Ready to hit the road or take to the skies? Here’s a guide to making the most of your family holiday while seeing the country and saving money.
Budget before you go
Factor in the essentials like petrol, accommodation, sightseeing, fun parks and meals as well as anything that might crop up unexpectedly like a medical or mechanical emergency. For the unexpected, safeguard the family with domestic travel insurance.
If you’re taking a road trip, you don’t have to spend a bomb on speciality equipment. Plenty of budget supplies – like sleeping bags, tents, outdoor chairs and cookers – can be found at Kmart or Bunnings.
For air travel, shop around online for domestic flight deals. And even for short hauls, secure cover that considers flight cancellations, lost baggage and illness. Before you leave on your jet place, put a figure on your overall spend and monitor daily expenses in a travel app like Tripcoin to nix any financial anxiety.
Cook for yourselves
Major cities have food markets like Adelaide’s Central Market and Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market, while coastal and country towns have thriving local farmers markets. Not only will you pick up fresh produce, you’ll be supporting the community you’re visiting. When you’re ready to cook, barbecues at local picnic spots are your friend. There’s usually a kids’ playground within sight of the grill where parents can swap stories with other nomads over a sausage sizzle.
Camp and Caravan
For fresh air, shooting stars and the sounds of nature, you can’t beat camping. Australia offers many low-cost campsites that are safe, scenic and easily accessible. Campsites generally offer unpowered and powered facilities ranging from $20 to $80 depending on how basic the site is.
The spectacular and remote Pilbara region is home to magnificent gorges, waterfalls and Western Australia’s highest peaks. Despite having 140 campsites, Dales Campground, located a short walk from Fortescue Falls, Fern Pool and Circular Pool, is in high demand and must be booked in advance. The facilities are limited – there is no drinking water, picnic tables, showers and no-flush drop toilets – but access to the spectacular landscape makes up for roughing it.
Located between Cairns and Townsville, this is the ultimate family-friendly paradise. The region is made up of four beach village locations linked by 14 kilometres of glistening golden sand and backed by World Heritage rainforest.
Mission Beach Camping & Caravan Park offers hot showers and flushing toilets, it’s pet-friendly and a short walk to local amenities. Free and cheap activities for all ages are available throughout the year, including swimming, kayaking and beach fishing, as well as local galleries and markets to occupy downtime.
First Sun Holiday Park in Byron is a hidden gem in the Northern Rivers. Located right on the beachfront, it has self-contained beachside cabins, lodges and huts, as well as powered and unpowered caravan sites and a shady camping area. There are communal kitchens, barbecues and picnic tables that all look towards famous sights including Byron Bay Lighthouse and Mount Warning. The kids can take surf lessons while mum and dad explore the town centre’s cafes, bars, shops and entertainment.
Resorts are perfect for families who prefer flying or driving into a holiday home base. Many of these destinations offer package deals that include kids’ clubs, waterparks and entertainment onsite, as well as inclusive daily breakfast and leisure centres for parents to take some time out.
Just 30 minutes from the Gold Coast Airport, North Star boasts a massive water park with a three-level spiral slide, ball pit and mirror maze for the kids, and a leisure centre with a day spa, tennis courts and heated lap pool for parents. School holiday packages include themed activities like trivia nights, outdoor cinemas, discos and more.
Just 90 minutes north of Sydney, this modern beachside location has interconnecting family rooms and is all about keeping the kids entertained. There are arcade games, table tennis, cupcake and pizza making, arts and crafts, movie nights and even a poolside happy hour that includes a free icy pole. Book the family getaway package and kids stay and eat free.