Roads trips are so fun. We’ve all got memories of road trips either from our own childhood or from our early twenties when we went road tripping. For me car trips involved many many stops to allow us to throw up on the side of the road but my early twenties saw many trips up the coast chasing essentially boys that were chasing waves.
Having just spent a week in the last month with a girlfriend and her three boys and my own boys. 5 boys in a car for a week long driving holiday was definitely an adventure. I have had to take a month to gather my thoughts and establish my feelings. There were times when my girlfriend was having such a hard time she wanted to pack up and go home.
Kids going anywhere will get excited and with excitement comes loads of energy. You need to release some of that along your way. Plan. Look at the map and establish possibly stops every two hours and research a park, or beach. I know it might seem like a lot of effort to have towels, swimmers and sunscreen at the ready but a 20 minute swim is essentially 40 mins in a park in regards to releasing energy. Swimming has the added advantage of cooling everyone down. Having said that you might be driving to the snow and swimming is out. Find something of interest. We stop at an animal park on the way to our summer holiday and it might seem that $80 is an expensive stop. I agree but the park is close to the freeway so we don’t lose time turning off and the kids are relatively corralled so we don’t lose them. We have the added bonus of a topic of discussion until the next stop.
I try to drive around sleep times so that we can get at least some of the driving done with a sleep. This just means you can get a fair chunk of the driving done. Always leave first thing in the morning and yes I recommend McDonalds for breakfast or having rolls packed in the car. I recommend planning your first stop for breakfast but of course it is dependent upon where you can stop. For us leaving Sydney I like to get on the freeway going north and stopping at the end of the freeway at Maitland or nearby as I then have that behind me. I like to leave at 5.00 but reality is we don’t get away until 5.30. I try to push the driving as much as I can to get the majority of driving behind early in the day and allow myself time to stop for toilet stops and energy releases as many times as I need to for the last part of the trip. Australia has big distances so it can be an hour or two between towns.
My Number one Road Trip tip.
With the research you conduct on your route and your stops create a scavenger hunt. You can adjust the scavenger hunt to the age of your audience but essentially they need to find clues along the trip. I would not have more than 10 -12 questions for each leg of your trip. I also like to include questions about emotional reactions. My girlfriend and I were in the Flinders Ranges and the scavenger hunt I created went something like this.
If you look out what is the name of where you are (the first look out was the answer)
Something made in China (the rock formation called the Great Wall of China was the answer)
Find a triangle
Find three things that are yellow.
What is the Hotel’s name and what are they famous for?
Name three types of plants you saw today/ three animals
Tell me what you are proud of today.
You get the idea and at the end of the day the kids got sweets for all their right answers. We had terrible behaviour in the car prior to this activity and with this all the kids were engaged and interacting. It was an amazing change to our week prior to this. The added bonus was it got the kids engaged in where we were and learning about what they were seeing. Natural environments and scenery for small kids is hard to get them engaged, so this is just one suggestion that has worked for me. If you can draw make the hunt layout a map of the day. Allow yourself some flexibility so you don’t have too much to check off.
Other ideas for road trips
My husband recalls a memory from his childhood when he travelled around Europe and the only tape they had in the car was Billy Joel. He now relates any Billy Joel song to that trip and the endless hours of hearing it on loop. Have some playlists ready for your road trip that engage the whole family. You will need everyone sing along songs and background songs. I cross my fingers that this years trip up the coast is Wiggle free for the first time this coming summer!
Games for the car. A favourite in our car is punch buggy and pinch mini but as there are fewer and fewer VW combi’s on the road and fewer and fewer original VW beetles we have adapted this to red cars. We have recently learnt a similar version that is double letters on the number plate. Eye spy with my little eye and animal, vegetable and mineral are also popular in our car.
In summary road tripping just requires planning of pit stops and research as to what is available in relation to amenities and attractions along your way. In my early twenties we of course road tripped with no clue what was ahead and what was available. It would be nice to imagine you can do this with little ones but you do need to ensure you have access to foods and supplies you need. The Flinders Ranges for example didn’t stock nappies or formula. Some planning will make your trip easy and relaxed.
Guest post published by Virginia from – kidsandluggage.com.au