Mama Holiday

It’s said the secret to great comedy is timing.

The same can be said for family holidays.

Taking a teenager to the Big Pineapple will elicit an eye-roll, smirk, or snarl.

Meanwhile, bundling a baby into a backpack for a trek through Thailand will make you want to put underpants on your head and stick pencils up your nose, like Atkinson’s character, Blackadder.

Now, this all might sound like Special Subject: The Bleeding Obvious. But what do you do if you have a teenager AND a toddler? After all, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Well, who better to ask than Tangiora Hinaki, video journalist at Kick Up Dust Productions, and mother of eight children, aged from 17 years to 22 months. (Yes, you read that right. Makes me tired even thinking about it.)

“When I was pregnant with number eight we took the kids to Bali, because it’s cheap as chips and there’s something for everyone,” she says.

“The children enjoyed Waterbom park and the zoo. My eldest son bartered to hire a surfboard for $4 a day. And in Denpasar mall, it’s $30 for nine people to go bowling.”

Cairns is another top spot.

“You can push a pram, while a toddler ambles along the bike-friendly paths, and a teenager skates at the world-class ramp,” says writer and inveterate traveller, Carla Grossetti.

Activities for older kids include Outer Barrier Reef Cruises, Kuranda Scenic Railway, Tully River Rafting, and Crocodile Adventures. Look for apartment-style accommodation so everyone has their own space: there is nothing worse than the toddler spilling her drink all over the teenager’s technology.

“Honolulu also has every possible style of accommodation, and a variety of restaurants to cater to any budget, taste, or age group,” says Angela Fisher, owner/manager of Travelscene at Hills Travel Centre.

“Swim with the dolphins at Sea Life Park, hike up Diamond Head crater, or learn to hula on Waikiki Beach,” she recommends.

Just beware of the language barrier. One shop assistant looked bewildered when I asked for kids’ thongs. “You mean, like, string underwear, for a kid?” she asked.

Travel agencies are broadening their products to cater for the one-in-five “blended” families in Australia who frequently have kids of all different ages and stages.

Travel with Kidz’s general manager Lise Angus and her partner took their five kids, aged from 14 to 21, on a World Expeditions trip through Vietnam.

“The only thing they had in common was a slight resistance to the concept of sharing time together, and a mutual dependence on their iPods,” Lise laughs.

The trip worked because everyone was free to go at their own pace during the day, then come together for a meal at night.

Family fun doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. Because, in the words of Cathy Natoli from Travelscene at Laze Away Travel, “Happy kids mean happy parents!”

It’s all in the timing.

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