June 27, 2017 at 6:15 PM
With summer here at last, we can finally load the kids into the camper van or motorhome, and get out for the action and adventures that memories are made of. Of course, any long journey can throw up a few challenges, particularly when you have the added dimensions of driving a larger vehicle, getting hot and bothered in the summer weather, and contending with the boredom threshold of children.
Here are some survival tactics to keep the family safe and smiling on your travels. Bon voyage!
If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail! Make a list of what you will need, both on the road and at your destination. Things such as water and snacks should be obvious, but also check that your phone is with you and fully charged. A few emergency essentials such as a first aid set, blanket, torch and hi-vis jacket should also be part of your basic travel kit.
Stow them safely
A merchant sea captain once remarked that passenger ships are the most trouble, because they are the only vessels on which the cargo moves around by itself. Much the same can be said for travelling on four wheels.
Whatever the seating layout in your motorhome, bear in mind that under-threes need to be in an appropriate child restraint, and every passenger needs to be strapped in safely. Make sure that everyone is comfortable before you start moving.
Also check that all your luggage and other bits and bobs are stowed properly. The last thing you need is for things to be falling on the kids the first time you step on the brakes or turn a corner.
Keep them amused
Staring out of the windows or seeing who can count the most Volvos will only keep the youngsters entertained for so long. Have some suitable distractions within reach – tablets are perfect for the job as they can be used for both gameplay and watching videos. Just make sure that the kids have headphones – the idea is to distract the children, not the driver.
Even when it's only adults travelling, the recommendation is to stop for a break and a leg stretch every two hours. With kids on board, it is absolutely essential. If you are travelling by motorway, this could mean some advance planning as there are certain stretches that go on for miles between service areas.
Regular stops help to keep your trip the pleasure it is supposed to be, rather than a chore. The children can have a good run around to release some energy, and you can stop staring at the road for a while and have a relaxing cup of coffee.
Keeping the peace
In spite of the best preparations, there is no disputing that kids are kids, and there is still the possibility of World War Three breaking out in the back while you are driving along the M62. This is when it is ideal to have another adult with you, but if you are the sole referee, then resist the temptation to turn around in your seat to try to sort it out while you are driving. The best plan is to find a safe place to stop and insist that the warring parties have to resolve their differences before the vehicle can turn another wheel.