With the holiday season here already, many families have or are already planning a Road Trip. Travelling with children over short distances sometimes presents itself with challenges, so longer distance travel is not surprisingly more tiresome for children and comes with challenges of its own.
Knowing this and planning well, can make the long road trip not only easier for the child but also for the rest of the family. Failure to plan can make the road trip very miserable and make the trip relatively longer. Family road trips over the holidays make good memories, so it is vital that you as parents, or whoever the designated driver is, be patient.
I’ve put together the following tips and ideas which I hope that you will find useful if you are embarking on a road trip soon.
Before you even look at the tips, the most important thing is that you have a roadworthy vehicle. Many people often decide to buy a new car around the new year…if you’re one of them, you’re probably at the stage where you want to sell your car.
Once you’ve done so and have a safe vehicle to travel with, it is important to take the following into consideration, which can help to minimize the potential hassles associated with travelling with children:
Car Tyre Pressure & Tools
In any long car ride, it is critical to check the tyre pressure to keep your vehicle running smoothly on the road. The consequential effect of low car tyre pressure is your car tyre heating up which can be very dangerous.
You should therefore protect the lives of all the occupants of the vehicle by adequately inflating the tyres, to give you both a comfortable ride and improve your vehicle’s fuel economy.
You should also consider carrying a small and portable tire compressor and other essential tools that can help you in changing the tire.
Are there any health vaccinations required?
Imagine reaching the borderline of your destination and at customs, you are denied entry because you or your child didn’t get the required vaccines. I would certainly not be impressed!
It is therefore imperative, if you are going across a border, to enquire what medication and/or vaccines are required. You may also seek medical advice to find out if you need an alternative medical regimen which may aid in helping your child to adapt across different time zones, where applicable.
During your road trip, monitor your child/children for any noticeable change. If you notice any changes of concern, seek medical advice – I always say listen to your gut and better be safe than sorry.
Entertainment for the Road Trip
Toddlers love art, and without any doubt, it is one of the ways that can miraculously keep them calm during a road trip. As a well prepared parent, through some good planning, you can provide sticker books, drawing boards, and other toys.
In case you have an older child, you can keep them entertained with their favorite video games.
But above all, you should have music in your car to soothe the mood and to keep your child calm. Music has far-reaching advantages. Children love to sing along and parents can join in too, making it fun for the entire family. Not all families will enjoy this though and if this is the case, install a DVD player in the car or carry along the iPad or similar device, for the children and families who prefer quieter drives.
Pack lots of snacks
From a biological perspective, a small surface area to volume ratio implies the need for more energy requirements. This means that children get hungry at shorter intervals.
Thus, it is advisable to keep plenty of drinks and snacks in the car before beginning the long road trip. It is good to have a variety of food stuff – e.g. cheese, biltong, dried fruits, fresh fruit juice, among other non perishables.
Mealtimes are a critical aspect that parents should not ignore. If you are travelling with an infant or toddler, ensure you stick to their mealtimes. Plan your route carefully, to have an idea of when and where you will stop for mealtime.
If you have children that are older, selecting a food stop along the way should not be difficult, but do be cautious of long wait times if you are travelling during peak season.
Most of these stops are extremely busy during peak season, so make sure that your child is not left unattended as it is very easy for them to get lost in such crowds.
Prepare to make stops
One fantastic thing about road trips is the stops along the way. Such stops are not only enjoyable but allows both you and your child to stretch your muscles. It is unrealistic to drive for several hours and expect your child to be in the same position. It’s also not good for you – fatigue is often a root cause of many road accidents.
Before beginning your journey, you can research a bit about the routes and know where to stop. It is advisable to stop in parks or in places that have attractive child-friendly playgrounds for children. It creates something for them to look forward to, after hours of driving.
Such stops are also essential for feedings, diaper changes, and stretching breaks. Stops also make the time in the car bearable.
A road trip might be very long at times hence the need to pack enough items including clothes, toothbrushes, and anything else that you can use during the road trip.
In case your road trip includes overnight travel, an avoidable mess likely to face your child can include motion sickness, diaper blowouts, spit ups, and spilling. This is why you should carry special travel items including resting pillows, blankets for warmth, paper towels and wet wipes for easy cleanups and a garbage bag.
You should also consider packing other necessary outdoor supplies such as jackets, hats, mosquito repellents, and other light clothing for use during the warm weather.
Pack Safety Items
As we are all aware, kids are very playful, and occasionally, they might incur razor cuts and scratches. That’s why, it is advisable to pack a safety kit, a torch and lots of water.
Unlike adults, children do not know the amount of water to drink to prevent them from suffering from dehydration. That is why water is an essential item when going on a road trip.
Another safety mechanism that parents should ensure before hitting the road involves making sure that the child’s car seat is installed correctly. Ensure that the safety belts are in place and tight enough to prevent any movement. That, of course, will be a benefit in the case of an emergency brake.
Ensure your child has enough rest before the start of the trip
Parents should ensure that their children have enough sleep before beginning the journey. Children can have a miserable feeling if they fail to receive enough sleep and adjusting to new time zones might be challenging, often characterized with morning sicknesses and a general gloominess until the child returns home.
To make the trip a little bit comfortable for the child, ensure that your child gets to bed earlier ahead of time to avoid him/her feeling crabby.
Dress your child according to the weather
The only way to make children happy in their new environment as you travel with them in the long car rides involves dressing them comfortably with all the gear they need. In cold weather, cover the kids in jackets to keep them warm, opposed to turning up the heat in the car excessively.
If you’re not sure about the weather, it’s always a safe option to dress them in layers, which you may easily remove to suit the weather.
Don’t forget to carry medicine
Unlike adults, kids are always victims of mild to severe medical conditions during road trips. Therefore, you should include antimalarial drugs, painkiller syrups, plasters, antihistamines, among other items.
Enjoy the journey and don’t be too focused on the destination only
It is so easy to get road rage or get angry if your child messes the car – be patient. The excitement about a road trip is not merely about arriving at your destination but about enjoying the drive to get there.
Before you leave, relax your mind, forget about the stress you’ve had this year – look forward to spending time with your family – quality time. Do whatever you can to make the trip enjoyable – a lot of that depends on your attitude. Don’t just be the designated driver – be present. Have fun! Be safe. Enjoy the Road Trip!
Have I left out any tips? Please do share them in the comments below…