Road trips are a fantastic way to experience different surroundings and offer a unique opportunity for some incredible memories. However, particularly if you’re travelling with young children, there are some things you should do before setting off to ensure everybody gets the maximum enjoyment out of spending a few hours on the road together. Here are our top tips for the ultimate family road trip.
Are we there yet?
If travelling with young children, think carefully about what might keep them entertained during your journey – especially if it’s a long one. One of the great joys of travelling by road is that you don’t need to worry about luggage limits and certain items you wouldn’t be allowed to bring on to a plane, for example. One idea is to bring along a bag full of things to play with such as crayons, paper, stickers etc. Electronic devices such as iPads and portable DVD players, of course, are a good way of capturing their attention and keeping them entertained. However, it is worth keeping in mind that these are not always helpful for those little ones who suffer with motion sickness. With that in mind, it’s worth mentioning that your journey time is the perfect chance to spend quality time together playing traditional family favourites such as Eye Spy and I am Going on a Picnic.
Bringing along a DVD player or tablet is a great way to keep little ones smiling.
Plot some stops
Make the journey itself as fun as possible by plotting some stops en route. Let the kids help to choose the stops too so that they feel involved. Map out places of interest along the way such as unusual tourist spots or rest areas – you’re going to need a bathroom break at some point! Don’t forget to make sure you have a good stretch as well – your body will appreciate it.
Roadside restaurants are a good place to eat and freshen up
Research, research, research
To give you the best chance of enjoying your trip and surroundings, make sure you’ve planned your route well in advance. This will save any rushing around, unnecessary detours and give you the maximum time to enjoy your trip. Getting as much of the hard work done before even setting off is vital. Don’t just be reliant on your sat nav either. Having a manual map is always handy and will help you navigate around any major delays en route.
Plan your route well in advance
Aside from packing the usual necessities, make room for a basic first aid kit (plasters, antiseptic etc) and bring some plastic bags to collect the inevitable deluge of rubbish you’ll collect along the way. Keeping all the road trip debris in one place will save you plenty of headaches along the way. Don’t forget to pack the children blankets and pillows for long journeys too. A refrigerated cool box is a great investment as it will allow you to pack additional snacks and even meals for the children – which is not only convenient but will also help save money. Finally, make sure your phone is charged – just in case! Oh, and, crucially, don’t forget some loo roll!
If you’re going on a long road trip, charge your phone
Comfy kids are happy kids
Let your children wear whatever they feel is their most comfortable outfit – even if it’s a set of pyjamas! If you’re going to be in a vehicle for prolonged periods of time, then comfort really is key. Have some spare clothes to hand too in the event of any dropped drinks or accidents – you don’t want to find yourself unpacking half of the car at the side of the road.
Let your little ones wear their most comfy clothes
Avoid messy food
Wherever you go, chances are there’ll be an abundance of fast food drive-thru’s, but if you want to avoid the expense, make up plenty of sandwiches, snacks and drinks (always make sure you have plenty of water) and keep them in a cool box (told you that refrigerated cool box would come in handy) that’s easy to reach. Try to avoid anything too messy or sticky, otherwise you’ll spend a good portion of your break tidying up. Napkins, paper towels or wet wipes are also essential pieces of kit.
Prepare snacks that aren’t too messy!
This is the most important piece of advice to take away with you: don’t stress. Taking children on a long car journey can have its moments, but the memories you treasure will far outweigh any tantrums or endless questions. After all, there are only so many times any human being can stand to hear the words “Are we there yet?”
Last, but not least, have fun!
Published 11th October 2015