Girl TORQUE: Family holiday motoring

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

I dropped the neighbours and their kids off at the ferry the other day – in their car, given it already had the child seats plus bike and roof racks fitted.

It didn’t handle very well – turns out the rear tyres are dodgy, “Our budget’s tight, so we’ll replace them in the new year.”

All I can say is I hope they have one. Seems odd to me to push such a safety-oriented item to the back of the pile, but I don’t have the stresses they do.

Just watching them get ready took it out of me; snacks forgotten, teddy lost; address of ferry dock with dad, who’s in town without his cell phone – and so it went.

Fortunately the bike rack spanner, still hooked onto the towbar bolt, stayed on for the drive to town. Given the rack blocks the boot catch, they couldn’t have got their luggage without it…

So, what are the essentials for family holiday motoring? Fewer than you’d think.

Has the car been recently serviced? If not, get it done or at the very least, check the oil, and check the tyres – a crash will really put a damper on things.

Otherwise the main thing is to remember your credit card – you can buy anything you forget. Or almost anything; after checking the car, the next thing on my list is every child’s treasured teddy. That last half hour looking is worth its weight in gold some fractious holiday night.

Can’t afford a DVD player in the car? Any long drive with children is easier with a storybook CD playing. The grownups will learn to live with it for the sake of peace from the back seats.

Speaking of which – avoid sugar snacks during long journeys. There’s nowhere for the sugar rush to go. Get fruit, if you can pack it without squishing, nuts, and check the ingredients of those meusli bars, some are as bad as sweets in sugar terms. With that and some water – buy a big bottle and decant into kids’ drink bottles, it’s cheaper – you’re not stuck with queues when you’d rather avoid them.

It’s tempting to pack the car as fast as possible, but take a few moments. Make sure the vital stuff is easy to hand; clean nappies and baby-wipes (great for sticky mouths and hands, yours too!). Hankies and snacks, sunblock and hats, spare cardies. Anything you might need during the day.

A box of cards is a good one for ferry rides, or any long wait – I got a great boxed set from the Warehouse including ‘Go Fish’ and ‘Old Maid’ that kept two to five players of all ages happy.
There are plenty of games to play while driving, too. ‘I spy’ doesn’t have to involve spelling, even littlies enjoy ‘I spy something coloured [orange]’ and their sometimes freestyle mix of reality and imagination can add to the hilarity.

Last time I played this game there was a pink elephant on the motorway – I’m surprised I missed it.

Read previous Girl TORQUE columns here.

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