Leave your excess baby baggage at home and hire it on holiday.

I am about to tell you a true story. Some of your might be able to relate to it.

My husband is Tasmanian, which means we have done a fair bit of travelling across Bass Strait. One Christmas, to save money, hubby had gone across with our car on the ship & I was flying with the two children.

I can’t recall their ages, but Miss 8 was in a baby car restraint. This had not been sent across with the car as I needed it back in Melbourne. Anyway, I proceeded to check-in and made the flight to Hobart – only to realise on arrival that the baby-seat was still strapped into the car in Victoria.

It is not a good feeling as you kick yourself for being so stupid, then stress about all the accidents you are going to be involved in during the short drive from the airport to where you are staying.

Luckily for new mums these days, travelling is made so much easier by the variety of baby equipment hire available, much of it targeting the travel market.

Forget spending the first day of your holiday at op shops trying to find a baby-seat (I can attest to the fact this is not fun). Arrange to have what you need waiting for you at the other end.

Hire for Baby has franchises around Australia and can help with the hire of a range of baby equipment, including car seats, cots, prams, highchairs and even some play equipment. They even have roll-away beds, perfect for older children.

As a special pre-Christmas offer, anyone who books and pays for their holiday equipment before 30 November, goes into the draw to win $100 cashback on their hire.

With the summer holidays approaching, it is great incentive to get booked now.

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Let’s start exploring our island home

Last Friday, I decided to visit the Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow at Melbourne’s Caulfield Racecourse. My goal was to talk to meet people from as many tourism organisations as possible.

brochures

I plan to know alot more about Australia after making my way through these brochures

In this era of email spam and fraud (sure I’m not the only one promised millions of dollars from the estate of a dead millionaire – as long as provide my bank account details), I wanted people to see there is a real person behind familyfriendlyaccommodation.com.au.

I achieved my goal and after a couple of hours I had bags of brochures and business cards. I was happy. I’d met many lovely people and collected lots of information.

But, then I was hit by a wave of guilt, all relating to my pending family holiday to New Zealand. I felt like traitor, even apologising to one man about the fact I was taking my family on an ‘overseas’ holiday when there are so many places I could be visiting at home.

Having said that, my children, have visited every state at the ripe old ages of 7 and 10 (we are leaving the two territories until they are a bit older. Not sure I politics and crocodiles mix with young children).

What struck me on Friday – and later as I browsed through the brochures I’d collected – is how much there is to experience in our own backyard. In addition to our well-known destinations, there are so many magical, beautiful places to visit. Some places – like Diamantina and the Banana Shire – I had never even heard of.

 Canoeing on the Goulburn Weir in Victoria

Canoeing on the Goulburn Weir in Victoria

Is it no wonder a growing number of families are packing up for a year or two of travel? Maybe one day, but for now, that’s not an option for my family. But it got me thinking about how I can value add to familyfriendlyaccommodation.com.au

There are already many articles that have been written about flying with children, travelling with children, etc. So, what can I do that is different?

Picture perfect Cradle Mountain

Picture perfect Cradle Mountain – a jewel in Tasmania’s tourism crown.

Then it hit me – I am going to start profiling the many tourist regions we have around Australia, focussing on family friendly activities. I will seek information from the local tourist organisations, but would love your input too.

I won’t do it in any particular order. I will just close my eyes and pick up a brochure and that will be my starting point. So, let’s start planning some home grown Aussie holidays together.

The key to finding the best accommodation at the best price

In trying to find holiday accommodation, are you sometimes confused by exactly what ‘family friendly’ features are on offer?
I developed familyfriendlyaccommodation.com.au to try and remove some of that confusion. But I will not tell you to just rely on my website – you should use the wide range of tools that are available to help make an informed decision.
Here are some tips to help you find the right accommodation and get the best deal:

  • Use familyfriendlyaccommodation.com.au as a starting point to research accommodation. Each listing has a link to the property’s own website. Have a look to find out more about what they offer.

  • Ring and speak directly to the property you are interested in for more information on what they have on offer. Sometimes booking websites will put a family in a more expensive 2-bedroom offer when a cheaper quad room might be available.
  • If you are looking at more mainstream accommodation, such as a well-known hotel chain or resort, use hotelscombined. This website compares a range of accommodation booking websites so you can find the best current offers.
  • Use the popular review website, tripadvisor to check out reviews on the property you are looking at. Remember to look for a general theme, rather than not stay somewhere based on one or two bad comments.
  • If you are looking for properties for larger families, privately owned holiday homes and apartments might be a better option. For properties in Australia, try Stayz or Ownersdirect for the UK and Europe. Another great website for online independent rentals is  roomorama.

We used Owners Direct to book this beautiful Tuscan villa.

  • If you are using a travel agent, consider using one that caters exclusively for families, such as byokids or pluskids travel.
  • If you are travelling in Australia, ring the local tourist information centre. They will be able to provide invaluable local information. Contact details can be found on state-based tourism websites.
  • If your holiday involves flying, shop around. Don’t forget airlines own websites, which may have special deals going. Another great website is flightfox.com, where registered flight experts compete to find you the cheapest flights.

In 2011, we saved more than $1000 on airfares by shopping around, flying Singapore Airlines to Europe & return.

Remember by putting in a bit of time and cross-referencing your choices, chances are you will save money and end up having a fantastic holiday.

Do you have tips you to share?

How friendly are extended family vacations?

Relaxing over a glass of wine after dinner with friends, discussions turned to holidaying with extended family and groups of friends – and just how unfriendly it can get.

Let me preface this by saying that spending your holiday with extended family and close friends can be a wonderful experience. Your children have others to play with and spending the evening with people other than just your partner can be nice too.

But behind the idyllic picture there can be stresses you should confront and consider before the actual holiday – rather than burying your head in the sand and expect everything will just flow.

Here are my tips on what you should consider:

1. Choosing the accommodation

Everyone is going to have different expectations. Be open with all the adults you will be holidaying with about your likes and limitations – you need to tell each what your budget is, what features you would like both inside and out and whether you want to all share one place or stay within the same complex, but in your own room.

This bathroom won the females over!

There is no point one person researching accommodation that will cost you $2000 for the week if your budget is only $1000. It might sound like hard work, but you will get a short list and come up with something everyone is happy (or at least satisfied) with.

2. Eating arrangements

I do have to tell this story, which I hope my brother does not mind. Last year in Italy, I was lucky enough to stay in a beautiful Italian villa with my family, my brother and his family and my parents – a total of 6 adults and 4 children.

Believe it or not, the issue that caused the most tension was dinner. My brother and his wife do not like cooking while on holiday and wanted to eat out. However, my husband & I believed a barbecue or take away pizza at the villa was a better option.

Eating out with kids – sometimes it all gets a bit too much

Neither of us was right or wrong in what we wanted. But because we had not discussed our expectations prior to the holiday, it did lead to some tension. Trust me, sort this out during the planning stages.

3. Sightseeing

I don’t know about you, but I hate waiting for people and the indecision holidaying as a group can bring. As my friend’s hubby said, the danger of holidaying with groups is that no-one gets to do anything they want because everyone is trying to be diplomatic and keep everyone else happy.

I know this sounds a bit banal, but set out expectations and wishes at the start of the holiday and plot out what days you plan to do what activity. Being inclusive and diplomatic can result in no decision being made and days wasted doing nothing.

Three generations on a Budapest sight-seeing tour

Remember – holidaying together does not mean you are joined at the hip. If everyone wants to do something, you can do it together. But if you want to do something no-one else does, just go! If you don’t, you will probably regret it later.

4. Who looks after the kids?

The beauty of having lots of adults around is that there are lots of eyes to watch the kids. But just because there are lots of grown-ups around, does not always mean they are watching your children. Even if you are disappearing off to the toilet for a minute or two, let the others know so they will know to keep any eye on your child too.

Children need watching – especially if there is a pool

If you are staying with parents who don’t have much opportunity to get out by themselves, you might offer to babysit one night so they can go on a date.

Share ‘nanna nap’ afternoons. When you are doing nothing on a holiday, there is nothing better than lying down with a good book and drifting off the sleep. If possible, you might be able to alternate this opportunity with a couple of other mums and dads so everyone gets some relaxation.

5. Different parents, different discipline

This is the hardest one to offer advice on. What do you do when you have told your children not to do something (such as climbing back up a slide, blocking the others coming down), but you are sitting next to a mum who does not seem to mind her own child doing the same?

Or the dad or is standing 20 metres away from his toddler who is bending over the edge of the lake – “Come back Luke, you will fall in. Luke, I told you – you will fall in mate. What is Daddy telling you Luke. You don’t want to get wet, do you?” – as you run over and scruff little Luke by the neck as he starts to topple in.

All childen misbehave at times – and all parents deal with it differently.

Different parenting styles come to the fore on holiday – even little things like bed times. What do you do when your children go to bed at 8.30pm but others in your group go at 7.30pm? Do you make yours go early?

Maybe this is where you really do have to grit your teeth, take a deep breath and chant the word ‘compromise’ over and over again. And remember all the GOOD things about holidaying together with extended family and friends, not just for you, but for your children.

P.S Thanks for the topic idea Jane!