Guardian Childcare & Education

Are We There Yet? How to Road Trip with Children

28th June 2017

Road trips with children

You’re dreaming of a family road trip with the children in the back. The fantasy of happy faces, singalongs and fun soon gives way to the reality of tears, tantrums, boredom and hunger. There’s a line every parent crosses on the road when the symphony of whingeing reaches breaking point and you’ve resorted to play ‘I spy.’ To keep your sanity and sense of adventure, here are some tips for turning road trips into big adventures.

Include the Children

Allow the children to ‘step up’ by letting them manage their time and packing. If they can aim for a leaving time, they can set up their stuff in the car, ready to go. If your children are reading, print out a map of where you’re headed and let them follow your progress and track your trip as you go. They can also work out where they’d like to stop along the way.

Just in Case

Thankfully most of the time you won’t need to raid your emergency pack but, if you do, you’ll be so glad you thought ahead. Factor in all the ‘just in cases,’ and pack for all the incidental ailments that can strike while you’re on the road. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Wet wipes
  • Towel
  • Rubbish bags/plastic bags
  • Child and adult Panadol
  • Bandaids
  • Sunscreen
  • Jelly beans and emergency treats

Amuse with Audio

Music can make things worse, so you’ll need to have a plan in terms of who gets to choose it and for how long. A great rule of thumb is to let each person control the audio for a period of time. Whatever they choose to play, whether it be some tunes, a podcast, a playlist or an audio book, encourage the rest of the car to be respectful of the choice. Sometimes the lyrical sound of a story can be soporific enough to send them off to sleep.

Podcast Proposals

These fabulous podcasts are just what the doctor ordered to keep the children entertained and engaged as the kilometres pass in peace:

  • ‘The Beanies’ – Tackling the huge questions, this show seeks out all the answers. It gives little brains things to think about and will capture their imaginations in place of mindless screen time.
  • ‘Story Pirates’ – This gathers a group of actors, comedians and improvisers who adapt stories written by children and turn them into sketches and musical theatre. What ensues is a hilarious descent into audio insanity.
  • ‘Short & Curly’ – get past the name and you’ve got a savvy show that confronts some ethical talking points such as ‘Should Pugs exist?’ and ‘Is it okay to fight a bully? Start some deep discussions as you go from A to B.

Whatever your road trip remedies, these journeys can be jam packed full of fun and something that you and the children will always remember. No car tour is ever perfect and in the end, that’s what makes them marvellous.

Commuting with children? Read this helpful guide.

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