Six tips for travelling with your tot
There's nothing quite like it: piling into the car and hitting the open road, with the sun shining down and everyone singing along to their favourite tunes.
The big family road trip doesn't always live up to this ideal, however. A few minutes in and you hear the first "Are we there yet?" The next thing you know, someone's feeling carsick and there are still hours left to go.
But with a bit of careful planning and the help of our top tips, you can sidestep these nightmare scenarios and make sure that the journey is as much fun as the destination.
1. Put safety first
Before you take to the road, make sure that you've taken care of safety essentials. That means ensuring that your kids' car seats are properly fitted - studies show most of them aren't.
Pack plenty of water, a first aid kit, a torch, and make sure that your breakdown cover is up to date.
And try to ensure everyone gets a good night's sleep before you go. Safer driving is easier when there are no frazzled nerves.
2. Pack strategically
Make sure that you've got everything you need in a bag that's near at hand, not buried in a suitcase in the back.
Prepare for the weather with jackets or sun hats and sunscreen. And make sure you're ready for in-car emergencies with wipes, a change of clothes, a plastic bucket for carsickness and a pack of nappies if your little one is still using them.
3. Time your driving with their routine
Some parents time their trips for bedtime and tuck pyjama-clad children into their seats while they snooze. It's a clever move if you're happy to drive at night and confident they won't wake up.
Or if your little one still has regular daytime naps, it's a good idea to time your trip to coincide with their nap so they are asleep for most, if not all, of the journey.
Otherwise, it's a good idea to plan your departure around when your kids eat and sleep. The less disturbed their routine is, the more likely you are to have a (relatively) peaceful journey, and not arrive at your destination with hungry and tired tots.
4. Stock up with games and entertainment
It's fun to play games or sing songs together as a family. But with many journeys lasting several hours, it's only natural that you might run out of ideas for I-Spy and 20 Questions.
Don't be afraid to rely on technology. If you have a portable DVD player or a tablet for them to watch movies and play games, make sure it's stocked up and charged before you go and enjoy the blissful peace.
5. Make sure everyone's fuelled up for the trip
Hunger and thirst are guaranteed to make tempers fray, so be sure to pack snacks and drinks - they help keep boredom away too.
Try to keep away from anything that will leave sticky handprints like chocolate or too much sugar. Granola bars, fruit and vegetable sticks and crackers are all good options.
6. Clean up in a Flash
However well organised you are, the car is likely to look like a mess after a few hours of travelling, with spills and discarded wrappers at the very least.
Car interiors can also be a breeding ground for germs, so bring some Anti-Bacterial Flash Cleaning Wipes with you for powerful, germ-killing cleaning in a handy, on-the-go pack. Just give surfaces, plastic toys and gadgets a quick wipe and the car will be clean and fresh-smelling for the return trip.
How do you make sure family road trips go smoothly? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.