Travelling around Australia with kids can definitely add an extra complication to the travel lifestyle or experience, but it’s certainly not impossible. In fact I found that travelling with kids made things so much more fun!
Travelling Australia with kids gives you the perfect excuse to stop and say hello to farm animals, check out all the cool playgrounds and just generally slow down and be more present in the moment.
But, let’s be honest. Travelling with kids can be exhausting. The key to success is in being super organised and allocating plenty of rest days so that everyone has the chance to recharge.
The best experiences and learning opportunities in life exist beyond the four walls of a classroom. For kids who travel, the world around them becomes their school, just the way it was always meant to be!
Here I share some useful tips to help make travelling Australia with kids easier and more enjoyable. If you’re keen on getting your little ones super excited about travelling around the country, these Australian facts for kids are really fun.
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Packing For Kids
When it comes to packing for travelling Australia with kids, try to keep things as simple as possible.
Here are 3 things to remember as you’re packing for the kids:
- Your towing weights will add up very quickly
- Space is at a premium, so use it wisely
- The kids won’t use as much as you think
The best rule of thumb is to make sure you’ve got enough outfits for 7 days. That way if the weather is horrendous or you’re too busy having fun to get the washing done, you know you’ll be covered for a week.
7-day Clothing Checklist:
- 7 x Short-sleeved shirts
- 5 x Long-sleeved shirts
- 7 x Shorts/ skirts
- 3 – 5 x Leggings/ tracksuit pants
- 3 x Jumpers
- 1 x Jacket
- 7 x Socks
- 7 x Undies
- 2 x Swimsuits
- Beanie, gloves & scarf
- Walking shoes
Caravan Packing List
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Again, keep things simple. The good old favourites are usually the only toys that will get played with. Sticks, water, trees, hills, dirt and rocks are everywhere – they always make the best kids entertainment!
Simple Toys to Pack:
- Special teddy for the car & bed time
- Lego/ blocks (small bag)
- Bike or scooter
- Sand toys
- Boogie board or pool noodle
- A few trucks or cars
- Scrap paper
- Crayons or pencils
- Colouring-in books
- Reading books
There’s no getting around it, technology is part and parcel of modern life. Having a tech device for the kids can make travelling Australia with kids much easier for all involved once you get a good routine down pat.
Before you even hit the road, figure out when and how much screen time you would like to limit the kids to and set the expectation right from the beginning. Maybe it’s no more than 1 hour in the car or 15 minutes at night while you get the dinner sorted.
It’s important to be flexible and open to adjusting your expectations once you get on the road. Coming up with a system that works for your family may take some time and practice.
Tech Item Options for Kids:
- iPad/ Tablet
- Kindle/ eReader
- TV with DVD Player
Food & Drinks
Kids just seem to eat incessantly. As anyone who’s every gone on a road trip with kids will know, taking plenty of food is key!
Here are some easy lunch and snack ideas to get you going. Just to be clear, my kids are fussy eaters – I wish they ate half of this stuff! We just stick to the tried and tested basics.
- Sliced or dried fruit
- Nuts & Bolts (mixed nuts, dry cereal & dry fruit)
- Hard boiled eggs
- Hommus with carrot sticks or crackers
- Muesli bars
- Chips, pringles, pretzels, bean snaps
- Salami sticks or slices
- Yoghurt drops
- Cheese sticks
- Sesame snaps
- Cold pancakes
- Dry noodles
- Yoghurt cups
- Bliss balls & slices
- Devon & sauce sandwiches
- Cheese & avocado crackers
- Chicken/ tuna wraps
- Lunch meat & salad bread rolls
- Vegemite/ peanut butter rice cakes
- Cheese & bacon rolls
- Ryvitas/ cruskits with cream cheese, cherry tomatoes & shallots
- Hommus & salad wraps
- Hotdogs or frankfurts
- Bunnings special (sausage on bread with sauce)
- Egg & mayonnaise sandwiches
- BBQ chicken rolls
- Cold pasta dishes (spaghetti bolognese/ ravioli/ basil pesto)
- Corned beef sandwiches
|KIDS DINNER TIP|
|To reduce stress at the end of busy days on the road:|
• Pre-cook kids meals & freeze them in portions
• Pull out to defrost the night before or in the morning
• Reheat in the microwave or in a pan on the stove top
It’s super important to make sure that everyone has their own water bottle for car rides and day trips.
I recommend ensuring that your drink bottles are all insulated as the hot Australian sun will heat up water bottles very quickly otherwise. A few pieces of ice in the insulated bottle of a morning will help to keep the water cool, even when you’re topping it up.
We always carried a spare 10L water container in the back of the car. This was handy if we ever run out of water in our bottles and couldn’t find anywhere suitable to refill them.
Adventure Awaits have a fantastic range of insulated bottles of various sizes and colours, which are perfect for travelling Australia with kids.
Road Trip Tips
Let’s face it, those long car rides can be exhausting on travel days. Here are some tips to help make the time more enjoyable for everyone.
Get on the Road Early
As the day wears on, everyone’s patience and energy will also be rapidly depleting. When you know you’ve got a big travel day ahead (even just a few hours to the next camp), hit the road as early as you can.
The sooner you can get the car trip out of the way, the sooner everyone is able to relax at the other end of it.
However, if your kids are still young enough to be taking daytime naps, it might be wise to travel during nap times.
Get the Kids Involved
Chat to the kids at the beginning of travel days and let them know exactly what they can expect throughout the day.
When it comes to stopping along the way, give them a choice between two different rest stop options (if possible). Maybe there’s a lookout or a playground in town to choose from. That way, they’ll feel like they’re a part of the decision-making process and won’t feel so out of control.
Plenty of Snacks & Water
Pack a good variety of snacks for the car ride because no one wants to deal with a hangry child in a small, confined space!
You could opt for a compartment lunchbox with all lots of food for them to pick at. Or, you might prefer to have the bag of snacks in the front with you and pass them out as needed.
Make sure everyone has an insulated water bottle and there is spare water in the back, just in case anyone runs out.
Let the Kids Pack Their Own Bags
Get the kids to pack their own bag in the morning, filled with their choice (within reason) of activities and toys to use during the car trip. Think fidget toys, teddies, colouring-in books and any other special toys they’ve got.
- I Spy
- Spotto (1 point for regular cars, 2 points for road trains, 3 points for emergency vehicles)
- Licence Plate Game (making up words from other cars number plates)
- Here are some more road trip game ideas.
Share the DJing
Get everyone to take it in turns with picking the next song. If you’re travelling through areas with no reception, you may have to create some playlists before you leave civilisation.
Try listening to some adventurous, age-appropriate audiobooks to help keep the crew entertained. You could even pause the book every now and then to chat about the story and keep everyone involved.
Rest Stops & Playgrounds
Plan to stop at least once every two hours during long car rides. The kids will need to stretch their legs and burn off some pent up energy. It’s a good chance to make sure everyone is going to the toilet and that the driver can recharge their batteries.
Playgrounds are a great way for everyone to have a break from the car. Even the simplest playground can seem exciting because it’s somewhere new and unexplored.
Find Extra Activities Along the Way
While you’re sitting in the car, use WikiCamps to look ahead to the places you’ll be passing through. Are there any short walks or activities that you can stop at along the way to make the trip more exciting?
Reward Good Behaviour with Treats
Everyone loves to feel acknowledged, especially kids who sit in a car for long periods of time without killing their sibling/s!
Pack a bag of snakes (or whatever treat your kids love) and randomly hand them out while letting them know that you’re super proud of how well they’ve been doing during that day’s car trip.
Pack a Surprise
If you’re planning on having a particularly long travel day, it can help to have a surprise up your sleeve if the day become too tiresome for the kids. This could be a new activity book and pencils or a movie that they’ve never seen before. Whatever it is that will reignite some excitement in the kids to keep them going a little longer.
BYO Toilet Paper
Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on the public toilet you’re visiting to have plenty of toilet paper left. It always pays to have a roll or two of your own in the car.
While we’re on the topic of public toilets, be aware that many rest stop and National Park facilities will be drop toilets.
For the adults, that’s fine because we just get in, do our business and get out. For kids, it’s a different matter entirely. My daughter was so scared of falling into the drop toilet and not being able to get back out, that she’d hold it for hours rather than use one.
I guess the moral is, make full use of Service Station, shopping centre and fast food restaurant toilets whenever you can!
Hiking with Kids
While travelling Australia with kids we each had our own 2L Water Hydration Pack for hiking and bush walks.
A Hydration Pack is basically a backpack with a water bladder inside and a long straw to sip from. They come is various sizes from 2 litres to 5 litres. Obviously, the more water in the bag, the heavier it will be.
I found that the 2 litre Hydration Pack was perfect for the kids to be able to carry, plus I felt comfortable knowing that they’d have plenty for the walk.
The great thing about the pack is that there’s also room to add in some snacks and a sandwich for lunch.
When each family member has their own pack it means that everyone is responsible for their own supplies while hiking, which saves Mum or Dad from having to be the packhorse.
Hydration Pack Benefits:
- 2L – 5L of water per person
- Space for lunch & snacks
- Each person can carry their own supplies
You can pick up Hydration Packs on eBay from about $17 each.
First Aid & Medical
First Aid Kits
When travelling Australia with kids, it’s extremely important to always carry a First Aid Kit with you. In fact, I always recommend travelling with three First Aid Kits.
Three First Aid Kits to Pack:
- SMALL First Aid Kit with Snake Bit Bandages – for your Hiking Pack
- REGULAR First Aid Kit – for the camper or caravan
- VEHICLE First Aid Kit – for the car
Check out the ready-made Survival First Aid Kits on eBay as an easy way to ensure that you’ve got all of your First Aid needs covered.
To get our FREE Printable First Aid Kit Checklist and Travel Planning Kit, feel free to sign up below.
Australia Wide Ambulance Cover
Most people don’t realise that once you leave you home state of residence, you may no longer be covered for Ambulance costs in case of emergency.
In fact, Queensland is the only state that covers its residents for Australia-wide Ambulance cover. Tasmania does cover its residents for some of the other Australian states, but not all.
To find out what your home state Ambulance Membership covers you for and if you need to take out additional cover, check out the guide below.
Schedule Down Time
One of the most important components, when travelling Australia with kids, is to make sure you schedule in plenty of down time. That includes down time throughout each day, plus entire days where you don’t do anything too strenuous.
Being on the go all the time is exhausting and most kids just won’t cope with it.
We generally liked to back up a busy day with a relaxing day if we could. It gave us all time to chill out and not have to be running full charge ahead day after day.
We also used our down days to catch up on school work, washing, blogging and just generally enjoy our surroundings. Consider getting a baby monitor for younger ones who will be sleeping inside the van while you’re outside or chatting to the neighbours.
Being with each other in tight quarters can have its own challenges, so it’s equally important to set aside time for yourself. Whether you go off and read a book by yourself for an hour, go fishing, watch a movie or even do the grocery shopping by yourself! We all need time out to stay sane and healthy.
It’s equally important for some kids to have their own time out, especially introverted kids. Dom often needed time by himself to recharge. He would usually watch a movie or play a game in his bunk for a while and then he was good to go again.
Education on the Road
If you’re planning on travelling Australia with kids for an extended period of time, you’ll need to look at the options for keeping up with their education.
After much research, I decided to Homeschool my two kids, mainly for the flexibility if afforded us all.
I aimed to do about an hour of ‘formal’ schoolwork each morning, 5 days per week. That included English, maths, reading and anything else that we were focussing on at the time.
The exception were the days where we were travelling to a new location or when we went out for the day (we considered that to be an excursion with multiple educational opportunities).
Along with the formal work, I was always working to incorporate everyday experiences as learning moments along the way.
Homeschooling vs. Distance Education
With Homeschooling, you generally need to submit an annual report and can set your own workload and curriculum.
Distance Education is much more structured, with all work being provided for you. However, with that comes weekly Skype sessions with the teacher as well as due dates for work submissions.
|• Flexible time frames|
• Parents write & set the curriculum
• Annual reporting
• Can tailor lessons around the child’s strengths, weaknesses and interests
• May be harder to transition back into the school system
|• Set time frames|
• Work is sent out in the mail
• Heavier workload (expect about 3 hours per day)
• Need internet for weekly Skype lessons
• Easier to keep up with curriculum and slot back into school after travel
In the article below, you can read about six different travelling families who roadschooled their children while travelling Australia. Learn about which style of education they each chose, plus the pros and cons they encountered along the way.
Each State and Territory has different rules and hoops you need to jump through for registration. Contact your local state education department for further information.
Educational Highlights while Travelling
The thing I loved most about the kids being educated on the road is that they had the opportunity to learn so much through life, nature and discovery.
Amazing educational opportunities the kids had while travelling:
- Fossicking for Sapphires
- Building dams in natural creeks
- Panning for tin
- Catching Redclaw Crayfish
- Learning about Australia’s Standing Stones as an ancient calendar
- Experiencing weather extremes and witnessing how they affect the land (drought, flood, wind storm)
- Prepping for a cyclone in Townsville
- Witnessing bush fires and watching Aerial Fire Fighters waterbombing the area
- Spotting crocodiles on the banks of a river
- Learning about the pioneering history
- Walking the Mayall Creek Masacre site
- Chasing dinosaurs through the outback and so much more!
It’s those random, unplanned moments…
In all honesty, some of the best learning moments for the kids were many of the incidental conversations that naturally go on throughout each day. You know the ones where you’re driving along and then find yourselves talking about frogs or street signs. Or cooking dinner while talking about bodily functions and Minecraft (yes, Minecraft featured a lot in our van!).
Whether you decide to take education on the road or not, getting the kids to fill out a travel journal every other day is great for many of them.
Keeping a travel journal allows kids to get their thoughts out onto paper in a creative way. From writing to drawing and gluing in souvenirs found along the way. Whatever they feel like contributing.
The best travel journal that I’ve found for kids travelling Australia is the Travelling With Kids Travel Journal. It has sections for the kids to fill out, which is much more fun and achievable than a blank page. Plus, there is a kids Packing Checklist and some games to play.
Check out the Travelling Australia with Kids Travel Journals to see what you think.
All the best with your travel planning!