Tips for a great family holiday

Taking the whole family on holiday can be an expensive exercise, but knowing the tricks to finding cheap hotel deals can make a family holiday much more affordable. Check out discount voucher deals and last minute accommodation deals on the internet. If you book your accommodation less than 14 days before you depart you’ll find some amazing savings.

beach 2 plus 1Another way to save on accommodation for your family holiday is to travel in the off-season at your destination. Resorts in Bali and Thailand, for instance, can be spectacularly cheaper outside of peak tourist seasons. You’ll also find great deals on flights and package holidays outside of peak seasons and in some places, even tours and shopping will be cheaper.

If you have small children look out for good deals on self-catering apartments, holiday rentals and resorts with kid-friendly activities. These keep the little ones amused, while you have some adult time to kick back and relax!

Choose a destination that all the family can enjoy, with activities suited to your children’s age group. Small children may be happy to just play in the sand on the beach and maybe visit a zoo or aquarium, while older children may want to meet other children their own age and have plenty of places to see and things to do.

If eating out is expensive in your destination, self-catering accommodation is a great option. This can save money, as you can prepare most of your own meals and  can then dine out occasionally as a special treat.

Also, look out for good deals on tours and family passes. On Queensland’s Gold Coast, for instance, there are special deals on passes to all the famous theme parks.

With careful planning and finding the best cheap Brisbane hotels, an affordable, fun holiday for all the family is waiting for you!

Embrace the stay-cation

If you haven’t heard of a “staycation”, perhaps you’ve heard of a “stoliday” or “holistay”. What is it? Its a stay at home holiday! I love this concept and I think the idea is a great one for both parents and kids. Its the ultimate slow down and spend time together. Make the ordinary extraordinary – in your own neighborhood!

family-cartoon

So often we get caught up in what we should be doing at home, but by embracing the staycation you are saying “no” to the vacuum cleaner and “stay away mop”. Don’t even get me started on the lawn mower! Swap the suitcase for your slippers I say!

To get your staycation happening consider the following tips;

1. plan how long you will be on your ‘staycation’ and stick to it.

2. organise a list of activities for each day

3. plan ahead if you need to buy anything beforehand

4. try and include something everyone will enjoy

5. include ‘special’ trips you don’t make often

6. make sure the whole family is on board – its not relaxing for you if someone starts cleaning out a cupboard!tyre swing

7. stick to a schedule – try and be up and out of the house as you would on holiday

8. spend a day at home ‘playing’ – we parents may not take the time to really ‘play’ when we’re faced with the inevitable jobs around the house. Spend a day dressing Barbie, throwing the ball, building the best train track ever!

9. try and have a routine – just as the ‘maid’ would come in and make the beds in a motel – have everyone make their own, but must be done by, say, 9am! Do your other chores early and then forget them.

10. do your normal holiday things – take photos, send postcards, eat holiday food. Make your own at home!

Transport in Bali and Cuba

Nadia said: March 13th 2011 3:58 PM

Sent: March 14 2011 10:00 AM

My baby will be 8 months when travelling to Bali and 14 months when travelling  to Cuba.

Do i need to take a baby seat with me, are seat belts installed in these country’s’ or is there other products that can help ensure the safety of my boy when travelling by car or bus without lugging around a cumbersome seat (we intend to backpack around).

Donna @ Little Gulliver said: March 17 2011 10:54 AM

Hi Nadia,

Car seats and their world-wide requirements is a really common question and sadly so hard to find information on. My thoughts are though, that I’m afraid you can’t go past a car seat to ensure ultimate safety, especially as some say driving in those areas tends to be a bit “haphazard”. The best option may be to take a car seat with you for car travel, but buses are unlikely to have seat belts.

International car seat laws

Now, the really annoying part for parents trying to do the right thing is that car seat standards are different the world over. Therefore, car seats approved for use here in Australia are unlikely to be “approved” for use overseas. So, is taking your own car seat practical anyway? In the 2 areas you are looking at it could be safe to assume the laws may not be too strict? And if you want to take a car seat on a plane that is a different problem all together.

I’ve got a few thoughts though, on how to make this a bit easier;

Rear facing car seat

I guess at 8 months and 14 months your son would still be in a rear facing car seat (at between around 9 – 11 kilos). If you didn’t want to take your own car seat, consider getting a second hand one specifically for the trip or a budget, light-weight version?

There’s also the Sit n Stroll from Lilly Gold, these are quite popular overseas and have had some good reviews. (I noticed there’s one on ebay in Australia at the moment. Also, I’m unsure if it is approved for use in Australian airlines or cars, so may just be useful for overseas travel). It’s worth checking how easy it is to convert from a stroller to a car seat…

The cars in both Bali and Cuba should have seat belts (but no bolts) so you’ll be fine installing a seat in a car, but as I mentioned the buses are unlikely to have seat belts (but you never know). Also, maybe look at a car seat which has a reclining feature since you may be on the road during sleep times.

Car Seat bags

Consider a car seat bag. Its an easy way to transport the car seat when not in use, there are some with wheels which make it easier to cart around. It also a great space to cram some extra nappies and wipes into.

Stroller

Ride On Carry OnIf you’re considering taking a stroller, we use a Quicksmart for travel. Another great option is to get a cheap umbrella stroller, one of the $20 varieties. They do the trick, you wont mind it it gets damaged in transit and you can even leave it there if you’re finished with it. Again, some sort of stroller bag may be handy, depending on what you’re already taking. And, have you seen the Ride On Carry On? I’m still a bit on the fence with this one, but it is popular and I can see it would be useful if you need an extra pair of hands. It may not work with your style of backpack anyway?

Car seat alternatives

I have to say first, that there really is no alternative to a car seat. But take a look at these and see what you think. There are 2 products that I know of which are designed to improve safety in vehicles. Again, neither really replaces the car seat. One is the Safefit. It moves a regular car seat strap into a more suitable position for a child. Coupled with a cushion booster seat to lift the child up, it could work well. Again though, some cushion booster’s are recommended from around 18 kilos, so not recommended for your child’s size. Another is the Ride Safer Vest. I’m not sure, again whether these would suit you at 8 and 14 months and how easily you could get one. A blog I have found useful (though our youngest is now 2, sigh), Travels with Baby, has a great car seat alternatives post (bearing in mind its US based).

Some reading on Cuba

In Cuba, it sounds like the Casa’s, hotels and rented apartments are great options for families, while travelling on public transport works well. Apparently just allow extra time for travel, as many Cubans will want to stop you to see your child! We have family visiting Cuba as we speak, so I may be able to add some more feedback about travelling there at a later time.

http://www.babygoes2.com/

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/

http://www.travelpod.com/

http://www.tripadvisor.com/

Some reading on Bali

http://www.balibaby.com/

http://www.tripadvisor.com/

CARES

Your son may still be too young to fit into a CARES flight harness for the travel you have planned for this year. It’s worth some thought for the future though, especially as you seem to be frequent travellers. And, of course, it and other handy Travel Essentials for Kids are available from www.LittleGulliver.com.au!

I hope I’ve been able to add some useful insights and information for you here. I’d love to hear what you think and how you go. They sound like great trips. There is a lot to think about re the car seat, so in the end, just go with what you feel comfortable with.

Finally, apologies for my delay in replying, I’m catching up after the labour day long weekend here in Victoria. We had some beautiful Autumn weather so all was good!

Regards,

Donna.

Dreams Come True at the ACMI

We had a lovely family day at the ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne’s Federation Square) this past weekend. We saw the ‘Dreams Come True‘ exhibition – the art of Disney Classic Fairy Tales. Not only were there some of our favourite Disney movies showing (and we had a look how they were drawn) we also caught a train and a tram!

The kids loved wandering through the exhibition and were excited to see which Fairy Tale we would come to next! Starting with Snow White and finishing with Tangled it was (almost) too exciting…
City Circle TramWe caught a tram there, a big treat if you’re 2, 3 & 4! Slight problem was, it had been that long since Mum and Dad had been on a tram we had some ticket issues. The ticket machine was only coin operated – and we didn’t have that many coins, ooops. Do people really know to carry change for trams? Anyway, plan ahead and buy in advance! Its worth checking the Met website too, you can buy Met tickets online and they deliver. There are Sunday savers too. I think we’ll stock up for next time!

As we had a warm weekend in Melbourne we had to break out the sunglasses, hats and sunscreen for the trip. The Banz sunglasses and hats are big hits at our house. The hats have an adjustable band and the three pairs of sunglasses all fit in one of the sunglasses cases for easy storage.

We arrived at Federation Square to find the Melbourne food and wine festival in full swing. There were many activities for kids (food related). We enjoyed planting our own strawberries and digging for potatoes. They also had ‘Willy Wonker and the Chocolate Factory’ on the big screen with deckchairs and free popcorn – very popular!
ACMI_Disney_Dreams come trueThe temperature climbed to 27 degrees celsius, so the Cheeki drink bottles came in handy. The kids handle them really well. They have a twist spout (which I prefer as our kids tend to pull the pop tops with their teeth). I just keep an eye on the 2yo, as he doesn’t use his as much and sometimes closes the lid without closing the spout…

The only down side to the trip were the toilet facilities at Flinders Street Station, best avoided or at least make sure you have your Cleanspray. Enough said.

All in all a fun day out, we all had a ball. The kids managed to tire themselves out and went to bed early…mums and dads – dreams really do come true!

Travel Brochures Online

Plan your holiday with free travel information and free brochures.

I’m often asked for family travel ideas. A great way is to start with browsing some brochures and see what appeals. While there are a few brochure sites around, I like this one Travel Brochures Online. It includes great information from operators like Trafalgar, Intrepid, Peregrine, Club Med and Creative Holidays. You can download your brochure immediately or have up to 7 posted out to you. So if you’re planning a trip, or looking for ideas it is a good place to start! There are plenty of famiy travel ideas – go to ‘Special interest – Family’.

Note; and the good news is – this is a brochure service only – they will not contact you. For any travel reservations you should contact the tour operators direct.

Happy reading!

Which Greek island?

Dee said: February 17th 2011 8:22 AM

We are wanting to go to greece in July with our 12 month old girl. Could you suggest the best islands with easy access to beautiful beaches. Want to stay somewhere nice and like the idea of catching those big ferries. Would like to do lefkhada area as its beautiful. Also thinking of Santorini or folegandros if possible.

let me know what you think

thank you

Donna @ Travel Toddler said: February 17th 2011 9:47 PM

Hello Dee,

Sounds lovely! It will be a wonderful area to see and at 12 months old, your daughter may still be able to have some naps in her stroller while you enjoy the sights. And it looks like there will be plenty to wear her out! I like the thought of the easy packing too, just some summer outfits should do it.

You’re right – the Lefkada Island looks beautiful and as it is so close to the mainland, you could then venture out to islands, further away, without too much extra travel. There is some handy information on the area and different beaches here. I’ve also included a You Tube clip, its fairly long – but the views and the music will certainly get you in the mood while you plan your holiday!

I haven’t been to Greece (sadly with or without kids) but the Little Nomads team have put together a comprehensive section on ‘Greece With Kids‘ which I think you will find useful. (Just keep in mind it is Canadian/American based, so travel times etc will be based on their location). I also checked my well thumbed through copy of William Grey’s ‘Travel with Kids’. He suggests that the Cyclades “are well suited to island hopping by ferry cruise ship or chartered yacht.” Since Santorini is one of the 39 islands that make up this area, it may be a good place for your ferry ride.

I also love this thread from Lonely Planet, its from 2007, but does have some great detail on Folegandros with a Toddler you might find useful. Seems like you may need to stock up on nappies on the mainland, but perhaps its changed since then.

The only thing I wondered about is the timing. You mentioned July and there are some suggestions that the more popular islands are particularly busy in July and August. This is worth checking worth your travel professional for advice if it is a concern.

I’d love to hear how your planning goes and see some photos once you’re back. Enjoy!

Regards,

Donna

Family Holidays to Disneyland

Taking the family to Disneyland is a fabulous holiday idea – it is the ultimate holiday destination for the young and young at heart and is the sparkling centrepiece in the Walt Disney crown. For a completely magical holiday adventure stay at one of the three accommodation options within the Disneyland resort where the fun is at your doorstep; or choose to stay at one of the Disney good neighbour hotels that are within close proximity to the parks.

There are two Disney parks to visit within the Disneyland family – Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure Park. There is also the Disney Downtown district – a unique promenade that lies adjacent to the Disney hotels and features dining, shopping and entertainment options.

Disneyland Park has attractions for everyone, starting with the famous Disney characters that the little ones will love. Take them on a magical journey with an Alice in Wonderland adventure that will see you following the white rabbit into the enchanted world of Alice and all of the wonderland characters like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts.

For the older children and adults alike there’s a plethora of famous rides and attractions to keep you entertained including the Indiana Jones Adventure, Space Mountain, the Matterhorn Bobsled Ride and the Pirates of the Caribbean to name a few.

Disneyland California Park is equally as exciting, smaller children will love walking the streets of

Monstropolis on the Monsters Inc attraction or playing games with Woody and Buzz on Toy Story Mania. Pick up the pace with a hair raising plunge down the Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror or if you dare, hop aboard the California Screamin’ coaster, where you will climb 120 feet before plummeting down again at a speed of 88km per hour!

And there’s no need to stand in long queues either, ask about the ‘Magic Morning Early Admission’ and the Disney FASTPASS.

A day in Hong Kong with kids

Hong Kong is one of the most exciting family holiday destinations in Asia with plenty of fun things to do that will keep the kids entertained, along with plenty of cheap holiday accommodation to be found. Hong Kong is also a popular stopover destination so here is a list of some of the most popular attractions that can easily be done in a day:

Hong Kong Disneyland:

This much loved theme park will be a winner with family members of all ages. Visit all four themed lands

 within the park including Main Street USA, Fantasyland, Adventureland and Tomorrowland. The little ones will love the singing and dancing characters of the Disney on Parade and the older kids in the family will be thrilled by Space Mountain and the nightly fireworks display.

Ocean Park:

A local favourite, Ocean Park is one of the largest aquariums and marine parks in South-East Asia. Hop aboard the Ocean Express for an aquatic journey like no other, or feel the thrill of nature up close when you hug a dolphin on the Dolphin Encounter Program.  Learn about amazing Asian animals and enjoy an unforgettable underwater experience with attractions such as Atoll Reef, Pacific Pier and Sea Jelly Spectacular.

Victoria Harbour:

There’s heaps to see and do here- start by strolling down the avenue of stars where you will see handprints of famous Asian movie stars such as Jackie Chan and Jett Li, next hop aboard the Star Ferry for a trip between the Hong Kong main island and Kowloon to be treated to an amazing view of the harbour, the junks, hydrofoils, sampans and barges.

By night be sure to catch the famous ‘Symphony of Lights’ a light and laser spectacular featuring more than forty of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers in a visual extravaganza.

Fun Food

Take the family to one of the many Dum Sum restaurants in Hong Kong, they are fun, family orientated places to eat that are busy, noisy and open all hours.

Ten steps to choosing the right family resort

This article was written by Deborah Dickson-Smith and can be found at Ninemsn’s Travel Blog.

Lots of resorts and hotels claim to be family-friendly, but the key to a happy, stress-free family holiday lies in the detail.

There’s nothing worse than arriving at your hotel after a long flight to discover the kids’ club doesn’t accept kids under two years of age. Or your accommodation consists of one room that you have to whisper in and watch TV with the sound down while your kids get to sleep. The best advice for a holiday you can all enjoy is to prepare and do your research.

So, before you go, make sure you get these details right.

1. With or without kids?
Decide what kind of holiday you want with your kids. Do you want to laze by the pool with a big fat crime novel while your kids go wild at the kids’ club? Or do you want to play with your children and explore your chosen destination together? Or a combination of the two? Think about it.

2. Rooms
Check that the hotel offers suites or adjoining rooms, and what deals they offer for families. Sharing a standard hotel room with two kids is doable but not enjoyable — especially for a week. To test out your level of endurance, get the family to camp out in the living room for a night and see how much you enjoy it.

3. Cooking
It’s best to choose a room with a kitchenette, or at least a microwave, so you can prepare meals for the kids in your room and avoid eating out every day. It’s not just a matter of expense; the kids won’t want a full meal three times a day so it’s useful to be able to make them sandwiches or two-minute noodles on occasion.

4. Bottles and baby paraphernalia
If your baby is bottle-fed you’ll also need a microwave or a bottle warmer to warm bottles. Have a plan in place as well for sterilising bottles and dummies. Make sure you request a cot and it’s worth asking if the hotel has highchairs.

5. Nappies
If you don’t want to take supplies for the entire length of your stay then find out in advance if there’s somewhere nearby you can purchase them. I once spent an entire day in Bali searching the shelves of all the local mini-marts trying to find diapers … A diabolical waste of time.

6. Kids’ clubs
They may have one, but what ages does it cater for? Some kids’ clubs don’t cater for under-twos at all and it may be even harder with older kids. Ask about what activities they have planned for kids of different ages — especially older kids. Remember, they’re on holiday, too, and may not relish the idea of spending all day colouring-in. Some resorts will have two to three different clubs for different ages.

7. Babysitting
Ask how readily available babysitters are and how far in advance you have to book them. It’s also worth checking credentials — especially with younger kids so you can feel comfortable leaving your kids with a stranger and enjoy a night out.

8. Restaurants
Check out the kids menu and buffet options. Some resorts charge $1 for each year of your child’s age (which seems reasonable) and some provide free food for all kids under 12 years of age. It’s also worth checking if there are any family-friendly restaurants nearby so you’re not stuck at the resort buffet every night.

9. Activities and entertainment
Find out the range of activities available at the resort that you can all enjoy, whether that’s surfing, sailing, volleyball, kayaking or wet weather entertainment such as movies and video games. Some resorts will provide DVD players and even games consoles in your room, with a range of DVDs and games for hire at reception. A DVD player is a much better (and cheaper) choice than in-room movies — pack your kids’ own favourites before you leave home.

10. Health
Ask about the nearest medical facilities and how quickly you can access them in an emergency. Whether that’s a broken limb or Delhi belly, it’s comforting to know that there is a doctor available a quick phone call away. And make sure you choose the right travel insurance.

This article was written by Deborah Dickson-Smith and can be found at Ninemsn’s Travel Blog.

Travelling and Eating in Vietnam

This post is courtesy of Oscar’s mum and can be found at http://www.cookingforoscar.com/2010/09/30/travelling-and-eating-in-vietnam/.

I have a 2 year old son, Oscar, who was diagnosed with food intolerances just after his first birthday, following 4 weeks on an elimination diet. His intolerances include Salicylates, Glutamates, food colours, and most artificial preservatives. This means that most fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices and processed foods are excluded from his diet. I’m sure that I’m not the only parent trying to deal with these food issues, so I’ve decided to share our experiences.

Thursday, September 30, 2010
We have just arrived back from 12 days holiday in Vietnam, Oscar included.  Vietnam is probably not the easiest place to take a child with food intolerances, as it is almost impossible to find out what ingredients are in food.  But, with a lot of planning we made it through the holiday without Oscar having any food reactions.

Our plan was to stick to Oscar’s diet as much as possible for breakfast and snacks and pick the “safest” option for lunch and dinner.  We didn’t expect to be able to buy much from the safe list (other than bananas and pawpaws) and didn’t want to spend all our time there trying to find food either, so we took what we could with us.

The food we took with us for 12 days included:

  • 6 x Aunty Betty’s Vanilla Flavoured Creamy Rice (100g tin) – these were just the right size to take on the plane
  • 6 x Uncle Tobys Microwaveable Bowl Oats Original.  These can be made with boiling water, which is handy for hotel rooms.
  • 6 x 425g cans of pears in syrup
  • 8 x Fosters Chocolate UHT custards
  • Dried fruit
  • Mixed plain sweet biscuits – Arnotts Milk Coffee, Arrowroot, etc.
  • Arnotts savoy biscuits
  • Lollies (for bribery purposes)
  • Powdered milk (for taking on the plane in case we couldn’t get any on board)
  • Small box Rice Bubbles
  • Pear Jam
  • Assorted zip lock bags and disposable plastic containers for storing food and taking out with us in small quantities.

All of this took up quite a bit of space in our suitcases, but the upside was that once all the food and nappies had been consumed we had an empty suitcase that we could fill with shopping.

Because we were flying overseas the food we took for the flight had to comply with the liquids and gels limit of 100 ml/100 g per container and all the items to fit in a 25 x 25cm zip lock bag each.  In our hand luggage we took a couple of 100g Choc Rock yogos, and a small container of jam, a tin of creamed rice, bananas, pears, a packet of croissants and the powdered milk.  To keep the jam and yogo cold I bought a thermal bag (smash brand) that doesn’t need ice and a packet of the smallest gel ice packs I could find (also by smash).  I included one of these in the zip lock bag with the jam, yogo and creamed rice and had no problems going through security with it.  We took powdered milk because I couldn’t find any UHT milk containers that were 100ml or less.   There is supposed to be an exception for liquids that are food or drink for babies and children but I think it depends on which security person you get as to whether they will let something bigger through.  We didn’t need the powdered milk on the plane, as we were able to get it as part of the drinks service.  It did come in very handy though when our flight was delayed landing for 3 hours and we arrived at our hotel too late to go out and buy any.

Breakfast for Oscar consisted of Rice Bubbles or porridge with milk/water to drink followed by something from the breakfast buffet at the hotel – scrambled eggs on toast, bananas, pancakes/toast with butter and/or pear jam and, not to be left out when his parents pigged out on the pastries, a chocolate croissant.  Unlike his parents, Oscar wasn’t greedy, he pulled the croissant apart and only ate the chocolate centre!

Snacks came from the food we brought with us, plus we supplemented and provided variety with icecreams and drinks when we were out:

  • Banana juice
  • Banana and pear (Nashi) juice – Moderate Salicylate
  • Chocolate or Banana Smoothies/Milkshakes
  • Coconut smoothie – made from fresh coconut – Moderate Salicylate
  • Icecream – vanilla, chocolate, coconut (moderate salicylate)
  • Small can of lemon and lime 7up

We were also able to buy raw cashews, milk, bread to have with pear jam and plenty of bananas.

Lunches and dinners were a bit harder.  We tried to pick the safest option from the menu, which was usually a western meal, such as chips, chicken nuggets, fish fingers and pastas with cream sauces.  Not the healthiest diet, but the nuggets and fish fingers and some of the chip servings were freshly made, not the commercial  variety, so preservatives were less likely.  We also let Oscar try anything on our plate that he was interested in (apart from the chillies and really spicy food), and he did try some noodles and spring rolls.

Some other things we found useful for travelling overseas with a toddler included some great products from Little Gulliver – the CARES child safety restraint for use in planes, the Cushie Traveller folding toilet seat, the kids inflatable neck cushion, the Wrist Buddy for keeping us tethered together when out walking in crowded places, and the Little Gulliver disposable wrist bands for recording Oscar’s name and our details in case he got lost..

We also took a DVD player (cheap one from Dick Smith) – which was great on the plane when the lights were turned out and the entertainment system didn’t work – an MP3 player, and a set of Moshi Kids Headphones which are volume limited to protect kids ears, no matter how loud the volume on the device is.

Oscar carried (some of the time) his own backpack which contained some new and old favourite books, sticker books, Crayola twistable crayons (they don’t break when dropped) and colouring books, a special toy and a mini doodle.  I also took extra new books, colouring books and sticker books for the trip home and as a distraction at other times.

This post is courtesy of Oscar’s mum and can be found at http://www.cookingforoscar.com/2010/09/30/travelling-and-eating-in-vietnam/