10 top tips to get ready for a family road trip

With winter and spring out the way, it’s time to enjoy the summer and the warmer temperatures that come with it. That means planning day trips and breaks with the family to enjoy the summer sun. It will also involve travelling together by car, so to help you avoid the journey becoming too stressful or unmanageable, here are 10 top tips to get ready for a family road trip.

1. Stock up on refreshments

Being in a car on a long journey with your nearest and dearest will test even the most patient of people. But having a good supply of refreshments for the journey will go a long way to make things less stressful. If you buy in bulk, anything that isn’t finished it can always be used later that day when you arrive at the destination. Try to avoid buying sweet snacks and fizzy drinks, as this will perk people up very quickly, before causing a sugar crash later. Things like fruit, water and sandwiches will stay in your system longer and provide a much-needed boost of energy while driving.

2. Set your departure time

If you are going on a very long trip (over 10 hours), then it may make more sense to drive overnight. This works particularly well for families with young kids, as they can sleep in the back through most of the journey – hopefully! If both parents drive, they can share the drive and take nap breaks in between. Make sure you get some rest before you go, as driving at night requires more attention, especially when fatigue kicks in. Alternatively, you might decide to leave at the crack of dawn to miss the traffic. This also requires you to get enough sleep beforehand, as tiredness can kick in if you are not used to driving so early.

3. Pack emergency supplies

When you are travelling with children, especially those of a younger age, it pays to have extra supplies, ready to deal with any emergencies or accidents along the way. This could be anything from bringing additional nappies and changes of clothes, as well as water bottles and plastic bags for food rubbish (or even travel sickness). If the family pet is coming along, don’t forget to pack water, food and a comfortable harness so they do not cause any distractions. In general, having wipes, towels and hand sanitiser is always a good idea when going on a long trip, so any mess can be quickly cleared up.

4. Charge your electrical devices

This includes portable chargers, as this will be the only way to boost the battery of any type of electrical device while on the journey. If you are not driving you’ll probably turn to your phone, tablet, laptop or e-reader to keep yourself entertained. Batteries can be quickly drained, and with only one or two charging slots usually available in any car, you need to make sure your devices are fully charged before you leave. It’s a small detail, but an important one if you want to while away some time during the trip – and keep the kids happy.

5. Allow enough time to get there

It seems like an obvious statement to make, but timing is everything when it comes to avoiding stress and frustration on a family road trip. As we mentioned above, leaving early could help you avoid any unnecessary delays, but you should also use a map app or sat nav that can suggest alternative routes should you run into traffic. No doubt you would’ve planned the journey before you have left, but build in another 60 minutes for any unplanned stoppages or tailbacks you might get caught in. If the map tells you it will take 4 hours to reach your destination from home, chances are there will be unforeseen incidents that will add some time to that. By keeping one step ahead, you can avoid getting worried about arriving late.

6. Play some games

Keeping your head stuck in a phone or iPad for too long is never healthy for kids or adults. Families rarely get the chance to spend time together in one room, aside from breakfast or dinner, so a long car journey can be a good time to have some fun together. There are a number of silly games that can be played: • Counting games – it can be anything from animals in the field, to colours of the cars you are driving past. Set a limit, so the first person who reaches it wins. Then simply pick something else and start again. • I Spy – the age-old game that kids never tire of playing. It’s a good way of providing a bit of education to younger children, as they learn more about the world around them – killing two birds with one stone. • Card games – Cards are a great item to bring on a road trip as there are lots of games that can be played along the way. You can also play cards while on holiday, either in your hotel room or in the local pub, so are perfect for keeping kids entertained all week long.

7. Plan stops and breaks

The driver will need to give their eyes and concentration levels a reset to remain focused on the road, while everyone else will also appreciate a break to stretch their legs. It makes more sense to plan these before you leave, rather than figuring it out as you go along. This also allows you to find more interesting places to stop other than service stations next to the motorway. You can stop anywhere, from picnic spots next to lakes and large parks, or in small homely villages. Children will have a lot of pent up energy to burn off, and it will help parents remain calmer when back in the car if the kids are relaxed and tired.

8. Calm children’s curiosity

One of the most painful questions any parent can hear on a road trip is ‘are we there yet?’ Chances are, it won’t only be asked just once, as most kids do not understand just how far you are travelling. The good news is there is a way this can be avoided. You can play games with them (as suggested above) or teach them how to use the map. It’s a life skill they will always need, and you can turn it into a fun educational game by showing them different places around the world (using an electronic device would be easier for this).

9. Make a playlist

Whether you still prefer to use CDs or want to stream music from your phone, putting together a track list for the car adds some fun and entertainment to the journey. This should be a list that reflects everyone’s tastes, no matter their age, so the whole family can make suggestions. It’s inevitable you’ll lose the signal of your favourite local station the further you travel from home, and rather than fiddling around trying to find a new one, put together a nice, long list of songs that everyone can enjoy.

10. Keep the car clean

With all the extra food and paraphernalia you’ll need to bring along, your car can become very messy. While parents will try to keep as much as possible in a plastic bag for rubbish, even that can pile up quickly, and on a hot day, it might not emit the best of odours. When you make a planned stop, clear up as much as possible into the bag(s) and dispose of the rubbish so the car looks and feels a little fresher again.

Our favourite family-friendly cars

We are often asked by customers for advice on the best family car to lease. Of course, it all comes to individual requirements and available budgets, but as a starting point, here are some of our favourite family cars currently available at Leasing Options.

Kia Sportage – KIA’s best selling model in the UK ticks all the right boxes for families. Choose between petrol, diesel or a mild hybrid, along with extras including a reversing camera, hill descent control, automatic lights and wipers, plus much more.

Seat Leon – Improved security in this new generation model adds to its appeal, with many features remaining as they were in previous releases. There’s up to 1,210 litres of storage available if needed, making it easy to carry larger loads.

Hyundai Tucson – There are four trim grades available with the Tucson, with standard features including lane keep assist, rear camera and smart device integration. It’s a well-regraded SUV that drives exceptionally well, ensuring a smooth journey for the family.