The kids have broken up from school and if you are heading out on the roads to take advantage of our amazing summer – you will be joining 14 million other travellers on UK roads. Inevitably some of you will be stuck in traffic jams and if the current heat wave continues you’re going to need some tips and tricks to keep the whole family happy – including the dog! Here are our 10 top tips for those summer holiday journeys!
- Plan Your Journey – It may sound obvious but planning your route makes it easier to make scheduled stops for toilet breaks and food and choose locations where your children (and pets) can let off a bit of steam. Include the children in the planning if possible. Get them thinking about what to look out for en-route and even use some maths and geography skills along the way guessing distances and naming towns and places of interest. Check the route in the morning before you set off for any last-minute road works that have sprung up overnight. The AA Traffic News site is a good starting point. Many people have SatNavs of course, and these are essential for alerting you to traffic problems and make it easy to make route changes.
- Keep kids entertained – they are as bored of I-Spy as you are so get creative. Car Cricket is a good one – devise a scoring system for different colours and vehicles. Maybe pink is a boundary 6 of course, a tractor is LBW. Pub Sign bingo is another favourite if you are travelling in A-roads or off the motorway. You can even get the kids involved in planning this before the trip – doing some research into pub names, making bingo cards or tick charts to play with.
- Technology Saviours – Although we are encouraged to keep tabs on ‘screen time’ a long journey is the perfect time to make use of these gadgets and gizmos. An in-car DVD player will keep kids of all ages entertained if they can watch their favourite Disney movie or teen flick. Don’t be tempted to buy new DVDs – if the kids hate them you’ve lost the advantage. iPads and tablets are great for games in hourly bursts. And don’t forget the classic ‘story CD’ (in dashboard player or via smart phone). The downside – the whole family has to listen to Miranda Richardson pretending to be a 9-year-old boy in Horrid Henry. On the upside this Roald Dahl collection in a tin is wonderful.
- Take snacks – Try to avoid too many sugar laden treats because it can drive your younger passengers a bit ‘Wild”. Satsuma segments or chopped grapes in mini pots – or fun snack bags – can turn fruit into a treat too. Oatcakes are great for filling little tummies without the sugar surge! Keep hydrated – water is best too – avoid sugary, fizzy drinks for the same reasons but also to protect your car upholstery as spillages are inevitable.
- Good old-fashioned radio – Nothing beats a bit of music to drown out the incessant back seat cries of ‘Are We Nearly There Yet”. Choose a station of popular music so you can all sing along or tune into something classical in the hope of inducing some calm into the car
If your ‘family’ includes a dog – you need to prepare and plan for their comfort too. If you are taking any pets on your journey the RSPCA has plenty of useful information.
But here are few ways to pamper those pets.
- If space allows, take your pet’s bed from home. Failing that, some comfy bedding will be appreciated to make them feel more at ease while travelling. For smaller pets a pet carrier is ideal.
- Take plenty of water. There are too many horror stories of dogs who die in hot cars (usually they have been left alone in the car) but make sure your pet has access to water.
- Just like kids, they need to be entertained, so pack a few small toys – a chew toy or one you can fill with dog treats works well. Maybe something new to keep their interest too.
- Talk to your pet – he loves the sound of your voice and it’s comforting to hear from the boot/behind the barrier at the back of the car.
- Plan regular stops – for exercise and ‘calls of nature’