Person reading a map in a car
Charlotte Birchall

Charlotte Birchall

Charlotte is a marketing specialist and a writing genius. She has a distinct and hilarious way with words and a fine eye for the best topics to cover. In Charlotte's hands we know you'll be both entertained and informed.

 Top tips to make the most of your family trip

Family road trips have long been hailed as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it is an unrivalled opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones. On the other, it can be stressful, tiring and a real test of everyone's patience too! 

With lockdown restrictions finally easing, families are allowed to reconnect more freely and domestic travel is back on the agenda, meaning the humble Staycation is the word on everyone's lips once more. Experts are predicting that 2021 will see a rise in the popularity of multi-generational holidays, as we all scramble to make up for the past year in comparative isolation. 

While the chance to spend unlimited, unrestricted time with our nearest and dearest is long overdue, holidaying with extended family members will naturally throw up some challenges too. So, whether you're taking to the road with children, siblings, grandparents or even great-grandparents, we've put together our top five tips to help your journey be as joyful as possible. 

Unfortunately, we can't do anything about the weather or traffic. Sorry about that.

1) Make a soundtrack

Have everyone in your travel party pick a selection of songs before your holiday and assign one person to compile them into a playlist - we recommend a bored teenager if you have one. The inevitable mixture of different genres and tastes will be a great conversation starter, especially if your passengers span the generations. Once the holiday is over, it will serve as a keepsake to remind you of your time away. 

White and blue over the head headphones

2) Keep it dog friendly

A family holiday just wouldn't be the same without your four-legged friend. However, long journeys can be stressful and disorienting for dogs. To help make the drive as pleasant as possible for them,  ensure that they have plenty of space and are well secured with an appropriate restraint. 

As well as being highly dangerous for the animal and passengers, driving with an unrestrained dog is now illegal under Rule 57 of the Highway Code and could incur a fine of £2500. Remember to take regular breaks and offer them food and water as often as necessary.

Dog looking out of a car window

3) Consider taking the scenic route

If time constraints aren't an issue for you, choosing a less direct route that involves 'seeing and doing' can be a great way to break up your journey. 

Do some research and pinpoint any local landmarks, beauty spots or even National Trust properties along the way that you think will be of interest to your passengers. 

Taking the time to visit somewhere new will help the journey feel more like a part of your holiday as opposed to a necessary evil to get you to your destination. Open spaces such as picnic areas or parks will be a welcome change of scenery for everyone and will give children that all-important chance to blow off some steam.

That said, if a little motorway driving is inevitable along your route, it's not all bad news - they are quick (mostly!), convenient and are punctuated with regular service stations for those all-important breaks. Don't be fooled by the image of motorway service stations as gloomy and generic - there are some great places to stop and break up the journey.

Empty mountain road with a great view

4) Agree on screen time (and have some alternatives up your sleeve)

Tablets and mobile phones are a brilliant source of entertainment and can provide that precious opportunity for peace and quiet during a long journey. However, if you're keen to limit screen time for teenagers and younger children, it's a good idea to have some alternative distractions prepared for when boredom sets in.

Colouring books, magnetic travel-sized versions of board games and various card games can often be found for very reasonable prices and are a good way for children to pass the time. Similarly, audiobooks are a great way to keep everyone occupied but require minimal effort or supervision. Picking childhood favourites can be wonderfully nostalgic for grown-ups too!

Classic car games like I Spy and 21 Questions are a more collaborative option for the whole family but if they don't float your boat, a quick scour of the internet reveals some absolute gems. So whether Lip Sync Battle, movie quizzes or Pub Cricket are your thing, you're sure to find something that appeals!

Last but not least, assign everyone a role for the length of the journey. From DJ to navigator, your passengers will be less likely to utter the dreaded 'Are we there yet?' if they are absorbed in the process. We'd suggest knowing your route before handing the map over though!

Person in car with mobile phone

5) Take regular breaks

Current guidance recommends a stop of at least 15 minutes for every two hours of driving, although if you are travelling with very small children or animals you may well need to take more frequent breaks.

The Highway Code recommends changing your position when you stop, so try and find an area where you can go for a short walk or at least get out and stretch. If you are covering a longer distance, consider changing drivers at regular intervals.

Strong black cup of coffee on a white table