Anytime you travel in your car with your spouse for longer periods, tensions can rise. It’s getting crowded in the car. Small irritations end up becoming huge fights. We’ve all been there and done that. So what are some great tips to avoid having a bad trip as a family? These 8 tips will give you plenty of ideas to make it enjoyable.
Make traveling plans together
We all know the saying: assumption is the mother of all screwups. One of the main issues that arise during travel is the fact that expectations and reality are too far off. The kids might think that they’ll travel for 4 hours that day while the parents were thinking of driving all day so they’d reach their destination quicker. If you talk about these things before you start, you’ll get a lot of noise out of the way.
The driving part is one thing, but once you reach your destination you can also have big rifts between what everyone is expecting and what’s actually happening. So make sure you also discuss what your holiday will look like. As a parent you’ll usually want some more cultural trips. The kids will want some more leisure and fun.
When I was young, we always had the agreement that we would do a cultural trip on day 1 fun on day 2. Culture on day 3, fun on day 4. And so on and so forth. Kids can understand that it can’t all be fun and play and parents should realize that having fun is a big part of a holiday for kids.
Make sure you choose a location that offers a wide variety of activities. Or choose an area where you can easily travel to and from so you can be flexible in where you wanna go.
There’s also a great app to make an itinerary yourself here. You can share your plans with your group or family and everyone can add to the fun.
Bring games, entertainment and reading material for the car ride
Make sure the games are small and don’t have loose pieces. If you meet a bump in the road you’ll have some pretty angry people in the back of the car. Other than that, the games can be anything. Bring your iPad or Twitch along so you can close yourself off of the rest. Put on a headset and just enjoy the video (game).
If you don’t get car sickness easily bring some reading material along. If you do get sick in the car. Make sure you bring some medicine to cancel the nausea. Take the pill a few hours before reading or when you know you’ll be entering some rough or twisty terrain. The car drive is a great moment to do some studying or catching up on that novel that’s been sitting on your shelf for the past few months. I do need headsets when I read in the car. If people are talking I can’t concentrate so I need to shut myself out.
Do make sure you bring charges and splitters for the chargers so everyone can charge and you don’t get fights over who gets to charge now and who can charge later. (It costs like 2 dollars to get a new splitter, don’t fight over 2 dolllars).
In short, this is what you can bring for distraction:
- An iPad or game handheld
- A book
- Small (1 Dollar) games without loose pieces
- Your imagination (to come up with new games)
- Splitters for charging
- Medicine against traveling sickness
- Sun glasses (for everyone)
- Food / snacks to bribe
It’s not just a good idea for the driver to stop now and then. It’s also good for the rest of the family. Getting some fresh air gets everyone in a relaxing state. We used to stop at places where they have a small playground so everyone (including the adults!) can go out and play some J Go run and play you silly animals! Have some fun. Play hide and stick or whatever you can come up with. You can be a serious parent again when you sit in the car. Also let everyone use the bathroom while you’re stopping anyway. It’s one of those frustrating things that happens during travel… You just stopped 5 minutes ago and someone need to go to the bathroom. Avoid that happening at all cost!
For the driver: make sure you drink enough and if you’re the only driver make sure you get some rest or get some extra strong coffee. If you want some tips on how to make great coffee (for on the road) visit this Coffee Barista Blog. They teach you some real neat coffee tricks.
Reward good behaviour
Divide the entire road trip in 20 – 50 (depending how long the trip is) equal parts. Say you’re traveling 500 miles, you could divide the trip in 20 parts of 25 miles. Every time one part has been completed without any arguments or fights, give your kids a quarter (or a dollar, or whatever is appropriate for you guys).
This is a nice way of keeping the trip a relaxing experience instead of one that’s under constant pressure. Make sure you only give one warning if things start to heat up. No more than 1. Because you know how kids can be. They’ll take advantage of weakness.
You could also do it the other way around. Give them the money upfront. But every time they create a scene, take back 1 coin.
I spy with my little eye…
A brilliant game that deserves to be mentioned alone. Who doesn’t enjoy a few rounds of I Spy? Everyone right!? So if you wanna play something with everyone in the car. Not just a single player game on an iPad or something… Play I Spy. Fun guaranteed.
Don’t overdo drinks
We should also mention that drinking is good. Keep everyone hydrated of course. But you don’t want to stop every 30 minutes because someone else has got to go to the loo. Drink small portions. Don’t drink a quarter gallon all at once. For a road trip taking a total of 8 hours, half a gallon should be enough. That’s not a lot if you divide that in 8 parts.
Have enough space in the car
The number one reason why fighting in the car starts is because the lack of space. So if there’s one thing you need to do is to make sure you have enough space. Even consider renting a bigger car if you know it’s gonna be hopeless otherwise.
Another great idea is to rent (or buy) a roof box. You can put soooo much stuff in a roof box. Yes your fuel consumption suffers a bit. Yes you’ll get a bit more wind noise when driving. But man: more space in the car is worth it all.
Bring cover from the sun
The guys who are sitting next to the window with a constant sun shine in his face will be really really pissed at the end of the day. There’s nothing worse than a constant solar flare in your face. You get warm. You get stressed. You can’t see anything with the sun in your eyes. You know how it feels…. So if you’re driving in a sunny environment or are expecting heasy sunshine, make sure you bring something that brakes the sun. Not just sun glasses. That’s nice for the eyes. But having sun in your face the entire day can be really tiresome.