Summer holidays are around the corner, and let me guess you’ve got a road trip planned in your Achtung Camper Campervan but you are already dreading the drive and the constant ‘Are we there yet? How much longer?’.
We feel you! How do you keep the kids happy on a lengthy drive, as well as avoid overindulging on those blasted screens?
Take a deep sigh of relief, aaah! We have a few handy tips for you to put in your back pocket, call on when you need and ensure you have a good and relaxed start to your holiday with big and small kids. It is worth noting that we have touched on this topic before, but you can never have too many tools in your back pocket when it comes to kiddos.
- Audio Books: These are a must to pack and they will keep the little and big people entertained for hours. Try your local library to borrow a collection from one of your favourite authors such as Dr Seuss, Roald Dahl or David Walliams.
- Create a Destination Quiz: This one is a simple way to increase excitement about the destination and it will test each person’s knowledge. Some questions to include are what is the population of the town, what is the area known for, is there a tourist attraction, etc.
- Write a Travel Diary: Purchase a scrap book and glue stick before you hit the road and as you make your way kids can draw pictures and write a daily or weekly journal about their experiences. Beware this can become obsessive as you collect maps, postcards, brochures, tickets and more to savour as a souvenir for years to come. When you return you can add in a few selfies and scenic photographs!
- Games: Scavenger Hunt is a winner! This can be written up before you hit the road, one for each player similar to a bingo card, and include such things as spot a grey horse, motorcycle, fire hydrant, blue mailbox, a dog with their head out of the window, number sign and more.Another ripper is Van Cricket, with the potential to be played for hours. It is faster moving than the real game! Establish your own rules first such as a motorcycle is six runs, bus is four runs, a towing vehicle is two runs, sedan or hatchback is one run, trucks are two runs and police car is out. One person bats at a time. It’s a sneaky way to help them with their addition too.Some other games are Crazy Neighbour where someone gets to make a wild story about the people in a nearby vehicle, License Plate Headlines is fun one where you use the letters from a number plate and create a silly headline such as BSF to Big Smelly Farts. It is sure to take potty humour to next level!
- Readymade Snacks: For some reason kids are always hungry when they are sitting in a vehicle. And we mean, always! To avoid unnecessary and expensive food stops pre-cut vegetables, fruit and cheese to dish out with crackers or bread to tie them over before you need a break. Fill water bottles for the driver and each passenger before you drive out of the driveway is a no-brainer!
- Hit the Road Early: It’s an obvious one, but sometimes people overlook the benefit of having an early night, setting the alarm for 4.00 or 5.00 and taking off before the crack of dawn. Kids may still be a bit dozy and fall back asleep for the first couple of hours. Plus, you will avoid peak traffic. You’ll be high-fiving yourself!
- Scheduled Breaks: For a decent drive you will need to stop for both fuel and bathrooms, but it’s also worth doing some research as there most likely will be a hot spot or detour that’ll add interest to your journey. Highlight it on your map or key it in to your GPS. Involve the kids with researching and scheduling a few stops, this will give them something to highlight.
- Neck Pillows: Look, these are not essential, but they will allow kids to nap in comfort and remain upright and safe.
- Expect the Unexpected: Car sickness can rear its ugly head at anytime with kids and it is better to be prepared. Travel with a few plastic bags preferably zip lock or even better medical vomit bags and wipes for a quick, side of the road clean up. If you are unlucky enough to experience an impromptu spew session, stay calm because it will then add a couple of hours to your journey.
- Know Your Limits: OK, if every road trip or long drive you’ve done in the past has resulted in at least one child suffering from car sickness or not coping for sitting still then start small. Be reasonable with how many hours your children can be in the vehicle without vomiting or melting down. Then slowly build on it!
- Music: Before you leave on your adventure, ask each child to create their own playlist. Then when the timing is right, crank up the music. If you’ve got teenagers, it is worth ensuring everyone has their own headphones.
- Remember You: Do not forget to pack a few things that will keep you, when you are the passenger, entertained and relaxed. This could be as simple as pack a couple of your favourite magazines, a book or two (depending on how you fair with reading in a moving vehicle), face mask and ear pods or headphones to completely zone out for a period, a craft project such as knitting or crocheting and eye mask to snooze.
- Plan, Then Plan More: Travelling with children is different to taking to the road kid-free in your twenties. Forget being carefree and winging it, it is now all about planning, especially if your children are under ten years old. Make sure your breaks include basic amenities, somewhere to stretch little legs and burn off that energy, top up water bottles and empty rubbish.
With this trusty list of ideas you should be well and truly equipped for your next road trip, whether it is a lengthy lap of Australia or short distance adventure. If you’ve got a game you play whilst on the road, share it with us email@example.com.