Traveling with kids can be tough. Let’s face it, traveling with husbands can be a little tricky too. Even short trips to the park or out shopping can be a nightmare, and many of us dread going on holiday, fearing that we’ll be more stressed at the end than we were at the start. But, family vacations can be fantastic, and road trips are a great way to do it.
You can travel in the comfort of your own car, taking everything that you and the kids need. It’s a brilliant way to save money traveling across the country to see family and, it gives you a wonderful chance to bond, away from all the distractions of everyday life and the stresses of public transport and air travel. But, you are faced with the sometimes-terrifying prospect of being in very close proximity to your children for long periods of time. While it would be lovely to have a fun, spontaneous road trip as we used to in college, with kids, this can quickly turn to disaster. Everyone is bored, hungry and uncomfortable, tempers can flare and everyone can get annoyed. Instead, put some thought into it. Make sure you’ve got everything you need to keep everyone happy and this could well be one of the best times of your life, free from stress and full of fun. Let’s take a look at everything you need.
A Safe Car
Whenever you are taking a long car trip, you should make sure that your car is up to the journey. But, this is even more crucial when you are traveling with your children. The last thing that you’ll want to do is put them in danger or end up stuck somewhere while you wait for help. So, make sure you take some time a week or so before you are due to leave to carry out some basic car safety checks. These should include checking the air pressure and tread depth of your tires, looking at your engine oil, coolant, screen wash and other fluid levels, testing your brakes and lights and looking at all of your electricals. If there is anything wrong, make sure you’ve got time to fix it before setting off and don’t forget to check your spare tire.
Even if everything seems to be fine, it can be worth taking your car into a garage for a full-service. Especially if you drive an older car. You may also want to consider taking a defensive driving course yourself. To ensure your driving is safe and your knowledge of the roads are up to date. Remember, when traveling with children you can’t be too careful.
The Right Car Seats
Car seat regulations vary from State to State and can be vastly different in other parts of the world. So, it’s important that your car seats meet the requirements of every area you plan to drive in, not just your destination and start point. Take a look online before you go, and weigh and measure your child to make sure you’ve got it right. If you are purchasing a new seat, it can be worth getting it professionally fitted to make sure it’s right.
If you plan on traveling late into the evening or early in the morning, it’s important to be prepared for changes in temperature. Keep some jumpers and waterproofs loose in the car so that they are easy to reach if you need them.
Pillows and Blankets
Travel pillows and blankets are incredibly useful for long journeys. Even with regular rest breaks, sitting in a car for long periods can be uncomfortable. Travel pillows and blankets will help everyone stay comfy and warm. They may also mean the kid's nap for long portions of the journey.
If you are traveling really long distance and will be driving for a day or more, it’s important that you make hotel bookings along the way. Don’t leave this to chance or you could end up with very tired and hungry kids and nowhere to stay. Booking places does take out some of the spontaneity of road travel, but you can still be a little flexible with arrival times and enjoy some sights along the way. It just means you’ve got some security and a warm bed to look forward to at the end of a tough day.
Flexibility is great. It’s certainly a big part of the road trip experience. But, when you are traveling with children, especially younger ones, a plan is a good idea. Sit down together and look at a map online, search for fun things to do along the route. Even if it takes you a little out of your way, it will give everyone something to look forward to, reducing car moaning, breaking the journey up and giving everyone a chance to stretch. Be sure to include fun things; rest stops, eateries and nighttime stopovers.
Snacks and Drinks
Even if you are planning to stop every few hours for a break and some food, you’ll want to pack extra snacks and drinks for in the car. Take some sweet snacks everyone likes such as biscuits and chocolates, some things that last for a long time, such as lollipops and boiled sweets, and some healthy snacks like fruit and vegetable sticks. Just remember that this means you’ll also need bottles of water, a bag for rubbish and plenty of wipes for sticky hands and faces.
Road trip games can still be great fun, and a wonderful way to get everyone talking. But, the kids might not be too impressed for long. Take tablets with downloaded games, films, books and other apps that they can use without being online, as well as some music for the car, a Kindle for the non-driving adult and a portable DVD player. Let your children help you decide what to take.
Obviously, you are going to hope nothing goes wrong. But you never know. So, be prepared for everything. Make sure you’ve got the details of your breakdown cover, some warm blankets, walking boots, a spare tire, some basic tools (and knowledge of what to do with them) your car manual, and some emergency food and drinks. Just in case.