We all love the idea of holidays, right? Time away from the grind of our working lives and the opportunity for some relaxation, some leisure time, sleep-ins and exploring somewhere new! But holidays with kids are very different to holidaying alone, or with other adults. Kids have their own fun agenda and holiday or no holiday, we don’t get a break from parenting!
My name is Elizabeth, I’m a single mum, an Early Childhood Teacher and Child Care Director, and the person behind the TeachingBrave blog. As a single parent, holidaying with your kids can be quite wonderful, as there is such a sense of freedom involved with no other adults to consider, though it can also be quite stressful if your holiday lacks some basic planning.
Here are my best tips and tricks for holidaying with kids, whether you’re a single parent or not, to reduce stress and ensure you are maximizing the enjoyment and relaxation factor!
Would you turn up at the airport, kids in tow, bags packed, without a flight booking, hoping for an available flight to your chosen holiday destination? Crazy, right? So, I say, don’t even risk it with your other plans either!
While the idea of spontaneity and holidaying without pre-planning may seem exciting and even romantic, when kids are involved, this is a sure-fire way to almost guarantee instant stress. Kids have bedtimes, kids get cranky when they’re hungry (let’s face it, so do we) but making sure you have accommodation booked, paid for and ready for you at a particular location makes things so much easier, meaning you can focus on doing the fun stuff, rather than spending quality holiday time searching, enquiring and taking chances on availabilities.
This doesn’t only apply for accommodation but should be applied for airport transfers, day tours, activities and depending on where you’re going, even restaurant bookings.
Getting organized before leaving doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not allowing for some spontaneity on my trip! There will be days and evenings I deliberately leave open, with nothing planned, but the essentials WILL be planned for – i.e –the actual location and how long we are staying there, the accommodation booking and the plans to return home again.
I’m a huge advocate for taking care of your personal finances and not only ensuring you can actually AFFORD the holiday you are planning, but you have saved up for it prior, rather than getting yourself in debt and paying for the holiday later. This also ensures you don’t overspend while on holidays – it’s easy to run up that credit card mindlessly while you’re enjoying another $30 cocktail or buying ‘just one more’ souvenir for the kids, but do you really want a holiday hangover when you get home and credit card statements start coming in?
Spending money on holidays can be fun, but I always spend money according to my personal values. I love trying out new restaurants and cuisines with my son on holidays so I plan to eat out at least once per day – usually the other meals are packed bread rolls or some cereal. If we want to splurge on a big buffet breakfast, then dinner can be some frozen pizzas popped in the oven that evening while we watch a movie.
If your holiday wouldn’t be complete without some parasailing, bungee jumping, dirt biking or jetskiing, then Go for it!
The point is, we all have different values and ideas of what makes our ideal holiday – try to spend money according to those values, and have a plan for where you won’t mind spending a bit extra, as well as an idea of what you refuse to spend money on, or what doesn’t align to your values. Some people love to come home with a collection of souvenirs – for me, not so important. A fridge magnet and maybe a t-shirt for my son and we are happy.
My son Andy is anaphylactic to peanuts and gets mild asthma sometimes, so we cannot travel without packing his Epipen and inhaler. Eating out means we need to be super careful asking for meal ingredients. There have been times on holidays where Andy has fallen over, gashed his leg, been eaten alive by mosquitoes at an outdoor restaurant, and also developed a terrible fever on holidays due to an ear infection.
We never expect these things to happen but it helps to plan for the unexpected by making sure you prioritise packing some basic first aid items. In my opinion, it’s even better to make sure you have current first aid training too, as I have used my first aid training on numerous occasions.
I recommend packing the following basics:
– Bandaids (cuts, scrapes)
– First Aid cream/Antiseptic (cuts, skin infections)
– Thermometer (check for fever)
– Saline eye solution (think sand in eyes)
– Tweezers (splinters)
– Panadol (pain or fever)
– Children’s Antihistamine (itchy bites, or allergic reactions)
– Bandages (sprains or strains)
– Ventolin puffer (if applicable)
– Epipen (if applicable)
It’s also a good idea to have sunscreen and insect repellent handy, depending on where you’re going, and most of the time you can buy all of the above at a good pharmacy, but I like to have it packed and ready.
You should always seek professional medical advice if you or your child have any medical related issues, so my above recommendations are simply a suggestion on what basic supplies are useful to have on hand.
While there are some essentials (such as the ones above) that I won’t leave home without, I CAN leave home without 8 different dresses, 10 pairs of different shoes and a different outfit for my son, for every day we are away! It can seriously get overwhelming and stressful having too much packed, which as a single mum, is all on you! No help to carry all of that extra luggage which is probably highly unnecessary.
Assess what the climate is, and pack accordingly and lightly. If you’re catching a flight, wear the bulky stuff on your body! Sneakers or boots on, and jumper tied around your waist. Invest in some kid’s suitcases (or just the carry-on size) with wheels on them, so the kids can wheel their own case around.
Some versatile pieces of clothing are best – items you can dress up or down and some warmer items you can layer on. The kids don’t need lots of outfits, and it’s not the end of the world if they wear the same outfit two days in a row! It helps if you relax your usual standards a bit while on holidays – do you really NEED to pack pyjamas, or will a light t-shirt and shorts do the job? You could find out prior to leaving whether you will have access to laundry facilities and factor in a load of washing while away – that means less you need to pack if you’re willing to do some laundry – again, personal choice – for me, I don’t mind doing this. For others who hate the thought of laundry on holidays, you might value packing more in your case to avoid this.
Who is this holiday for? Holidays planned with kids is just that – WITH kids, not entirely FOR the kids. While most parents will understand that if kids are happy and entertained, it makes our life as parents a whole lot easier, but having said that, we need to ensure that our holiday includes experiences, activities or plans that consider OUR interests and ensure we get some quality relaxation and leisure time too! That will look different for everyone.
It might mean booking into that restaurant I really want to try out where I know my son won’t eat anything on the menu, so to allow for that, I give him a bread roll and a banana before we leave and just let him try some of the things on my plate.
Sure, it’s also lots of fun to enjoy activities together such as swimming, playing at the beach, bushwalks, watching movies together and maybe visiting a zoo, aquarium or other local attraction, but there’s also the option of putting the kids to bed early on some nights (despite their protests), so you can watch a movie that’s not animated and have a glass of wine in peace.
Brisbane Holiday Village would like to thank Elizabeth Michelle from Teaching Brave for her fantastic guest blog! Elizabeth’s blog has over 60 articles with parenting tips, early childhood content, single parenting and her money journey from broke single mum to thriving financially.
You can find and follow Elizabeth on socials @TeachingBrave (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter).
If you’re looking for your next adventure with your kids, just remember that Brisbane Holiday Village is only 15 minutes away from Brisbane City!
Our village offers a huge variety of tropical resort-style facilities including FREE WIFI, a lagoon pool, kiddies splash pool, on-site restaurant, mini-golf, tennis court and free parking.
Grab a great holiday deal by booking directly with us OR give our friendly reception staff a call on (07) 3341 6133.