Driving with babies and children - a hubbers guide
When is the best time to drive?
The jury is out on when is the best time to drive. It depends on how long you plan to drive for and how old your children are.
We have friends/family travel about 7-9 hours to visit. They usually leave about 4am so their young ones are asleep for half of it! - mylittlefamily
Try not to be travelling at twilight, mine always decide they've had enough then, no matter how long or short the trip has been by that point. - Chelleylane
I've been told to start travelling when they are due for bedtime ie 7.30pm or very early in morning ie 4am so then they are sleep for lots of it. - 2darlingboys
We leave early (about 4am). This gives us time to get a lot of km done before brekkie and younger kids are still sleepy. Aim to stop driving by 3pm. This gives plenty of time to explore, walk, play and get kids tired. Otherwise you will need to sleep and kids will want to party. - Leisam
Best advice we got was NOT to travel at night. Because the kids sleep all the way while you are awake and then the next day when you want to rest the kids are wide awake and full of energy! - from one of our fave Facebook friends
RE: timing it with naps, I find it best to leave an hour or two beforehand, that way when the novelty of the new toys, things to look at, etc starts to wear off, they're sleepy. Mine always sleep much earlier than their normal nap time on a drive. Although if it's an all-day drive, we leave immediately upon them waking, and sometimes, we will wake them at 5am to get an early start. - from one of our awesome Facebook friends
We found it easier to start really early in the morning at 7am. Then if we were done driving for the day by 4pm the kids had plenty of time to play before dinner and bed! - from one of our amazing Facebook friends
How many stops do you make along the way?
Stopping for a break is an important part of any road trip - for the driver as well as the kids! Everyone needs some fresh air and to stretch their legs.
We stop for a big play and lunch. - Chelleylane
Have a good brekkie stop. Truck stops are much better value than Maccas and the meals are so big that kids are full until lunchtime. Stop for morning tea and lunch at playgrounds or parks. This is much easier if you have packed food for both breaks. - Leisam
Definitely frequent stops! We always stop somewhere for lunch where DD can run around and use up some energy. - from one of our cool Facebook friends
Any tips for driving holidays with babies?
Luckily small babies are often lulled to sleep by the car's movement. You might have a easy trip ... but be prepared to pull over anywhere for a feed!
DD is 9 months and needs very little yet. I bring her favourite Lamaze toy, and a spare for if she gets bored. But pretty much, give her one of DS's toys and she thinks she's found the greatest thing in the world! - Chelleylane
Our first road trip with DD was when she was 9 months old. I took her Bumbo seat to use as a highchair at rest stops, I hid toys in the front so when she became restless I had something 'new' for her to play with and we drove as much as we could during nap-times. - EliG
Any tips for driving with young children?
When you're driving with young children it is important to pack snacks and lots of entertainment. But is there anything else you may have overlooked?
If you have children aged 2-4 years old pack a potty! Ours were a bit modest to go behind a tree and, let's face it, on highways that's not always an option. It meant that when they needed to go NOW they could and not get upset. - TinyStar
What to pack - snacks and entertainment
The best thing to pack are snacks (preferably ones that won't make a mess) and entertainment (preferably those that won't disturb the driver).
For DS (2.5) I pack a clear, plastic container of toys that goes between his and DD's chairs. I make sure they are toys from the bottom of the toybox, preferably new ones or long forgotten ones. A couple of books, and I also have some Yo Gabba Gabba on my phone (as well as some awesome kids apps) for when he is really getting stir crazy. - Chelleylane
I drove from 50kms south-east of Melbourne to Wagga Wagga last year with my two DSs who were 8 months and 2.5 years at the time. We had a portable DVD player, Wiggles CDs, and a Magna Doodle. I also packed lots of snacks and drinks, and made sure we made a lot of stops. - mudpiecake
Snacks are first and foremost with toddlers (and husbands). A good variety will help, we have things like sandwiches, grapes, grain chips/popcorn/puffed corn, muesli bars, you know, things with minimal mess and crumb-age. - Chelleylane
Limit car snacks to hard fruit or rice crackers etc as they are easy to clean up at the end of the day. Pack light as most mums do washing everyday. We don't take a lot of toys (just a few favourites) as they generally don't worry about toys when there are new things to do on holidays. - from an awesome Facebook friend
My DS is 8 months and we're taking a road trip to Vegas next week from LA - it's about a 4-5hr drive. We'll be taking: 4 made-up bottles; multiple toys to entertain him; little snacks that he can eat ie: teething biscuits that keep him entertained for a while and his favourite bedtime teddy and blanket - tormy
Also pack drawing stuff for their lap table things, a soft teddy/doll for cuddles, stories on CD/books and felt boards. All help keep mine busy. - mummykitty
DD1 6 and DD2 3 both have iPods. We let them choose what goes on them before a trip. We let them choose a movie, a book and some games to put on them. - sweetpeamummy
Portable DVD player!! - hakuna matata
Also take some new toys and when they get bored and agitated pull out the new exciting stuff for them! - one of our fave Facebook fans
For the toddlers and older get a few cheap toys or old toys they haven't seen before, wrap them like presents and you have very effective tools for those OMG moments that you can just hand over while driving. Make sure they are within reach of you. - one of our awesome Facebook friends
Any other tips?
The other thing that works for us is prepping DS (2.5yrs). Like, the day before, we start saying, 'tomorrow we are going on a big long drive to see Grandad Mike!'
Helps that we have done it a few times, so he kind of knows what to expect. - one of our awesome Facebook friends
Thanks to all the Bub Hub members who helped compile this guide: tormy,
hakuna matata, sweetpeamummy, mummykitty, Chelleylane, mudpiecake, TinyStar, EliG, Leisam, 2darlingboys, mylittlefamily and our Facebook friends!
More useful links:
Read our article on Car Games for Kids
Read our tips on Flying with Babies and Young Children
Chat to parents on our forum about travelling with babies and young children