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Road Tripping: Family road trip ideas for imaginative kids

'Are we there yet?' The one question every parent can expect when there are kids in the car. But with some creative crafting, we show you how to turn your family road trips into memories you'll want to remember.


When you hear the word ‘holiday’, chances are you picture sun, sea and sand on an island paradise somewhere. But the reality is that some holidays are a little less ‘glamorous’. They might be closer to home, on a leaner budget, and in a car with some small people in the back. But with some forward planning, imagination, and a sense of fun, these little road trip escapes can be every bit as rewarding. Here are a few family road trip ideas to make your trip memorable.

Snack ahead

A sugary kid is not your car friend, and often roadside service stations are a sugar trap. It’s best to let the kids stretch their legs rather than peruse the snack aisle. And the best way to do that is to bring your snacks with you. This might seem obvious, but not all snacks are ‘back-of-the-car-friendly’.

Tips:

  • When packing fruit, to make sure it gets eaten, try cutting it up beforehand. Even apples can be pre-cut if you assemble them back into the apple shape and wrap in glad wrap to avoid browning
  • To make the snacks more fun, label them with the kids’ names, and perhaps even a stop-off for the snacks to be consumed at. This reduces the temptation to munch them all before you’re even on the freeway
  • Theme your snacks for the holiday, or pack foods that are grown or sold in the area you’re driving through. If you’re heading north, make them ‘tropical’

Game On

Recent studies have asked serious questions about how much screen time we give our kids. So while Frozen on a tablet might kill 90 minutes, there are other ways to keep kids entertained in the car. Old fashioned ways. Like the games we used to play before tablets were invented. If you’ve forgotten how to play, read on.

Rule recap:

  • Spotto: One of you sets the challenge to ‘spot’ a landmark, vehicle or feature. When you spot it, you yell ‘Spotto!’
  • One Sentence At A Time: Make up a story with your kids, one sentence at a time. This game lets you team up to tell a story, with everyone contributing a sentence, then passing it along to the next person.  

Share your plans

You don’t go travelling without an itinerary, so why should our kids? Let them in on your plans so they know what to expect, with a family road trip planner, just for them. This can be a fun and hand-drawn map and even include features for the kids to tick off along the way - what landmarks to look for, where they are. There might even be rewards for ticking everything off the list.

Scavenge some fun

While you’re putting your itinerary together, you could put together a scavenger hunt – a list of features, unusual vehicles, landmarks or place names for the kids to tick off as they go. Going near the Big Prawn? Add it to the list! Reckon you’ll pass a horse float, or tractor, or some roadside chook poo for sale? Add them to the list and you’ll have some alert kids scanning the roadside for said manure stall.

Turn off

While some road trips are all about the road itself (the Great Ocean Road for example), some roads are long, straight and boring. Before you take off, do some research into some of the little towns that you’re going through, or the ones that require you to turn off the major highway that may hold some interest for your kids.

Tips:

  • Holbrook, NSW, is worth a stop for the full-sized submarine in a park on the main street. Perfect spot for some championship Frisbee!
  • If you’ve got time on your hands the Grand Pacific Drive is a spectacular seaside road that winds down from Sydney to Wollongong and through a great mix of rainforest and beach scenes. 
  • Wangaratta, just off the Hume Highway, has a nice little park on the banks of the Ovens river.
  • If you’re heading towards the Yarra Valley in Victoria, keep going and head to Healesville. Healesville Sanctuary is a great spot for a day out, but keep going up the mountain and along the Black Spur. This winding rainforest road is one of Victoria’s hidden gems.
  • Why not take one of the ‘smaller’ highways like the Newell. It’s dotted with little towns like historic gold mining town Forbes, NSW
  • If you’re near Philip Island in Victoria, head down the coast and into Wonthaggi. This quaint old mining town has a few spooky surprises if you feel like an underground mine tour or a world-first underground laser skirmish game.
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