According to a survey carried out recently by Ford Australia, most Aussie families – 77 per cent in fact – said they would be holidaying at home this year, rather than testing the Aussie dollar overseas.
And we all know what that means…. Road Trip! If you’re road-tripping with teens this year, here’s some advice from someone who knows all about that: me. Here are my Top 8 tips for surviving a road trip with teens.
1. Space. First of all (and I know this is OBVIOUS) but the main difference between travelling with teens as opposed to say, toddlers, is that they are BIG. So you’re going to need a bigger car. On a recent road trip to Coffs Harbour, we took the new Ford Everest for a spin, which did the job nicely.
Although there were only four of us, choosing a 7-seater was a good decision, because it gave us enough room for the masses of luggage the girls feel necessary to bring, and plenty of leg-room for an 18-year old boy. The back door is operated either by the push of a button on the bottom of the door, or by remote control with the key, making it all the more easier when your hands are full of luggage.
2. Sound System. One of the perks of a road trip with teens is that you don’t need to listen to the Wiggles (which is worth celebrating). In fact, as the teens will probably each have their own state-of-the-art headphones, you don’t have to listen to anything.
However, it’s nice to share the experience, and music-loving teens will quite often want to share their latest ‘finds’ with each other so it’s great to have a sound-system that will sync to a number of devices. The Everest allows us to sync all four iPhones, so we can choose who’s Playlist to listen to and take turns.
3. Entertainment. It seems when kids turn 13, there’s less of a need to watch movies or play games en-route, so laptops and iPads become less of a necessity, but it’s still not a bad idea to keep them handy, especially when driving for over five hours.
If you’ve got two siblings wanting to watch the same movie/TV series/YouTube Channel, it’s a good idea to invest in a headphone splitter. This little device plugs into your device of choice, with multiple outlets to plug headphones into.
4. Power. All those devices chew up battery power, especially when you’re using the same device to listen to music, watch YouTube clips, take photos and videos and share them with your mates on Snapchat, simultaneously. First of all, make sure everyone has fully charged devices before you set off, and take along a couple of mobile chargers.
One of the great things about the Everest is that it has multiple USB charging ports – front and back. Not quite enough for all of our devices, but enough to take turns and maintain enough charge for the entire 7-hour road trip to Coffs.
5. Selfie Stops. Don’t beat them, join them and have some fun. Be sure to find some time for the kitsch (Big Banana) and the sublime (Waterfall Way) along the way so that you make the most of your time on the road together.
6. Directions. Make sure you set your destination on the GPS (or one of the available devices) before the console gets taken over by playlists. It’s not a bad idea to assign the task of navigation to one of your passengers, just make sure you choose someone who’s likely to pay attention and not get side-tracked by YouTube. The GPS in the Everest operates in the background while the music’s playing, chiming in every now and then if there’s a change of direction ahead.
7. Food stops. There really isn’t a great choice of food stops on the highway – any highway. Although Maccas boasts healthy options these days, the grilled chicken still tastes like sausage so in my opinion, it’s best avoided even in emergencies. If you can, make time to get off the highway and find a café – or better still, a market – in one of the sleepy little country towns along the way. Failing that, Oliver’s serve up tasty pitta pockets, soup, sushi and delicious cups of fresh green beans.
8. Where to Stay. Whether it’s along the way or at your destination, the best options for accommodation with a family of teens is either a YHA youth hostel or a holiday park. We stayed in at Emerald Beach Holiday Park, just north of Coffs Harbour, a great choice for teens.
Our two-bedroom cabin sleeps the four of us comfortably, and it’s a 30-second walk to a beautiful white sandy surf beach. The Solitary Islands Coastal Walk runs north and south of the beach, and on the southern headland you’ll be hard-pressed not to trip over all the kangaroos and wallabies sunning themselves on the grassy verge.
The park has free wifi, free movies each night, a rather awesome waterpark and giant bouncy pillow for younger kids, and for the older kids, a great little café serving up smoothies and freshly brewed caramel mocha cappuccinos.
* Research commissioned by Ford Australia. 77% of Aussie families are opting for holidays in Australia than overseas in 2016 and are willing to travel up to 1,000km for a family holiday. 47% of parents report that entertainment options as the biggest change to family road trips since they were kids, with 27% reporting that the comfort of traveling (air conditioning, seats, etc.) as the biggest change. 63% of parents say that tablets are the best way to keep kids entertained (69% of parents with kids who are 6-12 years old).