Roll down the windows and let the wind blow back your hair. Can you smell the sense of abandon? It’s palpable. Have you got your yacht rock playlist ready to roar? It’s just you, me and the open road baby; put your pedal to the metal and let’s rock!

But wait. What’s that whining? Are we there yet? A baby crying? Mum, I’m bored. And what’s that other sound? Yep, that’s the sound of your dream ride of fun and freedom, loose morals and looser plans, shattering. It shouldn’t have to be this way, though. You can still have a great adventure, a more fulfilling one even, with the little ones in tow. And here’s how; our 5 IDEAL tips for a stress-free road trip with the kids.

GET YOURSELF A LARGE, DEPENDABLE RIDE

There is nothing worse on your freewheelin’ road trip than a sudden case of threewheelin’, stuck at the side of the road and waiting for that replacement tyre. It can be damaging enough to your self-esteem, let alone the little ones. Your chances of a stress-free better road trip are greatly enhanced by securing a roomy, reliable ride for your journey. If your usual wheels are on the cramped side of cosy, then consider renting something bigger for the trip. Or if you intend on making this a regular thing, investing in a caravan or motorhome might be more prudent. Assistance with your budget from the good guys over at Auto Finance Online can help you realise that dream.

HAVE A FIRM PLAN IN PLACE….

Are we there yet? It’s a tough question to field and an even tougher kid to placate if you have no bloody clue of the answer. With kids, we’re sorry to say, the rules are somewhat changed on being impromptu and carefree. It’s essential to have a plan of attack in place, including a detailed knowledge of where you’ll be staying and the nearby entertainment, activities, medical provisions and kid-friendly food available. This will take huge amounts of stress away from the trip, and allow you more quality time with your family. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

…BUT BE FLEXIBLE

Yep, we know we’ve just extolled the virtues of meticulous planning, but it’s also important to leave a little room for flexibility on your trip. Military precision is all well and good, but it can ruin the vibe of the holiday entirely if you ignore your kids’ sudden desire to have a dip in a lake or picnic in the forest just because your hostel check-in specifies 6pm on the dot. So, when booking accommodation and activities in advance, make sure you click that oft-ignored ‘cancellation insurance’ button and opt for places which allow free cancellation or date and time flexibility wherever possible.

PACK LIGHT BUT PACK WELL

Kids need stuff. And so much of it. But your trip will be vastly improved by packing light and only bringing with you what you absolutely need. Of course, medical necessities, snacks, and entertainment are essential, but does the little one really need his lightsaber, superman cape and doll’s house in the back of the car? We think – nope we’re sure – that a cramped, uncomfortable car will elicit more moaning than a couple less toys being present on the journey.

BRING ENTERTAINMENT

That said, some entertainment is essential to keep the kids happy on those longer stretches of road. There’s only so much ‘I Spy’ you can play before things get tetchy. In terms of distraction devices, the smaller the better fits well with the travelling light mantra; an iPad with some cartoons downloaded or perhaps a playlist of your child’s favourite songs to sing along to, is a good start.

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.