Planning the (as perfect as it can be) family holiday. By guest blogger Amanda Woodward

We are currently enjoying China’s icy north at Club Med Yabuli, and I can’t wait to share my experiences on the blog when I return.  In the meantime it is a pleasure to host this article by guest blogger Amanda Woodward.  

Amanda Woodward is a Victorian mum of two and the creator of – a website featuring more than 400 listings and reviews of family friendly holiday accommodation throughout Australia and around the world.  She kindly shares her tips on family holiday planning with us:

As mother of a 10 and 7 year old, when it comes to travelling with children, I now have a few years experience under my belt. Name the situation and I have been there, done that:

  • · cried myself while trying to cope with a crying baby on a plane (tick)
    · been embarrassed by a temper tantrum in a restaurant (tick)
    · struggled to get an over-tired toddler to sleep in an unfamiliar environment (tick)

You might be interested to know that just a few years down the track, trying to recall these tough times is actually quite hard. That’s because it is the fun times that stay with you. That’s the joy of memory – the bad bits are filtered out, while the good bits remain.

So, whatever you do, don’t put off travelling or having a holiday until your children are older. You are bound to experience more wonderful times than not. And there are ways to help make your holiday that bit smoother.

Before you leave

Planning is the key to success. In particular, research and book your accommodation prior to leaving – is a good starting point.

Think about what you want from the experience. Sometimes accommodation is just somewhere to sleep – other times it is ‘the’ holiday.

You might want to experience the beach, the bush or farm life. You might want seclusion or want to meet other families. Other things to consider include:

Location: are you withn walking distance to the beach, a park, close to restaurants or public transport. If you have a car, is parking available and included in the cost?

Facilities: does the accommodation provide a portacot and/or high chair? Do you want to be self-contained? Consider washing facilities for longer term stays (if you don’t want to wash your clothes in the bath).

Room: consider where you want your room to be and request it in advance. Do you want downstairs with a courtyard, as opposed to a balcony? Do you want to be close to a pool or playground?

Answering these sorts of questions will help determine the best place to stay for your purposes.

Extra tip: When your children are no longer wearing night nappies, but experiencing the occasional bed-wetting, take some disposable incontinence bed liners with you (you should be able to find a pack at your pharmacy).

It still amazes me how many places do not have waterproof mattress protectors. Having your child wetting someone else’s mattress is not something you want to go through.

On holiday

Sticking to a routine definitely helps make for a more pleasant holiday.

Rather than drag out tired toddlers for dinner, we found having lunch out and dinner in, was a less stressful process. If you are eating out, consider an early sitting. Don’t bother dressing up for dinner – just find somewhere baby friendly and eat before any tantrums begin.

Another key to success is age appropriate experiences – and being prepared for failure.

No toddler or young child is going to want to stand in long queues to do something that is no fun for them.

But even things you might think they will love can go pear-shaped. We once had to leave an aquarium without going much past the entrance – where there was large shark hanging from the ceiling.
– My 2 1/2 year old son would not go under that shark. He was petrified and screaming. No coaxing could get him through. We had to give up.

I am also not adverse to a bit of bribery on holiday. The thought of their daily Italian gelato got us through a couple of tense times during a few very hot days in Rome, where all my children wanted to do was go back to our B&B and use the swimming pool.

We also enjoy our eat treats. Our holiday breakfast treat are Coco Pops. We have never had a box at home, but come holidays, they can go for it (and you can join in too).

I think it is also important to remember to make time for yourself and your partner as adults, by letting each other indulge in your own likes.

My husband loves fishing. In fact most of our holidays are near water for that purpose. He is ‘allowed’ to go fishing as that is his passion. Often he will time it for early morning when we are still asleep, leaving a lot of the day still free for activities.

I love a market. Sometimes I drag my family along, sometimes I will go by myself so I don’t have to put up with the whinging and whining (and that’s just from my husband). And a pamper, such as a massage, is a mandatory.

Giving yourselves time to do what you enjoy to relax will help make it more enjoyable for all the family.

And lastly, my most important tip: take lots of photos – I look back now and can’t believe have fast time has flown. Children grow up fast, so you want to treasure and capture as much of it as you can.

Amanda Woodward and her family on the Amalfi Coast.

Amanda Woodward and her family on the Amalfi Coast.

© Copyright 2013 Danielle, All rights Reserved. Written For: Bubs on the Move

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