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Surviving family road trips this summer

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Are you looking forward to that family summer holiday?

Of course you are, but are you looking forward to the road trip to get to your favourite beach, bach, campground, crib or lakeside retreat - with the kids? Yeah - Nah.

Parenting Place together with Toyota New Zealand has come up with a series of strategies to help keep kids of all ages entertained and hopefully stop the outbreak of World War 3 in the back seat which makes for a more pleasant road journey for all.

Different age groups will definitely require varying strategies, with perhaps more planning needed for younger travellers due to their ability to become bored more quickly, but for any age planning ahead is vital.

For toddlers who still have a regular daily nap, consider embarking on the trip at the start of their nap time, which will allow them to drop off and should lessen the chances of an overtired toddler resulting in grumpy behaviour.

Younger travellers need regular stops to get out of the car, run around and stretch their legs. Plan these pit stops ahead, and keep the kids informed of when the next stop will be. This will also allow the driver who just wants to get there know exactly what’s coming up and allow them to plan the timing of the road trip.

Perhaps have a ball or frisbee for a quick game at the planned picnic break, a perfect way to tire them out so hopefully they will have a sleep on the second leg of the trip.

While the car’s air conditioning might keep everybody cool, it will also contribute to everyone getting thirsty. Make sure you take sufficient water in separate bottles for everybody for the expected length of the trip.

Non-sticky and non-crumbly snacks of healthy food - cheese, in-season fruit, rice crackers or similar - are also a great idea.

If you don’t know whether the little travellers are prone to car sickness or not, take an extra change of clothes in a carry bag, along with the necessary wipes to deal with the effects. Empty ice cream containers will never go amiss either.

Some kids will quite happily spend their time using activity or colouring in books to pass the time. TV trays provide the perfect flat surface for this. Maybe you can borrow granny’s one! So, you don’t end up with pen marks on the seats, it is best to only take a good supply of pencils to preserve the car’s upholstery.

If there is room, put a plastic container on the seat between the potential combatants. Fill it with all the things they love to keep them occupied so they can easily access everything.

Audio books can make another distraction, but have a few for longer journeys as repetition can be mind-numbing for those in the front seat. Of course, it is hard to ignore repeated requests for favourite stories. Grin and bear it.

Old favourites like "I Spy" and the like will also fill in time. Anything that makes the back-seat occupants more aware of their surroundings and fun to do will provide a happy memory of the journey.

When it comes to the car’s music, it can work well if everyone has a turn of choosing their favourites, much is always negotiable when listened by many. Road trip play lists are available online.

For the littlies, sing-along nursery rhymes are a great solution. The chances are teenagers will be happier with the ear buds in and listening to the latest download from Spotify. But Dad’s heavy metal is probably not a high priority.

For longer trips sharing out the choices of activities in rotation and who gets to sit where will spread the love and show Mum and Dad is not playing favourites.

Keeping kids entertained with portable screens will be a decision for the adults, depending on how much time this activity is allowed on a daily basis. Perhaps it can be kept as a last resort.

Getting children engaged with the countryside and landscape away from the usual urban surroundings can widen their horizons and should be a higher priority, this is easily done with those ever-favourite car games from the past. They may subtly learn something as a result.

Irrespective of age, make sure all the kids have the correct sized car seat, or booster seat. If they can see out of the windows, they will be much happier.

More specific information for travelling with babies or in a campervan and other subjects including the daily drop-off and pick-up from school can be found at. -  https://www.theparentingplace.com/toyota-family-journeys/

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