'I just went to Lord Howe Island with my toddlers. Here's 9 things I'd do differently.'

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Lord Howe Island has been on my travel bucket list forever. If you’re looking for a family holiday, that feels exotic but doesn’t have all the faff of passports, jetlag and long-haul flights, it nails the brief. 

It's a literal paradise. A UNESCO World Heritage site between Sydney and Brisbane with white sandy beaches, some of the world’s best hikes and coral reefs featuring super friendly fish kids can hand-feed from the beach. It’s one of the few places in Australia where there are no snakes, no sand flies and no stingers. Heaven.

Best of all, Lord Howe Island (or LHI to the initiated) is officially kid-friendly. A certification I’m granting because there are children everywhere but mostly because one time we bumped into Father of the Year 2023 Hamish Blake and his kids on the beach feeding aforementioned super friendly fish. Sorry but what further proof do you need? 

While our family of five didn’t do LHI at Foster-Blake level luxury (a rumoured $6K per night), our cabin-style accommodation was great and it was an incredible holiday. We’ll absolutely be heading back. Like most parenting moments, there were a few “learnings” and next time I’ll be making tweaks. 

In the interest of making your trip to paradise perfect, here are 9 things I'd do differently.

1. Book a babysitting service for an adults-only night out

You’re not a bad parent if your first thought is that vacationing with kids sounds exhausting. We’re still just parenting in a new location, even if that location is breathtakingly beautiful. Next time, I'll plan for at least one adults-only night out. It's not that I don't love spending every waking moment with the kids, but toddlers are hard work. A dinner (and uninterrupted conversation) with my husband overlooking the sunset would be bliss. Even if we spend the whole time talking about the kids.


2. Bring the lunchbox

My toddler is an endless pit of hunger disguised as a small, cute human. Especially when she’s spending all day swimming, exploring rock pools and playing with new holiday friends. It felt like I was forever cutting a beach trip short to nip to the cafe and grab her a snack. At home we pack lunchboxes that she can graze from all day. Next time I'll pack her daycare lunchbox and do the same. 

Image: Supplied.

Which brings me to the next change…


3. Pack non-perishable snacks and food items

Island prices can be, well, island prices. There’s one very small supermarket on LHI and I still think about how I paid $7 for a packet of home brand biscuits. There are rules about bringing fresh fruit and meat to LHI of course but next time I'll make sure to pack our suitcase with lightweight but non-perishable kids' snacks that travel well. Think muesli bars, crackers, tortilla wraps, cereal, spreads, and puree pouches. 

4. Bring an advanced level kids medical kit

While pain relief is handy for headaches, my kids seem to find the most inventive ways to get themselves into scrapes. There is a cottage hospital on LHI for more serious conditions but next time, I'll pack a more comprehensive kids' medical kit to treat regular injuries and common colds. 

You never know when a Bluey band-aid or sinus spray might come to the rescue.

5. Bring less clothes

My toddler lived in her swimmers and one single summer dress on holiday. I (over)packed for all occasions and really regretted that in transit. Our accommodation at Somerset Apartments included shared laundry facilities, and I’ll absolutely book there again as the island breeze dries everything in no time. 

Pro tip for LHI visits: Check the “feels like” temperature forecast to get an accurate idea of the predicted weather as it’s super humid. 22 degrees in LHI is much warmer than 22 degrees in Sydney.

Image: Supplied.


6. Stock up on water play shoes/jelly shoes

Fun fact: Lord Howe Island is the eroded remnant of a large volcano that erupted from the top of the Lord Howe Rise about 7 million years ago. So exploring the rock pools is a major activity but there are sharp rocks to navigate. We made do with thongs but there were a few cut feet and we ended up giving my toddler a LOT of piggybacks rides. Next time I'll stock up on water play shoes or jelly shoes.

7. Opt for brunch and lunches out

Kids are often their most energetic in the morning, but after a big day of holiday mode ours were exhausted and emotional by 6pm. We dragged our two year old to a few dinners because there are so many great restaurants to try on LHI but next time I'll switch up our dining routine to brunch and lunches out instead. That way, we can enjoy eating without worrying about tired toddler tantrums.

8. Bring a portable DVD player

Travel is not the time to stress about screen time for toddlers. Between getting to the airport, waiting to board, the actual flight, waiting for bags and the final drive to the accommodation there’s a LOT of time to kill on a travel day. While I initially thought my phone and our 9000 subscription services would suffice, I quickly realised that I wanted (or needed) my phone to myself. I’ve already bought an old-school portable DVD player for long car trips and I’ll be taking this along next time with a fat stack of Paw Patrol DVDs from our local library.


9. Pack an old-school baby monitor

LHI’s other worldly charm extends to no mobile phone reception and patchy Wi-Fi at best. Dodgy Wi-Fi is a holiday staple I’m not mad about, I like the chance to disconnect and the forced break from Instagram. However, it wasn’t ideal for monitoring naptime, manually checking on our toddler disrupted her sleep and meant less rest for us. Next time I'll pack an old school baby monitor that works on range rather than Wi-Fi connection.

While there wasn’t a huge amount of rest, and there were absolutely moments of chaos wishing we were home with all our stuff, the beauty of LHI and the joy on the kids faces made it more than worthwhile. I'm already looking forward to our next island escape. After all, paradise is always worth revisiting, even if you have to parent when you get there.

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Feature Image: Supplied/Mamamia.

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