ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Practical tips to make a driving holiday with children more fun

Updated on June 17, 2015

Flying is faster but driving can be fun


Flying versus Driving

Last year I decided we should drive from Melbourne to Queensland to visit the theme parks and escape the cold during our September school holidays. For those not familiar with Australian geography this was about two thousand kilometers of driving. We had about 12 days to get there and back and have some time on the Gold Coast.

I did look at flying but I think our son (then aged 6 and a half) has watched Madagascar too many times as he was adamant he would not get in a plane. Many discussions were had about the long drive versus flying and he assured me, provided we made the drive fun, he would not complain.

Cost wise it also seemed cheaper to drive then pay for three airfares and hire a car.

And so we shelved the flying idea and planned the drive.

Crash Landing Scene Madagascar 2

Preparing for the drive

Bearing in mind it was school holidays we took the route less driven, just like Frost talks about the road less traveled. This way we hoped we would minimize the stress of finding accommodation every night. We did not necessarily want to pre-book accommodation in case we did not get that far on any one day.

To make sure our young man got the most out of the trip we bought a portable DVD player, with our car not having an inbuilt one. I made sure he had all his favorite DVD's next to him so he could watch what he wanted. A set of headphones meant he could get the maximum sound value.

Then we worked out what snacks to keep on the back seat for him as well as favorite books and other little toys and coloring in books with pens.

The trick was arranging it all so he was able to reach these things with minimum fuss.

For the adults there was less preparation, other than to pack the car and make sure a water bottle was nearby to re hydrate during the drive.

But we managed and off we set. Did I mention we were taking the dog as well? We couldn't leave the standard poodle home now could we?

Places to stop

One of the important things on long drives is not to get too stuck on driving without stopping. Plenty of stops make for happier passengers. Let's face it being cooped up in a car for hours on end is not exactly fun for anyone.

We tried to make a stop every two hours or so.

Some research gave me ideas of towns that had great playgrounds, interesting things to look at and do (like a miniature train ride) as well as great places to eat.

We are very lucky to have some excellent playgrounds, particularly in country towns. With our young man also having a scooter, bike and skateboard on board, there are skate parks to explore as well as bike trails.

Activity on stops gets the muscles working, the blood flowing and puts everyone in a better frame of mind.

Our stops tended to be about fifteen to twenty minutes, with a longer one for lunch.

Finding unusual and different picnic stops was also something we all joined in and made the trip more interesting.

Shepparton Adventure Playground is one of our favorite stops


Offering rewards

If you are a horse or dog trainer, the idea of rewarding good behavior will not be foreign to you. I am a firm believer of the reward system for all creatures, including us humans.

One of the rewards was the type of accommodation we looked for at the end of the day. A place with an indoor pool was a great incentive to ensure minimal complaining. Nothing beats playing around in water at the end of the day as well as starting with one.

Adults might need a slightly different reward system, depending on the personality type.

A nice dinner, a bottle of wine or a sweat treat all make great rewards for great passengers.

If you are the driver you can pretty much determine your own reward.

Other rewards for the younger passengers could be stickers (see how many stickers one can accumulate over the drive), a gold coin or some type of sweat treat, again depending on age and personality type.

Food as reward - yum


Be flexible

It pays to plan your trip, but you should be prepared to be flexible.

You may need to stop a little more often for passengers to go to the toilet. Insisting that stopping is not an option as you only stopped twenty minutes ago does nothing to make the trip a happy one. Whining passengers add stress to the drive.

Remember smaller passengers have smaller bladders.

There may be other reason to make sure you should be flexible such as:

  1. You see a fantastic playground in a town. You have only been driving an hour and are not due for a stop yet. Don't worry. Pull over and let everyone have a play for ten or fifteen minutes. Then get back in the car. Your next stop now might not be for another two hours. You may find that as you drive through the town you were going to stop in that its playground was terrible anyway and it was a good thing you stopped earlier.
  2. Your younger passengers are asleep. If that happens, take advantage and drive for as long as you can and they stay asleep. There will be times when this happens and you can take advantage of it.

Being flexible will mean you will all enjoy the drive more.

By the time you get to your destination you will already be relaxed as you made the driving part of the holiday.

Don't forget to share your experience with others. There are plenty of web sites where on can add playgrounds worth exploring and offer other tips to people traveling with kids and dogs.

Great Parks offer a place to run around


Record the trip

Another great thing to do is to get the kids to record their day in a travel diary. It does not have to be very long and can be in picture format as well.

We would at the end of the day write down the towns we stopped at, what we liked about them and which had been the best playgrounds.

It is a great thing to take to school for show and share and to go back over to relive the trip for a long time to come. A way to make the travel journal more interesting is to visit tourist information centers along the way to get brochures on the different towns and areas and cut out photos and bits of information that is interesting.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • tanyathistleton profile imageAUTHOR

      Tanya Thistleton 

      3 years ago from Victoria

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I am a total believe in the reward system, even for myself.

    • proudlylived profile image

      Ahmed Ezat 

      3 years ago from Egypt

      I really agree with you in reward part because as all creatures we get motivated by rewards especially when they worth it.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)