Travelling with Toddlers

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 13:20
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I'm looking for other people who have travelled with very young children. My husband and I are looking to do the trip around oz with our 2 boys in May/June this year. At that time they will be near 2, and 3 years 2months of age.

i am looking for other people who have children at similar ages that are travelling for long periods of time, mostly so that I don't feel like the only crazy person for doing so.

Most people around me think that we are crazy for doing this trip with our kids so young, but our house is already under contract and we are keen to go. So does anyone have any positive feedback, and useful suggestions on coping with this young age?

Here are just a few of my personal concerns:

* Containing the kids in order to prevent them from running off.
* The kids handling the lack of toys to play with, but them not being of age where they can do any one activity for very long.
* Travelling tough routes - eg cape york, gibbs river road etc.
* spending more time doing what keeps the kids happy, rather than also exploring things of interest to my husband and I. for eg. parliament house, museums and things that don't hold much interest to a child. Are these the type of things that I should just expect to miss out on, or have to ditch midway at times?

Any tips of suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Reply By: hayley - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 14:16

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 14:16
Hi there.

I can totally understand your concerns as I was the same. We have done alot of travelling over the past few years with our son. I think he was about 1 1/2 when we decided we wanted to see more of Australia. Since then we have done cape york, Victorian High Country, Simpson desert and many more.
Obviously when your spending most of your time in the car the number of toys they have is limited. I found a portable dvd player was an excellent way to keep my son amused. Plenty of cd's or tapes with lots of songs ur kids know is a great idea too. i must say that after doing the cape my partner and I knew every single song off by heart...
AnswerID: 283108

Reply By: jdwynn (Adelaide) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 14:19

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 14:19

Check out this link from this site:

Travelling with kids

You are not crazy taking the kids. We honestly believe the kids have added to our trips always, rather than detracted. In 92, we did 7500km in the US when our eldest was 2, and in 02 we crossed the Nullarbor when our youngest was not yet 1 (we just found on that trip that good breaks were so important, and after our mid-afternoon break my wife had to get in the back seat with the baby). We count these two trips as amongst our best.

Last year we crossed the Simpson with another family who had a DVD, and whilst I'm not really into that, it was gold at the end of each day when we were setting up camp, and the four kids (3-12 yo) watched a DVD.

I'm sure your trip will be a fantastic experience. Cheers JD
AnswerID: 283112

Reply By: Swanny78 - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 14:48

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 14:48
Hi Jackie,
My husband and I are currently travelling around Australia with our two daughters. When we started a year ago they were 5 and 2 and they have been having a great time.
There are things that you need to think whether it is worth taking them to however if you suggest something fun after what you really want to see you will find that they will be quite agreeable.
Our girls travel really well and although we have a portable DVD player that attaches to the headrests of the front seats we found that we only used them twice in the whole time we have been travelling.
We have seen some great places and it has been a great adventure to have with the kids. We just make sure that we keep some sort of routine with things such as meals and sleeps and then everything works out well.
We are currently staying on Groote Eylandt to hopefully see the wet season out before travelling into WA and the Kimberleys.
I must say that the girls enjoy the different road conditions and they get really good at just sleeping through the boring bits of the road trip.
We have a camper trailer and we all fit well and have fun together and yes it can get difficult at times without having the family there as a back up but you just seem to get used to it. We only packed one box of toys and one box of books. That is all that the girls have and the rest they find out there in the bush or beach to play with.
Have fun on your trip and any concerns that you have just bite the bullet and go for it - why wait until they are all grown up when you can enjoy the time with them now.
One tip I can give you, even though they are little, they like to help mum and dad out with things when setting up camp - so run with it and then everyone is happy.
AnswerID: 283123

Reply By: Member - Andrew (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 14:50

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 14:50
Apart from reading the good article on travelling with kids as mentioned, firstly i would ignore ALL critics who haven't done this themselves. We travelled for 4 months when our kids were 2 years old and 3 weeks old!, during summer, in some rugged places. We met lots of people travelling with kids and even some who wanted to, an yet were being pushed by relatives to not do it......their biggest excuse was "they're too young to enjoy it".

I say go for it, enjoy yourselves, do the things YOU want to do, and include some kids stuff for their enjoyment exclusively.

Your kids are young enough NOT to be influenced by today's society and needing digital entertainment to enjoy themselves. The camping routine itself was enough for our 2YO to enjoy, and seeing wildlife, great views etc was enough to entertain him without needing a "themepark".

Routine keeps the kids from running off, as they may enjoy helping setting up camp, and even cooking dinner etc.

It is as much a holiday for YOU as it is for them......enjoy it and go with the flow.

AnswerID: 283127

Reply By: SimonW - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 14:56

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 14:56
Hi Jackie,
Your are not crazy, just do it the kids will get great value out of the experience & seem to grow up more each day with the adventure. We have 2 boys currently 1.5y/o & 3.5y/o & we have travelled on trips since the first one was 9mnths with no regrets but you do need to make concessions so everybody enjoys the trip. In our case we had a few basics to follow;

- We limited travel days to 500-600km & never more then 2 days without a rest day, & plan the travel either while they are sleeping or in the hottest part of the day so the aircon is of comfort.

- My wife gives the kids a good run around while I clean up after breakfast & pack up camp, the key is to get on the road earlier then later & that is no easy task at times with kids, we try to be mobile between 8:30am & 9:30am. A good one person camp setup/pack up is essential that way one of you can be with the kids & run them around.

- We print out a A4 page with sketch figures of things to see out the window (trucks bus diggers stop signs etc ect) b& tick off as they are seen, this keeps them amused for a good set of time & like gold fish you can do it again the next day.

-DVD players we were not hot on the idea but they are worth there weight in gold. We have a portable & it is great to give to the 3y/o to watch while the other one is having a nap during driving otherwise they edge each other on. Also keep the DVD player as a last resort towards the end of the day when you need to squeeze that extra hour of driving or camp locating.

- Stop at parks for lunches & strech legs they love it

- Plan night stops that have pools as this cools them down & burns them out for a good sleep after a travel day.

It is harder to see the things you want to do, & even more annoying & boring for the kid if they don't want to be there so simple don't take them. It is good to have a break from the kids & hubby or wife for a few hours so take that as your time to see the museums while the other half looks after the little guys, & visa versa, it is like a recharge of the batteries & works very well.

Definitely see what you want to see as you never know how long it will be until you get back that way again so have no regrets.

I don't know how you are travelling but we have a kanga camper trailer with queen size bed & 2 bunk beds the 3 y/o sleeps on the lower & the higher one is the change table with the youngest still in a portacot although not for much longer. I wouldn't advise this for 12months straight & think a jayco style camper would be better suited.

Toys, important, every time we hit a town my wife would scoot of to the 2nd hand / bric abrack stores & leave some of the current toys there & grab some new ones at the most it was ever only a few $'s & this is a good source for kids books also.

Anyway I hope my rambling helps, enjoy the travels, Simon.
AnswerID: 283130

Reply By: Dave from P7OFFROAD Accredited Driver Training - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 17:09

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 17:09
There have been some very good points raised here and some excellent personal experinces.

For my wife and I, we have put our trekking on hold for the next few years (we have a 3yo and 1yo) we still get out and about, but no long treks.

Basicly we (both school teachers once upon a time) see such huge eductaional value in all the places mentioned above that we would rather wait until we can make a much greater impression on the kids. We want them to be travellers, not just passengers.

I'm not for a moment downplaying the value gained for the family from getting away together, nor am I making any suggestions to others, merely telling it as my wife and i have planned it.

All the best.
AnswerID: 283149

Reply By: rumpig - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 19:56

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 19:56
back in 2006 we took our 3 1/2 year old daughter with us up to cape york. the one thing you will find is that it takes longer to get somewhere due to the extra stops you will have to make. the best thing we did before going to the cape was buy a dvd player for her to watch play school, dora the explorer, wiggles, etc. we did a couple of days on the way home which involved about 10 hours a day of driving, the dvd player was the only reason this was doable. the dvd player we have is a polaris one, it worked pretty good on the bumpy roads, and didn't skip all that often, mainly when i hit a dip that bit to fast.
as for wanting to go to museums, we went to the captain cook museum in cooktown. my daughter wasn't overly impressed with this place, so don't get your hopes up to much on your kids enjoying what you like to look at.
there's so much open space out there your kids can run themselves stupid, just make sure you warn them about crocs and snakes, and then keep warning them. we managed to bring our daughter back alive, i'm sure you can do the same.
AnswerID: 283173

Follow Up By: Louie the fly - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 20:05

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 20:05
We did the DVD thing as well for a 2 week trip up to Fraser Island. 3 days traveling both ways with a 16 year old and a 12 year old. Normally they fight like cats & dogs but the DVD's kept them very well behaved, 1 screen each. But the rules were once on Fraser, DVD's and player into the bag. They were cool with that.

Worked a treat...
FollowupID: 547767

Reply By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 20:23

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 20:23
Throw the DVD players in the bin. You should be teaching them about life not some film company or stupid cartoon.

Took ours around Europe and the States with some books, crayons, general toys, the occasional audio tape and lots of talking and looking and laughter - not too many children run out of toilet paper on Route 66 :)

Mike Harding
AnswerID: 283182

Reply By: porl - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 22:08

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 22:08
There was an article in the local paper a couple weeks ago, a couple in the UK decided enough was enough of overpopulation and cr@p weather and relocated from the UK to NZ, he'd booked his ticket, sold his house and arranged termporary accomodation in NZ when he was interviewed. He was taking his wife but leaving his kids. He was 98. Enough said there, but he also said if you should do everything you want to do when you can.

Yes DVD players prevent tantrums, but travelling with our 12 month old on planes overseas, nothing beat a funny face, a tickle session, and playing with bears and reading books. When she was two and a half driving interstate, we resorted to the DVD player and I regret we missed a time for one of us to sit in the back and do lateral things to encourage imagination.

TV ? When I leave for work in the morning now and she's watching ABC kids, I'm lucky to get a look if I say goodbye. No. 2 arrived yesterday and no. 1 turned 3 last Oct. so I'll see if we can make things more even this time.

I have a chinese friend, balanced, humane, intelligent and reasonable, things kids should only have 3 - 4 toys at once (like he did but that was a matter of money at the time). Point is I suppose you can do so much with a few. Not saying that's optimal but it's a perspective. Our 3 yr old has a toy shelf in the lounge with a few toys - what we think are her favourites, and a "lounge" with an obscene number, I'm glad to say she goes into the lounge for toys about once a week.

So what I hope to say is there's a few ways and the only restraint is how much work you want to put in. Of course, personality traits of toddlers can change that ...

Hope that helps.
AnswerID: 283207

Reply By: simplelife - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 22:50

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 22:50
Thank you all so much for your replies. it's so nice to get some positive feedback and encouragement, especially from people who have done it, or are doing it. I always find it interesting how people in our society often dream about what they want to do, largely travelling australia, and never do what they dream of, yet when someone does something left of centre and actually goes for their dreams, all of a sudden, you are doing something wrong. Can't help but think that you are just rubbing up against the critics' own fears.

Anyhow, I love all of your ideas, and will certainly be taking them on board. I think I'll start a tips list.

Yes, the DVD player is a must and we will be getting one for sure. although I also like the ideas you have of the games to play in the car, and also one of us sitting in the back to help with imaginative games. I'm all for that too. I'm also all for the get back to nature trip, as i really hate how much TV my kids watch now, hence another valid reason for the trip at this age. it will teach them to adjust to a more primitive and appreciative, connected lifestyle rather than detachment in digital and technological devices, so i also agree with the non-dvd people. In saying that I don't have the courage or the strength to go completely without the DVD player, although do plan to limit it's use.

Simon, thank you for the fantastic hints and tips, you obviously know what you're talking about and can relate to our hesitations. We are just about to buy a Jayco expanda van the 16-49-3 pop top. Does anyone have any comments on our choice? Good/bad? We are still considering what to tow it with, however, and are leaning towards a Nissan Nivara 2005/06 model, but that's hubby's dept.

I noticed that a couple of repliers had travelled to cape york too. Can anyone give me any advice about this trip in particular? I'm wondering where the last drop off point for your caravan is, and then how far/long does it take, or what time would you recommend taking to get to the top with just your 4wd, considering the age of the kids? Also, what is the accommodation facilities like and where did you sleep when you left your caravan for the rest of the trip? Lots of questions, I know, but if you can help, this would be great.

Thanks again.

AnswerID: 283221

Follow Up By: jdwynn (Adelaide) - Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:40

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 14:40
Jackie I suggest you put Jayco and CApe York questions in new posts (or do a search here / elsewhere on the net) - reckon it'll be lost here. If youre looking at Jayco expanda then definitely look at Windsor Rapid - few comparisons exist on the net too. Jayco have a reputation for quality control issues but I like their layout choices personally. JD
FollowupID: 547942

Reply By: Member - Steve NT - Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 23:34

Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008 at 23:34
Hey Simplelife.

We have a 5 1/2 year old, the biggest thing is not to let kids to dictate your life style, Philip has been camping at 3 months old in Kakadu at 18 months we did the Kimberley, he has been to Germany twice ( his mothers birth place), last year we did a 1/2 a lap of Oz.

Philip and I have returned tonight from a trip that has taken us from Kakadu ( home) to Cairns the East coast then across to Innamincka down the Strzelecki up the Oodnadatta track out to the big rock and back.

Yes he has a DVD player, but we spent a lot of time talking, there were times when the DVD player had it's place.

All in all we had a ball, I will post a trip report in the next day or two.

Just do it.

Cheers Steve.
AnswerID: 283226

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