During our 4 years of travelling full time around Australia we’ve had loads of questions about travelling with kids. One thing we can vouch for is that traveling with kids is certainly very different than travelling as a couple. Lots of things change when kids come along, but it is so awesome and so rewarding to be able to see them out there living their best lives. Children are little free spirits when they are travelling and being witness to that is one of the best parts of being a parent.
Here’s our top tips for surviving a road trip or making life on the road with kids that much easier!
TRAVEL DAY ENTERTAINMENT
Make sure you’ve got plenty of entertainment on hand. There’s nothing worse than bored kids or children that are constantly asking you “are we there yet?” If you have a swag of different options to keep them entertained it will keep everyone happy. We’ve got an MSA 4×4 Accessories seat organiser installed on the back of the passenger front seat that we have stuffed full of books for Jasper because he is reading now and he loves getting into new books. We also have some colouring in and other fun activities in there to keep him occupied.
The iPad is the golden ticket on travel days and we make sure we’ve got plenty of movies, games and apps that are downloaded so Jasper can play and use them offline, because there are definitely areas where there will be no phone/internet service at all.
Spotify is another great option for keeping the troops entertained. We love to play a fun game where we each take a turn in picking a song and then build a playlist with all of those songs that we’ve played on the travel day.
Learning a language is another great option and something you can all do together as a family. We are learning Japanese and have a set of CD’s with short lessons on each disc. We do a lesson each day and that keeps us all entertained and learning for 30 minutes of our travel day.
Packing more snacks than you think you will ever need is super important because guaranteed the kids will eat their way through them, especially if they’re feeling a bit bored or are ready to get out of the car. Food is a great distraction, and keeping the snacks healthy will keep them satisfied and fuller for longer.
Pulling up at playgrounds for rest stops or to make a cuppa will keep everyone happy and gives the kids a chance to run around and get some of that pent up energy out. It also means the troops will be happy to get back in the car, and perhaps even a little tired for the rest of the trip! Win win!
We have a “one in one out” rule and this works really well when living in such a small space, especially if you’re towing a caravan as weights are everything. We have a storage shed so whenever we’re back on the Sunshine Coast we ask Jasper what toys he wants to swap out for the next leg of our travels. Generally we have Lego for inside the van, and for outside he has a handful of little micro mini cars and some little monster trucks and Hot Wheels cars that we are happy for him to play with in the dirt.
You’ve got to be really conscious of what you have on board and your kids will tell you that they need lots of toys, but when they start traveling they’ll be so busy playing outside and in the environment they’ll forget about all that ‘stuff’ they wanted.
CHORES & RESPONSIBILITY
All kids thrive with chores and responsibility and there are always plenty of jobs to be done on the road. We have a number of different chores for Jasper during our set up and pack down routine, that have grown as he has, including winding the caravan stabiliser legs up and down, and opening the internal gas vents on the van.
A wonderful book that we would highly recommend for kids of all ages is Scott Pape’s Barefoot Kids. We are not affiliated with Scott however think this book is fantastic and know that Jasper absolutely loves reading it and learning all about how to make money and how to make money grow. If you are looking for a great gift for your kids or grandkids that will provide them some really good financial intelligence at a young age, we would strongly suggest this book.
Being an only child, we get a lot of questions around Jasper’s social interactions with other children, especially as we are on the move all the time. With so many families now travelling around Australia there is always another child close by to make friends with, even if it is just for the day. Kids seem to have a beacon and they can spotother kids a mile away, and the beautiful thing about travelling children is that they are confident and eager to get together and play, no matter their age. Kids are so adaptable and will continually surprise and impress you as they stretch themselves outside their comfort zone.
We have met so many amazing families and people on our travels and Jasper has got friends all around the country. We also use technology to keep him in touch with his cousins, family and grandparents back home.
KEEP A JOURNAL
Every day is a new adventure and there will be so many wonderful experiences to capture. Encouraging your children to keep a journal of their travels is a great way to create a time capsule for them of treasured memories they will keep forever.
It could be a notebook, a sticker book or photo diary, or even pictures they draw themselves of locations and experiences they’ve had. Let their creativity and imaginations run wild to capture these precious memories.
The real value of this exercise will come when your children are grown up and sharing these memories and experiences with their own families. What a gift!
TAKE TIME OUT FOR YOURSELF
There’s no getting around it, living in a tiny space all together can be tough and you are going to have good days and bad days. As a parent, you’ll have moments where you feel like your head is going to explode and you just need some time out for yourself… and that’s okay! Making sure that you take those moments, being kind to yourself and giving yourself those little breaks is really important not only for your mental and emotional health, but for all the family too!
Remember, if you don’t look after yourself, you can’t fully look after anyone else.
TRAVELLING SHAPES YOUR KIDS INTO WHO THEY’RE GOING TO BE
Travelling is going to shape your children into who they’re going to be when they grow up. A favourite author of ours , the wonderful Jim Rohn, has a fantastic saying, “Plant seeds not weeds”. Treating your children’s brains like fertile gardens and being aware of what you are planting in there, all of those seeds of greatness, will give them the opportunity to stretch themselves, spread their wings, and be inquisitive about life.
As you can see, travelling with kids is not only an enjoyable experience but an educational one as well. Exploring with your family will create treasured memories that will last a lifetime. No matter how you choose to travel, there’s no doubt your kids will benefit from experiencing the world in a different way. This more intimate level of engagement with new people and cultures heightens their understanding of the world we share and provides valuable life lessons for every age. If you’re looking for a new way to broaden your family’s horizons don’t be afraid to take the plunge and embark on the joyful journey of travelling as a family. Get out there, take the first step and cherish each moment as you go!