'The 7 packing hacks I swear by when taking kids on holiday.'

Thanks to our brand partner, GWM

Imagine hitting the open road, a perfectly curated playlist streaming through the surround sound and the promise of a relaxing beach at the end of your journey. 

Ah, bliss. I can almost taste the salty air. 

Now picture a spirited toddler strapped in their car seat, with a six-month-old in the capsule next to them.

It’s not exactly... the calmest road trip, but it is an adventure. Yes, it’s hard travelling with kids. There’s no denying that. But as I say to people who question our decision to travel so much with little ones: you’re parenting regardless, you may as well do it whilst exploring a new location.

My daughter was born early 2021. And being in Western Australia that meant not only were we not allowed to travel overseas; we were also closed off to the rest of Australia. Determined to scratch the itch of travelling, I took her on her inaugural road trip by myself when she was three months old. Once I’d tackled that first adventure, I felt more confident taking more.

She’s now almost three and has been on a dozen road trips around WA. My son joined our family – and the road trips – six months ago. It meant we’ve had to adapt our travel to suit a baby’s needs (and considered upping our safety on the road with the GWM Haval H6). So, I’d like to think I know a thing or two about how to make your trip as cruisy as possible.

Here’s my list of road trip hacks I swear by every time we travel.

1. Pack separate bags for each child for the car journey.

Image: Supplied.


My son’s bag is the smallest – nappies, wipes, a cloth for any vomits and a spare set of clothes. This is the easiest bag to pack given we take it out on a daily basis. 

My daughter has two bags: one has similar items – wipes, spare outfit, and her second bag is full of activities. I make sure this has comforts from home like her favourite books and teddy and then she gets her busy board book and mess-free colouring in pack which we only use for road trips. 


The bags with clothes sit in each child’s footwell, so we know whose is whose, and it’s easy for us to grab. And my daughter’s activity bag hangs over the driver’s seat so she can grab what she needs. In the GWM Haval H6, the driver's seat is 8-way electric adjustable too (a very handy feature particularly with growing kids – and the number of their belongings – in the back). 

2. Prep your food and drinks bag.

Pack food and drinks in a separate bag so they’re easy to access (no one wants to be searching for crackers when a child is screaming that they’re "starving"). Pop your food bag and drinks in the glove box. 

It also helps if you have a good car built with family needs in mind. 

The H6, which is a mid-size SUV, is super spacious for travelling with kids with quite a deep glove box that fits water bottles and plenty of snacks. (The H6 has Comfort-Tek faux leather seats too, so thankfully, easily wipeable surfaces for the kids.) It’s an easy-to-access storage space for adults in the front, and depending on how long the trip is, we often take a small Esky with us too. This means we can pack snacks like chicken sandwiches, yoghurt and cheese. 

3. Packing cubes (and roll those clothes).

It might sound crazy... but I manage to fit two adults and two kids’ belongings in one suitcase. The key is to pack as little as possible, which can be tricky because we all know kids need A LOT OF THINGS. 

The easiest way to do this is using packing cubes. Each person gets a packing cube. My partner and I use medium ones and the kids get a large one each – no surprises there, they spill things on their clothes more than us. 


Now here’s my best hack that I learnt years ago when travelling through Europe: roll your clothes! You can easily pack double the clothing if you roll your tops instead of folding – you’re welcome! My packing light ethos translates to shoes, hats and toiletries. Take as little as possible (for example, I’ve never taken a hair straightener on a weekend away, I just wash and blow dry my hair before we hit the road. I know that sadly won't apply to all though!). 

Notable mention to my baby for being too young for shoes and accessories, and thus saving us space. The packing cubes get configured in the suitcase along with a separate toiletry bag.

4. Hone your tetris skills in the boot.

Now this is where my Tetris skills from my 1999 Game Boy come in handy: the boot. I can pack the boot of a car like no one else. Fortunately, the H6 has 600L of space (huge! Even more when seats are folded down). Plus, a feature that changes the game when your arms are full: a hands-free electric tailgate (with delayed closing and a memory function). It makes life so much easier with kids and packing/unpacking the 38264 items that come with them.

Our suitcase always goes in first as we know we won’t need it until after we’ve arrived, checked in and are getting the kids ready for bed. Given we’re travelling with a baby and toddler, we have to take a lot of nappies with us. We use a second, empty nappy box that we fill with a picnic rug, towels and extra toys. We find it easiest to use these boxes as they stack nicely in the boot. 

The last thing that goes in is the travel pram. While we use a large double pram at home, we find it’s just not practical when road tripping. Our travel pram is the perfect size and it folds up so compactly it can be taken as plane carry-on.


5. Travel first-aid kit. 

We keep this in the glove box, that way it’s easy to access but also away from little hands. We have had one holiday quickly go south which involved a trip to emergency, so I like to be over-prepared. We stock the essentials for young children: teething powder, band aids, extra baby wipes, paracetamol and hand sanitiser. We also put a couple of rubbish bags in the glove box too. That glove box is working overtime!

6. Plan ahead so you know what not to pack. 

This means checking the route along the way for anything like farmers markets or bakeries, so you can pick up some fresh produce on your way to your destination. You’re getting to shop local, and it’s your dinner organised for your first night away. Our trusty Esky comes in handy for this too.

Image: Supplied.


7. Pack anything that helps your kids nap in the car.

Our daughter has a comforter and a dummy, so once we hand these to her in the backseat, she knows it’s time to doze off. No need for white noise, the natural sounds of the road soothe both kids so they drift off to sleep. And mum and dad can turn on a true crime podcast (praise be for the Haval's Apple CarPlay on that fancy 12.3" touchscreen).

The key is flexibility, which is my word for anything to do with kids. Be prepared for traffic delays, some tantrums and probably some mess, because there’s bound to be a spilt drink or a nappy accident. Being organised with a well-prepared car can make things a little easier. And it’s all worth it when you get to your holiday destination and get to experience the joys of family holidays, they truly are memories that last a lifetime.

Explore the GWM Haval H6where performance, design and safety are paramount. The H6 gives you confidence on the road with a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, and more safety assist features than ever.

Feature Image: Supplied/Instagram/@ktkatesmithers

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