What to take
Well, take your kids, if you must. But only if they come fully equipped with self-entertainment systems. Think pens, paper, craft materials. Help them get into the swing of things by decorating their own travel cases, taking pride in looking after their own stuff, and keeping their things in one place. Crazy talk, I know, but you might be pleasantly surprised ...
When you tell people you’re off on a big road trip with kids you tend to get a mix of sympathy, bemusement and sound advice. And that’s just from your children’s teachers. Be sure to check with these education experts about the best way to keep your kids on track while they’re out of school, and if it’s a long trip, try to be back in time for a little school before the year’s out to give the kids a chance to catch up with friends and school in general. If your kids are still pre-teen like ours, they might even reply to questions about the trip with something more than a grunt and a shrug.
What to say
You may have to explain yourself a lot, pre-departure. I regret failing to print up a brochure to hand out to every second person who asked which way we were headed etc. Standard replies include: “We’re going anti-clockwise, inside lane, it’s shorter,” and “no, we don’t think we’ve lost our minds. We think spending months in a confined space with two small kids will be fun. OK, maybe we have lost our minds.”
How to prepare
Grit your teeth and get the kids doing more chores before you go. They won’t like it, but it will pay off when you hit the road and everybody is needed to pitch in. Pain-free camping set-ups and departures are much easier if family members of all ages have their jobs down pat. In the weeks before we headed off our dishwasher died, which got us all in peak washing-drying-putting-away mode. I think of it as a sink-half-full approach.