Let us assure you we have never received a complaint from kids being bored on an Outback Queensland adventure – in fact, the opposite, they can’t wait to go back again. To help you have the best family adventure too, here’s our top tips – direct from those who have done it many times.
When it comes to travelling with children, expect the unexpected. A three-hour drive can take five. So, keep your car packed with plenty of drinking water, wall-to-wall snacks, wet wipes for sticky fingers, and last, but not least, a well-stocked first-aid kit.
Choosing the right time to set off can make a massive difference to your travel sanity. Involve the kids in the planning stage. Show them this guide and get them to highlight where they want to go! For some families it might be first thing in the morning while everyone is fresh, for others during the day to make the most of coinciding nap times. The key is to set realistic travel times and always factor in some additional time for inevitable or fun stops along the way – to enjoy an ice-cream, a picnic by a billabong, or a run down a big sand dune!
If you think you have packed enough snacks…. pack some more! You don’t want to have to pull over in the middle of nowhere and try to find snacks. Pack simple foods into a small cooler bag that are easy to eat with fingers, such as apples, grapes, dried fruit, cheese sticks, crackers and muesli bars. Our top tip? Avoid messy foods and avoid super sugary foods or you’ll have them bouncing off the car doors.
A road-trip is the perfect setting to get your kids listening to educational or creative stories the entire family can enjoy. Our top tip for a really funny family roadtrip series is The Tripp Diaries series by Stig Wemyss, which is set in Australia. Audiobooks keep kids entertained but also keep a calm environment in the car for your driver. Remember to have a few options ready in case kids lose interest in one. Don’t forget to visit your local library before leaving; you can borrow audio books as CDs or even borrow out online. And bring earplugs for listening – in case they want to listen to different stories.
Internet connection is not great in some places – so ensure you download audio books, movies, games etc direct to tablets, phones or laptops before you depart.
Outback Queensland is the perfect place for kids to explore and learn first-hand about their environment. Encourage them to look for and collect interesting items along the way, including feathers, flowers, and stones. Point out landscape features along the way and spend time doing educational activities like visiting historical museums, fossicking and dinosaur experiences, exploring National Parks and heritage trails. For older kids grab a scrapbook and gluestick before you leave, they can add tickets and brochures and create a journal of their travels.
Give your children options so they feel in control. For example: “Would you like to stop at this park for a play or keep driving and get to the caravan park so you can go for a swim?” When they have a stake in selecting your outings, they’ll enjoy them more and appreciate feeling like they’re a part of the trip and that you’re listening to them and their requests.
Baby wipes, lots of baby wipes! There is nothing that can’t be cleaned with a baby wipe. Take extra bags for storing rubbish or leftover food. Plenty of tissues. A spare roll of toilet paper will also come in handy if you do need to have an emergency roadside pit stop. A stable table is a brilliant idea to pack for bigger kids who want to read or colour on the way. And don’t forget to pack hand sanitiser.
Sticker Spotto: Print off a clip art of a large cow and truck (making multiple copies). Buy some cheap dot/star stickers from a $2 shop. Each time the kids see a cow or truck they put a sticker on. You can also laminate some popular car games such as road trip bingo, noughts and crosses and connect the dots along with some non-permanent whiteboard markers. Takes up little space and reduces waste!
No-Go: Before you hit the road select five words that can’t be uttered during the journey. Then try to trick each other into saying them during conversations. The person who notices a slip-up shouts, “No Go” and gets a point – or a special treat.
Licence plate headlines: Using the letters on licence plates as the start of words, see who can come up with the funniest headlines. For example, FTR could end up as Family Travel Rocks!
Mix and match stories: This is a great one for every member of the family. Taking it in turns, one person starts with the first sentence or word in a story, and the next adds the second and so on. The story continues until someone says, “And they lived happily ever after”.
Spot Wildlife: everyone keeps a list of every animal spotted from the window, and each time another one is seen keep a tally. At the end of the day/week/trip add up who saw the most variety of wildlife or the largest number. It’s also a great way for kids to learn about our wildlife in the process. Get them to research each animal they see and to tell everyone else something unique about the animal.
I Spy: this is trickier in a car – so get creative. You can only spot things in or on the car.