As a family of five who have been there, done that, and survived to tell the tale, let me tell you, travelling with kids under 10 (with a baby in the game) is like trying to herd a pack of wild kangaroos on a sugar high. It’s chaos, and madness, but it’s non-stop entertainment! And, with the right tools, a trunk full of snacks, and a good sense of humour, it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences for the whole family.
I know, I know, the thought of being cooped up in a car with little ones who can’t sit still, and a never-ending chorus of “are we there yet?” can make even the most experienced traveller want to pull their hair out. But let me tell you, it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right mindset and approach, travelling with kids can actually be more fun and enjoyable than travelling without them!
The truth is, I don’t believe children are the ones holding us back – it’s often our own stress and expectations. We put so much pressure on ourselves to have the perfect trip, to see all the tourist sites, and to stick to a strict schedule. But let me tell you, that’s not what traveling with kids is all about. A perfect family vacation is about embracing the chaos, going with the flow, and making memories together as a family. It’s about having fun, and making the most of your time together, regardless of whether you’re visiting a tourist attraction or just playing at a local park. So, let go of the worry that you place on yourself, and just let loose and have fun with your little ones!
Okay, grab your snacks, buckle up, and let me take you on a wild ride with our golden rules for surviving and thriving on a road trip vacation in style!
Rule #1: Snack-tacular
Attention all road trippers! Forget about the petrol, the map, and everything else, the first thing you need to pack for your journey is SNACKS! Trust me, nothing ruins a road trip faster than a car full of hangry monsters. So, before you hit the road, stock up on all the yummy goodies you can find. I’m talking chocolate, chips, granola bars, and maybe even a pack of Violet Crumble for the nostalgia factor, yum! Oh, and maybe even some fancy cheese and crackers for the grown-ups? Variety is key, so mix it up and keep everyone’s taste buds happy.
Rule #2: Entertainment central
Are you ready for non-stop yapping from the back seat? Just kidding! But in order to avoid that, you will need to pack enough entertainment to keep the kids occupied for the duration of the trip. Or, you know, you could just pack a roll of duct tape, but let’s stick with the entertainment plan for now shall we? Pack a variety of games, books, and movies to keep the kids entertained and engaged during the journey. And don’t forget the headphones, unless you secretly enjoy listening to “Baby Shark” on repeat for 8 hours straight (It’s okay, I won’t judge).
For the older daughter, I love playing trivia quizzes with her. Not only is it a great way to bond and learn new things as a family, but it’s also a great way to settle some parent-child rivalries (because who doesn’t love being able to prove to their mum and dad that they know more about Harry Potter or Star Wars than them?). It’s also a great way to make the time fly by and keep those brains active, and you never know, you might just learn something new yourself!
Rule #3: Expect the unexpected: Embrace the chaos
Hey parents, you and I both know that your kiddos aren’t going to sit quietly in the back seat like little angels for the entire trip. So don’t expect them to and don’t get mad when they start asking “Are we there yet?” every 5 minutes. It’s like a broken record, and it’s just something you have to accept when traveling with kids. Instead, embrace the chaos and make it a game, like seeing who can come up with the most creative “are we there yet?” question, or who can spot the most red cars on the road. It’s all about turning lemons into lemonade, or in this case, turning a long car ride into a fun adventure!
Another thing you could try is to set little milestones along the way, like stopping at a rest area for a choccy milk, or stopping for a small walk when reaching a certain town. Giving them something to look forward to and breaking up the long trip into smaller chunks can make the trip more enjoyable. If the kids start getting restless, come up with silly games or sing-alongs to keep them entertained. And don’t be afraid to get a bit goofy, you’re on a road trip, it’s all about letting loose and having fun.
Rule #4: Pack like a boss
Alright, parents, you need to get ready to take your packing game to the next level! First things first, the essentials – sunscreen, hats, insect repellent, check, check, check. But don’t stop there, because when it comes to traveling with kids, it’s not just about protecting ourselves from the elements, it’s about being prepared for anything and EVERYTHING. Pack extra clothes for your little mess machines. Pack extra snacks, because when hunger strikes, it strikes hard. Pack extra toys, because you never know when a trusty teddy bear will come in handy. And most importantly, pack extra patience, because traveling with kids is a wild ride and sometimes you just gotta laugh it off.
Oh and don’t forget the little things, like wipes and hand sanitizer, because as every parent knows, kids are major germ magnets!
Rule #5: Home away from home
Once upon a time, my hubby and I decided to be extra-adventurous and stay in a new place every night with our little ones (for a whole week). Little did we know, it would be the perfect recipe for disaster. We were literally like a game of Tetris on legs, trying to fit all our belongings in and out of the car every day, while trying to keep the crazy kids entertained and happy. It was an absolute nightmare! Please trust me, you don’t want to put your kids through that kind of stress. Learn from our mistakes and try to stay away from one night stands with new cities and towns. Instead, make sure you have a few days to relax, explore, and make a new place feel like home.
Rule #6: Ditch the plans, embrace spontaneity
Sticking to a strict schedule is going to set you up for a lot of stress, especially when traveling with kids. But what if I told you that ditching the plan and embracing the spontaneous adventure can lead to less stress and more fun?
Yes, it’s true! When you let go of the plan and embrace the unknown, you open yourself up to the unexpected, and that’s where all the magic happens. Kids will love the fun and excitement of not knowing what’s next. It’s a chance to let them explore and discover new things, which is what traveling is all about. And it’s not just about having fun, it’s also about learning valuable life skills. When you ditch the plan, you’re giving kids the opportunity to learn how to take life with surprises and enjoy the small things. It’s a skill that will serve them well as they grow, they will learn to adapt to unexpected situations and to find joy in the small things. When kids are given the freedom to explore and discover at their own pace, they are more likely to be happy, engaged and less stressed.
Rule #7: Take it easy, take it slow
Just because it’s a popular tourist spot, it REALLY doesn’t mean you have to see it. Sometimes the most rewarding experiences come from stumbling upon a hidden gem or making friends with the local possums at a park. Don’t feel like you have to tick off every single tourist attraction on your list, especially when traveling with young kids, because they are just not going to appreciate the cultural significance of the Eiffel tower like you might.
Toddlers have short attention spans, they get easily tired and can get cranky, so it’s best to break up the day with plenty of rest and playtime. Instead of trying to see everything on your list, focus on a few key experiences that will be enjoyable for both you and your toddlers.
Try to find kid-friendly activities and attractions that will keep them engaged and entertained. Parks, playgrounds, and interactive exhibits are always a hit with toddlers. Also, learn to be okay to just take a break (or a few) and just let them run around, they’ll be more than happy to expend energy and have fun.
Mums and Dads, let me tell you, most of my favourite memories are from traveling with my crazy family of five. It’s always a wild ride, but it’s so worth it. We bond, have fun, and make memories that’ll last forever. And the best part? The lessons I learn from my kids while traveling are endless. They have taught me the most important life lessons, like how to see the beauty in the simplest things or how to let loose and dance in public. Sure, these trips are not exactly relaxing, but I’d jump in any opportunity I have to make yet another trip with them.
If you’re thinking about taking a family trip, please don’t wait – just go for it! And remember, if you can survive a road trip with kids, you can survive anything!
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