The end of July and beginning of August is one of the busiest times of the year for long-distance journeys, as the roads are crammed with people finishing their vacation and returning home after a well-deserved break and those just setting off on their summer holidays. We're often faced with the conundrum of how to distribute the luggage, how to transport pets and even whether we'll all fit in the same car! And where should everyone sit?
With so many people on the roads at the same time, you should bear certain guidelines in mind to ensure that your trip, whether short or long, goes to plan. You should carry out the relevant checks on the vehicle, plan the journey properly (with stops every two hours or whenever you feel tired), avoid distractions as far as possible and take an emergency kit with everything you might need, especially if you're traveling with children with special needs.
Seating the passengers
Something that everyone is usually pretty clear about is who is going to be driving initially, though it is a good idea to always have someone as a back-up driver.
It is helpful if the person in the passenger seat is someone who can help the driver if necessary, such as map-reading or giving directions, and that they are familiar with the main features of the car.
Don't forget that under no circumstances can a child under 1.35 m tall travel in the front seat. Children must always sit in the back of the vehicle in their corresponding child restraint system as dictated by law. There are three exceptions to this rule whereby a child can sit in the front seat: when the vehicle has no back seats, when the back seats are already occupied by other children in their respective child seats, or when it is impossible to affix a child restraint system in the back seats.
Knowing this, you then need to choose which seat you are going to affix the child seat to. First you need to establish whether the CRS you are using has the ISOFIX system. If it does, you should fit the child seat in the seat that has this system. If there is more than one seat, the ideal position is the middle back seat so the child is as far away as possible from a potential impact zone, provided that the child seat can be installed correctly in this position.
If the child seat does not have the ISOFIX system, the seats must have a seat belt. This video shows you how to install a child restraint system in both cases:
Once you know where the child seat is going to go, you can allocate seats to the other passengers. It's advisable to seat someone next to the child who will keep an eye on them and keep them entertained.
If you're traveling with more than one child, we recommend you read the article: ‘How many children in child seats can you take in your car?’.
Pets and luggage
Remember that all luggage must be properly stowed in the trunk of the car. Don't leave anything loose inside the car itself as this can turn into a missile in the event of a crash, considerably increasing its weight. If necessary, put up a safety mesh to keep the two spaces separate and make sure that everything is securely fastened.
Don't overload the car and make sure the load is evenly distributed. Put the heaviest cases at the bottom even though they might not be the biggest. This will help to keep the vehicle's center of gravity as low as possible.
If you're traveling with pets, don't forget that they must be properly secured too. If they are small they can go in a travel crate or with a specific pet seat belt in the back seat. In the case of bigger pets, they must travel in the trunk which means you will need a specific separation barrier between the trunk and the rest of the car.