As school breaks approach many families will be planning holidays away which require a car journey in order to reach their destination of choice. Here are our top 10 tips to make that journey as comfortable and hassle free as possible!
1. It is always important to remember the safety of older children when making a car journey. Children are legally required to use a suitable restraint up until they are 135cm in height, or 12 years old – whatever comes first.
2. Older children are safest travelling in a high-back booster seat which provides side impact protection, head, neck and torso support, as well as a safe place to rest their head to sleep, which can help prevent them falling out of the seat belt during the car journey.
3. Many car seats have additional safety features, such as protective seat belt pads, side impact protection technology and abdominal protection to provide both a safer and more comfortable fit for your older child.
4. We always recommend that children of all ages travel in the back of the car during journeys no matter how short or long, as it is much safer for them. There is no law however in the UK against children being placed in the front of the car (although we strongly recommend you read our blog on passenger seat airbags before allowing your little one to sit up front)
If you are travelling abroad, it is important to check your chosen country's child seat laws regarding placement of children in the front or back of the car, as they can differ to UK laws. For example, some countries such as Germany and Ireland require booster use up until 150cm, not 135cm (UK), and France do not allow children to travel in the front of the car.
5. You can use a UK child seat anywhere in the EU, as UK seats are approved to EU R44.04 or R129, however you must not use a European approved seat in non EU countries including Australia and America.
6. Even in the UK, cars can really heat up in the summer weather, so it is worth investing in a summer cover for your child's car seat, which most manufacturers offer for their car seats. This helps to keep your child cool and comfortable. When you're out and about exploring, ensure you cover the car seat with a large, light coloured blanket to prevent the plastic parts of the car seat heating up, as this could burn your child.
7. You may also want to use window screens to keep the hot sun off your child. These protective window screens can be purchased in UK stores nationwide and for ease should be placed in the window before you set off on your car journey.
8. It is a good idea to take a variety of games in the car, both interactive and solo. Some Parents have a few toys wrapped up and they are given out throughout the journey to keep them new and exciting (and children well occupied!) However, do be mindful of the chosen toys and games for your children as heavy toys can become a projectile in the event of a collision. We recommend avoiding heavy or edged toys in the car. On the note of projectiles, also ensure all of your luggage is strapped down, or the parcel shelf is used in the boot.
9. It is important to take regular breaks from the car, particularly if you are on a long journey, not only for the children's comfort, but also for driver concentration. ROSPA recommend that a short 20 minute break should be taken every 2 hours. Ensure that you plan regular breaks into your car journey itinerary and keep service station costs down by taking a packed lunch and having a picnic!
10. Dealing with travel sickness: the motorway hard shoulder is for emergency use only as it is extremely dangerous, it shouldn't be used to stop for toilet breaks or sickness. If you have children (or adults) prone to travel sickness, take sick bags and keep them easily accessible, along with a change of clothes just in case. Keep the car cool, play soothing music, provide healthy snacks over sweets, and drink water.