Before you load anything in the boot, check that the tyre on the spare wheel is correctly inflated.

Johannesburg - "Are we there yet?" It must be the question parents fear most when travelling with children.

But some basic preparation can take most of the sting out of that long holiday journey.

Here's a handy checklist compiled by Gumtree SA automotive head Jeff Osborne of 12 essentials for a hassle-free road trip:

Know where you're going: Get your navigation device up to date and load the route to your destination before you leave - not while you're driving. And slide an old-fashioned map book under your seat, just in case your GPS runs out of amps.

Refills for rug rats: pack a cooler-bag with healthy snacks and drinks, but keep the sugar load light; the last thing you want is the kids bouncing off the head-liner.

Medication in motion: Pack a plastic food container with any medication family members will need on the trip (not forgetting the motion sickness medication!) as well as emergency medical supplies such as plasters, disinfectant and tweezers for splinters.

Feed their minds: Have some entertainment available, either games and activities they can play on the way, or some audiobooks. Listening to The Jungle Book for the 134th time is worth it for the silence from the peanut gallery.

Damage control: Keep spare nappies where you can get to them, as well as spare clothes for older children - they are bound to spill something on themselves somewhere along the road.

Decontamination station: Hand sanitizer and wet wipes or a roll of paper towels are especially important if you have toddlers aboard.

Rubbish dump: Designate a brightly coloured plastic bag as the only place for discarded consumables, unless you want the car looking like one.

Your papers, please: Keep essential keys and documentation, such as driving licences, passports, accommodation receipts and confirmation, in the glove compartment, rather than inaccessibly packed away in the boot.

Entry visa: Carry a spare key for the car in your wallet or handbag, not in the car.

Pay it forward: Keep loose cash handy for toll booths and parking areas; unless your surname is Houdini you will battle to get to your wallet while you're wearing a seatbelt.

Flat spin: Before you load anything in the boot, check that the tyre on the spare wheel is correctly inflated, and that the jack and wheel-brace are there (and in working condition!).

Amp it up: Make sure that your phone is fully charged before you leave, and that you have the contact numbers for medical and emergency services, police and the place where you're going stored in its memory - as well as your next-door neighbour's, just in case somebody left a tap running or the stove on.

Motoring.co.za

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