I set off yesterday morning with the 5 kids for a car trip with the kids to Mildura. Mr I was meant to be coming along, but his football team has made the finals, so with an elimination final on Sunday he needed to stay in Melbourne.
For me, enjoying car travel with kids is dependent upon two things:
As we have made this trip numerous times, the kids are all pretty aware of what is involved. It is a full days drive. We left home before 10am, dropped Mr I off at work in the city and made our way to the Calder Highway. Many hours later we arrived at 5.15pm at my sister’s house in Mildura.
Here is what we do to make it the car trip as enjoyable as possible for all of us:
Take plenty of breaks from the drive, at places where the kids can have some fun. Our eldest found what he called a “natural slide” and the kids had a ball going up and down it while I stretched my legs.
Music and audiobooks. We are old school and don’t have a DVD player for the car and I prefer it this way. The Roald Dahl audio books are fantastic and I can highly recommend them. I love that they are CDs all my kids will listen do despite the range in ages (2 – 12 y.o). You can find more of my recommended audio books for car trips here – 10 Great Children’s Audio Books For Long Car Trips.
We talk about what we see out the window. This is a canola field. We talked about how they crush the seeds from this plant and make oil and margarine from it.
Each child has their own back pack containing their food for the trip. To see the type of things I pack you can check out my list – For the car, food and drink.
I may be a little to fond of this drink – my only source of caffeine as I don’t really drink tea or coffee (and before you tell me – I know it is horribly bad for me!). Note the towel on the floor in the photo. I always pack a towel and wet face washer and they always come in handy!
After the kids had lunch in the car, the toddler and one other child had a nap. With the Roald Dahl audio books on, I faded the sound to the back of the car, put on my headphones (with mouthpiece) and used the Voice Memos function on my iPhone.
I had lots of ideas going around in my head, so I recorded them – some ideas for presentations coming up, outlines for posts I want to write over the next few weeks and ideas for a couple of projects I am developing. It is impossible to always remember these ideas, but recording them means, I can listen back to them next week when I am home and have a base to start from.
We always pack a small collection of suitable toys and print outs for the kids to do. You can download the Planning With Kids – Travel Activity Pack to help keep the kids occupied on long car trips – it is a zip file (6.2MB) and includes:
- Spot The Sign Game
- Junior Primary Maths Grids
- Middle Primary Maths Grids
- Upper Primary Maths Grids
- Early Readers Word Search
- Car Road Trip Word Search
- Kids Printable Activities Website List
I always pack basic medicines. With 5 kids, there is a pretty good chance that one of them will need it. This trip it was our daughter, who started running a fever half way through the trip.
Play, fresh air and toilet stops always help change the mood in the car!
As we drove through Hattah, we talked about how native vegetation can actually be rejuvenated by bush fires.
We learnt that the Tour of The Murray cycling event was going to be in Mildura this weekend.
Thanks to Mr I’s mum and dad who bought us this pod a few years ago to go on top of the Tarago, packing the car is so much easier. It does however mean that making it to Mildura on a tank of petrol on a windy day is pushing it.
Planning your trip so you can refuel as needed is pretty important. We joined the many cycling teams refueling at Redcliffs (15 minutes from Mildura!). Mr I reckons we would have made it to Mildura with what was left – I am cautious though and was never going to test it out!
What do you do to make long car travel with kids enjoyable?