Car tripping in the RSA
Stuck in the car for 5 hours? Do the car dance, advises Sam.
(Tammy Gardner)
I remember the first time Andreas and I did a car trip as parents. We packed up 6-month-old Joey in his bulky, multi-click car seat and then chucked all his essentials after him... into our little Volksie. Pram, camping cot, play donut, portable fan, his giant Pooh Bear; if our little snookums needed it, it was crammed in the back of that car.

All was great. Right until we started driving, and Joey started crying.

‘Um, Dreas?’ I said. ‘I can’t reach the baby to comfort him. He’s kinda wodged behind the pram. In fact, now that I think about it – that’s probably why he is crying.’

‘Can’t talk. Driving,’ said Dreas, through gritted teeth. ‘Need to get to Pretoria in 14 hours. You’re not going to need pee stops and stuff, are you?’

As you’ve probably guessed, that first trip didn’t go very well.

11 years later, with parents still 14 hours away and the kind of budget which doesn’t leave a lot of airplane money left over, we’ve got a lot better at road tripping. (Except for that PE to Drakensberg trip. Those roads are a NIGHTMARE.)

We have pretty much the same rituals as most SA families, in that we leave before the crack of dawn, take our own favourite pillows, egg mayonnaise sandwiches, and have at least one argument about who is going to have that last bag squished under their legs.

We also make most of the same mistakes as other families. We let the boys pack their own ‘trip bags’, which inevitably results in everyone squirming and pretzelling around upset for at least an hour looking for a dropped Bakugan or some other tiny, but emotionally priceless piece of plastic. Against our better judgement, we let children eat 10am greasy pitstop burgers, and then blame each other if anyone throws up. (‘I told you it was a bad idea! And what do you mean you didn’t pack any towels?’)

Mom needs to pee

But luckily, as we’ve got older and less flexible, the children have become much easier to manage on car trips. To the point where, well, I think I am now the car’s Weakest Link.

It’s not my fault; I’ve just always needed to pee a lot. And I get very antsy sitting in a car for hours. And bored. And...

‘Mom!’ yelled Joey all exasperated, about 5 hours into our last trip. ‘You KNOW we aren’t nearly there yet! The sat nav says 4 more hours; you should know this better than anyone, you are sitting right in front of it!’

‘Joe has a point, Mom,’ said Benj sternly. ‘Your constant whining is breaking my concentration. It’s hard enough reading Asterix in the car without you moaning and huffing all the time. Why don’t you play on your iPhone or something?’

‘Or look outside,’ said Andreas. ‘See that cool ridge over there? That’s a dolorite sill! Isn’t that interesting? That’s been there since the split of age-old continents...’

Yup. I am officially the most childish person in my family. Which I’m okay with, because it means I have also invented the coolest road trip game ever... Car Dancing.

Have you ever car danced? It’s frigging awesome. You play your most boppy ‘80s compilation, and then headbang your way through the Karoo. Sure you get a little stared by other motorists but by the time you’ve got your hair out of your eyes, you’ve covered, like, 100 kms.

And the best news? My boys let me do it for an hour every trip. Two if I’ve been good.

What’s your secret to happy car-tripping?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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