We used to live in rural Australia: we are used to long trips in the car. So I thought I’d share some of the things that made those journeys easier for us.
Mostly, we don’t travel for fun nowadays. Travelling with kids is hard work. But recently, we visited an ageing relative interstate. The trip took ten hours each way.
But first, a safety message. This is just as important as wearing a seatbelt!
Even though our car boot is packed to capacity, the load is safely secured behind a cargo barrier. The cabin of the car is mostly empty, except for pillows and soft toys. If you have to stop suddenly, all the items in the car will become airborne and could hit you or your children. A box of tissues will be as heavy as a brick. The load must be safely secured.
- Pack less. You’ll probably end up wearing the same pair of jeans for most of the trip. Think carefully about what you really need to bring. The easiest way to pack less is to use a smaller bag, which forces you to pack less. It will be lighter and easier to carry to your hotel room. Although having said that, too many small bags are harder to move from place to place than a few larger bags.
- Pack your pyjamas in the top of your bag. You don’t want to have to sort through your bags to find them at the end of a long day in the car.
- Don’t purchase too many snacks for the car. On this last trip, I spent nearly $100 on snacks for the journey. Sure it was healthy, but much of it didn’t get eaten and I wasted my money. On the way home, we decided to go to a fast food restaurant in one of the bigger towns. It was cheap; it was air-conditioned; it had baby change facilities and a playground. We try not to eat fast food as a rule, but sometimes it’s nice to have a treat.
- Pack only a few books and toys. Hotel rooms are small and get messy quickly!
- Tidy the room each night and keep re-packing your bags as you go. It took me a few years to work this out, even though I try to do this each night at home. It’s much easier to do the final pack-up if you’ve been keeping things organised throughout the trip.
- Don’t worry too much about the travelling. I was surprised how well my kids travelled, especially on the way home when they knew what to expect. We left at dawn and we stopped frequently at playgrounds along the way. For them, it was a big adventure.
- When you get home, try to put away all your belongings within 24 hours. This is difficult, but otherwise your house will be as messy as the hotel room was!
- Decide to enjoy it. I really noticed how much more my husband seemed to enjoy the trip, even though he did most of the heavy lifting! He told me later that he found the trip difficult too, but he resolved to make the most of it early on. Now we still have the memories of the fun things we did on the trip, and all the frustrations have faded away.
When you do get home, you’ll really appreciate where you live–that’s what travelling is all about!
I’d love to hear from you: what are your tips for travelling with kids?