travel

Just 7 top tips for driving holidays with kids.

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Thanks to our brand partner, Ford

My kids were practically raised on road trips.   

Even as newborns, they had their first long car journey just to get home from the hospital. We were living three hours away from the nearest birthing centre! There were plenty of roadside stops for breastfeeding and stretching, and it definitely took longer than three hours.

Both my children were angels in the car, even as toddlers (we were VERY lucky, I know). I could safely take them on a driving holiday to any destination and they would happily play with their fabric books and eat snacks and sleep. 

Fast forward to 2022, and my two high energy boys resent sitting in a car seat for longer than... 30 minutes. Gone are the days of placid contentment where the cheese stick reigned supreme.

After many years of driving holidays with the kids, I do feel like I’ve learnt a useful thing or two.

Whether your kid loves the car or is screaming “ARE WE THERE YET?” before the Ford Everest has even left the carport, here’s my 7 handiest tips for driving holidays with your kids.

Image: Supplied.

1. Pack like a pro

Trying to fit everything in the car the morning of your trip can be so stressful and really cut into your day on the road. 

I usually spend time the night before getting the bulk of what we’ll take into the car so we get an early start the next day. 

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Even with a big car, you can feel like there’s not enough space for everything you’ll need. 

Keep in mind that anything little you forget can probably be gone without, or picked up along the way. 

If you’re having trouble figuring out where to put things in the car, lay it all out first. This will help you assess what you actually need, what you’ll use the most, and where to put it.

Packing cubes are awesome for organising clothes by type or by family members, and you can keep them easily accessible in the boot. 

Space bags are the ultimate space saver for when you’re travelling with bulky doonas, pillows or soft jackets that take up too much room in the boot. 

Some essentials to remember when travelling with sticky kids are paper towels, wipes, rubbish bags, and vomit bags, which you should always keep in the front of the car, on the ready. 

When I had toddlers, I used to pack the potty too… because, let’s face it, toddlers can be fussy about their royal throne!

2. Plan your stops

I’m a huge travel planner and always have accommodation booked well in advance of our road trips so I know how to plan for the rest of the day and where to stop. 

We stop for meals somewhere with a playground, whether that’s for a packed lunch at the park or dining out. The kids eat a proper meal and have a big play and run around before getting back in the car… 

Fingers crossed burning off all that energy will mean a car nap! 

Image: Supplied.

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3. Prepare your tech

OK, I’ll admit it. 

I’m one of those mamas that doesn’t have an iPad or let my kids play video games all that often. There’s one exception to this rule though, and that’s travel! 

Bored kids can be LOUD kids, and that can be super distracting when you’re behind the wheel for long stretches. 

Have your devices fully charged, your music and podcast list ready and some TV shows downloaded (in case of sketchy mobile data) for the children to enjoy during those less settled moments. 

And don’t forget the headphones for their devices (important!) so when they’re watching something you can enjoy a few quiet minutes. 

4. Create an entertainment pack

This is one area of packing where it’s great to get the kids involved.

Have them choose their favourite toys and activities to pack into a bag or basket for quiet play time on the trip. I put a soft basket on the middle seat for my boys to fill with soft toys, cars, LEGO or Duplo, colouring-in books and pens, reading books, and so on. 

Don’t let them pick noisy toys that will drive you batty, like the PJ Masks watches my boys insisted on bringing on our last trip!

5. Pass the time with verbal games

Not only can games like I Spy be fun and make the time pass quicker, they can be a really good family bonding activity. 

You can simply talk about what you can see outside the window, or make up your own games that will become a lasting family tradition. 

Pit stop to check out the cows! Image: Supplied.

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If you want to stick to the well-versed games, there are plenty to choose from, such as 20 Questions, Continuous Story, and Would You Rather. 

My personal favourite is Who Can Stay Quiet The Longest… If your kids are competitive, you could be enjoying the peaceful open road for at least ten minutes! 

For the super-organised parent, create a fun game of road trip bingo, where the kids check things off the list that they see along the way. Miniature magnetic board games also provide plenty of entertainment. 

6. Dress comfortably

Make sure the whole family is wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothes for the journey. 

There’s nothing worse than a pair of tight jeans cutting into your sides for hours on end. With children bound to get messy one way or another, have a spare change of clothes in a handy-to-reach spot in the car. 

Slip-on shoes, swimwear and rain gear are also necessary to have close by. There’s nothing like a quick swim at a creek on a long day in the car to make the whole family feel refreshed and in good spirits. 

7. Snacks, snacks, and more snacks! 

No car adventure would be complete without snacks. Sometimes I opt to pack a lunchbox for the kids filled with everything they would have in a school lunch. However, it can get messy with open containers and bumpy roads. 

On the last road trip we took, I packed snacks in zip-locked bags. This works great for cut fruit or grapes. You can also have bags with sandwiches, dry snacks like rice crackers, muesli bars, popcorn or sultanas, or in a cooler bag with string cheese and yoghurt pouches. 

(It’s best not to pack snacks that are sticky and gooey unless you’re incredibly brave and don’t mind cleaning peanut butter out of your car upholstery later!)

Feature Image: Supplied.

Ford
The Ford Next-Generation Everest is the perfect SUV for family adventures. The interior has been designed to be luxurious and comfortable while the exterior embodies Ford’s signature design DNA. The Next-Gen Everest delivers a more controlled on-road ride and confident off-road capability. From their base in Campbellfield and Geelong, Victoria, Ford’s design and engineering team created an SUV that blends adventure-ready capability with exceptional comfort and customer-focused technology. A rugged, refined and fun to drive SUV, the Next-Generation Ford Everest’s driver assist technologies and safety systems have been developed to help owners and their families drive with confidence and peace of mind. Premium levels of craftsmanship have created a quiet and refined sanctuary for up to seven, while new technology and safety features make every journey more memorable. To find out more about the Next-Generation Everest click here.