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The art of the short getaway

Meg Law

Meg Law

Meg Law is a travel writer and avid explorer who lives on Victoria’s famous coastline: the Great Ocean Road. With a journalism degree and background as a radio newsreader, content developer, media and lifestyle/travel photographer, Meg is happiest when she has a camera or pen in hand to document her latest adventures; traveling the globe with her husband and two mini...
Created on Apr 24, 2024 · 7 mins read
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‘In the blink of an eye’. One minute, they are crawling on the floor or taking their first step and the house smells like nappy rash cream, the next they are tweens stocking up on expensive creams and the house smells like Sol de Janeiro.


And as the years fly by, and we inevitably start aging (gracefully of course), the kids multiply and grow up and your weekends fill up with sport runs, playdates, sleepovers, and birthday parties.

Gone are the days when kids’ birthday parties were a simple ‘throw a sausage roll or fairy bread on a paper plate’ affair. Now it seems you must order fresh crayfish in to cater for the masses, or host a slumber party complete with famous DJ, matching tee pees and personalised monogrammed Peter Alexander silk pyjamas. 

It’s fair to say that life passes by pretty darn quickly when you are a parent. What. A. Ride.

When you are knee deep in the trenches, you don’t see anything but four walls, nappies, and half-drunk coffee cups, let alone hear anything but white noise or lullabies.

But would you change any of it? Not a chance. It’s a gift, not a given.

A beautiful tumultuous ride that passes by all too quickly.

So, what if we could savour it that little bit more? What if we could pause the clock and relish in quality family time?

 

Stop.

Breathe.

Connect.

Be present.

 

And by quality family time, we aren’t referring to the dreaded lockdown days.

What if, instead of stealing the occasional precious moment in each day, we focus on our family dynamic and fill every waking hour with laughter, connection, happiness and togetherness?


Family time. It’s a beautiful thing and it can also be a fleeting thing. You may have heard of that adage; we only get 18 Summers with our children. These words resonate with a lot of us because they can often be true. It’s about taking stock, savouring, slowing down, living with intent and purpose, and enjoying making memories as a family.

 So, what’s the secret?

 Family travel…and lots of it.


The perks of family travel


This doesn’t necessarily mean traveling to far-flung places or regular overseas odysseys (as tempting as that sounds). It’s more about planning short escapes, local getaways, weekend adventures, domestic jaunts to new regions or cities, and even interstate weekend teasers. 

The perks of regular family travel are endless. When you travel with children, you are giving something that can never be taken away. Memories, experience, exposure, culture. You are igniting their sense of curiosity for the world, broadening their circle, and showing them that there are fascinating places to uncover, and new friends to be made. Not to mention the resilience that stems from learning how to say goodbye to newfound friends met on the road.

But how do you get away regularly when the family budget is restricted, or you only have four weeks of annual leave? And isn’t travelling with kids stressful?

None of this is as hard as it sounds, nor as costly.


Making your holidays budget-friendly


It’s fair to say the cost of living has increased significantly for families – that’s a no-brainer considering inflation rates, national economic growth, global supply chain issues, and all the other key factors that have driven up Australia’s cost of living. 

But there are ways to be smart and nimble about your travel. Less stressful planning, lower costs, and increased frequency make shorter getaways a smart way to vacation. There are deals waiting to be found, family packages that are more affordable, and ways to maximise your travel time.

And who says you need to cash in all your vacation days at once? 

In fact, according to some experts, it seems that taking short vacations throughout the year may be more beneficial to your mental wellbeing than taking one long vacation.

Introducing…the mini break


Jonathan Alpert, author of “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days,” says from a wellbeing perspective, these mini breaks work wonders because you won’t run into many of the issues that typically come up with planning longer trips.

Alpert makes the case that “taking one long trip may feel great when you do it, but the happiness boost is short-lived, so taking multiple shorter trips throughout the year allows for a handful of opportunities to get into that vacation mindset.”

Instead of sitting around the dinner table each night sharing tales of your day, swap it for a campfire toasting marshmallows with the kids, or sleeping under the stars in swags with your family all right beside you.

Rolling hills, bush, rugged coastline, mountains, rivers, valleys…it’s all there begging to be explored, and what better time to do it than now?

Instead of playing taxi and driving kids to sports each weekend, try swapping it for a good old-fashioned summer road trip – complete with frosty fruit wrappers and I Spy games on repeat with the kids’ sweaty limbs happily colliding in the back seat.

Safari tents, bush cottages, snow domes, lighthouses, tents, caravans, swags, plush hotel rooms, motorhomes, glamping tents, cabins, ski lodges, family villa’s…there is such an eclectic mix of accommodation available out there waiting to be explored!

Tips on how to maximise your short stay


  •  If booking an interstate getaway, consider packaging up the airfares, car hire, experiences, and accommodation. You’ll often save a significant amount.
  • Less travel time means you can arrive at your destination after work on a Friday, spend two nights and two full days, and be back at your desk on Monday having created new family memories.
  • Make sure you are fully packed the day before to eliminate stress in the lead-up.
  • Create a family packing checklist in advance to simplify the process.
  • If you are stuck on experiences and dining options, do some research on your destination before you arrive so you aren’t wasting valuable time on your holiday. What’s On guides and tourism destination sites are just some examples of where to find useful local information.
  • Research the popular attractions of the area you’re visiting so you don’t get overwhelmed with endless options when you arrive at your destination.
  • If you are flying, think carefully about how to minimise flight and associated travel time. For instance, take your bag to work so you can go directly to the airport. Pack carry-on luggage only; this reduces your check-in time and means you walk straight off the plane to your taxi/bus/rental car. Fly to an airport near your destination (rather than landing and then having a 2-hour transfer to your accommodation).
  • Opting for locations where items are already provided (e.g. if flying interstate with a baby, it can often be cheaper to leave the pram, cot, car seat behind and forego the exuberant oversized baggage fees by pre-arranging with the hotel to hire it on arrival or alternatively use a baby equipment hire company on arrival (e.g., if you decide to go for a family hike, hire a baby carrier/backpack when you land, rather than lugging one on the plane).
  • Consider factors like travel time, your interests, and the vibe you’re looking for. Research nearby destinations and choose one that aligns with your preferences
  • Plan your activities in advance but leave room for spontaneity. Prioritise activities that help you relax and enjoy your short escape.
  • With careful planning, you can find budget-friendly accommodations and activities. Look for deals and discounts to make the most of your budget.
  • Staycations: Book a cabin at your local caravan park or lash out and stay in your capital city in a hotel suite and make the most of all their amenities and facilities. Hotel deals are always available so hunt around. Booking your accommodation online means you can find your ideal hotel, at the best price. 
  • Let the kids plan the holiday! Ignite their curiosity and create family ‘buy in’. The anticipation is half the fun of planning a holiday.
  • Set aside specific times in your month for these mini-vacations, treating them with the same importance as any other appointment.
  • Establish clear boundaries during your escapes – no work-related thoughts allowed. This is your time to recharge. Be present.
  • Mix up your destinations to keep things interesting. Try a new café, explore a different region, or discover hidden gems off the beaten track.

Most importantly, make it fun! Spark your inner wanderlust, and create a family legacy of memories that become stories to tell for generations.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”
– Jack Kerouac

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