There’s a common saying that suggests “life is not about the destination – it’s the journey that counts the most”. Indeed, when it comes to raising a family this rings particularly true and a many parents find the journey whizzes by so quick that you want to pack as many adventures into those first few precious years as possible.
For many, this is when they start to reminisce about their own childhood holidays and endeavour to recreate memories for their family to share. There are however, practicalities to consider such as how airports are now much tighter on security, meaning more taxing on travellers with young families.
This is where the good old fashioned concept of a road trip comes into play. If you’ve ever seen the Robin Williams film, RV, which encapsulates the sense of family adventure and magical moments to be had in this style of travel. That said, road trips don’t come without their perils…
Think back to taking a long car journey with friends or as a couple without children, they can be pretty tiring – now throw into the mix playing Peppa Pig on repeat, answering the age old question of “are we there yet” and being responsible for constant entertainment in a confined space with very little to do. Agreed, nowadays, it’s a little different to playing I Spy as you have fancy cars with TV’s in the back of the seat and bluetooth headlines – indeed, each member of the family could be watching something entirely different on Netflix… but there’s still a challenge in terms of driving for hours upon end with your family in tow.
This article offers five tips on how to have the best family road trip experience, but before we get into that, one of the most important things to consider before setting out is to ensure your car is in good shape to undertake the trip as nothing is worse than having to wait by the side of the road for a recovery vehicle to come along.
The other factor to consider is the car itself, you might want to consider hiring a more comfortable (or fun) car for a couple of weeks, or perhaps upgrading your current car by checking out one of the subaru dealers in your area. The undeniable truth is that even the most arduous journey can feel like a joy when driving an exciting car, and if you’re considering driving a seriously long distance, it might be worth considering investing in a larger or more entertaining vehicle.
Now that you’ve ensured your car is good for the journey it’s time to contemplate ways to manage the long journey ahead of you. Here are five tips:
Thanks to Satellite Navigation, the days of arguing over a huge map are mostly over – now, at least, there is a common enemy when the SatNav gets it wrong. However, it is good to plan out a route that allows for some interesting stop-offs along the way. Agreed, driving up the motorway for five hours is the most fuel and time efficient way to travel in a car, but think of all the things you are missing out on along the way.
Remember that it’s not just about the destination, it’s the journey too, and therefore heading off the major roads and driving through unspoilt countryside might be a nice alternative if you’re not particularly time pressed. There are often coastal routes available that really enhance your road trip experience, rather than staring at tarmac and other cars whizzing by the whole time.
If you’re taking a long journey with children you’ll be wanting to avoid those four words every parent fears on a long car journey… “are we there yet”. The trick here is to ensure your kids have plenty of engaging activities that don’t require adult participation – whether that’s watching a film on a mobile device or something more ‘old school’ like a colouring book and some crayons.
The thing we sometimes forget, is that even for the adults, a long car journey is a somewhat frustrating and tedious experience; and when in this state, your patience in terms of responding to the “are we there yet” question will be depleted.
It’s therefore important for the adults to have something to keep them entertained too; often this can be as simple as a great soundtrack for the journey, a good book, or some people like to choose a topic that needs to be discussed strategically (e.g. a financial issue) that they can resolve in what would otherwise be “dead time”. This is particularly effective at keeping the driver engaged but probably best advised to keep these talks to ‘low level’ stuff that is child friendly and not too stressful.
Staying somewhere overnight that offers a complimentary breakfast is a great way to start your day before hitting the road, as not only does breakfast help with driver alertness it also helps passengers prone to travel sickness feel less nauseous because it lines their stomach. There are plenty of pharmaceutical and alternative remedies that help travellers with motion sickness but one of the best tips is to eat little and often throughout the journey with an adequate supply of fresh air.
Ideally, eating outside of the car is best for people that suffer with motion sickness and ensure a decent supply of mints or boiled sweets are available for this appears to satiate the symptoms of motion sickness surprisingly effectively.
A great game to play with your family, particularly if you have a Spotify account or similar, is to create a playlist before you go on your trip that includes the favourite songs of each person in the car; presuming you have access to the internet, an even better way to go about this is to pass the device around the car in turn so that each person selects a song. If you’re really brave you could even turn your car into a karaoke booth though whether this averts the feeling of road trip despair is another question.