Everyone loves a good road trip, but when there’s kids involved, it can turn into a whole other story. Boredom quickly sets in and then the mere fact you’ve got a long distance left to travel becomes a literal nightmare. Aside from that, there’s a lot of things to think about when planning a road trip. Whether you’re planning a road trip for vacation, or you’re driving a long distance with the kids, here are some great tips on how to plan for your next family road trip.
Have your car serviced
First and foremost, you should get your car serviced to avoid costly breakdowns along the way. Not only that, but it will prevent you from being stuck waiting for breakdown to arrive with a backseat full of bored and irritable children. Having your car serviced will reduce the chances of this happening and save you from a large repair bill in the long run.
Check your car seats
If your children are small enough to still need car seats, then now is the time to check them. They’re not the easiest thing to install, so if you’re unsure, visit your local fire station, where they have a seat safety technician that can check and confirm your car seats are as safe as they can be.
Take the scenic route
Staring out of the window at endless miles of road and the occasional sign post can be extremely boring – even for the driver! It might take a little longer to get to your destination, but taking the scenic route will help prevent any meltdowns in the back seat (and the front seat!). If you’ve got 4×4 wheels, why not see if you can find a little off road track to help keep the trip exciting and more like an adventure rather than a road trip.
Avoid sore topics
Being stuck in the same car together for the duration of your journey can be difficult, and when everyone is tired and irritated, it can quickly transpire into arguments and bickering. Keep the mood light hearted and avoid sore topics to avoid arguments! An argument followed by complete silence can make even short journeys feel like forever.
Bring lots of activities
Kids get bored, so pack plenty of things for them to do! You can pack engaging activities such as:
- Colouring books and crayons
- Rubix cube
- Books to read
- Tablet packed with engaging apps and games
- Portable DVD player and headphones
- Laptops with plenty of charge and a portable dongle for internet access
Preplanning your trip and providing plenty of activities will prevent you from hearing that dreaded “are we there yet?!” phrase every five minutes. It will also help keep the peace and lessen the chances of arguing in the back seat.
Being cooped up in the car for long periods of time is difficult for small children, not to mention how stiff your body feels from sitting in one position for a long time. Stop regularly for refreshments, toilet breaks, and a chance to stretch the legs and let off some energy. You’ll find the atmosphere in the car is much nicer and your kids may even doze off for a nap for an hour or so! When planning your route, be sure to schedule breaks and let the children know when you’re getting close to help keep everyone happy.
Load up on snacks
While you may stop for a full meal, turning a road trip into a fun prospect is a great way of keeping spirits high. Pack your cooler with plenty of healthy (and a few naughty) snacks for you and the children to enjoy throughout your journey. If you’re choosing snacks that cause crumbs, it might be an idea to take a portable vacuum cleaner for your car so you can clear up the mess as it’s made, rather than attracting ants into your car.
Create a collaborative playlist
The radio, especially when travelling through different zones, can be extremely boring, especially for kids! Before your trip, sit down as a family and choose a handful of your favourite songs to compile into a playlist. That way, everyone gets a choice at controlling the music and your kids can look forward to hearing their choices. Alternatively, if your kids have devices that play music such as a tablet to iPod, let them load up their own music and give them some headphones for the journey.
Create a fun “eye spy” game
Keeping children entertained in the car can be difficult, and if they’ve exhausted all of their activities, your children might get restless. Create an eye spy game with rewards to help keep everyone occupied for the rest of your journey! You could create a car bingo, where you cross off an item each time you see it until someone wins!
Starting your journey later in the day can ruin a good road trip because it can begin to mess with sleeping times, meal times, and it gives you less time to explore once you arrive at your destination. Leave early to avoid all of this (and perhaps beat some traffic on the way!).
Let them drive!
If you have teenagers that are old enough (and have a driving license), then why not get them involved with the journey? Rather than having a bored teenager in the back seat, let them experience some of the journey in the driver’s seat! Don’t forget to insure them in your car!
Finally, when you’ve got small children in the back seat, you may choose to nominate the passenger to keep them entertained to avoid distracting the driver. Take turns to keep stress levels low and ensure that the driver is as alert as can be. If you’re driving through the night, switch places to allow the other person to get some sleep and prevent an accident caused by tiredness.
With these tips, your next family road trip will be smooth sailing!