Recently we decided that we needed a holiday with our kids. Or, more accurately, The Hairy Husband decided that he must go and watch the football somewhere rather far away (cough, Sydney), and that as his people, we MUST go with him.
Well… to be honest, he would have happily gone on his own #MuchoRelaxo, however I didn’t want to miss out on the chance for a wee getaway, and I REALLY didn’t want to have to look after the kids on my own for the whole weekend #IAmTheBestMumIPromiseButIWasntInTheMoodForThatShit, so I kinda forced him to take myself and the kids along with him. Sucker.
Now, in the lead-up to the trip we watched the flight prices, hoping to get some good cheap-as-chips discounts. Flights aren’t terribly cheap now that three out of four of us need to pay for a seat, however the discounted flights never seemed to be available to take at a normal humany dont-mess-with-the-kids-sleep-or-there-will-be-hell-to-pay kind of time.
I mean, if the kids could have sat in a different part of the plane on their own so we didn’t have to be subjected to the grey-hair-sprouting or stress-sweat-moustache-inducing shrieking from the banshees that would have been our children at 11:30pm at night, then yeah sure we would have taken those cheap within-our-budget flights. But as that would never happen, we tried to think of alternatives to retain our sanity.
Which is how, one night whilst we were watching something rather boring on Netflix (oh how rude, is there even such a thing?), The Hairy Husband piped up with the suggestion of maybe tossing the children and their tiny butts into the car, and driving aaaaaaaaaall the way to Sydney rather than flying.
A Road Trip With Kids?!
How long is the flight time, I asked? 1 hour and 25 minutes, was his reply.
Well then, what is the driving time, I asked warily? Errm… About 8 hours and 45 minutes without including any stops, he replied… I wondered for a moment if he actually remembered that we would have a four year old and an 18 month old in the backseat on this loooooong drive, but then I was overcome by a wave of insanity which caused me to agree and say ok, why the heck not?
So we booked some accomodation, and planned our road trip with kids, with about eleventy-billion stops along the way.
The day of our trip got closer and closer until all of a sudden it arrived on our doorstep and it was time to go. Yasss crazy family, let’s get this show on the road, The Universe cried at me.
Now, we had planned to leave the house by 4:30am on the day of the trip (a time of day that NO-ONE should ever see, sigh) , and we had packed the car the night before in preparation for our departure so it was choc full of just about everything we had ever owned… Because, you know… kids.
For the kids specifically on the drive, we included the following:
- Food (So. Much. Food) cut up into snackable sizes.
- Specifically Sultana’s, Blueberries, Cucumber Sticks, Oranges, Two Types of Cheese, a bunch of Rice Rusks (we all love these from Baby Mum Mum which can be easily found at any Coles supermarket), and sandwiches.
- Water bottles for everyone
- We also included another 4 bottles of water to refill all of our bottles as we travelled.
- Colouring books x 4 (2 per kid, but they could swap if bored)
- We had been hoarding these from birthdays gone by, but you can find loads for really cheap in Kmart and Target.
- Sticker Sheets x well…a lot
- You will find sticker sheets for great value just about everywhere including the supermarkets, and they really keep little fingers busy. Don’t be surprised though if more stickers end up on little faces than on paper!
- Endless texta’s (as pencils don’t really cut it on soft colouring surfaces while driving).
- Check out Kmart and Target for a huge variety at great prices.
- A doll and a bunny toy for The Girl.
- 5 cars for The Boy.
- Eleventy Billion Books for both kids.
- An Etcha sketch or Megasketcher, like this one from Big W.
- Hot Tip: Take one for each child if you can manage it, because as soon as one kid picks it up, the other kid will want it more than anything in the world.
But, back to how we survived our road trip with kids…
Just before 4:30am we woke the kids up (gently), made the son have an EPIC wee because there was no way he was going to have an accident in the car seat that he would sit in for the rest of “The Longest Drive In Our Families History”, and threw them in the car still in their PJ’s. We popped blankets over them and desperately tried to fool them into thinking they were still asleep. Which did not work even a little bit.
Because it was the very thing we DIDN’T want them to do, they woke up so full of beans that we almost threw in the proverbial towel… But we managed to pull ourselves together and head on our way.
Don’t let them sense our fear, we thought, or we will be done for.
Naturally the kids totally refused to go back to sleep until we were a good hour and a half away from home which is when they finally realised that it was still night time, there was nothing to see and that we WERE NOT FREAKING STOPPING FOR AAAAAGES. Or at least, until we crossed the border. Nope.
We woke the kids up at our first stop in Albury, 3 hours and 21 minutes after we left home. We changed them, and then headed into Mr Benedict for a lovely breakfast. The food was brilliant, and thankfully there were also loads of clean and pretty toilets for a quiet morning “on the road” poo. What more do you need in life? #SorryNotSorry lol.
From there we drove another 45 minutes to The Holbrook Submarine Musuem, in Holbrook. The kids had fallen asleep, so naturally we thought it best to wake them up and force them to do all of the things. And… because I needed a wee again. Can’t long-distance drive me anywhere.
We really wanted to allow the kids enough stops on this journey to stretch their legs and burn off some of the energy that we knew would be building up over the long haul, and the submarine was super impressive place to do it. Although it was f-f-f-f-freezing while we were there, it was worth a stop just to allow the kids to clamber over the sub and use our imaginations of what life would have been like to live on it.
Well, the Girl did nothing of the sort. She just dragged me up and down a single concrete step near the submarine over and over and over again until we both got dizzy and over it. Sigh.
Once back in the car, we drove another hour and 10 mins until we reached The Dog on The Tuckerbox in Gundagai, which was exactly what the name suggests – A Dog. Just sitting. On a tucker box. In the middle of a fountain. There is a very cute story behind the statue which you can read on the accompanying plaque, however there isn’t an awful lot to do here, other than get the kids out of the car for a run around.
There are a couple of cafe’s behind the fountain however we didn’t stop in, as it started raining we cut our visit short and hopped back in the car (to the sound of various tiny people protesting this whole heartedly) and off we went again.
On this leg of the drive we found the kids starting to get a little bit bored so we unpacked the goodies listed above that we had brought with us to keep them occupied, and which I recommend parents take with them on any future road trips.
I had also purchased two Playette travel trays from Baby Bunting for $19 each the night before we left, which strapped cleverly to the kids seat belts to secure them making them hands free. This made it super easy for them to draw, play or eat without losing their texta’s, toys or food. Except for when they threw those texta’s and toys at our heads. The tables did not stop that. Sigh.
**My only issue with these tables is that a lot of the colouring books we had were A4 in size and you could only fit them into the table sideways when the tables were strapped onto our kids. Colouring sideways wasn’t as much fun as I had hoped. But the snacks, stickers and toys fit in well and didn’t slide out so just keep that in mind when looking at them yourself.
These little distractions got the kids happily to Yass just over an hour later, where we stopped and had some lunch at McDonalds, which to be honest I am not a fan of and make the conscious choice not to ever stop there if I can help it as it makes me feel sick in the stomach once I eat it. But the playground was worth it, as well as the petrol station that it was connected to.
We were there for around an hour and a half, revving up the other children in the playground into anarchy before we hopped in the car once more for the final leg of the journey.
This time, we were not stopping until we arrived in Sydney.
For this part of the journey we decided to download the ABC Kids Listen App, to distract the kids from the fact that we still had 2 hours and 55 minutes to go (depending on traffic once we got there).
The app was brilliant. Through it, we could access a gazillion kids songs and kids stories, all of which keep them hugely entertained. Best of all was that this app was free… #Awesome.
And then… finally we arrived at our destination. A mere 12 hours after we left. We took 3 hours and 15 minutes longer than the recommended driving time, by including loads of stops along the way, but we wouldn’t change a single thing.
Because we actually enjoyed the drive together. We took the time to marvel at the beauty of the scenery around us, and enjoy the various towns that we visited.
We loved spending the time together and creating the memories that we did.
And we cant wait to do it all again sometime soon.
Have you got any tips yourself for surviving a long road trip with kids? Well, leave a comment below and share how you got through it, and I cant wait to read it xxx