Categories: things to doFamilies

We’ve created this blog in partnership with Parenting NI to help parents get out the door with top tips for families.

We don’t always get the weather here in Northern Ireland but that doesn’t stop families enjoying days out and what better way to entertain the kids than a road trip! We have some top tips to make your family road tripping days as stress free as possible. So whether you’re travelling from Belfast to Ballycastle, stopping at the People’s Park, Ballymena for a swing or going for a swim and a slide at The Lake, Kilrea here are Parenting NI’s top tips to ensure a fun day out for all the family.

Tip one – Involve the kids

There’s no better way to drum up some excitement in the household than to involve the kids in planning your road trip. Is there somewhere they would really like to go? Something they would really like to see? Maybe each family member could choose one place each weekend, or draw places out of a hat to choose your destination. This is also a great time to set out your expectations for the trips. Some rules such as ‘no one is allowed to run off, let’s all stay together’ which are put in place before all the excitement leads to a much less stressful trip for all. 

Tip two – Pack your kit

Ever been out for a Sunday drive and come across a lovely sunny beach, but have no towels to enjoy it? Having a ‘Day Out’ kit that you keep in the car means no more missing out on those spontaneous adventures! Keeping a small bag in the boot of the car with a couple of towels, spare clothes or even pyjamas, wipes, suncream and a first aid kit means that you are prepared for every occasion. You could even go one step further and have a snack kit. Having some cereal bars, water or even some treats means you can extend your day out without making it too costly.

Tip three – Research your route

There are so many beautiful places to see in Northern Ireland so planning your route beforehand means that you won’t miss out. Make the most of the drive by finding out where else you can explore on the way there. Take this time to plan out breaks to stretch your legs and check where the local amenities are so you’re not searching for toilets in the middle of the countryside. You can even download a toilet locator app to make life a little easier. Having these planned stops will also prevent little ones from getting too restless in the car.

Tip four – Check out the Discover NI website

There are so many exciting things happening in Northern Ireland with something for all the family, from climbing over the rocks at the Giant’s Causeway with your toddler to visiting Let’s go Hydro with your teen, there really is something for every family! Check out new and different festivals and events that are happening such as August Craft Month and use the Family Activities and Attractions section for inspiration on the most family friendly places in Northern Ireland.

Tip five – Keep it Simple

Every day out doesn’t have to be expensive! Northern Ireland has an abundance of beautiful free spots for all the family to enjoy. Simple things such as a scavenger hunt in Portglenone Forest, or collecting mini beasts by Strangford Lough can provide hours of joy for little ones at no cost. Involve your little one in making up a scavenger hunt sheet before your trip or download one on your phone. You can even look at apps such as geocaching for hours of family fun. This is a great way to break up road trips to make them more enjoyable for all the family. Planning some road trip games such as I Spy, or a singalong can prevent bickering with siblings and make the road trip a real part of the experience.

Preparation and planning always makes the day go smoother with little ones, and hopefully Parenting NI’s Road trip Top Tips leads to a lovely enjoyable day with your family!

In partnership with Parenting NI we've developed the below map of some of the best free places to go for families.  Please note that at some sites, a nominal car park charge may apply.

Free Family Days Out

For even more ideas, check out this Budget Family Adventures blog >>