Here are 5 road trip tips that will make your journey better or safer. Are there any tip that you could share too?
1. BOOT COVERS / CARGO BLINDS
It’s heating up again – If you have a vehicle with an exposed cargo/boot area (like a wagon, SUV, or hatch) then it probably came with a ‘curtain’ or ‘shelf’ or ‘blind’ like in the photo. Please make sure you use them – they are really great inventions that help in so many ways:
- Savings. By covering the boot when the aircon is turned on, then the cooling space is suddenly reduced by about a quarter. The result: you car will be cooler, using less fuel, saving money, and helping the environmental!
- Safety. Having the blind or shelf in place can help to contain luggage or items in the boot. The last thing you want is the stuff at the back flying forwards on the passengers in an accident. Don’t forget to also use those luggage tie down points if you have big bulky items.
- Protection. By using the boot cover, prying eyes can see what’s in your boot. So if you are traveling with valuables, you’ve got added security. The boot cover also act as a shield to block out harmful UV rays of the sun, which could damage items.
- Looks. By covering the toys, luggage, computers, etc in the boot (or messy daily necessities you haven’t gotten around to taking out yet) your car looks neat and beautiful – which is good for zen.
BONUS TIP: You can cover the boot side windows with BabyGotShade or another shade option to further reduce heat getting into your car.
2. DUAL CAB UTE JACKS
Are you about to road trip in your dual can ute with a child in a car safety seat? Where’s your car jack if you get a flat tyre? Under the back seat? Behind the back seat? Is that the best spot?
Have you thought about the massive inconvenience if you get a flat tyre while road tripping?
You would have pull over, get your child out of the car into the hot sun, uninstall the car safety seat and put it in the hot sun, retrieve the car jack, do all the things involved with changing the stupid flat tyre, then put the jack back in its bracket, then reinstall the car safety seat (ensuring it’s 100% safe for your little one), then pop bub back into the now hot car seat and set off again…
If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, I think you have 2 options:
- Pop into Absolute Baby and I’ll remove the jack and correctly install your car safety seats before your holiday road trip
- Pay a membership to a roadside assistance and then if you get a flat tyre, wait for them to show up and use their trolly jack to change your flat tyre…
I know which one I’d prefer….
3. BE PREPARED.
Because you can never be everywhere at once, you can’t control if you’re toddler might drop their spoon, or make a mess… Maybe your take away road trip lunch order was handed over without cutlery or napkins or an ice cream spoon is dropped, or you forget the knife to cut up a threenagers apple….
Do yourself a favour and find one of these toothbrush travel containers (or a clipseal bag or small makeup bag would work too)
Then add a plastic knife, fork, spoon, silicone or metal straw and napkin or 2 for each person who is usually in your car. Then you’re prepared, mumma!
PS: a roll of paper hand towel and a roll of toilet paper in the boot is another good addition to the car.
You and all passengers in your car must always wear a seatbelt or be in a correctly secured child car safety seat when driving, it’s the law and significantly reduces the risk of serious injury or loss of life in a crash. It is you – the driver – who is responsible for ensuring every passenger in the vehicle is correctly restrained before starting your journey.
Research has shown that seat belts can reduce the risk of injury in a crash by at least 90%. They keep you in your seat and prevent you from being thrown about inside the car, striking against hard surfaces, hitting other passengers or being thrown out of the car.
Did you know that Aussie cars have two different types of seatbelt systems?
The Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR) is super comfortable for adults as it allows the seat belt to freely extend and retract with movement, yet locks the belt during a sudden stop or upon impact.
The Automatic Locking Retractor (ALR) has a ratchet-type system and is really convenient when installing a capsule or car safety seat because once activated it provides a secure fit without using a seat belt locking clip or gated buckle.
To activate the ALR: pull the shoulder section of the belt all the way out, thread it through the car safety seat belt path, then allow the belt to retract to the desired length. (NOTE: Unbuckling the belt and allowing it to retract fully deactivates the ALR retractor.)
A seat belt is still effective for pregnant women and is required by law. You should place the lap section of the belt as low as possible under your belly, so it sits over the upper thighs and pelvis.
5. HEAD RESTS
Most people take head rests for granted and don’t give their position a second thought when climbing into a car. I think even fewer people would count them as the extremely important safety feature that they are. Head rests (actually called head restraints) don’t just give you a comfortable place to pop your head (and a place to secure a mirror for bub); they play an important role in protecting your head and neck.
Head restraints are an automotive safety feature included in Australian Design Rule (ADR) 22A of all new cars in Australia from 1975 model onwards. Head restraints can be attached or integrated into the top of each seat to limit the rearward movement of the adult occupant’s head, relative to the torso, in a collision. This can prevent or mitigate whiplash or injury to the cervical vertebrae.
The following guide on how to properly adjust the head restraint in your vehicle will make sure you’re getting the most out of them when it comes to YOUR safety.
Head restraints should be positioned at least as high as your head’s centre of gravity (i.e. eye level or higher) to minimize neck distortion. Adjust the head restraint so that it’s even with the top of your head. If it won’t reach the top of your head, make it as high as it will go.
(For people on the short side, like me, no adjustment from the lowest setting is needed. If it’s higher than the top of your head in the unadjusted position, that’s OK, too.)
To minimize neck travel in an accident, the headrest should be adjusted so that it is almost touching the back of the head or this distance is as small as possible — preferably less than 10cm.
Lastly, adjusting your seat back’s recline angle could help shorten the distance between the head restraint and the back of your head.
The vehicle owner’s manual contains information regarding the adjustment of headrests.
Rebecca is a twin mum with a passion for child passenger safety. She completed ACRI training in 2015 to become a CPST and had a great trainer in Townsville. Then on returning to Rocky in 2016, she started Absolute Baby with the goal of helping parents and caregivers navigate the world of child car safety seat stages and terminology so they feel empowered rather than overwhelmed.
For more expert advice on child car safety seats visit Bec at the Absolute Baby Rockhampton shop. 📍 234 Lion Creek Road, Wandal Qld 4700 Australia.