The basic philosophy when travelling in the car with kids is -
Feed them up and tire them out
Plan on how you are going to spend your time in the car, the games you"ll play, the places of interest you"ll stop at, the snacks you"ll have and the things to take with you in the car - to make your trip a FUN trip.
Before you go Checklists
Here some useful general checklists (children might like to make their own list).
- Water the plants
- Ask a neighbour to feed, water and walk your stay-at-home pet
- Ask a neighbour to collect your mail
- Put away food and dishes
- Hang up wet items - towels and washers
- Turn off all taps
- Unplug electric appliances
- Lock the doors and windows
In the Car Checklist
- The Travelmate.com.au list of car games, pencils, clipboard, blank paper or pad, and print-out games
- Games things - walkman, tapes or CDs, hand-held games, soft cuddly toys
- Plenty of healthy snacks and treats
- Surprise presents and toys
- Plastic bags
- Small pillow
- First aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Bottle of water
- Toilet stop items - toilet paper and trowel
- Jumpers or coats
- Ball or frisbee
- Water container for travelling pet
- Any medication that is routinely taken
Bring lots of snacks and surprise packages. You can prepare healthy snack-packs (dried fruit, nuts, cheese sticks, choc-bits, tasty biscuits, pretzels, fruit bars, dry cereal) at home. For extra fun, use up your old Xmas or birthday paper and wrap up some snacks and 50 cent toys Ė simple things such as these may help to save your sanity in trying moments.
Small drinks with resealable lids are better than large (although cheaper) bottles that can leak. Travel lollies are great as prizes in games and for general "bribing" purposes.
It"s worth taking a damp cloth while on the move to wipe little hands. A wet cloth kept in a plastic bag will stay damp for many hours.
Resealable containers and bottles are good to store left over food and fruit.
Itís handy to have a couple of plastic shopping bags or similar to use as rubbish or motion sickness bags.
If you can, try to avoid bringing food that is likely to melt, squash or go "off" in the heat. Glass containers and fragile toys or trinkets are best left at home, or safely packed in the boot. Stationery that is sharp like scissors or Stanley knives should be avoided - as should textas or crayons that may melt on the back shelf of the car.
Donít forget the driver. Take along some special delight for the driver - especially if you are the driver. Remember to stop every 2 hours to take a break and stretch your legs. If the driver gets tired swap drivers or pull over and have a sleep.
Once you"ve shut the front door of your home your holiday has begun. So relax! Have a good trip and have a fun trip. Make the most of the journey because it"s part of your holiday too.
When you take time to enjoy your trip, the time will fly.
Sometimes, reading in the car, or travelling on the long and winding road can bring on motion sickness. To combat this get some fresh air, close your eyes and if possible sit in the front seat of the car.
Children need help in entertaining themselves, lots of little snacks and surprises and most importantly they need lots of chances to get out and have a run around.
Calculate the time it would take a group of adults to get to where you are going - and then double it! Leave yourself time to be able to get out of the car and have a look at the old bridge by the river - or play on those cool swings in the park. Each new place is a new adventure and often the unexpected things that happen on a trip are the most remembered.
When the troops start to mutiny, it might be time to pull over and have a break. The kids will really appreciate a few minutes to kick the ball around or have a good look at the horses in the paddock. You"ll notice the difference in the atmosphere when everyone gets back in the car.
Your travelling pet will also enjoy a drink of water and a sniff around the trees. Rearrange the car blanket your pet has been lying on and give that dog a new tennis ball to chew on.
A warning - if the little ones are asleep in the back you may need to make the most of the moment and keep going while they doze. A small pillow might be useful for people who like to rest their head or arms while they travel.
Every time you are within range of a toilet - at the park, the petrol station or the lunchtime picnic-stop, check out the toilets! Keep a roll of toilet paper and small garden trowel in the boot, for those times when there isn"t a convenience stop in sight.
Take along those nifty hand held computer games, walkmans, knitting, packs of cards and travel-case games. The kids will know what they like to do in the car so let them choose. Books and magazines might give them motion sickness on those hairpin bends!
Bring along those tapes of songs and stories. It may drive you crazy but the kids just love it. For maximum fun, before you go on your trip ask children to record themselves reading favourite short stories, jokes, poems or performing musical recitals. They`ll play it again and again and again and againÖ.
The driver will need to take a break every 2 hours. Keep a ball, frisbee or skipping rope in the front to help the kids get rid of some of that eternal supply of energy when you stop.
Take plenty of `snack packs` of dried fruit and other assorted goodies pre-packed drinks and a big bottle of water are lifesavers when the morale really starts to flag. A washcloth can help with sticky fingers.