Road trip survival guide
By Lara Anderson
Planning a road trip should be fun. From deciding where you want to end up, the sights you want to take in on the way and the fun you’ll have when you get there, your journey should be the start of your adventure and therefore as exciting and stress-free as possible.
But for most, long stints on the road (especially if you have kids in tow) conjure up images of arguments, stress, tantrums and cries of ‘are we there yet?’. It’s no wonder an increasing amount of families are deciding to take other forms of transport instead.
With just a little bit of planning and organisation, it’s possible to take your family on a fun and exciting road trip. Here are some hints and tips to help you on your journey:
Before you even consider stepping foot into your vehicle, make the following essential checks:
- Have you got the correct level of insurance cover? If not, get online and get an Australian car insurance quote immediately.
- Are your children’s car seats fitted correctly? An astonishing 70% of seats aren’t installed correctly, so if in doubt, get a professional to check.
- Do you have an emergency box? If not, create a box that contains a few essentials; wet wipes, a flashlight, a small first aid kit and plenty of water.
Creating a detailed plan of your journey might seem like a lot of time and effort but will save you hours of stress and worry in the long run.
At least a week before you’re due to set off, make yourself a checklist of everything you need to remember and start gathering them together in a large plastic box. Remember to include comfortable, loose-fitting clothes for the journey to and from your destination and a few low sugar snacks and drinks for the journey.
Try to plan stops in advance to avoid being limited to pulling over in expensive service stations. Good stop-off places include beauty spots and picnic areas that provide a great backdrop to your healthy pre-packed lunch. Stopping regularly will allow you and your kids to stretch your legs and let off a bit of steam.
Having an arsenal of fun games and activities to enjoy will take young children’s minds off the journey and engaged in something else. You don’t just have to stick to ‘Eye Spy’ and the number plate game, which can become boring quite quickly. These alternative activities should keep them entertained for a little while longer:
- Lucky dip – Fill a box with a few cheap presents; such as a colouring book, colouring pencils or a sheet of stickers, and for every hour, or set number of miles they achieve without arguing or being disruptive they are rewarded with a treat from the lucky dip box.
- Story CDs – Invest in some CD versions of your children’s favourite stories as these are a great way to keep your children calm and relaxed.
- Movies – Consider investing in a portable DVD player for your vehicle to keep the children occupied. By having a selection of DVDs from which to choose, you can ensure that your kids always have something to do during the journey. They can chew up time revisiting popular movies, such as the Hunger Games franchise, which is expecting its final instalment later in 2015. You could even make it into a competition where whichever child behaves the best gets to choose the next DVD. It is possible to purchase these DVDs online, which gives you access to thousands of different titles for your next trip. The silence that you will enjoy after putting a movie on for your kids is well worth the cost.
- Craft supplies – Take a bag of no-mess craft supplies with you such as pipe cleaners, large beads and string, feathers and bendy straws.
Prevent back seat arguments
There are a few tried and tested ways to prevent arguments and meltdowns whilst on lengthy road trips. Try some of the following:
- Consider riding in the back seat with toddlers. You can more easily comfort them, provide snacks and help with activities.
- If you have an MPV or people carrier, try to sit older children in separate rows. If they have to sit together on the same row, place a couple of pillows between them.
- Don’t worry about ‘sharing’ – Remember to pick your battles; long car journeys are not the place to worry about great sharing skills. Pack enough of everything to make sure each child has one of everything on offer – from sticker books to snacks.