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Family Matters

Road Trip 101 – 100% of the Fun is Getting There!

June 20th, 2014

By Dawn Booth

Family road trips can make for some of the fondest memories. And while being well-prepared for the journey can make it a hopeful smooth ride, you should be ready for unpredictable scenarios and, most important, a whole lot of fun! The following is a list of great tips, tricks and boredom-busting ideas for the road.

  1. Pack like a Pro - Packing can get overwhelming. But when/if it does, take a step back and remember you’re coming home, so you don’t have to pack it all and most forgotten items can be purchased along the way.

If it’s a weekend getaway make sure you have the essentials:

  • Enough clothes for each person a day including: extra shirts, socks, one or two sweaters and a light coat.

  • A first aid kit including: disinfecting wipes, bandages, sunblock and bug spray.

  • (Plastic sandwiches bags are great to put in with your kit to keep things sanitary.)

  • Snacks and refreshments for the ride including: cold packs for beverages and food that can last, until you arrive in Wandering River.

  • A road travel pack including: a spare tire and tools in case of a flat, booster cables, trash bags to keep the vehicle clean from clutter, towels for any unexpected accidents, toilet paper for emergency bathroom breaks, favourite pillows for back seat snoozing, and music for when the local radio stations cut out.

*Commonly Forgotten Items: Toothbrushes, shampoo, phone chargers, umbrellas and strollers.

2. The Route - With GPS’ installed in vehicles and mobile devices navigation has never been easier. Thanks to today’s technology, we no longer have to depend on memory for short cuts and Twitter can keep you informed in a moment’s time.

Plan head and check out the route and roads before you leave:

  • Look at the Weather Network to make sure clear skies are on your side.

  • On Twitter? Here are two resourceful accounts to follow for the ride.

    • @ABTransComm (Alberta Transportation) is an active account from 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. Staffed by the Communication Branch for Alberta Transportation, its tweets share traffic reports and road closures.

    • @TravelABNews (Travel Alberta News) is a great resource for keeping Albertans up-to-date with Parks Canada information and services on the tourism industry.

*Wrong-Turn Tip: If you’re travelling to Edmonton, rest assured you won’t make a wrong turn!

3. Prepare for the Unexpected – Flat tires, dead batteries and auto accidents are a few of the many unpredictable things to take place while on the road. And even though, you can take all the safety precautions, you can still find yourself in an unwelcoming circumstance.

If luck isn’t on your side, here are some tips to help you deal with it:

  • Stay calm – Whatever the situation (large or small), it’s always best to remain calm, especially when travelling with small children as they may need soothing.

  • Call for roadside assistance – Alberta Motor Association can be contacted directly at 1-800-CAA-HELP (1-800-222-4357). If it’s an emergency, dial 911.

  • Have a flat? – Ease your foot of the gas pedal and pull over to the shoulder of the road. Turn your emergency flashers on and change the tire as you normally would. If you don’t know how, make sure you or someone in the vehicle does know before you depart on the journey.

* Driving Advice: Speeding plays a large factor in many motor accidents.  Don’t rush the ride as it’s the best part of the joyful experience.

4. Bored Kids? Get Clever – It wouldn’t be a successful trip without a few classic “Road Trip Games”. Some old-fashioned family favourites like “I Spy”, “Counting Cows”, “Twenty Questions” and “Rock, Paper, Scissors” are a simple solution to calm backseat bickering and pass the time. (It’s also handy to pack a small duffel bag with your child’s favourite toys, colouring books and crayons.)

Forget how to play the classics? According to, here’s how:

  • I Spy: Someone says, "I spy with my little eye something green." Whoever guesses the item correctly goes next. You could limit the items to what's in the area. Or you could get tricky and play I Spied, selecting items that you've already passed

  • Counting Cows:Play as individuals or teams. First, decide on a destination where you will stop counting. Then, count the cows or big rigs on your side of the road. The goal is to have the highest number when the destination is reached. Pass a cemetery on your side and you have to start over again. If there aren't any cows on your route, try counting red cars, mailboxes or large trucks (big rigs).

  • Twenty Questions: One player thinks of a famous person, place or thing. Everyone else gets to ask the player 20 questions, which must be answered "yes" or "no." For example, "Does it know how to read?" is a valid question, but "What's its favorite book?" is not. Whoever guesses correctly gets a turn to think up something.

  • Rock, Paper, Scissors: Two players each put one hand behind their backs. Each person turns that hand into a scissors, using the index and middle fingers; or paper, by holding the hand flat with the fingers straight; or a rock, by making a fist. Both players say "One, two, three," and show their hands. The scissors beats paper because it cuts paper. Paper wins over rock because it can wrap up the rock. And rock beats scissors because it makes them blunt.

* Up the Car Competition: Pack cool prizes and/or treats for the winner of each game!  

5. Record the Experience – Use your camera, camcorder and/or smartphone to capture the silly snapshots and beautiful landscapes for your future trip down memory lane.  Because even though half – if not all - the fun is getting there, the other half is looking back, reminiscing and laughing at the unforgettable family moments.

Here are a few tips, tricks and unique ways to capture the experience from everyone’s point-of-view.

  • Pack disposable cameras – They do still exist and if everyone in the family has one, it makes it more exciting as the results are a surprise to see.

  • Stock up on memory and power – Digital cameras are definitely the most favoured way to go, be sure to them fully-charged and pack extra batteries and memory cards.

  • Make a photo checklist – Often we get so wrapped up on the ride, we forget to take important pictures. For example, the infamous family group shot. By making a quick list, you have a better chance at remembering to take the photos you wanted.


If you are taking a family road trip this summer, share your experience Fort McMurray’s Child Magazine by sending your photos to Editor Kerri Leland at and tweet on the go using our road trip hashtag at #FMCMRoadTrip2014.

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