Looking for new and audacious ways of making your family road trips easier and more fun (for both you and your kids)?
Then check out these offbeat tips.
1. Surprise bag
Putting together a series of 'surprise bags' can make a road trip with kids go by much faster.
These lucky dips help keep kids excited and upbeat (although hopefully not too excited and upbeat!) Include things like books, toys, puzzles, DVDs, snacks, and games to play in cars (but perhaps not in one bag!).
You might hand out the surprise bags at specific times (e.g. every hour), or when certain locations are reached.
2. Place a destination strip across the headboard
The idea is simple: fix a wide strip of tape across the cabin roof, with key trip destinations marked out. Add a paper cartoon car that can be tucked in behind the strip depending on where you are (you might also add Velcro fixers to attach the car).
This is a great way to keep the kids enthused about the trip - especially if new surprise bags are given out at each new destination.
3. 'Fishing tackle' snack box
Fishing tackle boxes feature a series of small compartments which are ideal for holding different snacks.
These can be picked up brand new for a few pounds, and are a useful and novel way to separate out different items - from chopped carrots to mini cheeses, biscuits to dried banana.
Best of all, the box can be sealed shut so that any remaining snacks can be enjoyed later on!
This wonderful tip for road trips with kids features on the "With The Blinks'' YouTube channel.
4. A rubbish hack
Dealing with rubbish on a road trip is an ongoing problem. But how to avoid finding a rotting banana skin down the side of the seats, or crisp packets in the door compartments?
One solution is to place a carrier bag (as a liner) inside a plastic cereal box, and pass it around after snack times. The lid can be opened as needed and the rubbish popped inside!
Because it has a fitted lid, there should be no spillages!
5. Protect your drinks holder with cupcake cases
Car drinks holders tend to collect all manner of liquids over the course of a journey - especially on road trips with kids. But by placing a silicone cupcake case in the drinks holder, the vast majority of spillages should be collected.
While it's not perfect, it should reduce the time you spend scrubbing out congealed soft drinks or crumbs from the bottom of the drinks holders. And of course, because they're made of silicone, they can be cleaned and reused as much as required.
This approach was brought to light by YouTuber Ellie Polly.
6. Keep special car-only toys
A great way to make car journeys more exciting for young children is to have a collection of toys that ‘live' only in the car. This way your child will associate car trips with the excitement of playing with those toys.
You can find a special container to store them in (such as a Thomas the Tank Engine trolley). If you're visiting friends who don't have any kids, the toy box can be lifted out in order to keep your child occupied.
This tip, which is ideal for road trips, was also from Ellie Polly.
7. Tuck shoes behind the car seat
In the chaos and mess of family road trips, it can be easy to lose one (or even both!) of your child's shoes.
When it comes to nap time, it's likely you'll want to take off your kid's shoes. To prevent them from getting lost, tuck them behind the car seat. This also prevents crumbs from falling into the shoes.
A simple but useful tip!
8. DIY tablet holder
This is a great tip for suspending tablets from the back of seats, so your little one can enjoy their favourite cartoons on the move.
Buy a plastic folder with elastic on the corners, then, on the inside of the folder (the side opposite to the elastic) mark out the shape of the tablet with a pen. Cut out the square, but leave a margin to keep the tablet in place. You can then place the tablet inside and close the folder (securing it with the elastic).
Next, find a strip of ribbon or an old lanyard, and thread it along the inside of the folder's spine, then use that to hang the folder on from the head rest.
For a complete visual guide to this tip, visit Ellie Polly's YouTube channel.
9. Hot boiled eggs on the move?
Properly cooked meals aren't possible on a road trip - unless you stop off at a service station cafe (expensive!).
The next best thing might be placing some freshly boiled eggs in a wide-brimmed thermos/hydro flask filled with hot water. This results in piping hot eggs, hours after they were originally boiled.
This is a useful tip if your child is used to having a hot meal.
10. DIY magnetic games to play in cars
A choice of magnetic games and puzzles to play in cars are available to buy. These (hopefully) prevent the various pieces from getting lost under car seats and mats, and help avoid game interruptions.
But to save money on magnetic puzzles, you could invest in a magnetic adhesive sheet, then cut small squares out and fix them to the base of each piece (e.g. a jigsaw or chess piece). You could then buy a metal tray on which to place the game.
Once the game or puzzle has begun, all the pieces should stay in place!