Jun 18, 2013

It's Winter in Australia--Time For A Holiday!

It’s winter here in southern Australia and that means that people, especially families, are thinking of warm destinations to escape briefly to especially given that school end of term holidays are around the corner.  My friend and I were discussing our own upcoming holiday plans the other day and the conversation served to remind me once again, that our family's attitude towards travel is very different from most families we know.
My friend had just finish finalising the plans for a 2 week holiday for her family of 5 in Port Douglas, in Queensland, Australia.  She booked everything through a travel agent, who interestingly had advised that Thailand would not suit her family with young children as ‘they’d likely feel happier sitting by the pool in a resort (ie in Port Douglas)’.
Costs for her 2 week holiday in a resort in Port Douglas are already at $8,500 AUD, which only covers airfares for 2 adults and 3 kids (aged over 2 but under 12) and hotel accommodation.  Food and excursions are all extra.  They’ve booked a 4 star resort because they want to ‘holiday in style’ and plan to eat out in the nicer restaurants.  They are not rich but have come into some money recently so want to ‘treat themselves’.

Her husband (and their travel agent) is wary about overseas travel with children, even though he had backpacked around the world ‘in his day’.  They worry that the children won’t be able to handle the length of the flight outside of Australia (yes, it’s a big country).  They also worry about the safety for the family in the likes of Thailand.

On the other hand, our family of 4 will soon be embarking on a 3 week trip to Thailand.

Of course, we do not use travel agents and book directly with the airlines.  My friend was horrified to find out that we have not booked any accommodation yet either at our destination, except for the first night as we’ll be in transit.

And we are not 4-star resort people too, but that's mostly due to our priorities.  Of course, if anyone would like to host us in a resort for free I don't think we'll say no!

Unfortunately we would not be able to afford such a holiday if we were to stay in Australia.  Flights within Australia, to a nice warm and sunny location at this time of year would mean Queensland, and that’s expensive, not to mention the accommodation options once you are there.  We certainly would have to self-cater and cook all of our own meals, etc, and excursions would be limited if we don’t want to spend a fortune.  Remember our 3 day trip to Tasmania and how much that ended up costing?!

Definitely everyone has different tastes and ideas, especially where vacations spots are concerned, and it’s great from the point of view of nationalism to spend your money ‘at home’.  But what bothers me about all of this is when fear (of the unknown) prevents you from exploring more options that may in fact be more suitable for you.

I get that fear can cause people to be irrational and lose their own sense of reasoning.  And I get that parents especially want their kids to be safe.  But if they stopped to think, they’d realise that big resorts are found all over the world, even in the poorest of countries, catering to tourists who on one hand want the experience of being there, yet the comforts of home.  And increasingly, these overseas resorts are catering to families of varying budgets.  Just a quick glance at the travel section of your newspaper will show these resorts vying for your tourist dollar, not to mention internet searches and sites such as Groupon that feature travel deals. And we saw plenty of families, particularly from Europe, holidaying in resorts in Thailand.  So if resorts are your 'thing', they exist everywhere in the world.

What’s the old saying—‘The greatest fear is fear itself’?  There’s a lot of merit to introducing your children to other cultures as well as to take them out of their comfort level.  I urge you to try it—and I’m sure your children will surprise you.  And if nothing else, it’ll be an experience you won’t forget.

My friend stayed here at this private 2br villa at a large resort on Koh Phangan--it was GORGEOUS.
They had their own private pool, outdoor jacuzzi, alfresco sitting area, sun deck, and 2 bedrooms and daily breakfast--$245USD/nt 

This was their private  alfresco area that separated their 2 adjoining rooms

And the view from their sundeck out towards the resort's lagoon


  1. we are planning an open ended trip in southeast asia beginning in Bangkok...I'm wondering how you 'plan' to not plan lodging? we are wanting to book something for the first week since we are flying from the US, but I would love to hear how you find lodging from that point on!

    1. Hi--thanks for your comment. We find that often budget accommodation, particularly in SEA, is an ever changing situation. Places come and go, new ones being built all the time, and its also good to see for yourself what you are getting. We often rely on word of mouth such as taxi drivers, to recommend places. Or we just go on a 'walkabout'--often there are clusters of hotels. You find one, like from a Lonely Planet recommendation, and usually there will be others nearby. Often budget hotels either don't have the resources to advertise on the Internet or they are too new. We've rarely ever had a problem finding something EXCEPT if its during a public holiday. In Asia, this can be a BIG problem cus often the locals take accommodation in this budget end too. A few times we'd been caught out resulting in either us having to take accommodation in a higher budget range or even moving onto another town, as was the case in Dalat (Vietnam) once.

      Hope this helps. Feel free to email me directly. Happy travels!

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