Are we there yet?! - Macleans.ca

Are we there yet?!

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Driving vacations are the stuff of family lore – you and your kids will remember your road trip for years to come. But driving the family across country or south for a winter break also comes with a few challenges. Follow our survival strategies and smart advice to make the drive easier and – dare we say – fun!

1. Put together a detailed itinerary
Plan a route that’s as scenic as possible, with regularly-scheduled stops timed for anticipated bathroom breaks, fuel-ups and food purchases. Strategizing around key landmarks will help you check all of the must-sees off your list. And don’t forget to include lots of walking and playground possibilities to wear off restless energy. Older kids can help with research, planning and GPS plotting in the weeks leading up to your trip.

2. Think through the toys
Aquadoodle and magnetic board games are mess-free fun that will help keep little people busy in the backseat. On-board screen time is also a great way to pass the kilometres. Be sure to load the tablets with new games and movies and pack earphones for all your pint-size passengers, to keep the noise level down for the driver. A private stash of inexpensive toys your little one hasn’t seen before can help bridge the gap to your next rest stop. You can also rotate toys, to keep them fresh, by tucking away ones from the beginning of the trip for the final days of the journey, when they’ll be like-new again.

3. Make a game of it
The right toys are key, but will only keep everyone occupied for so long. Adaptable (and long!) sing-along favourites like “Old MacDonald’s Farm” and “The Wheels on the Bus” are great time-fillers for the whole family. You can also play car games like “I Spy” and “The Licence Plate Game” to while away the hours – or minutes!

4. Keep it tidy
When you’re virtually living in the car for a few days, things can get seriously messy. Keep a few rolls of paper towels and packs of wet wipes handy for dealing with the sticky fingers and inevitable spills. Small trash bags in the front and back will help you manage messes as you go. (Be sure to empty them at gas stations when you stop to refuel.)

5. Pack overnight bags
Instead of rooting through all of the suitcases at every stop, pack knapsacks for everyone, containing toiletries, pajamas, a favourite Teddy and enough clothes for a few days at a time. Once you’ve used up what’s in everyone’s overnight bags you can pull out the real luggage and restock. Keeping the car mostly packed will make the stops easier.

6. Rent a larger vehicle
If you drive a smaller car, consider renting a minivan or large SUV for your trip. The extra space will come in handy for bags and elbows alike. Providing everyone with extra room is sure to improve the whole family’s enjoyment of a family road trip!

TIP
Check out DRIVINGFORCE.ca for a wide range of vehicle rental options and locations across the country.

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