Driving Abroad with children
For our annual summer holiday this year we had planned almost 3 whole weeks away. This consisted of …….
- Travelling to France via Eurotunnel
- 4 days at Disney Paris
- 12 days visiting in-laws in Benayes
- Travelling back to UK via Ferry from Dieppe
- 1 day at Stonehenge and surrounding area inc. camping
- 1 day at longleat safari park
We had made the decision to once again drive to France, and although this is a journey we have done many times with children I was somewhat more apprehensive about it this time now my twin boys are a little older.
Driving in the EU
If you’re planning to drive abroad from the UK it is very important to familiarise yourself with local rules for drivers before you go. This was just as important to us even though we have previously driven abroad as rules and requirements do change. France for example has introduced several significant changes recently, and there are more to come. The AA do have a comprehensive guide on their site that is regularly updated
What you need to carry in your car close to hand …
- Driving licence
- Insurance certificate
- European insurance
- European Breakdown
- Red Triangle
- Hi-Viz vest
- Breathalyser (optional at the moment)
- Tickets for Eurotunnel, ferry etc..
- Cash in local currency
- Change for tolls although most now take card
- Map / directions
Things to have at hand for children
Travelling long distances with young children in a car minus a packet of their favourite sweets is like walking beyond the wall in Westeros without a Jon Snow or Dragon by your side. OK, you might survive, but why would you want to take the chance?
Things I would recommend to have handy are…
- Water bottle and snacks
- Entertainment, like paperback books and coloured pencils
- A portable DVD player, headphones and splitter, charger and a handful of favourite DVDs or even new ones purchased just for the trip. Twin DVD player can now be purchased for low prices and this is what we had to help entertain the little ones
- Tablets or iPads. My children have Kindle Fires and these were a great help for the first couple of hours.
Other tips you may find useful …
- Enthuse kids about their destination
- Lie about how far it is.
- Keep the atmosphere between you and your partner amicable, children are very good at using any animosity between parents.
- Play a game. Obviously not ispy, but guess what animal I am does provided some fun for a short while.
If you are travelling overnight it’s also wise to pack certain things in a small bag, separate from your main luggage
- toothbrushes and toothpaste
- soap and flannel
- An extra pair of clothes and maybe a fleece for each child
Plan your Journey
There is nothing worse than getting lost and adding extra time onto your journey having to correct your position, especially with grumpy children sat in the back of the car. Planning your journey from beginning to end can cut out so much stress and anxiety. For our journey I had full route planners printed from the AA’s site, these were numbered with each stage and added to this mass of directions was photocopies of any tickets we would need.
Our journey was planned as …
- home – UK Eurotunnel port, this part of our journey would take approx. 4hrs 30 min, but did take more like 6hrs with stop offs for toilet breaks and something to eat at the services
- Eurotunnel e-ticket, this was booked for 01:20, we arrived with plenty of time and the children woke up to have a play in the soft play area
- French terminal to Davy Crocket ranch. 4 hrs was planned for this with stop offs
- Disney e-ticket. We arrived very early which gave us time to wash and change at the ranch. The cabin was available at 3pm but we were able to collect our tickets at 8am (7am UK time) and enter the park early.
- Davy Crocket to Benayes. The route planned stated 4hrs 27min so we left Disney at around 3pm, we had a couple of short breaks but still arrived in Benayes at around 8pm.
- Benayes to Dieppe. This was the longest part of our journey taking almost 6hrs. We stopped regularly and did make the ferry with plenty of time to spare.
- Ferry tickets. We decided to take the ferry back to the UK as the driving distance was reduced quite significantly and we had 5 hours aboard, so having booked a cabin we were able to have a sleep.
- Newhaven to Botany Camping, Warminster
- Botany camping booking confirmation
- Stonehenge directions (etickets on phone)
- Longleat Directions
- Longleat e-tickets
- Longleat to home
I found this plan invaluable for our trip, we had the directions and approximate times for the journeys so we were able to plan stop offs and let others know of our potential arrival.
Although driving does take considerably longer than if we had just gone by plane, if we hadn’t of driven we wouldn’t have been able to add extras to our holiday, like a nights camping, Stonehenge or Longleat.