As ever you need to plan a car journey with children well in advance so with summer holidays in mind, IAM RoadSmart’s helpful safety tips are an excellent checklist to help motoring parents and grandparents.
Travel tips for families with children
- Do your journey homework. Know the motoring rules, speed limits and any road toll procedures in the country concerned. They are unlikely to be the same as in the UK.
- Consider taking your car seat on the aircraft. Here’s what you need to know.
- Make sure you know exactly where you’re headed when you land. Know where the hire car company is based and, if you don’t collect the car from the airport itself, how long the transfer takes.
- When collecting a car from a hire company many only want to see your photocard licence but some may ask for permission, ie a code, to check your licence online. This is what you should do in advance to get this code, when hiring a vehicle overseas.
- Before setting off for your hotel or apartment take time to familiarise yourself with the hire car and that any children on board are safely secured. You will need to concentrate as you’ll be driving on unfamiliar roads, so know the roads you need by planning your route before leaving.
- You need a child car seat for any children up to 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first. Either check that the car hire company has this or take your car seat on holiday with you.
- Many airlines will allow you to bring your car seats for free, but always check with your airline first. The last thing you want is to arrive at the airport and be charged a fee. Consider getting the car seat wrapped with padding at the airport as it will be going in the hold and may get damaged during your flight. If you choose to hire a car seat from a hire car company, get them to send photos to ensure it is up to your standard.
- Make the journey fun! If your children are old enough, get them to look out for any landmarks. Or how about a game of car colour cricket or the first to spot a sportscar? See games rules:
- Make sure your child is as comfortable as possible. Take off any unnecessary thick coats before the child gets too hot in them. Consider getting an extra child rearview mirror to keep an eye on what’s happening on the back seat but make sure this doesn’t obscure your forward view.
- Pack your child’s favourite toys, games and books to keep them entertained. Playing games in the car can take their focus off the journey but ensure you don’t get distracted yourself.
- In case of any delays it’s great to have snacks on hand and ready. Consider bringing a cool bag where you can bring healthy snacks such as carrot sticks, grapes and juice boxes.
- Time your travel to coincide with afternoon siesta or bed time – this may make for a more relaxing drive for you and the children.
- For short car journeys encourage simple games like I-Spy. These not only distract but can be educational too.