Over-planning your trips don’t help. Don’t fuss too much over getting every minute detail to perfection. Take a deep breath and focus on enjoying the planning process because this is also a part of the trip that you (and your loved ones) will remember for life, you don’t want them to remember it being stressful! Get your family involved and check out these 10 things that you need to know about taking road trips with family.
1. Safety first, for Everyone
Safety should always be our first priority whether you are traveling by a car or a motorcycle. If you are planning to go with just one other person, then picking a motorcycle over a car is a better idea, both in terms of economy as well as ease of parking the vehicle when you are at the destination. But if there are more members of your family that you would like to take away on the road trip then there is no alternative for a car. Whichever vehicle you choose, make sure to have all the right safety protection equipment and accessories in place. Motorcycle helmets, riding jackets, boots and gloves are important if you are planning to go on a two-wheeler trip, while in the case of a car child safety seats and seat belts are extremely important. Before you start the journey, make sure that you have explained the need for following safety procedures and educate them on how to stay safe on the road.
2. Pack Light, Pack Smart
Irrespective of how much boot space you, never stuff it full with things that you are not going to use anyway. Declutter your life and most importantly cut down on all unnecessary things that you probably feel that you are going to need on the trip but you actually won’t. Unless you seriously need your laptops and other electronic gadgets leave as many of them back at home as possible. If you are into travel videography, you might need your camera and a few additional accessories to capture the videos but do not burden yourself with editing them when you are on the trip. Reduce the amount of clothes you plan to carry. Decide how much and what you are going to need based on the season and weather conditions of your destination. Do not make the mistake of carrying unnecessary things that you can easily purchase at shopping malls and stores along the way to your destination or at the destination itself. In very rare cases you might have to pay a little bit extra, but that is still the better thing to do instead of overloading your vehicle with unnecessary things such as tissue papers, diapers and toilet papers if you have kids in tow. That said, pack enough for the road, not for the entire duration of the journey.
3. Pack Some Snacks
You can always stop your vehicle on the road and buy some snacks for your kids or for yourself, but from experience it is always a good idea to prepare healthy snacks at home, pack them in airtight containers and carry them along with you especially if you have kids with sensitive stomachs. You should not give a lot of sugar-stuffed foods or drinks to your kids because the last thing you want while you are driving on the highway is hyperactive kids jumping in the rear seat! A good idea for healthy snacks is to purchase fresh fruits and cut them in small pieces for your kids to have. Make sure not to keep cut fruits for long durations because that is unhealthy. Reduce the consumption of fluids because that will only increase the frequency of toilet breaks which will easily mess-up the itinerary and create cumulative delays.
4. Be prepared for Simple Health Niggles
Always be prepared for small health problems such as nausea, fever, vomiting, stomach infections and flatulence when you are on the road with kids or the elderly. Also, if you have people over the age of 50 then joint pains might also be a concern that you need to be prepared for. A good way to plan for such health problems in advance is to carry necessary medicines for the problems that you anticipate. In most cases you can easily get medicines from pharmacies and medical stores along the highway but it might not be a bad idea to have a doctor’s prescription with you just in case if you have to purchase some special drugs for your family members.
5. Comfort first, Destination Goals Later
When you are travelling with family the priorities have to change a little to accommodate the people riding along with you instead of you just focusing on your destination goals. Never push your family members beyond their comfort levels just for the sake of achieving goals. Children have very short attention spans and they are usually not comfortable with being inside a car for long durations. If you see them getting antsy and anxious, consider taking a break for a few minutes and see if the situation changes. Talk to them and explain that it will take a little bit longer before reaching the destination. If they are not comfortable with the idea, consider ending the journey for the day and settling down for the night.
6. There is to Substitute for Good Research
Information is extremely important when you are on the highway among strangers. You cannot depend on incomplete or unreliable information especially when the day is about to end and you have not reached your destination yet! Many family trips do not go as well as people expect because they end up in places that do not meet their expectations. There is a ton of information online in traveler forums and other relevant places where you can find a lot of useful things about your upcoming destination. Make sure to read through all of these and find out what other people have experienced previously and then make up your mind on whether you want to visit the destination or do something else instead. However, there is a caveat to that. Abundance of information is available only for popular tourist destinations but if you are planning to go on to a less crowded and relatively less travelled destination, then you are on your own when it comes to gathering information. Speaking from experience, such destinations are best explored alone instead of towing your entire family with you.
7. Plan for Extra Time (no Last-minute Rushes!)
Kids always have last moment needs that you cannot possibly anticipate. Never leave anything to be done at the last moment because chances are that there will be a toilet emergency and you will end up missing your flight! And also, like we mentioned earlier, if your kids are getting antsy and anxious you might have to end the journey a little early for the day which means you will need to put in some extra time the following day to cover up lost time. When planning your itineraries, keep some buffer time in hand just so you don’t find yourself running across the airport, hauling kids and cargo, to catch a flight or driving like crazy to reach the destination before sunset.
8. Cherish your Time Together (Photographs & Videos can wait!)
The purpose of being on a road trip with your family is to enjoy the time together and cherish your memories instead of being stuck behind a mobile phone or a camera! It has become quite common to see people focusing more on their electronic gadgets and less on the people they love. While capturing a few photographs or videos might be a good idea to remember the time, but if you do not have good memories to connect with in the first place, then those photographs or videos will mean nothing.
9. Don’t Lose Sight of Children or the Elderly
Always keep an eye on the children and the elderly in your group because they are usually the first target of miscreants in crowded tourist locations. You do not necessarily have to hold your kid by the hand at all times but don’t make the mistake of taking your eyes off them especially if you are visiting southeast asian countries such as india, or china where the crowd can get quite big and children can easily get lost among unfamiliar faces.
10. Plan for Proper Rest
The physical demand of being on a road trip is usually too much for most people to handle and sleep well after a day’s journey. There has to be enough time for everybody to get their sleep otherwise there is a very strong likelihood that most of them will be dozing off in their seats the following day. When you are at the destination you might want to check out the city’s popular hotspots, so plan in such a way that there is enough time for everybody to go to bed afterwards.
Planning a road trip with your family? Here is everything you need to know to plan for an epic family memory without any fuss. Check out these tips where we cover everything from safety to snacks and everything in between.