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Hitting the road or maybe the roof

By Sheree Hoddinett  


How long can you sit in the car without going bonkers? If you answered as long as it takes to get from Morayfield to Albury in New South Wales (which is right next to the border of Victoria), you’re doing much better than me! My mum and I recently travelled the 1500km trip (each way) with my two girls in tow and for the most part, they were pretty good. But there were a few times I could have easily dropped them off somewhere random along the way! And no, it’s not the first time we’ve done it either! By that I mean the road trip of course. But as they get older (and potentially a little wiser) it seems keeping them happy in the back seat gets a little bit trickier. 


Now any parent who has done a long-haul road trip with their kids knows exactly what I mean. You love your kids dearly, but when you’re ‘trapped’ with them in the car for hours on end, your sanity starts to fray a little bit, especially with questions and comments like: 

  • “Are we there yet?/How long to go?” 

  • “She’s touching my side of the seat.” 

  • “It’s not fair, she has more room than me.” 

  • “I’m hungry/I’m bored.” 

  • “There’s nothing to do/Nothing to look at.” 

  • “Do we have to get back in the car?” 

And the list could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.  


Road trips and kids can be a tricky path to navigate, but with a little planning and lots of thinking, you might just find that happy medium. So ahead of the silly season and any potential travelling you might be doing (good luck!), here are a few ideas that might just help you keep your sanity as you hit the road from point A to B and back again. 


  • Get the kids to help plan and pack an activity bag - Give each of your kids a similarly sized bag or backpack and let them fill it with their favourite things. Your kids will appreciate having some control over part of the trip and it’s one less thing for you to do to get ready. 

  • It’s all about keeping them occupied – books, tablets (yes the dreaded screen time), toys, etc, do whatever it takes to help keep them entertained throughout the trip. 

  • Play family car games - Games can involve the whole family and also encourage your kids to watch the scenery around them – activities like number plate bingo or using highway signs to play the alphabet game. There’s also the good old family classic ‘I Spy’ to help get you through as well.  

  • Never underestimate the power of having snacks in the car! Little treats along the way can be a big help when you need them most. 

  • Pack an easy to reach day/overnight bag: Put everything you might need – change of clothes, towel, swimmers, jumpers, torch, even pyjamas – in a bag to carry in the car to save repacking the boot every time you need something. 

  • Make a map of your trip (use Google Maps or get an old-fashioned paper map – yes they do still exist!) and get the kids involved in planning your trip – let them pick a couple of things they'd like to see and do along the way. Incorporate high-profile stops along the way if you can. Australia is full of ‘big’ landmarks. On our many road trips, we have stopped at the likes of The Big Banana (Coffs Harbour), The Big Prawn (Ballina), The Big Oyster (Taree), The Big Merino (Goulburn), The Golden Guitar (Tamworth) and The Dish (Parkes), along with the little Dog on the Tuckerbox (Gundagai). We even trekked a little further into Victoria and saw the big guy Ned Kelly (Glenrowan), well worth the trip for a little history lesson too! 

  • Don’t forget to stop, stretch and give everyone a chance to get their sillies out – big kids included - before you hit the road again. 

  • Set a goal for how far you might want to travel each day, but always know your limits and be prepared for the unexpected – weather, traffic, cranky kids and the dreaded road works! 


If you’re getting ready to hit the road soon, have fun, good luck and travel safe! 


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