Gone are the days of when we could pack in five minutes ready to set off on a car trip across the state with not a care in the world. Just hearing those words “road trip with kids” is enough to make many parents break out in a cold sweat. To some parents, travelling in a car with the kids would be their worst nightmare! But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The key to success with road trips is all in the planning. The more thought you have put in before you drive out the garage, the less stressful the drive should be. Here are some helpful travel tips on planning for a car trip with children.
1. Prepare Your Vehicle
Have your car serviced a couple of weeks prior and check that your Road Side Assistance membership is current and that you have your card with you(just in case!).
2. Consider traffic conditions for planning departure times
Consider the peak hours of Friday night or long weekend traffic and work your departure time around these. If leaving work early on a weeknight is not possible then consider going after dinner when the kids are bathed and ready for sleep in the car. Before heading off, check for up to date traffic alerts from your local roads authority. These sites are great for highlighting road works, traffic accidents, road closures, time taken on freeways, cameras etc.
3. Plan driving for kids sleep time
If possible, this is a great way of passing more time in the car without you having to hear the dreaded words “are we there yet?” On long journeys, try to break the journey into two-three hour blocks with scheduled meal and play breaks slotted around younger kids sleep times
4. Research Rest Stops
Knowing in advance where playgrounds, parks, interesting sites are along the way allows the journey to be planned around these. Having a break every couple of hours helps children cope with a long drive. Even just 10 minutes running around a park or taking in the view of something interesting can make the time spent in the care more bearable. Fast food restaurants with playgrounds are also a great option to stop at, as they have playgrounds, refreshments and toilets all in one (especially if it’s raining)!
5. Break your journey up by staying overnight?
This is a great way of starting your holiday early and much better than driving for 10+ hours straight! Research places along the way that would make a great overnight stop. Look for: farms or interesting museums, scenic towns, beaches (this is always a great start to any holiday) or wineries with lots of grass for the kids to run around in etc.
6. Packing food and drinks for your car trip
Being prepared with snacks for the car really will keep your sanity intact on any road trip. Keep food and drinks up front with you or at least in reaching distance. There is nothing worse on a car trip than screaming hungry kids when you cannot pull over to grab something from the boot!
Consider packing “special” snack boxes for each child (especially the younger ones) as they love having their own boxes of goodies and will keep them amused for quite some time. Lunch boxes with separate sections are useful, or ziplock bags are useful. Some good snack choices could be: dried fruit, actual fruit, pieces of cheese (stored in a cool bag),crackers/biscuits, mini muffins, muesli/fruit bars, carrot and celery sticks, little treats – sweets, chips or lollypops (great as it takes them ages to suck on them which will ensure you peace and quiet for at least 5 mins!)
Pack plenty of drinks (water preferably for the car, as it makes less mess and keeps sugar levels down!), but perhaps at rest stops have soft drink or juice poppers for a treat or reward for good behaviour in the car.
I hope that thinking about these things in advance, will help ease the stress of going on car trips with your children.