by Sarah Pye, founder, Kids Welcome

My daughter and I will be hitching our camper trailer next week and heading from Queensland to Victoria. It’s a long way… but we’ve been doing this sort of thing ever since we started Kids Welcome. Along the way will research all kinds of interesting places to visit with kids, and write reviews on our web directory.  After travelling Queensland, NSW and the ACT extensively, we are probably pretty knowledgeable about car journeys and we’ve learnt what works for us through trial and error. So much so, Amber has recently renamed our car Zane. Why you ask? She wants to be able to tell everyone I am “driving her in Zane!”

Long Journeys with babies

When Amber was baby, timing the travel around her schedules was essential for a successful trip. I can’t count the times we left our home in Airlie Beach at 6pm to drive the 12 hours to the Sunshine Coast (to visit her grandparents) overnight. With two drivers taking turns, this meant she fell asleep just as we left home, we stopped in Rockhampton for a breast feed in the middle of the night, and arrived to her grandparents just as she started to wake. Then THEY could keep her amused for the first day while we caught up on our sleep!

Tips for babies:

  • Travel around their schedule
  • Take plenty of wet wipes

Terrible toddlers

It all gets a bit harder when they start walking, and yelling “CAN WE STOP NOW?” from the back seat. With a few tricks up my sleeve, we adjusted. We made sure we allowed for regular stops and usually made these in a playground (near a toilet) so she could let off a little steam.

Rather than ply her with lollies (which I soon found kept her bouncing off the car roof), I started wrapping a few $2 gifts and sticking them in the glove compartment. When things got hairy, and it wasn’t convenient to stop, a little incentive helps. “Only 10km to the next town and you get a prize!” works well.

Also, tried and tested games keep little ones engaged and we have gathered quite a compendium of options… many of which can be found on

Tips for toddlers

  • Stop often
  • Bribery works wonders
  • Avoid sugar

Preschoolers with attitude

Eventually kids will start wanting the latest gadget… first it might be a Tamagotche, then a DS. Before you run out and grab every device to ensure they are quiet in the back seat, it’s worth considering the negatives.

A holiday can be a chance to get back to basics and avoid these altogether, or electronic entertainment can be used to keep the kids amused during long journeys. What you probably DON’T want is kids who bury their heads in the DS and miss your entire holiday.

Consider limiting games to a certain number of hours a day or, as we do, say that electronics are great in the car, but they stay there when we get out. If you have a DVD player, think how many movies you are happy with them watching… and set the ground rules before you leave home.

Don’t forget old fashioned standbys too: On a recent eight hour journey with two kids, I gave each of them a clipboard of blank paper and a pencil case each topped up with new pencils (definitely NOT textas). The amount of fun they had in the back seat rivaled any they could have had from electronics.

Tips with preschoolers

  • Avoid conflict by giving them their own pencil case
  • Blank paper is more creative than colouring books
  • Pack a bucket or potty in the back seat (for motion sickness)
  • Take their CDs to sing along
  • Stop often



sarah pyeSarah Pye is the creator of Kids Welcome guidebooks and free web directory.

Sarah Pye’s parents took her out of school aged 13 to sail part way around the world. Eight years later, already a qualified commercial boat captain, she left her floating home in the Caribbean to study tourism in California. Many adventures followed…Sarah’s passion for travel didn’t dissipate she became a mum. Instead she modified my travels to suit her daughter and kept exploring.

Along the way, she found the information available for parents was scant and realised there was a need for more detailed information for travelling families. The result was is Kids Welcome to Queensland – a guidebook designed especially for families.

Last year, Sarah decided to take her reviews into a digital format. The resulting Kids Welcome directory includes reviews of over 2000 things to do with kids, and e books are available too. In 2012, Sarah will launch a handy phone app which brings all these resources to your phone.