It’s summer here in Australia, which means that for most us, January is prime-time to take a break.
Some families go camping. Others take a flight to a spectacular destination. My little family does an annual road trip. We travel over 1,000kms (or 621 miles), each way. The trip usually involves a beach holiday vacation, and stopovers with family and friends. Two long weeks of pure, exciting family-time.
And everything that goes along with that!
So having done this mega road trip on numerous occasions, here are my top 10 tips for enjoying the experience with two active, high-spirited, pre-schoolers in tow. Note – I don’t actually tow them, they are strapped safely in their car seats 😉
- If departing for the trip in the wee hours of the morning, let the kids go to bed dressed. This saves having to wake them fully and dressing them before putting them into the car. This also saves an embarrassing PJ’s change as you pull in for breakfast somewhere.
- Pre-plan the day before you leave as a play day. This tires the kids out and they are more likely to sleep for greater periods of time during the car trip the next day.
- Choose designated car seats prior to leaving. No changing. No upgrading. No way. This avoids the whine of “but I want to sit in that seat”, and will save your sanity.
- Prepare the kids with a “Hold On” strategy. Clear warnings need to explained that we cannot stop quickly when nature calls. Advising them that not waiting until you are busting to tell me you need to go will mean we can stop when convenient and safe.
- Snacks and drinks. This point really goes without saying when travelling with kids, but I always keep it healthy on the trip up. Once you’re away from home and your usual routine, it is much harder to enforce healthy eating options. However, stocking the car with fruit and healthy sandwiches for the trip is a good start.
- Portable DVD players. OMG. What a fantastic invention! Our car does not have them equipped, so with each road trip we lovingly install the portable DVD player and listen to movies rather than whinging!
- Motion sick bags. Sadly, I learnt this trick the hard way. I now always carry a motion sick bag for the kids, which depending on the brand, can also be used as mini-garbage bags. Bonus!
- Baby wipes are a must! Not only to clean up any messes caused by point (7) but also for sticky fingers, messy mouths, spilt drinks, impromptu toilet tissue or wiping dirty feet before re-entering the car. Yes, I make my children wipe their dirty feet. J
- Are we there yet? Advise the kids how long the trip will be. Mine are too young to understand it, but they like to be told in ‘minutes’ how long it is going to be before we arrive. Often if I can put it into movie-length terms ie you need to watch Toy Story three times and we’ll be there!, then this seems to appeal to their sense of time management.
- Let them pack their own toy bag. Getting them to fill a small backpack with a couple of favourite toys and books makes them responsible for their choice and more willing to play with them during the car trip.
Now it’s your turn! Jump in and help me out. What are your best tips for surviving a road trip with the kids?