Updated: Mar 10
When I told people I was taking my two young kids (3yo & 4yo) on a camping roadtrip, they mostly looked at me with shock, then told me I was crazy/brave. For those who were aware of the Autism Spectrum challenges in my family, they added some superlatives to really drive home that they thought I was insane.
But everyone who spoke to me before we left will tell you: I always believed that despite the inevitable challenges this trip would bring, it would be the perfect adventure for us... and, it turned out to be THE BEST camping experience of my life.
So, there are countless reasons why you should consider taking your kids on a camping roadtrip, but here are my Top 5.
1. IT CHANGES THEIR PERSPECTIVE
If you’re traveling many hundreds of kilometers a day, the landscape will change, and with that, your children’s view. Driving over 800km on our first roadtrip day saw us go from urban Brisbane through the Darling Downs out through cotton country near Moree then through drought-stricken central New South Wales to Bourke. The second day we drove so far we hit Australia’s Red Deserts! And, along with the landscape changing out the window, the animals we saw, the people we met, the societal values at different places and the experiences our children had in these places changed. And, witnessing the many and varied aspects of Australia has expanded my children’s world and changed their perspectives forever!
2. IT EXPANDS THEIR LEARNING
It’s one thing to read a book about a hungry bear going fishing, it’s another to drive to a remote creek, help pitch a camp, learn how to set up your fishing rod and actually go fishing!
As a full-time Mum, I’m always looking for ways to transition my children’s learning from their classrooms out into nature so they can get their hands dirty, encourage their inquisitiveness and really build a love of learning. Whether it’s geology, botany, biology, geography, maths, manual arts, cooking, economics, politics, English or self-care, a roadtrip with YOU will teach them more than being in a classroom ever could.
3. IT TEACHES THEM TO GO WITH THE FLOW
There’s a saying about Best Laid Plans… whether it’s the weather, a car failure, a closed attraction or a lost dolly, plans don’t always go to plan! And, any parent knows that little kids (especially of the ASD variety) don’t always handle disappointment as well as we’d like them to.
But, when you’re road-tripping, you’ve just got to deal with mishaps, and so do your children, and when there’s nowhere for you to hide you need to Mum-Up and manage your sh!t... even when sh!t is hitting the fan. But, when you’re road-tripping, a little bit of flexibility (even if brought about by near disaster) can present wonderful and interesting opportunities to everyone and this is where kids learn that sometimes going with the flow is better than just losing their minds.
4. IT ENCOURAGES THEM TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR STUFF
Sometimes when you’re road-tripping with little kids, things can get a bit hectic (read: absolutely freaking nuts!), and it is really annoying when they behave like their arms are painted on.
If you are struggling at home with teaching your kids to take care of their stuff (aren’t we all!) go on a road-trip where they don’t have much stuff that’s theirs, and, everything has it’s own place and needs to be kept there. If they break it, there’s no shop to replace it at; if they lose it, it’s gone forever. We have found that our children appreciate their belongings more and take much better care of them now that we are back home.
5. IT GIVES YOU QUALITY TIME TOGETHER
Put yourself in a car with people for many hours on end, day after day, mostly with no internet access and I promise you will find a way to make that time useful and valuable! Camping always affords us quality family time, but road-tripping such huge distances in such a short time was like putting this on steroids.
And this genuine quality time chatting, laughing and playing with my kiddos was my most favourite thing. Not only did I get to know even more about my little loves and see their personalities shine, but they got to learn more about me and their Dad, and (a huge benefit that I know will pass in a few years) eagerly listened to ours and our family stories…
I won’t lie to you:
Road-tripping with young kids is a lot of work to plan and get organised for – but once you hit the road, it’s SO worth the effort.
This list glosses over the countless benefits we found for our little crew, and for every family the benefits will be slightly different, but what I know is that you will never regret doing a trip like this. Even now, three weeks home, we all wish we were back in our huge/cramped 4WD going to a different campsite tonight.
And, despite being all up in each other’s personal space for over three weeks, we all understand each other better and all just get along better now, and that is invaluable!
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