travel

'There are two types of holiday people. I'm clearly the homebody.'

Stayz and Tourism Australia
Thanks to our brand partner, Stayz and Tourism Australia

There are two types of holiday people.

There are those who like to do activities.

And there are those who like to chill.

I am very much the second type of holiday person.

Which is why staying in a house rather than a hotel is always my preference when I go away. In a hotel room (especially if you have kids), you are pretty much forced to be an activity person.

But houses give you options.

So, we decided to go somewhere that wasn't more than a couple of hours' drive from Sydney. We wanted to be somewhere where there were things to do if we wanted to, but also a house that would feel fun and comfortable and luxe if we wanted to stay home.

In the end we did a bit of both. But it wasn't just about the where. It was about the why and how.

We took the #RoadTripPledge to support some of the towns who have been doing it tough this year, what with the bushfires, the drought and the pandemic.

You might've seen that hashtag pop up on your Instagram. Or maybe you haven't yet. The #RoadTripPledge is an initiative by Stayz, in partnership with Tourism Australia, encouraging Australians to holiday here this year.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place in some parts of the country, including Victoria, this won't be possible for all of us. But for those of us who can, we should make the most of what we've got on our own doorstep.

Our location of choice? Nelson Bay in Port Stephens, NSW.

After stopping in town for a late lunch and having a wander around the local shops, we arrived at our Stayz house we had carefully selected online, and happily collapsed, adjusting to holiday mode in record time.

The views were breathtaking. There was a pool table! And a pool! Also a games room with an old-school space invaders console that was as popular with the Gen X adults as the kids. And a home cinema!

I'm just going to sit back, do nothing and let them do their thing. Image: Mia Freedman.

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We ordered takeaway, lit a fire, taught ourselves how to play pool and then sat down to watch TV on the big screen - like the size of a wall big.

The next morning we decided to do a bushwalk up Mount Tomaree and it was spectacular. On the way we saw a place where you could hire standup paddleboards which is something we would definitely do next time.

How's this for a view:

Nelson Bay, Port Stephens

We headed back into Port Stephens for a delicious lunch at The Little Nel and then had another wander around to support local business (aka shopping).

I highly recommend a store called (fittingly) Homebody which has a fantastic selection of homewares and loungewear - I bought some hand cream and some really pretty rings before stocking up on ice cream from another local cafe and heading home for a luxurious afternoon of pool, reading and hanging out.

Lunch at The Little Nel, Port Stephens; Souvenirs. Image: Mia Freedman.

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Just to be in a different space after so many months at home was an unspeakable treat.

For dinner, we could have gone to Rick Stein at Bannisters, which was a short drive away. Remember famous chef Rick Stein? This is the place he runs with his wife Sarah and it's incredible.

But in actual fact we got Chinese takeout. We watched another movie. I had a bath – an actual bath. I was in my pyjamas by 5pm and it was a bloody delight.

I like this 'do as much or as little as you like' approach.

If you're in the 'do more' category, here's what else I've found you can do in Nelson Bay:

·      Sit-down and stand-up sandboarding – Port Stephens has the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, making it perfect for adventurous adults – and kids too.

·       Whale-watching cruises – From May to November, humpback and southern right whales migrate along the Port Stephens coastline. You might even spot one of the 140 bottlenose dolphins that hang around these waters all year round.

·       Check out the local markets. – The Tomaree Markets are held twice-monthly, but there are a few smaller ones across different locations.

See, plenty of reasons to make that pledge. But just getting away is reason enough.

By the time we got up and headed home, I felt like we'd been gone a week - even though it had only been a couple of nights. I felt refreshed and stimulated.

I'd popped some money into the local economy, left my suburb and spent some quality time with my family after months and months of quantity time.

Turns out, you need both.

Where are you travelling locally this year? Tell us in the comments below.

Join us and take the #RoadTripPledge at www.roadtrippledge.com.au

Mia Freedman stayed at Nelson Bay courtesy of Stayz.

Stayz and Tourism Australia
Make your #RoadTripPledge to holiday here this year and help us regenerate regional Australian towns.
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