The Australian holidaying culture is shifting back to domestic travel.
The Australian holidaying culture is shifting back to domestic travel. g-stockstudio

Why more families are putting the kids in the car and heading off

EYE spy with my little eye, something beginning with R.

Need a clue? It involves a family, a car and questions such as "are we there yet?” and "can I go to the toilet?”. And possible fighting in the back seat depending on how well your children get along.

The family road trip (which is the answer, if you haven't already guessed it) has re-emerged as a popular holiday and research has shown playing eye spy and listening to the radio are still two of the top forms of entertainment on Aussie family road trips.

With the September school holidays just around the corner, a survey from JAX Tyres has shown 74% of Aussies love going on a road trip with their family and 77% see it as a good opportunity to bond.

And only 15% of people thought arguments were among the top annoyances on a family road trip.

Research from a national tourism body shows the Aussie holidaying culture is shifting back to domestic travel and family road trips.

About a decade ago, a strong Australian dollar and competitive airline prices caused a surge in international travel.

Travelling to Bali and Thailand became just as cheap as, if not cheaper than, travelling interstate. But now the tide is changing back to domestic holidays.

Tourism Research Australia figures show more Australians are opting for a domestic holiday rather than heading overseas and they are also choosing shorter, more frequent trips rather than a holidays lasting several weeks.

The tourism figures also show 80% of domestic travel in Australia is on the road.

"The road trip is alive and well,” Tourism Research Australia assistant general manager Janice Wykes said.

"Family road trips are as popular as they used to be because fuel prices are lower than they were a couple of years ago.”

Holidays used to be about breaks. Now, there is more of a focus on outdoor experiences and creating lasting memories.

"Rather than going to something, people want an authentic experience and I think that's the way of the future,” Ms Wykes said.

Usually the top picks are outdoor activities, such as beaches or bushwalking. Not having access to technology while on a family road trip does not affect families as much as one might think.

The JAX Tyres survey found 80% of people did not find it annoying when they lost a mobile phone signal.

In fact, the top annoyances on a road trip were car breakdowns, getting a flat tyre and running out of fuel.

Ms Wykes said the recent revival of the family road trip could come down to cheaper fuel prices and a weaker Australian dollar. And she said the surge in domestic travel was unlikely to calm down any time soon.

To put it in perspective, domestic tourism in Australia actually decreased 0.3% every year, on average, between 2004-05 and 2014-15. This figure was based on the number of overnight domestic visitors.

Now, Tourism Research Australia expects domestic holiday travel to increase about 3.2% a year. And considering domestic tourism makes up about 70% of the total tourism industry, Ms Wykes said this annual growth was "nothing to sneeze at”.

If domestic tourism is going to keep spiking, there are fears Australia's top destinations, such as the Whitsundays and Byron Bay, will become more and more overcrowded and therefore less appealing.

Ms Wykes said it was hard to say whether this could happen, but Tourism Research was watching the potential problem.

Part of the tourism organisation's goal is to also push more international travellers to other regional areas in Australia.

Ms Wykes said tourism often did not get the recognition it deserved.

"People don't understand the value of it as much so therefore it just gets pushed aside.

"But I think that from an economic perspective it's the new mining boom to some extent.

"But we have to actually nurture it - we can't just expect it to happen ... we have to make sure we've put in place the policies and programs that will allow it to continue to grow.”

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