Do your homework before getting in the car
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.
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.