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Top tips for road trips with kids

Family Travel logo Family Travel 18/02/2019 Tracy Morris
a group of people posing for the camera: The Blonde Nomads on the road. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel © Provided by Direct Group Pty Ltd The Blonde Nomads on the road. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel

As full-time nomads, we spend a lot of time in the car on long drives. Even though our mini Blondies aged 5 and 3 are used to big driving adventures, I always take the time to ensure we are well prepared so our road trips can go as smoothly as possible. Here are a few of my top tips for road trips with kids.

Food Glorious Food

Make sure you pack snacks, snacks and more snacks.

Kids get bored sitting still. When that happens, the first thing they will do is say they are hungry.

a bowl of fruit sitting on a table: A snack box is essential. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel © Provided by Direct Group Pty Ltd A snack box is essential. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel

I usually pack a small lunch box of healthy food they can eat straight away to ensure their little tummies are full. I’m then prepared with lots of “time wasting” foods such as nuts, trail mix, dry cereal. Fruit the kids have to peel themselves, mandarins and oranges are great time suckers. We share a great list of healthy travel food ideas here at our blog.

Fun and Games

Games make a road tripwith kids easier. Some of our favourites include:

Eye Spy – with something “the colour of” (a little easier for younger kids).

Repeat after me memory game “I’m going on a picnic and I'm bringing” (each person adds their own ingredients and has to repeat the whole list of picnic delights).

Banana – where you simply call out ‘Banana' when you see a yellow car and keep track of how many bananas you see. This can then grow to all colours and fruits.

Singing songs – “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar”.

a pizza sitting on top of a grass covered field: Road trips with kids – it is possible. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel © Provided by Direct Group Pty Ltd Road trips with kids – it is possible. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel

Activities

I like to pack a few colouring books, stickers and small toys for the kids to play with. We have an organiser pouch that hangs from the back of our seats so the kids can store all their goodies at arm’s reach.

A quick trip to the local cheap shop is a good place to look for small “car friendly” craft items. Try colouring with water pens or magic ink books, sticker activities and dot-to-dot or aze books. You could even use a small lap tray with some lego for older kids to play with.

a truck is parked in a parking lot: Exploring Australia with kids. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel © Provided by Direct Group Pty Ltd Exploring Australia with kids. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel

Tech Time

For some strange reason (wink wink), our car DVD player needs its batteries charged before you can watch it – well this is what we tell the kids. So we make sure they spend a good amount of time playing with all their other toys and books before they can have some screen time. Those pesky batteries always seem to be charged after our lunch stop, or when we really need to get some km's under our belt. iPads/Tablets are popular for older kids too, but we prefer the simple DVD player for the car.

Break it Up

Make sure you take regular toilet breaks on any road trip with kids. Stretch your legs and break up the trip. 

a group of people standing in front of a car: Break up a long trip with rest stops. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel © Provided by Direct Group Pty Ltd Break up a long trip with rest stops. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel

If there is no dedicated rest stop sign posted I simply search the words “playground near me” on Google and we find the best place to stop as there is usually a toilet block nearby. You can also check out the list of travel apps here – the sit and squat app is great for finding clean toilets. 

Changing babies

If you have little ones in nappies we have learnt to ALWAYS change their nappy when you stop even if it’s only a tiny bit used. A number two leaking, or a dreaded ‘poo-narmi' as we call it is not fun to change on the side of the road, better to be safe than sorry. A change of clothes for bubs or toddlers (in case of any accidents) is essential.

Mike Rowe et al. walking down a dirt road holding a sign: The Blonde Nomads on the road. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel © Provided by Direct Group Pty Ltd The Blonde Nomads on the road. Picture: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel

Time it Right

We like to plan our drives around sleep time for our little man. By packing a favourite teddy and blanket you can help encourage your little ones to take a snooze on the go. If you are driving at night pop the kids in their PJ's so you can transfer them straight into bed.

If we are travelling a long distance we always like to cut down the drive by staying a night or two in between our main destination and if we can, we also leave a spare seat in the back between the kids ready for me to jump into if need be.

a group of people sitting at a beach: Blonde Nomads / Family Travel © Provided by Direct Group Pty Ltd Blonde Nomads / Family Travel

When on a road trip with kids remember that everything is new and exciting for your little adventurers. It’s not just about your destination but all the fun activities you can do and see along the way.

Enjoy the adventure, make it fun for everyone and don't set unrealistic goals, embrace the magic of “Slow Travel” and everyone will be better for it.

Happy Travels!


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