Do you want to go on a long journey but are afraid that your child won't put up with the trip? Planning is key for a trouble-free journey when traveling with small children. Check out these tips so the journey runs smoothly and entertains them.
Prepare the trip in advance Plan the stops. Look for rest areas. Remember that it is advisable to stop every one and a half to two hours or even earlier, depending on the needs of each family. The aim is for both the driver and the children to stretch their legs. Look for a place where you can stop that also has a children's area. This way, they can have some fun time, exercise and play.
-You must of course, check the vehicle thoroughly before the trip, choose the safest routes and take everything you may need on hand, such as a first aid kit, diapers, water, etc.
-Remember that children must be restrained in the appropriate child restraint system according to their weight and height. It is important to install the car seat in the right place. Remember that with isofix the center is the safest place as it is far from both doors. However, the right-hand rear seat allows better access for the driver. In all cases, the place will depend on the number of passengers and, on the number of children in child seats. In this infographic we offer advice on how families can correctly transport their children by car.
Important: child restraint systems must not be removed too soon. Another temptation is to make an older child travel without a child seat when there are a lot of passengers and luggage items. This is a big mistake, particularly if the child is not taller than 150cm. Remember that everything will depend on the country as far as regulations are concerned. For example, in Spain only children under 135 cm are obliged to wear a CRS. However, as of a height of 150 cm a seat belt can normally be fitted directly and safely.
In this sense, it is also important to emphasize the greater safety offered by boosters with back rests, even though they take up more space than just a booster.
-Check the correct installation of the child restraint system and make sure it is in perfect condition. Take the time to do this and to fasten the children correctly.
-Try to make the trip coincide with their sleeping times. Hence they will be asleep most of the time. This will avoid dizziness, restlessness and boredom. A good option is to travel in the early hours of the morning, although bear in mind that the driver could feel sleepy and tired.
-Pleasant temperature inside the passenger compartment. It should not be too hot or too cold. It is important that the air is not aimed directly at the child. Use air conditioning or climate control to achieve the ideal temperature: between 21 and 23 degrees.
-Drive carefully and responsibly. We pass on this message to our children. If we drive with sharp movements, they will feel this tension and feel more uneasy during the journey.
-Children should wear comfortable, breathable clothing. We must remember that they are going to be sitting for a long time and that their clothes must be comfortable. Also remember that the high temperatures during the day will make them hot. We recommend taking extra clothes so that you can change them if necessary.
-Light food and constant hydration. Avoid eating a heavy meal before traveling and make sure they are constantly hydrated. Remember that food also contributes to discomfort and dizziness.
-Make sure the child's head isn't lowered or tilted. To avoid sickness (more frequent from the age of 3), it is not advisable to read during the journey or to play with a mobile phone. Check if the seat is reclining correctly so they are sitting comfortably and their head cannot drop if they fall asleep. There are different accessories and devices in the market that claim to keep the head in the correct position when the child falls asleep in the car. There are a lot of options on the market but we may well come across a number of devices that are, at best, not fully legal. These are devices that might not comply with parts of the legislation and should therefore be avoided. Only use products approved and recommended by the child restraint manufacturer. If in doubt, consult a specialized retailer and the manual of the child seat itself.
-It is advisable that an adult travels in the rear seats next to the children. The adult can be with them, help them and entertain them. Singing, looking for objects in the scenery, resting. The adult can also check that the child is correctly seated. Children tend to take off their harness and take their arms out. Here we talk about why a tight harness is a safe harness. We must stop driving if the child refuses to properly wear the harness as the child restraint system will not be able to restrain the child if necessary.
-Beware of loose objects inside the passenger compartment. A common mistake may be to give a toy to a child to keep him or her entertained during the journey, but there are two points to bear in mind. The child could throw the object into the driver's area putting everyone's safety at risk; and secondly, in the event of an accident or sudden braking, the object could also be projected against the other passengers or against the child. In this infographic we address the importance of all objects being properly secured.
-Also be careful with tablets. One way to keep children entertained throughout the journey is to show them a film. However, this also has its risks. We recommend not installing screens or DVD players on the back or the front of the head rest because if there is not enough distance, the child seat will not perform properly or if the CRS is not properly secured, the child's head could hit the device causing serious injuries.
-Rear-facing or forward-facing? We insist that the safest way to travel is rearward facing, especially when the child is under 4 years of age. However it is advisable that they travel in this direction for as long as possible. On a long journey we might be tempted to place the child facing forward. This however puts the child at risk. In addition, the manufacturer's specifications regarding the direction of the seat must be followed at all times. Especially for babies and children under 4 years of age, they should be rear-facing.
-Car sickness: as previously indicated, this happens more often to children over 3 years old. Why? What the brain perceives is not coordinated with the signals received by the ears and the organs in charge of our sense of balance.
Aggressive driving, eating, reading or playing video games can bring on car sickness. If this happens, open the windows so the child gets fresh air. If the air doesn't reach him/her, you should stop driving so the child can get out.