The Ten Commandments of travelling with kids

Siblings enjoy an outdoor swimming pool.
Siblings enjoy an outdoor swimming pool. Photo: Getty Images

"There are two classes of travel: First class, and with children," the humorist Robert Benchley wrote. But family travel can be lovely, as long as you follow these Ten Commandments.

JUST BREATHE

Thou shalt not take thy child's name in vain. You've survived a six-hour flight to arrive at a hotel where there is no booking. The three-year-old wails and the six-year-old jumps in the fountain. Resist the temptation to go all Kath & Kim ("Oi, get outta that water foiture NOW Tegan!"). If all else fails, whisper, "Any more bad behaviour and I'll tell Santa."

PERFECT ILLUSION

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's family. There's one at every resort: blonde, tanned, dazzling smiles. Mum looks immaculate in white linen, while Dad wears a V.I.W. (Very Important Watch). Don't believe the hype. Behind closed doors, there are as many tantrums. Especially from Dad, if he doesn't get his three games of golf a week.

BEAUTY SLEEP Remember the travelling days, to keep them holy. Yep, we've all done it. Everyone has to get up at 4am for a flight/drive, and this is the evening we choose to have a "big night". The next day there's whingeing and grizzling - and that's just the parents. Do yourselves and your fellow passengers a favour and have a good night's sleep before a journey.

WHOOP AND HOLLER

Thou shalt not kill. Best not to murder anyone while on your family break. However, this commandment also applies to "the vibe". Holidays can be cheesy. Often at resort entertainment nights it's Australians sneering up the back, declaring a performance involving audience participation "lame". Why not just go with it? Don't ruin it for everybody else.

TAKING LIBERTIES

Thou shalt not steal. There's actually a caveat on this one. Taking toiletries from the hotel is not stealing. Or so my father told me as he scavenged 200 shower caps over a few years. Otherwise, "Take nothing; leave nothing."

SERVICE WITH A SMILE

Honour thy service providers. Sometimes the staff stuff up. But you catch more bees with honey. Rather than berating them, use your manners.

DUMP-AND-RUN NO-NO

Thou shalt not commit adult-ery. This is the practice of going on holidays with your children, then running away from them. Kids' clubs are not dumping grounds.

TINY TERRORS

Thou shalt bear true witness. If you're on a flight and a child is kicking you in the kidneys, tell the parents. Don't yell at the kids: it is the parents' responsibility to discipline them.

SORRY, MUM AND DAD

Thou shalt have no other parents before me. I remember saying it at the tender age of 10: "You are the worst parents EVER! I wish I had Sharon's parents. They let her do EVERYTHING." Turns out I did have the best parents after all.

ALWAYS A MISTAKE

Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image. Don't get a tatt on holidays. Even if it's of the kids.

What are your commandments for enjoying a holiday with the kids? Post your comments below.

KIDS' BOOKS


Discover the scariest tunnels, the wildest tribes, robot restaurants and how to hunt dinosaurs in Lonely Planet's new kids' books. Ideal for tweens, there are six new Not-For-Parents books; The Real Wonders of the World, How to Be a Dinosaur Hunter and four Continent Guides, designed to jettison kids off the screen, onto the road and into the world. And they won't run out of power. From $20, in stores and at  lonelyplanet.com.

Win one of three sets of the six new Not For Parents Lonely Planet books for kids , worth $135 per set.  Send in your funniest kids' travel story in 50words or less to travellerletters@fairfaxmedia.com.au by  November 1. Winners names will be published on the Mama Holiday page on Sunday November 10.

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