How to travel with a child by car and not go crazy

The main advice that will allow you to enjoy the process: do not bother.

How to travel with a child by car and not go crazy

Svetlana Vinogradova

How to travel with a child by car and don't go crazy

Svetlana Vinogradova Traveled 12,000 km in a car with a child.

It's hard. Very difficult. The child can't stand it. He wants to run, to his mother, to look, touch, again on the hands, eat, drink and so on. He gets tired quickly, so he will cry and break out of the car seat. This, in turn, terribly tires us, and everyone, tired and annoyed, wants to turn back and never go anywhere else.

Don't do this if you're unsure or don't want to. Or you have a very restless child. Fly on an airplane. Whoops, and you're there. Or just an 8 hour flight. Yes, after such a journey, 8 hours on a plane is pfft.



Divide the trip into parts. Empirically, we have established that the maximum number of hours that parents and a child can endure is 7. Or better, 6. We drive for 6 hours, stop in some city for the night.


If you stop to refuel, drink, pee, eat, take the child out and walk for 15–30 minutes. As you might guess, because of this, 6 hours of travel turn into eight or more.

When Jan was six months old, we went by car to Moscow non-stop. I thought that I would end, I roared on the way from impotence. Now we even divide the trip to Moscow into two days – we spend the night in Nizhny Novgorod.

After 6–8 hours of driving, we are exhausted. But sleep returns strength, and in the morning we are again cheerful and cheerful. And a side effect: you will enjoy the trip.


If the child sleeps during the day, make a trip to sleep. For example, leave the city at 11-12 in the afternoon, the child will immediately fall asleep and sleep for 2-3 hours. And then the rest of the time will be easier (it's not 8 hours of entertainment).

Don't drive at night. You will have one person who has had enough sleep – this is a child. In the morning he will be awake, and you will have to hang out with him, and you are a zombie.


  1. One rule: don't bother. The child may stop eating from stress or switch to bread and apples. Let him eat it if he wants. Fuck it.
  2. If your baby is still on formula (like ours: one meal a night), this is the easiest option for the trip. Divorced, given. At the same time, the usual one feeding with a mixture at night can turn into three feedings instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner. See point one: don't bother. Moreover, the mixture is nutritious and healthy.
  3. It's even better when breastfeeding: it's also a quick way to calm the baby.
  4. No need to bring jars or food containers with you. First, the child may refuse to eat this food. Second, it's inconvenient. If the child is on a general diet, stop eating regular food. There are super gas stations where they cook normally.
  5. Space eater. Praise for this invention! These are soft packs. There are fruits and vegetables, and whole dinners with potatoes and meat.
  6. Snacks: apples, carrots, dryers, cookies, bananas, crispbread, bread. We eat cookies, dryers and tons of apples on trips. If you are worried about a healthy lifestyle, see point one. Nerves are more important.


Lots of water, lots of water. Or whatever your child drinks. The air in the car is dry. Buy one bottle with a sports neck and pour water from large containers into it.



Take a ton of toys with you. It is best to buy new ones and give them to the child. The novelty effect is distracting.

Cartoons and mobile games

Download gigabytes of cartoons your child is watching. And silence your conscience if you think that watching them should only be from the age of 18 or 20 minutes a day.

Cartoons are salvation. The same goes for games on your phone or tablet. If the child is playing, let him play.

We do not put Yana cartoons for all 6 hours of the trip. It's too much, of course. We had a schedule: 2-3 hours of sleep, then 1-2 hours – food and entertainment (toys), an hour – “Kids”. The last hour is the most difficult: everyone is tired, the child is rushing somewhere and crying. And here is the salvation: you put on cartoons and relax. And an hour of watching for a small child is also tiring, he gets tired and no longer cries when you turn it off.

Gas stations

Drive only along highways with good gas stations. The good ones are normal food and a clean toilet with hot water. The most disgusting thing is when you have to change the diaper in an unknown place.

We have favorite gas stations: Shell, BP (they even have their own kitchen), Lukoil, Gazprom (there are also excellent ones). In Europe, as a rule, each gas station on the highways includes huge clean toilets, almost restaurants, and children's corners with high chairs.

First-aid kit

There is a lot written on the Internet about what you need put in the first aid kit for traveling with a child. We had a separate container, a big one. You will most likely not need anything, but you will be calm.


Take. Even if now you think that you can carry a child in your arms, it is not so. You can't. On the very first day, you will fall and refuse to walk further. It is better to take less clothes.


Napkins should be stuffed wherever you can stuff something. Dry and wet.


Make separate bags or bags with these things:

  1. Food on the road (and let it lie in the cabin).
  2. Overnight stuff. These can be slippers, hygiene items, change of underpants, diapers, home clothes or pajamas. And put it in the trunk within easy reach. Thus, you will need to take only one package from the car to the hostel. And you don't have to take out a huge suitcase every time.


Be prepared for the fact that there will be a mega-srach in the car: crumbs and pieces of food are everywhere. Don't bother (golden rule). And get a trash bag.


Hostels are better than hotels: there is a kitchen available around the clock where you can wash bottles, cook food, there is water and boiling water, a washing machine. Hotels have their own rules for this. Almost every hostel has family rooms with their own bathroom. Well, it's cheaper too. We used to book on Booking.com.

Choose hostels with 24-hour check-in. Otherwise, you can get there, as we did once in Prague: the arrival time shifted by several hours (from 8 pm to 12 am), and in the hostel check-in only until 8. They completely refused me, like “go to nowhere, to foreign country.” I got into a bit of a fight, and Booking.com allowed me to cancel my booking for free. I booked another hostel in a few minutes from the same app, and it turned out to be absolutely amazing.


Plan everything. Reservation of overnight stays, where you will eat, what you will watch. Believe me, the attitude “let's go wherever our eyes look and sit down in some cafe” does not work.

Google Maps to help you (Explore Nearby feature) and MAPS.ME (for offline maps). Lay routes in advance (to the overnight point), generate a link to the route and place it in easy accessibility (we had a separate chat in the Telegram channel): got into the car, clicked on the link and drove off.

And agree, who does what: “Now we stop, you carry this, I take the child and this package.” You already have enough trouble. Planning makes life easier and removes the annoyance of unrealistic expectations (“I thought you would do it”).

In general, despite the fact that such trips are very exhausting, it is very cool. Moreover, travel enriches impressions and develops young children.

Cover: still from the movie The Spy Next DoorEdited by: Svetlana Vinogradova