Expert tips for ‘making family travel fun’

New Idea columnist and mum of six Lauren Newton takes on the trials and triumphs of travelling with a young family.
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When I was a child, going away on a holiday was so exciting. I loved the packing, the planning, the plane trip and being away somewhere wonderful, usually near the beach.

I was very lucky that my parents loved to travel and most school holidays we went away. My Nan always came with us and I have beautiful memories of these times together with my family.

The great part about being a child is you don’t need to worry about the logistics of it all or the expense, but now that I have my own family I have a new appreciation for all that my parents did and all the adventures we went on.

Make sure the kids have activities to keep them occupied. (Credit: Supplied)

The struggle is real

I must say that I am a little hesitant to venture too far at the moment with six kids. Even just a recent trip to Queensland required me to find an emergency orthodontist (a ‘crunchy’ bit of toast did some damage to braces and a tooth).

We also have never had a trip yet that didn’t require someone to need to visit a doctor. I just like to make sure that wherever I go those essentials are close by for my peace of mind and we can get home easily if needed.

When we can though, it is so nice to take the kids away, even if it’s a road trip.

I love seeing them get excited about the plane or car trip and staying in a hotel (or our “new home” as Perla always calls it). I am unfortunately not a huge fan of flying, but the distraction of looking after everyone usually keeps me busy enough to hold it together.

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The essentials

I like to make sure when we fly that we do a lunchtime flight so that Alby can sleep on my lap, but also because I hate the rush of early mornings. If he doesn’t sleep I have a bag of supplies with toys, snacks and books to keep him entertained. A baby on a flight is hard work, but so far we haven’t had any disasters and I think being organised is the most important part.

I also make sure I have a change of clothes for Alby in case of spills, vomit, or in the case of our last trip, if he stands under the shower in the baby change room and turns the tap on. He thought it was hilarious showering with his clothes on and so did the other kids – until we had the mad rush to our flight with a very wet boy.

I find another important part of travelling with kids is having a good lightweight stroller that I can take on the plane. I find it is always being used by someone while we are away, whether it’s for tired legs, a quick sleep or just to keep Alby safe and strapped in at busy places.

I like all the kids to take a backpack with their water, snacks and a jumper so they have what they need on hand, and to save me carrying everything in my bursting-at-the-seams baby bag. They also like to feel independent and have their own toys and belongings with them.

We have a trip booked soon and I can’t wait. Like so many families over the past few years, COVID stopped our holiday plans so we have lots to make up for and so many wonderful memories to be made.

Travelling with children can be a challenge, but also a blast. Make sure the kids have activities to keep them occupied.

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