I am sitting on the front porch of our villa with my sister-in-law, cutting up mushrooms for the barbecue. The sun hasn’t quite set, the air is cool and we have poured ourselves a drink. A bush turkey is busy making a nest in the lush tropical bushland just metres away.
The kids scream past us and run down the stairs. There are six of them – cousins – and they are playing together non-stop. A couple of them jump on bikes, one’s on a scooter and the others just run. They’re all six years and under but they’re loving the freedom they have here. They can’t believe they’re allowed to go by themselves to the barbecue area where their dads are busy cooking and catching up.
They are unsupervised for less than 10 seconds. And it is the greatest 10 seconds of their lives so far.
And so far this is the greatest family holiday I have been on.
Because usually – and I know this makes me sounds terrible – I hate family holidays.
I don’t ever feel like I really get a break and I spend most of the trip doing the same stuff I do at home. Except I’m somewhere else – somewhere less convenient.
I think back to the first holiday we took as a family of five. My 3YO broke her arm within hours of arrival so we spent the first day and a half in hospital. A day later my son came down with a fever. We were in paradise but we couldn’t leave our apartment. Not that it mattered as my daughter wasn’t able to get sand or water near her cast. And the next day she and her baby sister had a fever too anyway. Happy days!
So is it any wonder I am not in a hurry to embark on epic family holidays? I figure they can wait until the kids are older. Old enough to remember and old enough to appreciate things like local attractions, cost and distance travelled.
But I don’t want to deny them in the meantime so that’s why we’re here sitting on the balcony, sipping our wines at BIG4 Airlie Cove Resort and Caravan Park.
This holiday has ticked all the boxes for me and my kids …
Everything I look for in a family holiday
- Close to home, not too far to drive
- Not too expensive to travel and stay
- Simple inexpensive fun for the kids
- A pool
- A patio
- Clean, comfortable accommodation
- Self-contained accommodation with kitchen
- Not too far from conveniences
- Polite and helpful staff
Everything my children look for in a family holiday
- Bunk beds
As you can see I am not that easy to please. My children however are, quite simply, beyond excited at the prospect of a bunk bed. Our two-bedroom family villa at BIG4 Airlie Cove has two bunks so they’re literally twice as excited (and so am I at the prospect of no fights over who gets the top bunk!).
So here we are, everyone’s happy, no one has broken their arm and we’ve spent the majority of the day in the park — an early morning play on the Pirate Playground and bounce on the Kangaroo Jumper, some bird feeding then a quick race around the park on the hired pedal go-carts.
We’ve headed into Airlie Beach for lunch, a quick dip in the lagoon and an ice-cream then returned to the park for an afternoon of swimming (there’s a toddler pool as well as a larger pool with an awesome slide) and playing in the water park where my son finally conquered his fear of the ‘large bucket of water!’.
This might just be the first holiday all of my kids will remember. They’ll remember the endless fun they had with their cousins, they’ll remember the anticipation and exhilaration of allowing a giant bucket of water to pour over them, they’ll remember their first tastes of independence, even if it was only 10 seconds long.
And I’ll remember it too.
I sit back on the comfortable patio chair, finish the last of my drink and watch as they all return — six smiling children, their dads and our delicious dinner.
I’ll remember this as the first family holiday where I actually relaxed.
This blog post is sponsored by BIG4 Holiday Parks
With 180 holiday parks across Australia, BIG4 Holiday Parks is dedicated to the spirit of the true blue Aussie holiday. It’s been celebrating the great outdoors for more than three decades, and provides a range of high-quality accommodation options from powered sites for caravans and motorhomes to luxury cabins. For more information, visit www.BIG4.com.au.