12 reasons why I’m letting my 12-year-old plan our next Aussie holiday

Hi! I’m Bec, Mum of Kai, aged nine and Scarlett aged 12. I’m a constant coffee-needer and a self-confessed holiday obsessive (who isn’t?) and the trips I love most are our family getaways. Like most families, our average day is usually filled with the daily grind of work, school, homework, sports and activities, so for us, there’s nothing like breaking the routine and getting some quality time together.

Although we love to travel, my hubby and I suffer from serious decision fatigue. What’s for dinner? Who’s driving which kid where? When can we squeeze in that dental appointment? You know the drill. Guess who isn’t tired of making decisions though? My 12-year-old daughter, Scarlett. That’s just one of the reasons I’m taking a chance, handing her the reins and letting her plan our next family holiday. No, seriously! I think it’s the best idea I’ve had in years and once you hear me out, I’m sure you will, too. Here are 12 reasons why I think you should let your kids do the planning for your next family getaway.

1. I get to see the world through her eyes

Last year, Scarlett proclaimed she wanted to go to the Northern Territory. It was a bit out of left field but had been sparked by watching BTN at school (remember Behind the News from school? It’s as Aussie as Healthy Harold!). When I asked why, she said she wants to see Kakadu and Uluru, visit Darwin, see the crocs, and visit the West MacDonnell Ranges. She had a huge list of spots to visit and her excitement was contagious. The NT is definitely on both of our bucket lists now and I can’t help but catch her enthusiasm.

2. Life skills anyone?

Maybe it’s just me, but I wish a little less of my high-school maths was about algebra and trigonometry and a little more focused on how to lodge a tax return and manage my money. I love the idea of setting a budget and letting Scar work out how to spend it. How much should we spend on flights? Should we fly or will we drive? What’s the best accommodation for us and how long can we stay? What’ll we do while we’re there and how much do we set aside for that? Obviously, I’m not just handing over the credit card and I’ll check everything with a fine-toothed comb, but I love the idea of her being able to practically apply her year seven maths.

3. She’s fun!

Spoiler alert: I really like my kids and I like spending time with them. Sometimes we get them to choose where we go for dinner and what we do on the weekends and when we do, we always have a blast because they’re excellent humans. Imagine how much fun Scarlett can gift us when we let her plan a week-long holiday!

4. Scarlett knows things I don’t

Firstly, this one’s just between us – you can’t tell her I said this. I will deny all knowledge (but, unfortunately, it’s true). Just one example is her enthusiasm in exploring the culture and heritage of our First Nations Peoples. When I was young, you would often hear people talking about heading overseas to experience history and culture. Scarlett’s curiosity and education have her well-informed that Australia’s First Nations Peoples lay claim to the oldest known living culture and she is so keen to learn more about this history and explore Australia with this lens. Respectful travel is something we can learn about together and educate each other on.

5. She’s thoughtful (and competitive)

Deep down, Scar’s a thoughtful and kind kid. She’s the first to think of very personal and always excellent gift ideas and when we talked about her planning our next trip, she immediately thought about what each different family member would love to do. She’s also competitive and will really throw her energy into a challenge. When I told her I might let her plan our next getaway, her reply was: “This will be the best holiday we’ve ever had!” and guess what? I am totally up for that.

6. What better way to learn about this great country?

In the interests of full disclosure, I had to Google how long it takes to drive from Brisbane to Cairns the other day (19 hours, if anyone enjoys a road-trip), but it got me thinking about how vast Australia is and how much my family and I don’t know about the country we live in. I love the idea of Scarlett uncovering hidden gems, small country towns (with the best local characters), discovering our deserts, rainforests and beaches, all while encouraging us to visit somewhere different. I mean, that’s all part of the adventure of travel, right?

7. Kids look for different things in a holiday

Because I’m a grown up, I sometimes get caught up in grown-up priorities. Does the accommodation have two bedrooms, so I don’t need to sit in the dark after 9pm? Is there a kitchen if we’re exhausted and want to whip up an easy dinner? Kids look for different and – frankly – far more fun things in a holiday. Can I get waffles at the buffet (or nearby)? 😋 Is there a bunk bed and can I sleep on the top bunk? Does the pool have a slide? Is there a games room? Honestly, I think their priorities will make for a much more excellent holiday than the functional kitchen I was shooting for.

8. She loves being the boss

I sometimes forget that Scarlett isn’t five anymore and she’s really clever and capable. When I step back and let her run the show (cooking dinner, choosing her brother’s birthday gifts), she does a cracking job. She loves being in charge. Letting her be responsible for planning and giving her the opp to weigh up the pros and cons can only be a good thing.

9. Everyone’s happy (no, really!)

I know what you’re thinking. You’re bananas letting a 12-year-old plan your holiday. You’ll be eating dessert for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (I see no issue here by the way 😝) and you’ll be on ALL the rollercoasters. But I see it differently. It’s a long time since I’ve been 12 and even longer since I’ve been Kai’s age. I know Scarlett planning this trip will mean it’s more likely to include experiences that both kids will enjoy. Happy kids = happy parents, right? Plus, they’re my kids so I know they love a pool and the beach and this’ll definitely be on the list. And that’s something I can totally get behind. I’m picturing hubby and I with a cocktail in one hand and a holiday read in the other while the kids enjoy the water. Bliss, no? Plus, dessert as dinner for the win!

10. You only get 12 good summers

When Scarlett was about two, a friend of mine told me: “Enjoy her, you only have 12 good summers and then she’ll be off with her friends and you’ll be alone.” Now, if I’m honest, this could be a tiny bit dramatic (I mean, I am bankrolling the holidays, so I feel like she’ll be coming for as long as my wallet holds out), but there is a glimmer of truth to it. As she gets older, I can already see she’s more independent and will want to spend more and more holiday time doing her own thing. By letting her help us plan, I know we’ll get extra time together that we’ll all enjoy.

11. Did I mention decision fatigue?

If one more person asks me what’s for dinner, I swear! 😩 Seriously kid, knock yourself out with the decision making – one more thing on your to-do list is one less thing on mine!

12. Not convinced? I’ll let Scarlett have the last word

Hi, I’m Scarlett and I can’t wait to plan my family’s next holiday. I have so many good ideas about awesome Australian places to visit, like the Whitsundays and Darwin. I like organising things and arranging a holiday would be a good challenge. I think I might even be able to do a better job than Mum 😉

See? I get to sit back and relax while someone else who has HEAPS more energy gets going on the nitty gritty. Genius, right? Well, maybe ask me after we’ve all returned home 😂

Heads up! Due to COVID-19, government restrictions are in constant review and travel guidelines may change. We strongly recommend that all travellers seek further information about destinations and attractions before scheduling trips or making bookings, take extra care and follow all rules.


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