Being on holidays doesn’t necessarily mean the tantrums, meltdowns, sibling scraps and complaining will stop. But a change of scenery makes it more bearable!
Packing up the family and taking an adventure is good for the soul… and at the very least it means a few less meals to cook. Everybody wins.
Thailand is a big place, so don’t try and cram too much into each day, especially with young children. Long travel days are a breeding ground for meltdowns, so make sure you schedule some down time (and don’t feel guilty about spending a day by the pool with iPad!).
The islands of Koh Samui and Koh Lanta are family friendly spots where you can take part in activities like snorkelling or waterfall hikes. Surin Beach is a quiet area in Phuket away from the tourist hordes of Patong. White sand and clear blue water lends itself to a day in the sun, and kids of all ages will love haggling at the colourful markets. The street food is delicious and you might be surprised at how much your kids love the fresh, zesty flavours. If you’ve got older kids, why not head up to Chiang Mai and try your hand at trekking, zip lining and bamboo rafting.
Sure, it’s only a 2.5hr flight from Brisbane or Sydney, but a trip to Norfolk Island is like stepping back in time. With its rolling green hills, rich history, friendly locals and lack of McDonalds (unheard of!) it’s becoming extremely popular with families.
The pace of life is relaxed, and when you’re not swimming, snorkelling, horse riding or fishing you can discover some fascinating history at the Bounty Folk Museum. This tiny island in the South Pacific is home to descendants from the Mutiny on the Bounty, who arrived back in 1856. It was an idyllic island home for the Polynesian people before being discovered by Captain Cook in 1774. It’s been said that Norfolk Island has the freshest air on earth, second only to Antarctica. So take a deep breath and enjoy the perfect combination of seaside and countryside on offer.
Kauai Island, Hawaii
There are plenty of kid-friendly Hawaiian Islands to choose from, but we think Kauai is pretty hard to beat. For starters, you’ve got your pick of incredible beaches. Poipu has dedicated lifeguards on the scene every day, Annini has calm waters for snorkelling and Hanalei is the perfect place to teach little grommets to surf.
Head east towards the city of Kapaa and you’ll come across Lydgate Park. With lifeguards, clean toilets, shady trees and enclosed swimming areas you could easily spend a whole day here. When you’re done with the beach, pop across the road to Kamalani Playground. This awesome wooden park has been designed with fun and adventure in mind, featuring swings, slides, balance beams and a dedicated space for little ones. For older kids there are lots of lovely hiking trails leading to lush waterfalls.
Beat the heat (and the prices!) by flying to the Red Centre in winter and you’ll benefit from plenty of kid-friendly advantages. For one thing, the winter sun rises later and sets earlier so there’s more chance your little ones will be awake to see the colours. You won’t be battling the hordes of tourists, which means more space to spread out.
Renting a car is a great way to see things at your own pace, without having to worry about keeping up with a group. The accommodation isn’t cheap, but that’s just part of the deal here in Uluru. Keep costs down by pitching a tent or hiring a cabin at the camping ground. Or get yourself a serviced apartment at Emu Walk Apartments – handy if you need to prepare baby food.
Ayers Rock Resort allows kids to take part in free activities like Aboriginal dot painting and native dancing workshops. The walking trails around Uluru are smooth enough for a pram. Just remember to take plenty of snacks, water and a fully charged iPad!
South Island, New Zealand
We’re focusing on the more wild and rugged South Island for this post, simply because we know the kids will love it so much. However, the more urban North Island is still a fantastic option. Renting a campervan is a super fun way to get around, and offers the homely comfort that kids love. It makes meal preparations easier (and cheaper) and you can easily change your plans if the mood strikes.
Queenstown isn’t known as the Adventure Capital of the World for nothing! Older kids will have a blast with paragliding, Zorbing, bunjee jumping and snowboarding. Then there’s kayaking, swimming and fishing on Lake Wanaka. Keep your eyes peeled for giant sperm whales at Kaikoura or head to the Otago Peninsula to spot fur seals, sea lions, and rare royal albatrosses.
Orana Wildlife Park is an open range zoo that allows you to get up close and personal with lions, and there’s a great playground at the bottom of the Queenstown gardens that also has excellent coffee!
Feature Image: Chelsea Millunchick