Are we nearly there yet? Top tips for family car travel

The charity Scope has put together some top tips for making long family car journeys a little easier – they have been shared by parents from the charity's online community and are perfect for when you're heading off on your summer holiday. 

Choosing your car

The research charity Rica supplies useful information on choosing a car for families with disabled children – including standard features on vehicles and specialist equipment. Visit their website here.

Reduce their stress

If your child finds car travel stressful, try and understand why. For example, do they dislike the smell of the car, the noise, being restrained etc? Use comfort items such as blankets, ear defenders, blinds on windows, and go for neutralising rather than strong air fresheners.

Book your parking

Lots of places have reserved disabled parking in their staff car parks. Phone ahead and try and book yourself a spot.

Map it out

We always tell Ben exactly where we’re going in advance, so there are no surprises. We show him our route on the map, so he can check off towns and motorway exits as we go along. It keeps him occupied and happy!

Download those apps

Download some of your child’s favourite games, films or activities on to their iPad before you go.

Pack the kids last

If you’re going on a long trip, make sure you pack the car before you put the children in. You don’t want boredom or anxiety to set in too early!

Crelling harnesses

Crelling harnesses supply a large range of belts and harnesses for car travel with disabled children, which have been specially designed to offer postural support. For more information visit their website here.

Reduce the glare

Tinted windows can help reduce uncomfortable glare if your child is sensitive to light. Alternatively you can get removable shades to attach to rear windows from places like Halfords or Amazon.

Magnetic white boards

Magnetic white boards are great for long car journeys. You can pick up small ones from supermarkets and stationers, and magnetic numbers and letters, animals etc and play without the mess of felt tips and crayons. 

Back seat screen

Remap has developed a screen to put between the back seats to stop children from disturbing each other. Visit the charity's website here.

The bag of last resort

We always travel with a ‘bag of last resort’ in case we get stuck in traffic or roadworks, or we have an escalating behaviour situation. Once we've tried everything else, we use the ‘last resort’ bag. It always helps!

Reverse the buckles

If you have a mini Houdini, who’s always unbuckling their seatbelt, just turn the buckles round. In the event of an accident, firemen just cut the belt; they never undo the buckle, so there is no problem with getting out in an emergency.               

Keep it in reach

When travelling in the car attach favourite toys or fidgits to long springy key rings or ribbons. I clip these onto a loop of elastic around the headrest. That way everything stays within their reach.

Cut out distractions

Distracting the driver can be very dangerous. Think of ways to reduce missiles being thrown from the back seat etc. I typically sit in the back with the kids so that my husband can focus on driving safely.

Overnight travel

When we’re going on a long car journey, we often travel at night so Jacob sleeps through most of it. Means we’re a bit tired in the morning, but saves so much stress it’s worth it!

Are they sitting comfortably?

You can find a useful list of car seats and harnesses for growing disabled children here.

Buckle Boss

To keep a child from undoing a standard seatbelt, try a Buckle Boss. It's a device which fits over the part containing the seat belt release button. Easily opened with a car key or lolly stick (or similar) but impossible with just fingers. Find out more here.

Create a distraction.

If someone is getting really agitated in the car, try dramatically changing the environment: open all the windows, turn the music up loud, create a distraction with a funny story or a song.

Protect the car seat

For younger children you can get a Wetec car seat protector in case of accidents. As Toby is older, we use a mattress protector which we tuck in to the back seat.

Stock up on snacks

If your child is sensitive to certain foods or will only eat a limited range of snacks, make sure you stock up on snacks before you set off to avoid getting caught short of supplies. These tips were all contributed by parents of disabled children. Find more great tips like these, and share your own, on Scope’s online community.
Share page
Print page
Follow us