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A checklist for a family road trip

road trip

Summer’s almost upon us and, like us, you might be planning a long getaway. As remote working’s become easier, there’s more freedom to take time away from the office and it’s more common to see people working from home – or from their holiday destination.

On our three-week family road trip through France, we did just that. D managed to have three days in the middle of the family trip, where his ‘office’ was our holiday park cabin. This meant he didn’t have to take the entire three weeks as annual leave, and the backlog when he arrived back at his London desk was nowhere near as big as it would’ve been.

This kind of long getaway, where work is combined with holidaymaking, does require a lot of planning. Here are some steps you can tick off a checklist so you’re ready to go.

Check out your car and make sure you’re safe on the road

Road safety rules are different overseas – for instance, did you know it’s illegal to drive in flip-flops in France? It’s worth researching the countries you’ll be travelling through. I’ve posted a guide to a safe road trip here. Three or four weeks before setting off is a good time to book your car in for a service, in case there’s any faults that need repairing. Even minor creaks and squeaks can turn into major problems on a long drive, and it’s better to deal with them on home territory, rather than at the roadside of a country where you don’t speak the lingo. If you need to update or upgrade your vehicle, websites like Gumtree’s ‘Sell My Car’ service can help you trade in your old motor for one that’s more road-trip ready.

It’s also a good idea to update your SatNav if you use one, and to make sure your car insurance and breakdown cover is up to date.

road trip

Finances

Bear in mind that day-to-day costs are likely to be higher on a family road trip than at home. However much cost-cutting you do, you won’t always know where to find the best bargains, and which supermarkets are the cheapest. For the months leading up to your family vacation, it’s worth putting money aside, just in case you need more than anticipated to keep you going on the road.

Internet connectivity

This is crucial if you’re planning on working while you’re away. Campsites, holiday parks, hotels and villas vary wildly in the level of connectivity they offer. Some charge, others don’t. It’s worth checking ahead, and drawing up a map – a family road trip planner of places where you’ll be able to go online easily, so that you can work while you’re there. On the other hand, you might want to factor in some stops at places where the wi-fi is poor, or non-existent, so you’re not tempted to check those pesky work emails on days that you’d planned to have off.

Passports, visas and travel insurance

Kind of obvious, but it’s amazing the number of people I see popping into my Facebook feed, who’ve forgotten to renew their child’s passport (the baby ones expire after five years). It’s easily done, so I always put it on every travel checklist. Some countries also require passports that are valid up to six months after the end of the trip, so it’s worth checking to see if your destination is one of these.

France

Never drive on the left in France….

Clothing

If your family car trip straddles the seasons, you might want to think about taking lots of mix-and-match items, so you can adapt to changing temperatures. It’s all very well heading off in blazing hot August with nothing but shorts and a couple of strappy dresses, but if you’re planning on staying away until the beginning of September, you might want to take a couple of jumpers, too.

Larder and snacks

Think about what you’ll need to buy while you’re away. If you’re planning on self catering at any point, it might be worth building up a small travel larder of items like salt, pepper and any spices you like to use, so you don’t have to buy them while you’re away. And snacks. This is a family trip, after all. There’s no way you’d be able to load up with three weeks’ worth of car snacks, but you could always pack a few treats for those emergency moments. A cleverly hidden bag of Haribo saw us through a long and tortuous wait for a ferry, on our way back from France. Sometimes, a bit of sugar’s all that’s needed.

Learning Resources

Entertainment for the road trip

Although you’ll no doubt be travelling to wondrous, exciting places, the car journeys in between those destinations are bound to be dull. If you don’t want to just rely on electronics to get you through, there are plenty of options – like the Collins I-Spy series, with titles like I-Spy On a Car Journey, and I-Spy in the Countryside. There are also some great pack-up-and-go games that work well for road trips, like the camp stove, maths and phonics games that we tested for Learning Resources.

What’s on your family getaway checklist?

If you’d like to read about some family road trip destinations, check out these posts:

A French road trip along the beautiful north coast of Brittany: Roscoff to St Malo

Places to visit in the Netherlands: six stops on a family road trip through south Holland

From Hertfordshire villages to Kentish Christmas tree farms: our family road trip

Three stops on a south Wales road trip

Planning the ultimate family road trip: Route 66

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road trip

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