Traveling With Kids Through Australia: How To Make A Long Trip Fun For The Whole Family

Family vacations can be--alternately--fun, educational, exhausting, and stressful. With all the planning that goes into taking a trip, kids can become worn out by the schedules and long hours in a vehicle, and parents usually find that trying to keep everyone happy and well-rested is a near-impossible task.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way! Traveling can be fulfilling and fun if you know how to plan and what to plan for. One of the best places for travelers is Australia, which boasts gorgeous landscapes and tons of attractions for any age. There’s a lot of ground to cover, however, so it helps to start with a good map and make a plan for how many miles you want to cover per day, allowing for stops along the way. Spending several hours in the car with children requires thinking ahead, some inventive packing skills, and a bit of patience, but it can be done.


Make a plan

It’ll take a little research, but once you figure out all the places you definitely want to see, you can make a list and work from there. You can use Google Maps to locate each destination and figure out how many kilometers you’ll need to get in per day in order to fit it all in. After that, it’s just a matter of taking into consideration how many hours you’ll be in the car in one stretch.
Most well-seasoned travelers will recommend packing art supplies/coloring books, reading materials, handheld games, MP3 players, and extra batteries in a small bag that hangs off the back of the front seats so anyone in the back can access them easily and still have room to stretch their legs a bit; it might also be a good idea to invest in a small portable DVD player. While popping in movies for the entire trip isn’t the best idea--the kids will miss seeing the scenery and attractions--it can be a great way to give them a break from boredom and allow you to relax a bit. You may be able to find a set that comes with two screens--one for the back of each front seat--and they have earphone access, as well, so you don’t have to listen to the movie if you don’t want to.
Snacks and drinks are also a consideration. If you’re okay with food in the car, pack a small cooler with water bottles, fruit snacks, crackers, and anything else the kiddos might enjoy during the longer stretches of driving. Of course, one of the perks of traveling is finding interesting places to eat, and while funky little diners and food stands are great places to stop and stretch your legs (and perhaps buy a souvenir or two), sometimes grabbing some fast food is easiest. If you bring along small plastic baskets for each child, they can fit their meal and drink inside and keep it on their lap to prevent spills and the discomfort of having hot food resting on their legs.



Add in several stops

Even if you talk to your kids for weeks before the trip to prepare them for what it will be like, it’s hard to grasp just how tiring long car trips can be. This can lead to meltdowns and lost tempers, but that can be avoided to some degree by allowing for several stops along the way--even some that aren’t planned. If you pass a sign for a cool attraction, check it out and give everyone a chance to get out of the vehicle and move around. There are plenty of parks, playgrounds, farmer’s markets, and restaurants to see, especially if you’re traveling on Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney. Letting kids explore their environment a bit can be educational, creative, and will give them the chance to make memories.

Keep some routines

Going on vacation means leaving behind the stresses of everyday life, but for kids that can be jarring. Taking them into a strange new environment without the comforts of home can be overwhelming, especially for young ones, but if you bring one or two favorite toys from home and keep some routines the same--such as the teeth-brushing/bedtime ritual--it can be extremely helpful in avoiding those meltdowns.
It’s important to remember that all of these tips apply to you, as well. Getting good rest can be tricky while you’re traveling, so it can be helpful to remember to stay away from your phone or laptop for a while before bed. Studies have shown that putting down the screen at night can have a significant effect on your rest.
Traveling through Australia is, for many, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you’re fortunate enough to take the trip with your family, just remember to be patient, prepared, and ready for fun. 

Sean Morris is a former social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He knows what it’s like to juggle family and career. He did it for years until deciding to become a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he has found this additional time with his kids to be the most rewarding experience of his life. He began writing for to share his experiences and to help guide anyone struggling to find the best path for their life, career, and/or family. Sean lives in Phoenix, AZ.