If you didn’t know how wonderful road trips can be, you wouldn’t be here. There is nothing quite like getting in that car, saying goodbye to the house, and hitting the open road. The world is your oyster. Shall we turn left, or right at the next junction, I hear you cry? Choices. Choices. Or maybe you prefer to follow the designated road trips. Whatever your pleasure be. Getting in that car gives you a real sense of liberty that is not readily experienced in the modern world. Every path seems so well-trodden, so clinical in its execution.
And okay, you will be, for the most part, driving on roads – manmade and used – but that does not mean you cannot stop anywhere you like and walk through a forest, or up a mountain, feel the fresh air in your lungs and for once have an understanding of what real freedom is. But… there is a little fly in the ointment, all that sounds so peaceful, so tranquil, so euphoric even, except that you have the kids in the backseat, shouting, screaming, crying, asking questions… even being good though.
Is that possible? Yes, I hear you cry. Of course it is! There is no doubt. Anyway, even with the children, you can make the experience magical. With the right preparation and some awesome planning on your part, it can be amazing. And with any road trip, the journey is the best part. Here are some ideas on how to make the most out of a family road tripping adventure.
Get packing good
One of the secrets to a successful road trip is in the way you pack. You know what it’s going to be like, late nights at the motel, or campsite, early morning getaways. That means that you have to have a very specific system, and ensure you only take along what is necessary. It may be an idea to have a suitcase on top with all the children’s nightclothes in, plus your own, so you grab the one case. This will save time as you will not have to search through lots of different cases and repack a whole load too. It may be an idea to pack a potty for young children. You will work out a packing system that works best for your family with a bit of trial and error. And doing this well can mean the difference between a nightmare and a pleasure.
Food and snacks galore
What could be worse than the dreadful cry, ‘I’m hungry,’ 400 miles from the next stop or service station. Painful, and it won’t stop, so this is an essential element to remember. Also, if you are trying to get somewhere, constantly stopping to get more food will slow the journey down and aggravate everyone concerned, especially the driver. Make sure you prepare for everyone, sandwiches, crisps, and sweets are a good bet and will keep people happy. You will need a few bottles of water and some juice. It may be an idea to remember the wet wipes too for those pesky accidents and spillages. If you can pack a cooler for the boot and a bag to keep in the front with you, this is ideal. Snacks, sweets especially work as an excellent distraction so
Remember the chargers
Make sure that you fully charge up all devices before leaving and also remember the chargers. Like them or not, phones, tablets, all mobile devices, can keep the kids entertained for hours on end. So, taking these is an absolute must. It may also be a good idea to invest in a data only sim to ensure hours of internet fun in the car. You could also load a few films on tablets, that should keep them quiet for a while. If you forget chargers, you know you’ll end up buying through the nose for one or two at a service station
Think about the seating
Think about the best order, such as older children besides the window, the little ones in the middle. You don’t want an almost fully grown teenager, flanked by two five-year-olds, this is not a good strategy and can cause an accident if things get hectic, which they might.
Invent a few games
If you are going to be hitting the open road for hours and hours on end, and you know, the kids are going to get a bit bored, and you too, for that matter, why not have a list of games in mind? You shouldn’t rely on mobile devices alone to keep them entertained for the entire journey. Even the kids can get bored with their phones. What’s more, there may be some big internet black spots on your way. How exciting! This will add to the sense of freedom, won’t it? But not if you are not prepared. Okay, so a few games, eye spy is an obvious choice, but you will have to only choose things in the car, or if there is a constant thing outside, like grass. There is the ABC game, where you try and find the alphabet on road signs, take it in turns. You could do this with numbers too. How about guessing the song, you could play the first five seconds of songs on your music player and see if they know what it is. You could make a list of questions. These could be fact-based or even inspire a deep conversation. Get them thinking. What about a memory game, such as when I went to the shop I bought, and everyone keeps adding more items. Why not have a think, you will be able to come up with many good games.
Have some good topics in mind to discuss
There will be so much time on the road trip that you have to be prepared and want a good conversation. Perhaps discuss the destination with the children, what do they know about it? This is your chance to show them what you know. If you pass somewhere that has a strange name or look weird, you could talk about that, and learn a little about the place. A road trip is not just an adventure. It is also an opportunity to learn more about your country and its history. You could go a little deeper and talk to them about their lives and what motivates them. It is an opportunity to get to know your children better, and that is worth its weight in gold. Maybe you could open up the conversation by talking about your childhood or things you enjoy. It is up to you, and it may be a good idea to have these things prepared ahead of time.
Plan a few pit stops
You can’t expect everyone to be happy mile after mile with no means of escape. So it is a good idea to take a look at the journey you are embarking on and planning a few well-placed pit stops. It gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs and have a toilet break. You can also have a little sightsee if you have been wise and chosen somewhere attractive. Perhaps a short walk in the trees, and a photo opportunity. If you choose some lovely places, the journey up there will be much more enjoyable and feel like a part of the holiday itself. It is on these designated stop gaps that you can swap the driver and clean out the car too. Make sure you have a few bags for rubbish and dispose of it on these stops. No one wants old banana skins floating about in the car for days on end.
Say yes where appropriate
You know it is going to happen, ‘oh please Mom can we stop there?’ So, say yes, every now and again to mix things up. After all, it is their holiday too, so why not stop at a few of these places and make the whole experience a little less regimented. You will enjoy it more and so will they.
Accept that things are not always going to go to plan and relax
Roadtripping is supposed to be fun, and actually, it is sometimes the things that go wrong that are the most memorable. So, expect the unexpected and take it in your stride. A big detour, for example, will take you somewhere you never thought you would go, so embrace it. Your child being sick is something else, but be prepared. Have a sick bag, and stop. Things go wrong in all walks of life. Road tripping is no exception. In fact, you should kind of expect and embrace the things that go wrong. As long as you are safe, relaxed, and prepared, there is no reason why you can’t take the rough with the smooth. It is all part of the adventure, and at the end of the day, you are spending valuable time with your family, and there is nothing more magical than that.