When my son was a toddler (he’s now 11), one of the first stops on any interstate holiday was the $2 shop, where I would buy a bucket & spade and maybe a ball for the pool.Back then, pool and beach toys were not generally available at holiday accommodation – but today it something owners and managers realise is a pretty cheap and easy way to help make their property more family friendly.

With my focus on family friendly accommodation, it is something I often get asked – what exactly is family friendly?

Broadly, I say it is any holiday property that welcomes and caters for children. I think it is also about making the holiday experience as stress-free as possible for parents.

Owners of holiday houses and apartments are in the perfect position to set up a family friendly property – and many of them do.

This can include having safety and convenience features, such as stair gates, highchairs and cots included in the rental. A toy box and even boogie boards all add to the family experience. Older kids often appreciate an Xbox or WII games. Then there is plastic crockery to reduce the risk of breakages.

Many resort complexes are also becoming more aware of this important holiday market, offering beach and pool toys, wading pools and basic playgrounds. Some managers have relationships with local baby equipment hire companies, through which you can pre-arrange hire and delivery.

When it comes to hotels, offering interconnecting rooms as a package, not at a cost of 2 rooms, is another way to entice families to stay. I personally love an outside bar or café area with adjoining grassed or play area, perfect for a coffee or pre-dinner drink.

Location can be another factor. Proximity to a park, pathways, playgrounds or local shops can make it so much easier to keep young children entertained and happy.

At the top end of the scale are kids clubs and activities – more common in Pacific and Asian resorts, but also now offered by many larger Australian resorts and holiday parks during peak holiday periods.

But I think the difference with family holidays – compared to say, corporate accommodation, which expects a certain standard and consistency – is that a family can change their expectations for every holiday they have.

One holiday might see us wanting all the bells and whistles of a resort, but for the next, we want seclusion and basic comfort. Sometimes cooking is the last thing we want to think about, other times we prefer to self-cater.

Obviously I am just one person and I make these assumptions based on my own experiences, as well as those of friends and colleagues. I would love to hear your thoughts on what family friendly features you look for in your holiday accommodation.

I plan to summarise your feedback, so follow me on Facebook to keep up to date and continue to engage in the conversation.

And don’t forget to let me know if you have any family travel topics you would like me to write about.


  • When I was a kid, as long as there is a pool, I am happy :P


  • I’ve found that staying at caravan parks which have cabins has been fantastic


  • We recently booked a stay in a hotel apartment, not our usual choice of accommodation and even though we advised at the time of booking that we had two young children they booked us into a two bedroom apartment each room with 2 queen size beds, luckily our children were able to sleep together but wouldn’t work for all families, definitely not family friendly!


  • I’d just be happy if accommodation catered for all kinds of families, not just 2 adults, 2 kids. We are a family of 9, I’d love to go on a holiday where finding something affordable that didn’t involve us being split between rooms, wasn’t like finding a needle in a haystack or having to rent a house in the middle of no where.

    • I feel for you – but don’t be disillusioned. There are quite a few places that do cater for larger families, but agree it will usually be a holiday house type arrangement. I have just included a new feature on my website to list the number of people a place sleeps. It is included with the property name, so if you exceed the number, you won’t waste time clicking through. Also, if you want to go somewhere, ring the local tourist information office. They are experts in their local area & should be able to give you advice on places to suit you. Good luck. Amanda


  • A small fridge in the hotel room in addition to a kettle, tea, coffee etc is great, particularly with kids as you have the ability to store yoghurt/custard/milk etc for after dinner or breakfast. Our two boys drink huge quantities of milk so a fridge is a must.


  • A microwave in the hotel room gives you more options so you don’t have to eat out for every meal, and can heat up bottles etc for smaller kids.


  • It’s good to get word of mouth recommendations. I’ve found that websites can be misleading showing photos that are up to 15 years old. Unfortunately when you get there, it’s the same furniture only 15 years on with all the rips, tears and dirt that comes with it.

    • One of the problems is that some apartment complexes have managers, but properties are owned by different people, with different furnishings. If you are booking apartment accommodation, ring and ask the questions. Is this what our place will look like? It is in their best interests to make sure you are happy. Amanda


  • We at the last minute stayed at one of the Big 4 At Umina Beach we were there during school holidays and I cannot rate it enough. You can easily stay at the park so many activities and things to do.


  • This are some great tips


  • I totally agree, great read, thank you.


  • thanks for sharing was a great read


  • Great article. We are about to start planning out first toddler-friendly trip.


  • family friendly is tolerant, patient, kind, inclusive, non-judgemental


  • Great article and thanks for sharing


  • I would like to know more about places to take your kids :)


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