With the silly season just around the corner, many of us are preparing for a holiday road trip in the family car to kick off our break. However, when you have babies and kids in tow, even the best-laid plans can go seriously pear-shaped, so that’s why you need some tips from those who have made it before you.
Here are 10 ways you can make it easier to hit the road with your family and survive your upcoming road trip with as little stress as possible.
#1: Pack For Your Stops
If you’re planning a journey that’s going to take a few days, consider having a separate bag that’s just for these overnight visits. One bag can be used for the whole family’s stuff while you’re doing the drive so that you’re not rummaging through everyone’s suitcases just to find them a pair of PJs for the night.
#2: Have Snacks Ready to Go
Depending on how long you’re travelling, it’s best to have a bag or esky of snacks for each day on the road. Try to keep snacks as healthy as possible to avoid a sugar high (and the inevitable crash) with your kids, and then let them fill up with a larger meal like sandwiches and wraps when you make a dedicated stop for lunch.
#3: Utilise the Public Areas on the Way
Public rest areas and parks aren’t just great for the kids to get out and burn off some of that pent-up energy, but ideal for mum and dad to get a well-deserved break, too. Rather than planning to stop at certain points along the way, if the kids are getting unruly in the back seat keep an eye out for playgrounds or parks that you can make a quick visit to allow everyone to hit the reset button.
#4: Think Outside the Screen
Screens certainly make great pacifiers, but you don’t want to rely on them alone to keep your children entertained. There are plenty of fun activities, games, and singalongs that you can do as a family that will keep babies and kids of all ages interested, and you should also stock up on colouring books, stickers, and puzzles that can keep their hands busy.
#5: Have A First Aid Kit Handy
You might be surprised at just what can go wrong when you’re travelling in the car, so it pays to be prepared for everything. A small first aid kit will keep you covered should the worst happen, and will be ready to go if someone takes a tumble at the rest area playground.
#6: Use A Little Bit of Bribery
If there’s one time you can pull out the bribery card it has to be on the family road trip. One genius idea suggests having a bag of lollies in the front of the car. Each time a child misbehaves you throw one out the window (or into the car’s makeshift bin) until they finally realise that they’re messing with their sugar stash and get on their best behaviour.
#7: Feed During Your Stops
While it’s easy enough to keep the older kids fed as you drive, if you have a baby it can be a little tougher to do so. Plan your stops around when they’re due for a breastfeed and take them to a quiet space away from the rest of the family to ensure they have a big enough feed to fill them up. This will mean they’re more likely to doze off when you get back on the road, so it gives you a break from trying to keep them entertained.
#8: Have A Backup of Everything
Once you’ve packed the bags, go ahead and pack more just to be safe. This includes everything from a few backup dummies and nappies for the baby or another bag of snack food to keep everyone happy, as you’ll find a lot of things get lost in the seemingly squashy space of the family car.
#9: Don’t Be Too Strict With Schedules
When you were child-free, it was easy enough to set a schedule and stick to it, but your children will see to it that this doesn’t ever happen on a road trip. Rather than being too strict about how many hours you’re driving or where you have to get to in a short amount of time, set a goal each day and break it down into smaller and more manageable bites so that nobody gets too stressed.
#10: Keep the Music Kid Friendly
Sure, by the time you get to the third rendition of “The Wheels on the Bus” you might be ready to dive out of the window, but this is one of those times where you just have to submit. Keep the music fun and engaging so that your kids can sing along, and little babies can be soothed by the melodies.