Driving abroad with little ones can be tough, but IAM RoadSmart is here to help.

It's that time of year – yes, heatwaves and holidays. Summer has well and truly arrived.

While that's a good thing for virtually everyone, those of you with kids might be trembling at the prospect of taking your little one on long journeys abroad during the holiday period. Luckily for you road safety gurus IAM Roadsmart have put together a handy list of tips for driving abroad with children.

Child seat

IAM RoadSmart's top tips for driving abroad with children

  • Plan your journey. Going abroad with a child can be stressful, so make sure you know where you’re going when you land. Know where the hire car company is based and how long the transfer is.
  • Before setting off to your hotel/apartment make sure you are familiar with the car and that your child is safely secured. You will need to concentrate as you’ll be driving on unfamiliar roads, so plan your route before leaving.
  • Child car seats. You must have a child car seat for any children up to 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first. Ensure you take a car seat on holiday with you, as not all car hire companies provide these.
  • Most airlines will allow you to bring your car seats for free, but please call and check with your airline first. The last thing you want is to arrive at the airport and be charged a fee. Consider getting the car seat wrapped with padding at the airport as it will be going in the hold and may get damaged during your flight. If you choose to hire a car seat from a hire car company, get them to send photos to ensure it is up to standard.
  • Comfortable? Make sure your child is as comfortable as possible and take off any thick coats as they can interfere with the correct operation of the child seat in a collision. Consider getting an extra child rearview mirror if you like to keep an eye on what’s happening on the back seat. Make sure it doesn’t obscure your forward view. 
  • What to pack. Bring your child’s favourite toys, games and books to keep them entertained. Playing games in the car can take their focus off the journey but ensure you don’t get distracted yourself.
  • Pack some snacks. In case of any delays it’s great to have snacks on hand and ready. Consider bringing a cool bag where you can bring healthy snacks such as carrot sticks, grapes and juice boxes. 

"If travelling a long distance try to arrange your travel to coincide with nap time or bed time – this may make for a more relaxing drive for you and the children," said IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman. "For short journeys encourage simple games. It not only distracts but can be educational too."

"Sometimes the entertainment is just listening to the conversations your children have when they think you are not listening. There are lots of blogs and tips on websites such as Mumsnet and Gransnet on achieving in-car happiness. And remember that if you do have to stop, make sure it’s in a safe place for you, your passengers and other road users."

Happy family driving in car