Looking for tips for long drives with kids? In this article, you can read about the very best trick that keeps our three kids happy in the car every single time. Find out!
Long car rides with children used to get us anxious. I still remember the time when we drove 11-hours to get to Tuscany. Our oldest was 2,5 and the twins were just 8 months old. We drove at night thinking that it would be easier, but all three boys refused to sleep… Needless to say, we were exhausted…
However, every parent knows that even shorter car rides with kids of an hour or two can be just as tiring and frustrating…
Many road trips and hundreds of hours in the car with three young children had taught us a lot. In our previous post, you can find 9 essential tips for surviving a road trip with toddlers. If you are looking for more general tips for long drives with kids, make sure to check it out!
But probably the most important piece of advice I can give for long car rides with children is to make sure that your kids don’t get bored. That, and separating them so that they sit as far from each other as possible.
But how do you keep kids entertained when you have a really long trip ahead?
Just recently we were driving to Switzerland for our ski holidays. While not on the other side of the globe, it’s still 8 hours driving time from where we live in Belgium. But this time we were well prepared.
What we didn’t expect at all was that our kids would stay quiet during the whole ride! 8 hours to get there and 8 hours to come back home a week later. That’s 16 hours of sitting in the car with two 5-year olds and a 7-year-old who cannot sit still. Yet our road trip with children has never been this quiet and stress-free before…
So what is this magical solution that kept our kids quiet in the car during such a long ride?
It’s magic indeed… Harry Potter. No, not the movie, although that would have probably been a good idea for a shorter ride. We needed something to fill much more time than just an hour or two and we didn’t like an idea of kids watching movies for 8 hours in a row…
My husband had this brilliant idea to get the ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ audiobook to take with us on the road.
From the moment we switched it on, the kids were in another world… the world of magic. They forgot to complain about the long hours in the car, they didn’t ask to stop every half an hour, they even forgot to fight… Magical silence in the car was the result!
Our kids used to listen to children’s stories and music in the car, occasionally they would watch a movie or even two on the really long trips. Neither stories, music, nor movies have ever kept the kids so engaged and interested for such a long time as the Harry Potter audiobooks.
So the very first thing we did after this experience was making sure that we have a couple of audiobooks ready for our next long ride. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the next in line, and the boys are already asking how long it is before our next trip or the next long drive…
Update a few years later: This might seem like a too simple tip to keep kids happy when driving long distances, but it works. Years later, our kids still listen to audiobooks in the car and it’s still the very best entertainment for when you don’t want to let them watch screens for hours in a row… Give it a try!
More tips for traveling with kids:
- Long flights: Tips for Flying with Young Kids and What to Pack for Kids on the Plane
- Car seats: Best Car Booster Seats for Travel
- Luggage: Best Travel Bags for Kids
- Gifts: Travel Gift Ideas for Kids and Best Travel Books for Kids
- Family vacation ideas: Favorite Family Destinations
- Road trips: Family Road Trip Packing Tips
- International travel: How to Avoid Jet Lag
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