It’s the holiday season and for many families this means hitting the road for the annual family road trip.
My family is no exception. This will be my FIRST long road trip with our baby and toddler in tow and I have been thinking about how to best prepare for this trip for weeks. I am looking forward to our family time together and exploring the stops along the way but lets be honest – an 8+ hour road excursion with the kids can be a little intimidating! What matters most to me though is keeping everyone happy and safe.
So what is the best way to prepare for a long holiday road trip with the family?
To ease my mind, I started to make a list of everything I could do to make this trip more enjoyable and stress free from the get go.
Since we are heading into the winter months, I have been diligent in making sure that our family vehicle is ready for slippery and icy road conditions (hopefully winter is kind to us on this trip though!).
Here are just some of the ways we got our vehicle trip ready:
- We put snow tires on all four wheels to provide better traction and control in a winter emergency when those extra few metres of stopping distance are needed.
- We had our vehicle thoroughly checked to reduce mechanical problems later. I was very happy I did this as there was an issue with one of our brake pads which we thankfully replaced prior to the big trip. In general, it’s a good idea to ensure that the ignition system, battery, tires, wipers, and exhaust and cooling systems are in good condition.
- Installed a GPS in our vehicle with up to date maps and planned our route prior to heading out. We plan to leave plenty of time to avoid stress and rushing to our destination. Also, since I find that a GPS can be distracting, I will leave it up to the passenger to review the navigation so that whoever is driving can keep focused on the road.
As for some of the must-haves that should be in the vehicle, the key is to make sure that there are activities, snacks and any other saving grace items at your child’s fingertips so that you as the driver can fully keep your attention on the important task of driving.
Here are just some of the items I will be loading our vehicle with to keep the kids occupied:
- A collection of our favourite CDs since music is always a big hit in our house.
- A number of books including picture books and colouring books. Our Director of Training Scott Marshall gave me a great suggestion – books on tape. Loved this! I got a new library card just for the occasion.
- I also packed a hand held electronic game they have not seen before so this will be a great surprise for either on the way there or back. I’m thinking the trick is to not bring everything out all at once.
- A portable DVD player with a number of movies to choose from to help pass the time for the kids.
- A small cooler behind the seat so there is easy access to water and snacks for everyone.
I will definitely have to keep in mind how I pack our vehicle. Any extra loose objects will be tucked safely in the trunk so we avoid a Backyardigan flying through the car in a situation where the driver would have to brake hard!
So the countdown is on to the big trip and of course I can’t wait.
I would love to hear any ideas of what has worked for you and your family on your road trips. Every little bit helps!