When your driver’s licence is newly minted and the weekend is still your reason to live, road trips are awesome.
The wind in your hair, the radio blaring, a car full of friends, a destination with no responsibilities - what’s not to like? They’re the memories that will sustain you through the years to come.
But suddenly, when you wake to find your house full of individually wrapped snack foods and children on ipads, the words “road trip” are like a murderer’s whisper down the phone.
When the horror subsides, there is the wash of fatigue that comes in its place. Especially if your roaring household includes a toddler.
No longer can you chuck a pair of undies and a T-shirt in a Woolies bag and be on your way. Packing has become a systematic and painful process of making lists, catering for every possible emergency, making plans to keep young travellers entertained, fed and watered, and the not-inconsiderable task of fitting the lot into your sensible family car.
Holidays. They’re not what they used to be. No journey is complete without a giant inflatable unicorn and six boxes of carefully selected foods for a tribe of fussy eaters.
It’s that time of year. Parents around the country are steeling themselves for the journey. An online auto parts store has sent out a media release about preparing your car for a road trip. The critical checks it includes are tyres, wipers, engine oil and brakes. Always a consideration if you need to stop.
Equally important, there should be tips for preparing yourself for a family road trip.
Check 1: Headphones. For you. Whether you are driving or the flight attendant in the passenger’s seat attending to the constant demands from the back, you will need at least five minutes of quiet sanity before the seatbelt sign goes off.
Check 2: If you are travelling with your partner, you need a game plan. Where are you stopping? What will you buy? Has someone provided the sickbags? You must be on the same page before the back seat chimes in with conflicting requests.
Check 3: Petrol. I can’t emphasise this enough. Nothing says bad holiday like being stuck roadside with the entire unhappy family.
Check 4: Your own particular brand of coping mechanism, whether it be chocolate, alcohol (preferably not while driving) or audio meditations - just breathe and survive.
Merry Christmas and drive carefully.