Family travel can be stressful, and we have often found the beginning of our flights to present the most challenges. For us Auckland Airport is where we start our journey. When we are travelling, we always seem to have the same type of questions. Below we share what we have asked ourselves each time we’ve set out on an adventure. The final point will be useful no matter what airport you’re travelling from either if your exit point isn’t Auckland, New Zealand.
We hope that we can share some of our tips help you to start your journey with a bit more ease. Life is an adventure, each moment is precious. So let’s get this adventure started and save some of those precious moments for fun instead of stress!
I’m so excited! We’re at the airport!
Where do we park?
Parking costs really do range in price, depending on how close you want to be and which company you go with. We’ve tried parking as a family where you park your car then jump on a shuttle and it seemed a little difficult. Especially when you’re travelling at a less than ideal hour with a baby, and you have to wait in the cold for the next shuttle. The real question is though, what time do you have to check in, as it’s the most important point no matter what option you choose.
On our most recent trip to the Gold Coast we tried something new. The Park, Stay and Go Package at Holiday Inn Auckland Airport. This package included accomodation for the night, shuttle to the airport, parking and return shuttle back to your vehicle. This has turned out to be our preferred option. It was so much less stressful to be closer, chill out the night before and have our ride sorted up the road for the next day. Holiday Inn also has other great deals like kids stay and eat for free, which is just another reason to look into it. This leads nicely to our next point.
Is it worth staying somewhere?
So for us as above, it has generally been yes, but there are of course dependent factors. If you have read our tips for saving for your family holiday you would know that we recommend making sure that you have taken into account all of the extra costs that could arise from booking a deal. Generally flights purchased as part of a deal will involve early morning flights. So if you don’t live close, staying nearby could save a few hours sleep – and sanity the next day! Here are two of the options that we have used.
Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
The Holiday Inn is situated a short drive from Auckland Airport. The appealing thing for us was the Park, Stay and Go package as noted. We had purchased early morning tickets, meaning that we had to be there bright and early so we liked the idea of being close by. It also meant our holiday started one day early in essence so it was definitely a win win. We checked in late that afternoon and went for a wander around. It has the older style feel but still comfortable, clean and welcoming. Restaurant on site, a bar for those who are childless and plenty of common areas. It was nice and quiet so sleep time was fairly easy and most importantly, it felt safe to leave our car parked there. A big thumbs up for Holiday Inn Auckland Airport.
Novotel Auckland Airport
You don’t get much closer to Auckland Airport than Novotel. It is literally right next door to it so it will always win for location. You can literally wake up, get dressed, grab your bags and walk across to check in. Not only that however, the rooms are pretty nice being fairly new still. The bathrooms have nice complimentary toiletries, sheets feel nice and fresh and the rooms are ridiculously quiet. They’re not overly big, but you don’t generally spend a long time in there so it doesn’t matter. Price wise, you’re paying a bit more of course for all this, but a great option if this is within your budget.
Where do we eat?
There are far more options to eat on the side pre-customs. The seating area is nice and big and lots of options no matter what you feel like. We can vouch for pretty much every eating establishment there! Our boys have always liked the massive statue of ‘Gimli’ which aptly states ‘on loan from Middle Earth’ as well as the suspended aeroplane.
If however you don’t have time to eat before going through customs there are some options on the other side and there is always the vending machines that are generally at each gate for the emergency food requirements!
Other tips for getting around?
Trunki! Once Rakeiora was old enough to sit and ride on his Trunki bag, life was so much easier – and fun! As you can see in the picture, it’s basically a bag with wheels so they can sit down and you can just unlatch one side of the handle and pull them along. If you have kids who don’t necessarily want to walk, this could be a good investment.
Most of the time we have taken over a carseat as well so you either have to pre-cover this or purchase a bag for it to go in. We’ve learnt to try and salvage the bag after each trip ready to take for next time. They’re only about $5 but that’s one large piece of plastic that we can at least try and re-use.
What to take on the plane?
This all important question depends hugely on the age of your child. We’ve travelled at various times so have hit nearly ever spectrum in the pre-school arena. Our flights have mostly been with Air New Zealand so they set you up for success with their in-flight entertainment. Once Rakeiora was of the age where he could be easily entertained by this, we felt sorted! Plenty of options to choose from to keep everyone happy. It even meant we got to each watch a movie we wanted and when else does that ever happen!
If however, you are travelling with a baby or toddler, our first tip would be be ready to help them with the potentially agonising ear pop upon take off. As a mama, I have always timed it so I could just breastfeed which makes it so easy. If baby is on a bottle, then same goes, just time the bottle for take off and descent. The swallowing motion of course helps with the adjustment in altitude. As they get older we just encouraged Rakeiora to drink or mimic the yawn motion with your mouth and to date, we’ve had no problems.
Otherwise though, I’d pack a backpack with some interesting things to keep baby happy and interested while they’re awake. For us that has been a few favourite books, toys and snacks. Depending on the length of your flight though, you can nearly always expect to have to get up and either walk them around for a bit while you can and/or chase them up and down the aisles. Think of it this way, it’s a good way to stretch your own legs and you’ll surely run into a few people who will happily talk and smile to your little one so think of it as ‘extra hands’.
Let the good times roll!
Finally, enjoy! You’ve put in all the work to saving and planning for your next adventure, so now it’s time to make the most of each moment. Put aside any ‘work’ that you have, spend less time on technology and take some mental pics of those special smiles you’ll see on the faces of your loved ones. For us, these are some of our best memories together, where we’ve been exploring other parts of the world. Your brain literally does ‘fire up’ when you’re taking in all these new experiences which really is so invigorating and renewing. Ahh, which makes me want to go back on holiday. Time to start planning I think!