The truths about travelling the Outback with kids
Have you ever entertained the idea of heading inland and exploring Outback remote Australia, then thought ‘oophff- do I want to do this with kids?’......
Well as a family who did just this, it has been worth every second. Originally when we sold up and set off from our family home in the Blue Mountains of NSW, we had no idea what our lap would entail or where we were headed. All we knew is we had booked tickets to the Birdsville Big Red Bash at the outskirt of the Simpson Desert, so we decided to head inland first and honestly we had no idea what was coming.
Travelling the Australian Outback has been utterly incredible; the people, the history, the locations, the scenery, the sunsets, the magic. We had no idea how quickly we would fall in love and to be honest we never knew what to expect when travelling the Outback with our 3 young boys; Jake (9), Lucas (7) and Wade (2).
Well- wow what an awesomely rewarding experience it is!!! Travelling with kids into the dirt and dust has many positives but there are a few considerations to keep in mind...... We get together some great tips to share that we have picked up along our travels and hope it inspires you to brave the paths beyond the bitumen.
Kids have very short attention spans
The younger the child, the smaller the attention span and less patience. This might need to be something to keep in mind when; planning the time of day you travel, how long you travel during the day, how often you plan your travel stops and what attractions you wish to visit.
Keep the travel snacks healthy and plentiful, be sure to stock the car with a good selection of entertaining activities; books, colouring in, small toys, travel games, music etc- but at the same time not too many as you’ll find they somehow ‘have nothing to do and get bored’, or it all ends up on the floor.
When visiting attractions or locations, do the best stuff first as you can be sure that when you finally reach the one thing you as the parent have been sooo looking forward to- that’s when kids will start to loose it, demand they are hungry or need to go to the toilet or if they are little ones- be desperate for their daytime nap.
Be flexible and adaptable, plans will change without notice- but this can be good so go with it.
Kids love to be involved
Road trips are the best time to entrust some responsibility to your kids. The more you involve your children in planning process, the more excited they will be about the off-road locations you go, the places you visit and the food you eat. Allocating family roles helps keep things smooth and everyone working together, especially if your remote with no-one else around.
Kids crave parental attention more than we realise, so be sure to be setting aside time to spend with the kids individually and also doing kids things with them. Enjoy a movie night, a board game, a game of frisbee, a campfire with marshmallows, even read a book altogether.
Kids have a magnetic attraction for dirt and chaos.
The best advice would be to embrace the dirt.... it will be everywhere and in everything, you just can’t avoid it. Pick darker coloured clothes, trust me ‘white and light’ will be your nemesis.
As some added pieces of advice- invest in some good shoes, not only will they be doing plenty of walking, hiking, climbing and exploring- it will be great protection from sticks, rocks, and painful creatures. Our kids hate having sunscreen/ insect repellent applied all the time, so we minimise the struggle by getting the kids to wear good quality long sleeve t-shirts, bucket/ wide-brim hats and flynets. This gives us all round sun and bug protection and as a bonus tends to keep the kids cleaner too.
Lastly the chaos clause- kids are accident prone! Having a well stocked and in date first aid kit will make your outback experience far less stressful and better equiped for those minor mishaps.
Kids crave learning new things but often need direction
When travelling the Outback, it is so rich in history giving plenty of opportunity for learning. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for and they can see right through us- so when planning your educational days make sure to have a disco ball sparkling at the centre of the dance floor, because making their experience an adventure will ensure the day will be fun, smooth and a great success.
Pick activities that are age appropriate, have a common interest throughout the family, pick places that are kid friendly with items to see, touch, feel and if travelling with young children possibly avoid quiet places- because no matter how hard you plead with your kids sometimes, Murphy’s Law will strike.
Adults need time too!
One of the biggest bummers as parents on the road, is we often forget that we were a couple first and still are. Kids are chaos and in the Outback there is often no one around to rely on, no family, no neighbours, no school activities. Be sure to allow yourselves a few quiet hours each night together- have set bed times for the kids, enjoy snuggles by the fire, indulge in a non-PG rated movie, and even take some time to read a book yourself- a true luxury I really missed.
When travelling anywhere with kids, never loose sight of your primary objective;
Best advice for an amazing Outback adventure is ‘Live the Moment”. Capture your memories, but not always through a camera lens or a smart phone, use your heart. Make moments happen and embrace every unique opportunity the dusty roads have to offer. Grab the family and hit the dirt for an incredible Outback adventure.
Written by Amy Murphy - Trekking Downunder
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