Top tips for driving abroad with children

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Top tips for driving abroad with children

Taking a child on holiday is an exciting and a new experience for first-time parents. But it can also be stressful, so make sure you plan ahead of time.

There are lots of blogs and tips on websites such as Mumsnet and Gransnet on achieving in-car happiness, but here the Head of Driving & Riding Standards at IAM RoadSmart, Richard Gladman, offers some helpful safety tips for driving with young children abroad. 

  • Plan your journey.  Going abroad with a child can be stressful, so make sure you know where you’re going when you land.  Know where the hire car company is based and how long the transfer is.

  • Before setting off to your hotel or apartment, make sure you are familiar with the car and that your child is safely secured.  You will need to concentrate as you’ll be driving on unfamiliar roads, so plan your route before leaving.

  • Child car seats are required for any children up to 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first.  Ensure you take a car seat on holiday with you, as not all car hire companies provide these.

  • Most airlines will let you bring your car seats for free, but call to check with them 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 car hire company, get them to send photos to ensure it’s up to standard.

  • Make sure your child is as comfortable as possible and take off any thick coats as they can interfere with the correct operation of the child seat in a collision.  Consider getting an extra child rearview mirror if you like to keep an eye on what’s happening on the back seat.  Make sure it doesn’t obscure your forward view.

  • Make the journey fun!  If your children are old enough, get them to look out for landmarks. Alternatively, how about a game of car colour cricket (https://www.topendsports.com/sport/cricket/car.htm) or the first to spot a sports car?  Bring your child’s favourite toys, games and books as well, to keep them entertained.  Playing games in the car can take their focus off the journey but ensure you don’t get distracted yourself.

  • Pack some snacks.  They are great to have in case of any delays.  Consider bringing a cool bag so you can carry healthy snacks such as carrot sticks, grapes and juice boxes. 

“If travelling a long distance,” Richard Gladman added, “try to arrange your travel to coincide with nap time or bed time – this may make for a more relaxing drive for you and the children.  And remember that if you do have to stop, make sure it’s in a safe place for you, your passengers and other road users.” 

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