Giaan Rooney’s top tips for road tripping with kids

Chill time: Giaan and her 18-month-old daughter, Lexi.

With two children who never sleep when travelling, BIG4 ambassador and former Olympic champion, Giaan Rooney, has learned to adapt. Here, she reveals her action plan when taking a road trip with children…

My favourite memories of growing up feature the family road trips my Mum, Dad, brother, and I would take all over Australia’s east coast.

I have always loved travelling and exploring, and I credit these traits to the countless hours spent in the car during school holidays on a new adventure.

This inspired me to replicate a treasured childhood passion with my children.

Treasured memories: Australia’s east coast affords a wealth of spectacular scenery.

Sadly, so far, my kids have other ideas!

Unfortunately, neither of my two children (Zander, four, and Lexi, 18 months) have ever slept in any mode of transport!

Never slept in a car; never slept on a plane; never slept in a pram! Never! You can imagine that this makes road trips horrible.

I hold on to the hope that this will get better as they get older, but for now these are the things I do to make a road trip bearable...

To Giaan, this sight is equal to a mirage.

Plan ahead

I always have romantic ideas of not planning where we are going or what we are going to do when we get there. I love the thought of being flexible and seeing what transpires.

Experience has taught me that this is a bad idea!

Instead, we now plan our road trips like a military operation. There are lists for packing, lists for what is needed in the car, notes on where the good rest stops are, enough snacks to stock a convenience store, tissues, antibacterial wipes, blah, blah, blah.

If you consider the idea of road tripping with children daunting or have found it a challenging experience, I suggest you plan your adventures as much as possible.

The romanticism of hitting the open road and seeing where it takes you is merely a dream for most parents.

Pre-pack your vehicle

If you can possibly pack most of you stuff into the car the night before you leave, then it goes a long way to starting the road trip on the right note.

This allows you the benefit of having more time to devote to a mental run sheet, trying to remember anything you might have forgotten. And from there, you only need worry about getting the bodies into the car!

Pre-packing saves plenty of stress, and not just for parents!

Aim for comfort

There is so much to be said for making your car as comfortable as possible.

For us, necessary items include shade covers on both rear windows and a fully charged iPad with headphones (for the four-year-old) that has movies downloaded on it in case we run out of service.

Also, we pack non-spill drink bottles in easy reach of little hands, books and activities for the little child (stored in one of those back-of-the-seat pouches), and a cooler bag with plenty of snacks.

Comfort for children often equates to comfort for all!

iPads. A modern parents' saviour on road trips.

Stop regularly

Plan to stop every few hours somewhere where everyone can burn off some energy. If you can find a playground near a café or road-stop, you are winning! Researching helps to make this a success.

Following such a strategy will take you longer to get to your destination, but everyone will be in a better mood when you do eventually get there!

Playgrounds are perfect for energy burning when on the road as well as in park. Location: BIG4 Great Lakes at Forster-Tuncurry, NSW.

Game playing

If your kids are old enough, set up a game right at the start of the trip. It might be who can spot the most trucks, or who can tell the best story…anything that can keep it interesting!

I look forward to making plenty of road-trip memories with my little family down the track, but for now I just need noise-cancelling headphones to drown out the screaming!

Mummy, do I have to go back in the car?

Do you have any advice to add that might help fellow parents have a smooth – or smoother! – road trip? 

Isn’t it time you hit the road? Enjoy your next BIG4 break now.

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