There is nothing better than traveling with kids, exploring the natural world and experiencing a range of cultures. It literally makes them better little people and can create an awesome close family.
We love a good adventure and with five kids we do A LOT of road trips as we can very rarely afford to fly. I have had so many people surprised how long we drive for a good surf trip or ski trip and how good our kids are in the car. If anything they like road trips and it’s all part of the experience…mainly because that is all they know…bless…poor little dudes.
We will easily drive to Devon (4 hours) on a Friday after school for a weekend surf trip, camp out, and then return Sunday afternoon. Every year we drive to Europe, sometimes twice, to either the south of France for surfing or Switzerland or Austria for climbing and skiing. (18-20 hours) We do three or four day-trips a year down to London. (2 hours) A couple of years ago we even did a flash trip all around Scotland in three days.
Here are some of my top tips for getting kids in tiptop traveling shape!
Don’t go for that cross country or 18 hour drive to Switzerland right off that bat. Start with loads of small day trips, even morning trips. Make some trips planned and include the kids with maps and facts about the adventure. Others have as a spontaneous trip and surprise them with a day out to somewhere new!
Have a grab bag!
Organise a bag full of colouring books, markers, car games, small toys, sunglasses and other fun things that will help with car journeys or even restaurants. (NO electronic games, tablets or phones!…they suck…and change kids into little anti-social turds…but that’s a whole other blog in its self!)
Have this bag or bags, make sure there is one per kid, ready to go, always packed and ONLY for the car, so that it stays special.
Play in the car, I Spy, 20 Questions, the License plate Game, The Vicar’s Cat, Mad LIPS…you get the idea. Have a road trip play list of favourite or destination appropriate songs.
Be present and involved with the road trip. The more excited you are the better it is for everyone!
Make a List.
One of the road trip traditions in my family are check lists or challenge lists for all! This is one of those things that my older kids joke about how cheesy it is but deep down love it and get involved in spite of themselves. Make them funny and applicable to the journey. Have a check list of landmarks or funny cultural things that they might see on the way. Have some slightly weird or embarrassing challenges involving places you pass, cultural landscapes and local food.
Some of our examples over the years are: ‘take a selfie with a highland cow, order an entire meal using only French and pee in a European roadside toilet…they are called ‘Footprints’…if you have never used one you are missing a real treat…google if you have no idea what I’m on about. Some trips I have gone all out and had the time to print out sheets with photos and all, other more spontaneous adventures I have just sketched one out on a sheet of A4. You have to get involved too and make it fun. You can also have a reward or prize for the completion of list.
Remember that the perfect family trip that is in your head may or may not happen. If you are stressed with making this happen and getting all these priceless photos then I can guaranty you will be a hot mess.
Be as mellow as your personality can allow and be ok with the change of plans. Ultimately remember that the main point is to get your kids out and experiencing something new and different and most importantly exploring TOGETHER.