Short breaks

10 Top tips for a stress-free family holiday

It’s a tough job planning the perfect holiday for all members of the family – especially when it’s as large as ours. As they say, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. But if you want to please most of the people most of the time, here are a few tips.

  1. Before you go check out your destination on Google Maps (or any decent map) to get your bearings. If travelling by air, it will also give you a good idea of how long any transfers are going to take. Spend a couple of hours researching your destination: what is there to see and do? It’s not a chore, it’s familiarisation: you’ll get yourself into the holiday mood and start to enjoy the holiday before you even get on the plane.
  2. Make a list. It’s much easier to remember to take everything you need if you actually write it down. It’ll probably become a work in progress like ours, as we add to it each time we go away and subsequently remember something else that would have been useful to pack. Swimmers, hats, sunglasses, trainers as well as flip flops, jumpers, wet weather gear, sun screen, after-sun…
  3. Email your hotel to ask about in-room entertainment and WiFi access. A lot of hotel rooms have DVD players so it’s a good idea to take your favourites from home. You could also take a laptop that can plug into a TV to play your DVDs. Ask the hotel what other kids’ activities they recommend – it’s nice to make contact before you go – they’ll remember you on arrival.
  4. Check out your camera gear. (And make sure you’ve packed it.) It might be a while since you took a few snaps so dig out the camera early – and the charger – and the spare battery and if you’ve only got a 256Mb SD Card upgrade before you go! You can get a 16Gb SD card for around $40 which should last you the whole trip – unless you like to shoot video too – in which case – get two.
  5. Plan for the journey. If you’re not flying budget, chances are you’ll be fed, watered and entertained. But if you are flying budget and these luxuries are not available – even a four hour flight can seem like an eternity. Plan to spend some of what you saved on airfare, on making the flight more tolerable: often iPads are available for purchase, loaded with movies and games. On Jetstar it’s $12 for the flight duration which works out at $4/hour ‘child-minding’ – bargain. Get one for yourself too – if only to drown out the noise of other passengers’ video games. Also, take chips and sandwiches for the kids and treat yourself to that beer – get into the holiday spirit on the way there.
  6. Turn the car into an entertainment centre. If you’re driving (and you don’t have seat-back entertainment) try and ensure there’s a device for each child and that they are fully charged. Also make sure each child has headphones. We usually take a splitter in case more than one child wants to watch the same cartoon on the same device. A USB car charger is also a useful device to have handy.
  7. Pace yourself – you’re on holiday.  Some people go mad and try to cram in every little activity that’s available; often arriving late or too hassled to enjoy them properly. Others spend the entire week around the pool or in the bar. The key is of course, balance: use the first day to see what’s available and then plan some activities that take your fancy, remembering that kids don’t like long trips in mini-buses, teens don’t like walking, the grandparents might not want to go white water rafting, and men don’t actually like shopping. Also, try not to plan those full days-out back to back: have a day off in the resort in between – you can always grab a kayak or a snorkel if you’re feeling under-active.
  8. Remember your manners. It’s sometimes easy to forget, whilst you’re being waited on hand and foot in a hotel, that for the staff, this is their working life. The usual pleasantries, and remembering a few people’s names (it’s not hard – they all wear name badges) goes a long way to making their working day, and your stay, all the more memorable and enjoyable
  9. Medical kit – take one. Having said that – take stuff that’s relevant – don’t bother with the triangular bandage. Start with Barocca, Nurofen and/or Panadol, a few waterproof plasters, sun screen AND after sun, antiseptic cream, insect repellent and Stingose. We usually take Tiger Balm too – it sooths insect bites and sore muscles. And put all these items in your check-in luggage – not carry-on.
  10. Finally, enjoy your holiday and be flexible. Remember that everyone of your family group – kids, teens, spouses and grandparents have a different idea of their perfect holiday. Allow everyone to do as little or as much as they want. It’s ok to split up and do your own thing; just remember to meet up over dinner and share your stories.


  1. Great advice!

    Our Front Desk staff here at Best Western Central in Queanbeyan are a wealth of information on local attractions and activities. Hotel staff hear the good and bad about local places – shops, museums, restaurants etc – so don’t ever be afraid to ask Reception staff who are a great source of local info.

  2. A family with a baby will often travel differently to a family with toddlers or teenagers. Finding the balance between adult and child friendly activities is important to make sure everyone is happy and their needs are being met. Have a family planning meeting in the early stages and let everyone choose one activity they want to include in the trip


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>