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How to survive long roadtrips with kids

Planning long roadtrips with kids can be intimidating. Whether your family includes crying infants, energetic toddlers or moody teenagers,  travel presents myriad unique challenges. When you combine long periods in confined spaces with the possibility of frequent meltdowns and complete boredom, it can be tempting to give up on the idea altogether.

Some may think flying from place to place is the easier option; however, the journey can be just as memorable as the destination. Roadtrips with kids are not only cost effective, they are also a wonderful way to grow as a family.

Although we can’t guarantee the perfect family roadtrip, we can provide you with some practical advice and survival strategies to help your long-distance travel become a rewarding, positive and fun experience for the whole family.

1.Keep hUNGEr at bay

A hungry child often means an angry child. Indeed, this phenomenon is so common that someone coined the portmanteau “hangry” to describe it.  Consequently, having access to plenty of snacks is essential during a lengthy drive. There are two approaches you can take to keeping hanger at bay.

If your route takes you through towns every few hours, you can simply purchase snacks along the way. This approach is convenient, but can be costly. Choices can also be limited to more processed options, which some families avoid.

Organisation is critical if you’d prefer not to purchase along the way, or you’re not passing through many towns.  Options such as sandwiches, cut up fruit, carrots and dip are great ideas; hold the tomatoes to avoid soggy sandwiches! Home made (or store bought) muffins and fritters can be made and frozen ahead of time.  Essentially, all the snacks you would typically put in a school lunchbox are perfect for long roadtrips with kids. If you don’t have an on-board fridge, an esky or cooler bag can keep your snacks fresh.

2. Entertainment

In addition to hunger, boredom is the most common cause of fidgety kids during long roadtrips. Staring out the window for hours can be unappealing, so having a variety of toys and activities for the kids is a must. One of our favourite ideas is creating a ‘surprise fun bag’, full of arts and crafts. These activities can include colouring books, pencils, stickers, board games and toys that your little ones can fossick through and enjoy.

Watching movies is another wonderful way to pass a few hours in the car. If you don’t have built-in screens, you could use an iPad, portable DVD player or other interactive device. Netflix and other streaming services now allow you to download some content ahead of time. This will allow you to keep everyone entertained, even in areas with poor internet coverage.

If you’d prefer to avoid electronic devices, you may be interested in our article regarding how to switch off during your next holiday.

3. Pit stops

Sitting for long periods is a recipe for disaster. Even adults become stir-crazy after a while. Our most effective tip is to take regular breaks to burn some energy. The more fatigued kids become, the more likely they’ll fall asleep in the car.

If you see a nice grassy area on the side of the road, a playground, or even just a cafe, pull over for at least 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll also have the opportunity to see more of the areas you are passing through. This is a great time for a snack, whether it’s something you’ve packed or something you buy.

4. Go with the flow

While you can’t always guarantee a smooth drive, you can reduce the chance of having a bad one. One of the charms of family holidays is their unpredictable nature. Sometimes it’s best to take the bad with the good and use it to learn what does and doesn’t work for your family.

These are the times you’ll look back on and laugh at in years to come, remembering every crazy, fun, nervous, angry and happy emotion you felt throughout the journey. Roadtrips with kids make the best memories.

Do you need a little help planning your next roadtrip with kids? Campstay can help you find, compare and book family friendly caravan parks. Check out the website here, or download their android  or itunes app. You can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or join the group – Everything Holiday Parks! Australia.