Long weekends are great for spending time with your family. Whether its a project in the yard, an outing to the park, or a quick trip away, Public Holidays are the perfect opportunity to catch up on family time.
For the Down Under Family, this long weekend meant a quick trip away. Friends of ours were celebrating their child’s 3rd Birthday so we used the time to make the 5 hour drive down to join them.
Although it was a long weekend, my work meant the public holiday wasn’t a day off so we made the plans to drive down one day and home the next. With a toddler in the car whose longest car trip previously had been 2 and a half hours.
Down Under Dad had to work the Friday night before the weekend so the plan was to leave early Saturday morning. This would also avoid the dreaded ‘long weekend traffic’ – a dreaded situation that no one likes to be stuck in, that only seems to occur around public and school holidays. Generally due to the fact everyone likes to use the long weekend to take a short trip.
Even though we were only going for 1 night, it is amazing how much we needed to pack. A bag for Mum and Dad, a bag for the little guy, and a bag for the car because no one wants to be on the side of the highway going through the boot looking for nappies. We also took a chilled bag with drinks and snacks for everyone, and some toys in case we needed distractions over the course of the trip.
The route we were taking was never going to be an issue. It is a fairly straightforward drive with highway 90% of the way. The remaining 5% could and has been a major traffic jam in the past. This could easily add another half an hour to the trip.
Once at our destination we would stay the night and make the return trip the following afternoon.
Sound like a pretty clear cut plan that’s bound to succeed? As any parent would know even the best laid plans are never stuck to 100%.
So after not sleeping much on Thursday night, our 2 year old decided Friday night would be a good night to catch up. Good for Mum as she needed a good rest, Good for Dad as he had a long drive ahead. Bad for the plan – before we even left. Our planned early departure time of between 7 and 8 turned into just after 10.
The first stage of our trip went relatively smoothly albeit a bit wet. While there was no traffic, Mother Nature decided the rain that had been hammering us for a few days should continue for our trip.
After a quick pit-stop for fuel about 1.5 hours into our trip, we were back on the road for the longest part of the drive. Thankfully at this stage our toddler decided it was time for a nap which meant we no longer had to listen to his playlist but could enjoy our own.
A further 2.5 hours into our trip and it was time to stretch our legs and have some lunch. A widely known fast food restaurant on the side of the freeway worked out well, even if every other family on a long weekend road trip had the same idea. With Lunch in our bellies and our toddler having exhausted some of his energy we were back on the road, probably a longer break then we had planned.
A quick check of Google Maps told us we only had another 1.5 hours to go! Great that means we are on the home stretch.
One thing about the trip is the weather did improve as we got further along, while it does make for easier driving, a break in the rain back home would be nice too.
Another hour in and our youngest decided it was time for another break. Thankfully along the highway there was plenty of places to get out of the car and stretch the legs. Our rest area actually came with a view as you can see, according to the map it is Lake George, although one may think their GPS was off track.
One thing about living in Australia and travelling south is that it gets colder, especially in winter. Having left our jumpers in the car the rest was short and we continued on.
Not long after we arrived safely and relatively sane.
The Return Trip
The following days journey went without issue, for the most part. Our breaks were fewer and shorter which meant total travel time was reduced by almost an hour.
While the weather had improved on our way down, it was the opposite on the way home.
Our son had napped for what seemed like a short time on the way down, was almost non-existent on the way home. While he wasn’t necessarily upset, his mood was maintained by his favorite tunes on repeat, this and the rest of the family singing along. Put it this way if we didn’t know the words on the way down, we learnt them on the way home.
Note, some of the items on the following list we may have already known, but they are wise tips none the less.
- Snacks – not just for your kids but yourself as well. Do yourself a favor and pack a variety, because if your toddler is anything like mine then they like to have a choice.
- Packing the Car – If you won’t need it on the road, put it in the boot, the more space you have inside the cab the better. However, make sure you have a small bag handy with what you might need on the road, snacks, drinks, nappies, jumpers etc.
- Be realistic about your time frame – don’t rush it, if you have deadlines then leave plenty of time despite what Google Maps tells you. What should have been a 4.5 hour trip down, was closer to 6 once breaks were included.
- Make a Plan, but don’t expect to stick to it.
Maybe next time this guy can do the driving. . .