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How to plan for a family road trip

By September 15, 2018 No Comments
Written by: Brenda Pomponio

Written by: Brenda Pomponio

Founder OFT

This month we have been celebrating the family ROAD TRIP!  Usually, it’s the road trip that is your first family travelling adventure – you start small, perhaps a day trip or a weekend away and as your confidence grows you go further, or plan a more intense route or dream even bigger and rent a camper or caravan.  The opportunities that a road trip can provide a family are vast as they are varied.

So, if you are a novice at the road trip game, or perhaps you want to up the ante and tackle a bigger journey this article is for you!  We’ve spoken to families who are driven in the path you are seeking to follow – they had road tripped with their family and share their wisdom on how a little preparation is key to ultimate road trip success.

How to plan your family road trip. 


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We have clocked up over 5,500 kms these past 3 weeks in Canada and the USA. I must admit, it took us a while to get used to some of the road rules- being able to turn right on a red, as long as it’s clear. Round abouts feel so backward and the 4 way intersections are enough to send anyone into a frenzy, but so far- so good! A rental car really is the best way to see this part of the world. I don’t know how we’d possibly be able to see all we have, without a car. It’s been fantastic and we just love this little lady 🖤 #ohCanada #enterpriseinspires . . #canada #banff #alberta #worldschool #gapyear #travel #seetheworld #travelingfamily #travellingfamily #travelblogger #familyblog #seetheworldwithyourkids #travelingkids #travellingkids #teamBarnes #FamilyTravel #FullTimeTravel #familyoffduty #travelmadfam #passportcollective #bonvoyagetravel #parentswhowander #Wewhotravel #lpfanphoto #tripmaximizer #goexploretogether

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Clare from @hertravellingtribe gives her take on how to plan for a family road trip

For the car she suggests:

  •  Lots of snacks for hungry (hangry) kids and water
  •  Travel games: cards (UNO, Skipbo) as well as mini board games (Guess Who etc)
  •  Fully charged iPads and downloaded Netflix movies
  •  Binoculars to spot wildlife out the windows!!
  •  Good tunes. Make a road trip playlist!
  • Activity books for the kids.
  •  Books to read

Then when you are planning to hit the road

Set a goal of 2-3 hours and commit to that, then stop for a break…

Let the kids know the approximate time you’ll arrive as if they’re anything like mine- they’ll like to keep an eye on the time and this will also stop them from asking every 5 minutes “Are we there yet….?”

If we have a long 8 or more hours drive- we will break it up, and stop 2-3 times.

Stopping for food and bathroom breaks.

Stretch the legs and switch drivers.

Grace + Eric from @darelist.family are currently on a trip of a lifetime in Valour the Van 

As Grace, Eric and Leo hit the road most days, here are some tips for those considering a long term road trip adventure. 

  • Get to popular tourists spots EARLY to avoid the crowds and enjoy in peace and quiet. We often wake up at 6.30am and drive to the tourist attraction carpark to have breakfast. Then we head out to explore and are back at the van by 9am when the crowds start arriving
  • Our hands-down favourite road trip snacks are pistachios. Why? Because our 3-year-old loves shelling them as much as he does eating them, and it can keep him entertained for a good hour in the back
  • Download Spotify playlists on your iPad/tablet (has the most storage) BEFORE you hit the road. Our fave playlists are Disney hits, kids folk (who doesn’t love Puff the Magic Dragon??) and fairytale audio stories.
  • Stop at a playground for lunch so your kids can burn all their energy and have a quiet nap/rest for the afternoon drive

We also asked @quartiercollective who are currently road tripping through parts of Europe with their three children. 

We aren’t huge planners so there is usually some element of surprise or unknown on our trips, and that’s the way we like it.

  • We also always have a good Spotify playlist on hand (if WiFi is limited, we make sure to have some songs downloaded to our phone). Everyone gets to contribute some songs that way they all stay engaged.
  • Another thing that we’ve had to relearn, is that is usually worth it to make a stop.
  • If the kids are getting antsy, it’s always a good idea to stop before there is trouble.
  • We also bring along snacks which we select and distribute strategically.
  • Bring along an audiobook. We’re currently listening to Harry Potter, which the kids LOVE!!!
  • One last favourite is to bring a roll of tape and a magazine and we tear out pieces of the magazine to make very funny collages, which the kids never get tired of

Founder Brenda travelled through Scotland last year as their “baptism by fire” proper inaugural road trip adventure.  Here are some of her learnings. 

We had many road trips under our belt before we hit Scotland and this was our first Motorhome road trip, and by far and a big leap from what we have normally experienced in the way of road trips.

Hiring a motorhome for our 10-day adventure around Scotland was the best decision we ever made, but here are a few hints if you are considering your home campervan adventure

  • Do your research when hiring a van – and discuss with your partner what elements to the van are essential. Consider things like the age of the vehicle, transmission, internal configuration to suit your family needs.  Ask what is included!  We were without towels for 4 days as I thought they would be included when it said “linen included” – oops!
  • Freedom of having your own motorhome will be wonderfully liberating but be mindful, you will not find a car park everywhere.  In Scotland, whilst they are very very accommodating to the motorhome community, sometimes we just couldn’t find a park, so literally had to keep going.  Factor this in!
  • Watch out for those narrow roads – a Motorhome is bigger, clunkier and well it’s not a car.  Consider staying on main roads and be mindful if you venture off on single road tracks (there are quite a lot of these in Scotland) you’ll need a dose of patience as you pull into the side section to allow cars to pass.
  • Van-ertainment.  My version of entertainment in the van.  Some afternoons or evenings during heavy downpours of Scottish rain, there is not much to do other than sit in your motorhome.   Pack games, download some movies on Ipads and bring some books.
  • Stop and take it in! Usually, my go-to default position when taking road trips in a car has been to stock up on snacks for those long stretch of driving and this is still the case when in a motorhome or camper, however the beauty of having your own home on wheels in the freedom it can provide.  My favourite part of the day was stopping for our mid-morning coffee and snack.  We’d pick a park, a lake, a lookout – and I’d put a pot of coffee on, make hot chocolate for the kids and we would all enjoy some sustenance before moving on.

Full-time Vanning family  @_wild_tribe_ who are currently travelling around Australia 

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Getting our wild on 🌱

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We admit we were totally uneducated when it came to the legal weight limits for the car & caravan before we set out. It can be a real pain in the neck when your limited on what you can bring!1f609 - How to plan for a family road trip😉
Consider things like the solar panels, full water tanks, batteries & Jerry cans. These were all extra weights on top of our vans factory tare weight which we were unaware of.

Haven’t used it once in 3 mths… if we were to have the option again we’d prefer more storage space

The queen bed, spacious twin bunks, outdoor TV aerial, separate teenage retreat & big shower.

Adult bikes, surfboard, yoga mat, sup, laptop, DSLR Camera.

Scooters, kids bikes, GoPro, portable gas cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, Nutri-bullet, fishing rods.

Lindsey from @abroadwife shares her tips 

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Hello from Warsaw!! After a very rough start to our trip (see my stories), we are off and running in Poland! We had a lovely first day exploring old town Warsaw. It is beautiful and charming! We climbed up St. Anna’s bell tower to get a better view, and it was well worth the climb! Have you been to Poland before? This is our first time, I’d love to hear your favorites! . . . #discoverwarsaw #polskatravel #warsawwithkids #polandwithkids #poland #warsaw #oldtownwarsaw #familytravel #travelwithkids #travelmom #travelmum #wearetravelmums #wearetravelmamas #parentswhowander #fearlessfamtrav #travelmadfam #travelingwithkids #momswhotravel #mumswhotravel #familytraveldestinations #familytrips #ourtribetravels #kidsineurope #kidstraveleurope #traveleurope #europewithkids #travelineurope

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  • Keep road trips management by working out how far you feel you can drive – for us that’s 5 hours a day. Since we were going to be road tripping for a month and changing destinations a lot, keeping the legs relatively short helped us keep our stamina and our sanity.
  • Also, in Europe, if you will be crossing borders, it is essential to know which countries require a vignette.  If they do require one, they can mostly be purchased at any gas station.
  • We relied on Melissa & Doug’s painting books and some sticker pages to entertain the children.  I don’t like bringing a ton of yous or books with us because I just find it to be excessive clutter and luggage.  Keeping it simple to a few things works better for our family.  And many times our kids wouldn’t do anything but listen to music, look out the window or nap (if we were lucky).
  • Have snacks and water – you never know when you might hit a delay, detour, etc and a little snack can go a long way in keeping the troops happy in the back while you wait.



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