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Travelling large

Brangelina do it, and so can you! Travelling with a big family can be affordable and rewarding - here's what our readers who are 'larger than average' have to say.

Two adults, two kids – in the tourist trade, that’s what defines a family. But who these days fits ‘the norm’? What if you’ve done the unthinkable and had three or more children? Does this mean your travelling days are over for good?!

Don’t despair – many of your fellow readers of Holidays with Kids feel your pain, and have come to the party by offering great advice about how to take a large clan on holidays without breaking the bank.

The main gripe is that most deals are for that magic 2x2, with families of five and over forced to look beyond package deals, which often means booking more than one hotel room per family. Similarly, many attractions limit family deals to the magic number four, making a day out an impossibly expensive undertaking for a bigger mob.

Many readers recommend calling properties direct. By explaining your predicament to a hotel manager, you may at least be able to wrangle a rollaway bed, adjoining rooms or even a family suite, all at a cost that will suit you.

The most popular accommodation option by far amongst our readers with large families is apartment or holiday home rentals. These can be booked via the internet (or sites such as stayz.com.au) or through real estate agents. Holiday homes not only provide extra space, but they also offer all the comforts of home such as self-contained kitchen and laundry facilities, a back yard for the kids to run around in and all the comforts of home such as a television and DVD player.

Holiday parks are another great option for large families, with camping options as well as cabins and villas available at value rates. Holiday parks these days feature all the facilities of a resort, with pools, jumping pillows and playgrounds to keep the kids busy for hours – and for most parents with multiple kids, that’s always a godsend!

Where to go

If there’s one thing families of all shapes and sizes agree on, it’s that the great Aussie beach holiday is alive and well! Sun, surf and sand is an unbeatable combination; and with apartments and holiday houses often ideally located to the coast, it’s a great place for a large family to base themselves.

Many of our readers, however, have braved overseas holidays with the kids in tow – and have no regrets. Popular destinations include Fiji (though the package deal is often a deal breaker for larger families), Thailand (a great budget destination) and the US cities of New York, Los Angeles and Orlando. Here are a few places recommended by readers with large families:

Thailand

"The best option I found was within the Laguna Phuket complex. Allamanda was fantastic, with large apartments, beautiful pools and a beach nearby. On Koh Lanta, we discovered a beautiful four-star resort with half price rates. Apparently most of the island resorts close at the end of April for monsoon season, so offer good deals during April. Lanta Sand Resort did a deal of about $80 a night for the whole six of us, including breakfast, and we were able to get a huge two-bedroom apartment, brand-new with all mod cons, overlooking an amazing pool. We were in heaven!" - Lynda Reid

Gold Coast

"I found a great special at Sea World Resort. They were happy to include a rollaway, so we were only charged for one room and a nominal $20 fee each night for the extra bed. But the best bit was, included in our accommodation was two days unlimited entry to Sea World, and the water park is actually joined now to the resort so you can use all the slides free for your duration." - Bel Russo

"We stayed in a three-bedroom apartment at Turtle Beach Resort, Gold Coast. It has several swimming pools and spas, a gym, a cinema with free movies playing at various times, mini-golf and tennis courts. Of course we did all the theme parks, but were able to spread them out spending in-between days at the resort." - Peta Wells

Anaheim, California

"We stayed at Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground within walking distance of Disneyland and Downtown Disney where we (two adults, three kids) were able to stay in a standard size room without having to pay for two rooms. We found the best purchase for theme park tickets were the Southern California CityPASS which included tickets to San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park plus Universal Studios – it saved us hundreds of dollars." - Danielle Galvin

Orlando Florida

"Last year, I went to Orlando, Florida with my husband, twin boys aged 10, my parents and my mother’s brother and his whole family. I booked a six-bedroom house only two miles from Walt Disney World. It cost me a third of the price I would have had to pay at any of the Disney accommodation." - Jeni Chen

"Because we wanted the complete Disney experience, we booked interconnecting rooms at Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, which gave us four queen beds and two bathrooms for a family of six. I also managed to find a special deal that included free Disney dining for the duration of our stay." - Amanda Clark

New York

"I found the Affinia Hotel Collection website and booked a one-bedroom suite with kitchenette, two bathrooms, two double beds, one sofa bed plus a King Kong plush toy for just over $1000 for four nights!" - Nicole Mullen

"Travelling with four children – Isabella (12), Oscar (10), Archie (8) and Emila (5) always presents its challenges, especially with accommodation. Last year we managed to book airfares from Melbourne to Christchurch for under $150 per person, including taxes. We spent a week in NZ’s South Island, including campervan hire, all costs, food, fuel, camping fees, sightseeing etc for $3000 total, for six people.

The campervan was a ‘special’ at the Melbourne Travel Show which included free insurances, saving hundreds of dollars. We shopped only in the supermarket and cooked our own meals. We stopped in tourist parks only every second night and enjoyed roughin’ it at seaside stops or mountain lakes for free camping. We drove a few hours every morning and then enjoyed hikes in the afternoons.

Our campervan was large, with enough beds to accommodate all of us. I had researched the vans, including day seating arrangement for kids, which is important. The trip was fantastic – I would recommend it for any family." - Lynda Reid

Lynda Reid of Echucha, Victoria, 
won $50 for her great tip.

Readers' Tips

"Ring the property direct rather than booking through a third party provided. The third party sites generally say only three, but we have found on calling the property, they have been happy to accommodate the four of us." - Vikki Darrough

"Breaking up a camping trip with a house swap is a wonderful way to regroup, manage any repairs, get some serious washing done and live with a little luxury after being on the road for a while." - Kristen Dillion

"I found cabins at caravan parks always cater for larger families and are nice and modern these days." - Katherine McMellon

"If you have a need for more than five people in a vehicle, book early!" - Darryl Wilson, Gold Coast Family Car Rentals

"We have found farm stays and three-bedroom apartments at holiday resorts are what we need. The best farm stay we have been to is Ferguson Valley Farmstay (WA). The cottages were clean, had plenty of beds to accommodate everyone and there were plenty of farm activities to keep the kids busy." - Peta Wells

"After a bit of trial and error, I have found that the only way to take holidays with a large family is holiday rentals. I have found it is cheaper to go through the actual real estate agent and not the many internet booking companies." - Mandy Child

"With four-year-old triplets, we now choose holiday house accommodation, which gives us the flexibility of a backyard for the children and sometimes a pool, and normally enough room for grandparents if they come along for a couple of days." - Kristen Hardman

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