The simplest ideas are the best ones and what could be simpler than a road trip?
Every year as a family we have a summer holiday in Latvia, and seemingly every year we talk about driving instead of flying. But like the reservations expressed in this simple twitter poll we had some doubts about such a trip.
Now a great many of us will have been dragged around on a road trip as a kid, but would it be the same as an adult? Would it be too much hassle, would the kids behave? Are we, in this more global age, too time-strapped to sit in a car and drive for a week when we could simply fly over it in 3 hours?
All questions we wanted to find answers to, and ones which needed answering with a test run before we could really go for it.
We didn’t use any in-car dvd type entertainment – that’s a door we don’t want to open yet! We asked the boys to pack 1 comic and 1 book each for the journey, so that gave them all 3 of each to read. It worked for us, we might just be lucky…..
Last spring time we headed to the Ariege mountain range in the south of France visiting friends, before I headed over to Mt Ventoux for a photo-shoot.
At over 1,500 miles long, the journey appeared to be ideal preparation! 1 load of kiddy vom’ (into a bush), some wet pants, and lots of laughter later and we were sold on the idea!
The plan was to be simple this year, we would drive during the day, stopping in at least 2 places during the journey, soak up some culture and sample some food. At night we would camp – we used a trusty Coleman tent that we’ve had for a while, with a single living compartment and space for 5, it was set to be fun!
Just weeks before the holiday was due to start our car developed a serious electrical fault, and we ended up buying a new one instead of spending £850 to fix it, trading in our old Zafira and getting a newer Zafira Tourer model (2 litre diesel, just in case you were wondering).
It had more boot space, and it’s slightly wider, making it more comfortable for the middle child, and more capable for such a long journey. The diesel engine also gives great economy, allowing us to get 1000km out of a tank when driven carefully – and that makes a massive difference compared with the older petrol model which would have given us 700km if we had a tailwind!
That boot space was also handy when packing enough gear for 7 days of camping and the rest of the summer away. Our family sleeping bags inflatable mattresses take up a heap of space, but the Zafira did a sterling job at hiding it all away, without having to cram the passengers in their seats.
Be prepared to *gasp – talk to your kids! The hours in the car meant there was loads of time for talking and listening to the boys in the back, this means they get to tell you about their cool stuff, and you get to talk about yours. Warning – their idea of cool stuff may just be Lego Star Wars gibberish 😉
Routing was relatively straightforward, we knew where we were to start (Mons, in Belgium) due to the end of the bike ride, and with the European capitals being all within a day’s drive of each other it was a straight-line route across the continent.
Mons – Frankfurt – Prague – Warsaw – Klaipeda (Lithuania) – Talsi (Latvia)
Anda was to drive the car, with Oliver and Harry, to Mons and meet myself and Christopher after we had finished riding. Although it meant driving across 2 countries, the reality of it was that it was only a couple of hours driving, and Oliver (the 8yr old) makes for a very competent co-pilot 😉
Satnav set, AA roadmap packed and stowed, and GB sticker added to the car and the adventure is set (there is much nervousness!)