In the name of Good Carma and because eye-spy can only get you so far before the teasing, seatbelt-restrained monsters replace your once beautiful offspring, we have taken it upon ourselves to curate the ultimate road-tripping checklist for adults’ sanity and kids’ entertainment.
FOR THE ADULTS:
1. Set up a loose itinerary. Know where you might want to crash for a night or how long is too long. This is essential particularly if this is a solo trip.
2. Decide on your navigation techniques. Have back-ups, batteries die and technology fails. Look at websites that help with this, Roadtrippers is a great reference when looking for Natural wonders, hotels or even just plain weird stuff. Most cars will have infotainment interfaces that have audio playback, navigation, and in-car apps when behind the wheel. The most popular at the moment is the Toyota Entune, along with Audi’s MMI system for navigation.
3. Know your vehicle. This feels obvious, but before you hit the open road check if your indicators, lights, horn, windshield wipers, brakes, transmission fluid, antifreeze, tires and oil are all in working order.
4. Please have the essentials: a first aid kit, toolbox and all your emergency numbers. Make sure you have roadside recovery and a print out of your emergency numbers as your phone might die.
5. Enjoy your car’s perks. All cars today have music players and most have Bluetooth, load up all your music or podcasts and enjoy the comforts of today’s vehicles. Adjust the seat to suit your body, warm up your seat or keep the car cool while you venture from mountaintops to valleys.
FOR THE ‘KIDS’:
1. Embrace technology. Think audio books, tablets, laptops and smartphones. Audio books can save the day during a long trip. Starting at about age 3, most kids can follow an advanced storyline, and the selection is big enough to satisfy all tastes. Or give them individual portable audio players with headphones, allowing you and the other adults some time to chat or rock out.
2. Get creative. Stock up on white boards and dry-ease pens, they are perfect for kids who get agitated sitting for a long time. They can draw, play tic-tac-toe, hangman, or write notes to each other. Magnetized letters, numbers, and shapes can also buy some time. Or you can indulge in the classics with crayons, markers, a trip notebook, instant film cameras, and silly putty (watch your seats).
3. Not into tech? Make sure you have books, magazines, and comics (keep out of the hands of your motion-sick kids).
4. Family interaction. Enlarge and laminate photos of the family so that the kids can make silly drawings on each other’s faces, this keeps the mood light and time flying. For older kids print a list of items to spot along the journey so that they can cross them off, becoming an expert scavenger hunter.
Most importantly set expectations, reward good behavior, let the kids have a say, and always stop to smell the roses.