Hitting the road with kids is hardly ever smooth sailing. You have to pack everything but the kitchen sink and then there's that settling in period as you all adjust to spending a lot of time in very close quarters with each other.
With myriad things to think about, it's all too easy to let our environmental routines slip, or become non-existent as we look for easy options to save time while holidaying. From using disposable plates, cups and utensils, to throwing things in the bin that we'd normally recycle at home, it's worth being aware that our kids are always watching and taking note.
If we all discard our environmentally-friendly behaviours while away from home, that adds up to a whole lot of waste going to landfill, or worse, into our natural environments.
There are ways we can continue to be mindful about waste, even when we're under the pump to get to the next destination with a carload of overtired kids. Here's how.
1. Make a dedicated packing list
Many people go on the same kind of holiday every year, to the same destination, so it's worth making a printable packing list you can use every time.
Why is this important? So you don't forget Timothy's bucket and spade and Luella's pool inflatable and end up at the discount store buying up big on plastics you already have at home, just to use one example.
Being disorganised about holiday packing inevitably results in purchases of cheaply-made things that are all-too easily broken or discarded after only a few uses. Buy once, buy well, and remember to pack it!
2. Refuse disposable, embrace reusable
It might seem like washing up is too much hassle after a camp dinner, but what are we modelling to our kids when we throw away plates and cups after only one use? A bag of reusable plates, bowls, cups and utensils won't take that much more room in the car than the disposable ones.
Take an extra container of water if you don't have camp facilities and make up a small washing up kit with a bowl, detergent, tea towel, sponge and scourer. Take turns washing and drying up. If you're feeling lazy, make food that can be eaten in the hands, like wraps and rolls.
Also, make sure everyone brings their reusable water bottles to avoid buying bottled water.
3. Find ways you can recycle, or take your rubbish home with you
Many motels and hotels will have recycling facilities and if they don't, resolve to take your recyclables with you until you can reach a recycling bin.
We recycle our soft plastics with Redcycle, which has bins at many Coles and Woolworths stores. There's no reason you can't make a small bag of soft plastics while on the road - they squash down small.
4. Don't forget your reusable bags
I keep a couple folded up small in my bag so I'm never without them. You might be doing lots of short trips to the supermarket so don't let all your efforts during the year be negated by forgetting your reusable bags. Keep refusing those plastic bags by being organised and having your own shopping bags with you. They can double as beach bags too.
5. Do as you would at home
If you're staying in a hotel or motel, there's no need to get fresh towels every day. Don't leave the tv, airconditioning or lights on when you leave the room, and keep showers short so as not to waste water and electricity.