Olympic swimmer and TV presenter Giaan Rooney has been travelling from a young age, when swim meets often saw her jetting interstate. She loves enjoying holidays with her husband Sam Levett and their children Zander, 6, and Alexa, 3.
Hi Giaan Rooney, what have been your favourite family holidays in Australia?
I love holidaying in Australia, and I can’t wait to explore even more! When I was a child, we did road trips all over the country, from Magnetic Island off Townsville to swim meets in Sydney. Now with kids of my own we have been fortunate enough to holiday in Noosa, Hamilton Island, all through the Northern Rivers of NSW, down to Wagga Wagga and even visiting friends and family in country Victoria. We really do live in the best country in the world. I love the diverse landscapes, the incredible fresh produce, and the wildlife.
What have been your favourite family holidays overseas and why?
My favourite holiday as a child was a big trip we did to the USA – we went to Disneyland, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, had an earthquake scare in LA and visited friends in San Diego. I have been hooked on travel ever since! The only overseas holiday we have done with our kids has been to Bali, and we loved that thanks to the hotel kids’ club and a local nanny. We ALL had some downtime!
Have you done much travelling since the COVID-19 pandemic?
Living in Queensland means we have been fortunate to be able to travel within our state for most of the pandemic, but we have only been on the one mini-break, in the last school holidays, to Noosa. The only difference we found was that restaurants were quiet and they shut early.
What’s been the worst thing that’s happened on a family holiday?
It didn’t actually happen on the holiday, but when we went to Bali in 2018, my daughter, Lexi, had a febrile seizure three days after we got home. She was 11 months old, was teething, didn’t sleep for 11 hours on the journey home and picked up a virus, so thankfully we were in Australia with an incredible medical system to support us during our most terrifying experience!
And the best?
We have plenty of wonderful family memories from our holidays, but I think our favourites always include swimming in the ocean and playing in the sand.
Giaan, what do you love about travelling with kids?
The excitement and joy of the kids exploring somewhere new is the best!
Why do you think it’s important?
I have always loved travel as it opens your eyes to other cultures, the way others live, and makes you realise your place as a very small fish in a very large pond. I think it is so important to expose my children to as much travel as possible so that they develop empathy and compassion for those not as fortunate as themselves, as well as a burning desire to look after our planet and all of its inhabitants.
What’s your best packing tip?
Write a list and put everything you would like to pack out at least a week early, then cull items until you think you have packed as efficiently as possible.
What advice do you have for other families when it comes to travelling?
I always make sure I have any medications we might need with us just in case, and I keep as many parts of our routine in place as I can, such as taking our daily Life-Space Probiotic, and sticking to a familiar bedtime routine for the kids – healthy, well rested kids means we can all enjoy our holiday.
Where would you like to go for your next family holiday?
We have a holiday bucket list which includes places close to home like North Stradbroke Island, as well as Uluru in the Northern Territory and swimming with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia (where my husband and I went for our honeymoon), with the dream to do a full, extended family holiday overseas for a white Christmas.