Child-friendly Holidays

By Lyra Pore

It had been a long drive. My young family had just spent seven hours on the road; and we were relieved to have finally arrived at the Twelve Apostles, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Victoria, Australia. Getting a glimpse of the famed rock formations would be a fitting highlight to our road trip after the scenic drive along the Great Ocean Road. My children, however, thought otherwise.

My six-year-old asked, “Is this all we’ve travelled seven hours for? To see rocks in the water? And, look, they’re not even twelve.”

“The drive is part of the experience,” I’d told the girls earlier. But dizzy as they were from the twists and turns on the zigzag coastal road, they completely missed the point. To them, the fun part was getting off the car, running on the beach, and picking up pebbles and shells they could take home.

Earlier that week, my husband and I had taken them on a sightseeing trip to the Melbourne City Center. It would be fun, I figured, to ride the tram that went around the city and hop on and off to check out different tourist spots. But my girls didn’t even bother to look out the windows. They took out their Nintendo DSi games and played with them the whole time we were in the tram. The Melbourne day-out would have been a complete disaster had we not stumbled upon a sand pit where they were happy enough to play with shovels and pails.

I picked up some brochures at the visitor information centre to find other places we could visit. Ballarat, a gold rush town with lovely 19th century architecture, would be interesting–not to the children though. They sat at the back of the car with this bored look on their young faces unable to appreciate what could be so fascinating about those brick houses that were built over a hundred years ago.

“Can we swim in the pool when we get back?”

To them, the highlight of the day was heading back to the resort and frolicking in the pool. Last weekend, a family friend suggested we go on a family holiday in New Zealand. We would see things there, he said, that we wouldn’t find in Australia.

“We’re not ready for it,” I said to my husband, memories of our trip to Victoria still fresh on my mind. “The children aren’t interested in sightseeing.” It wouldn’t really matter to them where they went. Their idea of a great holiday was simple: just let them play.