Hitting the road with the family over the break is the preferred holiday option for many Aussie families and it’s easy to see why. Road trips provide some quality bonding time and avoid the torment that can be airline travel with kids.
But it’s important to make sure you tick off everything on the ‘to do’ list before you go- otherwise things could go seriously pear shaped. But where to start? Luckily, we’ve done that bit for you with our handy weekend checklist for family road trips. You can thank us later.
It’s all very well and good to say ‘back in my day, we had to stare out the window for entertainment’, but the truth is you probably moaned and groaned about it for 14 hours straight. Not something I’d put myself through voluntarily. Why punish yourselves when we have modern technology at our disposal? Make sure the iPads are charged well in advance (and get yourself an in-car charger) and upload new content to keep the kids interested. To ease your mind, a lot of apps available are educational as well. Tick.
But it doesn’t all have to be screen based. Just make sure you have enough on hand to keep the kids interested so to avoid the ‘I’m booooorrreeedddd’ groans from the backseat.
There are heaps of clever car trip ideas available online, like DVD cases which have been turned into drawing and colouring boxes with the help of a butcher's clip, some paper and some textas glued inside the lid.
For no-mess car options look for ‘magic colouring in’ packs in supermarkets and department stores. The textas are clear (car seats safe) but ‘magically’ transform when used with the right paper. I’ve also found huge success with the good old-fashioned etch-a-sketch-type boards which you can pick up for as little as $10.
And snacks, always pack extra snacks. If you’re feeling particularly mean you could try this one to get the kids to behave. At the start of the trip place a bag of lollies of chocolates on the dashboard. Each time the kids misbehave throw one out the window. They get to keep what's left. Parenting genius.
2. First aid kits.
If your children are anything like mine it’s almost guaranteed that someone will injure themselves on the first day of the trip. In fact, I’d put money on one of my kids falling on the way into the car to even leave the house.
Make sure your first aid kit is stocked and everything is within date before you set off. You don’t want to spend a good few hours of your travel trying to locate a chemist for some antiseptic cream and a band-aid.
Remember to include handy things like safety pins, splinter probes and a few vials of saline.
3. Check your tyres before you go.
It’s one of those things that we always say we should do, but leave till the last minute. But really it’s not just your holiday relying on the fact that your tyres are in good shape, but also your family's safety.
Before you set off, book your car into a tyre specialist for an expert's opinion on the condition of your tyres. They are able to see the tread and sidewalls, whereas a visual inspection yourself will only give you a view of some of the tyre.
Once given the all-clear, be sure to check the tyres throughout the trip regularly.
It’s best to purchase a good quality tyre pressure gauge for yourself. These are available at most automotive parts and accessories retailers and are far more reliable than the ones which are found at the local service station. Experts say that the servo ones are often inaccurate - not worth risking your safety on the road.
Check your tyres when they’re cold and be sure to look over them for any wear, cracks, cuts or foreign objects which may have become stuck. Not only will this give you more longevity out of your tyres but it’s one less thing to worry about when involved in a serious game of outback eye spy.
4. Plan your trip.
I still remember the sense of dread that came with my father announcing one morning that we were ‘going for a drive’. Where? Why? I didn’t know, my mum didn’t know and actually dad didn't even know. Sure enough, this always resulted in over tired, bored children, arguments, and us asking for directions on the side of the road.
Be sure to plan your trip carefully well before you set off. This means choosing a route which allows you to stop regularly and stretch your legs, have something to eat and let the kids run off some steam. Keep in mind that while adults can tolerate long distances, it’s much more pleasurable for everyone if you break things up and perhaps stay in a few locations. Work out any local sights of activities that the kids can look forward to in each spot. Google is your friend in all of this.
Despite the million viral videos about road trips gone wrong, they really can mean some truly memorable times for families. It’s all about being organised. Oh, and of course you need your own private stash of lollies and chocolates in the front seat which will never make their way back to the children - that one goes without saying! And everyone knows, what’s consumed on a road trip, stays on a road trip - guilt-free snacking here we come.
Where are you and your family road-tripping these holidays?
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