Our experience on an Outback Family Road Trip

It started with a bucket list discussion on Christmas Day two years ago and with persistence from hubby who was desperate to head off on a family road trip, last year it became a reality. I’m the first to say I wasn’t excited about the idea of driving such long distances with three kids on board (1 aged 8 years and 2 aged 6 years) but I knew it was important to him so the planning began.

I lost track of how many times I got asked…”Are you really driving all that way and camping…with kids…in the middle of nowhere…are you serious?” Yes we were, and yes we did!

Let’s face it, travelling with kids is nothing like it was when you were young and free and only had to pack your own bag! But we decided to embrace the crazy, and packed up our 4WD and tent and hit the road.

Our number one destination was Uluru, that was the furthest point we wanted to reach for our first big trip. Over 22 days, we covered 6,000kms and visited so many wonderful Australian destinations…..Melbourne – Adelaide – Port Augusta – Coober Pedy – Alice Springs – Kings Canyon – Uluru – Cadney Park – Quorn – Flinders Ranges/Rawnsley – Adelaide – Melbourne.

We found some wonderful resources to help make planning easy, including a fabulous site Travel Outback Australia which is run by NT locals who are wonderfully passionate about what they do. Reading sites like these not only reassures you that others have conquered the journey, it also give a great insight into the do’s and don’ts along the way, especially when travelling with kids.

So what insights would I share to others travelling with kids?

Number one – Don’t lose sight of the end goal. Set a date, set the destination and work backwards. I lost my way a few times and realised I was letting the worry of all of the unknowns get in the way of all of the wonderful positives that outweighed the negatives. 

Number two – Plan your trip with lots of stops along the way. On our long drive days we made sure to stretch legs every two hours, taking time to enjoy the experience and appreciate the feeling of isolation experienced by many in the outback. 

australian family road trip

Number three – Pack only the essentials. The key is to pack light, there’s so much to see and do when you’re road tripping so kids don’t need a lot of toys and gadgets. We gave our kids an activity book, and a small pencil case of their own to fill with their choice of pens and pencils, that way there was no squabbling. We also bought them each a Travel Journal from Caravanning with Kids so they could keep a record of their favourite memories and will be able to look back on it in years to come.

travelling with kids journal

Toys we took along were limited to those that didn’t take up a lot of room in the car. We decided on Eye-Spy Bags, Tangoes Tangrams, Rush Hour and our all time-favourite Putty Tins.

travel games

We also downloaded some new movies onto a laptop and iPad and some new tunes to play in the car. We used iTunes so that we could share between devices.

The team at Caravanning with Kids also recommended a Pegless Clothesline which funnily enough became one of my own favourite essentials. It was so easy to hang to our tent, awning or to a tree and have dry clothes without having to carry extra pegs too! Better still I didn’t have to fight for line-space at the caravan parks and campgrounds.

pegless clothesline

Number four – Make it fun and set some challenges. We had fun making videos of our drives, keeping a video diary each day and letting the kids tell some of the story too. We also had a lot of time to sing and dance to get the sillies out in the car. I made a pact with myself that I would push myself and the kids to try new things, new foods, long walks and heading off the beaten track every now and then – I didn’t want us coming home with any regrets of things we didn’t get to do.

off the beaten track

Number five – Photos photos photos…Make the most of every sunrise and sunset, take funny photos, lots of selfies and remember to hand over the camera every now and then so there’s some proof you were there loving every moment too!!

family road trip sunsets


What would I leave behind?

Well probably half of the amount of clothes for starters, and then there’s that book I planned to read…well that didn’t happen either, there was way too much of Australia to take in – so much more than you could ever get from a book or watching it on screen!  So go on, get out there on your own family road trip, you won’t regret it!

Planning a trip?

There’s so much more I could share so if you’re planning a trip and want more of the inside info on our favourite places, I’d be happy to answer any questions…Kim xxx