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To drive or fly? Why a driving holiday is worth considering…

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Thinking about a family holiday to Melbourne, Brisbane or Canberra? If you’re wondering whether to fly or drive, find out the advantages for a driving holiday, and how to make it as stress-free as possible with kids.


Over the recent Easter School Holidays, we embarked on a 2-week driving holiday up to Queensland. Since having kids, we’d only ever braved two or three hour drives for mini breaks, but after a successful drive to Byron Bay last year, we decided to give it another crack.

The itinerary went a little something like this:

  • Sydney to Surfers Paradise (9 hours) for 5 nights
  • Surfers Paradise to Noosa (3 hours) for 7 nights
  • Noosa to Port Macquarie (8 hours) for 2 nights
  • Port Macquarie to Sydney (4 hours)

Advantages of driving

Although it can be tense at times, if the distance isn’t too far, or you break it up along the way, driving has lots of advantages, such as:

  1. Save money on flights (particularly good during peak times like school holidays & long weekends)
  2. Save money on car hire (and hiring car seats too!). Plus you have your own car when you get to your destination!
  3. You can easily take bulky items like bikes, scooters, boards, high chairs, prams etc.
  4. And to be honest, it doesn’t actually take too much more time than flying (depending on the destination, of course). Even though the flight time may only be an hour, it usually ends up being 5 hours door to door by the time you factor in getting to the airport, checking in, waiting around, flying, waiting for luggage, getting hire car or transfers etc. So driving to somewhere like Byron Bay only ends up taking a couple more hours than flying would!

Tips for driving long distances with kids

To minimise stress in the car, I’ve learnt quite a few tips (through personal trial and error!) about how to prepare for the big drive. They should hopefully provide a few ideas if you’re considering a driving holiday anytime soon (or even if you’re just heading a couple of hours out of Sydney!).

Entertainment

In order to minimise the ‘Mum, I’m bored’ or ‘Are we there yet?’ questions, keeping the kids entertained is one of the most important things you need to prepare for. A few ideas…

  • Tablets: This is the time when any rules about digital devices and screen time no longer apply! We loaded iPads with movies and apps, and our kids were mostly entertained by new games.
  • DVDs: We have a ‘vintage’ 10 year old portable DVD player where you attach screens to the back of head rests, so we packed a DVD holder with a selection of DVDs to watch. Some of the newer cars even have these in-built, so lucky you if you don’t need to deal with the cords and set up!
  • Audiobooks: Audiobooks are great, particularly if you child is prone to feeling car sick. Either pop it on the main entertainment system in the car for everyone to hear, or download them to digital devices so they can listen on headphones. Our kids (aged 4-9 years) all love the Roald Dahl series.
  • Activity Books: A new age-appropriate activity book such as colouring in, puzzles or clip board with blank paper for drawing, plus a little pencil case.

Audiobooks are a great entertainment option

Don’t forget to pack for your driving holiday:

  • Headphones: A set of headphones for each child, so you don’t there’s not a huge sound clash and you don’t need to listen to their entertainment too!
  • Charging devices: You’ll likely run out of battery on the digital devices, so be sure to pack any portable charging devices or USB cords to keep the entertainment rolling.

Snacks

It’s amazing how “hungry” kids can get when they are sitting still for hours on end! I packed a big bag full of a variety of food – from chopped up fruit and vegies in big plastic containers, to the standard pre-packaged crackers, biscuits & bars.

Don’t forget a bottle of chilled water for everyone too!

Organisation

To keep yourself sane (and clean) pack a supply of things like baby wipes, tissues, plastic bags & even disinfectant wipes for spills.

Pop tissues, wipes & bags in a handy spot like the glove box.

Toilet breaks

Make everyone go before you leave. Even if they don’t think they need to go! There’s nothing worse than a “Mummy, I need to go to the toilet” 30 minutes into a big drive.

And if you make any loo stops along the way, again make sure everyone goes even if they don’t think they need to. Guaranteed, they will need to go in 15 minutes after you’ve left, and you’ll be cursing yourself for not making them go beforehand.

Car Safety

Keep your family safe! If you’re going on a big driving holiday, make sure you’re up to date with your car servicing. If you’re due for a service soon, there’s definitely no harm in booking it before you go.

Also check things like car tyre pressure and fill up the tank with petrol the day before, so you’re ready to roll!


Got any other tips for driving holidays with kids? We’d love to hear them! Share them below… 

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