Monday, 4 January 2016

Road Trip Planning

Hello again!

No, I have not forgotten the Classroom Organisation Binder post.  I have had a few personal set backs, but I will get that post to you tonight or tomorrow!

Recently, I our family decided it would be more cost effective to take our car than to fly down to Melbourne for PlanetShakers conference at Easter time.  While super exciting, it's a bit of a daunting task.  Yes, it's in Easter. Yes, I'm planning it now. Between hubby being on prac and finalising assignments, and me having end of term parent teacher interviews, no one will have time to be organised and plan everything out closer to the date. So here I am. I'm scheduling this baby down to what day to pack each person's bag (yep, breaking it up as there will be precious little spare time), the day to buy the groceries, the grocery list, everything. When Easter comes and it's time to leave, the only thing that will need to be put in the car apart from ourselves, is the esky.  I'll even have a re-packing list for when we leave. I've sorted out a suitcase for everyone for the conference, and separate baggage for the camping part.

I'm even putting together a countdown to-do list. For things like getting the car checked. You just can't do it the day before. Or on the way, or not at all. If there's something that needs to be fixed or replaced, you will want at least a day to make sure you get it done. If you leave it to the last minute, you can end up behind schedule! I don't have time in my schedule for that. We have about 9-10 hours of driving most days, with the first and last being a bit shorter. If we take too long, we still have to keep going until we get to our camp. I don't want to get there at 2 am, set up camp and then leave again by 8. Yuk.
Not safe either.

I've managed to look up free campsites along the way and plan out our journey so that we make it to the hotel at the right time, booked our extra two nights in a different hotel (going all that way, we want to take a couple of days to see more than just the inside of a building!), and our return trip, which includes an extra night on the way out of Melbourne to go on the only Australian Geotour that currently exists. This will be exciting! We weren't initially going to stay the night, but when we discovered there were some night caches that require UV lights, we decided it was worth it!

Ive got the maps. Yes, plural. Because one will inadvertently at some point get water spilt on it.
The kids get their own to mark off our trip. I've got a laminated one for just in case, and the one I'll use in the glovebox. I have a full set of directions printed off. I have all the major intersection turn offs highlighted. I have the stopping points sorted out. I have the GPS (handheld, not car) coordinates for each of our campsites. Because you know. There won't be phone service where we are going. When you hear about these places you'll understand the assumption. I have spare 16hr batteries for the GPS. There will be no tired, bored, hungry, lost dilemmas on this trip.

I've figured out what to pack. I've figured out where to put it all (my car IS a modest sized family car after all!) I've done the budget. I've sorted out the kids entertainment. They are 8 and the other will be 10 by the time we go, so it's a bit easier. There will only be 1 movie, the rest will be quiet activities, obnoxiously loud and terrible singing (Well, mine will be. Everyone else sings beautifully.), and family games. They love that kind of thing. I know, weird right? We've also got some geocaching, which is a whole family hobby, and the kids have asked to make a video journal of our adventure. I think they are more excited about the road trip than the conference now!

The only thing I struggle with is the food. It just seems boring.
We don't do take out. So that's really not an option. I've scoured the tips on the net and most of it follows my train of thought with regards to snacks etc.
Here's the thing.  I haven't found many people doing a road trip this size. There's a few, but not many.
To put it in perspective for all you lovely guys in the US, here's an idea of our trip.

I know the distance doesn't seem very long... but 34 and a half hours of pure drive time, not including all the toilet, lunch, dinner, stretch the legs, I'm-tired-can-you-drive stops, seems like a big trip.
Saturday afternoon we leave, and camp at Rollingstone. It's about 4 hours away. We still have to set up camp when we get there. From Rollingstone, we go about 9-10 hours to Muckadilla. Yep, it sounds like a crazy place in the middle of nowhere to me too... and that's precisely what it is. Tiny.  It doesn't even have it's own website. It's listed as a 'fuel stop' on many travel websites. Apparently, it has a Pub (of course, it couldn't be called a town without a pub!), a grain store, and a rifle club that isn't often open. I don't do pubs. No re-stocking on groceries there. It also, interestingly enough, has a population of 0.

Not even joking. Look it up on if you don't believe me.

I have planned a few rest/eat/driver swap and leg stretch points along the way. Strategically located within the vicinity of a low difficulty level geocache.

What can I say. The kids love it. We see some great places we never would have found otherwise, even in our local area. It gets us out of the house, the kids away from their devices, and they not only get to experience the gorgeous world we live in, but they also learn a really important skill- map reading and using coordinates.  Along with this we teach them survival skills, knotting, camp craft and bush craft.  With all the hiking and off the beaten path places we go, I'm much more comfortable knowing that they will be able to look after themselves and know how to find help in case they get lost or someone gets injured. We did lose a kid for about half an hour while we were hiking up Walsh's Pyramid last year. It was scary.The walkie talkies we got for Christmas do also ease my mind :) 

Monday morning we will leave Muckadilla, and head 9-10 hours further south to arrive at Mirrool.
Mirrool at least has it's own Wikipedia article. And a regional shire/council listing. There's that. Mirrool also has a pub. Fancy that. A population of 234 people, it's main even for the year is a $1000 competition to see who can kick a football over a silo. We won't be there for that. No restocking food supplies here either.  Also, more strategic geocaching rest stops. There's a few around some opal and gold mines. The kids will love getting to see those. The gold mine looks like a great learning experience- it only closed in 2002 and is a big open pit mine. The opal mine at Lightning Ridge has a bunch of tourist self-drive tours. They don't tell you where to go with signs. That's too common. Or too modern. Either one. Instead of signs you follow car doors. The green drive has green doors. The yellow drive has yellow doors. Yup. Car doors. Can't wait to get pictures of all this!

No wonder people think Aussie's are weird, hillbilly Steve Irwin types.
We're not. I promise.
Or at least most of us aren't.
There are some, but thankfully they tend to gravitate to the middle of nowhere. Right where we'll be passing through for days at a time.

Tuesday morning we will be leaving before daybreak in order to get into Melbourne in time to have lunch and book into the hotel, where we will reconnect with all the people coming by plane from our Church.  A short nap and an early dinner later, and the conference will start. I'm sure by then I'll be grateful to re-join civilisation!

I'm looking forward to do the geotour at Lake Eildon on the way back (the day we leave Melbourne).  We'll be camping at Jerusalem Creek that night. There are about 10 free camping sites around the lake, but considering the paid campsite that only opens at Easter is already fully booked, I decided to book a paid one and not risk missing out on somewhere to sleep. Sleeping in the car is no fun. We've done it more than I care to remember.

The geotour is a circuit of 20 geocaches around the lake and surrounding area, a combination of puzzle, earth, tradition and multicaches. the first 19 give you the clues to find the 20th. One of them is Bonnie Doon(sp?), made famous by the movie The Castle. If you're not Aussie and don't know it... I don't hold it against you. No one knows many Aussie movies. Even Aussies. The place is gorgeous though. There is also the UV light night cache too... we love night caches. Always so much more exciting at night! There is literally days worth of caches to do at Lake Eildon outside of the geotour, such as that UV one. The geotour is going to take about 5 hours on it's own... we'll see how many we can fit into that one day!

Anyone not familiar with geocaching can google it. It's great fun.

So... food.  It's gotta last 3-4 days more or less (Saturday afternoon- Tuesday morning, Monday- Thursday/Friday)) in an esky in the boot of my car. We may not probably wont be able to restock ice straight away often enough. There is a lot of nothingness along our drive.  At the time of year we will be driving through, it will be around 32C or 90f (this is leading into winter!), so the food in there had want to keep a little while without fridge-like cooling.  My plan is to take our snack out of the esky when we are having our meal (so, take afternoon snack out at lunch time) and keep in the car, that way we don't have to have any extra esky-opening and keep it cold longer.

Also, as we are camping and driving the equivalent of 7 days (an extra night on the way home), we are not taking any cooking equipment outside of a hexamine stove and my trusty billy. For my coffee the 2 minute noodles.

At the moment, my menu looks like this.

  •  Saturday- Take from home
  •  Sunday-   Cup of instant noodles
  •  Monday-  Heated tin of spaghetti Bolognaise/ Meatballs type meal.

  • Cereal and Milk

  • Sunday- Egg and Mayo Sandwiches (prepared at home)
  • Monday- Hand and Salad Sandwiches (vacuum sealed ham, pre-cut tomato, packaged salad leaves, pre-buttered bread)
  • Tuesday- Eat in City.

  • Apples
  • Carrot and Capsicum Sticks
  • Boiled Eggs (Sunday ONLY)
  • Energy/Protein bars (homemade)
  • Muesli Bars
  • 1 small pack lollies (husband insists)
Before you ask about the milk- I'll be buying a 1 litre bottle that should get us through the first two days, and then one of those long-life shelf boxes to survive the remaining one, as well as a mini sized one to get us through if the fresh milk doesn't last.

And more or less the same for the return trip, with an extra day's worth to cover the extra stop on the way back.

 I know. It sounds like boring, basic food options for such a wonderful adventure.

So help me! Tell me what you would pack for your family in this situation!

I am giving away a copy of my Back To School Routines that I personally use in my Classroom Organisation Binder (that I will be revealing in detail tomorrow!) to the best answer!

Looking forward to reading your comments below!


  1. Hot Dogs! If you put them in a thermos of boiling water when you leave, they will already be cooked when you arrive!

  2. What a great idea. I would never have thought of that!


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