If you’ve ever been locked in a car with a family of five for a prolonged period of time you could probably understand the children and often adults desire to inflict bodily harm on one another.

14 hours 1 car 2 adults 3 children - part1Take the last 30 seconds for example, someone yanked mummies travel pillow from out under her head & snatched her hair at the same time, somebody with a runny nose sneezed on his sister & grossed out the back seat passengers, and someone chewing excessively loudly sounds like a bovine mammal which shall remain unnamed, I wonder “how do you not hear yourself!?”

It’s a challenge. How do we survive it? Well I may add that the first time we did the Sydney to Brisbane roady it went particularly well. Some might call it beginners luck, Master 2 was spectacular! He slept, he laughed, he played with siblings 8 & 10, and cracked it only as we came into Sydney itself. This time, there were screams, there were shrieks, there were tears of frustration and discomfort, there were even cries of “don’t throw my headband out the window!”

And here we are, we made it. We didn’t die. And despite an overtired bunch having had broken sleep for the last 14 hours there was certainly something to take out of all this. Here is what I have learned:

1. Pack early
Hahaha oh man it was crap! This week we were a bit distracted by a perturbing reality so lost a few days organizing (a post for another day). Usually I start the packing 2-3 days before we leave, not the day of, this time I was checking luggage and repacking kids bags at 6pm the night of. I may have been a little stressed (understatement of the century). Lesson learned. Don’t slack. Get organized. No need to freak at the kids.

2. Bake. Cook. Take food from home.
Let’s calculate: 3 happy meals + 2 large combos is around $50. Spend that twice in a trip plus whatever snacks, drinks & chews you might pick up at the petrol station and you’ve spent well over $150 (you can’t exactly eat in front of the kids without someone begging for sharesies). Face it, it’s cheaper to make a dozen muffins for $3.50 (go pack mix if you’re low on time & baking expertise), $5 pack of apples & oranges from woollies & whatever snacks you have in the cupboard. The kids had fun making tuna & mayo sandwiches, and not being a big tuna fan myself I opted for other snacks. Whichever way you do it, a little organization goes a long way. Your wallet will thank you.

3. Entertainment
investing in a portable DVD player is certainly well worth it. Not once did we hear “are we there yet?” Or “he’s breathing on me!” Do it. Pick up a dual screen portable DVD player for around $100 and let Disney babysit your children while you focus on the road. Don’t forget favorite family friendly tunes to sing along to!

4. Travel over night
The roads are quiet, the heat is gone, you won’t be blinded by sun strike, and chances of children being lulled to sleep by the sweet vibrations of the road are exceptionally high. What’s not to like? Note: if visibility is low, sit behind one of the many semi trucks cruising along. Chances are they’ve driven that road a million times and if it appears as though they’re flying off a cliff you should have enough time not to follow.

5. Be flexible
Take a spew bag, because children sometimes vomit. Be prepared to stretch your legs when you weren’t expecting to. Don’t expect that you will arrive in ‘this town’ at ‘this time’ and everything will work out perfectly. (My inner control freak says otherwise but alas I shall ignore it). You are not a machine, your children will not always be angelic, and hiccups can and may very well happen. Just go with it! Find happiness and momentary flashes of joy in the journey, not just in arriving at your destination.

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I look forward to the day that we as a family can laugh at that time that brother sneezed snot all over sister on our way to Sydney. But for now, pull over, breath, and clean up that snot.