Are we nearly there yet? Car trip ideas for the family

I’m really pleased to have joined the Sainsbury’s Bank Family Blogger Network (look I have a shiny badge in my sidebar and everything!) and to have fab Guest Posts like this one to share with you. I was not paid to host this post.

To paraphrase Ferris Bueller: family life moves pretty fast – if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

One of the best ways of taking it all in is to go on a family road trip – but where to go and how to go about getting there? Here are a few answers to both questions.

As always the devil is in the detail and planning and preparation are your best weapons. Consider the following to get the best out of your trip:

  • Planning – get the calendar out, sit down together and agree when a whole day, or even an entire weekend, can feasibly be spent away from home.
  • Make the time – if at all possible try to make it between spring and winter and at a time that everyone else in the country isn’t on the move or you’ll either be spending the whole time looking for shelter, or in the car.
  • Having agreed on a date – you’ll have to defend it vigorously from birthday party invitations or last minute social suggestions –and you need to settle on a destination.

The country
Buy the Ordnance Survey map for the area you’re interested in and plan your day(s). With a little map reading and calculation you could easily fit in a walk, a site of historical interest or a sporting activity. Use Google Maps and Google Earth to check the terrain and travelling times if your map reading isn’t up to scratch.

The beach
Living as we do on an archipelago dominated by a long, skinny mainland, we’re all pretty close to the sea. Even if you live in Northampton in the centre of the land mass you can be in Norfolk in three hours. So it is perhaps more accessible than you think.

Remember that you have to look for the best in what you see, not for what you feel ought to be there instead. So try not to bemoan the absence of rugged cliffs or golden sand but rather celebrate the haunting atmosphere or the post-industrial oddness of the parts of our coastline you can get to.

The city
For people living in the country the city can become a place to be raided – at great speed and with utmost seriousness – for Christmas shopping or essential supplies.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Look for the best in the city, the history, the life, the culture, the heritage, the traditions, the things that set it apart and from which it takes its identity.

Having settled on a destination and planned your trip, it’s a good idea to:

  • Vary the pace of the day and make stops that are good for the soul as well as for the body.
  • Assess any risks you’ll face – particularly when dealing with the sea. Tide times, weather and traffic are you main areas of concern, but also make sure you’re covered by adequate car insurance.
  • If you put the effort in at this stage you’ll have a memorable experience for the price of the fuel it will use to get you there and back.

Remember, you’re on a journey exploring, learning and laughing – together.

Author Bio:
Joel Dowling writes for the Sainsbury’s Bank Money Matters blog on subjects as diverse as music, motoring, finance and the family. He spends many weekends on the road with his family.

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