This past weekend, we bundled all 3 kids into the car for a road trip! One of my sisters was having a birthday party for her youngest- he turned 1 so we thought we would take a 1600km round trip (just under 1000 miles), leaving on Friday and returning Sunday. Nuts, I know! But with work commitments this was our only time frame.
We didn’t tell a soul we were going. Even though we had pre-booked accommodation, we were still shit scared of the trip and even on the morning of, were asking ourselves “do we want to do this?”. With a few deep breaths, we told ourselves that yes we could and off we went.
A LOT happened on this trip! So for the uninitiated, here are some tips and things to consider when one is going on a road trip with their family!
- When booking accommodation, the difference between a room with 4 beds and 5+ beds is significant. VERY significant! If you cant leave a child at home, shop around. Have 45 websites on the go until you have drilled down to the cheapest price. But make sure you put in the number of adults and children before you take the total as gospel because it does change. The computer goes “what, TWO two year olds? Better charge an extra hundred per night for that”. We learned this the hard way. Also check for places that provide linen and towels to reduce your car load of bulk.
- Expect to be asked “are we there yet?” a lot. Heaps. ALL THE FREAKIN TIME! Our first one was 45 minutes from home. To be honest, I am surprised she lasted that long before asking! In these times, it is helpful to change the subject or be prepared. Which brings me to the next point:
- Be prepared! In the car, check and double check everything. We had it down- iPad, iPad holder, loaded with movies, headphones, all checked and double checked. But on the day? The volume was too soft and the kids couldn’t hear anything over the roar of the car even though the volume was up all the way. (they are being returned for a refund) So cue excited kids wanting to watch a movie but having no headphones. The volume on the iPad itself didn’t go high enough either so that didn’t work. Daddy looked up the car manual and decided to blue tooth the iPad to the car stereo. Simple! Right? Nope- too many other devices were linked and time was not on our side. The volume of wails in the back seat was enough for anyone to stab their own ear drums with random objects lying around just for a reprieve. In the end we made good use of the trusty old AUX socket in the middle console and all was good with the world again. Except for the fact that we had to listen to A Bugs Life and Monsters Inc 32 times. Although daddy discovered a good setting called “fade” in the car and we could move the majority of the sound to the back speakers. Cool hey?!
- Bribery will get you everywhere. A tiny teddy to be quiet for 5 minutes is a godsend. Hand those things out like a dealer for some peace.
- Be prepared to eat LOTS of fast food. Looking for a clean toilet, food and a playground all in the same area? It is bloody impossible unless you are at a fast food outlet. Your waistline will not thank you but your sanity will.
- Kids like cupboards. And microwaves. Apparently said doors like to be opened and shut 100 times every minute. Prepare for them to be more interested in the opening and closing of doors at your accommodation than anything else. Kitchens are more exciting than TV! If possible, move breakables to higher cupboards.
- Bunk beds are kid magnets. Unless you have a kid who is 9+ years old, they are frightening and scary and if your kids aren’t making noise for 2 seconds, I can guarantee they are up there. My tip? Bring an angle grinder to cut off the ladder and problem solved.
- Light switches in your own house are boring. Light switches at holiday accommodations are super fun! As are fans and those heat lights in the bathroom (“look mum, its like the sun is in the roof!”). Be thankful you don’t have to pay the power bill but do expect some raised eyebrows and possibly some questions about why your place at night looks like someone is being electrocuted inside.
- If your door cant be deadlocked with a key, push 100 pieces of furniture in front of it. Better than finding a kid wandering around outside half dressed at 6am.
- Anticipate meltdowns. Usually at inappropriate times. Then refer to point 4.
- Expect to be told “look at that!” 100 times a day. Even if its just a car with a different coloured panel or a duck. Or a strange looking stick. Holidays are a whole new world to kids and EVERYTHING is exciting!
- Your kids wont sleep well. Don’t kid yourself into thinking otherwise, no matter how well they sleep at home. It is a different environment with different beds. The light is different and the curtains might suck. Expect a LONG time getting them to bed and an early wake up call. So don’t have a hangover. King sized beds are good for the extra visitors overnight.
- TV is different. You might not get the same channels. In this case, give them the controller, show them the up and down buttons for the programs and hide in a cupboard with hands over ears until they sort it out for themselves.
- Just let your kids run. If it is a safe area, let them wear themselves out! You are exhausted, I know. Pass the baton for a while and watch them enjoy themselves.
- DON’T run out of petrol!!! Even coming close to is stressful. Petrol is expensive everywhere and waiting for the next station “just in case the fuel is cheaper” may prove to be a bad mistake, as is using GPS, looking at the gauge and assessing the fuel consumption.
- Try to see things from your kids perspective. Everything is exciting! Seeing your children experience new things is great and telling them as much as you know about beaches, waves, shells, fish skeletons, blow holes and lighthouses is something you will all enjoy.
Travelling with kids is fun, exhausting, amusing, frustrating, expensive and everything in between. Sometimes the hardest part is making the plan and getting in the car. We know a LOT more about what we need to plan for next time, so will be better prepared. We have improvements to make but seeing the kids so happy was lovely.
Next trip? Maybe 2016. Maybe…