Eight ways to avoid your family road trip turning into hell on wheels

happy little boy and girl travel by car

Family road trips can create two types of memories; a bonding family experience or a nightmare on wheels! With school holidays fast approaching, lots of people will take to the road for a family holiday. The team at HelloCars have pulled together some different ideas to entertain a car full of kids these school holidays.

iPods, smartphones, iPads and DVD players can be family savers on long trips. If you’re concerned about too much screen time, set expectations around accepted time frames. Don’t forget to pack the USB charging cord, headphones and a portable USB charger.
Beware of the data monster. The kids are best to watch TV shows and movies that have been downloaded to their device before travel rather than using their data.
It’s a great idea to encourage the kids to do a video journal of their trip. You can make suggestions about what to capture e.g. animals/yellow cars or let their imagination run wild.
If you’ve got a DVD player, watch old family movies. Kids love seeing themselves on screen and it should generate lots of nice discussion.

2. Old school fun
There are plenty of board games that can pass the time. The magnetic ones such as chess, drafts, checkers and scrabble are great for the car.

3. Food
Pack food that won’t leave you with a shocking sugar rush in the back seat. Prepare small containers that the kids can pick and use choose from. Pack plenty of water to keep everyone hydrated, especially the drivers.

4. Mind games
These can be played at anytime and don’t require you to pack anything!

I-spy – if you don’t know this one you’re really on the back foot. On the flipside, you’ll love this story!

Memory – I’m going to a picnic and I’m taking…  each person has to repeat the whole list of things to take as it grows with each turn. The more people in the car the better for this one.

The ‘Quiet’ game – who can be quiet for the longest period. A god send, if they fall for it. 
And well worth a try on every road trip.

Funny faces – for multiple kids, see who can keep a straight face while the other pulls stupid ones.

Counting/observation activities, for which you’ll need a pen and paper. You name it, and you can count it – number of coloured cars, road signs, etc.
Letter list – pick a letter and for the next 15 minutes list how many things you see that start with that letter. ‘T’ for truck
Make funny sayings out of number plates on other cars. Eg FLD “fluffy little duck.”

5. Presents
Who doesn’t love unwrapping stuff? Buy some cheap things that you can wrap up as presents and distribute them along the way. They don’t need to be expensive, go to the $2 shop.

6. Reading
If they’re into reading, books and magazines are great, so stock up on their favourites – as long as your child doesn’t get sick from reading in the car.

7. For the very organised/well planned…
If you know the route you’re taking, and some of the attractions along the way, make a travel book for the kids. Buy a scrapbook and get to work. Include questions based on what they will see along the way. For example, town populations, freeway numbers, historical sites (brown signs).

8. Toilet stops
You’re 50kms away from the next town and a little voice from the back seat says, “I need to go to the toilet”. Then there’s the stressful moment of should you risk it and make it to the town or pull over on the side of the road. The government has come to the rescue, kind of. They set up a website that lists all of the toilet stops on the major freeways around Australia. Click here.

General tips for road trips:

  • Plan ahead. Know the route, the roads and where your next stop is, check this out before you set off.  Plan for regular stops – fresh air, food, toilet, playing, sanity breaks.
  • Take: pillows, blankets, wipes, tissues, vomit bags, water.
  • Treat time in the car as good quality family time instead of a pain in the bum travel time. Don’t forget that kids will most likely respond to your mood in the car.
  • Don’t try to travel too far in one go. It’s not safe, as well as boring.
  • If you travel during the kids sleep time, you will enjoy some quiet time too!