When I was younger, we always took last minute holidays. Almost all of our trips abroad were booked as late deals – we usually had an idea that we wanted to go somewhere on a certain week but were pretty open about where we might end up. We used to get excited and read all of the holiday brochures to get inspiration about different places but there was nothing more fun than heading into the travel agents on a Saturday morning with my mum and asking what deals were on. Back then, as I was in the UK, our holidays were to places like the Canary Islands, Spain and Greek Islands.
That was back in the days before the Internet! How things have changed. Now, as a mum of three, I still love hunting for late holiday offers, but now I spend my time browsing the hotel booking sites searching for deals in the comfort of my home instead.
Why taking a last minute holiday with kids is the best
My kids love knowing what we’re doing. They are creatures of habit. They enjoy playing computer games on the weekend (it’s their treat for being good all week as we don’t allow games on week nights). They enjoy going to the surf club during summer for their weekly Nippers sessions on Sundays. They like having pancakes or French toast for breakfast on Saturdays. And they love having a barbeque at some point over the weekend. They love nothing more than predictability.
Which is exactly why there is nothing better than surprising them with a little unexpected holiday. Throwing the routine out of the window to do something different teaches them to be open to new adventures! It teaches them to be flexible and adaptable, and it teaches them to embrace travel – which is really important to us as Hubby and I both adore travelling. I love being able to drag them away from their screens (yes, even with Australia’s stunning weather, they still would happily spent hours on computer games or watching YouTube!) and get them outdoors.
As I do a lot of travel writing, this also throws travel opportunities our way and sometimes they come up quite last mintue too.
What we look for in a late holiday destination for kids
With three young nature-obsessed kids, there are certain things we always look for in a holiday destination:
Beaches – there must be great beaches nearby. Although we’ve done some city breaks, it’s really the wild beach holidays that suit our lifestyle best. Hubby and I love to snorkel and we are both qualified divers – our pre-kids holidays would usually involve a lot of time in the water (read this post if you want to learn more about diving holidays with kids) so it is fun getting in the ocean with the little ones now.
Nature – we like opportunities to get in touch with nature and wildlife. Things like seeing dolphins in the wild, getting up close with turtles, snorkelling and going on nature walks.
Attractions – we love having some big attractions nearby to visit like zoos and wildlife parks.
Value – holidays aren’t cheap as there are five of us, so we’re always looking for the best price we can find. This can be tricky as although our kids are happy sharing beds as they’re only little, some resorts have rules like only four people in a hotel room which means we often need to stretch to an apartment which costs more. Apartments are usually the best deal though as it means we can take food and cook for ourselves some of the time to keep costs down. Booking last minute means we get the best possible price on accommodation.
Clubs and activities – this isn’t a deal breaker but, if we can, we try to find places that have some activities for kids or a kid’s club. We don’t live in the same country as our families anymore so Hubby and I don’t get a lot of time to ourselves. Kids’ clubs are a great opportunity for us to go for dinner on our own for once. Actually, the boys’ favourite holiday so far was Fraser Island purely because of the Junior Eco Ranger’s programme where they got to sit in front of a campfire and toast marshmallows, walk out under the stars and learn about the local wildlife. They are constantly asking when we can go back there! If kids’ clubs aren’t available then we look for place that have activities for kids like canoe hire, bike hire, swimming pools or crazy golf. The picture below was taken at a holiday park that had a lake offering kayak hire, fishing and paddleboarding which was a lot of fun for the kids and kept us all entertained for the weekend.
Our plans to take last minute, cheap holidays with our kids
I’m hoping the stars align so we can take a last minute holiday towards the end of the year as it has been a while since our last proper break. We’ve had lots of weekends away over the last couple of years, but this time I want a full week away to unwind properly. It’s all going to depend on whether we can co-ordinate our time off together and also depends on what dates we have UK visitors coming to stay. As our dates are somewhat out of our control at the moment, a late deal is going to be perfect for us.
I’ve been considering everything from the islands around Cairns to Outback Queensland to do the dinosaur trail (which doesn’t fit with our beach obsession but would be the best trip ever according to our 7yo twins!) Or maybe we’ll take a trip to Fiji or the Cook Islands – places I am desperate to take my kids after Hubby and I spent three months island hopping in the South Pacific back in 2008. There are so many stunning places just a short drive or flight away from us here – I feel very lucky to have all of these travel opportunities on our doorstep and to have so many websites around where you can find great last minute holidays like Booking.com, HotelsCombined.com and HolidayGems.
Get holiday shopping
There is so much fun out there waiting for you. It really doesn’t need to cost that much if you find the right deal and are willing to consider any destination. The world really is your oyster, so get out there and make some fantastic memories!
*This post is written in collaboration with Holiday Gems.