Do your home­work be­fore get­ting in the car

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Who doesn’t look for­ward to sum­mer, and all that comes with it?

It is about re­lax­ation, long days, a bit of sand and hopefully sun, and lots of it. Sounds great, but with­out the ap­pro­pri­ate plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion, that road trip can end up as more like a chore than a tour.

If you are look­ing for­ward to hit­ting the roads this sum­mer with the fam­ily, there are a few things you can count on hap­pen­ing.

The Mo­tor Trade As­so­ci­a­tion ( MTA) says if you pre­pare for them prop­erly, they will just be­come part of the jour­ney; if on the other hand you don’t take them into ac­count, then it could mean a long, hot and po­ten­tially mis­er­able few days or weeks on the road.

Ev­ery Christ­mas and New Year there are some sit­u­a­tions you just know are go­ing to even­tu­ate.

With few ex­cep­tions, there isn’t too much you can do about the level of traf­fic. Re­al­is­ing that there will be hold-ups is a good start – then it’s a mat­ter of en­sur­ing you, your pas­sen­gers and your car are prop­erly pre­pared to cope with the ad­di­tional stress this sort of driv­ing brings (see mta.org.nz/ mo­tor­ing-tips for spe­cific checks you can make).

Part and par­cel of long queues is the ap­pear­ance of those drivers who think they need to get to where they are go­ing be­fore any­one else.

They are a risk to them­selves and ev­ery­one else on the road.

They will be out there, so rather than let them be­come a risk to you or any­one else on the road, sim­ply give them room to get by – no mat­ter how ir­ri­tat­ing you might find it. And, even­tu­ally, the law will catch up with th­ese peo­ple.

For many peo­ple on the road, there’s the in­ter­nal chal­lenge of chil­dren in the car. It’s usu­ally a bit more com­plex than the old ‘‘are we there yet?’’ ques­tion.

Be­ing stuck in the back of a car, where you can’t al­ways see too much of what’s hap­pen­ing out­side, isn’t al­ways easy for your younger pas­sen­gers.

Start by be­ing real­is­tic – kids can’t stay still or be en­ter­tained by the pass­ing scenery for as long as adults can, so be pre­pared to stop more fre­quently. Aside from break­ing the monotony for them, it’s of­ten a good re­fresher for the adult driver as well.

Kids can’t ‘‘hold on’’ as long as adults, so ex­pect to have to stop more of­ten for ‘‘per­sonal com­fort’’.

If you have air- con­di­tion­ing, make sure it works prop­erly; kids are of­ten rel­e­gated to the back seats where it’s ex­tra stuffy.

Make use of win­dow shades – they’re easy to fit and can make all the dif­fer­ence for a young one stuck in the win­dow seat po­si­tion.

If you can, ro­tate seat­ing po­si­tions to keep in­ter­est lev­els up.

Get the kids to bring some of their own en­ter­tain­ment – to­day’s games are usu­ally quite por­ta­ble, so ask them to bring some of their favourites with them in the car (and bring a range of spare bat­ter­ies too).

Head­phones and they can have their own mu­sic too.

Pre­pare snacks and take along.

Choos­ing what to eat and then ac­tu­ally munch­ing it down is a great way to oc­cupy peo­ple.

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Have a few games that ev­ery­one can play – and not just eyespy, ei­ther.

There are web­sites ded­i­cated to the sub­ject and they’re easy to find on­line. Pro­vide prizes too.

Bring a flan­nel or wipes, just to keep ev­ery­one fresh and clean. There’s noth­ing as ir­ri­tat­ing (for ev­ery­one in the car) as a sticky spill or mess that’s rapidly go­ing solid on a spe­cial toy, favourite T-shirt, or the spe­cial velour seat ma­te­rial.

Of course, keep ev­ery­one se­cure in ap­pro­pri­ate and prop­er­lyin­stalled seat­ing.

Try th­ese tips – they’ve worked for plenty of oth­ers be­fore.

They might just be the dif­fer­ence be­tween an un­com­fort­able, stress­ful chore of a trip and that per­fect road tour that gets fondly re­mem­bered for decades to come.

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