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travel

Holidays & Destinations

Family Snow Trip to Falls Creek

July 15, 2016

 

My husband Ben and I recently took our children on a snow trip to Falls Creek in the Victorian Alpine region.  It was a really memorable, magical experience that I would highly recommend. Here are my top tips for a successful family snow trip to Falls Creek:

  • Organise appropriate clothing– I invested in thermals for all of us and good quality ski socks. We borrowed all the ski gear from friends, including pants, jackets, beanies, gloves, goggles and snow boots. Layering in the correct insulated gear was the secret to keeping us warm and comfortable, which meant maximizing our time outdoors.
  • Be prepared for the car journey – We broke-up the long trip with a stop offs for lunch and a stretch. During the trip the kids entertainment involved playing the iPad that was pre-loaded with their favourite shows and apps, kids CDs in the car stereo, plus timeless car games like eye-spy and storytelling where you take it in turn to tell add a sentence. We also had them take in the beautiful changing surrounds by asking what they could see. Make sure you have their comfort items for sleeping. Finally, packing healthy snacks and drinks that were accessible and agreeable on their tummy’s considering the windy roads.
  • Book family friendly accommodation – We had the pleasure of staying at one of the most family friendly places we have stayed at anywhere – Trackers Lodge. Right from the outset Brian the Lodge Manager made us all welcome.
    As we arrived at dinnertime, the kids were taken off our hands and fed while being supervised by a lovely nanny at the Lodge (Abbey). This gave Ben and I the opportunity to have a pre-dinner drink at the bar at the other at the other end of the dining room and meet other guests around the open log fire. After the kids’ dinner they all moved onto the Kids Club room to watch a movie, do some craft and eat popcorn. With the kids sorted, Ben and I were treated to a lovely degustation dinner. It was nice to have some quiet time together after the 5-hour car ride with the kids. Over dinner we had a good chat to Brian, who was the perfect host, answering all our questions and making us feel right at home.
    With our hunger satisfied, we retired to our family bedroom, which consisted of bunk beds for the kids and a king-size bed for the parents. Our bathroom was newly renovated and the bath was impressive. Perfect to soak in after a day out in the snow. The best part was the view over the Village Bowl – stunning!
    Breakfast at the lodge was perfect, ranging from continental to full hot breakfast (and everything in between).
  • Enroll the kids in Ski school – Renault Ski Club was awesome and enabled Ben time to get out and enjoy the fantastic ski slopes. Our kids absolutely loved the Club as it was their first time skiing and they learnt so much in one day, due mainly to the fantastic instructors. There are half day and full day programs available. To find out more and book, visit the Renault Ski Club website.
  • Don’t try to do too much in your day – Being in a cold environment at altitude can be tiring for anyone. Stop for breaks and afternoon naps if need be. You want to make the most of your time, but you want it to be quality time, with happy kids, not tired grumpy ones. This is the big advantage of having accommodation on the mountain.
  • Choose Child Friendly Dining – We loved Elk at Fall restaurant. With a wide range of mouth watering and affordable options, you are spoiled for choice. I highly recommend the Sri Lankan chicken curry and Ben loved the pork belly. The kid’s meal options were the best on the mountain, real food that appealed to their taste buds. They most enjoyed toasting marshmallows on the open fire. Pencils and Paper were provided to keep them busy and we were made to feel very welcome by Barry and all his friendly staff. I’d recommend booking during peak times to ensure you don’t miss out, however they are open all day, so stop in anytime.

 

We had such a great weekend at Falls Creek, the family friendly ski resort certainly provided us with memories that will last a life time. We will definitely go back, especially since it has the best skiing in Australia. To help a lucky reader make their own life-long memory, I have teamed up with Trackers Lodge and we are giving away two nights free accommodation for a family of four. To enter visit my Instagram page.

For more information on Trackers Lodge, visit their website.

 

Note: I was a guest of Trackers Lodge, Renault Snow Club and Elk Restaurant.

Holidays & Destinations

Interview with Victoria Patchell – Indigo Surf and Yoga Retreats

March 8, 2016

Today is International Womens Day and I want to introduce you to a good friend of mine for over 20 years. Victoria Patchell, who  has recently followed her dreams and established  Indigo Surf and Yoga Retreats. Located in amazing destinations around the world including the Maldives and Java. Victoria believes that by getting away and ‘escaping’ it really rechargers you so when you return you have so much more to give. As Women we tend to think of everyone else first. Its so important to take time to feed your soul and recharge.Victoria has an energy that is so giving and relaxed.  I loved talking all things travel with Victoria when we recently caught up during her last visit home.

 

What is your favourite Destination?

Ooooh this is always a tough decision, as I love so many places. In taking consideration into all the things I love when travelling such as delicious food, nature, culture, friendly locals, great service and accommodation options. It would have to be the Wild Coast in South Africa. It is such a magical off the beaten track paradise where you find gorgeous empty beaches; abundant nature, incredible cuisine and the locals are kind and genuine. Here is the only place on planet earth I have been able to surf pristine turquoise waters in the morning and go on safari in the afternoon seeing wild Lions, Rhinos, Giraffes and Zebras. The Wild Coast really provides a once in a lifetime experience and the people there are just so friendly.

What do you love best about travelling?

I love so many aspects of travel and am so grateful that I have been able to explore the world. Travelling reminds you that no matter what culture you come from we all speak the same language. A smile, kindness and laughter go a long way and can create connection with someone on the other side of the world of a foreign language. For me this is sharing a sandwich with a stranger on a bus from El Salvador to Guatemala. I also love the sensory indulgence of travel. It is just so fulfilling trying something new every day, when you are travelling you are constantly surrounded by new smells, sights, sounds and people. Breakfast in a foreign country even provides the opportunity for adventure and what a great way to start a day.

What was your first travel experience?

I was 19 years old with a one-way ticket to Glasgow, Scotland and $500.00 AUD of savings. I was on my way to reunite with my first love. Feeling excited and nervous my first travel conundrum was how I could possibly look fresh and dazzling on arrival after making a 36-hour journey (this was not possible, but he welcomed me none the less). Once I arrived the adventure truly began. I worked in Glasgow at a smoky Aussie pub for a 2 months until the nocturnal life became too much and then evacuated to the fresh mountain air of the French Alps. In the Alps I started my journey learning to snowboard and developed my deep fondness for wine and cheese. During this time I worked as a chalet girl and cook. For the next year I lived and worked around France and explored the coast surfing and working a variety of jobs. The most exciting job was ‘gardener for the Sultan of Oman’ at his palace near Paris. I was so grateful and lucky for this incredible opportunity and during it I learnt so much about getting out of my comfort zone and committing to the unknown, something I had never done before.

What was your youngest surf school student?

The adorable Byron from Canada, who was 3 years old, what a cutie! He loved surfing and was just so fearless and trusting. He stole my heart. It forever blows my mind how quickly kids can learn with the right encouragement and support. For kids under 10 years old we always teach with 2 instructors to 1 child so when we push the child on a wave we have a ‘pitch and catch’ technique which ensures the confidence and comfort of both the kids and there parents.

Why do we need to escape?

Everyone needs to escape, no matter how content you are in your regular environment it’s so important to get away and reconnect with yourself. I have always believed you are responsible for the energy you bring to every space whether it is with your family, friends or colleagues. By getting away and ‘escaping’ it rechargers you so when you return you have so much more to give. One of my clients recently sent a thank you email after she returned home to her family. Her words really moved me as she stated before she came on the retreat her tolerance to her kids and husband was short’ and she felt her’ resources where depleted’. However after returning from her ‘Escape’ she was reinvigorated with energy and love for her family and felt like she was now being ‘the mother she wanted to be’ as she had the energetic supplies and perspective.

What if I have never surfed or done yoga?

Awesome, well you are in for a treat. Over the years I have had countless clients compare there first wave to many great things but one of my favourite quotes was from a client that surfed her first green wave; ‘surfing is like sex, you hear everyone talking about it but catching that wave was like having my first orgasm, I finally understood what all the fuss was about’. Yoga is also an incredible release to those that try it for the first time. As a mother or just a woman in general we are always running lists and should, coulda, wouldas through our mind. When you practice yoga you become so set on the practice all the mind chatter disappears and for the first time in a while your mind is free.

Are beginners welcome?

Beginners are welcomed with open arms. In fact the majority of our destinations are selected due to their fantastic conditions for learning to surf. Our team of awesome surf coaches love nothing more than getting someone surfing for the first time or ‘popping their surfing cherry’ as we say. However you must be warned surfing is addictive and often once you start you can’t stop. This often results in a hot bod, excessive bikini purchases and additional beach vacations. All great things we feel.

What s your life mantra?

Do something you have never done everyday and live life knowing ‘your passions are not an accident they are a calling’. Doing something you have never done everyday is much easier to do than it sounds. One day it could be a new type of tea and the next could be a nude cartwheel or surfing in high heels… Its up to you, but living with this mantra keeps life interesting and opens you up to new experiences and personal growth.

 

I highly recommend you check out her website for more information on upcoming retreats. http://indigosurfescapes.com

Airports & Flights Holidays & Destinations

Interview with Karen Edwards from Travel Mad Mum

February 20, 2016

Hi Karen,

I love your blog and your message. You are a nurse from the UK married to a New Zealander and currently on Maternity leave. Sounds normal. However you are spending your Maternity leave travelling around the world! Not just a holiday here and there for a month or so. You are actually backpacking through Asia and constantly on the go with your bub in tow. You are certainly inspiring parents all over the world that their travelling days do not have to be over just because they have a baby. You have made International headlines all over the world. This is a message I strongly believe in too and I have loved following your journey on your blog and instagram page Travel Mad Mum.

 

What inspired you to do it? To spend your entire maternity leave travelling?

I had travelled extensively before having Esmé and always had this vision of having my baby with me in a backpack exploring the world. Esmé was also a surprise, Shaun and I had travel plans so we just did things a little back to front. Now we are getting married this year.

What is in your carry on luggage for your baby that you just couldn’t live without while you are flying?

Dummy, her cuddly toy, western health conscious baby snacks, tui natural balm for relaxing baby and phone for pics.

 What is your advice to parents thinking of following in your footsteps?

Plan finances well in advance and make the decision early so you have time to work to your goal. It will be tough going through packing up your home with a new born, just need to remember you will reap the rewards very soon.

Research destinations and avoid malarial areas.

Get good travel insurance

Keep packing to a minimum, you don’t need everything with you

The earlier you go the easier it is

Try to breastfeed for immunity and ease of having to sterilise
everything

Bring a baby carrier

What is your top tip for flying with babies and staying sane?

Load the iPad with educational apps and favourite cartoons. Not an ideal way of managing busy baby but it keeps them quiet and that’s the main aim of getting through the flight.

Where is your favourite destination?

When I’ve travelled by myself I would say Croatia

When I’ve been with Esmé
I would say Vietnam

Which is the most child friendly country you have visited? Why?

I have two and for different reasons. The Vietnamese are incredibly friendly and just love western babies. I guess it’s because they don’t see them so much. They are so helpful and caring

In Taiwan, they are not so forward with their affection, however, the infrastructure really supports parents with very well set up nursery rooms just about everywhere. Equally the hotels there really make a big effort with baby cots, baths, pottys and toiletries when you are coming to stay with a little one.

What has been your biggest challenge while travelling with a baby?

Not being able to give Esmé social opportunities with other children regularly. I feel she missed out on that.

What did you learn from that challenge?

I am not sure how we could have got around that. I guess I needed to ensure we were stimulating her enough in other ways which was certainly the case.

Most babies thrive on routine. How does this work when you are constantly travelling and on the go?

We still had a routine we just didn’t have the same room every night. We left London when she was too small to get jet lag. We then slowly skipped back through Asia where the time difference might only be an hour. The baby carrier was the biggest life saviour if we were moving during nap times. She happily slept on me.

What do you have to say to people who say that your baby wont remember any of it?

I’ve had a lot of that. I say we have developed her from a sensory perspective. She is very sociable and adapts well to a changing environment. Baby’s develop the most in their first year of life. The experience of seeing a different sight every day in my eyes must be beneficial in comparison to my alternative choice of sitting in my flat in London during the winter, both of us going stir crazy.

Would you do it all again?

I would love to. Firstly hoping to get married this year and then maybe try to extend our family if we are lucky enough. We would use our mat leave in the same way

Where to next?

This year we have Ireland, Cuba, South Africa and a local holiday in the UK
Sent from my iPhone

Thank you for taking time to answer my questions. You are a very inspirational traveling mother and I hope others are inspired by your story and follow in your footsteps.

Safe travels,

Jade

You can follow Karen and Esme’s adventures  here http://travelmadmum.com/stories/

and on instagram https://www.instagram.com/travelmadmum/

 

 

 

Airports & Flights My Stories

Royal Flying Doctors Kids Club Launch

February 16, 2016

The Flying Doctors has been once again been voted as Australia’s most reputable charity for five years in a row and has been providing aero-medical assistance and primary health care services since 1928. RFDS Victoria delivers air and road patient transport, primary health care programs such as diabetes, mobile eye and dental care and rural women’s GP services, as well as raising funds for emergency retrieval across Australia.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has now launched a traditional Kids Club to connect children with one of Australia’s most iconic organisations – it’s a free club which will feature birthday greetings, regular newsletters in the mail and activities to provide children with an insight into the important work that the Flying Doctors has provided since 1928.

It’s aimed at children aged between 5 – 12 years old, with all registrations before 24th March putting them in the draw to win an iPad and a Pilots pack. They can join here https://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/vic/flying-doctor-kids-club

I have just signed my six year old daughter Charlotte up. She knows about the Royal Flying Doctors as we always visit their stand at the Royal Melbourne Show and I have explained the wonderful work they do. It truly is an amazing organisation and we living in urban areas need to always think of those living in remote areas who do not have access to the same things we do. Charlotte is very excited that her membership certificate is on its way and that is exactly what club aims to do, bring back the joy of traditional mail and connection.

THE FLYING DOCTOR KIds Club features INCLUDE:

  • A certificate of membership for all members to show their friends
  • Annual birthday and Christmas cards in the mail from Flynn the Flyer
  • Regular newsletters in the mail featuring fun facts, activities and updates
  • A chance to win an iPad and Pilots Pack for one lucky winner who joins before 24 March 2016

Today the RFDS attends over 295,000 patients annually, or more than 800 every day, performs around 37,000 aeromedical evacuations and conducts about 15,000 healthcare clinics per year.

It took me 2 minutes to sign up Charlotte, If your children love aviation and receiving old fashioned mail  I suggest you sign them up.

Safe travels,

Jade

 

 

Airports & Flights Holidays & Destinations

Bali with Toddlers – My top 10 Tips

February 3, 2016

Bali is the most popular overseas destination for Australian families, the main reason why – it’s so easy. It is in close proximity to us, affordable, has great accommodation and abundance of amazing restaurant options, plus gorgeous weather and people.

We have taken our kids to Bali (at times by myself) since they were babies and now the eldest is six we have tallied up at least half a dozen trips. For those thinking of venturing to this paradise, here are my tips on what to consider.

  • Accommodation– Think about what kind of accommodation will suit your family. A room with balcony that faces onto a pool or garden is a good idea as you can sit outside while your toddler naps and you are not stuck indoors for hours. Trust me I learnt this the hard way. If you have a toddler and are staying at a hotel or villa with a pool, most don’t have pool fences so consider how you can protect your child, e.g. book a room upstairs.  Those with babies requiring a port-a-cot, make sure to request this when you book your accommodation.  I never brought my own and had no problems – one less thing to carry!
  • Area – Choose the area where you stay in Bali carefully. If you want busy and noisy go to Kuta. If you want bigger holiday resorts try Nusa Dua. My preference is Seminyak as it is busy but a lot more relaxed and boutique style, e.g. villas and world class eating. If you want to really escape the hustle and bustle head up to beautiful Ubud for a remote retreat.
  • Travel Stroller – Pack a travel stroller and a baby carrier with you and alternate using them. It does get hot using a carrier but it is easier than dealing with uneven footpaths, although the stroller is great as baby can rest while you walk. I always bring a mosquito net as it also provides shade. Fly babee would be perfect.
  • Insect Repellant and sunscreen –Always bring with you kids rid and sunscreen.  Test this out on your child before you go to make sure they don’t have a reaction. Remember to re-apply throughout the day.
  • Pool Toys – Bring your own pool floatation devices to give you some freedom. Also pack some bath or pool toys to keep them entertained. They are light to pack and you will have hours of fun in between playing with frangipanis that float through the pool and meeting other kids. Bliss. I always bring some other small toys and drawing equipment to give them some inside activities to have a break from the sun or the rain.
  • Nanny – This isn’t for everyone but it is something I highly recommend. On my last trip to Bali I was traveling solo with my 5 and 2 yo and a recommended nanny came to help me for a couple of hours each afternoon. It was the best $AUD 12 I spent. I could go get a massage and pop into the supermarket or Circle K to get some supplies while my son had his afternoon nap and my daughter watched some Indonesian cartoons.
  • Dining– Child friendly dining in Bali is a breeze. The Balinese believe that the younger a child is the closer they are to God. I have found when ever I have gone into a restaurant in Bali the staff of both genders and all ages, always dote and play with my children. It really makes you feel, welcomed, relaxed and happy. My favourite places to dine with toddlers in Seminyak include: La Lucioala which is right on the beach so that toddlers can run and play on the grass in front while you dine.  Motel Mexicola is great if you go early. The design of the place is a sensory overload. Your little one will be amazed by the colours and have a great time dancing, while you enjoy a margarita. Being lively also means your toddler’s noise blends in.
  • Itinerary-There are lots of day trips and adventure parks in Bali including waterbom and bali zoo that you can head out too if you feel up for it. Generally I just like to relax by the pool with my kids. They absolutely love it. We always start our day with breakfast at Sea Circus then we spend the entire morning in the pool. We have some quiet time in the afternoon and head out for an early dinner.
  • Bottles – I sterilise my bottles using boiled bottled water and sterilisation tablets (I recommend Milton brand). I always give extra bottles to my babies and toddlers when we fly or are in warm climate. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep them hydrated.
  • Nappies– If you can, pack enough nappies from home, including swimming nappies (on the way home you can use the spare space in your suitcase for all your shopping). I liked my certain brands and that way didn’t have to worry about leaking. If running low all Circle K shops sell nappies, that way I could save my trusted brand for the flight home.
  • Denpasar airport –This is a new modern airport and my experience has been that families get fast tracked through. You must purchase a visa on arrival in the terminal. Follow the signs and make sure you have 35 USD each for the visa. I always organise US dollars before I fly out.

 

Bali is a fantastic place for you to start traveling with your child. It’s set up for tourists and your every need as a young family is catered for. I hope my Bali with Toddlers tips provide you some inspiration and confidence to visit this beautiful place.

Featured Plan & Pre-Travel

Before flying with children

September 9, 2015
shutterstock_261485621

 

When traveling with children there are some pre-flight tips you can apply that will ensure a smoother journey when in the air. The key is to think ahead and be prepared, you know best the needs of your children. There is only so much the crew can do once in the air, What you do before the flight is the game changer.  Here are my top 10 tips of things to do before you travel with children – from my family to yours:

 

  1. CHILD’S PASSPORT AND VISAS: Organise your child’s passport and visas (if required) well in advance, i.e. months. Most governments are very particular and strict with their specifications, including on photos. For Australian readers, I recommend Ted’s Camera Shop over Australia Post Office’s.  In short, the cost of using professionals is often less than having to re-submit applications.
  2. FIRST AID KIT: I always stock up pre-travel on trusted first aid products like children’s pain and fever relief (e.g. Panodol & Nuerofen), anti-histamine (e.g. Clarintyne), antiseptic & anesthetic cream (e.g. Savlon) hydration supplements (e.g. Hydralite) and plasters & bandages. Hand Sanitizer is something I always travel with. There are chemists at most airports, but I suggest you stock up well in advance of your trip.
  3. SEATING REQUESTS:  For those with infants, request a baby bassinet if they meet the specifications. For those with young children, I recommend an aisle seat in close proximity to a toilet with baby change facilities. You can request seats from booking your ticket and potentially as late as the boarding gate, but not once in the air.
  4. FOOD ON BOARD:  If you would like a child’s meal you need to order this in advance of travel and confirm at check-in, as all catering is done on the ground. Once in the air, the flight attendants will do all they can to improvise for any non pre-ordered requests, but you will need to manage your expectations. I recommend packing snacks that you know your child will like, e.g. infant food packages, for the airport and during the flight, as it can be a long time between services once on board.
  5. CARPARKING: Think about where you will park your car. There are a lot of specials around at the moment and I advise shopping around. For my Melbourne readers, my favourite place for value and service is Andrew’s Airport Parking –there is nothing like a friendly face and sparkling clean car upon arriving home. Better still, Andrew’s are offering  mum with wings readers a 10% discount, right up until Christmas. Book at http://www.andrewsairportpark.com.au/melbourne.aspx and use the Discount Code WINGS.
  6. LAGS: Liquid and Gel regulations are something that parent’s travelling with infants are exempt from, as long as the amounts are proportionate to the duration of the flight, with a little extra in case of delays. I strongly recommend reading up about these regulations for those airports you will be visiting to avoid any undue worries when passing through security checks. You can find everything you need here http://travelsecure.infrastructure.gov.au/international/lags/exemptions.aspx
  7. ENTERTAINMENT: We are very lucky that these days we have access to iPads/ tablets, but remember to charge and load it up before you travel with your children’s favourite shows, games and books. For a number of airlines, usually non-premium, you can pre-order iPads for in-flight entertainment. I still pack activities like stickers and colouring books, which are handy when electronic devices cannot be used during the flight, e.g. taxiing.
  8. PREP YOUR CHILDREN: Explain to your children what is about to happen and the processes at the airport. I find when children know what is about to happen they will be relaxed and not afraid of any checks.
  9. HYDRATE and REST:  If children are hydrated and well rested before travel they will be more comfortable once in the air.
  10. CABIN BAGGAGE: Think about packing well in advance, especially cabin baggage. One tip I always recommend is preparing some freezer bags with nappies and wipes to keep in the seat pocket and a wrap. This means every time your child needs changing you don’t need to get your bag down from the overhead locker.  Packing is a blog post of its own.coming soon.

 

Travelling with your family is an amazing thing to do and I want everyone to experience it. If you do these 10 things I mentioned before flying with children you will be prepared and organised for a great flight with your family. Safe travels.

 

Mum with Wings

My Stories

The Beginning In Sri Lanka

July 14, 2015

When I was seven my parents had saved up, and I was given the opportunity to fly for the first time.  I boarded a flight to my mothers birth country, Sri Lanka.

I had grown up tasting my grandma’s delicious curries and had been immersed in the Sri Lankan culture to a small extent, but getting off that Air Lanka flight and stepping onto the stairs to walk down to the tarmac is a vivid memory that will stick with me forever. The air was so hot and thick, all I could compare it with was something I was familiar with, the butterfly cage at the Melbourne Zoo. There was a smell in the air, a little similar to my grandmas kitchen, but mixed with incense and coconut aroma’s.

That was just the beginning… Once inside the airport, the hustle and bustle of an asian country immersed my senses. The language, the colourful saris. I could see a glass wall with hundreds of people behind it. A fair lady with long skinny limbs waved her arms around frantically and had a huge smile that went from ear to ear. We walked on through into arrivals and the lady with the smile wrapped her arms around me and I instantly felt comforted. I felt so at home in a place I had never been and in absolute awe of what was happening.  A driver was waiting for us in a white van and we drove off into the night. I looked out the window and I couldn’t believe the confronting sights, people sleeping on concrete shop fronts, tin sheds that were unfinished or broken and made up majority of the infrastructure, dusty roads, piles of rubbish, and cows wandering around on the roads.

We then arrived at Swarna Road, Colombo 6 where my extended family lived. In the month that followed I made friends for life in that street and I was exposed to an amazing experience being part of that community. I guess that was the beginning in Sri Lanka, where my passion for international travel grew.