Travelling with kids this Christmas? Make a list, check it twice. And pack gin

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Sarah Long arrived in Australia from the UK in early 2010 and met her Mr Miner soon after. They're based on the NSW Central Coast and he does drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) to country NSW. Sarah came out to Oz as part of a six-month backpacking trip around the world, and never went home!

I have just finished the calculations, and this year I have travelled approximately seven squillion kilometres. Alone, with a toddler. All in aid of seeing Mr Miner (AKA Daddy).

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating slightly. But we’ve certainly done a lot of driving, just me and my co-pilot. Whether to work to see Daddy, or to meet him at our farm between shifts. It’s meant that Mr Miner and Mini could have time together that they would have otherwise missed out on.

Anyway, given I’m now an expert in travelling alone with a toddler, I thought I'd share my top tips on travelling with kids this Christmas.

Write a list

When you’re packing with a little one it’s important to plan thoroughly and write a list of everything you could possibly need. This should include at least 25 outfit changes for both of you, for every season, just in case the weather turns; toys despite grandma having a million at her place already; and every single sleep aid your darling needs (even though none of them actually work). For added bulk, throw in nappies, towels, sheets and at least 20 bags of Christmas gifts.
Now, give that list to your toddler to chew into pieces and scatter around the house.

Pack in plenty of time

Try to pack your bags a day early, so you can get the car packed when your toddler is in bed and save on stress. Alternatively, you could run around the house like a mad-woman, throwing everything you can find into your largest suitcase (no, it doesn’t matter that you’re only going for the weekend), while your little helper runs along behind you, methodically removing every item you put into the suitcase, leaving a trail of destruction. Next, run up and down the stairs to the car, overloaded with bags, a travel cot and two strollers, while screaming soothingly, "Shhhh, it’s OK. Mummy’s nearly finished!" Your toddler meanwhile will roll around on the deck screaming as if you are abandoning them forever.

Time your trip according to naps/meals

For a smooth journey, it’s best to synchronise with your child’s napping schedule. But let’s face it, by the time you actually get 38 bags packed into the car, you will be at least an hour late and your overtired child (see screaming above) will fall asleep as soon as you turn out of your street. I know what you’re thinking, great, peace and quiet! But no, no, no, my friend. They will now sleep for 40 minutes and then be awake for the next 5 hours 20 of the journey. Brilliant.

Pack a picnic and healthy snacks for your road trip

Rather than stop at fast food places, why not pack a nice healthy picnic and find a park to stop at en route? Well, because the minute you do that, it is guaranteed to piss it down with rain for the entirety of the journey, or at least 10 minutes before you reach that park and have already passed all the nice warm, dry fast food places. And now you are stuck in the car with a stir-crazy child who just wants ‘chippies’. Also, those lovely blueberries you packed instead of lollies are scattered all over the car and there’s half a banana mashed into the upholstery.

Plan your stops

Set aside time for 'fun' stops to ensure you don’t have to be in the car too long and can both get out and play in the fresh air. Alternatively, try not stopping at all and just lob snacks towards the back seat as your little darling becomes increasingly irate. Winning.

Take entertainment

How about a nice nursery rhyme CD that you can both sing along to on the way? Or how about pulling your fingernails out one by one? Because that’s how annoying the CD will be on the seventh play when you’re only half way into your journey.
Sure, pack nice books and toys and singalong CDs, but realistically what you want is a screen. Forget the screen-time rules, plug them in and let them go for the duration. 

Just remember, it’ll all be worth it when you get to the other end and you can spend some quality time together this Christmas as a family. Or if you’re as lucky as me, with your in-laws! Now, where did I pack that gin?!

Our Miner's Girl also has her own website: check out her blog here at

And here's lots more from Sarah on Mining Family Matters:

If you've got a question for Sarah or would like to tell your own tale about mining life, we'd love to hear from you. Click here!