Our Family Trip to Australia

By Estelle Erasmus

My daughter is extremely well-traveled for a five-year-old. She’s already been to the Bahamas, Orlando, Vermont, California, and most recently to Australia. You see my husband is South-African-born, but now most of his family live in Australia.

In April our family went on a three-week trip to Australia, to attend a wedding, visit close relatives we hadn’t seen in years and vacation in the beautifully scenic Gold Coast. Throughout our trip, our family was using Parkhound Gold Coast so they could park their cars at the airport. However, it was also helpful for our trip. It worked for a number of places, which allowed us to see more attractions than we thought we would be able to. While we were there, we wish we could have stayed in the voco Hotel Gold Coast, as we had heard great things about this place from friends of ours. But either way, the trip was great. We met up with an old friend who knows the area well and had a mini road trip to all the nice places. She’s only just finished her Driving Lessons in Melbourne so I was a bit nervous but it ended up being ok!

My one regret was that I wasn’t able to attend the Disney Social Media Moms celebration at Disneyland. Getting the “Golden Ticket” and being unable to use it was certainly disappointing.

Invite to Disney Social Media Moms
The “Golden Ticket”

But there was a bright spot.

I am thrilled to share the news that I have been selected to be a 2014 National Geographic Kids Insider.

My partnership with this wonderful organization will enable me to share great vacation tips for families with young kids, and continue to encourage my passion for family travel.

National Geographic Kids Insider

We had an outstanding vacation and in the spirit of being a National Geographic Kids Insider, here are my tips for how I successfully entertained my daughter on our trip to the other side of the globe.

1) Tire Her Out Before the Flight

A flight from New York to Australia is 24 hours. If you stop off in California, stay over at a cool hotel like the Sheraton, go to Universal Studios the next day and then go to the airport that can work. Why? Because this will exhaust your child, making her likely to sleep for eight hours on the plane, leaving only 7 to entertain her with movies (2 at 2 hours each), meals, numerous bathroom breaks and games. It is also extra useful to dress her in her nightgown, making it easy to fall into slumber.

Operation Tire Her Out

2. Find a Partner in Crime

Whatever hotel you are staying at, you are likely to find other kids hanging out at the pool, dining with their parents, running around in the lobby. With a watchful eye, you can make the most of this, while keeping your child highly entertained. My daughter had built-in entertainment in the form of her five-year-old and ten-year-old cousins, but we also made some new friends at the pool one day when we were at the Sheraton Mirage in the Gold Coast. Forget about the iPad, in the presence of other kids, my daughter choreographed wonderful dance routines, played tag, and catch in the pool, and had a blast. We were worried that we would have to keep a very close eye on the kids but because the place we were staying had such good safety and they said they had a company that offers Swimming Pool Fence Inspections in Brisbane come out and look at their pool, so we were happy to let them do their own thing and just check up on them every now and then.

Grab a Partner in Fun

3. It’s All About the Animals

There is an old saying that all you need to pull focus from the lead actress in a movie are kids and animals. All I know is that animals were in abundance in the many zoos we visited in Australia. From the koala bears to the kangaroos that she got to pet at the many zoos she went to my daughter was the queen of the animal kingdom.

Animal Kingdom

A special highlight was petting a very friendly kangaroo at the Melbourne Zoo.

4. Relishing a Role

My daughter was a bridesmaid, in my husband’s youngest brother’s wedding. We got beautified together with a mother/daughter day at the local salon getting manicure/pedicures. While I had my hair blowed dryed and styled, my daughter also got some help from the salon on how to attach her tiara.

Wedding Role

5. Celebrating a Birthday

My daughter turned five years old surrounded by her extended family and grandparents from Australia. How cool is that? She not only enjoyed two rainbow birthday cakes–one she baked herself with her beloved Oumie (grandmother in Afrikaans) in Melbourne, and one that her Oupa (grandfather) bought for her when we traveled to the Gold Coast.

Birthday Parties

6. Fun with Food

The child who is constantly saying, “I’m hungry, what can I eat?” will relish the tasty treats of a new country. She enjoyed tea time with the rest of the gals in the family while in Melbourne, an amuse bouche of a lamb meatball at the restaurant we took her to on her birthday, and a variety of Asian dishes, salads with kale and quinoa and of course copious amounts of french fries, which equal delicious in any country.

Foods to Amuse

7. Take to the Streets

Walking is entertaining. We walked for hours, and saw street performers, city-approved Graffiti-walls sprayed by performance artists, the waterfront, and streets shaped like Diagon Alley from Harry Potter.

Street Scenes

8. Life is a Beach

Swimming in the ocean and the pool with my daughter during the day tired her out, affording my husband and I some space to relax in our room together at night.

Beach and Pool time

9. Loving Time with Her Grandparents

She skypes with her grandparents on the other side of the world often, but skyping is no substitute for seeing them in person. She lapped up the love and attention they showered on her and was generous with her hugs, kisses and cuddles.

Oumie and Oupie

10. Adventures at Amusement Parks

Amusement Parks

In the Gold Coast, we visited three separate amusement parks, one of which offered a Dora show, that I fought the ferocious crowds of parents (those Aussies are tough) to secure front row seats to.

Totally worth it.

Have you ever been to Australia? Is it on your list of places to take your kids?



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103 thoughts on “Our Family Trip to Australia”

  1. I loved this adventure and your pictures. When my daughter was that age we we went to visit her dad’s family in Malaysia. It sounds very similar to your experience. She still remembers bits from that trip and she’s now 24. You created a great family memory!

  2. How exciting! I rarely travel inside the states, let alone another country! Thanks for sharing everything about your trip, I actually felt like I was with you. 🙂

  3. Looks like you had a fabulous time – great photos. So much fun! I think kangaroos are so cute. I pet a giraffe once. Congrats on being selected to be a National Geo Kids Insider – that sounds very cool. As a child, I had a subscription to the adult version, and it opened my eyes to endless wonders in the world.

  4. What fun! The pics from your trip were fantastic. I can personally attest and agree to the “tire them out tip” having done the cross atlantic Israel to NYC flight. Now that they aren’t babies anymore it totally works (when they were babies my kids suffered from overtired, reverse awakeness. it stunk!)

    Congrats on the Nat Geo Kids partnership!

  5. What a wonderful family trip. I would love to travel to Australia, it is on my list.
    This summer we will be driving to Florida with several of our grandchildren. I like the ‘getting them tired’ tip. I’m going to try that before leaving on our road trip.

  6. That’s awesome how much she’s traveled already! My boys have been to Kentucky and Myrtle Beach. I traveled quite a bit growing up though and I spent 2 weeks in Paris. I’d love to visit Australia some day!

  7. We moved from the US to AU when our kids were 18 months and 3…we did that trip at least 4 times and it fid get better each time. Now every domestic flight we take seems like a piece of cake!

  8. That is such an exciting partnership. I have worked with Nat Geo Kids. They are an amazing organization!

  9. What a great trip and a magical one that you shared with family. Your daughter is blessed to have had this wonderful vacation. Love the photos and love the bridesmaid dress!

  10. I haven’t been to Australia yet, but I surely hope to go one day. You did so many neat things when you were there, and how lovely that her birthday fell during that time period.

  11. Your “Operation Tire Her Out” made me laugh! I hope that it worked out well for you and that the trip was semi-bearable…Your photos are truly priceless–the rainbow cakes, the kangaroo and the special time with grandparents. It sounds like you all had a wonderful time!

    1. Bonnie, glad I could make you laugh:) We really worked on it, so we could relax during the flight. Luckily, our tactics did the trick.

  12. I am SO impressed! My husband and I are completely ungraceful about traveling with our kids. We should have tried it more with one or two. Now with four, we’re hopeless. My parents live in Chicago (we’re in Minneapolis). So that’s doable in the car. Otherwise we’d be in trouble. Good tips though!

    1. Thank you Nina. I’m impressed that you have four children and still find the time to write as prolifically as you do:)

  13. I’ve always wanted to visit Australia but don’t know if I can do a 24hr trip with a toddler. She’s been to a few places herself and the longest to the Caribbean took about 14hrs but she was younger then. Great tips!

    1. I think it can be done if you break up the trip like we did, with a stop in CA. The key is tiring her out before getting on the second plane.

  14. Wow!!! Love all the pictures! You looked fab for the wedding! Australia is definitely on my bucket list of places to visit before I kick the bucket!

  15. I would love to go there! I have never left the US. But looks like you had a blast!

  16. I would love to go to Australia one day. It is near the top of my travel bucket list. Thanks for sharing your tips about travelling with kids and also the great photos from your trip.

  17. Congrats on being a National Geographic Ambassador! Your family sounds perfect for it! Love all of your travel tips and will sure keep them in hand, including the partner in crime idea, whenever we go on our next family trip. Maybe it will be to Australia!

  18. What a great holiday! She’ll be expecting more of the same next year, you know 😉
    Having travelled with my children since they were 4 months old, I was an expert at how to keep them occupied on 12-14 hour trips; 24 hours, though…that would have done me in!
    It’s fun to see these holiday photos and to see the happy smiles on all your faces.

  19. Australia is on my bucket list for sure! It looks like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures.

  20. What a good idea to tire her out before the flight and find a partner in crime 🙂 That’s already a HUGE trip but to lessen the stress is key to actually enjoying it. Congrats on being an Insider!

  21. How great that your daughter was able to go to Australia — I didn’t get there until I was 50! Love your photos and, of course, the video. Sounds like an amazing trip!

  22. What a wonderful trip ! I want so badly to go to Australia…maybe some day. Your daughter is certainly going to be able to weather any trip, if she could do a long one like that.

  23. Australia is certainly on our list of places to visit! What a wonderful trip it looks like you had! Loved looking through your pictures:)

  24. Well congratulations! That’s pretty cool, I’m sure you’ll have tons of fun with this program! Looking forward to reading more travel tips!

  25. Congratulations on becoming a National Geographic Kids Insider! How awesome . Your trip was an amazing experience for your whole family and it looks like you covered so much territory and entertainment. Lots of great memories.

  26. I can’t believe how great of a traveler your daughter already is! My son is almost 3 and we have not flown anywhere with him. Australia would be AMAZING.

  27. Such a cute world traveler. I would like to travel to Australia if financial situations would allow it. But, Ireland is at the top of my bucket list. As for traveling with my step-daughter, who is 9, she just returned from her first trip to Disney with her grandmother and great aunt. Husband and I haven’t had the means to travel with her, but hopefully that will change soon and our first road trip will actually be here in the states. I would love to take her back home to Oklahoma where I am from. I can see my friends and she can meet all of their kids.

    1. Ireland sounds like it would be a fascinating place to visit. Sounds like you have some fun plans in the works yourself.

  28. great tips!! We travel a lot with our daughter too. We are going back to Japan in October. She did great at 10 months and I’m hoping she is ok for our 24 hour flight. I love your CA idea!

    1. Japan is definitely on our list as well. You should absolutely do the stop over idea in CA. It helped so much.

  29. That is a great experience for her. My kids have also traveled a lot. They have been all over Mexico, Bahamas, Florida, South Dakota, California, South Caroilna and my oldest son gets to go to Greece this summer. (Not a bad experience for a 9 year old!)

    1. Greece is on my list, too. We have good friends with family there and would love to join them when they go back for a visit. Travel is such a great way to broaden kids’ horizons.

  30. This looks like it was a fantastic trip for the whole family. I love to travel and just took my children on an airplane for the very first time this year to Disney (FYI – totally not as intimidating as I thought it would be). These are fantastic tips. Thanks!

  31. Congrats!!! And I love tip #2. We almost always find other kids to play with everywhere we go. It makes life more exciting to have new friends to get to know!

  32. You trip sounds like an absolute blast! I have always wanted to go to Australia! Looks like there’s never a dull moment! 🙂

  33. I personally think Nat Geo is one of the most quality resources out there for kids – trustworthy, informative, and developmentally appropriate. Glad to see you as one of their “insiders!”

  34. What a fun trip for all of you! I love your suggestions, and even though my kids are grown, I will save this post for the day when my kids (who are far flung) have their own kids and need good traveling tips.

    1. I agree. I was upset at first of course, because DisneySMMoms! But what a fantastic experience to travel like that.

    1. I highly recommend it. What a beautiful, cultural, and scenic country. She had an amazing time and is still talking about it.

    1. Thanks. It was an amazing adventure for sure, one we’ll treasure until the next time we can all be together.

  35. Wow! That is a trip of a lifetime. What an adventure you guys had.

    1. She still talks about how much fun she had with her cousins and grandparents. It’s family that made the trip so special.

  36. Great photos of Melbourne! We just got back to the states after 5 months of living there and running around Australia. Didn’t get to entertain a 5 year old, but did get to show our 18 year old a great time in Melbourne, wine country, Hamilton Island and Indonesia.

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