It may be something you overlook, but being prepared for family road trips is so important. Having the foresight to plan and prepare can spell the difference between a successful, happy adventure or a disastrous, stress-filled trip from hell.
“As a young family, we made a conscious decision to embrace the great outdoors – a slower and simpler life,” say parents Rob and Tracy, who founded The Blonde Nomads to document their travels. “So, we sold our home in Sydney, left our jobs, and set off on the road with our two mini-blondies, Marli and Ziggy.”
Living two and a half years on the road, The Blonde Nomads know a thing or two about embracing the outdoors with their mini adventurers in tow – so, we asked them to share some of their ultimate hacks for road tripping with the kids!
Pack smart with snacks and water
Travel times = bored and hungry kids, so we recommend packing loads of snacks, snacks, and more snacks! We take lots of healthy options to keep them well-fed and energised; it also means we stay well away from crowded fast-food restaurants.
Our favourite travel snacks are nuts, hummus, veggie sticks/wrap bread, dry cereal, and fruits. We usually use the kids’ Thermos® FUNainer® Food Jars to keep their snacks fresh at all times. They’re perfect as they keep contents cool for up to 7 hours and hot for up to 5 hours, which is great for packing left-overs too!
Water is also a must. We always take our Thermos® Vacuum Insulated Hydration Bottle as it keeps our drinks cool for up to 18 hours. It’s also a great alternative to single-use plastic.
Plant the seed and let the kids know what to expect
Before we head out onto the road, the first thing we like to do is get the kids excited about the trip and make sure they know what to expect. We explain where we are going, how long it will take, what stops we’ll be making and what we will be doing once we are there. If possible, we also let the kids choose a few activities as it’s a great way to make them feel part of the adventure.
Learning along the way
Road trips are an excellent opportunity to teach the kids about the wonderful world around us. We love to give the kids a map or brochure on our destination to learn more, see the pictures and talk about what we will see. We often show them on a map where we have travelled in relation to where we have been, giving them a little perspective on our Aussie geography.
Make exciting stops
Instead of only taking toilet stops, we like to research places ahead of time that we can stop along the way, including beaches, parks, playgrounds, etc. We discovered very early on that travelling with kids is very different to travelling by yourself. You’ll need to slow down, allow time for them to burn some energy and most importantly, have fun along the way.
Create fun playlists and podcasts
To avoid listening to the same Disney songs on repeat during long drives, we like to create a family playlist, letting the kids choose a few hit songs themselves, so we are all happy. There are some great audiobooks and podcasts for families too!
Safety first, so pack the first aid kit
When we travel, we always expect the unexpected, so it’s a good idea to have a good first aid kit at the ready. First, consider where you are travelling to – for us, this is often ‘off the beaten track’, so we like to include items like a snake bandage, extra water and even a PLB. If you are not being too adventurous, you should still have the basics on board like sting creams, Imodium, and Panadol.
Keep them busy with toys and activities
We like to have a few toys and car-friendly activities planned to keep our mini blondies engaged on long trips. A quick trip to a discount store for a new activity is always a winner, think, magic ink pens, sticker books and colouring in. We also have a few games that we play, which always gives us a laugh.
The Blonde Nomads’ top three ‘must see’ destinations in Australia:
The Dampier Peninsula, North of Broome
With an abundance of wide-open spaces, rich red pindan dirt, giant baobab trees, and various unique experiences, both with the local indigenous and wildlife. You will no doubt leave with a bunch of dusty red clothes and a bit of Kimberley magic imprinted on your heart.
Yeppoon to Rockhampton
The Capricorn region has it all! It’s the perfect place to explore, from stunning cave systems and prehistoric discoveries to beachside campfires, pristine coral reefs, and up-close wildlife encounters.
South Coast of NSW
This stretch of coastline is full of colour. It features the worlds whitest sand at Hyams Beach. A two-hour drive further south will have you hand-feeding wild stingrays in Bendalong, and the vibrant colours of the turquoise water and red rocks surrounding Pambula and Merimbula will knock your socks off. Then, to top it all off, you must go camping under the stars, right next to the ocean at Potato Point.