Investing in the Road Trip
Whether the kids in the backseat are 6 or 16, the feeling of being ‘dragged along for the ride’ is highly disempowering. Without a sense of choice or control on their side, kids will rightfully be unwilling to engage and participate in the memorable family experiences that road trips are supposed to offer.
Involve the kids in both the planning stages and the day-to-day happenings of the holiday to avoid resentment that gets transferred to the holiday itself. This allows kids to see what is actually in it for them, turning their feelings of dread with anticipation for what’s ahead. Take into account what their feedback is during planning and accommodate their requests as often as sensibility allows, as this will remind them that it’s their holiday too.
The best way to do this is to give them their own map with the trip outlined, and show them what the itinerary looks like so they can see what attractions they can visit.
Entertainment & Stimulation
Few things are worse for any kid on a travel holiday than being trapped within the confines of a car for days on end. Break up the monotony and avoid a restless back (and front) seat with numerous stops at interesting locations. Lookouts, historic sites, museums, ruins and unique landscapes offer a distinct change of scenery for the whole family, letting everyone recharge while sharing some truly unique experiences for the family memory bank. Remember to try to evenly allocate the time between driving, rests, meals and recreation in a cookie-cutter routine if possible, so there are no unexpected surprises to sour the mood in the backseat.
For the time in the car, make sure the kids pack enough books, recreational games and technology to stimulate them. Consider an audio book as something for everyone to listen to while you’re travelling. Without the risk of carsickness from staring at a page or screen, and with a certain level of imagination needed to engage in the story, audio books are a great way to pass the time meaningfully as a family, and are easier to purchase, download and listen to with the rise of online media stores like iTunes.
Turning Negatives into Positives
Keeping the bad vibes to a minimum on the next family road trip means overcoming cabin fever, keeping everyone engaged in the aspects outside of travelling, and ensuring everyone gets what they want out of the trip. With these goals in mind, the negatives so often associated with family travel can actually transform into positives for both parents and kids alike: learning to respect and live in close quarters with loved ones, acquiring an intimate historical, geographical and natural understanding of the beautiful country we live in, and experiencing things that are completely new to everyone as a family unit. If these tips don’t convince you that your next holiday should be a family road trip, just ask yourself the question: who doesn’t have great memories of taking family travel holidays as a kid?