Go for gold! How to put the fun into a family holiday

Fun and games: Giaan with her daughter, Lexi, 18 months.

Following her recent stay at a BIG4 park, BIG4 ambassador and former Olympic champion, Giaan Rooney, shares her insights into getting maximum enjoyment from a family break.

Family breaks are ideal for capturing priceless memories.

Ahhh, holidays. A time to relax, de-stress, and put your feet up...unless you’re travelling with kids!

I can very much relate to the thought that ‘holidays with kids is just parenting in a different location’, minus the advantage of having all your ‘things’ with you.

But with a bit of organisation, you can have a holiday that is enjoyable for the whole family. So, with first-hand experience, I thought I’d share with you my top tips when travelling with kids.

With a bit of prep, travelling with kids can have its relaxing moments.

Tip no.1: Have realistic expectations

No-one knows your kids and their needs like you do. So, don’t expect to be lying by a pool with cocktail in hand if you have busy little bees that require constant supervision.

Instead, plan for an activity-filled morning that will wear everyone out, with some ‘downtime’ after lunch. This means a sleep for the little members and a movie/board game for the older kids, before heading out to explore again in the afternoon.

Once you get into this mini-routine, you can plan your days in advance, or keep it flexible depending on the weather or your mood.

Forget it. It's not going to happen.

Tip no.2: Pack to fit, hire the rest

I have experience in this field and have learned to follow the rule: pack everything you can fit and hire the rest.

Sometimes it seems like the smaller your children are, the more stuff you need! When my kids were babies, I used to hire a cot, a pram, age-appropriate toys, and a high chair so I didn’t have to bring it all with me. It is cost effective and makes life so much easier.

There are great hire companies based all over the country that cater to kids of all ages and stages – even allowing you to hire beach equipment and pool toys.

Rather than cramming the car, consider hiring kid-related equipment.

Tip no.3: Aim for consistency

Where possible, I recommend keeping some level of consistency between home life and holiday life. Unfortunately, holidays don’t last forever.

So, for example, if your kids get used to eating an unhealthy breakfast on your getaway, it is only going to make life harder when you do get home to reset those bad habits.

I try to stick to healthy breakfast habits while on holiday – it seems to be the easiest meal to maintain healthiness with for my clan – so I know at least one meal a day has been nutritionally sound.

Further, I only allow treats when the kids are being good. If they are fighting and throwing tantrums, then it’s a case of no ice cream for you!

Fighting and tantrums can lead to ice-cream privileges being revoked in the Rooney household.

Of course, the idea of a holiday is to get out of your normal routine, which I fully endorse. Yet when it comes to kids, they thrive on routine, so be flexible but try to keep some order.

Hopefully these tips will help you to enjoy your next break and reconnect as a family.

Reconnecting as a family is priceless.

What is your best advice for getting the most from a family getaway? 

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