Festive season driving with kids

Surviving long road trips with children

Reuben Van Niekerk
Consumer Advice
Road Trip
Festive season
Car Seat
Road Safety

If you are planning a family road trip with children this festive season, the correct preparation is vital in ensuring a fuss free trip, happy children and a safer environment for everyone. 

Correct seating 

Ensure that your car is equipped with the right child or booster seat for your child’s age. This is also a very important consideration if you will be flying to your destination and renting a car on the other side. As your child grows, in both weight and height, their seats will need to be updated. At the rate at which children grow it is important to check on this periodically because being in between two seat sizes or being too big for their existing seat could result in an uncomfortable and unsafe journey for the child. Up until the age of two, children should be in rear-facing child seats. Children under 12 or shorter than 150cm should only sit in the rear and use a booster seat. 

Children older than 12 and adults also need to be seated properly. Seatbelts should always be worn with the lower part across the pelvis, not the stomach. The upper part should cross the chest and collarbone and not touch your face or neck. Also never put the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm. 

Invest in sun protection 

The sun can do serious harm to young skin, even in an air-conditioned vehicle. If your vehicle is not fitted with UVA and UVB blocking tinted windows, it is a good idea to invest in an alternative form of sun protection. This could be in the form of stick on sun visors or material coverings. Applying sun block periodically will also prevent occupants from getting sun burnt before they even get to the beach. 

Don’t skimp on maintenance 

Being stranded on the side of the road is always a stressful situation, but it is ten times worse with children in the car. Ensure that all your vehicle maintenance including regular servicing is up to date and that your spare wheel is in good condition and all the tools required to change a tyre are present. Many workshops offer free safety checks in the lead up to the holidays, which are a great way of ensuring that your car is ready to hit the road. 

Keep children entertained 

Keeping children entertained is critical to keeping them happy. Make sure that electronic devices are charged and movies downloaded. While it is always important to stop regularly, it is more important to do so with children. Do your research regarding the best places to stop on route as some rest stops cater specifically for children with play areas or petting zoos, which can be something to look forward to and break up the monotony of the journey. Plan regular and longer stops into your journey time, especially if your children are still in nappies. 

Pack wisely 

Make sure you pack enough healthy snacks for the entire journey as well as supplies such as water, drinks, diapers, wet wipes and a change of clothes. Make sure these are easily accessible in a small bag inside the car or at the top of the boot.