Wednesday 17 April 2019

Travelling with Kids without going crazy

Having travelled with our twin boys in America , on Aussie road and caravan trips many times - including 10 weeks across the Nullabor to Western Australia - these tips are gold from travel guru Sheree Everitt

I'm happy to share her tips for success and happiness ...

I shared mine before my boys started school.

On one hand, taking your kids on holiday can mean opening their eyes to new places and experiences and sharing their surprise and joy. On the other, it can mean putting up with fights in the car, whinges about changed meals or routines, missed school and the dreaded ‘are we there yet?’.

Having traversed all corners of the globe with her husband Spida Everitt and children Boston, 12, and Anais, 16, for her hit TV show Great Australian Doorstep, Sheree Everitt is an expert at making the holiday a positive one.

“Children are never too young to take on an adventure, says Sheree. “My son Boston was 17 months old when we left for our very first eight month journey around Australia,” she says. “Sure, we had no idea what we were doing. I had never been in a motorhome or caravan before either and we took enough gear for a small country.

“That first trip we took 5 kids – 17 months, 7years, 9years, 14 years old, and, we also through another 14year old nephew in for good measure - because four kids just wasn’t enough of a migraine for me.” According to Sheree, the trip was a huge success and it inspired a desire to share her love of travelling with her kids wherever possible.

However, as anyone with kids will tell you, travelling with kids is not always easy, but with a few insider tips, you can be prepared for the challenges and spend less time arguing, and more time enjoying.

“Most kids are really resilient,” Sheree says. “And they adapt in just a few days. Mothers on the other hand, take a little longer.”

What are some of your favourite destinations to take kids?

“Anywhere in Australia. The beach, the lake, a river, the mountains, the sunshine, the snow. Australia has it all. We are all so very lucky to live in a country that is ridiculously easy to get around, with no borders to cross and it’s all at your fingertips. Just step outside your front door and you will find an incredible spot. If you haven’t travelled with kids before, start off small with a weekend away or overnight stay.”

What are some of the rewards of travelling for kids? 

“Getting them out into the community is priceless. Getting them to meet other children from all walks of life. The kids are seeing and experiencing life in its rawest form. And seeing so much nature, so many vistas and views and learning so very much about Australia. It really is a priceless experience.

The kids also learn so many more life skills and daily chores that they definitely wouldn’t back at home. “And for the family, spending so much quality time together and learning to live together and co-exist in a whole new environment and on a totally different schedule is such a rewarding and bonding experience. Your usual 9 to 5 routine just goes out the window, which is particularly awesome for fathers who often miss out on so many things in their children’s day to day lives.”

Is there anything you look for in a location specifically when you are travelling with kids?

“As long as there is a beach or an area they can run around in, then they are fine. Whether it’s the snow, the water, the outback, the mountains, there will always be something for kids to do – just use your imagination. And if nerves are wearing a bit thin, look for a great caravan park with lots of kids entertainment!”

What about schoolwork, what do you advise to do there? 

“If you are away from school for prolonged periods, you will need to speak to your child’s teachers and take some work with you. In my experience, when the kids were doing schoolwork on the road, they got through it so much faster than they would have at school. I found that the school work is not a big challenge.”

reading time in the caravan.

How do you ensure everyone gets a bit of ‘me’ time and doesn’t drive each other nuts?

“We have a loose schedule. We have ‘quiet time’ and ‘mummy time’… there’s also ‘daddy time’ but that is normally away from the family at the pub. Isn’t it funny how men always seem to find the closest pub so easily? We have set times of day for ‘quiet time’. It depends on what we have done or what we have coming up in the next few days. But we always do ‘quiet time’ at least four or five times a week when on a long journeys.”

Do the kids have specific jobs on the road? 

“Absolutely. We make a big list at the start and they each choose three jobs. Then at the end of each week we swap jobs, but the other person has to agree to swap. It’s a good lesson in negotiating and the best part is that the worst jobs are constantly enjoyed because they know if they whinge then no one will want to take the job at the end of the week.”

Are there any places, or types of place you wouldn’t go with children?

“Not really. Maybe Kings Cross*, but other than that no. As long as you do your research and have all your safety measures covered, then you can go anywhere you want.”
On top Pildappa Rock

What do your kids say about travelling?

“They love it! We have taken our kids to Disneyland a number of times, and yet it never gets talked about. What they do talk about is the time we stayed on Marillana a very remote outback station in the Pilbara. They talk about the time we got stuck on our way to Cape York… the doll collection in the scary house in Rainbow, Victoria…the time they had to clean the dishes in the river in the Kimberley.”

(Well my kids can't wait to return to Disneyland ...)

Sheree’s tips for travelling with kids
  • Keep a routine with their school work. 90 mins a day and have it at the exact same time each day. 
  • Wake them at the same time, feed them at the same time, everything needs a time. Kids love routine. When there is no routine there is no formation. 
  • When you are on big travelling days, pack their lunch and morning tea just like when they are at school. Make sure they have healthy food and not petrol station snacks. Lots of fruit and vegies! 
  • They need their sleep so ensure they go to bed on time. 
  • Make sure they have chores to do. It teaches so many great lessons
  • Brush up on some games to distract them on long tips, preferably some learning ones, but Eye Spy is always a good fall-back.
This view was magic Fenchman Peak

Ps * Kings Cross station is a short walk to some great Sydney parks, outdoor art and sculptures and a great vista of Sydney Harbour and Opera House.