With summer creeping closer, I’m sure you’re beginning to think about your next adventure with the kids. It may not be the first thing that springs to mind or your idea of fun, but with good planning and preparation, a family road trip can be enjoyable and a great way to bond. If you like the idea, or are already planning a road trip with the kids and want to avoid the “are we there yet?” chorus from the back seats, then follow these simple steps;
Before setting off:
If you’re going solo with the kids, you will need to decide on when you will do the majority of the driving. You may prefer to drive early in the morning or late in the evening when the children are likely to be asleep. It is important to remember that driving in the dark can lead to reduced concentration levels and fatigue, so it is important that you put safety first and stop for regular breaks.
Road tripping is amazing in the fact that you could be driving for just a few hours and find yourself in a whole new region, if not country and culture, so having the correct travel documents is essential. If you are unsure of which documents you will require, visiting an immigration solicitor or visa team prior to your road trip is a good idea.
Take some time to research into the towns and cities you plan on driving through. If you are road tripping through or around Europe, it’s important to understand the diversity, particularly when it comes to driving regulations and road rules.
Involve the Kids
Once you have decided on your final destinations, a great activity to do with the kids ahead of your road trip is to sit down and with a map and a marker pen and map out the journey whilst discussing together how you will get to places and how long it will take.
The map is a great tool for distraction and will help to keep the kids occupied and quiet in the car. It is also educational as they will be able to follow the journey as you go along, teaching them useful map reading skills.
Unlike air travel, packing for a road trip shouldn’t feel too overwhelming. A top tip is to pack as if you are packing an overnight bag – and then chuck in a couple of extras. Ensure that every passenger has a spare change of clothes and clean underwear. Toiletries can be shared and purchased so don’t worry if you forget something. Pack a separate backpack for electronic items and chargers and make sure everything is fully charged the night before.
Snacks and Treats
It is a good tactic to pack as healthy as possible with snacks that contain as little refined sugar as possible. Here is a list of healthy snacks for on the go;
- Cheese and crackers
- Cereal bars
- Dried fruit bags
- Water/juice bottles
- Pitta and hummus
- Yogurts (pouched to avoid spillages)
- Prepared sandwiches
Popular Road Trip Destinations for Kids
When choosing your route and destinations, allow your children to help make some of the decisions. That way, they will be more inclined to be excited as they are invested in the process. Plan your road trip around famous landmarks, even if you are just driving past. This is a great way for the kids to experience the culture and recognize what landmarks belong to which cities. Here are some popular destinations for kids;
Paris has some wonderful sightseeing opportunities for everyone to enjoy and your children are more than likely going to be able to recognize and have knowledge of the Eiffel Tower. If you are stopping off for a day of fresh air and fun, then visit Disney Land Paris.
Rome is full of history that makes for an unforgettable experience with the kids. Older children will be thrilled to immerse themselves in the history of ancient Rome whilst younger kids will be blown away by colossal ruins and ancient artifacts. And if this isn’t enough to please, the famous gelato and pizza should do the job.
Hiring a bike around Amsterdam is a great way to explore culture as well as stretching the legs after long hours in the car. The most popular road trip in the Netherlands in the Summer is the Flower Tour.
When the Journey Begins…
There is an abundance of family car games for both you and your children to enjoy such as “I Spy” and storytelling. If you haven’t got one already, borrow a portable DVD player and pack your kids children’s favorite movies.
A great way to avoid the dreaded “are we there yet?” question is to hang a mini whiteboard on the back of the front seat headrests. For every hour of the trip, the kids can write down how much time and how many miles are left until your next stop.
If your child is prone to travel sickness, you may be faced with some sticky challenges along the way. There are a few things you can do to prevent motion sickness;
- Ginger and peppermint are both effective stomach settlers, so it is good to have these handy in the form of sweets or tablets
- Reading small text can cause motion sickness so ensure that your child avoids reading books
- Travel bands are an inexpensive yet effective way to prevent travel sickness and can be purchased from your local drug store
The long hours spent on the road are all part of your adventure and will make memories that your children will cherish for the rest of their life. A good idea is to pack a disposable camera that you can get developed after returning from your trip as a way of preserving your precious memories.