10 ways to keep the kids occupied when travelling around Australia

10 ways to keep the kids occupied when travelling around Australia

Travel in Australia is much more about the journey than the destination and the best way to experience all that Australia has to offer is by jumping your car and hitting the road. While this is a great mode of travel, because you get to experience everything you'd miss when flying, it can be a difficult choice to make, particularly if you have younger children. If you're planning a great Aussie adventure, hook up the camper trailer and keep the kids happy with these in-car entertainment options!

Create an Activity Pack

Boredom is one of the main reasons why children become agitated on lengthy driving trips. Create an activity pack for each child, including coloured pencils, puzzles and their favourite reading books. Ideally give them their own car bag or day pack that lives in the car to keep their things organised.

Portable DVD Player

If you're planning a long trip, consider investing in a portable DVD player. The kids can enjoy their favourite movies and you'll have some peace and quiet for an hour or two! There are plenty of options these days including roof mounted drop down units (like the one pictured above), seat head rest units, handheld units and even the DVD drive in your laptop computer. Let your kids choose a movie or two at the start of the day and limit them to those so they aren't demanding to have the DVD player running all day.


Pack your kids a lunch box each at the start of the day with snacks like fresh & dried fruit & nuts, cheese and biscuits, trail bars, sandwiches and of course something sweet. Let them graze throughout the day so they won’t be constantly asking you when the next food stop is.

Driving Games

Games like 'I Spy' may be old to you but not to your kids and they are a great way to get them looking out the window between DVD's. We play our own version of 20 Questions using people we know like family and friends. It starts with 'I'm thinking of someone we all know . . .' then everyone else has to guess who it is within 20 questions.

Buy Them A Camera

Nowadays, you can pick up a digital camera for under $50 and they cost nothing to run. Kids love taking photos and this is also a great way to keep them entertained for most of the journey. Give each of your kids a camera and let them click away at all the great sights they see while driving. If you're really motivated, have a daily photo competition.

Gaming Consoles

Portable gaming consoles are a great way to keep your kids entertained and having fun for hours. The 16gb Apple iPod Touch is around $200 and games are either free or a couple of dollars each and if you buy them on your iTunes account then all of your devices can download the games and you only buy them once. They are also a photo & video camera, music and video player and a great way for your kids to stay connected with their friends and family via email, Twitter or Instagram - if you're happy to let them use these services (when in WIFI range eg. McDonalds). Taking photos on their iPod and sharing them via Instagram is an easy way for them to remain connected to friends and family.

Personalised Itinerary

If you know your stops along the way, create an itinerary book for your children. Title the page with the name of the place or attraction you are seeing and leave some blank space for them to draw a picture or write a story.

Hire a Good Sized Vehicle

If you're travelling around Australia with children and renting a vehicle rather than using your own always keep in mind that a good sized vehicle is one of the best methods for preventing arguments and fighting. Kids may be smaller than adults but they need as much space, especially when you factor in their car bags, pillow, lunch box etc. Siblings are bound to have a few issues, particularly when confined to such a small space, so do the best you can to keep your kids comfortable. Escape Travel offer a range of car hire options, perfect for keeping your children happy!


Depending on how long your journey is, some parents choose to have a small gift for their child every day of their trip. The present doesn't need to be expensive and can be as small as a new cheap colouring book or pretty headband. This will give your kids something to look forward to and can often keep them entertained for a few hours, if not the rest of the day.

Choose your Music

Consider your music for the car. If your children are older, it's a great idea to get them their own MP3 players, which in recent years have become relatively inexpensive. If your children are younger, create a compilation that everyone will enjoy.

Family car trips can be challenging for everyone, so keep your kids in mind when planning your Aussie escape. There are an abundance of free or cheap activities that will keep your children entertained for hours. Remember your holiday for the right reasons and start planning today!

6 thoughts on “10 ways to keep the kids occupied when travelling around Australia

  1. Avatar
    Marie Bagge Peuliche says:

    Hi Steve (an others with good advice)
    Thank you for a great and inspiring website.

    We're a family of four (girl 4 years and boy 1 year + parents) who are traveling from Denmark (Europe) to Australia next July/August (6 weeks). I've been on exchange 96/97 and now I want to show some of amazing Australia to my family.
    We're flying in to Melbourne and traveling to Sydney via Albury/Wodonga, then flying to Darwin (10 full days) and to Cairns (13 full days) and then back home. We're on a budget, but we've hired camper vans and got pretty good deals.
    We hope to get some insights into:
    a) good advice on what to see and good places to stay. Obviously with two such small kids we're not planning long drives per day and we have to stay more than one night i most places.
    b) The camper vans we hired don't have seats directly behind the drivers seat, so we will have to sit in the front and the kids will have to sit back in the cabin. Have anyone got experience with the kids not sitting right behind you on such a long drive? We've been told, that camper vans with seats right behind the driver's seat will be too expensive to hire.
    Thank you

  2. Avatar
    Allison says:

    Hi Steve,

    We are a family of 5 planning to travel north from Brisbane up to Darwin then through the Kimberly's and over to WA. Travelling south along the coast then across to Adelaide, Melbourne and a fairly quick trip back up to Brissy. We only have 3.5 months and were wondering where about we should spend most of our time on the trip as we want to try and see it all.
    How long does it take to do the Kimberly region? We don't want huge driving days, perhaps only 500/600 km per day with rest days and sightseeing in between.

    • Avatar
      Steve Baile says:

      We met a few people doing the 3 month long service leave lap while we were travelling and it's certainly a 'rush' around the country - still better than no going at all though. Seeing it all will be a challenge as there is just too much to squeeze into 3.5 months no matter how organised you are. I'd plan to spend blocks of time in your favorite areas then spend a few days 'charging' to the next favorite area and accept that you'll have to miss some areas altogether and come back another time. For example. Spend 8 to 10 days in the Kimberley including Kununurra/Lake Argyle, the Gibb River Road, Broome, Cape Leveque so you can really take it all in but maybe skip the Pilbara/Karijini and save it for another trip as heading out there for a couple of days wouldn't do it justice. With such a tight schedule you'll need a spreadsheet and itinerary and a pretty solid plan as you don't really have time to go off on a tangent. Even with 16 months we had to skip some pretty iconic places but we need to save something for the next trip!

  3. Avatar
    Duncan Faber says:

    We do a lot of traveling. And we have a lot of kids. 5. (Holy cow, what were we thinking?) Anyway, we keep our kids occupied with audiobooks, and lots of them. There are a lot of sites where you can download them, but we use this one a lot because the stories are all free and they're original. Here's the link if anyone is interested. http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/short-stories-for-kids

  4. Avatar
    Teri Heyer says:

    Hi Steve! What an awesome trip for you and your family. My husband and I did a whirlwind 3 week, 5000 mile road trip from Melbourne through the Outback to Darwin and then over to Cairns. How wonderful for you to travel for 16 months. I'm sure you had an incredible adventure. Love your web site. I'll keep checking back.

    • Steve Baile
      Steve Baile says:

      Hi Teri, wow that's a serious road trip in 3 weeks! Would have been a blast though. We met a few families doing the whole big lap in their 3 months long service leave and they were hoofing it but you guys . .

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