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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,


sharond101 Tue 22-Apr-14 21:50:51

Rule is to drive any distance over 1 hour when DS is asleep for his nap. If journey between 0-30minutes then fine for back seat on his own. Greater than 30minutes then one of us sits in the back with him. I am so for getting a dvd player fitted in our next car too. Lots of snacks, drinks and stories. New toys, apps on iphone etc. Going on a plane in two weeks that will be a whole new experience with ahire car to pick up at the other end.

miljones1 Tue 22-Apr-14 21:55:53

In terms of travelling I try to pack lots of little things for the plane that can be distracting - whether it is books, snacks, games, toys or whatever..and dole them out one at a time!

Nouseforausername Tue 22-Apr-14 22:01:59

we went from a mini to a megane after begrudgingly admitting that we would need more space for all the junk lovely essentials that we "have" to drag with us everywhere. He's only 10 months old.
so an essential for us is space and plenty of it.
after going in dfils car I have decided an essential as well is built in sunshades because it took me bloody ages faffing about to get mine to fit right angry
god ive just thought of the best travel essential. someone to make all the stuff fit for me! please invent that job role Hertz

PloddingDaily Tue 22-Apr-14 22:03:20

Our DC are 7 & 4, & over the years have mostly managed to have guts of steel throughout car journeys (happily head down, looking at 'Where's Wally' books, munching snacks, watching DVDs etc). Instead they seemed to take delight in saving their explosions (either end! hmm) for a suitably awkward moment (e.g take off, or climbing up the stairs from the car deck on the ferry) but critically only when in my arms / on my lap...I have been variously 'anointed' by my offspring with puke, poo & wee whilst DH always (to date!) has managed to get away scott free! hmm <not bitter, much>

So my hard learnt (why did it take so long to twig to this?!) tip is that as well as having lots of changes of clothes for the kids accessible whenever traveling, some spares for the parental puke-magnet is a good idea too! and lots of baby wipes, deo spray & vicks rub to disguise the smells!

Keepcalmanddrinkwine Tue 22-Apr-14 22:04:12

I always allow enough travel time to stop for comfort breaks. I also prefer to drive so I can decide when to take them. DH doesn't have the same desire for regular coffees (or need to pee) that I do so he would just do a journey in one go.

For the children I pack games, gadgets (I always said I never would but you can't beat a DVD in the back for a bit of peace and quiet) and snacks. The seem to want to graze as soon as we hit the motorway.

They also like playing a game called Banana car- if you see a yellow car you shout BANANA CAR really loudly. Somehow they never tire of this game. I do. Very quickly.

The kids also like to play I-spy, but they choose either the most obvious things (car, road etc.) or they play imaginary I-spy, which is harder. How am I meant to know they are thinking of a unicorn/dolphin/dinosaur/whatever if I can't actually see it? Cheats.

I love travelling with kids.

lottietiger Tue 22-Apr-14 22:05:52

Raisins! In little boxes.. They keep my son amused as he always drops them and spends ages looking for where the.y went. Bottles of water with built in straws to prevent spillage. On shorter journeys music and a bit of singing seems to work, on a longer one a tub of Lego and a lunch box with small sandwiches in. And then fingers crossed he will fall asleepsmile

whattoWHO Tue 22-Apr-14 22:09:41

Portable DVD player for DC, but make it clear that it won't be allowed for the whole journey (to preserve the driver's sanity).
Snacks, drinks.
Regular breaks.
Play the yellow car game (get points for spotting a yellow car, 20 for a yellow mini).
Games and puzzles for DC.
No clutter in the car so it doesn't feel cramped.
Early start, early arrival.

Hopezibah Tue 22-Apr-14 23:12:10

We'd hoped to do a last minute trip over Easter but ended up feeling unwell so didn't :-(

Our travel tips are to plan your journey ahead - have some stopping points in mind and see how you go. We now break up a very long journey with a cheap overnight stay in a travelodge - Saves stress all round!

Lots of kids music, snacks and toys help.

The kids like to get their bears to wave to others when we're stuck in traffic - that keeps their mind off the long journey.

Make sure the kids are comfy with layers of clothing so they don't get too hot or cold and if travelling early in the morning or late at night, bring a blanket for them to snuggle up with to feel cosy for the journey (and hopefully feel more calm and relaxed too).

Swex Tue 22-Apr-14 23:36:20

I cannot Stress enough the wonder that is talking books. Oldest son listens to stories for hours and we love reliving old favourites. We have to intersperse with happy song a long songs for the younger one. Plan your breaks like a military campaign and never drive for more than four hours in total if you can help it! Many many snacks of savoury and sweet variety are required. And always take several plastic bags for car sickness! Only happened once on the marvellous drive down in to the Italian part of switZerland but was such a scarring experience for us all that we always have some to hand.

Finally, our car came with built in sun blinds. Wasn't on our agenda to have that, but happened to be a an extra in that car. And frankly it's wonderful. They are much much better than crummy stick on ones and have literally been life savers.

Happy driving!

telsa Tue 22-Apr-14 23:59:02

Just back from a successful family trip to Cornwall. it was a 6 hour drive, broken up by a 90 minute excursion halfway though and one stop at suffices. It went smoothly mainly because we had packed oodles of sweets and snacks and had water. we made a stop at an English Heritage site about halfway along, which made for a great break, and some soup. we chatted, sang, played I-spy. DCs are 8 and 6 and still find a car trip fun, as it is a hire car and at home it is only bikes and buses usually.

Messygirl Wed 23-Apr-14 00:14:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CbeebiesIsAboutToPop Wed 23-Apr-14 07:05:25

We bought a portable DVD player recently and it has become invaluable for long journeys! My girls are 2 and 3 and will be happy and contented as long as there is a DVD playing!

We also set off much earlier than needed, with a recently potty trained 3 year old (and a preganant mummy!) it's enevitalble we will have to stop at every service station along the way!

OwlCapone Wed 23-Apr-14 07:39:52

Reading this makes me wonder how on earth we coped on our annual long car journey to Cornwall in the summer. This was before the fast roads too. Wee had no gadgets, no story CDs (or tapes!!) and no sticker books and endless entertainment. There were three of us and we didn't fight or bicker. I think we used to play games like good old I Spy, number plate spotting games, pub cricket etc. how have we managed to create a generation of children unable to survive without spoonfed entertainment? And I include myself in this - I am sometimes horrified at how mine are incapable of doing "nothing" or entertaining themselves.

Nevertheless, when mine were small I found that story CDs kept them quiet the best. Also, snacks and water to drink. Things like books, drawing and gadgets are no good for the child who gets car sick but thankfully that's only an issue for one of mine.

When travelling longhaul with small children and you are faced with a long queue at customs, a howling toddler is helpful - I remember wanting to hug the customs official who escorts me and my three children to the front of a newly opened desk when the 18 month old was screaming. I was tempted to pinch her next time we travelled wink

On a long haul flight, I find I am a far better parent after I've had a vodka and then the bottle of wine with lunch. Not ideal for a car journey it has to be said.

MimsyBorogroves Wed 23-Apr-14 08:09:41

Our longest drives - 5 hours each way - tend to be done by me with both of my DS.

I avoid the driving at night. I can see how it's easier in theory, but my eldest tends to wake every hour screaming that his neck hurts, and then I get THE FEAR that they won't go to bed (as neither of them stay asleep whilst lifted) which is too much of a nightmare when I'm on my own and knackered from the drive.

Now that they're 2 and 5 I find that they bicker more. DH always gives them comics, but when I'm on my own I ban them as this seems to be the key thing they fight over. Youngest DS also finds comics a bit of a pain to manage in his car seat, so that rule benefits him twice as he's less likely to tantrum. I just sling a pile of books between them instead.

Snacks tend to be crisps and biscuits to make the journey more of a treat. Sandwiches and croissants for a driving lunch.

Dr. Who on the iPad for the last hour of the journey, which is the bit that tends to be most fraught.

I love having my mum in the car for long trips. We have played "surreal I spy" for years which amuses us but no-one else. ("NT!"..."no trees!")

nicename Wed 23-Apr-14 09:04:39

Keep a small bag of 'treasure' on hand - boiled sweets, small toys and puzzles (I keep a box full of various tat from comics, party bags, crackers and use these).

Everyone gets to choose music and it is played in 'turns'.

Lots of sturdy plastic bags and a few changes of clothing for vomiting. Plus non smelly wet wipes and tissues. Also a 'car bin' (ie plastic bag for tissues, sweet wrappers etc).

Plan likely stopping points and alternatives so you know when things are getting frantic, you have a stop 'just up the road/ten mins/5 miles...'

Snacks and water in a cool bag.

Pillows and neck rests for napping.

Plan your route, work out timings and add in contingency time. There's akways time to stop off for an ice cream or playpark if you have spare time.

Check out the petrol stations on those websites that pinpoint where they are. Also work out where your petrol cap is on a hire car anbd how to open it! Also how the pumps and stations work in the country you are in (bitter experience!).

Check car seat hire before you travel. Make sure it is fitted properly.

Make sure you pack any foodstuffs that may cause a riot of you can't get it abroad. In Italy we had a 'mare getting plain old apple juice, and when DS was tine, he didn't like other juices and of course being firt time parents we thought he would die of dehydration if he didn't have fruit juice

Never keep chocolate or egg and tomato sandwiches in a hot car (tip from my childhood journys).

FridgeHalfFull Wed 23-Apr-14 09:05:40

When they were babies, we travelled at night, setting off at bedtime, until the last time when we broke down at midnight - not fun!

Now the kids are 5 and 8, they're great to travel with. We use DVD/tablet as a step of last resort i.e. wait until they get bored. Books, toys, cuddlies are packed into the back seat and usually these will keep them entertained for an hour or so. Car picnic or snacks break up the trip. Audiobooks are fantastically calming, and unlikely to lead to arguments. and then when we are 60-90mins from destination, a film is offered.

Satnav is a must - one less distraction - especially when in a foreign country.

When renting we look for a car with a large boot, sat nav and of course good prices!

The worst part of car rental for me is the returning process - having to refill (find a petrol station too!) and then find the return location adds extra stress. It annoys me that fuel costs more if you don't refill yourself!

nicename Wed 23-Apr-14 09:12:34

When we were little we used to go on mammoth car trips - well, waay up north to south of france. My mum used to give us carsickness pills, which I have long suspected as being knock-out pills as I would sleep for hours and hours.

Not advised.

BrieAndChilli Wed 23-Apr-14 09:34:15

MakE sure everyone has taken travel sickness pills and even then make sure plastic bags are within reach and there are plenty of wipes and changes of clothes in case someone is sick.

Long journeys tend to involve watching a film now and we also try and travel evening or early morning when kids are more likely to sleep.

Plenty of mess free snacks and spill proof bottles

Spirael Wed 23-Apr-14 09:35:31

Due to family living so far away, DD has been used to making long car journeys ever since she was little. I thought that seemed to help, but maybe we just got lucky that she's fine with long journeys! We'll see what she's like on an 8 hour plane journey next year.

Main thing I focus on is making sure she's safe but also comfortable. When she was tiny she slept in a lie flat safe sleeper that went across two of the back seats. Meant she'd just doze for the whole journey and we didn't need to make two hourly stops and wake her up.

Nowadays, she has a high backed booster car seat, but one that has head rest sections and reclines slightly, so that if/when she dozes off then her head is not constantly dipping forward and her neck doesn't get stiff. Means she sleeps for longer and more comfortably.

We always have a drink and a snack available, and we make sure to have various blinds in the car to dampen bright sunlight or carry sunglasses for her, so she's not upset by the sun - if there is any. We carry a Potette Plus for emergency toileting use, but so far have never needed it. [touch wood]

Aside from that, we talk as a family! About things we've done, things we're going to do and things that people want to do. It's an ideal time for a 'family meeting' to discuss various things, such as meals people want to eat, events they enjoyed to or activities they'd like to try.

threepiecesuite Wed 23-Apr-14 09:46:59

We do lots of long journeys. DD is 4 so our invaluables are a portable dvd player, small accessible bag with a few new little toys and snacks (def not chocolate though!).
We play lots of car games and dd also likes reading the map book.

littleducks Wed 23-Apr-14 09:56:19

I have a 6 month old baby, a 6 year old and an almost 8 year old. I am just back from a trip to see relatives in Cornwall, just me and kids. Lots of driving.

I had got the process sussed but then the baby cane and he screams on most car journeys.

The older ones have backpacks that they pack themselves. They get a laptop with films on and headphones. Dh allows spare batteries I do not as the drama of changing them is too much. They travel in tracksuits with a blanket and soft toys. The idea is that they sleep (I try and do the journey after bedtime or early morning) but if weer do need to stop at services they aren't in pyjamas. If they can't sleep they snuggle up and chill out.

Talking books help. We sometimes borrow from the library and keep any that were free with newspapers. Alan Bennett reading winner the Pooh is a surprising favourite. DS also likes famous five as he can't be bothered to read books that long but likes the story.

I have unhealthy snacks for when I really need them to be quiet. We always have water too.

The baby is more tricky. He is rear facing so has a mirror and I bribe Dd took entertain him if he gets grizzly. Stuck in traffic I resorted to letting him watch some of the film Dd was watching.

We used to hire cars to go away but now I am more likely to take our bus larger car and dh have a small hire car at home.

I agree a how to put petrol in for idiots guide would help. We sat for 20 mins at a pistol station in France trying to open the cap. We couldn't find the lever anywhere and if want on the paperwork.

littleducks Wed 23-Apr-14 09:57:34

It wasn't on the paperwork

yummum120 Wed 23-Apr-14 09:58:25

I always try to be well prepared with lots of snacks, especially for younger one as he has some food allergies and we find it difficult to find food for him on the go, so I must have his food from the free from range. Paracetomal and sick bags are a must just in case but luckily we have managed a few long journeys without needing them. Feeling comfortable is also important for longer journeys in the car so we ensure we have blankets and cushions to keep us cosy and lots of new activities to do on the journey - reading, magazines, colouring, play number games and word games and of course the game consoles.

honeyandbutter Wed 23-Apr-14 10:08:54

I always make sure we have plenty to do to keep DCs occupied. When they were younger, we would have audiobooks, DVD players, little packs of notebooks and coloured pencils, little mini puzzles and lots of snacks. Each DC had their own little bag so there was no arguing. Snacks include grapes, bananas, strawberries, popcorn, fruit strings, water and so forth.

We also play word games - one person names an animal beginning with A, the next with B etc and this can be done with girls/boys names, countries, food etc. Another game is the 'story game' where the first person says a line of a story and the next person contributes a sentence until the story is complete (can be quite funny!).

Stopping for breaks is also essential so everyone gets a chance to stretch their legs. Nowadays as DCs are older, tablets and games are a godsend, otherwise we would get constant bickering!

littleducks Wed 23-Apr-14 10:12:34

I forgot to add. We play spotting bingo. It had flexible rules dependant on who is playing. Basically you have to spot things and say bingo. If they are getting fidgety I will give simple things like an emergency telephone. If they are more chilled something harder like a white car. The hardest level is when you give a list of 5 and they have to remember them (a sheep, a cow, a horse, a wind farm and a cornish flag).

Saying bingo rather than "look a cow" prevents curating!

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