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.

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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10. Adventures at  Amusement Parks

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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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 Our Family Trip to Australia

About Estelle Erasmus

Estelle Erasmus is an award-winning journalist and former magazine editor-in-chief who is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. Estelle blogs about life raising a young daughter in midlife at Musings on Motherhood & Midlife. She is the co-author of Beautiful Skin: Every Woman's Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age (Adams Media), and has been a featured author in several anthologies. Estelle won BlogHer Voices of the Year awards in 2012 and 2014. She is a 2014 Disney Social Media Moms, and a 2014 National Geographic Kids Insider. She has spoken about publishing at Folio MidWest and iRetreat2014. She writes regularly on travel, parenting and lifestyle issues.

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!
    Connie McLeod recently posted..It Takes a VillageMy Profile

  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. 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!

  4. 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.
    Doreen McGettigan recently posted..Flip Flop fashion or not…My Profile

  5. 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!

  6. 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!
    Bonnie a.k.a. LadyBlogger recently posted..Who’s YOUR Rebecca Leah?My Profile

  7. 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!
    Nina recently posted..The Challenge of Being WelcomingMy Profile

    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.
      Estelle

  8. 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!

  9. 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.
    wendy recently posted..Facebook betrayal and…ducksMy Profile

  10. 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.

  11. 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.
    Chrystal @ YUM eating recently posted..The Yuck Stops Here {13} #stoptheyuckMy Profile

  12. 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!
    Caitlin recently posted..Philly In MovementMy Profile

    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.
      Estelle

  13. 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!

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

  15. 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.

  16. 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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