Travelling with Kids – The Key is Being Prepared!

Family Fun on the Beach

Holidays are an essential part of life – time to recharge, take a break from the daily grind and most of all, to have quality time together as a family. They can be as simple or as extravagant as you like, as close to home or as far away as your heart desires – but whatever you decide, it’s going to take some planning (and yes, no matter how fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants you were before kids, a holiday with kids does require a bit of forethought!).

Obviously the age of your children, your level of confidence, how adventurous you’re feeling and of course your budget, will determine where you choose to go and how long you choose to go for. One thing’s for sure – there are many MANY options available!!

So, let’s run through some handy travel tips for when travelling with children to hopefully make it more fun for everyone!

  1. Include your children in the travel planning. Tell them about where you’re going, show them pictures and talk about the things you will do. It’s good to prepare them for what’s ahead and help them feel more at ease.
  2. If you can plan trips outside of school holiday periods it can save you a lot of money…so make the most of travel before your kids start school!
  3. Have realistic expectations for your trip, especially if you are heading overseas. Try to prioritise activities and attractions that are important and do them early on. Ideally plan for one major attraction a day, particularly with preschoolers and early primary age kids. Don’t try to do too much, and aim to keep afternoons for relaxing back at your hotel or holiday home. Also remember, everything takes longer when travelling with kids, so allow yourself plenty of time.
  4. Try to pack light! I know it can be hard if you’re travelling with a baby or toddler and all their related paraphernalia, but try to keep it to the essentials, and remember we rarely ever wear ALL the clothes we pack!
  5. Although we’re trying to pack light, things like children’s Panadol is a must, as are bandaids, insect repellent, antiseptic cream, sunscreen, antibacterial hand wash, lip balm, gastro stop, and the usual toiletries. And don’t forget baby wipes! Even if you don’t have a baby, wipes are so handy to have for inevitable spills and sticky mouths and hands.
  6. Taking a small light stroller can be a lifesaver for when little legs get tired. They weigh nothing, pack up small, and are great for use in the airport. Carriers are great for little ones but once you hit 15-20kg of child, a stroller is definitely the better option!
  7. If you are staying in a hotel, make sure to research it ahead of time. Some things to consider are room size and configuration, kitchen amenities (if any), cleanliness, facilities available (eg a pool or play area can be a great bonus), proximity to transport, attractions and restaurants/cafes. An included breakfast is also a good bonus, but if not available, then having a kitchenette will be even more important. Remember you will likely spend more time than you normally would in your hotel room, so it’s vital to make sure it’s suitable.
  8. Cots are usually available in most places, though their quality can vary greatly. Make sure to arrange this with the hotel prior to your arrival. If you are staying in a holiday house rental, the same applies, but if you are driving to your destination it may be better to take your own portable cot.
  9. Don’t forget to take photos! Better still, give the children a camera of their own to use (it doesn’t have to be expensive). It gets them involved, keeps them interested and when they get home they can use their own photos in their travel journals.
  10. Travel journals are a great way for kids to capture their travel experiences and to encourage and motivate them to reflect on what they have seen and done. They can be as simple or complex as they want, or is appropriate for their age and it’s something they will be able to keep forever. For some great downloadable travel journals, check out our shop.
  11. Whatever your view on iPads and electronic devices, there is no denying that an iPad can often be the difference between a meltdown and sanity – of the parents! Download some age appropriate games, apps and movies before you go and enjoy your quiet time!

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Destination Spotlight – Fiji, Bula!

An unforgettable view
An unforgettable view

Recently we went on a family holiday to Fiji. It was our first ‘real’ holiday in that (a) we didn’t drive there, (b) we didn’t stay in a self-contained house/apartment, which leads directly into (c) I DIDN’T HAVE TO COOK!

This holiday had been a long time in planning and I have to say it was DEFINITELY worth the wait and being in the middle of a Sydney winter, the timing was perfect!

When it comes to accommodation choices in Fiji, there are so many it literally makes your head spin. Add to that the thousands of online reviews (TripAdvisor anyone??) that go from ‘Worst place I’ve ever stayed’ to ‘Best Ever’ (for the SAME property!) and you’ll understand why we chose to go somewhere that friends recommended – the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa in Denarau.

Given it was our first trip we thought we should make things as easy as possible. Staying on an island did cross our minds (Malolo Island looks AMAZING and has rave reviews!), and perhaps we will visit there in the future, but on this occasion having a short transit time from the airport was important to us, and as mentioned above, having some idea of what to expect gave me some reassurance.

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Precious Keepsakes – Kids Holiday Journals

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A family holiday is often a huge part of our childhood memories. Whether it’s an overseas trip or something more local, whether in a plane, train, boat or car, time spent together as a family, sharing new and different experiences is both special and treasured.

There’s no doubt that our cameras get a big workout when on holidays! We snap away constantly, trying to capture all those precious moments so that we will be able to look back on them in years to come. But what about our kids? While we’re definitely including them in the process of making memories, we’re not giving them the opportunity to create a record for themselves of their own experiences while on holidays.

Travel journals are a great way to encourage and motivate kids to reflect on what they have seen and done while on holidays. More than that though – they are FUN!! In fact, the process can even start before you leave, by getting them involved in the planning!  By having a holiday countdown, a packing list and some ideas of what they might like to see and do, children can feel like they are part of the lead up to the trip which will also build their excitement.

Your child’s travel journal can be as simple or as intricate as you (or they!) like and of course suited to their individual abilities – quite basic for younger children and more detailed for older kids and teens. Younger kids will obviously need a bit more parental involvement, whereas older kids will be able to have loads of fun with it on their own.

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