Like most households, my family's busy weeks are filled with work, school and the constant juggle of kids' extra-cirricular activities. So when an opportunity comes along to get out of the city for the weekend and have some fun times as a family, there is only one question - when do we leave?
But, as parents everywhere know, road tripping with kids is not always hassle free so the fact my tribe's recent trip from Sydney to the NSW central coast was in a new Mazda CX-9 was super exciting as the family sized SUV has everything covered.
Kids need so. much. stuff.
Never is that more true than when you're away from home for few days and need to be prepared for all possible weather conditions. Thankfully for me, as my hands were full juggling bags, towels, snacks and beach toys, I was able to open the boot with the push of a button thanks to the CX-9's power tailgate.
(Note: the brilliance of the boot will be revisited in point 4.)
Along with all their stuff, kids bring plenty of something else on every family road trip too - noise!
In my case, the noise was initially from the pure excitement of two boys given Friday off school in order to head off on a long weekend getaway. Who could blame! Eventually, of course, that noise turned cries of "are we there yet".
Thankfully CX-9's safety features, including blind spot monitoring, keep mum or dad alert on the road, even when the kids are noisy in the back.
3. Sibling squabbles
Even the most loving brothers and sisters can end up having an argument or two as a family road trip goes on, but there's one sure way to stop the squabbles - separate them.
With seven seats and three rows, even families with more three or four kids will find enough room for every one to have a little personal space.
And in case you are worried about whether the kids up the back are strapped in safely - don't despair. Indicator lights on the dashboard will tell who has their seatbelt on and who you need to tell to buckle up.
As a mum-of-two active boys, I long ago accepted the fact that any car I own for the next 15 years or so has to have enough room in the boot for boogie boards, scooters, skateboards, soccer balls and an array of other sporting paraphernalia, and the Mazda CX-9 was up to the challenge.
Everything, even the fishing rods, fitted in with room to spare - winning!
5. Comfort and relaxation
Despite the unseasonably hot Spring weather we enjoyed on our trip to the Central Coast, we did manage to drag our boys away from the beach for an afternoon and made our way to Treetops NetWorld where we played, jumped and, of course, rumbled, in the huge bouncing playground up in the branches.
It's safe to say all four family members, big and small, were tired and hot when it came time to leave. It's then that the ventilated seats were mum and dad's saviours and the double USB charger in the second row ensured all iPads remain charged and children happy for the drive back to our accommodation.
That CX-9's comfort was also appreciated when the weekend was over and we headed back down the freeway towards home - the hustle and bustle of city life a little more bearable after a stress free family road trip.
* The writer was test driving a 2019 Mazda CX-9 to review for the trip.