We spend so much time in our cars getting to awesome family adventures or even just getting around day-to-day that is really helps to have a few little things in your car to make life more enjoyable.
I can recall many frustrating and angsty car trips and even a few near emergencies (poop on the seats, vomit, screaming hehe) and the thought of doing a long driving holiday was more of a nightmare! Fortunately, in the last few years, we have survived a few such long trips and even 2 x 2-week road trip holidays with our 3 kids and with a little forward thinking we found it pretty positive.
Here are a few ideas to easily make your car a family happy place:
A good scout is always prepared and so is a happy parent! Thinking ahead almost always makes dealing with the unexpected a lot less stressful so you can easily stock your car with some of the essentials without it getting too cluttered. We use a simple caddy designed for storing shoes or other items … that gives us 9-12 pockets that can hang behind a seat or in the boot and contain all those little emergency supplies.
Here is a possible list:
- Water – for washing mostly
- Hand Sanitizer
- Cups and cutlery (especially a small (safe) knife)
- Nappies, wipes, nappy bags, undies
- Hair bands, brush,
- Sunscreen, insect repellent
- Stingose – for stings, bites and itches
- Plastic bags, clip-lock bags
- Small towel, chux
- Straws – for sharing a large drink or saving spilling
My husband has this thing about acclimatising to the temperature outside of the car about 5 minutes before we get out haha … yes he is strange sometimes lol. What I have learnt is the most efficient way to keep yourself cool in the car if you were not using the air conditioning is by opening only the driver and passenger windows. If you keep the back ones shut then the breeze will be much stronger. On a recent family adventure trying out the latest Nissan X-TRAIL one of the great features was dual zone climate control so that was one less thing hubby had to worry about haha.
It is always great to have a few things on hand in the car in case of an emergency. Our supplies include a small card with our emergency contact details on them and of course our roadside assist details. A small first-aid kit has saved us many times from a playground splinter, cuts and sprains.
We also carry a torch which doesn’t need charging so we aren’t caught out at night. Ours is a small one with both wind-up charging and also solar on the side. It wasn’t expensive and it’s always good to have on hand. The X-TRAIL has this fantastic removable false floor in the boot which has a hard plastic container beneath it enabling some great storage options for things like first aid kits and torches. It means they don’t have to clutter the inside of the car and you can have piece of mind that you have them when you need them.
We also keep a spare folding or small kid’s booster seat in the back of our car because sometimes you would like to help someone out or another child is coming home for a play date and you can’t because you wouldn’t be able to legally transport them.
Finding yourself stuck in the middle of a traffic jam is never fun. We were once stuck for 5 hours on a highway with our 3 kids in the back and it was very hard work. It is always a great idea to have a couple of things stashed away at all times in the car in case this ever happens to you as some emergency entertainment for the kids.
- Colouring and activity books are a winner as they pack down very small and you can keep a stash in the glove box with a few pens and crayons to pull out at any time.
- Balloons and balloon balls can also be a great source of entertainment plus they take up no room to store.
- A list of simple games you can play with the kids that don’t require any things e.g
- Story telling. This is one of my favourites. My kids really enjoy this one you start off by saying a few lines, and then everyone in the car takes a turn in contributing a few more lines to the story. What makes it so fun is that it encourages the children to use their imagination, and you get to see how silly of a story you and your children can make up. It truly is a lot of fun. My kids even play it when we are just running errands.
- Thinking of an Animal.Another great game for the younger children. You simply describe an animal until they guess what animal you are describing.
You can find a few other great game ideas here …
It’s 2016 and there is a lot of tech in modern cars for safety, comfort and also entertainment.
As I mentioned earlier Nissan have been good enough to lend us a brand new Nissan X-TRAIL for some of our weekend adventures this year and it’s the first time we have had a brand new car (ever!). It really is amazing how many awesome new features they have. I feel very safe driving it and especially reversing this car … it has not only a rear camera but an AMAZING 360-degree bird’s-eye view. It shows you exactly what is around and where you are parked … it’s incredible I must say. It beeps when you stray out of a lane on the road too which is cool.
A fun way to pass the time is listening to music and there are a lot of ways that you can do that in modern cars. The X-TRAIL we loaned had a Bluetooth hands-free phone system that lets you take calls but also stream audio. Once you pair it once, it recognises the device whenever you are in the car.
It also had a USB port, which allowed iPods and other devices to play music through the stereo system (which sounds awesome!) … and it also has an AUX input via a normal headphone type cord.
We also let our kids take their own tech with us on extra-long trips and special circumstances but some of it stays in the car all the time. Some mums have suggested using an older iPod or phone to just keep some audio stories or music in the car all the time.
Every now and then though we sometimes need a break from the noise or one of the kids wants to listen or watch but others don’t so we store a few pairs of cheap headphones in the car at all times. They can be in-ear ones which are small but we have found that for little ears it’s better to use over-ear headphones. Just remember to monitor how loud they have them to avoid ear damage.
You may want to ban devices from the car altogether too which is fine … or confine it to shared activities like listening to music together or watching movies. We keep a headphone splitter in the car too so that the kids can listen or watch together.
Charging can also be an issue on really long road trips so you can take turns charging (built in USB charging on the X-TRAIL) or you can buy something like this to allow multiple charges at once. We used one of these on a 2 week trip because we sometimes camped without power and the car was the only place to top up.
I can never remember which side the fuel-tank is on especially when swapping cars all the time. Did you know most cars indicate this on the dashboard by a small arrow on the side of the fuel icon (next to the gauge) … How did I miss this lifesaver haha
Having purchased a set of shopping bags for my car and keeping them in the boot as all times has saved me so much stress over the years. It seems like such a simple and obvious idea however it did take me a while to get this sorted. Now I have a system it all works great and I have saved myself a whole heap of fussing.
We spent so much time in our cars driving our kids from A to B and back again and again and again, it really is like a second home. I know for me having a few things organised and ready to go in the car has saved my sanity on many occasions.
If you have any other great tips we would love to hear them in a comment below …