We have made a few trips to my home town of Mildura recently and I have collated a little check list of the essential items that we must have for the long drive.
(1). Healthy Food.
I like to make a food pack for each child so they can eat when they feel hungry. I find that if the kids eat junk food while travelling their behaviour deteriorates, so I try to keep the food as healthy as possible. I generally make homemade treats, so at least I know they are not preservative and additive laden.
The additional positives to packing our own food is that it is much cheaper and it gives us much greater flexibility with regard to stopping. My little ones tend to wake once the car stops so if they are sleeping, we just keep going, if the others are hungry they can eat from their pack.
(2). Water (Lots)
It is amazing how thirsty you can get sitting in a car. I will fill around four large water bottles and then use them on the trip to refill the children’s individual drink bottles if they need it.
(3). Mini First Aid Kit
For us this includes simple items like band aids, Panadol, Dimetapp, Clarantyne and tissues. I have had to use some of the medicines on occasion, so prefer to have them packed in a handy to access place in the car. If we don’t use them in the car, we may need them when we arrive at our destination at some point.
(4). Wet Face Washers
I also put one of these with the children’s food packs. Fruit can often be sticky and you need something wet to clean little hands and faces.
(5). Children’s Activities
At the end of my very long post about Planning For the Easter Holidays you will find links to a number of different sites to print out children’s activities. They span for kids aged 2 to 9.
I have also created one of my own, which is called Spot The Sign Game. The children simply put a stroke near all the things that they see during a defined time period. Initially when I did this I just let it run, but found it runs out of steam if there is no purpose.
Now we agree on a time frame for observing items. We will choose one sheet at a time. Each child nominates what they think will be the most and least popular items that we spot.
By setting up the game in this way, we can have a couple of sessions through out the trip and maintain the children’s interest. The below link is the word document of this game which you can download and edit for your trip.
(6). Audio Books and CDs
So far I have resisted the temptation to purchase a portable DVD player and we still rely on the CD player as a source of entertainment. We also compile playlists on my iPhone and play those through out the trip as well.
We have a rotation system, where every one has a choice and keep taking it in turns until we arrive at our destination. I compiled a list of my favourite audio books here and be sure to check the comments as well. There were some fabulous suggestions made by readers.
(7). Secret Stash
This flies in the face of point one above, but I always like to have a stash of emergency treats if all seems to be on the edge of falling apart. Small packets of chips or tiny teddies work well for us and there is no melting possibility which is also good.
To be honest this one is probably for me more than the kids. Their flexible little bodies don’t seem to stiffen like mine does if I fall asleep in the wrong position.:) But I think the kids do find them comforting as well.
(9). Small Sheet or Towel
This item has a dual purpose:
- We don’t have shaded windows, so it can be wedged in the window to block out sun if it is annoying any of the children.
- Thankfully even though I suffered badly from travel sickness as a child, my children do not. We have encountered a gastro sickness though when travelling, so to have a towel or other cloth item to clean up mess is incredibly helpful.
(10). A Flexible Attitude
When we travelled as a child from Mildura to Melbourne, we would have one very quick stop in the 6 hour drive and that was it. The drive was just that a drive to get from A to B.
We tend to make ours more like a journey, stopping where needed (this is determined by the level of whining/fighting etc!!!) at local parks to let the kids stretch their legs and have a play. We have created many great memories from our stops along the Calder Highway.
Once we reload everyone into the car, I find that we are all refreshed and in better spirits.
What tips do you have to ensure a fun and safe car trip?