comics and put them into small packets for the kids to have on the journey. Also, we let the boys choose a magazine each. Give the kids ownership for what they want in the car (within reason) and let them pack a small bag each that they can keep their things in, including their snacks, that will fit at their feet.
Don’t forget the essentials. For me, that is travel sickness tablets, rubbish bags (which can double as travel sickness bags), mints, baby wipes and a first aid kit.
Pack travel games (We love Dobble UK link/US link for service station breaks) and print off some of our fab travel printables for the journey. Make sure you print some off for you too!
Travel printables for train journeys
Travel printables for kids
More travel printables
Mummy and me colouring pages
Adult colouring pages
More adult colouring pages
Minion Colouring pages
Paddington activity pages
Peugeot 308 SW – A Review
We decided not to take photo’s of the car at the beginning of our trip, as I wanted to show you how it looked when it had real family usage! So here it is at the near the of a 7 day trip and nearly 1003 miles. Oh and I should also tell you that the Husbeast currently drives a very old 407 SW with over 120000 miles on the clock.
We test drove the Peugeot 308 SW GT Line 2.0L BlueHDi 150 EAT6 6 speed automatic. Neither me nor the hubeast drive automatics, so this was to be a fun test drive.
The car is a great size for a family. We are fans of estate cars and have had one since the boys were little. They are great for all that “stuff” that comes with kids. The boot is the perfect level to list things in and out of and it is a super size.
The car retails at over £25,915 and for that price I would have expected full leather seats (they are optional at an extra £1200)!
- The boys love the seating position in the back and Maxi didn’t feel car sick once.
- The reversing camera is ace. It is a revelation. I drive a small car, so it really helps with the transition to a larger car.
- The diesel engine is really responsive and makes the car a joy to drive. I have to say that my fear over an automatic being sluggish to change up and down the gears was unfounded and when you pop it in sport mode then it is amazing and it really handled the twisty lanes of the Dordogne really well.
- The cruise control is simple to use and made the French motorways a pleasure to drive on.
- The space – it is a really spacious car and we all found it comfortable to travel in.
- We got 45 -50 miles to the gallon on fuel which whilst being less than the official figures is still pretty good for a car of its size.
- The LED headlamps mean less eye strain, they are really bright and effective.
- The sat navigation was super and worked in the UK and France.
We weren’t keen:
- Both the husbeast and I are on the short side and found the fact that the seat belts are not height adjustable really uncomfortable although the seats are.
- No CD player, yes we loved the ability to Bluetooth stream from our devices to the media player, but we still like CD’s in the car.
- For the price, we would have liked full leather seats. These are a must when you have kids.
- The fact that the wing mirrors have mini indicators on them. It was really distracting during night driving.
We would both have a Peugeot 308 SW at the drop of a hat. It was a pleasure to drive and a great sized family car without moving to an MPV style. The boot is a great height for loading and also a super size. I miss the panoramic roof that we have on our 407SW, but this can be an optional extra. The Peugeot 308 SW was a real head turner, even in France where they are a popular car, so much so the chaps on the ferry were asking me about it.
Disclosure: Thanks to Peugeot for supplying us with a car for our trip to France.
Great tips here- I like the double usage of towels as blankets. Love the car too looks perfect for a family holiday. I agree with you about leather seats definitely worth the extras money with kids.
Oh gosh I get nervous with just a couple of hours travelling and you managed 15! Great tips.
And I am loving that car!! Surprised it doesn’t have a CD player as CD’s are still popular
Some great tips here – I particularly liked the one about using the towels as a blanket to save on space. We don’t travel light either but that usually means I end up paying excess baggage charges at airports!
We call our lipstick chargers “lipstick tazer!!” Like in the minions movie. Fab tips. I think gadgets are an absolute lifesaver!
These are some great tips. Car looks basically unused after all those miles!
We’ve never yet braved this kind of journey, probably because in our Toyota Verso there just isn;t enough space for the kids and the luggage all to be happy for a great length of time! Mich x
Interesting article. I have twins and every trip is a highway to hell 😀 I bought two tablets for back seats. Now our trips are superb!
We’re all about gadgets when we’re on a long journey and we always make sure to break the journey as many times as we can 😉
We had the Peugeot 308 for a week last year and loved the space in it. Not sure I could do a 15 hour drive with mine!
Great tips Jen, love all the printable. I always print out lots of quizzes and treasure hunts before we go any distance. My kids are moaning they are bored after 5 minutes usually lol
Great idea to use the towels as blankets .
Brilliant tips here