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Road trip with kids: how to plan

Pack up the kids and the car; it’s road trip time!

A road trip vacation can be an unforgettable experience that brings families together and creates treasured memories. However, if you’re planning a road trip with kids, a fun break can quickly turn into a noisy, cramped nightmare without adequate preparation.

Fear not! With these tips, you’ll be hitting the open road fully prepared for a fun, relaxing and drama-free holiday.

Little girl wearing pink child's Sea-BandPlanning for your road trip

Properly planning your itinerary in advance will save you an astronomical amount of stress in the long run; always a plus on a road trip! Simply follow these preparation tips:

  • Regularly stopping to view the scenery and see the sights is half of the point of a road trip, and it can be tempting to try and fit every point of interest into your plan. Our advice is to be selective; don’t make your schedule over-ambitious, especially if this is your first road trip
  • Make sure you plan for frequent breaks and rest stops. You will need to stop for comfort breaks more often than you think, especially if you’re travelling with young children. Plan these into your itinerary ahead of time so that you don’t arrive at each destination hours behind schedule
  • Make sure to plan for some time during the trips where you can just stop the car and wander around; no pressure to get back on the road, no worries that you’ll be 5 minutes behind on your itinerary, just relaxing!
  • Planning ahead with regards to campsites or accommodation, in general, gives you far more breathing room to chill out and actually enjoy your trip! The most popular campsites and hotels can also book up far in advance, so if you have your heart set on a particular place, it’s better to book it as soon as possible
  • Encourage children to learn about the area you’ll be travelling in, or about your destination. This keeps the little ones’ minds on their surroundings, and not on asking “are we there yet?”

Safety

A well-stocked first aid kit is absolutely vital, for your peace of mind if nothing else. This, along with a few other simple safety precautions planned ahead of time make for a relaxing and safe road trip.

  • Make sure child car seats are properly attached before you set off, on average 75% of child car seats are improperly installed, which is a shocking statistic. Your local garage will usually check and properly install child car seats
  • Bring plenty of water. Keep yourself and your kids hydrated, and bring extra water for any unintentional ‘detours’
  • Car travel can make you and your kids drowsy. A selection of high energy snacks will keep everyone’s blood sugar high and provide much-needed boosts when you stop and explore
  • Pack an emergency car kit (containing a reflective hazard sign, jumper cables and spare fuses)
  • Overstock your first aid kit; it pays to be cautious. You know what you need for your family, but essentials include: band aids, crepe bandages, hypoallergenic skin tape, antiseptic spray, instant ice-pack, travel sickness bands
  • Bring a powerful torch
  • Bring a spare (charged) battery or battery extender for your mobile device
  • Bringing a road atlas with the route marked is also highly advisable, even if you have a Sat Nav
  • Remember to bring sunscreen and bug repellent

Preventing nausea and travel sickness

Travel sickness affects many of us, and the symptoms are truly awful; clammy skin, dizziness and nausea to name just a few. Travel sickness has the potential to stop a road trip dead in its tracks.

There is good news, though! There are many effective ways to mitigate or prevent the symptoms of travel sickness:

Woman in car wearing Sea-Band

  • Remain still, try and move your head as little as possible, use a pillow if necessary to maintain stability and comfort
  • Reading or looking at screens can often exacerbate motion sickness symptoms during road travel. An effective remedy is to stare at a distant stable point, such as the horizon, or close your eyes (not advisable if you’re the driver!)
  • Winding down the windows and breathing deep can have a huge impact on feelings of travel sickness. In general, deep and regular breathing can help hugely to abate feelings of travel sickness. If it helps you maintain slow steady breathing, count each breath in your head, or put on some relaxing music
  • Remain calm! Anxiety only exacerbates the symptoms of travel sickness
  • Changing seating during the trip can help refresh everybody or even better if travelling with another family – swapping/changing a couple of family members. This is especially helpful for car-sick children, as they focus on the new environment, which removes the car-sick focus
  • Bringing some sick bags just in case is always a good idea too, there’s nothing to lose, and the peace of mind can actually reduce the anxious symptoms of travel sickness
  •  Make sure to bring supplements, food or drinks containing ginger with you on your trip! Ginger has been shown to have beneficial effects on feeling of travel sickness and nausea
  • Wear a Sea-Band Acupressure wristband. We’re biased, of course, however, Sea-Band has been proven to reduce the effects of nausea and travel sickness, and has absolutely no side effects such as drowsiness, which is a regular effect of an anti-nausea medication. This means that it’s safe not only for adults but for little road trippers as well

Packing the essentials

Here are a few items which can make or break a road trip:

  • If the kids are at that age then bring a potty along. This gives you piece of mind and makes toilet stops a breeze and not a stressful panic
  • It’s not ideal and we advise against it, but it is sometimes unavoidable to drive at night. Bringing pillows and even a small blanket or duvet can be a huge help in creating a comfortable environment for your children, meaning they have more chance of getting a proper sleep, so you won’t be stuck with a wide-awake toddler at 3am!
  • Bring something physical for the kids to play with during rest breaks, such as a skipping rope or small ball, so they burn off their energy. Also regularly stop at places where they can run around, like parks and beaches

Games to play on the road

Eye-spy can only last so long! Making sure you have plenty of other options to keep the little ones occupied during the long drives can be the difference between road trip heaven and hell; here are just a few tips for games and activities you can bring with you:

Young girl in car with dad during a road trip

  • An in-car DVD player or a tablet with some of the kids’ favourite shows on, can keep them occupied for hours at a time
  • A few of you and your children’s’ favourite audio books, to soothe and relax on long trips
  • Travel versions of board games are a great way to pass the time, scrabble and battleships, for example, are time-tested favourites
  • A tablet with a selection of apps is even better; all the fun of a board game, but with no small pieces that can go flying everywhere and roll under your seat. It’s possible to get apps for almost any game you can think of, from Chess to Angry Birds
  • One great way to keep the kids interested during a long journey is to give them a small printout of the route, and let them follow the journey themselves. They can look for towns or landmarks along the way, and it not only keeps the kids distracted, it also teaches them about geography and lets them feel part of the journey

How to travel

Travelling by car is not the only option available. If you’re thinking about a long trip or want a bit more space, travelling by motorhome or with a caravan may be your answer. Read on, and decide if an RV is for you:

Pro’s of RV travel

  • Travelling with a caravan/RV means your accommodation is always with you. Paying for accommodation can be one of the largest expenses during a trip, and you can never be sure about the quality of accommodation you will receive, but when your hotel room is with you on the road, you won’t have that problem
  • You can stay anywhere you want. Within reason, that is! A caravan/RV provides a huge amount of freedom with regards to where to spend the night, which means that you can be more spontaneous
  • A caravan or motorhome gives you the ability to take far more items with you on your trip. Meaning you won’t start to miss the little creature comforts of your home. The extra space also means you can bring more along to keep children occupied and calm

Con’s of RV travel

  • Sure you have more space than in a car, but after a few days of travelling and living in the same place, an RV can start to feel very small!
  • An RV or a car with a caravan or trailer attached won’t be able to travel as far or as fast as a car on its own. This means the itinerary cannot be as large or complex in the same amount of time, but if you just want to relax and enjoy the feeling of being on the open road, that’s not so important

Starfish on the beach

Remember; wherever you’re travelling and however you decide to get there, enjoy the journey not just the destination! With these tips, you’ll be prepared for an exciting and safe family road trip adventure.

Do you have any great family road trip tips that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

How does Sea-Band work?

Sea-Band acupressure band can help to relieve nausea symptoms without any need for medication or expensive treatments. The Sea-Band works by applying a continuous pressure on the P6 (or Nei-Kuan) point using a plastic stud. It has been proven that pressure on this point relieves nausea and vomiting.

Sea-Bands have been used successfully on both adults and children as young as two years of age.

Buy Sea-Band Family Pack (2 x adult + 2 x child)

Sea-Band Family Pack
Sea-Band is a natural, drug-free band made from knitted elastic that provides effective relief from nausea. This pack includes Sea-Band nausea remedy bands for the whole family (two adults and two children). Shop now.