Family holiday secrets from our resident globetrotter.

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There was a time when plane travel was luxurious and elegant. When it meant boarding involved being welcomed by a cold, stiff drink presented by a friendly steward, when you took your reclining seat and settled back, safe in the knowledge that nothing could bother you for the next however-many hours. You could just look forward to being entertained until you fell asleep.

No, I am not talking about the 1960s. I’m talking about life before children.

Travelling as a family is a whole different proposition. When your children are small, it’s all about containment and apologies to neighbouring travellers. Mouthed “sorry”s over the sleepless heads of infants and the endless walking of the aisles to entertain toddlers. You might manage a movie in five-minute intervals. If you’re heading to Europe.

But even as a parent wrestling an ear-achy child, there’s nothing so privileged as moaning about plane-travel because, children or no, if you’re on a plane, you’re in the right place.

Holly with her kids. Image supplied.

Family holidays have their moments. And perhaps the only way to be able to enjoy the chaos of what happens when you remove yourselves and your small people from all home comforts and routine is to embrace the mayhem, and embrace the plan.

So here it is, a survival guide for the travelling family.

1. There is such a thing as too many museums.

It's a heart-breaking moment when you have spent 50 Euros on getting the family into the Louvre, only to realise that the kids would be whining a whole lot less if you'd bought them gelato and let them play Candy Crush at the cafe down the road.

2. One person's delicacy is another person's rubbery pigs' ear.

And that person is probably four. Kids, even the more adventurous among them, don't really like change when it comes to food. And that's why you're Googling "Vegemite, Paris" every time you get in radius of some WIFI.

If you think you're child will eat this at first glance, think again. Image via iStock.

3. Carve out some do-nothing time.

Because Australia is far away and we want to make the most of any trip off our very large island, we tend to really commit to the "sightseeing" side of a trip, and not enough just "hanging out" being part of the trip. Let's face it, this time all together is rare, as is a schedule without the endless whirl of school and work and sports and music. Stay another day here and there and cross the final tally off your plate.


4. iPads are evil. But essential.

A holiday is the perfect time to unplug. But the time to unplug is not necessarily when you're standing in a stinking hot queue waiting to catch a train. If tears are close to the surface and sibling blood may be spilled, pull out the devices. You don't need that on your conscious. 

Somewhat evil, but necessary. Image via iStock.

5. Everyone's allowed to cut loose every now and again.

For me, that might mean ducking out on the family to spend some adult times with old friends. For my partner, it means being able to go off on a hike, complete with a lunch in an old alehouse. It's a holiday. You're allowed to run away.

6. That shoulder bag cannot be too packed.

You need stuff. Yes, we know, we all always need stuff when we're travelling, hence our unattractive backpacks, but if you have kids, you'll know that you keep that bag stocked with everything from spare undies to grapes (the only thing you know he'll eat), to some unexpected swimmers, to playing cards and an iPad. Be prepared, people.


You need stuff. Lots of stuff. Image via iStock.

7. Shopping is a distant dream.

Remember when shopping was a big part of your holiday? Sigh. I can look at my shoes and see my travels. Those are from London, I bought those in Hawaii, etc. But you can also look at my shoe collection and see where I had children. It's where I stopped. And started buying shoes for them.

8. Everything takes longer than you think.

So, be prepared. No matter how late I am, I will never be as late as Prince Temo, who drives a Fijian bus. Get a good book - for everyone.

Yes, it can take a while to get every out the door but in the end it's worth it. Image via iStock.

9. Eat like a local and you'll eat like a king.

Eat where the locals eat. And if you're worried about looking a little weird trailing locals into their favourite cafe, forget it. Kids are the ultimate icebreaker. And whale sushi is illegal, people, so don't go eating that...

10. Come out from behind that phone.

Yes, the scenery's stunning and your kids are gorgeous. But it's hard to appreciate when you're constantly chasing Likes on the Instagram. Put down the damn phone and be in the moment.

11. Airports are like giant play centres, use them.

If you're from this far-away land, it doesn't take a psychic to tell you that a stopover is in your future. And if you find yourself trapped between time zones and cursing a three-hour wait, get moving. All those moving escalators and long, long, hallways are perfect for wearing kids out. And as long as you've got access to a change of clothes and a coffee, you'll be fine.

Because you're travelling. And that means you and the kids are in the right place. Enjoy.

What are your family travel tips?