9 secrets to surviving a road trip with your kids

Doing a road trip with the brood need not be a nightmare when you’re armed with our timely tips.

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Ready for a quick jaunt up north to Legoland, or setting your sights on the Great Ocean Road in Australia?

You have access to plenty of incredible self-drive holiday ideas that’ll suit your family. Doing a road trip with the kids can be lots of fun, too, if you’re prepared!

Of course, the last thing you want your family vacation to turn into is a chorus of “Are we there yet?”, or having to make a pit stop every 10 minutes because someone wants to use the restroom.

So, plan a stress-free road trip with our tips.

1. Separate the essentials

Aimee Chan, founder of Suitcases and Strollers suggests that you separately place items like diapers, wet wipes, spare clothes and food into easy-to-reach containers or bags. If you do this, you won’t find yourself frantically digging through a large suitcase for that packet of dried fruit, or for wipes to clear up messes.

2. Disposable bags

These are an absolute must-have for any road trip. Bring along several biodegradable plastic bags for storing used diapers. The car may get stinky (yikes!) if you can’t find a bin. These are also handy for other messes you need to clean up, particularly if your little ones tend to get car sick.

Separately place items like diapers, wet wipes, spare clothes and food into easy-to-reach containers or bags.

3. Breaks

Plan your meal stops and toilet breaks ahead of time. Chan suggests stopping at the very minimum, once every two hours ― to stretch and get some fresh air.

But think beyond rest stops. If you find a kid-friendly park complete with a play area and a slide that’s along your route, go for that, instead of the regular bathroom stops. Your kids will be delighted! So, grab your map and figure out where to take these breaks.

4. Pack entertainment

Banish backseat boredom by hanging a few soft toys around the car seat. For older toddlers, offer crayons and colouring sheets, or books. You can even play road trip games like “I spy with my little eye”. Here are more ideas.

For younger babies, download some gentle baby music on your smartphone ― but make sure that its music that everyone can tolerate, says Chan.

And if there’s any time to bend those rules about screens, now may be it. Said mum of three Serene Chiam, who drove to Malacca with her family last December, “It took about four hours, since we had to break quite often. We downloaded all my 2-year-old’s favourite videos on the iPad…and thank goodness we did! She would have been so cranky otherwise.”

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5. Sanitisers

When you’re on a road trip, you won’t always enjoy the luxury of being able to wash your hands immediately. So, whether you’ve just changed a diaper or wiped away your tot’s spit up, hand sanitisers can get you through to the next rest stop.

6. Bring a first-aid kit

While this kit doesn’t have to be as complete as the one you have at home, do include the basics. This include Band-Aids, pain relievers for each member of the family, and any specific medication every member of the family requires.

Don’t forget sunscreen. Junior may be exposed to UV rays as these can pass through the car’s windows for extended periods of time.

Anything melty or gooey is a definite no-no in the car.

7. Things to avoid

Don’t give your unsupervised baby any food while on the move, Chan cautions. If he’s unsupervised, he could choke on rusks, or hard foods.

When packing your snacks, think about what will work, and what won’t. Let your tot have chunky cereal bars, instead of a box of cereal or a packet of raisins. You don’t want to have to bend over, hunting for every little bit of food he dropped during a bumpy ride. Anything melty or gooey is a definite no-no in the car.

8. Get your car checked

The whole concept of a self-drive holiday is that you’ll need to rely on your car. So, if you’re using your own vehicle, make sure you pop by the mechanic to give it a once-over. Make sure your brakes are working well, the tyres are in good shape and the oil is topped up. Nothing sounds worse than having engine trouble when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with a carload of kids.

9. Timing matters

An tired and uncomfortable kid is a cranky one. So, keep your child’s meal- and sleep times in mind while planning your route. Factor in nursing stops if you’re breastfeeding.

Plan your drive at night if your peewee has difficulty falling asleep in the car in the day, says Chan. If he is not a settled sleeper, the motion of the moving car might keep him sleeping for longer.

This story was adapted from an article published in in the September 2014 issue of Mother & Baby Singapore.

Photos: iStock

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