February 23, 2023

5 Great Tips for a Stress-Free Family Road Trip Experience

Road trips are a wonderfully flexible way to travel with your family. You can tailor your time, stop whenever you need to, and your children are more comfortable in a familiar context. Still, it has its share of stress as well. Here are five important strategies for mitigating it.


Secure your home
Before you go anywhere, make sure what you leave behind will be safe. Take precautions against thieves, vandals, and foreseeable accidents. Move any mirrors etc. away from windows - you don’t want magnified sun rays starting a house fire. If you’ll be away for long, consider unplugging major electronics and shutting off the main water valve, especially in cold weather.


Arm your home security and surveillance system. If you don’t have one, you can improvise with other video equipment, like baby monitors. Whatever lets you access the feed via a web client can be a home monitoring solution.

Hold your newspaper and other paper mail for the duration of your road trip. Ask a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your front door, especially if you receive packages. Uncollected deliveries are like a billboard advertising an unoccupied home.

You can also take steps to make your home look less vacant. Arrange for lawn care to avoid that overgrown, abandoned vibe. Connect your interior lights to timers so it looks like someone's home, and keep their intervals somewhat irregular. Leave your exterior lights on where you usually would (e.g. garage, back porch), especially at night.

Rent an appropriate vehicle
Renting vehicles is a great approach for family road trips regardless of whether you own a car of your own. Family cars cater well to a family’s everyday needs, but usually fall short of the requirements of a full on road trip. Vacations typically  entail packing lots of “just in case” items. Those take up valuable space and everyone ends up feeling cramped, which can be especially irritating to young kids.

So instead, consider a rent-a-car solution. Pick a vehicle that’s suitably large, secure, and up to maintenance codes. Do some research and choose an agency that’s close to your residence. For example, if your family lives in Queensland, try finding a mid size car rental in Brisbane, Townsville, or Bundaberg etc. That way returning the vehicle is much less of a hassle when you’re coming back exhausted from your trip.


Prepare road food
Long drives are notorious for making people thirsty, hungry, and cranky, especially in the summer. Pack a good amount of snacks and lots of liquids to fight the poor road mood. Snacks should be a fair mix between healthy and tasty. Fruit is always a good idea, as are crackers and homemade sandwiches. It’s okay to have a bag or two of favourite junk food as well. After all, your kids won’t appreciate being suddenly put on a super healthy diet while on the road.

As far as liquids go, focus on clear ones. Water is the staple but not the only choice. Cater to your family's tastes and consider fruit juices, teas, iced teas, etc. Even soup is an option! That’s especially great for winter road trips. Have a thermos or two of good hot soup to keep everyone both hydrated and warmed up while sitting for long stretches of time.

Research your accommodations
Consider what type of place you'll be staying at so you know what to pack. Common types of accommodations for family road trips include hotels, renting an apartment or house, staying with extended family, being house guests in a friend’s home, and camping out of your vehicle or a tent setup.

Take some time to figure out what utilities and amenities will be provided or can be reasonably acquired in the area. Get in touch with the property owners or managers and work out the details. Ask about things like stoves, dishwashers, linens, laundry machines, the size of beds, etc.

You may need to bring your own detergents, soaps, bedding, and such. If camping out, check guidelines for the ecological impact of detergents and fuels. Also double-check campfire regulations. If staying with friends or extended family, do your best to be gracious. Bring a gift as a show of appreciation for their hospitality. Consider following up with a sincere thank-you note after your road trip is done and you return home.


Contextualise your destination
Have some background knowledge about where you are going so you can provide context to your children. Manage the incessant “Are we there yet?” moments by turning your trip into a fun geography lesson.

This is especially helpful to younger kids, since their sense of elapsed time isn’t quite developed yet. They would greatly benefit from learning about landmarks along the way. This divides the road trip into more manageable “chunks” in their mind, averts boredom, teaches proximity and routing, and helps them be patient.

Older children might prefer to explore an atlas. This is a great chance to teach proper map use. Let them observe the roads you’re taking, find the places you’re stopping at along the way, and get an idea of where your home is in relation to your destination.

Family road trips offer wonderful scenery, fun adventures, and great bonding time. As long as you plan well and prepare properly, you can have a stress-free experience that’s enjoyable for parents and kids alike.

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1 comment:

  1. thank you for sharing Maam Jen,very helpful tips ito


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