How to survive a family road trip
My dog has no nose; how does it smell? TERRIBLE!
Welcome to the long road trip as it exists in our family.
Such an event always involves brainwashing: training our daughter to like proper music rather than us having to put up with kiddy songs. (She doesn’t know The Wiggles could be played in the car, instead believing that The Beatles and Jack Johnson are the best choices.) Getting her excited about things like beautiful views and reading road signs. And my husband teaching her lots and lots of ‘dad jokes’, and making her believe that they’re actually funny.
She’s three. She’ll learn - we’re just savouring the moments until she does.
Read all the tips you like about surviving long periods of time in the car together, but I believe there are really only two types of family road trips: peaceful or entertaining.
I admit to not having much experience with the former, which would usually involve things like car DVD players, iPads and handheld games. This is the type of trip often chosen by older kids, and indeed a version of the option I chose as a kid - but back then it was all about reading to avoid the boredom. My Dad used to urge us to get our noses out of our books and look around; meanwhile Mum, my sister and I were so involved with the characters in our books we only vaguely acknowledged that he had spoken.
Right now, our family road trips are of the entertaining variety, which involves much more work on the part of the adults in the car.
My husband and I love to drive, and we’ve been known to spend days upon days in the car. It isn’t unheard of for us to do the twelve-hour drive from Melbourne to Sydney, just for the weekend. If we have nothing planned for a day we’ll often jump in the car, without a thought for preparation, and drive to wherever the mood takes us. And we go four-wheel-driving regularly, which means we can spend an entire day in the car just to end up a couple of hours from home.
This is where the challenge comes in. How to occupy children for those long haul drives?
My answer is usually, well, not much (see above where I mention I usually don’t plan well for these occasions). Although we’re often out exploring, I’m also a fan of kids finding their own amusement and having the space to find out what they like. Road trips are perfect for this.
A typical day in the car for us is surprisingly devoid of toys or electronics - the very things that would ensure a peaceful trip where we could sit back and relax. Our drives are more about imaginary games, a bit of drawing, I spy games, music, lots and lots of conversation, and plenty of time spent scouring our brains for new ideas.
Not to mention the stops, which are often a highlight as we desperately try to find somewhere for our little girl to run around. A stop while four-wheel-driving, for example, usually involves raincoats, gumboots and lots of mud. A stop on another road trip will be at a playground or somewhere else suitable for expelling some energy.
So, the entertaining variety of road trip? Yes, it can be tiring. Yes, sometimes I wish for some peace. And yes, we have a lot of fun.
In true road trip style, allow me to finish with one more lame joke.
Why did the banana go to the doctor? Because it wasn’t peeling well!
What are road trips like in your family? Any tips for those of us who never quite get around to planning ahead?
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