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Tell Hertz about your experiences of travelling as a family - 5 tickets to Disneyland Paris (worth £277) prize draw! NOW CLOSED

(158 Posts)
MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 22-Apr-14 16:39:18

Hertz have asked us to find out what Mumsnetters' experiences are of travelling as a family.

Here's what Hertz say, "Hertz has a car for every occasion. With one of the biggest car hire collections in Europe, we have the cars to match your needs, mood and budget.
The Hertz Family Collection comprises a range of family and holiday-friendly cars for 5-7 people. Every car in the range is 5-star NCAP safety-rated for added reassurance and has all the space needed for the children, bags, holiday extras and the kitchen sink."

So, what do you find the pains and joys are of travelling as a family? What tips would give to ensure that, when on the road, longer journeys go smoothly? Maybe you have lots of different games you play as a family in the car? Or is the key making sure that you have enough ready made snacks to take with you in case your DCs get grumpy hungry? Have you got any travel plans for over the Easter weekend? We'd love to hear about any plans or experiences you have.

Everyone who adds their comments to this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one Mumsnetter will win 5 tickets to Disneyland Paris worth £277, valid until the 28th of July 2014. Tickets are valid for both Parc Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios.

Thanks and good luck,


Blu Tue 22-Apr-14 18:01:23

My rule is:
The Driver (Me!) chooses the music - or at least has final veto. Dealing with a Sardinian motorway for the first time with Tommy The tractor playing for the 190th time is not bella bella sympatico.

We used to have made-up games that we only ever played in the car so (in that weird psychology that sometimes prevails) it seemed like a treat to play them. One, for example, entailed chanting 'Gingerbread man, Gingerbread man, what can you see in the forest'? where upon someone else in the car makes up a rhyme ' I can see trees, and bumble bees, that's what I see in the forest'. The game then continues for another 120 Km using different locations: Gingerbread man, GM, what can you see in the bakers / seaside / fields / clouds / etc etc, and possibly based on scenery passed.

We would also communicate entirely in Dr Seuss language for half an hour, or in Miffy language. I drove across Andalucía as Miffy's mother.

Now Ds is older, I have him 'be in charge' of indicating etc - he rads the road and tells me when he thinks I should indicate, or brake, or stop, etc.

Yes, this is how desperate it gets grin

And I don't have a satnav - it is brilliant practice and keeps them engaged to read the map of follow the AA Road route and help point out the signs etc. DS has been doing this since he was about 9.

Pet hate: getting off the plane and having to queue for HOURS at the Car Hire place, with hot / hungry / bored kids.

superbagpuss Tue 22-Apr-14 18:01:39

we have two 4 year olds, biggest problem is stopping the fighting or being silly. we have child friendly music to listen to as well as story books on CD

we also play colour/word/number games as appropriate which not only amuse them but slips in education grin.

we are planning on driving to Europe in the summer so looking for other hints and tips

ImAThrillseekerBunny Tue 22-Apr-14 18:13:45

There was a long thread about "how do you get your DCs to behave in the car?" a while ago and we sadly concluded that whether your child was a good car traveller or a nightmare was largely down to the luck of the draw - the only thing you could do to improve your chances was to limit the number of offspring you had, because once you had three or more the dice were well and truly loaded against you.

However, I will ignore this truth and I claim sole credit for the fact that my two hell beasts are bizarrely well behaved on car journeys. This is because:
A) I always pack healthy snacks and water
B) I plan ahead for a pitstop every 2/3 hours
C) no DVDs, no DSs, no books but lots of CDs. Doctor Seuss audiobooks when they were young but now a mix of The Divine Comedy (the band, not Dante), Ska compilations, and many many cheap multi-disc variations on The Best Eighties Electronic Music Ever. DH and I reminisce about our student days while our normally "spirited" and "lively" children sit in angelic silence gazing out of the window confused. Like I said, luck of the draw.

RubySparks Tue 22-Apr-14 18:17:27

My DC are teens now but still bicker! Technology now means they are more entertained by phones, ipdas, Nintendo DS etc than when they were little. We used to have lots of food and books and audio books, particular favourite was The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer, still makes me laugh even though it was played over and over. We also didn't use to go very long journeys in the car when they were small!

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Tue 22-Apr-14 18:46:40

Healthy snacks and bottles of water easily accessible.

Our tip is to drive at nap time or get them into pjs and leave just after bedtime... Really helps with the journey and they just need lofting the other end. It means arriving and leaving holiday cottages at odds times but has really helped on long trips!

MissVanDyke Tue 22-Apr-14 19:05:33

I was coming on to say that it helps to drive at nap or sleep times. It means you are driving for a bit without having to worry about entertaining children.

The rest of the time I find that spacing out snacks and water really helps. We also really plan the route and look for places of interest along the way. We then make a day of it. In many cases the places we have visited either going there or on the way back have been the highlight of the holidays!

Marmaduke Tue 22-Apr-14 19:09:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EvilHerbivore Tue 22-Apr-14 19:13:31

We don't drive so all the travelling we do is by public transport, helps break up the monotony for a small child when getting on and off buses/trains/trams. etc but does add an extra element of stress for parents! My tips would be time as many of the ling distances over naps (obviously only works with smaller children) and engage in as much happy-fake voice and bribery! as needed!

chocolateshoes Tue 22-Apr-14 19:14:28

Audio CDs are brilliant girl passing the time on a long car journey but make sure you've got plenty.
Plenty if bottled water to hand.
A pillow for Ds in case he wants to doze off ( rare but you never know!)
Packet of wipes for hand washing, face wiping, emergency loo stops
Those old fashioned I Spy books are great for any kind of journey
Healthy snacks, nothing too sweet until you know you're nearly there.
Make a mini map fro ads with key towns & landmarks to spot and tick off.

Moodykat Tue 22-Apr-14 19:49:37

Audio books and many, many snacks. Oh, and I just discovered "travel john's" which help when small DCs have urgent wee needs and you have nowhere convenient to stop.

rupert23 Tue 22-Apr-14 20:03:01

I have five children now 25/20/16/11 and seven.Long journeys in the car are not so bad now they are getting older but i make sure that they have DS portable DVD players tabs etc and all have headphones. Then i can sit back and enjoy my own Old fashioned music as they call it on the journey. i also take a bag of drinks and snacks and make regular stops to keep them all happy.I make sure the younger boys are spread out in the car so that they dont fight or start niggling at each other. Most journeys are smooth now even when we got stuck in traffic getting to caravan at Norfolk over easter. I aeeived sane and calm thank god for Ds/DVd players etc

CMOTDibbler Tue 22-Apr-14 20:15:04

Audio books - cover to cover for preference as they go on for many hours.
Snacks. Varied, and in lots of little bags so you can hand them out at regular intervals. Things like mixed dried fruit and cereals are good. Plenty of spare drink and food in the car in case of traffic jams.
If you have boys, a large, empty, screwtop bottle. The ability to wee in a bottle when in your car seat is wonderful.
If anyone is car sick prone, then large zip lock bags with a handful of crystal cat litter in will contain it nicely.

PrincessOfChina Tue 22-Apr-14 20:20:57

We're just starting to have to deal with long journeys with an awake DD. She's just turned three and until pretty recently could be relied upon to sleep through most journeys.

Now, we are armed with snacks, drinks, sticker books, the iPad with Disney films loaded, some audio books and music she likes (the soundtrack to this week's trip has been "Let It Go").

If only the same tricks worked for DH who is a dreadful passenger and hates having any station but 5Live on. I try to prepare a Spotify playlist for such situations!

mercibucket Tue 22-Apr-14 20:21:38

travelling at night or v early so kids are too tired to bicker

nothing else. i am not playing annoying games. we just chat or listen to music

on, say, planes with poor members of the public and no risk of car sickness, we have food, magazines, ipads, etc etc

ShatnersBassoon Tue 22-Apr-14 20:35:07

My mum tends to be in the back with the children on long British holiday drives. She's a brilliant peacekeeper grin.

When she's not with us, it's the DVD player that saves us from horrible travel sickness. Looking slightly upwards definitely seems to help stop nausea.

<goes off too Google travel johns>

Wickeddevil Tue 22-Apr-14 20:44:11

Well mine are mostly better behaved on the journey home, when a busy day and darkness work their magic and send them to sleep.

One of our most memorable experiences was ironically, returning from Disneyland Paris, and taking a wrong turn. We got nearer and nearer to central Paris, I was driving and couldn't find anywhere to turn round. DH wanted me to do a U turn - I wasn't too happy to cross a zillion lanes of traffic, and we had a blazing row. Eventually DH grabbed the steering wheel in frustration and made me make the turn. As he may have pointed out, it is what the French would have done. Anyway our 2 DC at the time were sat in the back either side of MIL and all three of them were completely silent!

Not sure I should have posted that on a link sponsored by a car hire company....but I'm a safe and competent driver really grin

lia66 Tue 22-Apr-14 21:08:27

Well straight away you don't cater for my needs as I have 6 children so we need an 8 seater. I realise this May not be the average family but bloody annoying nonetheless.

PurpleCrazyHorse Tue 22-Apr-14 21:19:53

We only have one DC so no bickering children in the back to contend with. We don't have electronic devices in the car but DD does have one of those fold out travel trays that attaches to the seat in front. She can then do colouring or play with small toys (e.g. the old school tiny Polly Pockets).

We also have our own family game called Guess-y Guess-y... it goes like this... "Guess-y guess-y if you can, guess-y guess-y what I am, I am... [an animal/big/found on a farm etc etc]". Players take it in turn to either ask a yes/no question or have a guess at the object the person is thinking of.

It's better than i-spy on the motorway as it's easy to run out of objects suitable for a 4yo to guess when paying i-spy, especially if it's getting dark outside! We also stop regularly and I tend to have a few little surprises in my bag for her too (e.g. cheap tat toys or a magazine).

ReginaPhalangee Tue 22-Apr-14 21:33:33

I make up surprise goodie bags for our two DCs which contain a magazine, snacks and drinks, colouring book and crayons, a card game of some description, sticker book and other treats. This year I came across some brilliant sets of wipe-clean travel cards made by Usborne entitled 'activities to do on a journey' and similar titles. They were a massive hot!

ReginaPhalangee Tue 22-Apr-14 21:33:47

Or hit, even!

GetKnitted Tue 22-Apr-14 21:38:16

ds are 6 and 2, so we still find the old ones are the best, eye spy and first to see for all the times when we can't hear are we nearly there yet one more time.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Tue 22-Apr-14 21:42:43

Ours have iPod shuffles with their favourite music and stories on. We tried dvd's but it makes ds1 feel very sick so we soon stopped that! Now that they're both enjoying Harry Potter we're working our way through the Stephen Fry audio versions of those (borrowing from the library) which are good - ds1 is in charge of passing the next one to me if DH isn't with us.

We always have small bottles of water and snacks (non chocolatey - too much mess) to hand and plan to stop every couple of hours. That's far easier than ds1 announcing that he needs a wee. He can hold on for approx half a nanosecond once he decides that he needs to go!

Ds2 still sleeps a lot in the car (he's nearly 6), so a high back booster seat with a small recline is good for him. Just because legally they could be on booster seats (without a back), they're both still in high backs and I wish that we could hire these when we're away.

When it comes to hire cars, I just wish that they would have what we have booked ready. If I have booked an estate car with winter tyres then I don't want a small hatchback without winter tyres. It shouldn't be a surprise that if several flights are due in in close succession that they might get busy and equally it should be no surprise that people in general (not just families) really don't want to have to wait in a long queue to pick up a car, car seats etc that should be ready and waiting. Staffing should be planned accordingly.

WalkingThePlank Tue 22-Apr-14 21:48:01

First off we have to know where we're going so rather than blindly following a satnav, I plan the route using Streetview so I can recognize the turnings.

The children have a small box situated between them with various toys and books. Both are avid readers so we have to make sure they remember to look out the window to avoid travel sickness. Oh and if my DD eats strawberries, or anything strawberry flavored, she will be sick - she can't bare the sight of Mentos fruits now!

supergreenuk Tue 22-Apr-14 21:49:59

My son gets car sick. He is currently too young for travel sickness tablets so on journeys I wind down the windows regularly for fresh air. They get a lolly to suck at some point and we have in car DVD player to watch. He travels with a towel on his lap to reduce the horrible mess getting everywhere.

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