January 17, 2013


Australia’s stunning landscapes and open roads are just begging to be explored. Piling the family into the car for an adventure is a summer rite of passage for most families, but it can fill mums with equal parts excitement and dread. Anticipating your children’s needs ahead of time will save you tears and frustration, so that you can sit back and enjoy the view.

Here are 5 tips for summer road tripping with kids

1. Pick a Family-Friendly Vehicle

Before you can head out on the road, you’ll need to pick your pony. If your usual family car isn’t up for the task, you may be in the market for something new. The best family cars will combine safety and space. The usual need for ample cargo space and backseat legroom will be amplified when you’re planning your road trip, as the backseat becomes a playroom, nap area, and cafeteria all in one. Be sure to choose a car with working A/C if you plan on driving through stifling areas like the Northern Territory, or you’ll have some very unhappy campers on your hands. Comparing family car reviews can help you strike the balance between safety ratings and comfort.

2. Stick to Your Child’s Routine

As a driver, you may prefer setting out early in the morning when your mind and mug of coffee are both fresh. But if morning is prime playtime for your child, forget it. It may be better to put off your drive until the afternoon, after your little ones have had plenty of time to wear themselves out. Encourage active play before getting in the car, and then strap your child in for a well-deserved afternoon nap.

3. Shorten Long Distances

If you’re pressed for time on your holiday, spending the full day in the car may be unavoidable. Australia’s distances are long and destinations far-flung. If you can break down your itinerary into smaller drives, you’ll have a less stressful time in the car. Spending only a few hours at a time in the car will reduce boredom, fatigue, and backseat whinging.

4. Take Ample Breaks

It’s best to plan on potentially stopping every hour if you have small children. Potty and snack breaks don’t have to be long, but they will give the whole family the chance to get a breath of fresh air. You can also look on the map to find parks, beaches, or green spaces ahead of time and take a break to let your kids blow off some steam.

5. Use the Power of Distractions

Even if you’re only going away for the afternoon, you may feel like you’re packing for a weeklong holiday with all of the toys and books you will need. Bring along a few new inexpensive surprises, and dole out toys once every half hour to suit your child’s short attention span. Make playtime interactive, singing songs together or creating a roadside scavenger hunt. Don’t forget to bring healthy snacks, which can be another kind of distraction. Cheese, crackers, and fresh fruit will stave off requests for petrol station junk.

With a comfortable car, realistic expectations, and an arsenal of distractions, you’ll be well equipped to have a relaxing journey.


Rachel MacDonald is an American writer holding a degree in Literature and Publishing from Boston’s Emerson College. She has worked as a full-time copywriter for diverse businesses in Buenos Aires, Lima, and San Francisco. Currently residing in Scotland, Rachel divides her time between a freelance career, working on her debut novel, and raising a rambunctious toddler.
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  • We didn’t do much road tripping when the kids were little. Reading this article makes me sad that we didn’t, we really missed out


  • So many great tips – thanks for sharing them.


  • This is interesting! Thank you for sharing this!


  • and definately take snacks, wipes, drinks and lot and lots of car entertainment!


  • Thanks for sharing this article and tips; love a good road trip. Plenty of fun breaks is the key; better a longer trip than an unpleasant trip!


  • 6. Have things ready to clean up the car vomit… LOL


  • I love trips with the family


  • Make sure the car has good climate control and tinted windows!


  • I think I will wait till they are older to road trip


  • Thanks for this list – very helpful!


  • a great article and was very helpful


  • we recent.y went to Sydney with my daughter and she was great in the car but I must admit that we did stop a lot and it was very important to find some places for her to get out and run around


  • thank you sharing this article good read


  • I wish I had different cars for different occasions/uses. Would love a 4wd for road tripping


  • thanks for sharing was a great read


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