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Are we there yet?

Over the years there have been untold numbers of articles and tips on the do’s and don’ts of travelling with kids. So rather than go over old ground, let’s take a fresh look at the whole travelling by car/caravanning holiday.

Many people who drive their car and caravan to their family holiday destination are under the misapprehension that their holiday only officially begins when they arrive at the destination. In many cases this results in an arduous non-stop driving marathon, where everyone arrives exhausted, irritable and it takes 2-3 days to fully recover from the harrowing experience. The prospect of a return journey in 7-10 days often too stressful to contemplate.

So how do you make a driving holiday with your caravan in tow a better all-round experience for everyone?

"I’m bored, mum!"

These are the words every parent dreads most – a warning sign that that the drive is about to go downhill pretty soon. The solution often being to ‘get there as fast as possible!’

But the most direct route is not necessarily the best. Todays super highways may reduce the travel time, but at the expense of the Australian countryside. Where are all the small country towns, iconic landmarks and corner stores, hotels and sale yards that make the Australian landscape so unique? The most memorable sign on many Australian highways today is the reference to the next golden arches restaurant.

We’re not suggesting that you turn off at every signpost, but there is a way to make the journey more enjoyable for all. However, it does require a little bit of planning, not just by the driver, but the whole family. It starts with a ‘map’, and yes it can even be digital e.g. Google maps.

I spy with my little eye...

Plot a journey that takes in some of the more interesting Australian countryside that may only be a short distance just off the main highway. You don’t have to add another 3 days travel to your ultimate destination – it may be half a day or a full day at most.

Depending on how many kids you have on board, give them all a map and ask them to plot the journey, marking some highlights along the way. It’s a great geography and history lesson all wrapped up in one big adventure. Local tourist brochures can provide lots of information and points of interest. It also engages the whole car in appreciating where you are, how far to the next stop, and if you see something of interest that might be a great short stop or a great picture opportunity, don’t let it pass by! Stop and enjoy it - you may never get the opportunity again.

In essence, set out to make the journey as exciting as the final destination.

Tips from the road

Of course we couldn’t help passing on a few a tips from our own experience, and that of your fellow travellers

  • Start early morning, especially with young ones. They’ll tire quickly after an early start and fall asleep. By the time they wake again, you might be in some interesting country town.
  • Entertainment packs. Make sure the kids are stimulated with a variety of things to do. Pack toys, colouring books, paper and crayons, a portable DVD player, and iPods. A car seat organiser could hold all the items little people might want to have easy access to.
  • End the day’s travel at a reasonable time. This allows the kids to check out the caravan park/place you have stopped at before having some dinner, a good nights sleep, and before heading off early again the following day.
  • Protect your most precious cargo. Keep your family safe when travelling. Before you leave home, and each time you take off along the way, do a thorough safety check of both your vehicle and RV.
  • Be insured. We recommend that you keep your insurance up to date or you can contact CIL Insurance to take out a policy well before you set off. The unexpected can and does happen. An insurer that provides automatic emergency accommodation, contents cover and a nationwide network of quality repairers could save your family’s holiday from an abrupt ending should the unexpected occur.

A driving holiday is a great way to spend quality time with the kids as a family, creating memories they’ll carry with them for a lifetime. So make the most of every minute. As they say, ‘life’s a journey, not a destination’ A little preplanning will make driving to your destination more enjoyable. The holiday isn’t over until you arrive home – so again, plan a different route back that lets you explore other parts of Australia.

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