We like to adventure so when we were given the opportunity to take a Thrifty Rental for a spin we thought hell yeah! Now don’t get me wrong… I know it’s not every one’s cup of tea the whole road tripping with two kids thing but we bloody love it. I’ve made some super short and sweet videos explaining how Thrifty’s Relo Club works but I’ll give you a quick run down here as well… Basically you head to the Thrifty website www.thrifty.co.nz/relo,
Find a route that suits you then grab a rental that you get for 48 hours and you only have to pay for petrol. All the car’s involved in the Relo Club just need to be taken to their new location so it’s a win-win all around- They get the car where it needs to go and you get a cheap holiday! So get onto the website and start planning!
The route we decided to go with was Christchurch to Picton which we had only ever done on the way to catch a ferry so never actually stopped to see the sights, we were excited to be doing the drive as a holiday instead of rushing to get on a boat! The vehicle we got from Thrifty was perfect for us as a family as it had so much boot space and Isofix which if you’re a parent you know is a huge deal haha. Oh and Jared can’t function without Bluetooth so that was a bonus too.
If you haven’t done the old family roadie then you need too, like seriously we have such a beautiful country and so many New Zealanders don’t take the time to explore it. We are all so quick to jump on an aeroplane and head straight to our destination but I’m all for taking the long route and just exploring, I’m a cruiser, I’m the one all like “We have so much time, let’s just stop here or do this” but Jared’s the opposite so we balance each other out, he makes sure we are on time and eat lunch when we are supposed to but I make sure we still get plenty of adventure time in! We do this road trip thing a lot and have done since Rocky was a few weeks old so we are what I would consider pros when it comes to long car rides with children, this is good for you because I’m going to share my top tips for road tripping with the whanau.
Top tips for surviving a road trip with kids:
· Snacks, this is the most important thing I think in any travel not just road trips but ANY travel involving kids. If you have the right snacks prepared you will all be ok. If you fail to prepare you prepare to fail ha- I love busting that old army quote out lol. No but seriously have all the snacks on hand, we pack those chilly bags you get from the supermarket and have them within reach at all times, Rocky is the perfect age where we get him involved with picking and packing the snack bag he loves knowing what’s in there and then in turn demanding specific items from his throne aka car seat. Think of things that take ages to eat and balance treats out with thing’s like fruit- We love Tiny Teddies, stone fruit, chips, Le Snacks, pouch yogurts, grapes, Healtheries chicken stick things, those bags of jelly dino things (Nice and Natural maybe?), M&ms, sandwiches, buns and cherrios (uncooked). If your kid’s are old enough you could do up lunch boxes they can help themselves to but in our case we just have to keep dishing the food out. We also we take water bottles but juice boxes are a massive hit and keep them occupied for a while. Another thing we do is if you’re planning a day trip just re pack into a smaller chilly bag so you’re never caught out.
· Toy’s, all the toys! Make sure you really think about what toys you are packing if you miss a favourite it could be carmagedon (see what I did there lol). So Rocky is obsessed with Cars the movie so we had Mack and Lightning McQueen on standby the whole time! He was pretty easy because he just played and him being rear facing meant he could drive Mac up on the back of the seat and never lost him to the floor, we also had some toys that we kept away so when they really got bored we pulled out these “new” toys the biggest hit was a pretend cell phone each that made noises when you pushed the buttons. Here’s a mum hack for you though, Ruby has a bunny she’s addicted to and she kept freak’n dropping the thing which meant I was constantly leaning over and picking up which A - Was a nightmare because I can’t bend the way I had to with my seatbelt on and B – Was really really annoying. So I made Jared stop at the next baby shop and we got a dummy clip which I attached to her car seat strap and Henrietta the bunny, so when she dropped her she could still reach and pull her up herself when she wanted her again, yep #genius, I am basically a super mum ha-ha.
· Stops, plan your stops wisely, trust me you do not want to be caught out needing petrol as soon as they have gone to sleep because I guarantee they will wake up as soon as you pull in the gas station! The same goes with toilet, food and coffee stops. For us parents if the kids are asleep you keep driving and you stop under no circumstances! OK!? Good. Also if they are grizzling keep driving only stop when it sounds like they are murdering each other and then if you are under an hour to your destination only stop to give snacks new toys etc. because if you get them out you will never and I repeat never get them back into their seats without a fight, but if there is still a way to go stop for at least 5 minutes and get as much exercise and activities in as possible before hitting the road again. I would also recommend an ice-cream, it will do wonders.
· Music, play music and play it loud. This will encourage sleep and also drown out any annoying noises they are making, it so so important if you slow down when driving you have music playing it tricks them into thinking they are still moving and I swear it works.
· Sleeps, time leaving so that their nap will be after an hour or two in the car this will maximise the first stretch of travel. Do not leave right on naptime, you are wasting precious quiet happy child time.
Top spots for stopping on the way from CHCH to Picton:
· Hanmer Springs, I 100% recommend doing a night here, you get the Relo car for 48 hours so make the most of it and get a night away. Hanmer is so good we have been there many times and always have the best time! There is so much to do and it’s amazing all year around not just in summer, one of the most amazing things is sitting in the hot pools with snow falling around you. The food is good and everything is family friendly plus there are activities galore! Rocky is obsessed with those four wheel family bikes you can see in our video but there is also mini golf, bike hire, hot pools, walking tacks, quad biking, jet boating and an animal park.
· Nelson (Tahuna Beach) this is the best beach and it always has the coolest things on for kids. The playground is amazing and it’s FREE wohoo, the beach is patrolled and you can hire paddle boards and get surf lessons if you’re super adventurous. When we stopped in recently they had bouncy castles and other activities going for the Tamariki.
· Take the coastal route from Havelock to Picton, we always do this and it’s so worth it. You take a turn off at Havelock, which in itself is a cool little town and has the best mussels in NZ according to the only mussel lover in our family, Jared. It’s well sign posted and there are so many gorgeous wee bay’s with amazing views.
· Maruia Falls, A great wee walk not far off the main road and it’s buggy friendly so a perfect stop just to stretch the legs and get some fresh air.
· Murchison, the perfect place to stop for lunch or coffee. We took a picnic to save money and stopped at a cool playground that had picnic tables and coffee nearby, it is super busy though as it’s got such great food stops and parks plus there’s not a whole lot on the inland route.
Tip: Take insect repellent, we got eaten alive at every stop and it was very annoying especially if it was just a quick toilet stop ha.
Top tips to make your holiday the cheapest possible:
· Hire a relocation vehicle, Thrifty’s Relo Club is such a great way to cut down some cost’s especially if you are from out of town and want to do some exploring for a fraction of the rental car price.
· Take your own food, we do this a lot on road trips. Make your own picnic, take your tomato sauce and your kai and find a cool place to stop road side! Plus, you don’t have to pay for lunch for your kids at an overpriced café when they will barely even touch it ha. A family fave for us is taking lettuce and tomatoes from our garden then picking up some buns and a cooked chicken then setting up at a cool playground.
· Do your research, this so important if you’re on a budget. Google will be your best friend- Find some free activities, you don’t need to spend a fortune to entertain the family and have fun, talk to the locals and find out where the hidden gems are- Think swimming bays, playgrounds, walking tracks head of the beaten track!
· Last minute accommodation, house swap (Bach) or camping. Planning ahead is good but if you don’t have time on your side then there are some great websites where you can take advantage of last minute booking cancelations. If you’re a planner then look into camping, there are some great Doc campsites scattered throughout our country and they are super cheap! Thrifty also have a camping add on where they can provide you with camping gear. For those that don’t have a mate with a Bach or crib, why not ask a friend or family member in another town or city to house swap? It’s win-win. You both get to holiday in a new city and you avoid forking out hundreds of dollars in accommodation costs. There are also websites and agencies that specialize in house swapping – so you don’t even have to know someone to make this option work for you.
· Grab yourself a deal, take an advantage of booking websites and save yourself some money. We use Bookme heaps and always grab a bargain. It’s worth Googling your chosen activity and seeing what deals are out there! Also utilise websites that specialise in food and beverage deals, who doesn’t like a cheap meal yo.
We had the best time and want to say a huge thank you to Thrifty for getting us out exploring some more of our amazing backyard on this South Island adventure.