Family Holiday Tips – Queensland Blog

How to not holiday like the Griswolds: 39 tips to nail your next family holiday

Life (and travel) before babies was simple. When you needed to mix it up between months of eat, sleep, work, repeat, you jumped straight in and sorted a weekend or week away, stat. (Right now, you’d be pretty happy to have eat and sleep back in your life!)

While life is slightly more complicated with kids, a family holiday is an essential part of growing up and shouldn’t put in the too-hard basket (even after watching a lifetime of National Lampoon’s awkward adventures).

To give you the confidence to travel with little ones in tow, here are 39 tips from regular mums, dads and mummy and daddy bloggers to help get you prepped for your first (or hundredth) family holiday.

Reasons why you should travel with kids

Family holiday tips | Why you should travel with kids

Kayaking around the Lara Wetlands, Outback Queensland | Photo by YTravel Blog

1. Holiday magic

Kids interact with the world and other people with such pure innocence. It humbles you and helps you believe in magic again. You’ll delight in their curiosity, their playfulness, their friendliness, and willingness to explore.

~ Craig from YTravel Blog (Dad of Savannah and Kalyra)

Before you go on holidays with kids

Family holiday tips | Before you go on holidays

Digging deep on Scarness Beach, Hervey Bay | Photo by @sosarina

2. Give them the heads-up

Talk to your toddler about the upcoming holiday and travel. Little ones benefit from understanding what will happen next. If it’s the first time flying or travelling by boat, it’s a great idea to use storybooks to chat about the mode of transport.

Taking the time to explain what happens next can set your little one up for success such as, “After lunch, we’ll take a bus to the airport, then we’ll collect our tickets for the plane trip”. Letting your son or daughter know the sequence of events can help them to feel safe in a new space.

~ Kylie Camps from The Sleep Mama

3. Do your research before you go

Research what items may be available for hire in the location you’re visiting. There are a lot of hire companies that work with resorts, campgrounds and even Airbnbs that save you from having to lug your portable cot, walkers, swings, prams and so on. You can even hire toys and beach toys!  

~ Louise and Jenni from Paging Fun Mums

4. BYO Baby Sitter

Invite the grandparents or eager aunties, uncles and best mates along for part of your holiday so you can enjoy some time with your other half or just to yourself.

Isaac Nunn (Hugo’s dad)

5. Show before you go

Watch YouTube videos of other travellers, both family vloggers or regular travel YouTubers, going to the same destination so that your kids get excited about what they’ll see and do when they’re there. Try Jamie and Nikki (and Ava) for starters.

~ Edel Collis (Evie’s mum)

Where to go on a holiday with kids

Family holiday tips | Where to go in Queensland

Turtle watch at Mon Repos, Bundaberg

6. Beach is best

Keep it simple with a beach break. Wherever there’s water, there are always happy kids. The sensation of sinking their hands and feet in the sand, waves breaking across their toes and floating in the calm waters of a sheltered beach are all little kids need between nap and meal times.

Don’t overthink the itinerary. Swim, sand, sun and repeat. We’ve had worry-free holidays by Queensland’s family-friendly beaches near the Whitsundays’ Whitehaven Beach, Fraser Island’s Lake McKenzie, Stradbroke’s Cylinder Beach and Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island.

~ Rene Young from Together We Roam

7. Island time for toddlers

If you’re visiting the Great Barrier Reef for the first time, visit an island. Island hopping on the Great Barrier Reef is best because it gives the kids a break from the boat action and a chance to burn some energy and run around. There’s a greater chance of them popping their head underwater with a mask or goggles to see some reef life, too.

Kids learn the art of snorkelling and ducking their head underwater better with their feet on solid ground. If you can’t get them snorkelling then there’s always the sand to play with and castles to build. Try Fitzroy or Green Island if you’re heading out to the reef from Cairns.

~ Kate Richards (Josh and Charlie’s mum) from Adventure Mumma

We’ve got loads of other Great Barrier Reef holiday ideas here, too.

8. Born Adventurers

Toddlers are super active. Back when they were babies, they were happy to sit in the pram but as they grow up and become more comfortable on their legs, they’ll be keen to walk and explore.

For kids over the age of 18 months, choose destinations like Burleigh Heads, Caloundra and Hervey Bay with wide-open and safe spaces to explore beaches, boardwalks, parks and rainforests.

Julia Pavey (Alexander, Curtis and Thalia’s mum)

9. Weeeeeee with the wee ones

Spend your family holiday on rides, slides and meeting animals on the Gold Coast (aka theme park HQ). Dreamworld, Warner Bros. Movie World and Sea World all have rides for little kids. If you’d rather slide as a family, try WhiteWater World, Wet’n’Wild or SeaWorld who have water park fun perfect for children. Get ahead of the crowds and sleepover at Sea World Resort to get early access to SeaWorld.

Kelly Hensley (mum of Majella and Morgan)

If you’re still not sure which theme park to let your kids loose on, try this quiz on for size.

10. Meet mother nature 

Family holiday tips | Where to go | Springbrook National Park

Get amongst the green in Springbrook National Park, Gold Coast | Photo by @travel_with_jessica

Start your kids’ love for the outdoors early with a hiking holiday in amongst lush rainforests. From the Gold Coast, head to Springbrook National Park and start small on the Natural Bridge circuit.

It’s an easy 1km shaded walk through an ancient rainforest where you’ll see the natural arch, waterfalls and caves. Twin Falls Circuit is a 4km or two-hour hike with views across the valley. The kids will be rewarded for their hard work with a swim in the rock pools and walk behind the falls.

Test your family’s hiking skills along Great Keppel Island’s network of walking tracks including a hike over the headlands down to Monkey Beach.

For more family-friendly hiking options, take on one of the eight multi-purpose tracks that make up the Noosa Trail Network. You can limit the trails for little people and park at one of the lookouts and walk in between smaller sections of the bigger trails. Keep an eye out on the mountain bikers and horse riders on the track, too.

~ Jessica Palmer (mum of Ripley and Trillian) from Travel with Jess

11. Walk with the animals

Take your kid’s excitement for their favourite animal stories and nursery rhymes and theme a holiday around meeting animals face to face. Meet turtles on Lady Elliot or Heron Island, wave hello to whale calves in Hervey Bay or spot a koala in the wild at Noosa National Park or Magnetic Island

If your kids can’t get enough of ‘Old McDonald’ renditions, take their lead and meet some farm animals at Australia Zoo, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Maleny Dairies or Paradise Country. For the full farm-stay experience, give your kids the chance to get hands-on feeding farm animals on a farm stay weekend.

Janelle Pettit (mum of Mason and Harper)

What to pack for a family holiday

Family holiday tips | What to pack

Floatie fun at Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island | Photo by Together We Roam

12. Prams save tired little legs

When we’re at home, my toddler is beyond sitting in a pram and is happy to walk. I always take a pram when we travel though, because kids can get tired quickly whether it’s jet lag, long nights and new experiences. I take a pram so that the little ones can chill out and rest their little legs while we explore.

~ Chantelle Ellem (mum of Lulu and Lacey) from FatMumSlim

13. Slip, slop, slap

Be prepared for the sun with a large beach bag, a sun umbrella or shelter, reusable swim nappies, broad-brimmed hats with a cord and long-sleeved rashies and swimmers (if you like to match check out Babes in the Shade’).

Don’t forget a large beach towel or picnic mat, hooded beach towels for the littlies, water bottles, snacks, beach or pool toys and your phone or camera to capture the special moments.

~ Alex Perpitch (Edward and Daniel’s mum)

14. Holy sheet

Our eldest son always struggled to sleep in any bed that wasn’t his own. So one thing we started doing was to pack his sheets and his pillow when we travelled. We would literally take the cot sheets off his cot and shove them in the suitcase.

After a few days, he was usually settled but for those first few nights, having a bed that looked and smelled like his own helped him settle.

~ Dr Brad Robinson from Greenslopes Obstetrics and Gynaecology

15. Pre-pack a memento

Family Holiday Tips | What to pack

Sunflower spotting in Allora | Photo by @alittleatlarge

Whether you are spotting dolphins off the headland at Coolangatta, swimming with turtles at Lady Elliot Island or whale watching in Hervey Bay, littlies have BIG expectations. So just in case you don’t see what you came for, pack the toy version instead. It works to keep them happy and as a great souvenir to take home too.

~ Narelle (mum of Baylee and Tiah) from @alittleatlarge


16. Floaties for peace of mind

For us, the inexpensive back float was the absolute essential item for our one and three-year-old in the water. With floaties strapped securely on our toddlers, we were much more at ease and able to enjoy our beach break. They’re particularly handy when there are multiple young kids in the water. As little swimmers grow more confident in the water, you can adjust the back float for buoyancy.

~ Rene Young from Together We Roam

17. Bird’s eye view

Carriers are great for giving your kids a bird’s-eye view of the trip and are especially helpful in navigating through busy areas like markets or hiking through National Parks.

We found the Ergobaby carrier was great for younger kids. Once they’re more independent, the Piggy Back Rider is a fantastic alternative as they can hop on and off as they please.

~ Jessica Palmer (mum of Ripley and Trillian) from Travel with Jess

18. Take a little bit of home with you

When travelling you can’t take everything with you, but it’s sometimes nice for toddlers to have some home comforts. I pack a little bag (and I mean little) of my kids’ toys so they can have downtime and play. If I have enough room, I’ll also pack her pillow because it means she sleeps better. Sometimes it’s worth the extra luggage.

~ Chantelle Ellem (mum of Lulu and Lacey) from FatMumSlim

19. Suitcase saver

We always pack re-usable large Ikea snap-lock bags. We place everything Reid will wear each day in its own bag. This saves so much time going through the suitcase looking for socks, underwear and the rest of his outfits.

~ Jarrad (Reid’s dad) from @the_real_dads_of_Melbourne

20. Busy bee

Keep your kid’s attention by rolling out the activities one-at-a-time. Finger puppets, stickers, multi-coloured post-it notes, even a photo book of familiar faces will help to occupy your curious toddler.

Store activities in the one ‘bag of tricks’ and keep this close to you. Always pack a fresh set of activities for the trip home and plan a new activity for every 60 minutes of travel. Save electronic devices for when you have exhausted all other entertainment options.

~ Paula Geinitz from Jet Setting Kids

21. Stay healthy on holidays

Don’t forget the medicine. Create a family-travel first aid kit that includes paracetamol, teething gel, thermometer, nasal spray, travel-sickness bags and any other usual medications.

~ Jessica Palmer from Travel with Jess (mum of Ripley and Trillian)

Accommodation tips for holidays with kids

Family travel tips | Accommodation | Photo by @alittleatlarge

Kids will be kids at Netanya Noosa, Noosa Heads | Photo by @alittleatlarge

22. Splish splash

Choose a hotel or resort with a kid-friendly pool. Your kids will love splashing around the shallow end until they’re more confident swimmers. Lagoon-style pools are a particular favourite of ours as they allow younger and less-confident swimmers to play at a depth that they’re comfortable with.

~ Christine Knight from Adventure Baby

Water babies, you’ll find a few kid-friendly resorts right here.

23. Washing clothes on holidays is a good thing

Choose accommodation with a laundry. Whether you have a washing machine in your room or a communal laundry, it’s great to be able to wash clothes while you’re away because kids will be kids and that generally means mess.

~ Chantelle Ellem from FatMumSlim (mum of Lulu and Lacey)

24. Ask The Concierge

Don’t be afraid to ask a hotel or resort concierge for extra help with your toddler. Many hotels and resorts are well-equipped with high-chairs, portacots, even umbrella strollers for you to borrow. Ring Room Service and they’ll puree veggies for you!

We tend to stress ourselves out trying to be self-sufficient but these days, most major hotel brands are ready and willing to help you with your little ones.

~ Dr Brad Robinson from Greenslopes Obstetrics and Gynaecology

25. Get amongst it

Stay close to where the action is (unless it’s Schoolies!). It reduces the time the kids get impatient (or fall asleep right when you don’t want them to) and they can get to the beach, pool, boardwalk, park (or coffee shop for you) quickly and easily, which means more time for holiday fun.

Sos Mattsson (mum of Hugo and Hilda)

We’ve also got a few other accommodation tips for babies and toddlers if you’re interested.

Flying tips for family holidays

Family Travel Tips | How to Fly | The Sleep Mama

Enroute to Hamilton Island | Photo by The Sleep Mama

26. Hammock in the air

I still swear by ‘Fly Legs Up’, the flight hammock. If your kid needs a nap, they can sleep on a flat surface. If they want to play, there is room for their toys without having to pick them up off the ground every two seconds.

~ Katie Anstiss (Oxley’s mum)

27. Distract with new things

Offer your little one a new toy or book when you begin the journey. We bought Animal Airport’for Bonnie and she loved it!

~ Stella Baker (Bonnie’s mum) from Kumpas Yoga

28. Avoid the crazy

Pick flights that appear to be less popular than others. That way you have a better chance of getting that extra seat (until you have to pay for it). Popular flights almost always end up being the worst – especially when you realise a squirmy 22-month-old is actually too big to have on your lap for 2.5 hours and all they want to do is hang off the seat in front and jump.

~ Chelsea (mum of Frankie and Thomas) from @daisywalkmee

If you’re serious about flying with your family, we’ve pulled together a few more tips to help you get through the flight (without disowning your kids).

Road trip tips for family holidays

Family holiday tips - Road Trip

Road tripping life | Photo by Diana Mulholland

29. 4WD tip

When four-wheel driving, use a small towel rolled up to help keep sleeping kids’ heads steady in their car seat. There is something special about four-wheel driving on Fraser Island, the motion ALWAYS puts my kids to sleep.

~ Louise and Jenni from Paging Fun Mums

30. Road trip rules

Food can be a great distraction in the car or waiting in a queue. Little packets of sultanas can be strung out for a long time if needed, handed diligently out one at a time in a line or when we pass the next tree on a long drive up the Bruce Highway.

~ Diana Mulholland (mum of Hugo, Timothy and Joshua)

What’s the perfect age to travel with kids?

Family holiday tips - Perfect Age - Photo by @fatmumslim

Beach babes and shells | Photo by @fatmumslim

31. Start them early

Toddlers get used to travelling. Starting them young means they’ll adapt and grow into better travellers. Both of our girls are excellent travellers and very independent.

~ Craig (dad of Savannah and Kalyra) from YTravel Blog

32. Two travel or not two travel

You know what they say about “terrible twos”? Don’t believe them. They’re the best age to travel with! We just returned from a three-month trip around Southeast Asia with our two-year-old daughter and we had the best time.

In all honesty, travelling with a toddler is much more rewarding and fun than travelling with babies. It’s such a magical time: they’re now walking, talking and interacting with you and other people. They react to people who are smiling at them, their eyes widen at the sight of big mountains, and they are just soaking up everything like a sponge. In short, they’ve become their own person and are experiencing the world just as we are.

~ Nellie Huang (mum of Kaleya) from Wild Junket

33. Don’t forget about the babymoon

Make sure you go somewhere relaxing and actually take some time to really relax. Because once the baby comes you won’t get the chance to do any relaxing for a while. So make the most of it.

~ Jamie and Nikki (Ava’s parents)

If you’re expecting, soak up the last moments of pre-parenthood on Hamilton Island like Jamie and Nikki.

Tips to make the most of your family holiday

Family holiday tips - Make the most of your family holiday

Checking out the locals on Heron Island, Gladstone region | Photo by Paging Fun Mums

34. Budding photographers

Hand over your phone and let the kids take photos and videos so you can all create memories. If they are up to writing, get them to keep a holiday diary or draw their favourite activity of each day. It’s fun to see what the kids find interesting about being out of their regular routine.

When you get home, create a photo book with the kids and even scan some of their diary or drawings to add to the memory bank. You’ll be able to look back on your family holiday for years to come (and remember to plan another one).

Sos Mattsson (mum of Hugo)

35. Embrace slow travel

Travelling with kids is very different to travelling alone or as a couple. We used to squeeze as much as we could into each day, but now we have to slow it down a little and stop and smell the roses, pick them… and maybe even make a fairy garden with them!

When travelling, remember that everything is new and exciting for your little adventurers and it’s not just about your destination but all the fun activities you can do along the way.

~ Tracy Morris (Ziggy and Marli’s mum) from The Blonde Nomads

36. It’s the simple things

Kids love exploring new worlds and while they like to be busy, they also love to take their time to explore. They will feel new texture with sand between their toes or digging in the dirt.

Learn new words like “moo” when they see their first cow up close on a farm stay. Have a piggyback ride with dad on a bushwalk or just splash in the water. You will create memories by keeping it simple.

~ Diana Mulholland (mum of Hugo, Timothy and Joshua)

37. Junior Explorers

Follow a give-and-take formula. If they need to sit still on an aircraft or bus, allow for some energy-burning play before and after.

Remember, toddlers are not designed to be sedentary. They are explorers and movers. Allow extra time for play, movement and activity when possible.

~ Kylie Camps from The Sleep Mama

38. Use your holiday to try new things you wouldn’t at home

Eat at a restaurant, try your mini-me on new foods, and use the surroundings to keep them entertained. You may be pleasantly surprised.

My little one is terrible at restaurants but we took him to Sushi Train on the Gold Coast and now it is a weekly date. I am obsessed with sushi, Oxley is now a keen bean for sushi and enjoys the experience of going there with us each week. Win-win!

Katie Anstiss (Oxley’s Mum)

39. Freebies for mini-mes

Make the most of the free entry to attractions while it lasts. One of the most brilliant things about toddler travel is that they often gain free entry to theme parks and attractions.

Your toddler is not too young to go. They love to explore, play and see new things just like you do. Generally, they will just be happy just to be with you. Make the most of this, the older they get the more input kids will have into your itinerary.

~ Paula Geinitz from Jet Setting Kids

If you like your tips in SlideShare form, you’ll get most of these holiday hints here:

What are your secret tips for the perfect family holiday? Share with us in the comments below.