by Jo Abi from The Motherish
Until recently, we had never taken a family holiday together.
There are lots of reasons why, including financial problems, my husband’s incredibly demanding job and my attachment to the comforts of home.
But I’d always thought that if we did ever have the money, time and inclination to travel, we’d stick to a domestic holiday. Why go overseas when there is so much to see here?
My husband and I would often talk a lot about our dream holiday, which was to hire a caravan and travel all over Australia with our children, and not just to the traditional touristy places. We wanted to witness the lives of all sorts of Australians. We wanted to feel the red dirt of the outback in our hands. We wanted to go to places where there are kangaroos just hanging around without a care in the world.
We were recently offered the chance to visit Outback Queensland. As soon as I received the offer, I knew it was time. I was desperate to reconnect our family and spend some real time together. My husband and I pass each other several times a day and my children and I do so much together, but we’re always doing, doing, doing, rushing, rushing, rushing.
This was going to be our time – and it was.
And here’s what I learned about making the most of a family trip.
- Meet the locals.
Everywhere we went, we met amazing people, both on the tours we joined and also just the locals around town. Their lives fascinated us, everyone was so friendly and they couldn’t do enough for us.
For us, making those personal connections was just as important as sightseeing.
- Remember that there are chances to learn everywhere.
Our holiday was like 10 school excursions in one. We learned so much. For example, Outback Queensland is a site of huge historic importance. We discovered it is home to many impressive and significant dinosaur fossils – who knew?
We also learned about Banjo Paterson and found out that any animals wandering around without a brand are up for grabs. Making an effort to learn about the area instead of ONLY seeing the sights makes the trip much more meaningful.
- Don’t stress about bringing the right gear.
You don’t need to pack the whole house to come to the outback – you should treat it as any other holiday.
Obviously you’ll need good shoes, hats and sunscreen, but if you forget anything you can always buy new supplies while you are on your trip.
- Make the most of your travel time.
At the start of each day I’d tell the kids what we were doing that day to build a sense of anticipation. At the end of the day, we’d talk about what we loved the most. Often it was the little things they loved, like driving through a car seed cleaner.
My highlight was often food related. I think my husband just loved driving around the outback in a 4WD, doing the whole rugged thing. But the most important thing was that we got to slow down and appreciate time with each other, and reconnect as a family.
- Stick to a bite-sized itinerary.
Travelling anywhere with kids can be a handful, so I highly recommend not scheduling anything on your day of arrival. Just unpack and go for a wander and a nice meal.
Then, stick to one activity per day. The activities we participated in often lasted a couple of hours and included food. They were amazing and the best way to enjoy them was to rest up before and after and just soak it all in.
The outback is full of awesome tours and experiences…but I suggest one activity per day with the kids is best.
- Pack some games to play at night.
We loved just hanging out at night. Instead of being on computers and devices, my kids made friends with all the other children in the places we stayed. They’d start off by making eye contact as we unpacked and before we knew it they were all running around outside and we were trying to call them in for dinner.
Then we played cards and board games. We really enjoyed just being with each other. It was so special, and that quality time together was exactly what we needed.
- Bring a sense of adventure.
The best thing about travelling to Outback Queensland is leaving your ‘city’ behind. That means trying not to rush and cram things in, and being open to new experiences and learning how to go with the flow. Try new food, put your hand up to try new experiences, ask if you can pat animals and help out in any way. That’s where the magic lies.
We’re desperate to do it all again.
Have you visited Outback Queensland? What did you and your family enjoy?