Car Travel Ideas
Best Tips for Parents

Car Travel, road trips and day trips can be great frugal options for great family vacations. 

Sometimes we tend to forget about all the great places that are nearest to where we live or within a few hours drive from home. 

Preparing your Car for your Journey

First and foremost when thinking car travel you need to make sure the car is road worthy. Perhaps consider booking it in for a service, especially if you are going on a long trip.

Give the car a good clean out.

It's great to start fresh, removing any unnecessary bits and pieces that may ordinarily live in the car.

Make sure anything left in your car are things that are necessary for your road trip.

Place a packet of disposable wipes in your glove box.

Or if you are trying to be environmentally friendly, you could always put a wet face washer in a clip lock bag.

Create a pack for each person traveling on the trip.

baby in a car seat

If you don't already have sunshades on your windows, now would be a good time to consider purchasing some. If your kids are going to be spending quality time in the car you want them to be comfortable. You also want to protect them from the sun.

If purchasing sunshades is not in the budget right now, consider packing a baby wrap. Use this when the sun is making it uncomfortable by winding down the window a little bit and placing the baby wrap over the window, before winding it close. The closed window will hold it in place providing some relief. The only down side with this option is your kids will no longer be able to see out the window.

Preparing your Family for Car Travel

When considering car travel plan ample stops, little kids need regular toilet stops, and time to stretch their legs. Planning your stops in advance at parks or landmarks is a great way to celebrate your trip along the way.

However saying all of this be flexible, if your kids are fighting or someone is feeling unwell, take an unexpected stop. Don't try and push them beyond their limits.

If you've planned all your designated stops, and an overnight stop is in the agenda, consider booking accommodation prior to leaving. When you reach your destination, the last thing you want to be doing is driving around looking for somewhere to stay. Plus by pre-booking you won't be faced with any embarrassing surprises when you go to pay.

And finally, when planning stops, involve the kids (if they are old enough to understand). Give them the authority to pick a place to stop (maybe guide them in the right direction) and put them in charge of that stop. They can be the ‘leader' at that stop. Do they have to hand out drinks or snacks, they can tell everyone when it's almost time to get back in the car, and to make them feel really important they could even have a gift for each family member.

This could be as simple as a small packet of chips or a lollypop through to a new game for their Nintendo DS or new movie for the DVD player; it all depends on your budget.

Packing the Car

If you are on a long car trip and have an overnight stop, or several, you may want to consider how you pack your luggage. You probably have a lot of luggage, so you may want to consider packing one small bag with all the items you need solely for that night.

By doing this you won't have to unpack the whole car, but this will depend on your destination, so places it will be wiser to unpack the car rather than risk your car being broken into. This decision only you can make. If you are unsure, try speaking with the reception desk, at your designated accommodation venue.

It's great to have a little hand size bag with regular medications. A make up bag is perfect. Think about what you might need on the trip, regular medications that don't need to be taken until bed time, can be packed in your regular luggage.

Things you might like to consider are: headache medication, travel sickness medication, band aids, and other specialized medication, e.g. if you child requires an asthma pump.

When car travel and packing things to entertain the kids, here is a great tip for a baby:

Pick a few of their favorite things and then tie some ribbon onto it and secure it to the baby seat. That way they will be able to freely play with it and if they drop it, it will be easy to hand back. Safety Warning: Do not make the ribbon too long, you do not want your baby to wrap it around their neck. See more about keeping kids safe in the car.

Check out our car travel tips for more information when planning your next holiday or trip. Or check out our article Road Trips with Baby for specific ideas related to your little bundle!.

From snacks and entertainment we've covered it all.

So You are on Your Way

With car travel how do you avoid, 'Are we there yet' I hear you ask. For those with older children, anywhere from primary school to teenage years a great concept is to create an agenda.

Print out a map of the net and highlight your route. Then you could provide a one page agenda with highlights noted along the way. For example, list the towns you will be passing, what to look for in the town, such as landmarks or tourist attractions.

Even consider noting where you plan on stopping, e.g. Next town is 'Howlong'. We will be stopping at the ‘Big Submarine' for afternoon tea. You will quickly note your kids constantly referring back to it with anticipation. This will be the case, even more so, if you have sought their feedback on where they might like to stop.

A travel journal is another great idea. It's an opportunity for them to capture their own thoughts and experiences. A travel journal, maps and agenda could all be incorporated into a great little travel pack for each kid.

You could pick a nice book that's personalized, if your daughter is into Dora, or High School Musical for example, buy a book that has this on the front cover, this will simply build the excitement and they will have pride in their journal because it is different to their siblings.

Depending on the age and needs of your kids you might want to pack an ice cream container or something similar for any sort of car travel. They have many handy uses, including acting as an emergency potty when required or as a bucket if someone is suffering from motion sickness.

Music is always a favorite with kids, but we must admit, it can become quite frustrating as an adult to listen to the same kids tunes over and over. Why not try putting some of the kid's favorites onto an MP3 player. With a good quality pair of kid's ear phones, they will have hours of enjoyment without you having to get some kids tune stuck in your head for days.

If you have a Smartphone, they can sometimes double as MP3 players, and also provide apps for keeping kids entertained.

Along with MP3 players there are so many different accessories available that will help make every family's trip more convenient and enjoyable, from games and gadgets, to organizers and storage solutions.

Keep kids entertained with our great variety of travel games for the car.

It's amazing just how many different games are available, we have a great range of free car travel games, why not print them off before you go.

A combination of free car travel games and purchased car travel games is a great solution for most families.

Finally, if your child suffers from motion sickness it can act as a great distraction.

Don't let your holiday or vacation start once you arrive at your destination.

Start enjoying yourself from the moment you leave your front door.

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