Are you ready for your Easter road-trip?

Millions of us will take to the roads on Easter getaways over the next couple of weeks, but chocolates eggs may not be the only things facing meltdown if your journey doesn’t go to plan.
If, like the vast majority of people, you’ve ever spent much of any bank holiday weekend stuck in traffic, you’ll be only too well aware of how incredibly frustrating it is to be going nowhere fast. And it can be even more hideous if you’ve got a car packed with children. After all, gridlock on the motorway is painful enough without kids in tow, but I can vouch for the fact that when you’ve got assorted voices screaming from the back that they’re bored or in need a wee/drink/food (delete as applicable), it adds a whole new set of stresses to the equation. And once they’ve moved from “Are we nearly there?” to fighting with each other, you’ll probably be scanning the dashboard in hope of finding a button for an ejector seat.

Be prepared!

While there’s not much any of us can do to ensure that the traffic won’t be bad, there are certain things that we can all do to help make life easier on any road trip, especially if you’ve got young children. First and foremost, make sure your car is ready for a long drive, as no-one wants to waste the Easter break stuck at the roadside waiting for help. Basic checks to carry out before setting off include looking at the water coolant level, and your car’s tyre tread condition and air pressure. You should also check your engine oil, and make sure your screen wash is topped up. Have a look at your wiper blades too – if they’re worn this could affect visibility when driving in bad weather conditions, so get them replaced before you go if they’re looking past their best. Experts recommend checking them every six months, and you can tell they are worn when the wiping edge of the bald is rounded in shape rather than looking sharp.

Check up on your breakdown cover

If you haven’t got breakdown cover, it’s a good idea to take out a policy before you go, but you’ll need to do it quickly, as you might not be able to make a claim in the first few days after you’ve bought your policy. [embed width="560" height="315"][/embed] Breakdown policies needn’t be expensive, often starting at around £30 a year for comprehensive cover – a small price to pay when you consider that without it, you could be looking at a bill of as much as £200 just to be towed off the motorway. Keep policy documents close to hand, so that if you do break down, you’ll know whom to contact.

Know where you’re going

Having once enjoyed a 40-mile motorway detour after my husband missed our turning, I know only too well that failing to check your route carefully can result in a frosty start to any Easter break. Thankfully, sat navs have made it much easier to get to where you’re going without having to faff around unfolding maps en route, but it’s still a good idea to plan your journey before you go, as they are not infallible. If you type ‘route planner’ into Google or any other search engine, you will find several website which can help you plan the most efficient route to your destination. My favourite the AA’s Route Planner (, where all you do is put in where you are travelling from and to, and it will tell you exactly how to get there, along with the total number of miles and how long the journey is likely to take.

Keeping the kids entertained

A hundred games of ‘I Spy’ can be enough to test even the best-natured motorist’s patience, so it’s a good idea to think of lots of things to occupy the children in the car before you set off on your journey.
I try to pack a bag full of toys and books than can sit between them on long road-trips. Give them a list of things they need to spot on the journey too. The first one to cross everything off the list is the winner. Remember, the longer you make the list, the longer it will keep them busy. Snacks are also essential, so take plenty of drinks, fruit and other nibbles for them to eat to avoid endless service station stop-offs. Keep sweets to a minimum though – a sugar rush in a traffic jam is never going to be pretty. If all else fails, then there’s always technology to fall back on. If you don’t have one yourself, see if you can borrow a portable DVD player from a friend. We’ve found ours essential on long journeys, but don’t forget to fully charge it before you go, as your children are unlikely to thank you if their film stops playing half way through. An iPad or other tablet which they can play games on can also prove invaluable, but be prepared for a battle when you try to reclaim it on arrival!

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