Do you love travelling and exploring different destinations? Do you hate the time you have to spend packing and driving to get to your favourite destination? And then asking yourself: How do I keep the kids/family entertained for the long journey ahead of us? Can you actually still have fun while road-tripping?
Yass Valley to Wee Jasper - What? Wee stop?
We've just recently been on a major road trip. One mum, a car (ok maybe more a truck of a car) and 2 kids age 4 & 6. To be honest, before the trip I felt shit scared but also very excited. What are my thoughts now? I'll do it again! Bring it on.
Look we did take iPads and you might use similar devices. But think about a few alternatives that actually work!
Popular games like Connect Four, Snakes & Ladders, UNO and Monopoly, have been made into road trip versions. You can get this in portable cases, that even allow the kids (or yourselves) to stop mid-game, store and reopen exactly where you left the game, without losing any pieces all over the car.
An oldie but a goodie is 'I Spy' - it engages everyone and can be great fun. 'Number Plate Bingo', where you list all the letters of the alphabet and the first player to spot and cross off each letter wins. 'Never-Ending Story', one person starts a story with a single sentence and the next person adds a sentence to make up an adventure, you will be amazed where this goes, there are some very creative children out there and this helps pass the time.
2.) Activity Books & Drawing
Colouring or activity books are a great way for kids and adults to spend some quiet time. Get the kids to draw pictures about their trip.
Make a list of things that you want to count on your trip. For example on our list we counted 1.) How many kangaroos (only the live ones) did we see? 2.) How many emus, koalas & wombats did we see? 3.) List of something special e.g. we saw a seal or we drove through Mildura
Wow - no one else around us. *why maps can come in handy*
Go old school, purchase a set of road maps and get the kids to plot the journey, highlight the towns along the way and ask them for the distances between towns. There are endless ways to teach them map reading and Australia's geography.
Don't be limited by the route you're taking, make it enjoyable by looking for towns on the map that start with the letter 'W'. The possible questions are endless but don't overdo it, like all good things they come in moderation. Even combine new & old technology by researching facts online about some of the towns you will travel through.
I loved having the map with me this trip around, just in case I had no reception. The next trip I will use it for the kids to find locations.
Audiobooks bring books to life and can be immersive and entertaining. Plus, they can also help improve literacy for young listeners! They are also an excellent option for those who suffer from motion sickness. Perfect for the drivers - a little bit of quiet time.
We loved this part of entertaining. We either listened to audiobooks together or at times the kids listened to their own books on the iPad with headphones. They could either draw or look out of the windows while listening. (No screen time this way)
5.) Music & Singing along (as loudly as you can)
Music ignites all areas of development and skills for school readiness, including intellectual, social-emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. It helps the body and mind work together. Singing releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain. That's why singing along to music while driving will just make everyone happy!
6.) Rest Stops
Have a break and explore!
Every road authority encourages rest breaks every hour. Even the latest model cars have warnings that appear at set times or at distance intervals. But don't limit the stop to a walk around the vehicle, make it a real stop. Pack something to eat for these pitstops, do some form of exercise, make it a photo marker that signifies a point in the journey that you can look back on years later. Or find a point of interest ahead the makes the stop worthwhile, a short side trip off the main route can uncover some real gems along the way.
I will share a couple of our stops! But yes way more fun exploring something and then potentially deciding 'this is where we will stop for today'!
7.) Healthy Snacks
When travelling with young kids snacks are pretty much a must-have. But not only are healthy snacks important in entertaining the kids, but they keep the adults alert and increase energy. Avoid stopping for junk-foods. Have different foods pack.
One piece of advice: if you have lots of watermelon for snacks, be prepared for multiple wee-stops along the way... Hahahaha I just couldn't imagine how much the girls had to wee - they didn't drink anything. But they had a massive container full of fruit to share and watermelon was a big chunk of that.
8.) Early Starts
Another tip for those with a young family is to make an early start. Make sure that the driver gets adequate sleep prior to the early departure. Pack the night before, bundle them into the car while they are sleeping just before dawn and get a good 2 -3 hours up the road before they wake and need a rest stop.
Just remember that when you are out in the country driving in the early morning hours/evening hours you might encounter much more wild-life. Can be fun aka counting games or you can change the game up into how many did we miss... oops. Just make sure you stay safe.
9.) Make it fun
At the end of the day, you can make the trip part of your holiday. Have fun and make sure you have a nice drink at the end of the day.
I am sure that you have some amazing tips for road tripping with kids, too. Let me know some of your favourites and stay tuned for tips when travelling in NSW & VIC outback!
'Mum - can we take the dogs with us?'