There’s nothing more Aussie than throwing a few bags into the back of the car and hitting the open road. Whether you’re heading to the coast or the country, taking a road trip is one of the best ways to see our country. With kids in tow, it’s more about jamming everything you own and the kitchen sink into the back of the mini-van, but don’t let that put you off. With a bit of preparation, you can have a road trip to remember, for all the right reasons.
- Preparation is key
This is the big one. If you don’t think ahead, you might find yourself on the side of a road with an inconsolable, hungry toddler and no snacks to offer except a wrinkly apple and a stale bottle of water (believe me, I’ve been there). Think of every eventuality and double what you think you’ll need—extra snacks, extra drinks, toys, books and entertainment for starters. Always have some kids music prepared and make sure there are a few options to please everyone.
- Choose your time of travel wisely
The old adage ‘children should be seen and not heard’ is the dream during a road trip which is why it’s always best to travel over a sleep time. Some parents like to take off early in the morning, which works well if you can transfer them from bed to car without waking them. Others choose to travel about an hour before nap time so once the excitement of the trip has worn off, the kids fall into a blissful slumber.
- Don’t be too ambitious
You may have driven from Sydney to Brisbane in one go in your twenties, but that type of schedule won’t work with kids. You’re going to need lots of breaks to let your little ones stretch their legs and run off some steam, so make sure you factor that in when planning your trip. If you’re going a long way, break it up into bite-sized chunks with stops overnight along the way. Not only will your kids be more manageable, it will give you a chance to explore all those cute towns you used to bypass.
- Have something to look forward to
Kids work well if they know there is a reward coming so make sure they know about the exciting escapades that you’ll get up to at the next destination. It might be a swim in the pool or the promise of a great playground. If it’s just an overnight pit stop, it might be just a Paddle Pop from the petrol station up the road.
- Last ditch troubleshooting
You’re on the way, the kids are bored of their toys and have eaten all their snacks but there’s still two hours to go. Depending on the age of your kids, there are heaps of road trip games you can try. ‘I spy’ is always a fun one, although if your kids are too young, you could try looking for things of a certain colour instead. You can also play versions of ‘20 questions’ and ‘Who am I?’, or create crazy stories together. Failing that, it might be time to whip out the iPad or iPhone for a bit of Play School time (just don’t forget the ear phones). You’ll be at your destination in no time.