So, you’re travelling for a quick break or holiday, the most dangerous way to travel on our roads in South Africa with just over 12 436 fatalities in 2022 alone... see HERE.
An image of the road while traveling
Can you see it?

...which is a 10 person decrease from the previous year in 2021.

Guess who's about to embark on a perilous car adventure with a 6-year-old co-pilot? Yep, yours truly! Because, you know, family has suddenly become this monumental thing, and nothing says "excitement" to kids like cousins, presents, and quality family time. So, buckle up, folks! We're diving headfirst into the chaos, armed with snacks, toys, and a whole lot of patience.

Now, to make sure our journey is more sitcom than survival drama, here are some tips to not only keep you safe but also maintain a semblance of sanity. After all, navigating the roads with kids these days feels like trying to interpret a GPS in ancient hieroglyphics, thanks to their digital and mobile world.

So, join me on this adventure, where safety is the name of the game, and staying vigilant is the key to survival. Remember, it's not just about reaching your destination; it's about doing so with your sanity intact and the car in one piece. Buckle up for both safety and a good read – because, trust me, you might need it!

Tips for a safe and enjoyable road trip


1. ALWAYS WEAR A SEAT BELT! Buckle up!

This is the number one rule, the numero uno, the grand poobah, the holy grail of road safety - I cannot express this enough - A seat belt should be on before the car is even switched on to run… and removed only when the car has arrived at its destination and has been switched off.

Oh, and a friendly reminder: sharing is caring, but not when it comes to seat belts! No tag-team buckling up, especially for the kiddos. One belt per passenger, folks. Let's keep it safe, secure, and solo!

A teddy wearing a seat belt
Rather safe than sorry!

2. GO FOR A CAR SERVICE OR CAR CHECK-UP!

Before you hit the road like a rockstar, let's talk about pampering your four-wheeled companion. It's time for the ultimate spa day – car style! To ensure your journey is as smooth as a freshly paved highway and your sanity stays intact, treat your vehicle to a thorough check-up.

Cue the qualified mechanic, the unsung hero of stress-free road trips. They're the wizards who'll cast spells on your tires, give your shocks a pep talk, check the pulse of your battery, and ensure your seat belts are ready for action. Oh, and let's not forget the fluids – because a dehydrated car is not a happy car.

And here's a tip for the cool kids – don't neglect the air conditioner. Trust me; a hot car is not a happy place. So, before you embark on your epic journey, give your ride the green light from your mechanic. Your car will thank you, and you'll thank yourself when you're cruising down the road in style.

3. GET A GOOD NIGHT'S REST!

As I mentioned earlier, over 12 000 road fatalities last year alone! You need to be wide awake. I always tell my friends and family; it’s not you, it’s everyone around you.

Now, for a dash of road trip wisdom: follow the two-hour rule. Not just for the mandatory snack and potty breaks (although those are essential), but also for a bit of fun. Discover the wonders of roadside playgrounds, tidy up the back seat chaos, and gear up for the next leg of your adventure. Pro tip: stash an extra plastic bag for all the wrappers and juice bottles – because a tidy car is a happy car.

Feeling a bit drowsy? Don't be a hero – pass the keys to the next responsible adult. And if you can swing it, schedule your drive during daylight hours. Why? Because seeing where you're going is surprisingly beneficial. Keep those peepers peeled, folks.

To combat the yawns, ensure your driving throne is as comfy as a cloud. Straighten up that posture, munch on a snack (preferably not during a hairpin turn), and keep the road trip playlist pumping. Your well-rested self will thank you, and so will your fellow passengers.

4. BACKSEAT DRIVERS

Ah, the backseat – where the real road trip magic (and potential chaos) unfolds. Now, let's talk about the VIP occupants of this zone: the kiddos. Rule number one – children under 12 are like VIPs; they always get the backseat. Why? Well, because the front seat and passenger-side airbags can throw a party that's no fun for anyone, especially if your little one is lacking in the "bigger body" department.

Boost up that safety game by ensuring the booster seat is the fortress of security it's meant to be. Double-check those doors, too – we're talking child lock level of security. After all, you don't want any impromptu acrobatics or accidental exits mid-drive.

Now, let's play car detective. Investigate the backseat for potential hazards – poisonous substances, sharp objects, sneaky choking hazards, and any loose materials plotting escape. Your car is not a playground for danger, so pack up those valuables in the trunk and lock them away like the treasures they are.

Buckle up, little travelers! The backseat adventure awaits, and we're making safety our actual copilot.

5. KEEP CALM!

Picture this: a car cruising down the highway, a driver focused on the road, and in the back, a scene from a blockbuster action movie – kids unbuckled, bouncing like human popcorn, and causing a ruckus that could rival a rock concert. Disaster in the making, right?

Enter the golden rule of road tripping with kids – the importance of keeping calm. This applies to EVERYONE.

So, spread the word: buckle up and tone it down. It's not just a suggestion; it's a survival strategy. The driver's focus is the secret sauce to a successful road trip, and wild antics in the backseat are the kryptonite. Let's make the car a sanctuary of serenity, where the soundtrack is a symphony of road trip tunes, not a cacophony of chaos.

Little travelers, take note – your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to keep it low-key in the back. The road trip adventure is the main event, and a calm, collected crew is the key to reaching your destination with your sanity intact.

keep calm graphic

6. NO MOBILES WHILE YOU DRIVE!

Here's the deal: for the safety of everyone in the car and the families cruising alongside you, that phone needs a timeout until you hit the destination jackpot.

Let's get real – driving and texting is a duo destined for disaster. So, before you ignite that engine, declare your departure to the family paparazzi, and then pack that phone away like a precious cargo. Trust me, the world won't end if you're temporarily MIA from the digital realm. Now, let's address the hands-free enthusiasts out there. Sure, it sounds cool to chat away while cruising down the highway, but let's not kid ourselves – it's still a distraction dance. Save the conversation for the pit stops; your undivided attention on the road is the VIP pass to a safe journey.

Bonus tip: stashing the phone away also doubles as a genius move for emergency preparedness. A fully charged phone is your superhero sidekick when unexpected road trip plot twists occur.

So, repeat after me: "Phone off, eyes on the road. Phone off, eyes on the road." It's not just a catchy slogan; it's a mantra for road trip success. Drive safe, stay focused, and remember, the only tweets we're interested in are from the birds outside your car window.

Did you know? The region of the brain that processes moving images, decreases its activity by up to one third when you’re listening to the other side of the line.

7. PACK AN EMERGENCY KIT!

#JustInCase – because life is unpredictable, and road trips are the perfect stage for unexpected plot twists. Imagine this: a flat tire, a mysterious thud under the hood, or an impromptu dance with the breakdown blues. It happens, especially when you've got the kiddos in tow.

So, channel your inner Boy Scout and be prepared. Pack an emergency kit that screams "I've got this." Here's your checklist for superhero-level readiness:

  • Water: Because hydration is key, even in roadside adventures.
  • Warm Blankets: Snuggle-worthy and essential for unexpected chilly moments.
  • Plasters and Bandages: Because superhero capes can't heal everything.
  • Flashlight: Shine a light on any dark and mysterious car troubles.
  • Jumper Cables: For that heroic jumpstart when your car needs a boost.
  • Flares: Because sometimes you need to signal the universe that you need a hand.
  • Tools to Change a Flat Tire: Because flat tires are the unexpected potholes of life.
  • Fully Charged Cell Phone (and Charging Cables): Your lifeline to the outside world.
  • First Aid Kit: Because minor bumps and bruises are part of the road trip narrative.

And here's a Pro tip: when fate throws a curveball, move your vehicle off the road – safety first, always. Never park on the shoulder or breakdown lane unless it's a genuine emergency.

As for the cherry on top, consider joining a roadside assistance plan. It's like having a superhero hotline for your car. With these essentials in tow, you're not just a road tripper; you're a road trip champion.

8. DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!

A picture of a guy opening a beer in the car
DO NOT DRINK & DRIVE!

If you don’t know this rule, SHAME ON YOU! Never drink alcohol before or during your trip.

The golden ticket here is simple: never let alcohol be the backseat driver on your road trip. Save the drinks for the destination celebration, not the journey.

And while we're on the subject of road trip etiquette, let's talk speed. No need to channel your inner race car driver; instead, embrace the tortoise mentality. Know the rules of the road, stick to the speed limits, and be the considerate and pleasant driver everyone secretly wishes for.

Imagine this: a road filled with drivers who are zen masters behind the wheel, following the rules like they're road trip commandments. It's a beautiful vision, isn't it? So, let's make it a reality. Drive safe, drive smart, and let's all reach our destinations with smiles on our faces and stories to tell.

If you've got more road trip wisdom to share, don't be shy – drop your tips in the comments below. Here's to safe travels, enjoyable adventures, and the open road calling your name. Take care out there, fellow road trippers, and may your journey be as epic as the destination!

Martin is a digital marketing specialist, a producer and always online. His educational background is Digital Marketing and has given him a broad base from which to approach many topics. His little girl comes first and in his spare time he really enjoys making music and creating content.

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