What do you get when you cram the family into a confined space for extended periods of time with no TV and limited reception? Memories! The good, the bad and the ones you’ll look back on as a family and laugh about in years to come.

If it’s your first time on a road trip with kids, there is a little extra preparation required to ensure the cheers outweigh the tears and back seat meltdowns are kept to a minimum.

1. Planning

As exciting as spontaneously tearing off into the sunset sounds, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Plot your route and decide where you’ll stay the night before. Find out if the accommodation is suitable and book ahead.

Including older children in travel planning allows them some ownership of the trip and gives them activities to look forward to.

If expressing milk for little ones, keep it in an esky with ice packs for up to 24 hours. At feeding time, make a quick bathroom stop and run warm water over the bottle. Alternatively, measure out formula the night before and take a thermos for easy mixing.

2. Transportation

Your type of vehicle will depend on your requirements.

A two-door car is probably not big enough for luggage and passengers, and without 4WD you won’t be able to reach off-road campsites or swimming holes.

If you’re taking an extended road trip, buying a van may be a worthwhile investment.

Consult the guide to buying a van for your Aussie road trip for what to look for, mechanical checklists and special requirements for outback travel.

3. Safety & Supplies

Keep your most precious cargo safe by double checking baby seat installation, especially if transferring into a rental.

For potty trained toddlers, take a portable potty and disposable nappies to line the potty for in between towns. This makes it easy to clean up and contain the mess until you find a bin.

A first aid kit should be kept in the driving cabin complete with plasters, bandages, gauze, tape, scissors, tweezers, needles, antiseptic cream, thermometer, gloves, pain reliever and anti-diarrhoea medication.

Have 20 litres or water on board for emergencies, an additional four litres per person per day, and invest in a GPS for off-road adventures.

4. Packing

Things like the nappy bag, toilet paper, hand sanitiser, wet wipes and insect repellent should be kept within reach inside the driving cabin.

It’s also a good idea to prepare bathers and towel bags for kids for when you come across swimming holes. Sunscreen should be accessible and snacks stored out of the sun within arm’s reach.

Pack a stash of plastic bags for rubbish and ziplock bags for food, medicines and other smaller items.

5. Activities

If possible, try to swap over drivers regularly. It gives the driver’s eyes a rest and allows the Activities Captain a break from entertaining.

Have a soccer ball handy for stopping at parks and keeping the kids active, and as a last resort, a portable DVD player for watching movies.

Give older kids the task of documenting the journey with a digital camera to keep them occupied and engaged – they’ll be proud to show friends and family upon returning home.

Smaller kids can be entertained with lucky dips by individually wrapping up small toys and allowing them to open one periodically. Audio books, sing-along CDs and colouring books will also keep little hands and minds busy on the road.

With a little preparation, a lot of snacks and a Peter Combe playlist, you’ll be well on your way to an unforgettable family road trip!

Do you have any family road trip memories to share? Comment below if you do, we’d love to hear them!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • No Aussie road trip for this family! Maybe….I hope to one day be part of the grey nomads revolution. I would love to campervan around Australia


  • cheers kristy, road trips are so fun indeed


  • The mentioned things are really comman things that we ignores many a times. Transportation is very important and opting for the best makes the trip remembrable for ever.


  • it is really great to read


  • Like the lucky dip idea!


  • some great ideas. we love road trips


  • Frequent stops is a must for us. While we love the entire road trip itself, we also love getting out at different towns, seeing statues, sight seeing, gardens, stocking up on groceries (fruits, vegetables) to snack on, and having a quick play at a playground before heading off again.

    Next year we will start our touring of Australia, it will take a very long time to do the entire country, so we have already started planning now. Planning our journey, our stops (the towns we want to see the most), planning our accommodations (mainly in camp grounds in tents), what theme parks we want to go to when we are in towns that have them, who we want to visit (family members, because we have so many in all states), even planning on stopping at orchards and such.. I can’t wait :)


  • My biggest tip is to start travelling with kids form a young age. We have always had to travel from when our kids were babies and they are a;ll very well seasoned travellers. As we live 3 hours from our capital city we have done this trip regularly for medical appointments and shopping trips etc. These days the kids are quite accustomed to travelling.


  • Great tips, thank you for the article.


  • i will pack well. i don’t want to have to stop all the time to get things out lol


  • We regularly do road trips and my girls like them because it’s usually the only time they get unlimited ipad access.


  • When it comes to a family road trip, there are those who get it – and those who look at you in horror. We did a road trip to the Gold Coast & Sunshine Coast this year. It was our second time. We make sure to have a couple of good stops along the way – usually late morning tea & late lunch. I stop at a park, drop off hubby & kids before heading off to buy a coffee and fresh rolls or a treat. It gives them extra time to burn off energy. If you are interested, I would recommend starting off with a smaller trip to see how the family copes.


  • are we there yet, ooooh can be a bit of a nightmare… boredom sets in then ahhhh… going to try some of this in a couple of weeks


  • We love going on roadtrips. Love spending the time away with the family and travelling the road less travelled.


  • snacks and drinks are a favourite!


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