The Best Tips for a Smooth Road Trip with Kids in Australia

Road trips in Australia are an affordable, fun way to see all the beauty around us. But road trips with kids can also include the dreaded phrases from the back seat:

“Are we there yet?”

“Mom, Dad, she hit me!”

“I’m bored!”

Oh, the sweet sounds of a car trip with kids.

So how do you prepare your car for longer drives with kids? It’s all about the planning and our family road trip checklist has you covered.

In our guide to a smooth road trip with kids, we’ll cover:


How to Prepare Your Car for Longer Drives with Kids

If you have little ones, road trip prep is especially important. Here are our biggest recommendations when planning a longer car trip with kids:

  • Have a bag on hand for rubbish to be put into to prevent the car from getting dirty and cluttered
  • Make sure the tyre pressure is right
  • Make sure the A/C is working right!
  • Fill up on petrol
  • Have your vehicle professionally inspected to make sure it is up to date on maintenance
  • Know and understand Australia Road Rules and study up on where you’re travelling so you aren’t surprised by the one-way streets in Sydney or hook turns in Melbourne
  • Make sure everyone is wearing comfortable clothes (a loose t-shirt, leggings or sweatpants, and comfortable shoes are a good start)
  • Place a car seat undermat under your infant or toddler’s car seat to protect the upholstery underneath
  • Double-check your car insurance coverage to make sure it is adequate and consider adding emergency roadside assistance
  • Plan your necessary stops ahead of time (where you’ll get gas, where you’ll stop for restroom breaks, where you’ll eat, etc.)
  • Plan ahead for some fun breaks too, such as parks or playgrounds along the way, sightseeing stops, visitor centres, hiking trails, or beaches — frequent breaks can help the trip go by faster and let kids burn off energy along the way
  • Take steps to childproof your vehicle
  • Make sure your infant, toddler, or child has the appropriately sized car seat or booster seat


5 Screen-Free Ideas to Keep Kids Entertained on Long Road Trips

A road trip doesn’t have to involve your kid staring at a tablet or DVD screen the entire time.

With these road trip games and ideas, your kids will learn to manage boredom, stimulate their creativity, and challenge their minds.

Here are some of our favourite screen-free ideas for road trips with kids:

  1. Play Family Games
  2. Listen to a Podcast
  3. Make a Road Trip Playlist Together
  4. Pack Car-Friendly Craft Materials
  5. Pack Books and Games


1. Play Family Games

Playing family games helps keep everyone entertained, including yourself, and promotes family bonding.

  • I Spy — A true road trip classic!
  • The Alphabet Game — Look at road signs and find each letter of the alphabet in order (for example: If you see a sign for “Adelaide”, you’ve got your ‘A’. Then watch for a sign that includes ‘B’ and continue through the alphabet. Unless you are driving through Queensland, best of luck finding the letter ‘Q’!
  • ‘Road Rules’ — Let everyone make up a ‘rule’ that must be followed. For instance, you can make a rule that everyone has to shout a word or phrase anytime you see a roo, a certain type of tree, a certain colour car, etc. The rules can be anything, such as everyone putting their hands in the air (not the driver of course) if you see a sign that lists your destination. Be as silly as you want with this one and decide what happens if someone fails to follow the rule.
  • The License Plate Game — Watch license plates to find all Australian states and territories or try to watch for certain colours or letters on each plate.
  • Tell Stories — Make up stories line by line. Have one family member start with one sentence of a story, then the next family member adds their own sentence and so on.  Or, tell real stories. Tell your kids about your favourite road trip as a child or ask them what their favourite vacation has been so far.


2. Listen to a Podcast

Download family-friendly podcast episodes that everyone will find interesting — this is a great way to pass an hour or two and can be educational and fun


3. Make a Road Trip Playlist Together

Make some road trip playlists that the entire family will enjoy. Be sure to let your kids help you pick songs for it.


4. Pack Car-Friendly Craft Materials

Bring colouring books, paper or a notebook, a clipboard, stickers, and washable markers to keep kids entertained.


5. Pack Books and Games

  • Bring along game books that include your kid’s favourite activities (i.e. Sudoku, crossword puzzles, mazes, or word searches)
  • Print out road trip bingo cards to bring along
  • Pack their favourite magazines or books


Tips for Staying Comfortable on Long Car Drives

Making your car as comfortable as possible will help the drive go faster for everyone.

Here are some of our favourite ways to upgrade your car’s comfort:

  • Keep the driver happy by investing in a high quality, padded steering wheel cover with a comfortable grip
  • Let your kids bring along their favourite pillow, blanket, and stuffed animal
  • Add quality window shades to block UV rays and keep passengers cool while protecting your car’s upholstery
  • Add a plush seat belt cover to prevent the seatbelt from digging in or causing chafing
  • Add high-quality seat covers (here are our picks for the best seat covers)
  • If you find your lower back gets sore on longer car trips, add a lumbar support cushion to reduce soreness and discomfort

For more affordable, easy ways to make your car more comfortable, see our article here: 9 Ways to Make Your Car More Comfortable.


What to Pack for a Family Road Trip

Along with packing games, books, and toys for a road trip, it is also crucial to pack essential items.

Here are some important ideas on what to pack in your car for a family road trip:

  • A paper map in case your phone loses connection
  • Safety items such as a basic first aid kit, a blanket, etc.
  • Water bottles for everyone and extra water for refills
  • Healthy snacks — Opt for choices that aren’t too messy, crumbly, or prone to stains. For healthy road trip snack options, we like freeze dried fruit, trail mix, apples, bananas, granola bars, sandwiches, and string cheese
  • Wet wipes and napkins
  • An emergency roadside kit (spare tyre, jumper cables, etc.)
  • Phone chargers
  • Necessary documents — Driver’s license, car insurance info, car registration papers, emergency contacts, spare cash, debit and credit cards, accommodations info, roadside assistance numbers, etc.


6 More Tips for a Successful Family Road Trip

  1. Use Naps to Your Advantage: Plan longer stretches of the drive to overlap with nap time if your infant or toddler still takes naps.
  2. Take Sharing Out of the Equation: When packing toys, books, games, markers, and paper, give each child their own special bag. This goes a long way in preventing fights over sharing!
  3. Skip the Night Driving: Avoid the temptation to drive at night. It may seem like you can tackle a huge chunk of the trip with quiet roads but you’ll most likely all be tired and miserable by the next day. If it works for you, great! But we find that driving at night just makes the next day more difficult. Driving at night also increases your risk of hitting wildlife.
  4. Get a Head Start: Instead of driving through the night, consider getting on the road early to beat traffic and arrive at your destination earlier.
  5. Hop in the Back: One of our best tips if the ride is going downhill and the kids are quarreling is to spend an hour or two riding in the back with them. Your kids will love having a parent ride alongside them and it will help break up fights and pass the time.
  6. Stay Flexible: Don’t get so caught up in your planning that you miss spontaneous, flexible stops. If your kid sees a particularly fun playground or you notice a cute little shop, be flexible and go ahead and enjoy some unplanned, last-minute stops.


Hit the Road in Comfort and Style with Help from Shevron’s Quality Auto Accessories

When you go into it with the right attitude and proper planning, family road trips can be one of the best ways to see Australia.

Even the best-planned road trip will have some tough moments where things go wrong or the kids start fighting in the back seat. But overall, you will hopefully come away with memories that will last a lifetime.

Need some help with affordable vehicle upgrades to ensure a comfortable road trip? Contact us for personalised product advise or with any questions. We’d love to be part of planning your successful family road trip!