Monday, 19 September 2011

Road Trip - Plan ahead and arrive sane!

Well, it's nearly school holiday time.  Our extended family are going on a wonderful houseboat holiday that we have been doing every 2 or 3 years since I was a child.

This trip is wonderful, it's just the getting there which is the killer!  We have to drive 7 hours on the first day and just a couple of hours on the second.  We seem to survive, but it's not without having a good plan before hand to make things run a little more smoothly.

The first thing I do, and a very important thing is to talk to the kids about it.  I generally start this around a week out from the trip (they are small kids so can't really imagine outside of a week), and get them thinking about what things they might like to do in the car for the 'really long drive'.  I probably overdo this, but I think that the more you can prepare kids, the better they will accept that they are going to be basically in the car for a whole day.

Next, I write a list, a number of lists in fact.  Always a 'what to take' list, which has been on my fridge for at least a month before leaving for whenever I think of something else I need.   A 'what to buy before the trip' list is handy, and a 'things for the kids to do' list.  I always say that if you have a good list, your more than half packed.

I used to love the game 'spotto' as a kid in the car, and I have spotted some similar free printable games over at The Organised Housewife.  These are great as the kids can do it themselves.  Just a clipboard and a pen is all you need.  Also - Don't forget the trip home!  Print off enough so that you can play on the way home as well.

I like to have music in the car.  My Aunty once bought one of my sons three kid's CD's and they are great.  They're not grating like some kids music, but are songs that you generally know the words to and can sing along.  We get a real concert going in our car sometimes and the kids just love it.  It's like a little energy boost and great distraction for them and for you and makes the time pass a little quicker.

We also stop.  That's right, we stop quite a lot.  Whenever we get to the point where the kids are really bored but not asleep and starting to whinge, we find a good toilet and playground and stop for a run around.  Usually we all have a snack or meal and find that when they get back in the car, they are much more settled and half the time will go off to sleep then.  Just on that point, I never directly tell them to have a rest.  What I do at the moment is ask the older boys if they will be quiet so that the youngest can have a rest.  Inevitably, they all fall asleep if the timing is right!

Of course, there's always the DVD player.  A friend of mine says that they're the root of all evil, but I beg to differ.  Last January, we went on a 10 day road trip with the kids, and I think we put the DVD player on about 3 times.  It's great for times when you just need a little time without talking/whinging etc and the kids have just had enough.  I don't advocate them watching it the whole time and essentially missing the holiday as with a road trip, it's part of the holiday too, but it's a great fall-back if all else fails.

I hope you have some good holiday trips planned, Have FUN!


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