My expectations on holidays have taken quite the nose dive since becoming a parent. Years of travel have left me as quite a confident traveller personally and yet, the thought of taking two tiny tots on a flight fills me with a certain kind of fear. How will we deal with mid-air meltdowns? Will we end up delayed? And most importantly, how on earth will we get everything we need in to a couple of suitcases!?
Suddenly, a road trip seems quite appealing. As a parent, I’ve always discounted them because, well, car naps only last an hour or so and having done many a trip with a screaming child strapped in behind me, I live in constant fear of the ‘awake in the car’ scenario. But, the more I think about it, the more sensible a long car journey seems compared to a flight. It could even become a little holiday in it’s own right (she says, naively!). I can almost hear your shouts to the contrary already but hear me out; here’s why road tripping with kids is actually a good idea.
1. It’s Just You
Whilst being strapped into an enclosed space with your children may sound like one of Dante’s circles of hell, look at the positives here; it’s just you. There’s no need to worry if they decide to sing Happy Birthday at the top of their voice on a constant loop. There’s no fear of judgement if you ply them with constant sweets. There’s not even a need to panic when you have to go into shouty parent mode because *Would you just STOP throwing your drink bottle at your sister!* the only people who can hear you are your family and you’re yelling at them. Think of the car as a safe space. It may leave you feeling frazzled but you’ll be far less frazzled than if you were trying to battle a toddler tantrum mid-air with an audience.
2. You Can Be Flexible
I’m not one of life’s punctual people. But if there’s one person who’s worse than me, it’s my husband. So getting out of the door on time as a couple is hard enough, let alone doing it with two children. But that’s the beauty of a road trip, you’re not subject to the same time constraints as you would be with a flight. There’s no pressure to be anywhere at a precise time (most of the time at least!) so if you need to do another round of nappy checks prior to leaving, it doesn’t matter. In fact, you can leave at bedtime if you want to and let them sleep the entire trip. The choice is entirely yours.
3. You’re In Control Of Your Own ‘Pre-Flight Checks’
There’s nothing more frustrating than having a delayed flight because of a problem with the pre-flight checks, especially when you’ve already boarded. But with a car journey, you’re really in charge of your own ‘pre-flight’ checks which you can do prior to loading any luggage or family members. Aside from ensuring your fluid levels are topped up, before any long car journey you should also check your tyres to ensure they’re both safe and legal. That means (prepare yourself for some #tyreknowledge here) ensuring there’s no damage to them, that they’re properly inflated and that there’s at least the legal minimum of 1.6mm of tread left on them. If you’re not quite sure, check out this handy guide from TyrePlus.
Part of your ‘pre-flight’ checklist includes knowing what to do and whom to contact in case of an accident or emergency. Before you embark on your epic adventure, look up the location of local medical services both en route to and at your destination. This way, if you lose service on your smartphone and an emergency occurs, you will know where to go. In addition, it is handy to jot down contact information for towing services and a car accident lawyer should the unfortunate occur. It’s always best to be prepared.
4. You Can Take Breaks
You can’t hop off a plane half way through to ‘burn off some energy’ but that’s the beauty of a road trip; you can stop as many times as you like. I’m not talking about bouncing from one service station to the next (although that’s probably going to happen), I’m talking about proper stops. Why not pop in to a National Trust garden on the way? Or find a pub garden to have lunch in? Break your journey up into manageable chunks with interesting stops along the route. And by interesting, I mean anywhere that has a toilet, a cafe and a huge open space to attempt to exhaust them.
5. You Can Bring The Kitchen Sink
Children are tiny. But for tiny people they sure need a lot of stuff. In fact, it seems that the smaller they are, the more paraphernalia they need. Buggies, travel cots, clothes, nappies, more clothes just in case the weather changes, toys, snacks… it’s never ending. If you were on a plane ride, you’d be forced to jam that in to a small suitcase but no-one cares about luggage limits in the car. If you can physically fit it in, you can take it. Which means it’s time to crack out those Tetris skills you honed in your youth. Still can’t fit it in? Strap a roof box on. And a trailer. And a roof box on the trailer. There’s no such thing as excess baggage on a road trip.