When husband first suggested we drive from Melbourne to Adelaide to visit his folks over Easter, I said “No”. Actually, what I said was, “Are you mutherf*cking kidding? It’s EIGHT hours. In a car. With our kids. Do you really want to see my ears bleeding?“
The last time we drove any distance with Scout was to Mount Gambier in 2006. She hated travelling in the car and screamed for the entire 7 hour journey, with the exception of a one hour catnap. I very nearly did a U-y at Ballarat and drove home. It was Hell. Granted she was only 1, but memories of that trip were awful enough to last me a lifetime.
I gave in to husband though (can someone say “SUCKER!”), because the kids don’t get to see their grandparents nearly enough and flying was simply too expensive.
So I researched the f*ck out of how to entertain Scout (7) and Inky (2.5) on the 8 hour trip (+ “wee breaks”/lunch). With the inspiration of some top-shelf recommendations from my FB page, I prepared my arsenal of backseat distractions:
- A video system. Rather than buy one, Husband Macgyvered a structure made out of padded wire from Bunnings (not sponsored) that held the iPad between the two front seats. It was damn ugly, but effective. We loaded it up with movies and TV Shows, plugged in some crappy two-way speakers Husband picked up at a conference and voila! Hours of distraction.
- Books. Scout was fine curled up with the next exciting instalment of “Alice Miranda”, but rather than give Inky narrative books, we packed her “Where’s Wally” books and “100,000,001 things to spot in Fairy Land” so they doubled as an activity as well as a read.
- Don’t be too prescriptive. I know this won’t work for super-organised people, but the girls travelled better than I expected, so rather than taking regular breaks every 2 hours (which would be required for some kids), I plotted out a series of possible stopping points along the way so that when they got fractious I’d know what was coming up. Nhill and Keith have excellent playgrounds on the main drag (and you can make endless adult jokes about visiting “Neil” and “Keith” on the way).
- Sticker books. Inky ended up putting the stickers all over the door of the back seat but whatevs.
- Snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. Snacks that take a bit of time to eat – popcorn, sultanas/dried fruit, fruit and stringer cheese (hours of fun, apparently).
- Road trip bingo. Of course, Murphy’s Law intervened before we left and the ink in the printer ran out so I couldn’t print out any Road Trip Bingo cards. Happily, Maccas had an Australia-flavoured road trip bingo on their paper placemats. Which brings me to my next point:
- Maccas is Roadtrip King. Sorry, I know they are the horns of a huge, evil money-making machine with questionable ethics, but there is a reason they are so popular. They have brilliant playgrounds, the McCafes sell quite good coffee and the Happy Meals now have awful catapult toys sure to delight the gentlest of toddlers.
- Audio books. Gives mum and dads everywhere a rest when they’ve had too much of Scooby Doo. We loaded up the iPhone with some audio books but Inky didn’t last long as the headphones kept falling off.
- Get breathalised. The police are out in force this Easter and husband got pulled over for a breath test. There was at least 10 minutes of excitement and enquiry after that with a discussion on the dangers of alcohol and driving. 2% of the trip!
- Pour yourself a Sailor Jerrys (or whatever your poison is) at your destination. Give your husband/wife a slap on the bum and your kids a round of high fives for surviving the trip.