You can tell the school holidays have arrived by the co-ordinated sound of the nation's parents deep breathing and counting to 10. Yet here's a novel idea: instead of letting the kids drive you round the bend this summer why not drive them somewhere instead?
An American-style road trip could be just the remedy. I'm excited to report that child-friendly and budget-conscious company Keycamp (0844 406 0319; keycamp.co.uk ) is breaking into fresh territory this year with some new campervan trips across California. Book a state-of-the-art RV, equipped with cooking facilities and flushing loos, and the kids will love you for ever.
Nervous drivers need not fear because you get full training when you pick up your vehicle in San Francisco. An eight-day sojourn from 25 August for two adults and two children, staying in a four-berth van, costs £1,421, including a one-night stay in a hotel. And, if you pull up at one of their pitches along the way, a 10 per cent discount on the nightly rate is thrown in. Check out Keycamp's similar deals in Florida and on the East Coast.
Talking of RVs, I have to mention Escape Campervans (00 1 310 370 0789; escapecampervans.com ) – perfect for anyone who likes to make a statement when they drive. This little hire company specialises in "decorated Minibagos" in California, each individually and outlandishly painted by local artists. Rates start at $59 (£36) a day and, despite the kooky appearance, the vehicles are air-conditioned and have cookers, fridges, sinks and running water.
But what if you're not enamoured with the idea of sleeping in a van? You can always rent an MV (a motor vehicle, or car, to you and me) and stay in friendly family hotels. Lots of companies offer bespoke itineraries and will book hotels for you in advance, taking much of the stress out of a road trip. All you need to do is hit the road and take in the scenery. I've got my eye on one with US specialist Bon Voyage (0800 316 3012; bon-voyage.co.uk ), whose Captivating Colorado tour, set in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, looks like great fun. For around £1,200 per person, including return flights, you can take in Denver, Aspen and the Rocky Mountain National Park, with lots of child-friendly activities, including a historical trip on the Durango and Silverton Steam Train.
Ranch America (0845 277 3306; ranchamerica.co.uk) is also offering some excitement this year, with family road trips from £700 per person. Take the kids to explore Navajo and Apache country in the heart of Arizona; explore Phoenix and the Grand Canyon for a couple of nights; then get your kicks on Route 66. You can't get a better American road trip than that – and it beats being driven mad by the kids.