Thursday, 8 August 2019

Tips For Taking A Road Trip With Young Families

If, like me, you're always keen to find the cheapest ways of travelling to desirable family holiday destinations , such as our personal favourite - Disneyland Paris - then you may well have noticed that one of the cheapest ways of doing it is by car!

Speaking from a parental point of view, I always prefer to avoid public transport where possible as managing 3 small children on and off coaches and trains can be a real headache...and as a family of five I often find that it's more cost effective to consider car hire or driving our own car over on the EuroTunnel or ferry than to pay individual prices for public transport and taxi services anyway.

So if you're convinced that a road trip to Disneyland Paris or any other European destination could be the right thing for you, take a look at my list of things you'll need to know and consider before travelling.

1) Being prepared for European Roads
Driving in Europe is about more than remembering to drive on the right hand side of the road, there are other differences to driving in the UK a driver should be prepared in advance for.

  • Motorway Tolls. Not all motorways are toll roads (more of this below), but for those that are tolls are paid when you leave the motorway. Make sure you keep cash and credit cards handy for these. Worth noting is that not all cards are accepted at tolls. Visa and Eurocard/Mastercard are accepted, Visa Electron and Maestro cards are not so keep that cash handy!
  • Correct documentation. You should ensure you are carrying a valid full driving license. International driving licenses are recognised, but not mandatory. A passport or other proof of ID, Travel Insurance and Drivers Insurance should also be kept handy

2) Make sure your car is in good condition before travelling

It's always worth having someone look over your car before you travel to check that everything is in good working order.

You'll also want to make sure your tyres are properly inflated, the oil, water and windscreen wash levels are all good and that you have a spare tyre and a jack with you.

Last time we tried to take the car abroad, it broke down before we even left the country and our warranty didn't cover a hire car so we were left in a bit of a pickle. It proved expensive, time consuming and almost cost us the holiday altogether.

Following this disaster, we knew we needed some peace of mind before setting off on our next adventure. We decided to draw up a short list of what we needed as reassurance against upsets such as those that had happened previously. After a little homework we discovered the following;

1) A manufacturers warranty from Mercedes lasts 3 years, but an extended warranty can cover the costs of mechanical or electrical repairs
2) Extended warranties can include hire cars should the original vehicle take sometime to repair 
3) The lenght of time of cover for an extended warranty can be chosen. For example 1, 2 or 3 years.
4) When things go wrong with older vehicles, it can be very expensive.

After searching the internet to find a suitable provider that covered the above options, we discovered the RAC. Now we make sure that we're covered for these unexpected hiccups - our mercedes warranty ensures that we're protected against the costs of repairs and labour for any mechanical and technical faults, as well as including car hire to cover the repair period too.  

3) Plan your route and check the location of service stations before hand

This is crucial if you have young children who are likely to need to stop for a toilet break. My eldest son is always guaranteed to need to stop off on ANY journey, no matter how short, so it is well worth looking up before you travel.

It's also worth planning out a route and taking a map incase your sat nav lets you down, too. Technology is amazing but, in my experience, shouldn't always be relied on 100%.

4) Plan your parking

Parking on site at Disneyland Paris can cost from 30 Euros per day, so it's certainly not cheap. 

However if you're staying at a Disney hotel than parking is free when displaying your Easy Pass which you will given when you check in to your hotel, or if you're staying at a Disney partner hotel which you booked through Disneyland Paris themselves then parking charges are either reduced or included in the cost of your booking.

 If you're staying at a Disney Partner Hotel that was booked elsewhere, a reduced rate of 25 Euros per day is charged.

Alternatively if you're travelling elsewhere, make sure that parking is included and organised ahead of time.

5) Be sure to prepare for travelling with children!

Make sure you have everything you could possibly need for a journey with children.

This means packing of plenty of snacks but being careful to make sure that they're not too messy! I find that individual snack bags work best for us.

Then you'll need things to keep them entertained too - we like to bring books and travel games, and we don't rule out using devices such as ipads, hand held gaming devices, leap readers and in car DVD players to keep them busy either (Be sure to bring a portable charger if you're using these to avert potential meltdown inducing disaster!).

And then are the anti-sickness meds, towels and bags incase of travel sickness too. You can never be too prepared when travelling with little ones and we have been caught short in that department before and it's something I don't wish to repeat!

However you get there, I hope you have a magical time. I'd love you to share your own travel tips in the comments below. 

Do you enjoy driving holiday with your family? I'd love to hear about your experiences!

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