Sporting legends Richie and Gemma McCaw are well known for their active lifestyle. Like all parents, the arrival of their first child meant making a few changes, especially when heading away on family holidays in New Zealand. We chatted with Richie and Gemma to get their best tips for travelling with kids.
In their role as ambassadors for Tourism New Zealand, Richie, Gemma, and Charlotte (born in December 2018) have been out and about, exploring Aotearoa’s wonderful backyard. And in the future they will be joined on their travels by Grace, who was born in June 2021.
They were happy to share with us some of what they’ve learnt to help make family travel as stress-free as possible.
The McCaw family
Rugby legend Richie, and hockey legend Gemma, along with daughters Charlotte (2) and recent arrival Grace, make a great team. Along with fatherhood, Richie finds time to train for and complete endurance races, fly helicopters, and complete numerous speaking engagements, while Gemma combines motherhood with promoting wellness and maternal mental health.
Their busy lives, active lifestyle, and passion for exploring New Zealand makes them the perfect ambassadors for Tourism New Zealand.
The McCaws, like all families, are keen for everyone to have a great time when travelling and holidaying – especially Charlotte and Grace. After all, it’s not a happy holiday for anyone if the kids are unhappy! With this in mind, they’ve shared some tips for planning travel and holidaying.
We spoke with them to find out their top tips for family travel.
Planning the perfect trip
The first McCaw tip is to plan travel around naps. If they’re flying with their toddler, they book a flight for the morning so Charlotte can still have her afternoon sleep at their destination. Likewise, they’re happy to travel by car in the afternoon so she can doze off in the back.
“Always allow more time than you need when travelling. Having extra time up your sleeve saves the extra stress when you are running late or get held up somewhere.” Richie & Gemma McCaw
Because they love to get outdoors when they’re travelling, they opt for child-friendly accommodation that’s close to parks, playgrounds or the beach.
Richie and Gemma also like to check that their accommodation has what they need for the kids (like a cot, trundler bed, or highchair) and put in a request for it to be set up. This means that you can transfer a sleepy child straight to bed (if you’re very lucky) for a little wind-down time.
Another thing they check in advance is what food is available at their destination, nearby, or to order in.
“Make your toddler’s favourite meal (Charlotte’s is mac & cheese) and travel with it so you can stick to eating at their usual time. If you’ve got a baby on solids, travel with their utensils so you can heat up their meal wherever you are.” Richie & Gemma McCaw
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It’s a juggle to take exactly what you need on a holiday. While you don’t want to be dragging around too much, the fact is travelling with children means lots of gear. One thing the McCaws make sure they never forget is Charlotte’s special sleep toy, “Monkey”. They also pack a couple of good books for themselves, plus some favourite children’s books, and plenty of snacks.
Richie and Gemma always travel with a front pack or collapsible stroller too as it means baby or toddler naps can be taken at the usual time, even when they’re on the go. Plus, it enables the family to be active!
While on holiday, Gemma and Richie try to stick to their usual routines as much as possible. They try to keep meals and naps around the same time (as much as possible) and exploring is done during usual wake times.
“Follow your usual bedtime routines – for example, bath, brush teeth, book, cuddle and say good night.” Richie & Gemma McCaw
If they’re out exploring, they plan a fun stop at a playground or picnic spot along the way to break up the journey. And they always take lots of snacks to avoid hangry meltdowns!
“Be prepared and relax – travelling can be stressful with kids and it may not always go to plan but if you are prepared it makes the experience a lot more enjoyable. Most people with kids will understand a meltdown or a crying baby so try not to stress too much, but don’t pack too much in on travel days!” Richie & Gemma McCaw
Finally, Gemma and Richie recommend that you try to not sweat the small stuff and when things don’t go to plan, try to focus on what you can control and don’t worry about what you can’t.
Happy holidays from the McCaws!
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Written by Kidspot New Zealand in partnership with Tourism New Zealand.