Five Essentials For A Successful Family Road Trip

Aditi Kalra , 07 Jun 2016

“The journey not the arrival matters.”T. S. Eliot

Map your journey
Map your journey

Some of my best vacations as a child have been road trips with my family. It would all start with a discussion over the dinner table a week before the impending garmi ki chhutti. Once a consensus was reached as to which hill station to explore, the next few days would be spent pouring over a humongous road map and deciding which by-pass to take.

The days leading up to the trip would see a frenzy of activity. Dad would get our trusty red Maruti 800 ready for the long haul and mom would be making several trips to the all in one store down the road to stock up on biscuits, chips, namkeen and cold drinks: staple fare for a road trip. My brother and I, would meanwhile spend evenings bickering over the choice of music for the trip… Phil Collins and Kumar Sanu would get equal listening time.

Full to the brim
Full to the brim

The evening before would be spent loading up the boot of our car, and getting it to close would require the combined body weight of the entire family pressing down on it! We would be off at the crack of dawn the next morning to miss getting caught in the office rush hour. I think it was the only time in my life I would wake up willingly at 5 a.m., probably because I couldn’t sleep at all out of excitement!

For me, the highlight of the holiday was the actual journey. I would love to just sit quietly and watch the scenery change from buildings to fields to mountains, snoozing off and on, munching on chips while reading the newest Archie… with my older brother constantly being annoying in the background.

On the road
On the road

Of course, not all family road trips are this idyllic. I can match every easy breezy road trip story with one that was nothing short of a disaster. Like the time my dad decided that Delhi to Jammu was a single day journey… even if it meant not heeding to nature’s call. Or when my mom forgot to give me the customary anti-vomiting pill before setting out for the hills… I wouldn’t wish that torture on my worst enemy!

To make planning a road trip with your family easier, here’s a list of five essentials you need for a bump free ride!

A munching we will go
A munching we will go

1. Food

And lots of it! Road trips and munching non-stop go hand in hand. Nothing perks up tired little kids better than their favourite snack. And nothing stops cranky teenagers from complaining better than keeping their mouths stuffed with food! Even if you’ve planned your pit stops you still need to be prepared with a good stash for those unscheduled and uncontrollable hunger pangs.

Reading on the road
Reading on the road

2. Books galore

Whether it’s comics, magazines, the day’s newspaper, activity books or novels… carry stuff that will cater to all tastes and age groups in your car. Crossword puzzles or sudoku are great for the older kids. And for toddlers, never underestimate the power of crayons and a colouring book.

Music for the long haul
Music for the long haul

3. Music

How can a road trip be complete without music? This could require some thought and preparation so start burning your CDs or making your playlists at least a week in advance. If you have older kids then let them take charge of this. And if you have toddlers, well then brace yourself to hear nursery rhymes on a loop! Better yet, make your own music! The number of hours my cousins and I have spent playing antakshri on the road would cover the distance from Kashmir to Kanyakumari!

Games make every trip fun
Games make every trip fun

4. Games

I remember a family road trip where my brother and I played ludo non stop for 10 hours… I’m not kidding! Board games are a great way to pass time and keep kids of all ages engaged. Scrabble, UNO, monopoly, snakes and ladders… pack them all! Don’t forget to include a deck of cards for a quick round of family rummy during pit stops. The key is not to let the children feel bored. And going by the attention span of this generation, that’s not as easy task.

Snoozing on the road
Snoozing on the road

5. Cushions

And finally, when the kids have had their fill of eating, reading, playing and singing along, and the destination is still a couple of hours away, it’s the perfect time for a snooze. Carry soft and comfy cushions and shawls to snuggle with. I’d even recommend carrying neck pillows you’d normally use on airplanes. As much as I would love the actual time spent on the road, my favourite moment used to be waking up in the car to the sound of my dad’s voice exclaiming,”We’re here!”

Adventure of a lifetime
Adventure of a lifetime

So now that we’ve planted the idea in your mind and sorted out half the planning, go ahead and hit the road with your family. No matter the destination you chose, the journey will be unforgettable!

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