Family Road Trips: 7 Tips for Making the Most of the Journey

This post is by regular contributor Tricia Hogbin of Little Eco Footprints.

I used to dread long car trips but a change in attitude, a little planning, some snacks and a thermos of tea (just like my Gran used to pack) have helped me embrace the journey.

I’ve learnt to love family road trips.

Journeys often take us many hours more than they should, but what are a few hours in the scheme of things?

Instead of rushing to our destination we take the time to experience a few locations along the route and don’t let the anticipation of arrival undermine the pleasure of the journey. Taking time to stop regularly also means less grizzling – from parents and kids.

Here’s a few of my favourite ways to make the most of the journey:

1. Stop at farm gate stalls or a pick your own farm. 

Do a little research before you leave and see if there are any pick-your own farms along your route. You can search for pick your own farms using and there’s also for Australia.

Tips for Traveling with Kids

2. Stay at a farm stay. 

Instead of staying in a motel or racing to your destination in a single day – take a little detour and stay at a farm stay for a night. You’ll feel like you had a whole extra holiday. You can search for Australian farm stays using Stayz.

3. Stretch your legs in a national park or botanic garden

You’ll need to stop to stretch your legs – why not do it somewhere beautiful like a national park or botanic garden. Check out a map before you leave and see if there are any along the way.

4. Eat at a local café or restaurant. 

Steer clear of the road-side fast food joints. They’re the same in every town and city, but if you detour to a nearby town and eat in a local café or restaurant you’ll get a feel for the place (and likely enjoy a tastier and healthier meal).

Road travel with kids

5. Pop into an antique store or museum. 

I love small town antique stores and museums. They are a great place to chat to my daughter about the ‘olden days’ and sneak in a little history lesson.

6. Find a new to you playground. 

Playgrounds are another good place to stop. We use to identify playgrounds with toilets along our route and have found some amazing playgrounds that we otherwise wouldn’t have known existed.

Travel activities for kids

7. Visit a library

On longer trips we visit a library – a great place to stop because they’re air conditioned, calm, free, and have power points to charge cameras, phones and laptops

Where do you stop when travelling? Do you speed through towns without a second glance or do you embrace adventure and explore new places?


  1. We do all those same sorts of things Tricia, particularly detouring into local towns for the cafes and playgrounds, the botantic gardens and occasionally libraries. I’ve never thought of doing pick your own farms along the way. Thanks for all those links!

    Our kids all hated cars when they were babies/toddlers, and I remember our first road trip with Liam (who is now 11!), when he was 7 months old. We drove down to Melbourne (8 hours from us) and left latish in the day, at his nap time. We figured he’d nap for maybe 2 or 3 hours and we’d stop for the night about half way. Instead, he screamed constantly, and we made it about 2 hours of driving (with several short stops) before giving up and finding a motel. Eek.

    That trips taught us though, to always plan in lots of stops along the way, which we still do now. Next year we are planning a really long road trip, visiting family & friends around the US over a period of 3 or 4 months (unless the Aussie dollar drops too far!) – so I’m looking for all good road trips tips I can get!

  2. I am one of those rare people who LOVES family road trips. In fact, if we don’t take at least one a year, I go a little stir crazy. And I think your tips are all fantastic. The most important thing is to remain flexible & plan in something fun for every member of the family. It may even be something as simple as getting to pick where we eat dinner (or an unexpected afternoon treat), but it works! 🙂

  3. My family loves to go out and unwind, especially my kids. We get excited every weekend because we know that we’re heading for the road. Even just around the block, they seem to love road trips no matter how near or far it may be. They love going out and seeing things. I think these are amazing tips and I really learned so much from this! Thank you for sharing!

  4. We stopped at a botanical garden on a trip to Virginia last year. It was just lovely and such a relaxing break in the drive. Even the kids enjoyed the adventure.

  5. Universities are also great places to stop – cheap food, usually some big grassy areas and lots of powerpoints to charge devices.

  6. Mary Bassis says:

    I’m a grandmother now, but when my children were 2 to 11 we took a camping trip from Wisconsin to Wyoming. 14 days round trip. To get the older kids focused less on themselves and more on the rest of the family I came up with the idea of “Gifties”. I allotted them each $10 to buy 10 gifts for their sister as a reward for when said sister was having a cranky moment during one of our driving days. If no cranky moment occurred during the day, said sister still received one gift a day, so as not to fall into the rewarding crankiness trap. Obviously these were not huge gifts. We went for pencils, paper, a folder, etc. Things to entertain one while driving. The whole exercise took their focus off of how they, individually were doing, and put it on how everyone else in the car was doing. It made the trip much more enjoyable for all. Obviously inflation has changed the amount that would be needed. But not by all that much. It isn’t about big gifts. it is about someone noticing that you are having a bad moment and doing something to help. Someone other than Mom and Dad.

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