Last year we didn't have a big family holiday (I am obviously excluding my hen weekend and mini moon as the children didn't come on those), so we are all getting excited about booking holidays for this year. We have a summer holiday booked, the girls are already talking about the plane and swimming pool whereas I am just grateful that someone else is cooking and cleaning for a week, but we have booked a short break to Hoburne in the Cotswolds too, which means the inevitable family road trip will ensue.
Here are my top tips for a safe, entertaining and stress free family road trip!
1. PLAN AHEAD
The Sat Nav is my friend but it is also a good plan to have a vague idea of where you are actually going just in case the Sat Nav decides to go into meltdown and send you the wrong way down the motorway as *may* have happened in the past. *disclaimer : I am quite sure this was the Sat Nav's fault and not my own.
2. HAVE GAMES AT THE READY
I love the driving and taking in the scenery, I can also sing a whole catalogue of songs, play every car game known to man and whilst I am quite sure I whined, "Are we there yet?" often enough to drive my parents nuts, I refuse to answer that question from the girls until we are 10 minutes away from our destination. Car games are great fun for getting everyone into the holiday spirit, unless of course you have an extremely competitive husband who you may have to disqualify from playing to give everyone else a chance of winning.
3. CHECK YOUR VEHICLE
Make sure your vehicle is reliable and ready to go, paying particular attention to the tyres, coolant and engine oil. (not forgetting the fuel). I am a little guilt of ignoring the warning signals on my dashboard so making sure you know what all the lights mean is a bonus. You can check your knowledge here.
4. SET A REALISTIC TIMELINE
It is a family road trip, not a race and trying to drive the length of the country is just going to tire kids and adults alike. It is recommended that you spend a maximum of five to six hours on the road, plus multiple breaks (although if it takes me that long to get to the Cotswolds I may be a little concerned).
5. TRAVEL DURING NAPTIME OR DURING EARLY EVENING.
If your schedule permits—and your child is known to sleep in the car—consider trying to travel at nap time or early evening. Not only will it make the drive a little quieter for you, it will also cut the chances your child will get car sick or experience a tiredness induced meltdown. Bring along their favourite toy or blanket and a child-friendly travel pillow to make the car seat more suitable for sleep too.
6. BRING SNACKS - LOTS OF THEM
I have to say that snacks are probably the number one way to keep our kids (and my husband) happy on a family road trip. So, pack a coolbag full of snacks. Include a mix of healthy choices, like raisins, carrot sticks and grapes, as well as treats, like a few biscuits and a bit of chocolate. (this is where I advocate leather seats in the car). Don’t forget bottles of water too (anything else is far too sticky if it spills).
7. KEEP THE KIDS BUSY
This can be just as much a challenge with the tween as with the toddler. The tween is happy on her tablet, whereas the little one gets car sick, so we are big fans of the portable DVD players ..... especially those that can play two different films as the tween isn't too keen on Frozen on repeat. (Individual headphones are a GREAT idea at this point also).
8. KEEP AN EMERGENCY KIT TO HAND
Keep an emergency kit easily accessible in the boot, to include a torch and extra batteries, jump leads, leather gloves, roadside flares or reflective warning triangles, duct tape, a roll of paper towels, a first aid kit, sunscreen and the ever so versatile baby wipes.
9. TOILET BREAKS
When you are on a road trip and someone inevitably needs a bathroom break, keep a lookout for a budget chain hotel that are often located on the motorways. They tend to have toilets in the lobby area and, in my experience, they are usually much cleaner than those in service stations.
10. HAVE FUN
My mum always said if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail and with all this preparation nothing can surely go wrong? But let's be honest, things happen, there are traffic jams and diversions that seem intent on ruining our journeys but at the end of the day, what is a road trip without a little detour??
Now go and enjoy .....