This in mind, just where do you start? No matter your destination, the same principles apply. So, to ensure the safety of the trip and of your children, here’s how to prepare your family car for a long journey!
Before we begin, ask yourself… do you need to drive?
If your destination has quality transport links, perhaps a train or coach would be easier. Kids love travelling in these vehicles, as it feels more like an adventure. The prices will be higher, but consider your options!
Pack a spare tyre!
With all that extra weight in the vehicle - bodies and luggage - your tyres can start to feel the pressure. Quite literally too, as their pressure can deflate quicker if the load is heavier. You need to make sure you pack a spare tyre, and that it matches the specifications of your car brand.
Toyota car tyres, for example, will have different requirements that Ford car tyres, or Mini car tyres. Consult with a specialist about exactly what your car needs, so you don’t have any surprises if you need that spare!
Imagine that. You break down, and triumphantly reach for that spare tyre… only to find it’s an incorrect fit. It’s also important to make sure the tread depth and pressure of the spare are adequate, too. Use a reliable pressure gauge, and don’t forget
Check fluid levels under bonnet
This is absolutely vital! If you run out of oil, or engine coolant mid-trip, you’re in a heap of trouble. You’ll notice a warning light on your dashboard if any fluids need topping up, so make sure you do so before a trip.
Oil can be bought from pretty much any store - just make sure it matches your car type. A diesel engine and a petrol engine require different kinds of oil. Top it up to max level, and you’re good to go.
You can use water instead of proper engine coolant as a temporary measure, but make sure you visit a garage quickly. Identify your engine’s coolant reservoir, and top it up to its maximum level.
And obviously, you will want to fill up your petrol tank to its fullest level. Under no circumstances should you take some spare petrol in the car with you; this is a major fire hazard!
Take some entertainment for the kids
If your car has built-in DVD players, then great. Some of us aren’t that lucky, so you’ll have to get creative. Here are a couple of low-tech entertainment ideas!
Firstly, you could try some audio books. You can either download these, or get copies from the library. These can then be played through the car’s speakers, keeping the whole family relaxed. Alternatively, you can play them through headphones for the particularly fidgety kids.
Secondly, investing in a pack of cards is a great way to keep slightly older kids entertained. They can play card games using the middle seat as a table (if it’s spare!) which lets you focus on the road.
And make sure you take plenty of age appropriate CD’s, too. Take your children’s favorite music to help them relax and stay entertained.
Check lights and cleanliness
The glass that covers your car lights should be cleaned, so the lights are fully visible. Be sure to check that all brake lights, indicators, headlights and tail lights are operating properly. The last thing you want to do is get pulled over for an offence!
It would be a good idea to check the quality of the wiper blades, too. If you need to wipe something off your window but your blades can’t do it, the entire journey can grind to a halt. You won’t be able to drive if you can’t see!
Lastly, plan an alternate route
It’s not car-related, but make sure you have a second route option. This ensures that if your first route is out, you can arrive at your destination. Plus, you may even be able to save petrol this way, if your second route is shorter and easier.
Enjoy the trip!
And this is the most important part. No matter where you’re headed and how long you’re going for, enjoy every second of the journey. Family time is too precious to spoil it with stresses and arguments, so prepare your car fully to avoid any of those!
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