There’s nothing quite like a roadtrip. You can stop as often as you like, pack as much as your car boot can hold, and make spontaneous detours to see sights along the way. But when you take the kids with you, road trips require a little more planning to make sure everyone has a good time.

Here’s a handy guide on how to survive your next family roadtrip.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead is essential to surviving your next family roadtrip. In the days before you set off, think about how will you break up the journey, where will you stop for toilet breaks or meals, and when your little ones will need a nap. Schedule a rough routine or timetable for the car journey, including times for naps, meals, toilet breaks, audio books or sing-alongs.

Try to plan stops at anything interesting along the way – it might be a lookout, a waterfall, or a tourist attraction. But if you’re travelling with a baby or toddler, try and coincide long periods of driving with sleep times so that the kids aren’t woken up when you make a stop. The day before you leave, charge up your phone, tablet, camera, and any other devices. Pack a portable charger if you have one, and make sure it works with your devices. Taking a GPS is brilliant, but you should also bring a paper map just in case you end up driving somewhere unfamiliar with a weak GPS signal.


Pack strategically Write a packing list for each family member and let the kids pack their own suitcases (but double check them before you load them into the car!) You can use these lists to repack at the end of your trip to check nothing gets left behind. If you’re stopping somewhere overnight on the way to your destination, pack one small suitcase that can be used as an overnight bag for the whole family. It should contain pyjamas, toiletries, a clean change of clothes for everyone, and anything else you’ll need overnight. Always pack a few empty plastic bags in the car that you can use for rubbish, nappy changes, or for anyone who gets carsick.


Snacks and games Fill a backpack for each child with their favourite colouring books, pencils or crayons, travel games, toys and some snacks. A favourite teddy or blanket might offer comfort for a cranky child, and a small pillow is also handy for encouraging naps. Older kids might enjoy keeping a little travel journal, or an activity book with games and crossword puzzles. Snacks are key to keeping kids happy on a family road trip. Try to choose healthy items like sandwiches, grapes, carrot sticks, cheese, crackers, granola bars and bottled water. Make sure the kids can access snacks easily on their own; otherwise you’ll have to pull over and rummage through the esky every time they get hungry or thirsty.


How to avoid backseat fights

Distraction is a good way to avoid fights in the backseat. If you can’t break the tension with an iPad or a favourite toy, try playing a classic roadtrip game like I Spy or Car Bingo. It also helps to set some rules about rotating anything that is likely to cause a fight, for example, getting the window seat or choosing the next movie or song. You could also try a playlist of soothing, relaxing music to calm down overtired kids and encourage some quiet time.


Safety first and foremost

Nobody wants car trouble on a long journey, especially when you have kids in the car. The week before you leave, check that all car seats and restraints are working and make sure your tyres (including your spare tyre) and windscreen wipers are in good condition. Check the air-conditioning is working properly, particularly if you’re driving in summer, and make sure your indicators, headlights, brake lights and reverse lights are working. Get any chips or cracks in your windscreen fixed before you set off, as a chip or crack can quickly spread and become irreparable when you’re on the road.


Are you and your family planning a roadtrip? Let us know where you’re heading in the comments below!

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  • I make sure there are alot of different games and books on our roadtrip.


  • Really great ideas. I love being over organised, it makes things so much easier


  • As listed in the article above, always make sure your spare tyre is inflated to the correct pressure. When I was a small kid I remember we had a puncture, my Grandpa had taken the car to be serviced and did part of it at the servo himself. Having only a very old pump with a handle on the top my grandparents took turns at pumping the tyre up. We were on a main country road and being school holidays it was fairly busy. Nobody stopped to help even when Grandma was trying to help pump the tyre up which was disappointing. I can understand why people are reluctant to stop though. No phone reception where we were either.


  • keeping the kids amused is the key! make sure that they are shaded as well!


  • We always have a road trip in the pipework. Last holidays it was fun Adelaide to Coober Pedy and then onto Alice Springs.

    We have got our troops down to a fine art, not just with activity bags but also with swags, camp cooking gear and lots of board games and sports equipment for those less scheduled days.


  • Great trips, might use some of them on the way to Queensland.


  • Some good points- I actually purchased a handy little tray that attaches to a booster or car seat that little ones can use to lean on to do colouring in. I made up an activity box with books and colouring in, etc that my daughter could do and I always load up my footwell with snacks and water so that we can avoid stopping when we get the I’m hungry or I’m thirsty.


  • Good tips. When we were young my parents would drive us through Europe. Big stretches were driven in the night, while we all dozed off. I remember we did a lot of singing as well. We also had a regular picnic stop at a playground so we could run around a bit and refresh our energy.


  • Great suggestions. We are hoping for a family road trip over summer :)


  • I read an interesting article time ago where one mum packed one set of clothes for each child for every day of the holiday. In big ziplock bags. One for each day. I found the idea very easy and convenient.
    Planning stops during a road trip is really important.


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