For the past 6 months, we’ve been travelling Australia with our 3 year old daughter and it doesn’t take long to learn the tips and tricks of making life easy for yourself when travelling with kids.
I would say that the most stressful part is the lead up to your trip when you are trying to make the agonizing decision of where to stay and what to take. Your decisions will depend on whether you are camping, caravanning, free camping or staying in accommodation.
We found that the internet and social media gave us some great advice on where to stay and what to take. We followed heaps of travelling families on Facebook and were members of caravanning forums where we could ask questions of fellow travellers, read through their comments and formulate the best solution to suit us.
Wikicamps is a fantastic phone app that shows you the location and facilities of every caravan park or free camping site in Australia. People upload photos and make comments about their stay, pricing and customer experience. We use this app every single time we select our accommodation. Most of the time we will choose accommodation with playgrounds and pools so that our daughter can play and swim. There is a book called Camps 8 Australia Wide, which also contains information about accommodation and facilities. If you are looking for reviews on hotel accommodation and tours, Trip Advisor is another great app for rating and selecting hotels and experiences that are going to best suit your family.
I have also found that having a “Things To Do List” in your phone or diary is brilliant for keeping on top of things when preparing for your trip.
When we were on short holidays, we found that long driving days were well rewarded with an ice-cream at service station stops. You usually are so busy just getting organized for the trip that snacks are the last thing on your mind.
Now that we are on the road full time, it’s easy to get in the routine of packing a little esky bag each day for the car that has frozen poppers to keep everything cool and little snacks to keep us fed along the way. I usually make sandwiches for lunch and the alternating snacks we pack are carrots, apples, strawberries, cheese sticks, yoghurt squeezies, popcorn, pretzels, chips, sultanas, dried fruit, bananas and nuts. We have travel mugs that we make a really hot coffee/tea in the morning before we leave and close the lid, so that when we settle into our drive it has cooled down and is ready to have with a lovely piece of banana bread for morning tea.
The second essential thing to pack for travelling with kids is a good First Aid Kit that is easily accessible and tailored to your own family needs. I used my old sewing box as our First Aid Kit because it had loads of room and fit snuggly into our cupboard. Our basic kit includes Panadol/Neurofen for kids/adults, band-aids, bandages, anti-septic liquid, eye wash, ear drops, cotton balls, mozzie repellant, suncream, anti-itch cream, antihistamine, burn and bite gel and vomit bags for the car. We went to our Doctor and told her that we were going to remote Australia and she recommended some extra things we might need.
When we first started travelling, it was a huge request of our daughter to sit in the car for 6-8 hours at a time with minimal stimulation. Some kids are more chilled out and can sit back and enjoy the scenery, but Chloe wasn’t that type and rather than put her through hours of crying, we decided that a DVD player would be the best for us. It worked brilliantly and these days we only do short 2-3 hour trips and she happily plays with her toys, sings to the Wiggles, listens to audio books and only occasionally reaches for her DVD player. We also keep her favourite blanket and pillow in the car so she can snuggle up with it when she is ready for a sleep.
Kids LOVE to play, so we are always on the look out for a great playground to stop for a quick energy release and play with new friends. McDonalds and Bunnings seem to be the best for indoor playgrounds and they usually have a great coffee shop. We especially love the huge car parks at Bunnings, which make it easy to park with the caravan in tow.
In the back of the car we always have a pre-packed bag with our swimmers, towels, suncream, floaties and noodles, so that if it’s a warm summer’s day and we spot a public waterpark, lagoon, or beach we can stop in for a dip.
We have seen many families with older kids keep the trip interesting with quick stops for “Geocaching”. There are several geocaching apps which give GPS co-ordinates for hidden containers called geocaches. Essentially it’s like a huge treasure hunt that provides fun and excitement for the whole family.
Don’t leave home without a camera and a plan to capture your adventure. A lot of families create a Facebook page where they write and post photos about their travels to share with family and keep as memories to look back on. We have a fantastic travel journal that we do every day with Chloe where she can keep her own drawings, photos and memories of what was important to her. You can check it out here.
Most importantly, if you are travelling with kids be flexible and have fun! Travel is one of the best educations that you can give your kids. It gives them a broader perspective on life, it allows quality time for your family to bond, it teaches them great social skills and creates memories that you will treasure forever!
We hope you’ve picked up some great tips from our article, and if you want to follow our journey and the great places to see and go in Australia, you can find us on our facebook page This Is Our Australia.