These top tips will help you get through the family road trip

As the school summer holidays are finally upon us, many families across the country will be planning a road trip over the coming weeks according to research from car buying experts, Carzone.ie. A survey was carried out among 366 Irish parents and reveals that three quarters (74%) of Irish families are planning a road trip this summer.  

The research found that 31% of respondents did at least five long car journeys with the family in the past year, with the average length of time in the car being three hours or more (37%). The survey reveals that over a third (35%) of parents find family road trips stressful with the most common complaints from children including boredom (33%) and hunger (25%). It was found that the most frequent comments from kids, according to 79% of respondents, are ‘I’m bored’, ‘I need the toilet’, ‘I feel sick’ or ‘I’m hungry’. In fact, nearly three quarters (71%) of parents confirm that snacks are the most important item to bring on a long car journey, with tablets or iPads next on the list of must haves for a road trip (39%).

Whilst these long car journeys with the family can be stressful, they are also a great opportunity for families to create memories. The survey confirms that the majority or Irish parents (81%) look forward to family road trips. Listening to music (31%), taking in the scenery (20%) and playing ‘I spy’ (11%) were selected as the most enjoyable ways to pass the journey.

This survey identified that family road trips are an opportunity to create lasting memories with the family but also highlights the importance of planning ahead when travelling with children. Carzone has partnered with child psychotherapist Anne McCormack, who as shared some useful tips on the best ways to ensure the family road trip runs as smoothly as possible this summer

Parenting tips for long car journeys:

Plan some games that the family can play together. Some traditional games such as ‘I spy’ or charades can work well, depending on the age of the children. Another option is ‘Car Journey Bingo’, you write out a list of things the children might see along the journey and they tick off the items as they spot them. If they tick everything off the list, they then can get a prize!

Try and schedule in toilet breaks ahead of time and let the children know when these stops will be made, so they know how long they have until the next break. It’s a good idea to combine a toilet break with a quick walk and fresh air for everyone.

Consider what technology you’ll allow your child access to on the trip and discuss it with them before the journey begins. For example, if your child is allowed an hour on a device to play games, plan ahead with them when they will use that hour, perhaps suggesting breaking up the hour into smaller segments of time.

As well as using books for the children to read in the car, consider audio books that can be chosen in advance or if there is an extra adult in the car who is not driving, that adult can read a story for the whole family.

If a child is becoming restless or upset on the journey, try to stay calm and use a soothing voice to reassure them. They may need some fresh air and a break from the car should help them to settle and continue with the journey in better form - once they are kept occupied.

Before the journey, explain to the children that they may find the journey long or boring, this can help manage a situation if things get difficult. The parent can then remind the child what was discussed and reassure them that they are doing well so far. Parents can then reward the children for good behaviour so far, for example, they get to choose the next activity etc.

Every child is different and tuning in to each particular child’s interests and needs ahead of the journey and devising a plan accordingly is always a worthwhile investment of a parent’s time.

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