• Jenna van Bentum

Budget Holiday In December… Say What?

Have you tried to book a last minute, budget holiday for the busiest week in the whole year? I’m talking about the week of Boxing Day (26th December) to New Years Day (1st January). That was our reality last year and even being in the travel industry didn’t help me to pull any strings for this one. So what did we do? Let me tell you.

We are a family, just like any other, who are trying to juggle work, school and the desire to see the world. We also just need family holidays to hang out together, re-group and re-charge ready for the year ahead. With my husband starting a new role at work that redefined our ‘normal life’ over the last few months of the year and Mr 5 about to start big school, we really needed to spend some family time together and the only week available was that dreaded week. The other thing I had to deal with was the fact that I didn’t get the all clear that we could actually leave Sydney until just a few weeks before Christmas.

It was time to get creative and have a chat with Santa…

I knew of the Ultimate Season Pass offer being run by Wet’N’Wild Sydney at the time which included many discounts plus entry into Wet’N’Wild Sydney for the Summer season. However, I was really interested in the extra inclusion of the 14 consecutive day Gold Coast theme parks entry. The season passes, including this great bonus, cost $114 each. Now, to give you an idea at how great a deal this is a 14 consecutive day Mega Pass to the Gold Coast theme parks is currently $179 each. Crazy hey!

Santa also hadn’t decided on what to get the kids for Christmas so we worked together and on Christmas Day the kids opened their gifts to find Wet’N’Wild Sydney armbands PLUS the tickets to Movie World, Sea World and Wet’N’Wild Gold Coast inside!

Well played Santa… guess I’ll get the credit one day.

Of course booking tickets to the theme parks was the easy bit, the accommodation, not so much. Everything in the vicinity of the Gold Coast was booked out 8 months ago so I decided to contact friends of ours in Brisbane and see if we could bunk at theirs for a few nights. They were totally fine with that and we were super excited to catch up with them too. This meant driving 30 minutes to the Gold Coast each morning but when you live in Sydney, 30 minutes down a freeway is a piece of cake and a great option when looking for cheaper accommodation.

I know, not everyone has friends in Brisbane, which is why I found a great option of somewhere you could stay that is right around the corner from where we stayed. Brisbane Holiday Village is a cute holiday and caravan park located right near the M1 freeway to the Gold Coast. They have affordable family cabins and great activities for the kids including swimming pools, mini golf, bike tracks and play grounds. This would have been our back up plan if our friends weren’t available as the Holiday Village still had a couple of cabins free.

Flights at this time of the year are also very expensive so we decided to pack the car and drive. We would need a car when we got to Queensland anyway so having our own and not hiring a car saved a few more dollars.

Day 1

We left in the early hours of the 26th December to avoid the worst of the traffic and, to our surprise, that plan worked out really well. The traffic wasn’t that bad, I guess everyone had a big Christmas day! We had packed all of the Christmas left overs into an eskie so that the only thing we need to stop for was the loo and coffee. We popped into The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour to stretch our legs and devour a choc dipped banana then stopped again at Brunswick Heads for a swim at the beach. We finally arrived at our friends place just in time for dinner. Perfect!

Brunswick Heads

Brunswick Heads, NSW

Day 2

Nothing like hitting the ground running right? Today’s adventure was Warner Bros Movie World. The adventure part was navigating the billions of people that had the same light bulb idea when it came to their choice of activity for the day. The queues were long to get our passes validated but eventually we got into the park. The smiles and excitement from the kids made everything worthwhile. Rides, superheros, Bat cars, extreme stunts, rides and more rides were the highlight even though the queues pushed our patience to the limit. The following photos and smiles say it all really…

The World And Kids at Movie World, Gold Coast

Bat Mobile

The World And Kids at Movie World, Gold Coast

Looney Tunes Dance Party

The World And Kids at Movie World, Gold Coast

Hollywood Stunt Driver 2 Show

There is one tip that I have to share with you that so many parents didn’t know about. It’s called Parent Swap. This is when you have a child who is too small or nervous about a ride and one parent needs to stay with them while the other parent rides. If you see the attendant at the entrance to the ride queue and say you would like to parent swap then they will hand you a pass that you give to the other parent when you get back so they can go to the front of the line! Only available on selected rides – see the park map and look for this little symbol.

Day 3

Matt and I had been eyeing off the new DC Rivals Hypercoaster the day before and decided the only way we would get on is if we got to Movie World at opening time and then run like the wind to the Hypercoaster to get in the queue. Once again, it seemed everyone else thought that was a great idea too, but we got lucky and Matt jumped in the queue, grabbed a parent swap card, and was on the ride within 15mins. The kids and I stood in the waiting area right underneath the first big drop and I started to feel a little ill. My turn came and to the front of the line I went.  I am pleased to say that it was AWESOME! Such a great ride and certainly woke me up way more than my coffee ever could. We hung out at Movie World for a while longer and around lunch time we decided to head to Sea World.

To save some cash and our health we packed lunch and left it in the car to eat between parks. Plenty of ice packs kept it cold and we all appreciated a healthier meal.

Sea World was loads of fun. Queues weren’t too bad and Jasper got to ride the Jet Rescue that he was 0.1mm too short for earlier in the year. Of course we also enjoyed our favourite show at Sea World which is the Affinity Dolphin Presentation. It takes my breath away every time!

The World And Kids visit Sea World

Affinity Dolphin Presentation

We also enjoyed the new Castaway Bay The Reef which is a aquatic zone with water play, water canons and sculptures for kids to play. There are also deck chairs and shade areas scattered around the sides which made for a relaxing way to finish the day!

The World And Kids visit Sea World

Castaway Bay The Reef

Day 4

Now we are really getting our monies worth out of these passes! Today we decided to get a little Wet’N’Wild and once again, so did the population of Queensland. Queues were long, hot dogs were greasy and the ice cream was melting but, all in all, we had an awesome day and successfully exhausted the kids!

The World And Kids do Wet'n'wild Gold Coast

Day 5

We said goodbye to our friends and headed into Brisbane City for the day. We hung out at South Bank for the afternoon and the kids enjoyed the playground, gardens and the Nepalese Pagoda.

Brisbane Southbank Gardens

Brisbane South Bank Gardens

Time to head to another friends place in Wynnum for the night. There are loads of great places for kids along the Wynnum Esplanade and the kids had a great time in the huge and free wading pool. We enjoyed some good old fish and chips by the water and called it a day!

Wynnum Wading Pool

Wynnum Wading Pool

Day 6

We decided to be spontaneous and I booked us a couple of nights in one of our favourite places on the Sunshine Coast – Caloundra. Our last minute booking was at the Oaks Oasis Resort Caloundra* and it was the sit by the pool and chill out kinda break that we all really needed. After a quick swim we wandered down to the water front to enjoy some Thai for dinner before heading to Kings Beach for the New Years Eve fireworks display at 9:30pm.

Oaks Oasis Resort Caloundra

Oaks Oasis Resort Caloundra

Oaks Oasis Resort Caloundra

Oaks Oasis Resort Caloundra

Day 7

And on the 7th day we rested! Poolside of course. The facilities for kids at the Oaks Oasis Resort are fantastic! Pool, water park, jumping pillow, mini golf, skate park, playgrounds and SpringFree® trampolines. There is a poolside menu and kids menu too including yummy pizzas, juice and ice-blocks. Honestly, what more do kids need?

Oaks Oasis Resort Caloundra Waterpark

Oaks Oasis Resort Caloundra Waterpark

Oaks Oasis Resort Caloundra Waterpark

Kids poolside pizza

Later that afternoon a storm came over so the kids and Matt watched a movie in the hotel room while I popped down the road to Aldi and stocked up on snacks for the drive home the next day. The clouds cleared and we enjoyed rooftop fish and chips with friends who happened to be staying just around the corner. Perfect end to a wonderful day and a pretty great way to start 2018.

Kings Beach, Caloundra

Rooftop dinner overlooking Kings Beach, Caloundra

So there you have it, our budget savy holiday to Queensland during the busiest week of the year. Just goes to show that with a bit of creative thinking anything is possible, even during that dreaded week!

If you are in need of a family holiday but don’t have the time to plan it then give me a shout – I can do it for you! Simply email jen@theworldand.com or click here.

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*Oaks Oasis Resort, Caloundra double family room was $275 per night. We didn’t mind spending this as we had saved on accommodation costs by staying with friends earlier in the week. If you would like to book the Oaks Oasis Resort for your family then simply send me an email to jen@theworldand.com and I can give you a quote.

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#visitqueensland #goldcoast #FamilyHoliday #brisbane #queensland #travelkids #budgetfamilytravel #sunshinecoast #Christmas #kidsandtravel #familytravel

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