Family Life

How to survive the family road trip

road trip

With most states in school holiday mode many of us are looking forward to putting mundane routines behind us and getting away from it all.

Me, I’m dreaming of tropical island escapes, romantic getaways and European vacations. But unfortunately dreaming is all I’m doing! The reality is if you have little ones or even bigger ones, or both your holiday plans will be very, very different.

Different however, doesn’t necessarily mean bad. It just means a little more organizing and preparation. It has taken me about ten years of travelling with children to realise that the more prepared you are, the more enjoyable the trip.

Road trips are often the cheapest and best way to get away with the family. But if the thought of travelling with children is as attractive to you as nails on a chalkboard, take heed, with a few simple tips you can have a relatively stress free holiday.

Get organised and be prepared
Get a pen and paper and set aside some time. You will be making a list and it will be a long one. You need to think of everything; the expected and unexpected. Of course your list is dependent on the number and ages of your kids but here’s some food for thought:  Food, drink, changes of clothes, nappies, face wipes, favourite toys, colouring books, iPad, DVD’s, spare batteries, sleep toys/blankets, plastic bags, sick bags, towels, motion sickness medication, first aid kit and that is just for the car trip!

In my experience hungry kids are ratty kids, so always make sure you have a plentiful supply of snacks on hand. For long car trips I always bring a small esky packed with fruit and simple healthy snacks such as sultanas, muesli bars, carrot sticks and of course a few special treats thrown in. (Just be mindful of the sugar content, you certainly don’t need sugar-loaded kids trapped in the car!). And as annoying as toilet stops may be, plenty of water is essential to avoid dehydration.

Take your time
This is almost as important being organised and prepared. Getting an early start is essential. Kids are much better on a good night’s sleep and a full stomach. Always try and drive as far as you can in the first leg of the journey. If you can get a couple of hours under your belt early on, then you know you can afford to stop more often as the day wears on. Plan your stops along the way. Even a five minute pause so the kids can run around will inject some calm into the next part of the journey, and a good hour stop for lunch is essential. Take your time, if your destination is five hours away, plan to be there in seven.

Travelling will throw out any routine your children are used to, but the best advice is to try and keep as close to routine as you can. If you have young babies, try and drive during their sleep time, taking breaks for their feed and play time. With toddlers endeavor to keep meal times at a similar time each day, and if possible keep to a regular bed time each night.

Get the kids involved
Don’t just plan the trip and have the kids tag along. Involve them in the preparation and planning. Create anticipation for the trip and get them excited! Encourage older children to keep a journal. Even children as young as four can keep a picture journal of what they see along the way and what they get up to each day. Not only does it make the kids feel involved and keep them occupied for short periods, but it is a great keepsake.

A quick word on Flying
Air travel can spark fear in even the most relaxed parents, but it doesn’t need to. Again preparation is the key. If you have young babies requesting a bassinette seat can be a good idea, although if the flight is particularly turbulent it can also be a pain. A better suggestion is to get used to the idea of having bub sleep on you. On our first trip to Europe we found it much easier to take it in turns of having bub sleep on us. While she was on me I’d watch a movie and hubby would sleep, then it would be his turn. It worked a treat. For the older kids, this is the one time when it is acceptable to have them sit for hours in front of a TV screen! But try and make sure they eat and drink enough, walk around and encourage them to read and draw to break the monotony. And if you manage to get them to sleep, you have definitely won the battle.

What are your plans for these holidays? Do you have a travel tip that you’d like to share?

Linking up with Essentially Jess

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  • Robyn (Mrs D)

    This is great advice – thanks! We’ve only done air travel but we’re planning our first loooong road trip in the January holidays so I think I had better start planning now…. xxx

    • Jodi Gibson

      Exciting and daunting at the same time! I’m sure it will be fine. Enjoy!

  • Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

    Loving the new look – very clean, crisp and easy to read!!
    No plans for these school holidays, but I agree with the routine part – Em

    • Jodi Gibson

      Enjoy the hols Em x

  • Miss Cinders

    Great tips hun!

    I’ve never flown and neither have the kids, but I’ll keep in mind your suggestions if we ever do!

    Food is the #1 thing that keeps them occupied I think lol We’ve done many many long trips in the car. Stopping ever hour or so with a juice and something to eat always made things o much easier, and they’d fall asleep so easily too!

    MC x

    • Jodi Gibson

      Oh yes, the sleep time is the best!

  • EssentiallyJess

    We’ve done lots of travelling with the kids, and it’s been really pleasant the whole time. I think the idea of a road trip is far mor terrifying than actually doing it. But being flexible is key

    • Jodi Gibson

      Flexibility is so important. No use trying to stick to a strict schedule it will only end in tears (for everyone!)