Planning a family holiday

by on June 17
in Tips

Enjoying a family outing in Orbost, Victoria

Going on holidays is one of our favourite things to do.  As much as it’s tempting to focus on all that R & R, a little planning before the big departure can help minimise unexpected hiccups that could eat into your valuable holiday time.

Rather than being a bore, for us the planning phase sets off the excitement of our trip well before we leave.  Once we’ve begun planning a holiday, the kids start counting down the days till we leave.  They know which towns we’ll be going to and some of the things we’ll see when we get there.

Our usual holiday mode is caravanning, so that’s my focus here.  However, many of the tips are pertinent whether you camp or stay in a resort.

For some people (I think) going camping is just a matter of tossing a few essentials into the car and heading off to who knows where for a few days roughing it. We like things to be a little more organised. I generally put quite a bit of thought and preparation into where we go, what we take and what we do when we get there.

Where to go

We generally have at least one beach holiday a year. The beach is great even if it’s not swimming weather. There are walks, treasure hunting, building sandcastles, fishing, kite flying, and the list goes on. Having said that we usually go during the summer and perhaps again during the spring. The kids seem not to feel the cold water as much as me and my husband, so they usually get at least one swim in.

However, we also like to try different types of holidays. That’s the great thing about a caravan. Just about anywhere you would like to go, you can usually set up camp. So when choosing where to go we look at a couple of things.

  • Weather – we generally try to steer clear of the coast in the winter. The cold winds and rain can make camping somewhat of an adventure! Once we have a few ideas about what we want to do, I check the average weather details just to make sure we’re not going to be soaked or frozen when we’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves. By the same token, we don’t want to be sweltering either.
  • How long do we have – there’s no point planning on driving 2,000 kilometres if you only have a week off. While it might not be a problem for some people, for us travelling with three young kids means that about 400 kilometres a day is generally the maximum we can do. We pay the price if we decide to do more. Limiting the distances we go means we have plenty of time for pit stops and importantly we’re not all cranky come set up time when we arrive at our destination. As a general rule of thumb we do long weekends within a 3 hour drive of home. An advantage of this is we have seen a lot of places closer to home that we might not have otherwise visited. Even going 70km away is enough to recharge our batteries and do something different. We save the longer trips for our two weeks school holidays travels.
  • What do we like to do – most times we try to find somewhere that has a few interesting activities or places to visit nearby. For example, our son is into science and space at the moment, so when passing through central NSW we made a pit stop at the Parkes Observatory. My husband likes history, so we sometimes visit places of historical significance. By trying to find things that match the kids’ interests I find it tends to make the holiday more enjoyable for them and who knows, my husband and I might learn something too.
  • What haven’t we done before – it is easy to find a great holiday spot and want to go back there every chance. We do that ourselves with our annual beach holiday. Other times during the year though, we like to try new places. For example, we recently did a trip through south west NSW.  It was different to most of our other holidays and a definite change of pace from the beach.

What else to arrange

Well before you leave (may be months if travelling during peak periods)

  • Book accommodation if you’re travelling to popular places in peak periods.  This is reasonably straight forward for caravanning, as often there’s only one option in the area we’re visiting.  However, if you’re planning on holidaying in a popular tourist destination with lots of options it might be worthwhile talking with a travel agent that specialises in family trips, such as BYO Kids*.
  • Arrange care for pets not lucky enough to be traveling with you

In the month before you leave

  • Ensure the car is healthy
    • Does it need a service?
    • Check the oil and water
    • Check tyres and wheel nuts
  • Arrange someone to check on your house every day or two
  • Consider automatic light timers
  • Stop mail and newspaper delivery

In the week before you leave

  • Give the van a once over
    • Fill the water tank
    • Check you have all the accessories you need, eg jockey wheel, jack, annexe and poles
    • Check tyres and wheel nuts
    • Turn on the fridge so it’s cold when you arrive (the day before you leave)
  • Arrange entertainment for the kids while travelling (games, toys, snacks, etc)

What else do you do to make sure your holiday goes smoothly?

Happy travels,

*Referral link (I’ll earn a commission if you book via this link. That doesn’t affect your price, but it does support Australia: Family Style – so thank you!)

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2 Responses to “Planning a family holiday”
  1. Catherine says:

    Planning is definitely part of the fun of travelling. Although I lament all the holidays I have planned but not been able to afford.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..We Play – Preschool at the Park =-.

  2. Leanne says:

    I’m with you there, Catherine! If only we could take off whenever we liked to where ever we liked. Oh well, nice to dream 🙂

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