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We recently took the kids on a road trip to Noosa, the happiest place on earth.  From our house in Sydney, that means approximately a 14-hour drive straight (not including bladder-related interruptions).

Being a little inclined to take on a challenge, we thought this could be fun.  We were dying for some warmth and what could be better to provide this than sunny Queensland.  We figured that with any Griswald-style blowouts it would take us closer to 16 hours.

Most families, of course, would fly this distance, but we weren’t entirely cashed-up for this break, so we knew we had to do it smart.  With a family of six kids, plane fares are an unthinkable extravagance and it’s pure luxury to spend a night in a hotel, so we knew we’d have to leg-it the full 16 hours..

Call it thrifty, call it mad, but here’s how we survived our hardcore 16 hour, but entirely brilliant, road trip with six kids.

1. We warned the kids

This was to be our first and most important task. We had to get the kids’ heads in the game, they had to believe it was going to be brutal, but was going to be worth the wait, because after all, it was destination Noosa!

‘Are we there yet?’

‘If you ask that again, it’ll be devices off whilst we listen to daddy whistle the entire miserable back catalogue of The Smiths, and trust me you don’t want to go there, dude’.

We told the kids that we would be in the car FOREVER… we’d be eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and probably eat the following day’s meals in the car too.

“Kids, you know how at Christmas, how great uncle Norman spends the whole day, eating drinking and sleeping in the one chair? Yep? Well, that’s going to be you if you want to go to Noosa, understood?

There were to be no misconceptions about this trip – it would be a bloody long one!

2. Started early

We woke the kids at sparrows fart (five) and lifted the smallest into their car seats.  We kissed their little heads and told them to close their eyes because it was still night time.

‘We don’t want to wake the little birdies!’  There was to be a no-talking rule until the sun came up.

The bigger ones thought this was hysterical and kicked-back to enjoy the peace and quiet as the little ones were entirely convinced that this was state law – a necessity. 

Hubby and I scored two hours of glorious stoney silence together; we held hands and pretended to be on an adult-getaway…

3. Egg and bacon sambo en-route

It was obviously way too early to have breaky before we left home, so I prepared some protein and carb fillers the night before.  It meant tummies were full and our body clocks were on the same page for the rest of the trip.  More about this later…

4. A road trip playlist

Our family loves music.  We all go just a little crazy when our favourite tunes get turned on.  This is family sing-along at it’s best – no Ten Green Bottles on this bus!

Dad enjoys nothing more than choosing and dedicating each song to a fellow passenger.  Each member takes pride in the song that is now officially theirs.  I felt not-so-honoured when he dedicated “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads to me, much to the delight of the rest of the car, Qu’est que c’est?

We planned our tunes in advance.  Each kid had his/her favourites so we’d take it in turns enjoying (or enduring) whosever turn it was.  Each track lasts 3-5 minutes – time just ticked away… Boom!

5. Everyone gets to drink and pee at the same time

Harsh but stick with me…. as the saying goes… a family that drinks together… pees together.  This might seem ridiculous but it’s a matter of math – if you’ve got eight people all needing to pee at different times, that’s a load more time added in getting to your destination.

6. Ruck-sack of ammunition

You’ll notice I call it ammunition and it is…  we had the potential for a load of skirmish and I needed a combat plan.

We had all the weaponry available to us.  From tissues and wet wipes to colouring-in and sticker books. We had audio tapes, small cheap toys and teeny puzzles.  I even tied pencils one to the next.. for a one-for-all pickup.  The plane fares may have been cheaper..

The timing of these hand-outs was even more important than the artillery itself.  ONE item at a time, just as things were turning foul… and not a moment sooner.

7. Keep it healthy

Something I learnt the hard way.  Sugary handouts result in spew.  It’s almost a guarantee. Cucumber and celery sticks might have you rolling your eyeballs, but they are by far and beyond your best friend on a long car trip.  Adding some sliced apple and some cheese and savoury crackers and we were set!

8. Devices are heaven-sent

If you’re the Eye Spy variety, I like you but I might have lost you by now.  We’ve tried this, but in reality, just amounted to dad spoiling the game with ‘B for bumps’ and ‘E for edges’.  You get my drift.

Devices are GOLD naturally the biggest ammunition that exists (that and the promise of a Krispy Kreme).  Throw in a few batteries, the device charges, some new downloads and you’ve got the rest of this road trip sewn up!

9. If they’re happy, don’t interrupt them

Are you crazy?!  If there’s peace, don’t bother pointing out a BIG banana (or prawn for that matter).

My husband was like ‘hey, honey!  look at that beautiful….’ which was promptly met with a quietening and a steely look of despair.. was he kidding me? BIGger things were at stake here. 

We arrived in Noosa some sixteen hours later.  We had no spew, very few arguments and an all-’round seemingly swift and easy trip.  It wasn’t paradise, but it truly wasn’t a bad experience at all, in fact, the kids were total champions and the destination? made for all the more a delight because of the great journey that brought us to it. 

Now… about what happened on the way home…

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