Life in a caravan, Chapter 5 – car travel

Before we left, a number of people with kids of their own, while envious of our travel plans made comments to the effect of “no way I’d do that with my kids, they’re terrible in the car”. With such comments ringing in our ears we did leave with some trepidation. Now that we’ve travelled over 20,000km I’m happy to report our two are terrific travellers.

So for those of you looking to do some travel with kids we thought we’d let you know what worked for us. It is Emma writing today, because Greg generally took the easy job of doing the driving, while I did the wrangling. I should also mention that none of us get carsick and so can spend quite a bit of time with our heads down.

Key point number 1 – Don’t attempt to drive too far in any one day.
Before we left we worked out how many days of holiday we had and how far we could comfortably go without having to rush too much. The proposed route and timing had us averaging 84 kms per day. And as it worked out we rarely went more than 250kms in a day. This meant we haven’t really had to listen to complaints of being in the car too much.

Key point number 2 – Don’t be in a hurry.
We often stopped and look at things along the way. We learned early on to accept that we would be pulling over for toilet stops fairly regularly.

Key point number 3 – Keep the children fed.
Probably like most kids ours don’t go too well if you don’t feed them, and there seems to be definite relationship between level of boredom and degree of hunger. We start out each trip with the fruit and crackers and cheese type food, and end up with a special treat type food which could be anything from a frozen fruit box to tiny teddy biscuits.

Key point number 4 – Enable them to keep busy.
I wasn’t sure how to word this heading. I don’t keep them busy by suggesting a whole lot of games or activities, but I do provide lots of options they can select from themselves. See list below, I’m sure I’ve forgotten quite a few! We did download a few audio books and have listened to those and some music along the way. The stories and music time are interesting because often the kids will spend more time looking out the window because they are not head down drawing etc.

Driving activities

Wool work
– winding up balls of wool (generally because the wool bag gets in a giant tangle)
– finger knitting
– french knitting
– knitting (Amy)
– Gods eyes
– paddle pop stick weaving
– cats cradles
– hanging up toy animals with wool, pulleys
– stitching up wool work and felt (only attempted a few times, but reasonably successful)

Paper
– paper dolls
– fans
– kites
– simple origami
– paper airplanes
– cutting and sticky taping
– drawing (this has been by far the most popular activity, they have each filled numerous A5 art books with drawings)
– colouring in books (Granny got some great dot art ones that have lasted the whole trip)

Other
– modelling wax (many hours spent creating all kinds of creations)
– eye spy with colours (mostly only when Granny was with us!)
– noughts and crosses

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