OPINION

Survive family road trips this school holiday period

The family road trip can be a lot of fun, but proper preparation is key. Picture: Warner Bros
The family road trip can be a lot of fun, but proper preparation is key. Picture: Warner Bros

I have done a few road trips with my two kids in tow and while I am not rushing to do it again, it does have its perks. We have driven to and from Brisbane with two children a few times now and with two parents it is manageable. My husband drives, I deal with the kids.

If you are keen to take a road trip (when restrictions ease, of course) there are a few things to do to ensure the trip goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Plan to stop every three hours at least - and follow through. Even if it gets to the three-hour mark and everyone seems content and relaxed. Stop, stretch your legs and use the toilet. Everyone will feel better and, more often than not, if you skip the scheduled stop, someone will need the toilet 20 minutes away from the next stop and most children can't make it that far.
  • If you can, stop somewhere overnight along the way. It makes a world of difference when everyone gets some decent sleep and a chance to be out of the car for a while.
  • If you have a child under the age of six, purchase a portable potty. These are pretty awesome. They are compact and fold up easily and come with disposable liners that can be tossed after each use.
  • Have a rubbish bag in the back to save you dealing with a huge pile of mess to clear out of the car.
Make sure to take lots of snacks ... and not to eat them in the first hour. Picture: Shutterstock.

Make sure to take lots of snacks ... and not to eat them in the first hour. Picture: Shutterstock.

  • Have vomit bags or a vomit bucket lined with a plastic bag near your kids - even if your child has never been car sick in the past. It's always good to be prepared. Also have a towel handy and wet wipes for spills and mess.
  • Keep spare clothes, hats, sunscreen and wipes easily accessible in a separate bag so you aren't having to rummage through suitcases to find things.
  • Stagger the snacks and activities. Avoid giving kids everything at once or all food will be consumed within the first hour (see above for vomit bag). Have a few new activity or colouring books tucked away ready to hand out, invest in a car DVD player, or download a few TV shows and movies onto the iPad. Have lollies to hand out at random times and some car games planned.
Have activities for the kids planned and ready to go to stave off boredom. Picture: Shutterstock.

Have activities for the kids planned and ready to go to stave off boredom. Picture: Shutterstock.

  • Go with the flow and prepare for unscheduled stops. It may be spotting a really cool playground or attraction along the way or it may be to adjust seats or retrieve dropped toys.
  • You may decide to drive through the night because you figure that since it's night time, the kids will sleep and there will be less traffic so a smoother drive home. Prepare for the fact the reality will be different. Kids will likely not sleep because sleeping upright in a car seat is incredibly uncomfortable. Remember too, it's very hard to find a toilet at 3am so the portable potty is essential.

The family road trip can be a lot of fun and it is certainly something your child will remember for years to come. Take your time, try to relax and you might even enjoy it too.

  • Christy Kidner is a trained newborn care specialist and mother of two. Visit Christy's blog at www.motheringme.com.au.
This story Are we there yet? Surviving family road trips first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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