Expert advice for happy family road trips
FAMILY motorists taking longer road trips in the weeks ahead are being offered advice about everything from journey snacks to keeping the kids happy and packing tips.
The experts at Scottish-based automotive finance firm CarMoney have investigated the food and drinks to avoid – with the help of nutritionist Daisy Hill.
First up, the team warns that the high caffeine levels in energy drinks can cause distracting heart palpitations and lead to slower reaction times after just an hour.
Daisy said: “A healthy alternative would be Matcha green tea as it can have the same uplifting effect but without the nasty side effects.”
And while porridge and oatmeal provide a good, slow release of energy, they can also reduce alertness. Oatmeal naturally raises blood sugar and contains melatonin, which relaxes the body and aids sleep.
The nutritionist recommended avoiding them on long night-time journeys and instead have snacks such as bananas or berries and nuts.
Coffee will only keep you alert for a short while and is likely to result in more toilet stops on a long car journey. “Drinking water, especially with ice in it, is refreshing, provides your body with what it needs and can make you feel more alert,” said Daisy.
Chocolate can often trigger indigestion – although dark chocolate with 85 per cent or more cocoa is far less likely to cause the adverse effects.
Apples may seem like a good healthy alternative but they can cause uncomfortable bloating thanks to their high fibre content that reacts poorly with their natural fructose.
But although peppermint is known for settling an unhappy stomach, don’t eat too many mints as they can easily trigger acid reflux or even diarrhoea.
CarMoney spokesman Andrew Marshall said: “When driving, you need to keep adverse effects to a minimum, so you can focus on the road and reach your destination in good time.”
Parents are also being urged to put safety and preparation first when driving long distances with youngsters in warmer weather – with StressFreeCarRental.com’s team providing some top tips.
Top of the list is taking a break of at least 15 minutes every couple of hours to help tackle tiredness and give kids a chance to burn off some energy.
Cars under the hot sun can very quickly overheat, so park up in shaded area if you can. Open the windows to let out any hot air on returning to the vehicle and use the air con to keep a comfortable temperature while driving.
Sunburn is possible even through car windows, so cover your children in protective cream before setting off and re-apply it at every stopping point.
Travel sickness is common in youngsters, so pack medication and stop your children reading books or staring at electronic devices by entertaining them through games such as I Spy and 20 questions.
Resist the temptation to fill the back of the car with large luggage items and ensure your kids have plenty of space to stretch out and feel comfortable.
When it comes to packing the car, plan ahead and take only what you need. If you’ll have access to a washing machine while away, you can manage with fewer clothes, for example.
You want to keep the centre of gravity in the car low and reduce weight over the wheels – so work out the best arrangement and avoid overloading a roof rack. Have a designated space for all the electronics and keep them easily to hand.
Where possible, use compression bags rather than cases or boxes as these take up less room and are easier to fit into various spaces. You can also store small items such as jewellery inside walking boots or large shoes.
And avoid the stress of unloading everything in the dark after a tiring drive by packing a small overnight bag and do the full unload in the morning once you’re feeling recharged.
A StressFreeCarRental.com spokesperson said: “Having plenty of water, keeping cool and taking regular breaks may seem obvious but they are all crucial to making your family road trip a success.
“Packing in an orderly fashion will ensure you have everything you need and allow you to concentrate more clearly on the journey ahead.”