30 Jul 2019
A family road trip is an Australian tradition and a rite of passage for many young families. Packing up the car and heading out on an adventure to somewhere new is what family memories are made of but it’s important to set yourself up for success so that your Aussie dream isn’t turned into a nightmare. Here are our tips for how to get the most from your next family road trip.
Plan your journey
Sure you’ll want to plan where you’re going but go deeper than that and plan your rest stops. When travelling with kids it’s important to make the most of those stops and choose places that will give them the chance to explore. Look to parks with playgrounds, ovals, even key attractions such as museums or “big things” to marvel at; the giant Koala between Stawell and Horsham is a great stopover.
Short and sweet is the answer
It’s wise not to pack too many hours into a day behind the wheel. While you may be ok to drive for 10 hours a day, we can guarantee your kids won’t be. Make your trip shorter, whether that be adding more overnight stop overs or not trekking as far. As your kids get older you can venture further.
Schedule regular stops and be prepared
Pack a picnic blanket, pull out your esky and have a picnic at your rest stop. While it may be tempting to power through and keep going during meal times it’s so important for everyone to have some time out of the car. Grab a footy or a soccer ball and have a kick so you can all burn off some energy while you get some fresh air and the driver gets a rest from staring at the road.
Pack healthy snacks
It may seem easier to just grab snacks on the road but when your kids wander into the roadhouse and spy the mountains of colourful lollies and fizzy drinks on offer it will be hard to tempt them towards an apple! Healthy snacks will give both kids and parents a steady stream of energy rather than bouncing off the car walls jacked up on sugar one minute before the inevitable sugar crash the next. So take the time to pre plan your road trip snacks, you won’t just save money but your sanity.
Load up the glovebox
A car's glovebox and centre console is really a parent's tool box on a road trip. Take the time to stock it with the things you will need close at hand such as wet wipes, hand sanitiser, band aids, rubbish bags, sunscreen and maybe even "be good" incentives like chocolate treats or gold star stickers.
Utilise your GPS
Modern cars will allow you to plug into google maps or something similar and will give you an estimated time. Instead of being asked "are we there yet?” 100 times, let everyone know how they can check in on the progress themselves.
Bring the entertainment
Pack a goody bag full of colouring in books, stickers (although forewarning, these may end up all over your backseat!), travel boards games, really anything that can keep the kids minds entertained for a little while. But don’t give them everything at once, stagger the giving out of these goodies or the kids will inspect it all, and be bored in the first half hour of your 6 hour road trip. It goes without saying but no matter how much your child loves slime, don’t pack things like Play-Doh or things that make a real mess of your car. Stickers scratch off windows, washable textas can be cleaned out of upholstery but slime will get into crevices you didn’t know your car had!
Kids may not even be aware of the wonders of a road trip game. It lifts everyone’s eyes up and looking out at the scenery as you pass by, which is really the point of a road trip, to experience parts of Australia you haven’t seen before. Games like Eye Spy or 20 Questions are great but maybe avoid more physical ones such as Punch Buggy which generally turns violent quickly. If you’re feeling creative you could make your own puzzle games or download some and pass them out in the car. Road trip bingo is a family favourite and gets everyone involved.
Be your own DJ
Road trips are a great way to break away from Disney tunes and introducing your kids to some of your favourites. Put together a playlist which combines a few of your favourite songs from your youth, with some modern tunes that the kids will know. You might just open up a new world of music to their young ears.
When all else fails try a gadget.
Whether that be a DVD player, iPad or handheld game these electronic devices can turn your trip from one of chaos, to peace and quiet in seconds. It’s worth investing in headphones for each child so that you don’t have multiple kids movies competing with each other and you don’t have listen to whatever they’re watching!
Now that you're armed with all you need to make your next family road trip great, plan your next getaway now.