The summer months are the perfect opportunity for families to spend more time together. Things slow down when the weather heats up, vacation time at work is saved up, and school bells take a break from ringing. But with the extra leisure time comes open-ended possibilities for vacations, short trips, and day excursions that make deciding what to do together overwhelming.
More than being besieged with options, keeping summer-time activities within budget is a whole other issue that parents need to contend with. So how can you get around the challenge of making summer time fun while keeping things frugal?
Family road trips are an attractive alternative to staying in your hometown or taking an expensive vacation that requires plane travel. While the cost of gas may be a perceived detraction, driving four hours to a campground and back is far less costly than a packaged vacation to the Bermudas, with the time spent on the car trip a valuable part of reconnecting parents and children.
“The best road trips include a plan,” says Silvana Aceto, Media Relations & PR Specialist, CAA South Central Ontario. “CAA urges drivers to map out their route…[and] before you head out on your family road trip, make sure you service your vehicle.”
CAA’s Top Tips for Road Trippin’
• Plan your route
• Book hotel stays in advance
• Make sure your car is in good shape before you head out on the road
• Fully charge your cell phone in case of emergencies
• Make sure you can see through all windows, even after your car is packed up
• Take breaks from driving to stretch your legs and get something to eat. On long road trips, CAA recommends a 15 minutes break every two to three hours.
With the prospect of a road trip maybe not being as attractive as an exotic getaway for older kids who are competing with peers, Silvana suggests to “let your kids have their say on what they want to do and see.” To maintain their interest, “stock up on travel books to get them excited about landmarks and attractions.”
With the long hours ahead to your destination, keeping kids of all ages occupied, comfortable and safe is a must for parents. Silvana stresses that ensuring baby car seats and toddlers’ booster seats are properly installed and to plan for breaks to get snacks and take advantage of rest stops.
“Children who are bored, hungry, or fighting with their siblings can turn a pleasant family outing into a stressful situation,” reminds Silvana. “Make sure to bring toys, games, colouring books, books, movies and DVD players to help keep kids occupied.”
Go to www.caasco.com for a list of savings opportunities for your next road trip.