TEN FAMILY ROAD TRIP TIPS
The road trip is a staple of holidays across the world, especially for the family. There are many great reasons for this – it’s a cheap way to get around with a larger family as opposed to buying a load of transport tickets e.g. air tickets, and you can plan your route exactly how you want it. In 2020, the appeal of the road trip has become even more apparent. It’s the perfect way to still get away from your home without having to take a flight, making it a safe and eco-friendly option for all those trying to do their bit for the world around them.
Of course, not all road trips are made equal! As brilliant as they can be, a car can also be a pretty enclosed space, and if anything goes wrong there’s not much chance to escape from each other and cool down a little. That’s why it’s important to plan your road trip well, so you can ensure it’s an experience to remember in all the right ways. When it comes to a family road trip, there are lots of different things to consider, so here’s a helpful list of ten tips that will help you design the perfect holiday for you and your family, all from the comfort and freedom of your own private car!
1. GOOD ENTERTAINMENT
It might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how important good entertainment is for a long car journey, and how often people forget about it! A great car trip isn’t just about your destinations (though they’re a part of it, of course); it’s also about the journey itself, and you’ll be spending plenty of time in the car together. You won’t want to chat or play games the whole time, so make sure to bring some other sources of entertainment. This could be books, films, tablets, handheld game devices, anything that can keep your family occupied for a little while and allow you to enjoy the open road without cries of ‘are we there yet!’
2. TAKE ENOUGH SNACKS
Doesn’t everyone get a bit scrappy when they’re hungry? Add the close quarters of a car into this scenario, and it can be a recipe for disaster. Plan for worst-case scenarios – getting stuck in a traffic jam, a leg of the journey taking much longer than planned – and make sure you’ve packed enough snacks to keep everyone happy. A mixture of healthy snacks and special treats is a great way to keep everyone’s nutrition tip-tip whilst keeping the holiday feeling like a special occasion.
3. CHOOSING YOUR ACCOMMODATION
Of course, you won’t spend your entire trip inside your car. There will be times where you’ll be staying overnight somewhere (Joburg to Cape Town, you’re bound to stop halfway with a family), where you’ll need to stop for dinner, take in the sights, and, importantly, make sure you’ve all had a shower! Sitting in the car for long periods at a time can become uncomfortable, so it’s important to give yourselves plenty of stops and enough time to explore each location. Don’t always choose the cheapest option, either – your family will thank you for springing out for a bit of luxury every now and then to help them recharge on your great adventure.
4. GO CAMPING!
There is always room to shake it up a little, and one way to do that is to take camping gear along for the ride. Getting out into nature and experiencing life off the beaten track can be one of the great joys of a road trip holiday. Don’t spend all your overnights in normal hotels – find one or two camping sites along your route where you can bond with your family across a campfire underneath the night sky. There are plenty of highly-rated camping spots across the country, and finding a good one with beautiful views can be the highlight of a trip, even if you’re not a particularly outdoorsy family.
5. COMFORT IS KEY
As mentioned above, sometimes a car isn’t exactly the most comfortable place to spend hours and hours travelling in. The last thing you want is for this to ruin your family road trip as people start to moan and groan. Stopping regularly to stretch your legs and see the sights is a great way to combat this. However, it’s also helpful to make sure the interior of your car is as decked-out for comfort as possible before you set out. Cushions are essential, as are neck-pillows and back-support. Testing out your comfort levels with a short drive before you set off for real is a great idea.
6. SPRUCE UP YOUR CAR
If you’re going on a long holiday, your car is essentially becoming your home for a while. You’ll be relying on it to take you across different terrains and big distances, and as such, you’ll want to make sure it’s fully equipped and in perfect, shiny condition. Whether it’s 4wd rims or new tires, checking the suspension, or getting the engine checked out, getting your vehicle into tip-top shape is one of the more important areas of preparation, and yet it’s one that many people neglect. Don’t risk your car leaving you stranded on the side of the road and ruining your road trip – get it fixed up before you go!
7. SEATING ROTATION
If there are going to be complaints and fights over who gets to sit in the front seat, it’s best to address these issues head-on. Instituting an official rotation of seating positions at each rest-stop, and making sure the timings seem fair, can be a life-saver when it comes to the nitty-gritty of holiday planning. Take into account your family’s individual preferences and discuss it with everyone to make sure everyone’s happy with your plans – this could save you a lot of trouble further down the road!
8. PLAN GAMES
If you have young children, it’s a great idea to have a store of word games you can call upon. Sure, I-spy is a crowd-pleaser, but even the most obsessed kid can get bored with it after a few hours… and then what? Look up some lists of word games before you leave so you have a few options you can whip out if people get bored. Playing games together, especially word games, is a great way to bond and have fun in the car, but it only works if you have a good grasp of the rules that you can explain when called upon!
9. MUSIC CHOICES
It’s the age-old question: who gets to control the car stereo? Countless fights have been waged over this single issue across the years, and many family road trips have descended into chaos. Get ahead of this by establishing some ground rules before you even start driving. Are you going to have a rotation, or have you decided that it’s a case of driver’s choice? Making this clear to everyone before you set out will help to head off arguments before they develop, keeping your road trip soundtrack one of family togetherness!
10. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE TRAVEL TIMES
Underestimating travel times is one of the greatest mistakes made by people going on road trips. Don’t trust Google maps implicitly – it will not take into account traffic, weather, your own driving speed, diversions, and potential rest-breaks. Underestimating travel times can lead to you missing hotel bookings, getting hungry, and a whole host of other stressful situations. If anything, it’s always better to overestimate and give yourself extra time. That way, you can relax and enjoy the journey, and even stop for unscheduled experiences if you see something that catches your eye. And that freedom and spontaneity is part of what makes a road trip so wonderful.