Pieces of Me

How to Survive a Road Trip

Hubby and I love to travel. Overseas, interstate, or a few hours away in our car – we have always made an effort to get away. I found out I was pregnant with AJ while overseas and while I was excited to be pregnant – the trepidation that this might be our last holiday in quite some time, was also there.

Luckily for me, hubby felt none of that trepidation. Instead, AJ was only a few weeks old when we went on our first family getaway. Our travel habits have not slowed down since. There have been a number of trips overseas and many interstate.

My childhood was filled with countless road trips with my family. I can still remember each one so clearly. Nostalgia started to niggle away at me last year and slowly we made plans for our own family to take our first summer road trip together.

How to Survive a Road Trip

As the trip was getting closer, my nerves were high. Melbourne – Dubbo – Gold Coast – Port Macquarie – Port Stephens – Jervis Bay – Eden – Melbourne. Two adults, two boys, one car. Any chance of surviving the road trip for me meant one thing – being prepared. So I made sure that the following were ticked off our list, before we even reversed out of our drive way.

An abundance of entertainment.

With a DVD player in our car, I bought some new DVD’s. The boys each have an iPod, so each one was fully charged, all updates and a few new apps installed. Each boy had a little bag packed with books to read, a colouring book and crayons, as well as one teddy to cuddle.

Lots of snacks and drinks.

With the availability of petrol and McDonald’s stops along any road these days, you will not go hungry on any drive – no matter how long it is. But having snacks and drinks right at your feet means that little tummies can be easily appeased without having to stop. What I didn’t count on was how hungry I would be too! So those little snacks worked out a treat for everyone.

Leave early.

By far, this has to be the best advice I can give. I learnt this as we snaked our way through our road trip. The earlier we left, the more likely the boys would sleep for most of the drive and the earlier we would reach our destination. This meant that we could still enjoy some time to play and unwind when we got there, instead of collapsing in an exhausted heap after a long day driving.

How to Survive a Road Trip

So it seems the wheels have turned. While I was once petrified of long road trips with two children strapped into the back, I now look forward to them. Our summer holiday was one of the most memorable. Only the other day I was cheeky enough to mention to hubby the idea of doing a road trip again this summer.

It really doesn’t matter if you drive your dream car or not, spending time together is what counts. Being prepared for those trips with lots of entertainment and snacks might save your sanity, but don’t count on losing it in the first place.

The excitement of going on a holiday can be enough to turn the most unruly of children, into quiet angels who just can’t wait to get there and get stuck into some surf and some sand.

 What survival tips do you have for long car rides?

Disclosure: How to Survive a Road Trip was written in collaboration with John Hughes, trading with integrity and determined to give their customers the very best of service. All opinions expressed are my own.

  • workingwomenaustralia

    I agree with the ‘leave early’ tip. We left at 5am last time and it made such a difference for our 10 hour trip. I also created little entertainment bags for my two which included snacks and games.

    • The leave early tip worked great for us – thinking of doing a road trip again this summer and wondering if we could even manage a 4am start?!

  • Growing up, my parents would leave about 9pm so we’d sleep on our 12 hour drive to visit my Dad’s family. We’d get there and my parents would take a long nap, but we were good to go and it was much easier on them. My husband and I now do that with a slightly earlier leave time too. We never do it on the way home though, and it’s always a harder trip. Still trying to decide what our summer vaca plans hold!

    • My brother-in-law believes in late night starts – I’m too worried about how tired we would be to drive at that time of night. We are already dreaming of long summer days up North for our summer, hopefully it will happen xx

  • LydiaCLee

    We play games or listen to audio books – we did 4000 kms round the bottom of WA and listened to nearly all of Roald Dahl’s works. If it’s just the kids and I, we play ‘guess which character I’m thinking of?’ or it’s our time to talk. I think it’s great time together, and I also think we were bored in cars as kids, so it’s a right of passage that they deal with it too…(I’m one of those kooky anti DVDs in cars brigade – even my mother questioned me on it!)

    • Without a DVD player my sanity would wear quite thin! I remember being so bored on my childhood road trips, thankfully there are so many entertainment options today for kids xx

  • carmen@musingnmayhem

    I blogged our trip to FNQ with three of our precious brood, last year. We can’t wait to do it again! My best tip is to ensure each child has a bag, containing their drink bottle, lunchbox of snacks, entertainment items and a change of clothes and pyjamas for the evening. No rummaging through a fully packed car with tired children waiting!

    • ooohhh yes i agree with that! rummaging through a fully packed car with tired children is a really stress out!

    • Absolutely agree about the change of clothes and pj’s being in a little bag – we did that too and it was a god send, especially towards the end of the trip when the car was so full of stuff we had bought along the way – it was so easy to just find a spare shorts or top in a small bag, instead of taking everything out xx

  • We leave early too, but no-one ever sleeps in the car – ever. Their own bag of snacks (healthy and filling), plus emergency lollies for when the snacks run out and you need to bribe them to sit still/stop fighting/complaining.

  • I love escaping on the road. ATM we are staying in Wollongong for 12 months due to one of our son’s education…next year we do not have to be anywhere for anything! I can’t wait….and I am so looking forward to being free. I love road trips. Especially showing our younger boys Australia!
    Your trip sounds ideal.

    • I loved pointing out things to our boys along the way and I loved the small little towns we were able to see, which would have been missed otherwise xx

  • Kaz @ MeltingMoments

    We love escaping too! The iPad is wonderful for long drives and has helped calm many a meltdown 🙂 Lovely photos! Kaz

    • Thank you, didn’t have an iPad for this road trip, but will certainly make sure it is with us for the next one!

  • Robyn (Mrs D)

    We did our first road trip last April (me heavily pregnant with Miss L) and we just LOVED it. It’s not the sort of thing you do in England, so we very very apprehensive about such a long drive, but with almost all of your tips under my belt it was one of the best holidays we’ve ever had. My only tip is to try to plan your toilet stops (not so bad with boys)!!! – but with a big fat, pregnant mamma and a little girl – they were frequent!!

    • Oh Mrs D, I won’t even begin to tell you the crazy places we managed our toilet stops! Very few were in toilets!

  • Kirsty Russell

    We are considering a road trip through NSW later this year to take in the zoo, caves and other cool things that I remember being taken to when I was young. Unfortunately my memories of the last huge road trip with the kids to Melbourne, was tainted by the spectre of gastro. There are unfortunately some things that you just can’t be prepared for!!!!

    • oh, gastro…. i know what you mean. I had had gastro believe it or not when I was out on our land in the middle of no where and had to be rushed to Kilcoy hospital cause it was just uncontrollable. That was a bad travelling experience!

    • Gastro on a road trip – that is terribly unfair – I don’t know how I would have managed!

  • We recently took a road trip to Townsville from where we live in Brisbane and boy that was, I must say, a wanderful experience with our 3 and 6 year old children.
    They are pretty good in the car but we knew we needed to buy the Teac car video screen thingies. Plus we planned to stop at Agnes Water and Airlee Beach on the way there and Sarina and Gladstone on the way back. This made it so much easier not only for the kids but for me and my hubby. We made a little holiday of it while travelling up to see friends in Townsville. But I really believe the teac car video thingys made a huge difference. We didn’t play them non stop as some people may need to do. We made played it when we thought we needed it for them. Stopping along the way to play in parks etc is a great idea too to stretch your legs and get those crazy energies out!
    Anyway, love your blog – you go girl.

    • We didn’t play our DVD players constantly either – tried to time it for when we needed them and thought we would get one movie’s worth of quiet from the boys – thank you for your lovely comments – they are great! xx

  • As you said preparation is the key.
    Activities, Games, and Food. Another good one with little ones is have stops planned preferably with a playground to run off some pent up energy.

  • Sophie Allen

    Everything within reach, and charged up i Devices. Plus new movies and apps. We don’t have many long car trips, but usually all day in and out of airports. Leaving early is a great idea for road trips. Once, when we had just the 2, we left at 5am so they would just go back to sleep straight away in the car because it was still dark. Worked great!

    • Sophie, I am in complete awe of how you travel with your boys, on so many plane trips, on your own – there must be an award we can give you for it – honestly I couldn’t even do it with two xx

  • Zane Sproge

    I have traveled a lot of time with a kid – our first trip was for two days when he was 2years old. Since that – each summer we are making family trips. That is the best experience he could get as a kid – two years ago we went for 2weeks with another family with kids. It was first trip to these girls (10 and 5 y.o., my boy – 9 y.o.) and it was so hard for them… Luckily, my kid was happy, knew what it ‘s gonna be and felt good all way 🙂

    I think these are good tips you are sharing, Josefa. A lot of families should keep this in mind. Especiallythis sentence: “It really doesn’t matter if you drive your dream car or not, spending time together is what counts” 🙂

    Have a great trips!

  • Jody at Six Little Hearts

    I have just written a similar post about just day-tripping! Yes, nothing inspires fear in me more than the prospect of travelling with children!

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