With so much to see and discover in our beautiful country, more and more Australian families are hitting the road. And, while driving with kids can be fraught with whining and bickering, it doesn’t need to be.
The best holidays are the ones where getting there is as much fun as the destination and, though there is always room for spontaneity, this mostly comes down to planning.
Kids need more than pretty scenery to keep them amused, so make sure you’re ready for hours of I Spy and number plate games and choose a route that has plenty of interesting stops along the way. For younger kids, you can even plan the journey from one playground to the next using an online mapping service.
Pack smart and ensure you have plenty of water, light snacks, a first aid kit and sick bags (just in case) on hand, plus plenty favourite toys, colouring books and games to entertain the kids. A handheld DVD player or iPad can also provide longer term distraction, if needed.
Unfortunately children are far more susceptible to travel sickness than adults and a bout of car sickness can spoil your four-wheel adventures as well as your upholstery! Though anti motion-sickness medications are available for children over two, prevention is best.
Make regular stops and keep the car ventilated ― a queasy child may feel better if they’re getting fresh air. Avoid greasy, hard-to-digest food before travelling and keep snacks light. Don’t try to distract a car-sick kid with books as this can worsen symptoms, instead focus their attention towards the front of the car. Alternately, travel at night, or early morning, when kids are more likely to sleep – just don’t forget to pack their favourite pillow or teddy.
And remember, if you’re driving anywhere with a small person, don’t plan to get there in a hurry. Your trip will take longer because you’ll have to stop regularly, not only to keep the driver alert, but to stretch little legs and unleash all that pent-up energy.
Get a full safety check done on your car before you leave -If you’re driving with a child under seven, we’d also recommend that you pop into an RTA-authorised fitting station to check that your child restraint is correctly and safely fitted – call 132 213 for your nearest location.
Reader’s Top 10 Road Trip Tips
We asked parents to share their top driving holiday tips.
“Fill up your tank on a Tuesday or Wednesday; these days have been flagged as generally cheaper. For more about petrol prices in your area, visit Motor Mouth” Samuel Taylor
“Take lots of breaks to stop for a stretch and fresh air.” Matthew Graham
“Make sure your kids use restrooms on each service stop as there may not be another for a while.” Simon Healey
“Pack a lot of snacks and drinks. I would be broke if I pulled into a shop each time the kids said they were thirsty or hungry.” Alison Lee
“Keep snacks healthy. Sugary food and artificial colours and flavour will have the kids fired up for hours.” Eliza Woodward
“Always pack children’s Panadol and ice packs. Kids always get sick when the chemist is closed or miles away!” Helen Heggie
“You can never have too many wet wipes – they are good to wipe tables, highchairs, shopping trollies, hands and anything else you need to know is clean before you use!” Jodie Cole
“Pack their favourite backpack with pencils, activities and a small ‘lucky dip’ reward for each hour they sit nicely.” Rick Hampson
“Travel game boards like magnetic chess or snakes and ladders are a great way to keep your kids busy.” Jenna Hogarth
“Give the kids a disposable camera and take along a scrap book for them to record events through drawings and stories. When they get home they can add the photos they took plus entry tickets and other treasures from along the way.” Mel James