Deciding on a family road trip can be a daunting challenge, not to mention an exercise in patience. However if you prepare ahead of time, the trip can be one of the most memorable family holidays you’ve ever had!
Here are some quick and easy tips for making your family road trip a fun and safe one.
Lists, lists, lists!
First, prepare a checklist of items you will need. This will include first aid kit, food, snacks, drinks, and lots of toys, colouring books, paper and crayons, a tablet or portable DVD player so your kids can watch their favourite films; and a cooler. A good idea is to ask the kids what games they would like to take, within limits of course. That way you can be sure you’ll have something they’ll enjoy, and they’ll learn to take responsibility for their own entertainment!
Goes without saying – the more snacks, the better in my family!
Try to ensure that the snacks are healthy in nature. Too many sugar snacks can have the kids bouncing off the car seats. Remember, this is a relaxing family vacation and you want to avoid the kids getting bored or repeatedly asking you when you are going to arrive.
Don’t forget munchies for the adults, too!
Check online to print out games for the road that you and the kids can play along the way. There are so many websites packed full of free printables, so 30 minutes printing a few resources out before you go can really help you out on the road. You’ll find an assortment of puzzles and riddles online as well. Of course, you can also find custom made books.
In addition, if you have very young children you will need to take the nappy bag and wipes for the occasional spills, blankets and pillows if applicable and a favourite item or stuffed animal for the young ones is a good idea as well.
Plan your route
Second, decide on the destination and research best routes online. If you have the luxury of time, go for the scenic route – one that is much more calming and pleasing to the eye, especially the driver! It might take longer but it will be more interesting for everyone and you’re more likely to find nicer rest stops with playgrounds and fresh air etc for the kids, or perhaps even a nice country pub for lunch, rather than your standard motorway service station with the choice of McDonalds or Burger King.
As you check out the planned route you may want to check online to find service stations along the way that offer the cheapest petrol. Also if there are any points of interest along the route mark them on the map and plan to stop at these sites.
Plan your stops
Third, while on the road ensure that you make pit stops regularly. Stopping is just as important as driving, especially with a car full of little ones!
This will allow the kids to run around and let off some steam, while allowing the adults to stretch, rest and reenergize. Bring along a football or frisbee so that the entire family can have some fun while exercising at the same time.
Finally, it is very important that safety concerns are met. This includes having the car checked at your local mechanic. Ensure that the oil and filter are changed; the tires are well inflated (don’t forget the spare tire, too); the windshield wipers are replaced (if needed); and the car is in great condition before you head out.
In addition, you may want to place the following items in your boot: a lawn chair, extra blanket, emergency road kit, umbrellas, water, flashlight and batteries, a battery-powered radio, and windshield wiper cleaner. In the glove compartment include a first aid kit and cell phone charger. Keep all medications in a Ziploc bag in the glove compartment as well.
Another good idea is to take a list of telephone numbers including the hotel or BnB where you are staying as well as those of family and friends you may need to contact.
If you enjoy scrapbooking, this road trip may be a perfect opportunity to add new treasures to the book. As you make stops at some scenic sites, ask the kids to find an item they would like to include in the scrapbook. Or if the kids point out something along the way that they find fascinating, take a picture of it to include in the scrapbook as well.
Engage the kids in the decision making, age appropriate, and allow them to decide what they would like to bring. Have them pack their clothes (check the suitcases afterwards) so they feel part of the overall experience. Planning ahead of time for a family road trip will save you time, stress, and money. And the kids will enjoy this adventure, too!