We just finished most of the holiday season, so some of you may have survived your latest family road trip barely intact. It’s summer in Australia, so plenty of us are gearing up for another trip soon — and if you’re getting ready for road tripping with your smalls, I’ve got some ideas to keep them occupied. I’ve had my fair share of road tripping with kids — with or without my partner Matt — and it can be tricky. But over the years I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t, and what’s absolutely imperative:
- If you can, rent a swanky ride: we once drove a Toyota Prado to Thredbo for for a weekend. What I really, really loved about that car was: the DVD player, the built-in fridge, and the sunroof (so we could watch the snow falling). The novelty of that roof — I loved it. The DVD player was a nice touch to while away the six hour drive — we usually travel more modestly. The fridge was pretty darn awesome to keep our drinks cool — but that’s a no-brainer.
- Stock up on paper goods: Go directly to Daiso (or your equivalent dollar shop), and jump start your roadtrip with some cheap and cheerful stickers and colouring books. I like to have a new colouring book, or doodling book ready for ready for when the smalls get in the car. They dig it too, and it buys us a little bit of quiet time in the car. Leave the scissors, glitter and glue stick at home. I am speaking from experience.
- Bring music: Pack Justine Clarke, or any kids CD that your kids love. Our favourite is Justine, but we’re also getting into audio books — and Roald Dahl is a goodie. We also like to bust out a bit of Gaga for a sing-a-long. Sure to induce eye-rolling from your partner.
- Keep the car games simple: There are only so many games of eye-spy I can come to, so set up some kind of simple points system for spotting yellow cars. Or green cars. Or whatever it is your kids want to spot. We can get kind of competitive. And this game can go on for hours.
- Take a break: Not only is it imperative for the driver, but everyone is rewarded by a quick pit stop. Stretch your legs, stop somewhere with a park, let the smalls run around for a little while and enjoy the trip rather than rushing hither and thither.
- Encourage sleep: I pack small blankets and cuddle toys — and tell the kids that the trip will go muuuuch faster if they have a little nap. Silence is so, so sweet.
- Charge your batteries: my partner has aNintendo DSi and I encourage him to charge the batteries — and bring some games for our kiddo.
- Bring snacks: Well it’s not a roadtrip until someone cracks open the snacks. I’m into packing lollies, water, fruit (I cut up some apples), rice crackers, and some nuts. Mix things up — pack a snack pack for each of your kids — and take some spare containers. I like to think it keeps the back of the car a little cleaner. Well. I like to think it.
- Talk to each other: We always have good conversations when we’re driving long distances and the only distractions are the occasional cow or kangaroo. It’s a good time to catch up on what everyone’s up to, what everyone’s excited about and what everyone wants to do when you reach your destination.
I’m obviously an advocate of the family road trip: if you’re going on one this summer — please drive carefully. What are your favorite road trips you’ve taken as a family?