From Thredbo to Disneyland and Green Camp in Bali, there’s nothing Jacinta Tynan loves more than getting away with her two sons – even if it does have its challenges
Jacinta Tynan is one of Australia’s most experienced journalists, with 30 years’ experience reporting and presenting in Australia and overseas, most recently as an anchor with Sky News Australia. As well as presenting live, rolling news, she produced and hosted ‘Change Makers’, interviewing people and organisations making a positive difference in the world. She has just published her fifth book, The Single Mother’s Social Club — Inspiration and advice on embracing single parenthood. Jacinta is patron of The Warrior Woman Foundation and an ambassador for Raise Foundation, which provides in-school mentoring to high school kids across the country. In her spare time, she loves travelling the world with her two boys, Jasper, 12, and 10-year-old Otis.
Hi Jacinta Tynan, have you done much travelling with your children?
I have travelled a lot with my two boys from a young age as I don’t want being a single parent to deprive them from having enriching adventures and experiences. I’m a keen skier, so I have taken my boys skiing several times from when the oldest, Jasper, was five and Otis was four. We’ve been to Thredbo, Falls Creek, Perisher and even had the opportunity to ski in Arizona. We’ve also done road trips to Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads, the Blue Mountains and all over country NSW. We’ve even popped in on Darwin and would love to go back to explore more of the Northern Territory. Beyond our beautiful shores, I’ve taken my kids to Fiji, Green Camp in Bali, and on The Polar Express in Flagstaff Arizona, with a side trip to Disneyland Resort in California.
What has been your favourite family holiday in Australia?
Skiing in Thredbo. I learnt to ski when I was four and, when I became a mother, I couldn’t wait to introduce my boys to skiing too. Skiing with kids can be a bit of a palaver. You’re responsible for all the logistics — and costs — as well carrying gloves, goggles, ski boots, helmets, and skis. Try doing that as the only adult in the mix! But when you’re whizzing down the slopes together, their arms outstretched, squealing with delight, it’s worth all the effort. I think Thredbo is the perfect place to ski with young kids. Having started my career there as one of the original Thredbo snow reporters, returning for countless winters since, it’s a place close to my heart. I’ve taken my boys there a couple of times in winter. I’d deliver them to Thredboland for their ski lesson in the morning and head up Gunbarrel Chair for higher climbs. After last lifts, we built ‘snow people’ and toasted marshmallows on the fire pits outside the Thredbo Alpine Hotel while watching the famous flare run and fireworks. You don’t want to be anywhere else. We’ve been to Thredbo in the summer too. I ’dragged’ the boys up Mt Kosciuszko when they were nine and seven. They might have protested a bit, but they’ll treasure the memory one day.
Jacinta, what has been your favourite international family holiday and why?
I had the privilege of taking my boys on Grand Canyon Railways’ Polar Express train ride outside Flagstaff, Arizona when they were six and eight. It was such an adventure going on a long-haul flight with my two young kids on my own — and that was just the start of it. Flagstaff is a really special place with so much to do and see. As well as hitching a ride on The Polar Express, with the legendary story re-enacted on board complete with carol sing-a-long — we day tripped to the Grand Canyon (about an hour-and-a-half away), hiked beside ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon, and went skiing at Arizona Snowbowl. We also did a night tour of Lowell Observatory, where the dwarf planet Pluto was discovered. While we were in the neighbourhood, we tacked on a trip to Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios in California on the way home. It’s a trip we’ll never forget. Not just for all the wonderful experiences, but because it was us three making memories on the other side of the world.
How is travelling different now to before you had kids?
It’s much more fun. Travelling with kids is a prime motivator to get active and create adventures and experiences. You see things through their eyes, which shifts your whole perspective. Kids need to be on the go, so it forces me to step up. Sure, travelling with kids means you can’t linger in sidewalk cafes, wander aimlessly through museums, stay on the ski slopes till sundown, or sleep in. But I’ll take holidays with my boys any day. They’re the best company.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened when travelling with kids?
We hired a car in Arizona and again in LA, but I didn’t realise you had to pay extra (a lot extra!) for a sat nav in hire cars in the US. I’d heard horror stories about spending excessive amounts on data using Google maps, so I had to navigate by pulling over in ‘gas stations’ to ask for directions. It was quite stressful, on top of driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road with two hungry kids in the back. It took us three hours to get from LA Airport to Anaheim (triple the estimated time!)
And the best?
The best was also the worst. I was so proud of myself for driving in the US as the only grown-up —without a map! One morning I was driving into a hot pink dawn from Flagstaff, Arizona to Phoenix to catch our flight. Saguaro cactus silhouettes framed our route, my two boys singing in the back as we barrelled into a new day. I felt so proud of myself. “I’ve got this”, I thought. And we do.
What tips do you have for other parents when it comes to travelling with kids?
Find a way. Don’t wait for other families to go with or to have enough money to travel in luxury or until the kids are older. You don’t have to spend a fortune. Hotels in country towns are cheap and you can share a bed with the kids when they’re younger. So, hop in the car, download some kids’ podcasts (like Short & Curly and The Big Fib) and go and explore your own backyard.
Why do you think travelling with kids is important?
Travel offers a sure-fire way to bond with your children, making memories and sharing unique experiences that will help shape them. When you interrupt your routine, you see the world differently. Uninterrupted time is the best gift we can give our children, and you only really get that when you remove yourself from the demands of daily life.
Where would you like to go next?
I would love to take my boys skiing overseas in Canada, the US and/or Japan. We have only ever skied together for a few days at a time so it would be such a treat to settle into mountain life. As my boys are getting older, I’m also keen to take them on more ‘educational’ trips to Vietnam and other parts of Asia.
Jacinta’s book, The Single Mother’s Social Club, is published by Murdoch Books:
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