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'I have 3 kids under 12 and I've decided - I'm never going on another family road trip.'

Ok, I’m going to say it. No matter how much I love my family, no matter how much I love a good long Sunday drive (make that two hours max), in no way any time soon, am I doing another family road trip. Especially not with 3 kids under 12.

There. I said it.

Hats off to you families that trek around Australia, (even the world!) constrained in a car happily together singing show tunes and professing to all how much you love it. I am so happy for you however it makes me wonder, what the hell is wrong with me?

Even though I actually love the holidaying bit, being stuck in a car for hours, listening to our youngest telling us how bored or hungry she is every few minutes (while shovelling chips in her mouth), having to break up sibling squabbles while trucks and crazy drivers along the highways, proves incredibly difficult.

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In my mind, I kept trying to tell myself what I had already heard from pretty much everyone: ‘Road trips are so much fun!’ Except being on the road for hours at a time was actually the least fun part, much as I enjoyed looking at thousands of cows, rivers and kilometres of bush I’ve never seen before.

Taking the kids out of school to go on holidays a few days early was the highlight for them because we’re a family that rarely travels. So after a three month lead up period of excitement, we were all beaming knowing that we were heading up to where it’s ‘beautiful one, day perfect the next’, sooner than most other holidaymakers.

I live for the summer holidays and I flat out refuse to do another skiing holiday with three kids ever again since that one horrendous experience when we went during vomit bug season.

But a summer holiday road trip could be nothing but bliss right? Packing was a breeze. Swimmers, sundresses, singlets and shorts. A couple of bags chucked into the back of the car and we were set.

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Better still, surfboards could be hired, so no need to take any heavy gear whatsoever.

Since we had never gone more than four hours in the car together I was a little nervous, so I made sure I got loads of great road trip hints from friends with kids who travel frequently: pack loads of snacks, DVDs for portable TVs, bring devices, books to read if they don’t get carsick, have sing-a-longs and my personal favourite – get your kids to create a travel diary to write fun facts about all the towns you stop at.

The other tip was to leave early but after spending hours wrangling five of us out the door, that didn’t happen.

So we left during peak hour and spent a good part of our morning parked in traffic alongside side the airport runway close to home, where I daydreamed about being on any one of those airplanes taking off and arriving at our choice destination in less than two hours rather than the two days it was going to take us.

I really did try ever so hard to love the car bit and even though I felt mighty anxious and annoyed at my kids fighting for a great part of it, I felt grateful to be able to spend a week on the road with my family, travelling to places I’d been longing to see for many years. Yet most of all I was so glad to be out of the car when we got to each destination, even if it was just another familiar fast food joint.

So I guess I can see the beauty of a great family road trip now, creating memories together and like our everyday life in general, taking the good with the bad.

In saying that, next time I win and we’re taking an airplane to our next holiday destination. Thankfully my husband and all three kids actually agree with me.

Lidija Zmisa is a mum of three girls, wife and freelance writer. She is currently writing a book for middle-grade readers. You can follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Getty.

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