Monday, August 23

Kidspot Top 50 Blog Your Way To Dunk Island

Dunk Island, wouldn't it be idyllic?   Kids club, sandy beaches that seem to go on forever - kick back and relax, have a conversation with your other half without the peanut gallery in the back seat droning
 'Muuuuuum, are we there yet?'

No we're not.  Not yet.

The Kidspot Top 50 bloggers competition has had me thinking - what can I share about my holidays?  Our holidays (or rather short jaunts) have taught me a few things:

What I learned about holidays with children under two
- Make your life as easy as possible.  Don't try and stick to your home routine - because it doesn't work.  Go with the flow a bit, let the kids sleep when they want to - leave the cloth nappies at home and bring a reliable yet compact pram!
- Short outings are best, the attention span isn't really there to undertake a four-hour-long bushwalk.
- Pack plenty of snacks - they are great to divert attention or soothe a hungry beast toddler.
- Don't forget your scented nappy bags  and pack extra, extra wipes (I'll tell you about that one day when I've recovered)

What I learned about holidays with two and three year olds
- A portable DVD player or Ipod touch can save you from total meltdown at times.  It will be the best money you spend!
- Activities with animals that are cute and small without big teeth are sure-fire winners
- Locate a local play-park
- Sometimes nappies are necessary for long car trips - regardless if they are toilet trained (I won't tell you about that one...)

What I learned about holidays with four and five year olds
- Plan your days - these are the years of 'What are we doing next?'
- Physical activities work - wear them out completely and then send them to bed early! (that's when your holiday starts sometimes!)
- Kids are soaking in information like sponges - Kid-friendly museums and learning experiences like visiting a historical landmark are great - they love recounting what they learned too!
- They like souvenirs - so let the collect them and glue them in a book with a zip lock bag attached) along the way (i.e. for leaves, shells, postcards, drink coasters)..
- They get VERY  excited so try not to tell them what's happening to far in advance, or your ears might be bleeding before the first day is out.

Let's face it, most of us in a one income family (and even those in a two income family) find it hard to justify the cost of a holiday - but if you can get more 'bang for your buck' you'll consider it money well spent.  Here's some of my Budget holiday tips

- Although it may seem like the more expensive accommodation option sometimes, take a self-contained apartment over a hotel room.  Going out for meals and sending out your laundry can add up very quickly.
- Don't discount a caravan park with self contained cabins - some are state-of-the art with internet and cable tv - for a fraction of the price of a hotel or apartment.
- Houseswapping - there are many online resources that arrange houseswapping interstate and overseas.
- Use online last minute deals - but before you book, ring the hotel direct and see if you can get a cheaper price - it sometimes works and doesn't hurt to try!
- Sometimes resorts offer flights, accommodation and meals - don't scoff at the price - do the sums - it might end up being cheaper!

Air, cruise and tour travel
- Take advantage of off peak times to travel - non-school holidays, off-peak seasons such as end of winter in ski season or autumn for summer destinations.
- Shop around - haggle for the right deal - get little inclusions for free - like asking for free insurance if you pay by cash etc.
- Use loyalty programs - frequent flyer using credit card mileage - make your money work - twice!
- On expensive flights, try to travel before kids turn two, after two you pay for them too!

Activities and sightseeing
- Fly/drive packages can be very attractive, hiring a car rather than going on organised tours can be a lot cheaper and better fitting the requirements of your family.
- Many activities are free!  Beaches, parks, local council facilities - Cairns for examples has a 1km strip of just free kid's attractions including wading pool, water park, sandpit, traditional park.
- Sightsee in your area !  Locals often get discounts in off-season and even peak season ticketing.
- Go with a crowd.  Go with a group of friends or family and ask for group bookings.

Now, another important and often stressful aspect of preparing for a holiday... the packing

Try not to pack:
- Too many toys...! Let the kids fit one toy that fits in their backpack...
- Too many disposable nappies if they're available where you're going - it's bulky and un-necessary to take 52 nappies for the first day.
- Same goes for formula
- Ditto for food
- Enormous prams - invest in a travel one because believe me a few airport check ins and you might leave it on a baggage collection trolley.  Forever.
- Carseats if possible (if travelling by air or train) hire one at the other end - it's pretty cheap, and can be included in your car hire costs if you ask!

Don't forget to pack:
A back pack for each kid who can walk colouring in books, pencils, a few books to read, sticker books, lunchbox and drink and a sunhat.   Not only for the getting to and from - but the day trips too.
Incidentals - Sunscreen, insect repellent, a medium (I'm talking a small ziplock bag) first aid kit with antiseptic cream, gauze, some bandaids, a thermometer and some baby and adult panadol.
Your camera and spare batteries - you don't want to miss anything do you?

Tell me some of YOUR tips! (please!)
Do you holiday at any particular time of the year? Why?

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22 lovely comments:

Natalie on August 24, 2010 at 12:13 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Lots of fab advice there Liss!

For me, never never forget about Air Hosties on planes. They are brilliant to think of ideas to help entertain children or even take your bub/child for a walk (esp if your travelling alone) to give yourself a break. When my little girl was 9 months old an empty drink container full of pretzels was a great shaker for her for ages.

I try to keep things simple. I buy a new scrap book, new textas, new stickers and that can entertain for ages. I always break out the DVD player as a last resort.

For young ones I try to get food that can a while to eat (eg I get a snap lock bag of cherios to eat as eating one at a time will take a while!).

Im currently having problems with my 4 year old and her ears popping so I brought special ear plugs for her to help it. But we are practicing popping her ears before hand. Something we didnt have to deal with when she was younger.

Courtley on August 24, 2010 at 2:01 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Great tips!

Here a few more:

1. Involve your kids in the planning. Pull out the Atlas and show them where you are going. Utilise the internet to show images of what you might see when you get there

2. Sticker books are nice quiet activities for the plane ride.

3. Wrap small inexpensive toys in cheap wrapping paper and take on the plane in a seperate bag. When boredom sets in and your neighbours start shooting you death stares, pull out a new toy. The kids will love unwrapping it as much as seeing something new to play with.

4. Buy the book "Going on an Airplane" published by Osborn books. This has been such an excellent read in preparation for overseas trips.

5. Take a few muslin wraps. They are great for makeshift sunshades, to cover shoulders or arms if suddenly in a hot place, can be tied at the ends and used as a bag, as a sarong or can be dampened and used as a wipe in an emergency. I never leave home without some.

Jodie said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Wonderful tips Liss!!

We get the kids to pack a small toy/activity bag, so they can get involved and also pack things that they like.

For long trips (at the moment 3 hours is considered long here!!) we pack snacks like tiny teddies, sultanas/apricots, cheerios because they take longer to eat, especially if you eat one at a time like my boys!! LOL and portable dvd player is the first thing we pack!!

Sarah @ For the Love of Food on August 24, 2010 at 9:54 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Thanks Liss (and others) for the tips. I've learned most of these tips the hard way and can attest to them working. The most important one for me is to take a small backpack full of little toys that my little one only sees when we go on long trips - some new ones each time and some she's seen before but not for a while (eg tiny slinky, tiny etch-a-sketch, wallet with crayons and pad of paper, i-spy bag, tons of stickers and lots of thin paper back books).

We go camping quite a lot which is a huge cost saving and children love it.

PinkPatentMaryJanes on August 24, 2010 at 10:12 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Great post! We've done plenty of trips with our daughter - from a 9 hour drive to Byron Bay when she was 5 to a seven week Italy, France, England holiday when she was 6 to weekends away. We always made sure that we punctuated the day regularly with treats just for her. In France this meant a daily ride on a carousel {on nearly every corner!}, a nutella crepe or rose petal ice cream. I found that focussing on her exclusively for a period meant she'd go with the flow for the rest of the time.

Christie @ Fig and Cherry on August 24, 2010 at 12:26 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

So enlightening... and if I'm honest, scary! Looking forward to family holidays! :)

Lilli on August 24, 2010 at 7:52 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Discover the local supermarket at your destination! I am fascinated by supermarkets so I always check them out. I like to discover how the same products we get in Australia are packaged and displayed and I also like to discover new products we don't have.

While travelling I will buy many meals from the supermarket. Some bread, fillings and drinks; discover a nearby park and voila! Some of my best travel memories have been made doing this.

Lily Mulholland on August 24, 2010 at 8:29 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Flying with kids? Give them a chuppa chup - the constant sucking keeps their eustachion tubes clear and no ouchies. For long flights - one on ascent and another on descent. (Also works for mummies who have head colds!)

Kristin on August 24, 2010 at 9:09 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Great tips here! Essential for any travelling parent.

For me:
*If travelling o/s alone with a child/ren, NEVER HIRE A CAR WITHOUT A TOM-TOM. Absolutely essential.

*If planning to use antihistamines as tranquilisers, test them BEFORE you go. Sometimes they work the other way and you'll have a hyperactive child trapped in three square feet of space. Bad, bad, bad...

*Fly the new airbus planes if possible. The big, touch-screen entertainment units include heaps of fab games for kids from about three. Just. Awesome.

*Fly at night. No brainer.

*Take a laptop and use Skype to keep in touch with loved ones at home. Most hotels have free wireless and/or broadband.

*Remember the rule about local water in ice-cubes also applies to jelly and snow-cones.

Narelle said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I have always loved to travel and explore new places. For a few years our travel plans were on hold when we had small children, but now my girls are 7 and 8 years old we have been lucky enough to travel overseas again in the last few years. They are excellent travellers, and I am nodding my head at many of the tips you have written about, or which have been commented on by others above. On our latest trip the girls discovered word search puzzles. The $10 I spent at the newsagent at the airport was the best $10 I spent for the entire holiday - kept them amused on the plane for hours!

Maya said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

On the plane I give my sons who are 6 and 4, lollipops (or chewing gum for the older) at take off to help with their ears popping.

Back pack full of goodies always works for me on the plane/bus/car trips and I have just started the surprise presents which I was I knew about early.

With my older son I am asking him to choose between things at theme parks etc, ie would you like this T-shirt/toy or an ice cream/slurpee (which I know he will ask for when we turn the corner and see it). By telling him he has a limit of what treats he is going to get, he doesn't always ask for everything he sees.

Corinne on August 27, 2010 at 7:08 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

At the moment, we tend to holiday in March. It's a nice time of the year weather-wise (not too hot, but not cold) and it's out of the peak time, so it's cheaper and quieter.

We also find that it's a nice time of year to take a break, after the madness of Christmas, New Year.

Kylie @ The Rockgarden on August 27, 2010 at 7:57 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

We're about to go on our first family holiday with 7 month old Charlotte. I think this is probably going to be the easiest family holiday we take! Still, I can use all the tips I can get :)

Anonymous said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

My kids are 16 and nearly 13 now but when they were younger we would often do the Victoria to Queenland road trip to see family each year. I used to pack them a "lunch" in one of the sectioned lunch boxes. In this "lunch", there would be a sandwich, as well as a variety of other healthy food options and also some 'yummy options" (after all we were on holiday). There was enough food to last them the day as well as a frozen drink and a pop top type drink (water was always available too).

They kids were allowed to eat whatever they wanted during the day out of their lunchbox in any order but once it was gone that was it until dinner (if they wanted the special treats first it was their choice). The idea behind this was that when we stopped for a lunch break etc we would stop usually where there was a playground so the kids could run and play whilst we ate a sandwich ourselves. We began doing this when they were quite young as we often found before this "lunch idea" that we would be trying to get them to eat and they were wanting to play. We found they would run for half an hour and then sometimes nap in the car. It was an option that always worked well for us and we continued doing this for many years as they would always ask for their "special lunch".

Hope this helps you with ideas. The kids worked out after a while to vary the healthy with the yummy treats to make them last the day.

Little Blonde Riding Hood on August 27, 2010 at 7:52 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Great post Liss :)

I have one tip for travelling with kids...take lots of food with you! My kids hate plane food and it's a very loooong flight trying to fill them up with 'snackie' foods!

Nisha on August 27, 2010 at 8:54 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

We try to plan OS trips just before or just after peak season, that way fares are reasonable. The kids may miss a week or two of school - but travel is an education in itself anyway!

We also try to seek out local supermarkets and buy enough essentials to keep us going (bottled water, nappies, breakfast cereals).

Hire cars with sat navs are a god send- saves you thinking about filing for divorce when you're completely lost and the kids are going mental in the back seat.

The toys you pick up on your travels will get played with far more than the ones you bring from home.

Pack those tiny disposable toothbrushes for the flight. If you wake up at an odd time (turbulence/landing/meal time) and want to freshen up you don't have to leave your seat or wait in the bathroom queue.

And don't even try to stick with a routine if you're going to be in a different time zone. Its far more stressful trying to make a kid sleep when they physically cant.

We also didnt travel with prams, when flying OS, but chose to buy 2 cheap umbrella strollers at a local Target for $15 each. At the end of the holiday we gave them away and dint have to deal with carrying 2 extra pieces of equipment on top of luggage and kids!

Lee said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Great timing with this post. In 3 weeks we're off to Disneyworld with 8 kids and 7 adults... 4 of those kids are mine and 3 of those are 5 and under, the youngest will be turning 2 while we're there... am I insane? Quite possibly!

My pre-trip tips are to plan, plan, plan and then save, save, save. We've been planning this trip since 2006 and I'm doing everything humanly possible from this end to make it run as smoothly as I can once we're there. My biggest tip is use the internet. These days nearly everything has a forum and those forums are a wealth of information. All our meals are already booked for our trip, I'm having groceries sent over to our resort and I know where I can rent a double pram that will drop off and pick up.

My SIL and I were talking about our trip the other day and she was saying just how amazing it is for our kids to not only have the chance to visit Disneyworld, but to be able to do it with all of their cousins is pretty much once in a life time. This is why we're doing it and this is why I came up with our plan way back when, yes the plane trip is probably going to be very trying at times, but the memories our kids will have forever will be priceless.

ginchyworld on August 27, 2010 at 9:48 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Flying long haul with little ones, my biggest tip is to go in with very low expectations. If you're expecting they wont touch the food, will throw up all over you five minutes after you take off, won't sleep and spend the entire trip screaming, then anything better is a pleasant surprise!

Kirsty S said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Apart from the obvious tip (leave them at home and go by yourself!) the best one I got when my daughter was a baby was to attach some elastic to her favourite toy so it didn't get lost in the airport. She was only a few months old and loved Jingles (her small, pink and white checked elephant with a bell inside) and I couldn't stand the thought of losing him. I tied elastic around his neck (sorry, Jingles!) and the other end I tied to my handbag. :) Very handy when she let go of him a few times.

So Now What? on August 29, 2010 at 6:40 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Oh wipes. The amount of times I, as a mum, should have had wipes on hand but don't is disgusting. And so true about the apartment. We had a hotel room, two double beds, 2 adults, two children and one very big belly with number three. Not a good night.

Great post xxx

Penelope on August 30, 2010 at 3:53 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I pack the girls' complete outfits in big plastic bags, down to undies and hairclips. Even if I don't do it for everyday clothes, I do it for special occasion clothes, and particularly if Daddy/Nanna is taking them on a weekend trip. That way I know I have everything I need, and Daddy can dress them without any fashion faux pas LOL

I could not survive without our car DVD player. My girls get carsick so drawing/reading is out of the question, but for some reason they're fine if watching DVDs.

A little bit of this on August 31, 2010 at 4:38 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Our daughter had an accident in Bali in January and had to be careflighted home to Perth, so coming from the point of view that things do and can go wrong on holidays a couple of things that are very handy in an emergency.

Travel insurance when travelling overseas with kids or without is a must. Make sure your covered as you never know when you may need it, have details of contacts and policy numbers with you.

Another tip we have found is that it is very handy to have a digital colour copy of your passport available in an emergency. Email a copy to yourself and have it where you can access it if you need to while away.

Contact numbers for consulates etc where you are travelling, so hard to find when you are in a panic and need help.


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