20 Tips & Trips To Ensure A Fantastic Family Holiday
This blog originally appeared on Flight Centre Australia.
Some of your best childhood memories are those experienced on family Holidays. Long summer holidays spent at the beach swimming and building sandcastles. Family hikes through lush rainforests in search of butterflies and fairies.
Holidays give you a break from the humdrum – the running around, getting the kids to school on time, rushing here and there. With this in mind, Flight Centre has put together some helpful tips and suggested holiday destinations for your next family holiday.
HOME-GROWN BEACH HOLIDAYS
Nothing screams relaxing holiday like a tropical island. Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays is a great place to visit and there are lots of kids-stay-free (and eat-free) accommodation offers. Go-karts, minigolf, snorkelling, kayaking, tennis, stand-up paddle boarding, quad bikes, wakeboarding, tube riding and art classes are just some of the fun activities on offer.
This tropical town in Far North Queensland has morphed into a fun-filled family destination. The Great Barrier Reef is right at your doorstep with world-class diving and snorkelling. Take the Skyrail Cableway to Kuranda, skimming across the treetops of a rainforest, then slowly wind your way back down the mountain on the historic train. The kids will have hours of fun on the Cairns Esplanade with its sparkling man-made lagoon.
The Gold Coast, with 52 kilometres of sandy beaches and an average of 245 to 300 days of sunshine a year, is a go-to destination for sun-seekers. Whether you’re here on a beach holiday with your toddler or planning to hit the theme parks with your tweens, there is something for every family.
CITY ESCAPES FOR THE FAMILY
Buy a Family Fare deal that gets your family on ferries, trains and buses. There’s plenty of fun to be had at Taronga Zoo, so catch the ferry there from Circular Quay. Hop on the free city shuttle bus (Bus 555 – Central station to Circular Quay via George Street) and take in the city buildings. Head to the Art Gallery of NSW on a Sunday for free performances for kids.
Your kids will love exploring the many cute laneways in Melbourne’s CBD. Bring a camera and let them take snaps of the vibrant wall art. Hop on a tram and take a fun ride out to St Kilda, visit Luna Park or comb the beach for shells. Say hello to a Gentoo penguin and watch the daily shark feeding at the Melbourne Aquarium.
There’s lots of outdoor fun to be had in Adelaide, with plenty of parks and playgrounds to explore. Head to Bonython Park, near the Entertainment Centre, to immerse yourself in the newly renovated play space with its double flying fox, hammocks, spinning chairs and slides galore. There’s also a fun sandbox, climbing spider and swings for the little ones and special-needs kids. Spend time with Australia’s only giant pandas, Wang Wang and Funi, at the Adelaide Zoo.
WHY THE SOUTH PACIFIC IS SO POPULAR WITH FAMILIES
Fancy a little paradise in the Pacific? Then look no further than Fiji. With a plethora of family-friendly resorts to choose from, you can find just the right one for you. The locals are warm and friendly and exceptionally good with kids, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of the resort babysitters and kids clubs.
SOUTH PACIFIC CRUISE
Adults and kids alike love cruises; they are the ultimate stress-free family holiday. The hardest thing you will have to do is unpack. All your meals are prepared for you. The entertainment is non-stop and there are kids clubs to suit all ages. But be warned: Once you introduce your kids to the fun clubhouse on board, they will ditch you like a hot potato.
Your family will love the fun-packed adventures on the many islands that make up the stunning archipelago of Vanuatu. At the Iarofa Cultural Village your kids will learn about hunting for food, weaving and catching fish with a spider’s web. There are beautiful waterfalls to splash in, volcanoes to explore and plenty of tropical fish to spy when snorkelling.
CULTURAL TRIPS THROUGH ASIA
Phuket in Thailand is a real family-friendly destination, with numerous resorts featuring their very own waterparks and slides. There’s a huge range of water-sports options too. Book into one of the new breed of kid-friendly hotels that have specialised themed children’s suites such as ‘under the sea’ and ‘pirate ship’.
If you’re looking for a little high-octane family fun, you can’t go wrong with Hong Kong. This Asian city has a wonderful blend of old Chinese buildings and super-flash skyscrapers that will dazzle the kids. The street markets are sure to be a hit with weird and wonderful things to see and buy. Enjoy a day at Ocean Park, an oceanarium and fun park with exhilarating rides. Hong Kong also plays host to Disneyland and a treasure trove of fun rides and interactive shows.
Looking for some holiday inspiration? Book your family on a Tour of Asia and experience a life on the road through fresh eyes. There are a number of tour operators that specialise in the family-holiday experience. They have the lowdown and a wealth of experience to make your family trip to Asia special.
A USA TRIP OF A LIFETIME
Head to Hawaii for an adventurous Indiana Jones-style holiday with the kids. There are dramatic volcanoes to scale and countless freshwater pools and waterfalls to play in. You can swim with wild dolphins in blue waters, take a pony trek with Hawaii’s horse whisperer or go in search of seahorses in a glass-bottom boat – the options are endless.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Las Vegas is an adults-only playground. In truth, there is an abundance of fun on hand for kids. Situated in the Nevada desert, this glitzy oasis is home to dolphins, castles, pirate ships, sharks, circus performers, gondolas, movie and TV exhibits, countless roller coasters and themed rides, museums and even snow.
Head to Anaheim in California for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday at Disneyland. This famous theme park is filled to the brim with resorts, hotels and apartments to suit all budgets. Disneyland is a wonderland of rides where you can travel around a magical kingdom, follow Alice down the rabbit hole, take a thrilling train ride around Thunder Mountain, help Buzz Lightyear fight off the evil Zurg, visit the Chipmunks in their treehouse, take flight with Dumbo and dive under the sea in search of Nemo, to just name a few.
This charming city on the bay is a great place to come with kids. There are old-world trams to hop on and off as you navigate the city (maybe a bit difficult for toddlers and buggies), or head to Chinatown and enjoy the sights, tastes and sounds. Check out the resident buskers and sea lions at Pier 39 while enjoying an ice cream.
GET THE KIDS INVOLVED
Get your kids involved in the planning of the holiday. That way, they are invested in the fun before it happens. Let them choose a holiday activity and get them involved in the lead-up to the holiday by writing a list of things to take with them.
PLAN TO ARRIVE EARLY
Save the stress of rushing and plan on getting to the airport early. Add another 30 minutes to your planned arrival time and stave off the tempers and tantrums. If you are flying domestic, plan to arrive at the airport and hour and 20 minutes before your flight. This should give you plenty of time to check in luggage, get through security and regroup before boarding the plane. For international, at least two hours is recommended.
Always pre-book your holiday and as many activities as possible. Never turn up at a destination with your family expecting to check into a hotel – it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Also, plan to book your holiday early. There are usually early-bird specials on offer.
WHEN ROAD TRIPPING, PACK PLENTY OF ACTIVITIES
Whether it’s colouring-in books and pencils, puzzles, reading books, tablets or portable DVD players, pack some fun activities to keep your kids entertained on long drives. Make sure you stop every two hours – it will break up the monotony of the trip – and pack a ball or outdoor game for those stops in the hope of tiring out the little ones. And don’t forget to pack their favourite soft toy – it can be quite harrowing to leave it behind.
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I've has been a journalist for more than 30 years and travelled to more than 60 countries. When I travel I love getting lost because that's when you find the true heart of a city. I love country music, but as yet I haven't made it to Nashville. Perhaps next year!