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The Long Road Ahead: Family-friendly road trip tips


Whether you're packing the car up for that long drive to Grandma's, or planning a month-long family excursion across the country, road trips can bring a great deal of excitement and anxiety. Travelling with children doesn't have to be stressful – it can be a joyful adventure, creating funny anecdotes, amazing discoveries, and memories to last a lifetime. Take some helpful tips from Uniroyal and family travel expert, Kate Pocock, to prepare your family for the road ahead.

1. Divide and conquer. It's always better not to have siblings sitting right up against each other in the back seat. Position a mesh bag filled with soft toys or puppets between the kids, or have Mom or Dad take turns in the back seat to play cards, listen to a story, etc. Even in a small car, sometimes just changing seats will stop the wrangling.

2. Stop a lot. Kids can't sit still for long periods, period. So plan lots of pit stops for food and refreshments, a swim at a local beach or pool, or even just free playtime to run off steam. Carry a soccer ball or frisbee for impromptu sports breaks. Keep swimsuits and towels handy for a quick swim —every small town has a local outdoor pool.

3. Picnics. The last thing kids want to do when they emerge from the car is sit again at a restaurant table. So keep a spare set of plastic cups, bowls, and plates in the car for picnics. Local supermarkets along the way offer ready-made sandwiches, juice boxes, and treats. Or carry a cooler with provisions.

4. The wired mobile. Story tapes such as Grimm's Fairy Tales, Harry Potter or the Narnia series that the whole family will enjoy, are indispensable. You can install TV and DVDs so that backseat buddies can watch movies all the way to the ocean. Some vehicles even come equipped.

5. Kid-tested schedules. Have the kids plan part of the trip and they will go along with you happily. Give each kid a survey — would they like to stop at Old Fort Henry in Kingston, or at the sand dunes in Picton along the way? Let each kid pick one stop for the family. This works!

6. Clean-up patrol. Bring cases of wet wipes, bottles of water, washcloths, towels, stacks of clean diapers, paper towels, etc. to clean up messes and disasters. Dress the kids in layers and dark clothing just in case of spills.

7. Making memories. Even the worst road trips will become memories to laugh about later, so bring a camera along and let the kids take some of the pictures. You'll see your holiday from a totally new perspective.

8. Make sure to pack an easily-accessible box of games and activities for the kids such as window stickers for mosaics, song sheets for sing-alongs, loot bags filled with small surprises, clear plastic photo albums filled with colour photocopies of family pictures, travel puzzles and games and action figures.

9. Prepare your car for the road – as important as it is to pack the kids' security blanket, it's equally important to provide your family with that same security by ensuring your vehicle is in tip-top shape and road trip ready. Make sure to check the air pressure on your tires, top up all of your fluids, and if you've been meaning to get that funny noise checked out, now is the time. Don't leave home without all of the necessary emergency equipment such as extra windshield-wiper fluid, a flashlight, batteries and a first aid kit.

For more helpful hints for a successful road trip, don't forget to pick up your Uniroyal Passport to Road Trip Adventure, written by family travel expert Kate Pocock, packed with interactive road trip games, valuable coupons and fun for the whole family, available at participating Uniroyal dealerships across the country beginning in June.

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