Vacations are supposedly a time for you to enjoy some quiet time and unwind from the stress that you have been facing at work or in school.
Road trips sure are fun and exciting if you are going with friends. But parents who are thinking of going for a trip together with their children may find it more of a chore than a relaxing holiday. The long hours in a car and having to entertain the kids during the journey are some of the typical “problems”.
Although hiccups along the trip are unpredictable, there are still ways to minimise a meltdown from happening. Here are some tips on how to keep you and your young ones happy throughout the journey!
#1 RENT A COMFORTABLE CAR
Since you will be spending long hours in the car, it is one of the most important considerations you have to make. If your kids are going to be cooped up in an uncomfortable car, chances are that the trip will turn out to be quite a miserable experience.
Make sure you do your homework before making a decision as you would need to rent a car that is suitable for your family and whether it fits into your budget as well. The sport utility vehicle (SUV) is a popular choice among families as the car is the top choice for rugged off-road adventure. Recreational vehicles (RV) may be suitable for families who want to get around and still be able to have ice-cream from the fridge or using the toilet without stopping for a break.
Some cars offer more than just space and comfort but also additional bonuses like entertainment, GPS units that are able to point out traffic cameras and safety features like blind spot warning.
Additional tip: Check your car before driving off to ensure that there are no flat tyres and engine breakdowns. The last thing you want to happen is to be stranded in the middle of the road with a broken vehicle.
Photo Credit: MVP Sports Club
#2 BRING ALONG SOME SNACKS
Do not belittle these packets of dried fruits and cereals because they will be your lifesaver when the children simply refuse to eat anything at the restaurant you have decided to stop by for dinner.
Pack some healthy snacks like raisins, granola and even fresh fruits but make sure that you check the sugar level first. Trust us when we say, you do not want them to be high on energy throughout the trip.
Additional tip: Electrolyte water hydrates faster and stays in the body longer. That means lesser toilet stops!
Photo Credit: Mindful
#3 ENTERTAINMENT FOR THE KIDS
Some parents are fine letting their children play with electronic gadgets while others not so much. We understand that sometimes it is difficult not to give in when your child requests for the smartphone or tablet but since it is a road trip, maybe you can consider having a range of entertainment that does not involve technology.
Younger kids may like crayons and colouring books or fun car games like having a spelling bee. Older children can be encouraged to do journal jotting, having them write down what they see along the way and collecting something small along the way such as postcards at rest stops or a seashell from the beach.
Not only do such activities make the car ride seem shorter, it is great for family bonding time!
Photo Credit: Slate
#4 REST STOPS ARE IMPORTANT
Even if you are driving a RV, it is important to take regular breaks every now and then to freshen up. While it is good to keep track of time, it may not be a good idea to follow your schedule too tightly.
Frustration may arise among family members if there is too much pressure. Instead, have some breakfast or go grab coffee and take it as a chance to explore new places that you have not been to.
Photo Credit: Bikepacking
#5 FIRST AID KID
Apart from rest stops, there won’t be any Watsons or Guardians for you to purchase medication when your kid has a sudden fever. A first aid kit is always important as you never know when a situation might arise.
Have the usual medications for fever, stomach upset, antiseptic ointment, bandages, plasters, wet tissue and toilet paper ready in the kit.
Photo Credit: Jessie on a journey
#6 DOWNLOAD THE NECESSARY APPS
Technology can be useful in its own ways and save you from unnecessary troubles such as getting caught in a traffic jam.
The few apps that you should have in your device include Waze, which is an app that will help you navigate around traffic jams and construction delays; Gas Buddy that tells you when and where to buy gas and how to get the best value out of it; and AroundMe to keep yourself updated with the latest information on restaurants, banks, hotels and movie schedules that are near you.
Photo Credit: Adoption
#7 BE SPONTANEOUS
Along the way, you will pass by many places that were not included in your planning list but always be open to new suggestions given by people you meet along the way or overheard from the local radio DJ. You may end up loving those places more than the ones you planned to go!
#8 BE REALISTIC
Preparing yourself with the above tips are not a given that the trip will be entirely smooth sailing. Going on a family road trip is not like racing for The Amazing Race, so don’t over plan or decide on a minimum of eight hours drive every day.
Have ample breaks in between the car rides and let your kids stretch their legs at nearby parks or playgrounds. Once they use up their energy with all that running, it will be easier on you when they sleep in the car during the journey.
Lastly, have fun and try not to stress out too much!