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As COVID-19 restrictions are slowly rolled back, you’re probably wondering exactly what the school holidays are going to look like this year.

A few months of gruelling partial lockdowns and remote schooling has made life harder than ever for parents with school-age children, and any chance to get out of the house is a good one, even if it means dragging the kids halfway across the country.

Maybe you’ve already written off the July holidays – some state borders are still closed, there’s limited availability at resorts, and just too many unknown variables.  Luckily, September and Christmas are looking good, and there’s plenty of great accommodation and airline deals floating around.

We know travelling in a post-COVID-19 world is difficult and unpredictable, especially if you’ve got kids.

That’s why we’ve written this article.  We want to help you navigate the murky waters of domestic tourism – get the information you need about where, why and how to travel around Australia in 2020, escape the house, and give yourself the break you so desperately need.  Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s essential that you look after yourself and your family.

What are you waiting for? Get reading, and then get booking!

Why Travel in 2020?

The first question you’ve probably asked yourself is whether or not it’s a good idea to travel this year.  You can’t wait to take the kids and your partner away, but the rational part of you keeps worrying about the virus, about money, about the unknown.

So why risk it? Well, let’s think through those concerns one by one.

1.   COVID-19

covid-19 virus cells

If you’re avoiding vacationing because of the coronavirus, our advice is: don’t.  Until a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 has been developed, trialled and deployed, the world will continue to exist in a state of closed borders and virtual communication.

Potential treatments for already sick patients are on the horizon, but a safe, effective vaccine is likely to be at least 12 months away (probably even longer, according to some scientists).  Putting your life completely on hold for a year or two isn’t feasible, and, with the increasing possibility of a travel bubble, it’s just not necessary.

Travelling within countries like Australia and New Zealand, which have successfully managed the virus and are on the verge of eliminating it, is about as safe as you can get.  Because active cases are confined to hotel rooms (and cluster-tracking measures have become more effective), your chances of catching COVID-19 are minimal. Follow government health recommendations like social distancing and hand sanitisation, stay away from large crowds, and there’s really no reason not to go on holidays.

2.   Money

young couple reading financial statements

If you’re one of the many Australians whose income has been affected heavily by the pandemic, don’t go on holiday.  It’s just common sense.  Wait until you’re financially secure before splashing out on luxuries.

Not taking your family on vacation because you’re worried about the future is entirely different.  The next few years will be hard for the Australian economy, but that doesn’t mean you need to hoard money you would have ordinarily spent.

The Reserve Bank’s most recent Statement on Monetary Policy predicted that, unless a second wave occurs, the economy will start to recover around September this year.  Their main concern?  That households will be too scared to spend money.

The more money everyday Aussies inject back into the economy, the faster businesses (and the economy) bounce back, meaning less people lose their jobs, and life returns to normal faster.

So if you’re saving your holiday fund in anticipation of a massive economic collapse, don’t.  It’s unlikely to occur, and, by taking a family holiday, you’re not only treating yourself to a much-needed break – you’re also stimulating the economy and doing your part to help the country get back on its feet.

3.   The Unknown

man gazing at mountain sunset

2020 is proving to be a year full of (mostly unpleasant) surprises.  So we get it if you don’t want to go on holiday because you don’t know what’s waiting around the corner.

But here’s the thing: you never know what life has in store for you.  Even though none of us can see the future, we make plans and move forward anyway.

Unpredictability is scary, but it’s also what makes getting up each day worth it.  Imagine how boring the world would be if we knew exactly what was waiting over the horizon.  And, if you’re reading this, you’re not someone who’s chained to routine and hates the idea of anything new.

You’re a wanderer.  An adventurer.  Someone who loves to explore, to travel, to embrace differences and experience the unknown.

You’ve never been driven by herd mentality, and you shouldn’t be now.  Fear is as contagious as the virus, but we can’t let it control our mental health, our lives or our futures.

So go out there and create your holiday plans with optimism, because everything you love about travelling is still there.  Don’t let your fear of the future stop you from making the most of the present.

How to Travel

happy family in car on road trip

Now you know there’s no reason not to go on holidays in 2020, the next question you’re probably asking yourself is, “how can I keep my family safe and healthy while doing so?”.

The simple answer is: follow government guidelines.  You can read up on exactly what those are here.

Currently, the three main points are good hygiene, social distancing and following advice about public gatherings/isolation.

What do those recommendations look like in the context of a family holiday?

The most important (especially if you have young children) is good hygiene.  Make sure your kids aren’t touching objects in public places, and help them to understand that rubbing their eyes/mouth/nose is a big no-no.  Get them to use hand sanitiser when possible, especially if you visit public transport or communal toilets.

When it comes to social distancing, things are also pretty straightforward.  Keep yourself and your family at least 1.5 metres away from other people.  Avoid crowds, use hire cars over public transport, and choose outdoor activities where possible.

At the moment, different states have different public gathering laws, which you can find here.  If you’re just travelling with your partner and your children, though, you shouldn’t have any problems – just avoid sitting down for five o’clock drinks with groups of fellow wanderers.

When it comes to actually getting to your destination, it really depends on a) how concerned you are about the coronavirus and b) how much time you have off.

Most airlines have implemented stringent safety standards that include facemasks for the crew, extensive cleaning between flights, reduced seating to help social distancing and hospital-grade air filters to prevent transmission.

However, if you’d prefer to feel completely safe, take a road trip instead.  Pick a destination that’s within driving distance, get your car serviced, and you’re good to go.  You’ll see parts of Australia you would have otherwise missed and you’ll save money on tickets, but make sure you allow extra time to reach your accommodation.

Where to Travel

map focusing on port macquarie

At the time of writing, a number of states and territories still have border restrictions in place, meaning you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days if you cross over.

Although Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed for mid-July border re-openings across the country, the recent outbreaks across Victoria have stalled decisions from state premiers.

Here’s what we know so far:

South Australia, slated to reopen for non-essential travel on July 20, has backpedalled on that decision, with Premier Steven Marshall stating, “It has now been decided to completely revise the date we will lift these state borders.”

The Northern Territory has confirmed that its borders will reopen July 17, but travellers from Victorian hotspots will be subject to mandatory 14-day self-isolation upon entering.

Tasmania doesn’t have a predicted date for reopening its borders, nor does Western Australia.

Queensland will start accepting travellers from everywhere but Victoria after July 10, while New South Wales is refusing entry only to residents of infected Victorian suburbs.

The ACT and Victoria remain completely open.

For many of us, that means we’re restricted to our home states for the July holidays, so we need to get creative.

If you’re just after a break from cabin-fever, consider staying at a resort close to home –the kids can get outside, and you and your partner don’t have the hassle of travelling a long way.  Try accommodation close to beaches, national parks and hikes.

For a more traditional holiday, see if there’s anywhere you haven’t visited in your home state that you’d like to go.  With international destinations off the menu, 2020 is the best year to explore Australia and visit its hidden gems (and there’s a lot, too).

And what about holidays later in the year?

Since we know most states are aiming to eliminate border restrictions as soon as possible, booking your September/Christmas getaways now is the smart thing to do.  Many accommodation providers and airline groups are offering flexible cancellation policies, so you can plan in advance and still have peace-of-mind that you won’t lose your money in the event of a second wave.

Just as importantly, you don’t want to completely miss out by leaving it too late – we’re already seeing an influx of bookings at our most popular resorts, and, as the year goes on, that’s only going to increase.

The recent spike in Victorian cases might seem frightening, but it’s important to remember that, until a vaccine is rolled out, this is what the future looks like.  As complacency sets in and social distancing is ignored, there will be hotspots, and those hotspots will be locked down – but the rest of the country can keep functioning.  As long as you abide by health recommendations and avoid areas with known outbreaks, there’s no reason you can’t keep living your life.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be creating state-specific guides to holidaying with your family in 2020.  They’ll cover the best destinations and activities for you and your kids to enjoy over the September and Christmas holidays, so make sure you don’t miss out.  All you have to do is subscribe to this blog – we’ll send you an email when we publish the guides.  We’ll also add them here, so feel free to bookmark this page and check in every few days.

In the meantime, start planning where you’d like to go during the July holidays.  Once you’ve put together a where and a when, don’t wait – book straight away, and get that beautiful Aussie holiday you’ve been waiting months for.

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