Often when I am talking about our family travels with my friends or colleagues, they listen with smile to start with, and then usually their eyes are becoming wider and wider, and some even ending up their mouth opened very widely. This is usually a reaction to my description of how did we get to the holiday destination. Well… we usually drive to wherever we want to go and spend the holidays. I feel like people are seriously in shock that you can actually DRIVE outside the UK. I guess we live in times where everyone can just jump in to the plane and get to another European country within two/three hours, and it is not that expensive. So why do we drive? It takes ages and it is often stressful and uncomfortable. And sometimes it is even more expensive. There is few answers to that. I like road trips, it reminds me of times when I was a kid and I was travelling with my family or in the bus for summer/winter camps. Once we get to the holiday destination we like to explore surrounding areas, it is easier to have a car with you and you can just drive to neighbouring villages and towns. Sure, we could rent a car, but I know my children… they destroy everything they touch… I will not be paying for fixing a rented car! Driving our own car gives us a freedom of movement and let us stay in few different places on the way to the holiday destination. For example as we did this year. On the way to Switzerland we have stopped for a day in small French town Saint-Quentin.
But then… often people ask: “How are you doing this?”. Our children are super active, I often say “radioactive”. Our youngest is autistic, he struggles with concentrating for longer periods and cannot really sit in one place for longer that 30 – 40 minutes… Unless, you have a trick! So what is our trick? For most parents the answer will be Ipad/tablet/smartphone/laptop etc. But, oh no! Not for us! Not for the Sting Family! We refuse to occupy them with electronic devices during the our road-trips. Not like we have anything against those devices. Oh no! We are simple family, we are not the most gadget-y people. We simply do not owe these devices. I do have a smartphone but it must be free just in case i need to check the traffic report.
Do not make me wrong! It is not easy, and there is no “magic trick” to solve all problems. They will shout, they will fall out, they will argue, they will ask for a toilet breaks, they will be loosing every single little piece of toy or pen under our seats while we driving on the motorway and cannot stop because next services are in 50 miles. Then they will throw a tantrum because mummy cannot reach for the damn little thing!
To keep them occupied we usually take their favourite toys, lots of activity books, reading books, pencils (of course!), sleep masks and travel pillows and loads of food and drinks, sometimes even those not the most healthy ones. This years winners were the activity books I have found on amazon (links below the post). Especially Math Coloring book for Minecrafters. Originally bought for Flower but eventually Hurricane also ended up using it. Our Flower loves numbers, loves maths, and his favourite game is Minecraft. He also likes to do pixel colouring. Win, win, win! This book contains an easy tasks where the child has to do simple maths equations and colour the boxes in adequate colour to reveal the full picture. This book saves us lots of “are we there yet” questions.
Now… warning! Beware of the children suddenly go too quiet. Too quiet is never good! When ours go “too quiet” it is usually followed by mum taking the picture and a nervous laugh. It means they suddenly asleep (less common with older children) or they are into something mischievous, like drawing on their faces.
Another thing to be mindful of is type of food you are introducing to your children during the road-trip. Make sure it is not too sticky, trust me, I know what I am talking about! Also… make sure the children know how to use the activity books with stickers, otherwise the little sticky stuff will end up in somebody’s hair!
Lastly, the most important item every parent should have within the reach. SCOTCH TAPE! Can make miracles when you are really tired and the kids just will not give up. Works well at home too!
Links (paid) to products mentioned in this post.