22 October 2013

15 tips for Road Trippin with Children {Guest post by Tall, Short and Tiny}

I am so excited to introduce this week's Travel Tuesday guest post. It comes to you from one of my all-time favourite bloggy friends, the lovely Ange from Tall, Short and Tiny. Ange lives in Dunedin now, but B.K. (that's before kids to you) she travelled prolifically all over the world, and this even included some amazing adventures in South America whilst growing beautiful Tiny in her belly at the same time. Now that's multi-tasking for you!

These days you're more likely to find Ange and her family road-tripping all over our beautiful country. Her recent travel posts of Wanakathe journey through Central Otago and their unplugged week away in Wanaka and Queenstown have firmly put this part of the world on my bucket list of places to visit!

So with this in mind, I knew that Ange would be the perfect person to put together some great tips on how to cope with kids on long road trips. Our kids are often pretty spoilt with seat-back DVD players but on this trip we will be doing it old-skool and relying on some of Ange's great ideas:


15 Tips for Road Trippin' with Children

Travel has always been a huge part of my life with my husband. He grew up in the North Island, while I grew up in the South; over the years, we have enjoyed showing each other the haunts of our youth, as well as discovering new places together (both in New Zealand, and abroad).

Since having children, we have had to change the way we travel slightly, but we have still managed to explore many different parts of New Zealand (and overseas) with them. Our boys both fly extremely well, but equally, they travel by car like little troopers; now, we have this road trippin' business down to a fine art, and we see it as an exciting time, rather than a stressful occurrence.

Roadies with children should be fun, and they can be easy; here are some tips to make your life easier when planning your next family driving holiday:

~ as much as possible, plan your departure time to coincide with nap times. If your child usually sleeps at 10am, and your journey will take approximately three hours, plan to leave at 9/9.30am. This means your child can chill happily for a while before being lulled to sleep, and they won't have too long sitting in the car once they wake up.

~ pack a variety of snacks, including some special treats (commonly known as “bribery”), that are easy to dish out, and not too messy. Chocolate biscuits + toddlers + warm car = recipe for disaster.

~ be prepared to play silly games to wile away the time. Even little ones can play rudimentary versions of “I Spy” and “Spot the Tractors”, and you can use it as a bit of a learning tool at the same time.

~ be prepared to stop for toileting, feeding, leg-stretching and toy-rescuing. Also don't plan on stopping in a particular place at a particular time, because odds are, you'll have a sleeping child and you'll want them to stay that way! Don't stop until you have to; take a packed lunch if necessary.

~ kids' music drives some people insane after five minutes, so figure out what sort of tunes works best for your family. Our three-and-a-half year old is more than happy listening to our music; he spends most of his time chatting to us and himself anyway.

~ however, do be prepared to sing “Old MacDonald”, loudly and repeatedly, to either placate an upset child, or distract them from sleeping. Better yet, get yourself a good repetoire of fun songs so no one gets bored.

~ have a change of clothes for each child, plus a plastic bag and wipes, handy in the car or at the top of the boot, just in case.

~ limit time spent playing on a tablet, so you don't end up needing the change of clothes mentioned above. We learned that lesson the hard way....you're welcome.

~ pace yourselves; be prepared for a three hour trip to take four or five hours. Don't leave in a hurry, don't drive in a hurry.

~ talk about the trip prior to the day and make it into an exciting adventure. For us, that means telling the boys where we're going, and making a big deal of switching the car seats into “Daddy's race car” (a novelty in itself).

~ pack as much as you can the night before and let the kids help by choosing a few special toys and books to pack and take in the car. If you haven't been road tripping before, and you're not sure how well they'll travel, having your child's favourite toy buckled in to the seat next to them, or their favourite book or blanket might make them feel a bit more secure about the trip.

~ think about taking a small treat to use as bribery or a reward for good behaviour in the car. We find sweets or a small toy works wonders; for our last holiday, we took a card game for our oldest, and he was so excited when we reached our destination.

~ be aware that travelling at night works for some children, but not for all. It is easier on everyone to take all day to travel and arrive happy, than to travel at night, and arrive at your accommodation with an out-of-sorts child who might have enough energy to stay awake for a few more hours!

~ if you're booking accommodation, look for a house rather than a hotel; they are a very similar price, but a house will have much more space and gives your children a bit more freedom.

~ if possible, try not to plan another car journey for the next day; your child/ren will quickly become reluctant to get back into the car if they know they'll be sitting for a few more hours.


Ange is mama two 2 beautiful wee boys and lives in the wild and beautiful South of NZ. Her travel posts are guaranteed to make you immediately wish you could rub a lamp, conjure up a genie and spirit yourself immediately there. And don't get me started on her amazing talent for creating gorgeous food. But don't take my word for it - go and visit her at Tall, Short and Tiny. You can also follow her on Instagram: @tallshorttiny or on Twitter @tallshorttiny.

Do pop on over and say hi!

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