So you’ve decided to travel Australia with your kids. Next comes the question “Are the kids old enough?” or perhaps “Are they too old?”.
We see a LOT of families travelling with pre-school aged children. Making the most of those years before they begin school totally makes sense. There are also other advantages, such as cheaper entry into attractions and cheaper accommodation. They also happen to be a lot smaller so less clothes and they are easier to cart around.
However, let’s turn our focus to travelling with school age
“But what about school?”
I hear you ask. It’s probably the first question that comes to mind for most. Rightly
so. School is all about learning, and children need to learn. Can they learn outside
a school environment? Darn right, they can!
to read more about Options for Schooling on the Road…and read on for why you
should travel when your kids are of school age.
Consider this, it’s been a long day driving, you arrive at your next destination, everyone piles out of the car, and you have camp to set up. There are jobs that children of all ages can help with, but children of school age are particularly useful. They can hammer a peg (without supervision, and in the right spot!), wind down stabilizer legs, unpack, set up the outdoor area, lay down a mat, attach the drainage hose…you get the gist. They are useful and learn fast.
A trip to the loo need not involve the whole family
When they need a trip to the loo, no problem… off they go with a sibling…no need for Mum or Dad to accompany them. Sending a three year old off and hearing “Muuummmmm, can you please wipe my…” from one end of the park to the other just isn’t the best look. When there is no facility close by, they can hold on for a reasonable amount of time. Yes, it gets easier as they get older.
The same goes for a trip to the playground…
…jumping pillow, lap of the park on a bike…school age children, with appropriate restrictions, can have some independence, that in turn makes life easier for Mum and Dad. You can expect them to be able to entertain themselves. They can play independently, with minimal input, and without monitoring in case they wander off. No more tag teaming with your other half to chase a toddler around the park. That gets very tiring!
…or lack thereof! Yes, they can put on their own seat belt…need I say more.
Car trips are a breeze
It is tough for anyone to sit in the car for hour after hour, let alone a pre-school child. They need to move! Don’t get me wrong, so do school aged children, but they are more capable of understanding the need to be patient during car trips, and managing their own needs. There are a stack of car games that school aged children and their parents can BOTH enjoy (we love eye spy, but it is nice to move on to something new!). We find long drives are a great time for writing tasks, or written school work. Mum and Dad are close at hand if any help is needed, and it frees up time for the fun stuff when you arrive.
They contribute to everyday tasks
School aged children can wash the dishes, make their beds, take a shower, hang out the washing, keep their clothes tidy, sweep and mop, bake, cook meals, wash the car, set up a tent…the list goes on. In fact, as you travel, they will become better and better at everyday tasks, and this list will grow. The reality of travel is that everyone needs to chip in, and even the most stubborn children will develop life skills…even if it takes a little longer, hang in there!
Hikes and exploring
School aged children are fit and have a sense of adventure. We have tackled a number of Category 5 climbs with our boys and had a ball together as a family. When it comes to hiking and exploring, age does matter.
Learning as you go
We come back to education here. School aged children will learn SO much about their own country as you travel. It really is phenomenal. Think of it as an excursion every day. Any teacher will tell you that the most meaningful learning happens through experience and hands on activity. Your children are immersed in learning opportunities every day. But sshhhh….don’t tell them it’s learning. Let them think you are a superstar for taking them out of school!
Ultimately, the timing of travel has to work for everyone in the family. No matter the age of your children, it is not too late! Travelling with older children, they will remember the trip, you will grow closer as a family, and you will appreciate the independence that comes with age, both the independence they have, and the independence they will gain. Sure, it comes with its own challenges, but there are always challenges. Our opinion…go for it!
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