Take The Kids on a Road Trip
While for many the idea of a family road trip sounds like torture I’ve never found that to be the case and my family look forward to our adventures. If you stop off regularly – and you need to with children – you can avoid the common cries of “Are we there yet?” from the backseat.
I honestly love family road trips yet I don’t have a car so always arrange a rental for holidays but there are plenty of economy car hire options out there so don’t be put off. Even if you have a car you might want to consider taking a larger one (or more reliable one!) for a road trip so you have more luggage space and they often include roadside assistance packages too.
Whatever age your children are you need to have snacks and drinks available for all. Avoid cartons of blackcurrant juice with straws, especially when it’s not your car, as the squirting disasters are not worth the hassle. Instead choose bottles of water or drinks in sports bottles to avoid spills. You can always carry other favourite drinks for rest stops and that’s where a coolbox in the back will be a huge asset as you won’t need to queue up at roadside restaurants for over-priced and unhealthy food and drink that the kids won’t finish anyway. Freeze some water bottles to use as ice packs in the coolbox so you can have refrigerated foodstuffs and have a picnic instead. The water bottles can be refrozen if you stay somewhere with a kitchen or you can simply enjoy the cold drinks so no space is wasted.
I also pack some bubbles in the lunch box to make sure everyone runs around for a bit catching them, but ensure you’re out of the car park and away from any roads first.
Music is always top of the list for my family but I’d question the sanity of a parent who packs nursery rhymes and kid’s CD without much else. I know I’d be screaming before the kids if we had ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ on for hours on end. Film soundtracks can be good for all, and while no-one says U2 is children’s music, that doesn’t mean your kids won’t enjoy it.
Bring some books for everyone as they can be bedtime books at your overnight stays too. Reading in a car can make some people feel car sick so don’t encourage this for too long for your younger travellers and make sure they know they have to tell you before they feel sick and not at the time!
A good compromise is an audiobook CD so you all listen to a story and the kids can turn the pages of the accompanying book and look at the pictures. And don’t dismiss old-fashioned storytelling as we often make up nonsense stories with each person saying a short section and the next continuing the tale. I’ve even known this to be a good tactic for getting back to the car after a break as we want to know what happens next in the story!
Resist bringing toys that make a noise or electronic games that need batteries and could be lost at rest stops. Magnetic travel games can be good as it saves the constant call to stop as they’ve dropped something in the back.
Don’t forget your in-car phone charger as smartphones can be your sat-nav/map, as well as your lifeline for calling if you have a problem, and the bigger kids can play games on your phone, if needed.
Make the journey the holiday too and not just the destination and all of the family will have a great time.
Sophie Burton is a freelance writer and mother of two who has never had fear of travelling with children and enjoys exploring the world with her family.