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How to keep your sanity when travelling with children


By Cassy Small

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I recently packed up the family for a holiday at my Mums place, and because travelling with two toddlers requires more equipment than a travelling circus, we drove.

At roughly 14 hours each way, the road to Grandma’s house is no short journey, yet we normally try to do the trip a couple of times a year.

So far, our family road trips have been relatively incident free – touch wood.  For the most part, I put this down to sheer luck. However, being the seasoned long-haul traveller with kiddies that I am, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve.

Whether you’re travelling by car, plane, train or bus this Christmas follow these simple tips to make travelling with children as painless as possible


  • Like any outing with children, the best laid plans can often go astray, but you can take out some of the stress by putting some thought into your journey and how you pack.
  • Tell the kids in advance how long it will take, 14 hours may seem impossible to understand for a three year old, but if you tell them you’ll be driving “until dinner time” you just might save yourself from the dreaded “are we there yet?”
  • Take a look at a map in advance so you can plan your rest stops.
  • Pack with a purpose.  Keep things you’ll need regularly within reach and keep some wipes, towels and spare clothes handy in case of any accidents.
  • If you’re flying, your airline or airport can have some great tips for travelling with children. Their websites are a handy source of information.

Leave early

I’m talking 3am early.  Pack the car the night before and bundle the kids in half asleep and wearing their PJ’s.  Despite most  toddlers being super early birds, you may still manage to get five or six hours of driving in with them snoozing in the back or sleepily staring out the window.

Don’t dawdle

  • There was once a time when my husband and I meandered up the highway, stopping wherever we liked to take a peek at some cute little store or explore off the beaten track. That time is no more. Travelling with kids is like travelling with a ticking time bomb.  Get to your destination STAT!  Stay on major roads; a service station, park, toilet or shrubby bush will never be far away.

Feed them

Cassy’s two boys fast asleep on a recent 14 hour road trip.

  • There’s something about sitting on your butt for 12 plus hours which makes kids ravenously hungry.  A plentiful supply of car-friendly snacks will keep the munchies at bay and the kids happy.  Try to avoid anything too sugary, there’s nothing worse than an artificially enhanced toddler trapped in a car!  Sandwiches are favourites with my family and frozen bottles of water and juice poppers will not only keep your food cool in a portable esky bag but will be a handy extra drink for the trip.
  • It’s good for all passengers (and the driver) to take regular breaks and this is a great chance to have a roadside picnic or enjoy a deep fried treat from the iconic highway servo.

Keep them busy

  • iPads, portable DVD’s and gaming devices have changed the family road trip for ever, but even modern technology can get tired after a few hours. Once that fails, remember that how you keep your kids entertained in the car is very dependent on their age.
  • Toddlers – colouring in, sticker books, sing-a-longs.
    Primary age – Coloured Cars (first to spot five cars of their chosen colour wins), Yes No game, Eye Spy.
    High School – Trivia, Who Am I.

No matter how you’re spending your Christmas holiday, with a bit of planning and preparation, the journey can be just as much fun as the destination.

How do you keep your kids entertained when you travel?

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Cassy Small - to view all of Cassy's blog post click here

Cassy Small is a mother of two and co-owner of PR and Events agency, Big Fish Planning. After a career in the media industry, Cassy was called to Mumpreneurism following the birth of her second baby, and hasn’t looked back. Passionate about women maintaining the career ambition cultivated before babies, Cassy educates and entertains making life just a little easier for working mums.


  • Last year we flew to Hawaii and I took our daughter, who is 4, to the shops with me and she helped me pick out books, colouring in books, games etc. and then we packed them in her travel bag and she could only have it once the plane took off.
    We also flew at night so there was more chance that she would sleep.

    • Cassy Small

      Great idea Sam, things often seem to work more smoothly when they get involved don’t they. Glad you enjoyed the article.

  • Fiona

    We love the early morning set off. Tried one time to leave later and it was horrible.
    Will do the frozen water bottles next time.