tips for long road trip with small kids!

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Tom Lurk, May 13, 2016.

  1. Tom Lurk

    Tom Lurk Funster

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    Morning!

    The family (SWMBO + 5 year old daughter and 20 month old son) & I are off on a 4 week trip through europe in August, through France, Spain, to Portugal and back again. We have pre-booked a lot of our stay, and plan to use Aires when we are less sure of where we are going to be.

    Most of our friends and family think we are nuts, but we are pretty confident all will be fine. This will be by far the longest trip we have done, let alone as a family, so was wondering if any of you were seasoned pros at this sort of thing (specifically with small kids) and had any valuable lessons/tips you would like to share (apart from 'don't do it', perhaps) :D

    cheers,

    Tom
     
  2. iandsm

    iandsm Funster

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    You are doing a whirlwind tour if you go to all those places, might be better to do four weeks in France and then you would only see a tiny part of it, that might be more relaxing. I have visions of you hammering along as fast as you can from one point to another, perhaps I am wrong but a trip visiting the countries you mention might take four months as opposed to four weeks. But good luck and enjoy yourself whatever you do.
     
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  3. bubble63

    bubble63 Funster

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    Done 15 MH years with two boys since they were 1
    They are 12 & 15 now [the 15 yr is in the 'departure lounge':)]
    They both have their own space, a bunk apiece
    They have their own box within this space, with loads of bits in, including books clocks, cards games, toys
    lots of LEGO
    they now are both power hungry, so serious charging for iPhone,iPad iPod, laptop,DVD
    Good telly with sat dish,100's of films on a memory stick
    Croc's
    Kite
    Oval foam thing that you throw to each other
    Foam football, [they put a real one completely through my hecki skylighto_O]
    Walking boots
    Awning
    bikes

    watch out for cabin fever and be prepared to [stop and] get out for a while

    rainy days are the most tricky, so be resourceful and get outside

    enjoy(y)
     
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  4. Poohbear

    Poohbear Funster

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    I would say you've planned to go too far with kids on board. Less travelling and more staying would be better. Also better not to make firm plans. What happens if you feel like staying longer somewhere or you wake up feeling ill and don't want to drive? Better not to book anything and take it day by day.
     
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  5. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

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    My grandkids are now 11 and 9, travelled in the van and in Europe since birth.
    We have done Spain for the past 4 years every August...

    1. I think your going to far for a 4 week trip. !
    2. Avoid spending all day driving as kids will get bored, hot and fed up.
    3. Aires can get busy in summer, have a back up plan in case you get there and they are jam packed.
    4. Temperatures in August can be really hot and being in a motorhome it can seem even hotter at night, be ready for the heat.
    5. Any aire or stopover with a park easily suited our kids so if you spot one, stop and have a break and let the get out the van.
     
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  6. kaasbroodje

    kaasbroodje Funster

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    We did Murcia with the kids (5&9) a couple of years ago. Similar distance to yourself, done over six weeks - have to say it was hard work !
    We were meeting family, so committed to the journey. Otherwise I'd of stopped 500 miles earlier (saving another 500 miles on the return journey too) there's little to gain from doing the extra mileage.
    If I was to do it again....
    Plan a few 'big' days with lots of driving, spread over the course of the holiday. Bearing in mind, you need ten days at 300miles/day.
    I'd aim for a few 400mile days (whole day give or take) and a few 200mile days (half days)
    Start you days early - 6am starts, hopefully you can be parked by mid afternoon. Leaving at 10am and driving through the day is no fun (way too hot)
    Based on time/distance considerations, you have to use toll roads.
    Carry lots of water, stop often for cold drinks / ice cream.
    TV / Tablets / Movies are a must. USB charging points are easy to fit and help immensely.
    Aires are great for stopovers if you're doing back to back driving.
    Otherwise consider campsites with pools (not always expensive). You'll all appreciate a dip after a day's hot driving.
    If anyone starts complaining when travelling, take the hint and prepare to stop for the day or at least take a long break.
    You only need one or two bad days and they'll all hate the motorhome. Try and avoid that, keep them sweet, it's a holiday after all...

    Best of luck, think you're taking a lot on, don't book anything too far south, you might get sick of driving and decide to stay closer to home !
     
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  7. Tom Lurk

    Tom Lurk Funster

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    Should have been a bit clearer. We're planning on spending the bulk of our time in Northern Spain and Northern Portugal, with only a couple of nights at either end of the trip in France. We would have taken the Santander ferry, but we were late in deciding to do this (the only reason I can is because I am suddenly in between jobs ;) ) and it was booked up :)

    We are meeting family just west of Madrid, and that is the furthest south we are planning on going.
     
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  8. Tom Lurk

    Tom Lurk Funster

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    this seems like our plan of attack in a nutshell, our ferry gets in on the thursday lunchtime, and we want to be at our site just outside of Bordeaux by lunchtime on the Friday (where a pool awaits). Then it's two days there before heading towards Gijon, and 6 days before we have to be near Madrid, we think that is pretty do-able. Definitely going to try to avoid driving in the middle of the day as much as humanly possible :)
     
  9. kaasbroodje

    kaasbroodje Funster

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    First part sounds fine, Bordeaux to Gijon's a fair old drive... but then Madrid ? Are you planning to do Portugal after that ??
    Must say, that's ALOT of driving in four weeks... www.viamichelin.com is your friend (y)
     
  10. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    I'm thinking by the end of the trip you may start to agree with them..

    I concur with the others who say it's too far in too short a time and too hot for driving..

    I've been taking kids abroad motorhoming since the early 1990s but not on long road trips..

    "RV WE THERE YET " .. :eek: you will get to know this cry .. etched in your hot and tired brain :LOL:

    but good luck ..
     
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  11. Tom Lurk

    Tom Lurk Funster

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    oh well, we are booked in now, have to say i still remain optimistic ;)

    kaasbroodje, we won't do the whole bordeaux to gijon leg in one go, already identified a couple of potential lay-overs around Bilbao/Santander. Not Madrid itself, a place called Piedralaves about an hour west where we'll spend the best part of a week. then to the north-east corner of portugal (it's a big national park) if we feel like it. if everyone's pessimism on here is borne out then we probably won't!

    has anyone had experience of keeping small children 'contained' at the van while still allowing them outside? we were thinking of making a large playpen out of wind-breaks around the awning, has anyone done this before?
     
  12. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    that's the spirit.. don't let us old farts put you off..

    solid advice.. it will get hot driving, use a bandana or tea towel on your head .. and spray with water .. it really works.. same for the kids..
     
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  13. Figaro

    Figaro Funster

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    I don't think anyone is being pessimistic, just trying to give useful advice based on experience. Your plan does involve a lot of driving and would be challenging for adults let alone with bored children who just want a pool to play in.
    Happy travels whatever you decide.
    Oh, welcome to the forum as well !
     
  14. peterc10

    peterc10 Funster

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    As Jim said, don't be put off by us oldies. When our kids were young we used to have a caravan and could get down to the Med in less than two days if we tried hard. Late evening ferry on Friday and stop close to Calais. Drive all day Saturday to get South of Lyon (not many motorways in those days) and stopped on a motorway Aire. Then off again early in the morning and and arrived on the Med by midday Sunday. Had to if we only had 2 weeks holiday and wanted to make the most of it.

    But I would never do that now with a motorhome. I think the first leg of the journey to Bordeaux is going to be difficult in the time you have set mind you. But you should make it by later afternoon!

    the rest however seems flexible enough to cause no real problems, and I suspect that after a week in Spain you will be able to make the trip to northern Portugal in a day without too many problems.
     
  15. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    When I travelled with my children (3 boys with an 8 year age range) I did not make any plans so that I could stop when they got fractious, usually early afternoon, just found a site with a swimming pool. Normally only stayed one night at each place unless it was special so we still managed to cover considerable mileage (on one occasion 5 countries) in the the 3 weeks, which was the most I could take off work.
    In my view too much of a plan adds stress, and pre-booked sites you have to get to at a certain time, lots of stress. It's your holiday too. When I went with the boys it was always August (peak time) and we never booked and never got turned away.
     
  16. Mattyjwr

    Mattyjwr Funster Life Member

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    I'd be tempted to do a lot of the long slogs at night once the kids are asleep with short sections during the day to get to a few attractions on the way.

    We've travelled with young kids who are good at entertaining themselves but not all are. Tablets with TV programmes or films + headphones are very useful, as are books and travel games including I-spy.

    I'd aim to stop near Bordeaux / Dordogne for a couple of days if the weather is nice so that the kids can acclimatise a bit and play. Maybe go to Carcasonne if not too hot. Similarly, spend three days in N Spain to play on the beach. We find that kids like spending a few days at a place and day after day of driving doesn't appeal to them. You could arrive west of Madrid 1 week after leaving the UK.

    We ask the kids to look out for play grounds as we travel and stop at the exciting looking ones so they can use up some energy.

    We don't use cages for kids once on site but have used a wind break to corral them if required.
     
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  17. Mousy

    Mousy Funster Life Member

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    Windbrakes sound a good ideal, especially for shade. when my 4 were little, a cheap blow up paddling pool filled with a few inches of water was always welcome in hot weather, yours sound young enough to be naked so no endless cosies to dry....not that drying will be a problem in August. It can also be used dry as a mini play pen filled with balls and diggers etc.

    Treasure hunts, hide a small toy in the van or just under the van step etc keeps them busy looking for hours, there are rumours in our family that sometimes said toy was never actually hidden anywhere until the very end of the game:whistle:

    Stickers? I seem to remember the girls endlessly sticking into books.

    I think your biggest problem if using Aires (which we love) is the heat, very very hot at night and you will need fly screen and loads of insect rep elegant. and not being able to spread a load of stuff outside.
     
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  18. Lynne Steele

    Lynne Steele Funster

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    Years ago my parents lived on the Costa Blanca and we travelled there in 3 days, it was fun although mine were a little older, you guys are quite lucky, in car dvd must be amazing, ours had colouring and personal cassettes. We travelled quite early in the morning, had a few hours fun in the afternoon, and drove well into the night when it was cooler. I think you will be fine, especially if you can work the bulk of the driving around the little ones naps, it is so much easier in a motorhome with everything on board, the thing I remember most is all the singing, get the Walt Disney Film theme CD, sing your hearts out and have fun

    Lynne
     
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  19. bubble63

    bubble63 Funster

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    you could drive ..................
    and the wife and kids fly down............
    that way you break the back of the driving and enjoy spain with the family?
     
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  20. PhilandMena

    PhilandMena Funster

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    You may find this helpful.

     
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