Planning a trip to Australia can be an incredibly exciting experience, but it can also be a pretty overwhelming one. For most Americans, it’s a trip worthy of any bucket list. Flying halfway around the world is a big deal. This is no weekend getaway. The last thing you want is for your poor planning to throw a wrench into your travel plans and ruin your trip for you and your family.
Fortunately, I’ve learned a thing or two as I recently planned my Sydney trip, and I’m happy to share what I know. Want to plan the perfect family vacation to Sydney, Australia but aren’t sure where to start? Here’s how you can make it happen:
BEGIN WITH SOME RESEARCH! A good vacation always starts with a lot of research. You can’t just show up at your destination and expect to have a great time. Instead, you want to get a feel for your destination before you go. Doing a little research around your Sydney vacation will help you answer a few important questions:
- How long do I want to stay? Most people find that five days is enough time to thoroughly enjoy Sydney, but you can use your best judgment to figure out what makes sense for you and your crew.
- When do I want to visit? When visiting Australia, you have to consider the fact that the seasons are different. Winter runs from June to August, while December through February are considered summer months. If you’re determined to spend the trip on the beach, you may want to time your visit carefully.
- What do I need to know before I go? For instance, I didn’t realize I needed a visa to visit Australia until I started to do some research. While it did come as a surprise, it was a relief to learn the process is simple, affordable, and can be completed online.
There are lots of ways to research your Sydney vacation. For instance, you can spend some time on Pinterest, reading blogs, or searching Google for tips from families who have traveled to Australia and shared their stories online. Or, you can head to your local library and find some travel guides, or reach out to a friend who’s visited before for some recommendations. You can also look for pictures of Sydney on Instagram to find spots that might make good photo ops or attractions that look exciting.
CHOOSE YOUR DATES AND BOOK YOUR FLIGHT. If you’re traveling specifically over spring break, like me, or otherwise taking advantage of a gap in your schedule to take a vacation, you may not have much flexibility at all around your travel dates. But if you have some wiggle room – and don’t have a commitment to a particular airline – compare airfare between different carries and dates to find the best option for you. Sometimes flights a day apart can differ in costs by hundreds of dollars – money that could be well-spent having fun in Australia!
CREATE YOUR ITINERARY. Once you know when you plan to be in Sydney, it’s time to figure out what you’ll do while you’re there. Given the dramatic time change, you may want to plan to ease into things and leave your first day fairly open. While most people recommend pushing through the time change to adjust quickly, you may find you need a nap to make it through the day, or you may just want to take things slowly. It’s up to you!
As for the rest of your stay, use what you’ve researched to guide your planning process. Which landmarks do you really want to visit? Which parks do you want to explore? Which beaches are worth a stop? Consider any restaurants you want to try, day trips you want to take, or spots you saw online that may be worth a visit. Aim for one or two big attractions each day, and build in some downtime to take advantage of whatever fun activities you learn about once you arrive.
FIND A PLACE TO STAY. By this point, you should have a pretty good understanding of what there is to see and do in Sydney. With your itinerary in mind, it’s time to choose a place to stay – something central that’ll give you easy access to the spots you’d like to visit.
Many vacationers in Sydney choose to stay in the Central Business District, otherwise known as the CBD. Booking a spot here will put you within walking distance of many of Sydney’s most well-known attractions, as well as plenty of options for dining and shopping.
Another great spot to consider staying with your family is Darling Harbour. This area is super kid-friendly, making it the perfect place for families to stay while visiting Sydney. You’ll pay a premium for it, though – Darling Harbour is one of the city’s busiest tourist areas.
As far as your actual accommodations are concerned, many of your favorite American hotels with an international presence have at least one location in Sydney. We were lucky enough to stay at the 5 star Sheraton on the Park (Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park), that’s directly across the street from the famous Hyde Park and St. Mary’s Cathedral. However, you can also branch out and book a spot at an Australian chain, like the well regarded QT brand, or find a private vacation rental on Airbnb if you need a bit more space.
MAKE YOUR PACKING LIST. Creating a packing list may not seem too important, but it’s a pain to travel halfway around the world to realize you’ve left something critical behind. It’s a good idea to put some thought into the process a few days before it’s time to leave, when you aren’t in a rush, so you don’t forget anything.
Consider writing down a few things that’ll keep you – and more importantly, your kids – entertained on your flight or in the airport. The flight to Australia is a long one, and you shouldn’t rely on the in-flight entertainment to keep you and your little ones entertained. You’ll also want to note any medications and toiletries you won’t be able to find abroad and chargers for all of your devices.
You may want to make a brief list of items not to pack, too! Australia is very protective of its ecosystem, and rightfully so – introducing pests they aren’t accustomed to could destroy the fragile balance they’ve maintained for so long. You probably don’t need to worry about most items on this list, but if you were planning to bring along snacks from home, you’d want to make sure that’s OK.
Planning the perfect trip to Sydney, Australia may sound like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be too hard. Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your stay in Sydney!