Travelling with kids in Summer
Six top tips for keeping little minds growing and happy
Our adventure around Australia leaped into action with an offer of an eight month contract for Brett. With this offer we negotiated and turned the opportunity into our way to kickstart our travels… the kicker (there always is one) we would be starting with the first two months in Darwin… in summer. The remaining would also be spent in the Northern Territory. The good part of this (there is always one of these too) is that we won’t be bothered by any crowds for at least five months.
So whilst Brett is off at work everyday making our dreams a reality, my job is to look after the kids and help them get the most out of this amazing experience, keep them entertained and comfortable.
It is still early days (we are only 3 weeks in) but here are a few quick tips and lessons I have already learnt about staying comfortable and keeping those little minds growing!
- Investigate house sitting options: There are heaps of websites that house owners can use to advertise a sitting job. These sites are usually free for owners to advertise but require a membership fee for those looking to housesit. The opportunity to get into a house and out of the cramped quarters of a travelling house is great… lounges to sit on, doors that open and close seamlessly, drains that carry water away for you, heating, cooling, free washing machines, the list goes on. These gigs often require care for pets, gardens or pools but this is a small price to pay. Here are a few of the sites that interested me.
- Libraries and playgroups: as a school kid I was turned well away from libraries by a particularly grouchy, party-pooping librarian who thought she could force us to enjoy her library and the books within it. Turns out, libraries aren’t that bad, well the ones in the top end aren’t any way. I have been stunned by how awesome and fun libraries can be! City of Darwin run many programs aimed at increasing involvement and enjoyment in their libraries, my favourite to date is called Story Time. Story Time is for those not yet at school. Parents come along with their little ones and are basically treated to an amazing “Play School” show. Books are read dramatically, songs are sung, dances danced and everyone has a ball. One of the hardest things I find whilst we are travelling is simply meeting the children’s social needs. At Story Time, not only does your child get all the benefits of the literature and a bit of physical activity but afterwards there are other children who stay back and they can get a social fix too. There are also your local playgroups that are great to check out and help with your child's educational and social needs.
- Wet Sheets: Walking two kilometres in the sun in a 40˙C heat really loosens your concerns of image. Pushing Layla out in front and having Blake in a baby carrier on my chest combating the heat for me and them is important! It does not look great but it is super effective! I soak a single fitted sheet and flat sheet in water, put the fitted sheet over and or on Layla in the pram and wrap the flat sheet around my shoulders and back around to my front and completely over Blake. Yep… they are dripping wet and will take your breathe away at the start but relish that crisp feeling… because it will not last for long! When you get to your destination you may need to re-soak your sheets for the journey home (especially if you are in a very dry heat), so keep your eye out for taps.
- Water play: when it is intolerably hot and uncomfortable but the pool is too far away or the costs are starting to add up… don’t give up on the water. Fill a bowl, some cups, buckets or a baby bath with some water the kids can sit in it, splash around with it or practise some pouring…even if it is over their own heads.
- Ask for a local discount/pass: Many tourist attractions offer discounts or special deals for “locals”. The definition of what local is varies, for example many places in the Northern Territory will consider you a local if you are from anywhere in the state so. Offers can be quite good like Alice Springs’ Desert Park and Darwin’s Crocosaurus Cove who offer annual passes for the cost of an entry, so it is well worth asking.
- Lastly is a positive ‘can-do’ mindset: Yep there are days that will just be horrible and inescapable, whether it is behaviour, weather, both or something else… you won’t last a second if you believe it is too hard! Know that you can do it, and the kids can too and just find a way to get through. As with everything, dreams don’t come for free… you have to work for them and work hard. Get creative, stay positive and believe, nothing lasts forever.
Hopefully, there are some ideas here you had not thought of that will be able to bring you much joy and relief and keep your travelling family engaged, happy and comfortable.
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