Next month, we are going to Coombe Mill. Yeah, that’s right, I spent the money I earned through this blog and my photography (that was meant to be paying off my new camera) on a holiday, after declaring 2014 to be the year of ‘me’.  (More on how that’s panning out in another post).

The drive is around the five hour mark. Arlo has never been in the car anywhere NEAR that length of time before. Two hours is probably the most we’ve done. Considering he starts whining, “I WANT TO BE THERE NOW” as soon as I put the key in the ignition, and he has inherited his father’s toleration for traffic jams, the thought of the journey has me quivering. I’m hoping that Sam will be dealing with all child-related issues and entertainment, leaving me to switch off and get into a calm and serene driving ‘zone’. But in reality, if I want to come out of this with my hair still on my head, we need to be prepared.

Not least because with his hearing issues, Sam can’t even hear what Arlo is saying in the car half the time, so it will be me, relaying messages back and forth between the two of them, whilst trying to drive, as usual. Except this time for five hours (or more). Oh god.

Anyway, back to the prep.

Sticker books. Arlo LOVES sticker books. Especially these extensive Usborne ones with a million different scenes. Better yet, there are no small parts or pieces for him to drop into unreachable parts of the car. Someone on the Amazon review section had the genius suggestion of removing the sticky surround from the sticker pages in advance, so that the stickers are easier for little hands to peel off by themselves. Thank you, clever person.

Phone apps. Arlo has his own app section of my phone. This might buy us an hour if we are lucky and he’s in the mood to play. (Note to self: Must remember to get a car phone charger)

Snacks.Two allocated snack times will buy us around 45 minutes. Perhaps we can stretch that to an hour if we hand them to him one by one. In slow motion.

Frequent stops / one big stop at lunchtime.

I have heard mixed advice on this one. Whilst non-napping Arlo might benefit from more frequent stops, Rory would probably fair better with longer stretches of driving time – we might even get one long three hour nap out of him this way. My gut feeling is to cover as much distance as possible before stopping for a long break at lunch.



Once upon a time, when they both fell asleep in the car. It was so rare, I took a picture. 

Car games. Luckily for us, Arlo is pretty into his vehicles (understatement), so I think we might have quite a lot of success with a few “How many blue cars can you spot?” type of games

Toys. I quite like the suggestion of taking a few select, car friendly toys, and wrapping them up for extra novelty value. Perhaps toys that he hasn’t seen in a while, so he is more likely to play with them. Said wrapped presents can be dispensed one by one, at crucial stress-building moments.

Audio books. I don’t know how well these would go down with Arlo, it’s uncharted territory, but I might load a few onto my phone just in case. I draw the line at children’s songs.

Secret weapon. In a situation like this, I reckon everyone should have thought in advance about a worst-case-scenario secret weapon. Mine is a Sam. Arlo once lasted a long drive purely on the entertainment of a silly game featuring a rolled up piece of paper, invented by his dad. You don’t need newfangled TV sets or iPads (and just as well, as we don’t have those things), you need a Sam. Worst comes to worst, I will deploy my secret weapon  into the back to sit with Arlo and swap Rory into the front passenger seat (air bag off, of course).

Wish us luck, it’s going to be interesting.


This  is my entry into the quarterly Mark Warner blogger challenge. Yes, I do realise that this is my millionth post about holidays, which might be pushing it seeing as we haven’t yet BEEN on a family holiday. It also my third post on the subject for a Mark Warner competition, and for this particular challenge, I will need to write a further three posts throughout the year to qualify. But this time, the winners are selected at random, and, well, you have to be in it to win it, as they say, so you are all just gonna have to put up with it ; )


  1. Do you have an etch a sketch or something similar? We do quite a few long journeys to visit family and that’s quite handy as are audio books (the Pugwash ones are great for something new). Given Arlo’s love of transport would he like a map to follow, or if you’re on the motorway a lot you could try spotting Eddie Stobart lorries for their different names. Good luck – it will all be worth it when you get there!

    1. We have a magnadoodle and I’m contemplating bringing it with us, but worried it won’t get much use – Arlo is not much of a drawing fan…but it could work well in the car. Will see how much room we have once all the essentials are packed.

  2. GENIUS idea to remove the sticker surrounds! All hail that reviewer!

    We do frequent 8hr+ journeys, & I totally recommend audio books & stops. We have National Trust membership & use their places like glorified service stations.

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