There’s nothing better than packing up bags, piling the kids in the car and hitting the highway for a good old-fashioned family road trip. While holidays are all about ditching the rules, we've put together some tips to make your trip more fun when you have little ones in the car.
1. Don’t fit too much into one day
There’s a lot to see and do in New Zealand. Pace yourself, take plenty of breaks and don't try to see everything at once. Build in plenty of time in the day for the children to relax, snack and stretch their legs.
2. Don’t forget the snack bag
Avoid ‘hangry’ backseat passengers by ensuring you’ve got plenty of easy-to-eat snacks, especially when you’re on one of New Zealand’s country roads with not many places to stop for a bite.
3. Don’t leave the bug spray behind
You really don’t want the sand flies or mosquitoes feasting on tender skin, especially if you’re planning to camp or visit Fiordland! Keep soothing creams and anti-histamine handy too. Also on the essentials list are sunscreen, hat and sunglasses.
4. Don’t forget to plan ahead
Even if you’re taking the road less travelled. Map out your route carefully, allowing plenty of pit stops for fuel, the toilet or just a run around. Pack as efficiently as possible (a hard task when you have children around!) and make sure you have easy access inside the vehicle for important items.
5. Don’t drive for too long
At a stretch and set-out on the trip at a time that works in with your kids’ timings. Nothing gets tantrums going quicker than little bodies strapped to a car seat for too long! And don’t forget that New Zealand roads can be quite unforgiving, often winding, crooked and gnarly. Keep that in mind when picking your routes.
6. Don’t forget to have fun along the way
Family road trips are just as much about the journey and the fun things you enjoy together along the way. Look to stop every couple of hours, checking out local playgrounds and attractions. Make a picnic of meal times – it is super fun!
7. Don’t stay indoors. Plan lots of outdoor activities.
The best part of New Zealand lies outside the four walls and in the lap of nature. Put your explorer hats on and get amidst it, ziplining among ancient trees, walking over swing bridges and experiencing nature first-hand.
8. Don’t forget backseat games
And an ‘in-car entertainment pack’. Babies tend to be happy travellers as long as they have their car seat toys, while toddlers love sing-along CD’s. Try some old fashioned family road trip games too, ones that involve the kids looking outside the window to spot interesting things.
9. Don’t be rigid with your itinerary.
Things will occasionally not go according to plan – there will be surprises and last-minute changes, rain, scraped knees, late nights and early mornings. Be prepared for every scenario and just go with the flow. Luckily New Zealand is the sort of country where unplanned adventures often get you to the most memorable spots.
10. Don’t plan big hikes.
Some of the best parts about a New Zealand holiday are the nature walks or hikes you undertake (really, you cannot do without at least one!). For the sake of your little ones, keep these short, carry the essentials in a backpack and be prepared to answer a lot of questions about the native flora and fauna.