Despite the physical and emotional benefits of family vacations, parents still struggle to take regular family breaks. HBF’s survey found seven in 10 WA families had a family holiday at least once per year and four in 10 made multiple trips. Cost and getting time off work were often the biggest hurdles to overcome.
Top six barriers to taking more family holidays
Despite cost ranking as the most common barrier, a family holiday doesn’t have to be extravagant to have positive health benefits, as Prof. Jennie Hudson, Director of the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University explains, “A trip that involves parents and children doing activities together is the important thing.”
Emphasising the value of holidays and time together, over more ‘stuff’ is key. Dr Cathie Harrison, Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the Australian Catholic University, reiterates, “Children benefit from less stuff and more family time.” She suggests that when buying gifts, parents consider “Giving passes to a museum or the zoo, or a ferry ticket for the family. That way we build experiences and disrupt the consumerism that is having such a negative impact on children’s wellbeing. Kids need more shared experiences, especially outdoors. I think some families are trying but we need to talk more about and support this more.”
Consider keeping it local
Forty-two per cent of families spent their favourite family holidays in WA – and that's not surprising. Among the many things WA has going for it are some of the best beaches in the world. A beachside getaway is a great holiday for children of all ages. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, hats and beach toys like buckets and spades – it’ll save you from having to buy gear once you arrive.
Make smart international choices
Before embarking on an international trip, ensure you do your research and
Sign up to an airline email mailing list and get advanced notice of discounted flights and holiday packages.
- Learn from the wins (and mistakes) your family and friends have made by asking them for their accommodation and entertainment recommendations.
Look for free local activities
Whether you’re staying in WA, heading interstate or venturing overseas, consider making the most of free local attractions. Yes, it’s tempting to go to all of the touristy places, but they can be costly. Do your research before you go – swimming pools, playgrounds, walking tours, markets, local bushwalks, galleries, or even a local festival, can all be a fun, free way to spend some holiday time with your family.
Plan some downtime - for you and the kids
A holiday is a great opportunity to (finally) build some breathing space into what is typically a busy, activity-filled life. Schedule fewer activities than you might normally plan if you were travelling alone, and pack a few games for the kids (a deck of cards, paints, or a book perhaps) to keep them entertained on one of the down days.
Choose your accommodation with family in mind
Renting a house or an apartment can be a great alternative to a hotel room. A house, in particular, can provide plenty of privacy and home-style creature comforts (like a washing machine). Access to kitchen and cooking facilities also helps you stretch your holiday food budget by letting you enjoy more healthy meals at home. Eating out for every meal can quickly add to the holiday budget, and if your kids are picky eaters, it can be less stressful to make their favourite meal at home.
For further information and holidaying tips, view the full HBF Healthy Family Holidays Report.