Have I told you about our Summer holiday adventures? No? I am sure I have. I’ve banged on about it to anyone who will listen. No? Ok.. well here goes. This Summer we took the boys overseas to Spain and France for a two week epic road trip. Sixteen days, two countries, eight different locations, taking in the Pyrenees, beaches and cities and hundreds of miles in the car.
I shall reveal all about the different locations, where we stayed and what we did in the forthcoming posts, but I just wanted to share our tips on travelling all that time with our two boys in the back.
Firstly we took the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Santander in Northern Spain. Twenty-four hours on a boat was something I really was dreading. I had heard such terrible stories about crossing the Bay of Biscay, it being choppy and always stormy no matter the time of year. So I stocked up on travel sickness tablets, and colouring books for the kids, silently worrying about dealing with vomit covered children.
Luckily the crossing was flat. I mean flaaaaaat. Really really flat, like glass. So beautiful was the ocean on that day, that we saw so much wildlife. Shouts of dolphins! from the fellow passengers, followed by ORCA and WHALE! Omg. Yes, we saw all of these beautiful sea creatures from the comfort of the restaurant, not even having to go up on the blustery deck.
Our crossing was with Brittany Ferries. For our journey we opted for an outside 4 berth cabin, with views of the ocean. It was clean, comfortable and we enjoyed a great nights sleep in there. The room was actually nicer than some hotels I’ve stayed in.
The on board entertainment was fantastic. The boys threw themselves into the games in the bar, Bingo, the music quiz and more. Charlie even won a speaker for his tablet, much to his delight.
The following morning, we woke and still had a full day to keep ourselves busy. I did a little work, taking my laptop and used the on ship WIFI. The boys and Dan, played games, coloured in their new books. The food in the restaurants were great, a choice between ala carte, which you need to book in advance, to a buffet style carvery or a cafe selling sandwiches and pizza.
After lunch, it was time for the cinema, and our final hours on board were spent watching Inside Out. Brilliant! Totally occupied the boys. We surfaced to brilliant sunshine, a warm breeze and the mountains of Spain on the horizon.
Would I recommend the Ferry to you, YES! It was a fabulous. An effortless way to travel. Drive on, relax and travel without even feeling like you are. The staff on board were charming and helpful and we had the best time. Kids were happy!
But that was just the start. We still had two weeks of car journeys ahead of us. I still don’t know how we managed it. Some of our overnight stops included camping, so we packed a roof box which had our tent and camping equipment, and as a result, the inside of the car was kept clear of our belongings.
On some days our travelling was long, the longest we spent in the car was six hours! SIX hours. I suppose that is nothing if we were travelling in Australia or USA. But six hours in France seemed a long way. How did we keep them occupied? Not rocket science…
- Stopping every now and then. Stretching the legs and seeing something interesting.
- Food. Listening to their need for constant grazing and make a point of stopping for a picnic.
- Top Trumps – yes it is ok to pretend to be a super hero with a skills factor of 8. (I love being iron man).
- Devices – we gave in. If I have my phone for company in the car, then they can have their tablets or DS. It’s only fair. Although we did find that after several hours of minecraft, they were quite happy to put them away and join in with sight seeing.
- Pillows in the back. To encourage a comfortable nap and silence for us!
- Silly songs and conversations. Making up stories about people we see.
- Get them involved in road mapping, looking out for road signs.
- Practising our French using a guide book for kids.
I am sure you all do this anyway. But I’d thought I would share our tips and tricks. Whatever you do, DON’T take them to every brocante shop and village looking for French antiques it will only end in tears – yours!
Thank you to Brittany Ferries for our return journey to Santander.
And for making our adventure happen.
Lou Archell, a writer, photographer, stylist and founder of Littlegreenshed. A UK lifestyle & travel blog
Lou is also a busy mum of two amazing boys and the founder of Sisterhood Camp – an annual creative retreat for recharging and empowering brilliant ladies, Lou is passionate about supporting and inspiring others whether through her workshops, writing, photography or lifestyle hacks.