In our yearly pilgrimages as a migrant family from the land of residence to that of origin, we can consider ourself a sort of Masters of the Car Trip. This is a topic well known to all those living abroad and which immediately becomes a source of discussion and exchange of advice among expatriate family members. In the last three years we did more than 6000 km, crossing borders enclosed in a metallic black station wagon. Even our car has had three different plates since it is “our car”!
The trips have been meticulously described through the chronicles on my Instagram account but since I think this could be a hot topic for a lot of us, migrants in another country with families on board, I’ll try to draw up a list with valid advice for those of you who find themselves in a similar situation.
1.Organize remaining “easy-going” : not an easy task if you are the only adult in the group, with control over the events of life. I found myself travelling in a car with Gea aged 1yo and half and my sister (17 yo at that time). In that specific case, my attempt not to fall victim to the excessive “intrusion” was to delegate to the young adult of the group, my sister some of the choices to be taken. During the organizing phase she decided the departure times and what to do after arriving in a new place. In general, try to plan the stops not too much in advance because you may never know the right time to stop until you ARE in it. Trust me. Traffic jams, sudden unavoidable needs, tantrums and need to crack knuckles can just come unexpected. Don’t let these events ruin your mood. If you start the trip enjoying even the journey (and taking more time than it will take to finish it) you will arrive safe&sound and with your brain still there 🙂
2.Keep in mind the season : we usually travel between mid-June and beginning of July, so both the prices and the weather proved to be quite mild. Despite this, during one of our trip from France to Italy, we suffered an unnatural heat (38 degrees on June 15th in France !!) and there we could nothing against the dramatic tantrums of the little one, which unfortunately ruined our short stay in Arles. My advice is therefore always to consider an alternative in case of too much heat / cold to be done in any place in which it is expected to arrive.
3.Blessing and proclaiming the validity of self-weaning: I will never stop thanking the dozens of articles read on self- weaning and of course choosing it as a method of approaching solid foods. Gea eats everything, she does not give any problems when you are away from home and if you do not want to eat at that time, that’s okay. I do not go in paranoia and she recovers with a more substantial snack. One particular detail: despite everything, I always brought with me one of those handy portions of organic precooked food when travelling (mine were Auchan but there are all kinds of) to be heated at the bar on duty if you want to opt for an aperitif and not for dinner sitting at the table.
4.Choose a “magic” word that avoids conflicts : for sure, during an on the road trip , there could be moments of tension / panic due to a strange astral conjuncture of factors. In particular, we have traveled with age with high potential for screaming&wtf (see under adolescence, almost two yo and thirty unemployed reseacher) and therefore it was necessary to be able to manage conflicts in the most rational way and where possible, to prevent them. We decided to establish a word that everyone could say in the moment of need. A sort of graven-word having the power to avoid to light the fuse. We used a song during two trips and some very silly Italian words that have the power to make us laughing a lot.
5.Slow down the pace of the journey after the first two stages : very heartfelt advice, of which we have experienced the utility only too late. Especially if the driver is unique ( ABSOLUTELY SLOW DOWN THE RHYTHM after the first two days. In one particular trip, I was the only driver and I was so tired that think of taking the car the next day made me almost sick. In that specific case the potential conflicts would have been greatly reduced if we had put this advice into practice.
Here, these are the main tips that, after several trips by car, seem to me the most useful. Surely the composition of our station wagon has decreed the relevance of the topics touched, but in principle I think they are fairly reasonable advice, no?
Let me know about your personal experiences while travelling by car!