How to manage travelling with a toddler

Or more specifically – how to manage LONG FLIGHTS with a toddler…

As some readers of my blog may or may not know, we have a 15 month old son Jonah who we are currently travelling with on an extensive holiday. We decided in October last year to forfeit our house deposit and goal to have a mortgage for our first home and spend it on a 7 month holiday in Europe. Having a young child did not deter us from our dream of travelling together. We truly believe that the opportunity to do this is momentary and that there are so many benefits to travel now and NOT wait until we are 70 years of age. I have already written a blog previously on our decisions to travel now in specific dot points, and spoke about why we decided to take a trip of this magnitude (please see Travel tab in blog menu to read or click this link) 7 month Europe trip instead of a mortgage

Although having a toddler did not stifle our desire and plans to travel overseas, it did mean that we had to think smart and strategically in order to ensure the overall travel process was as smooth and pain free as possible. Not just for Jonah but for ourselves. We feel justified in considering ourselves in all the planning as this trip is just as much about us as Jonah, and things going more smoothly for us means we are more able to give our best to Jonah as parents. It is our dream and our holiday after all, and Jonah is along for the ride. Not to sound selfish but we are definitely considering our own enjoyment and sanity on this once in a lifetime trip! Just being honest here!

The long flights to Europe is enough to deter many parents from embarking upon the journey – especially in the case of having young children! It’s daunting flying with children and can be a dread that dampens the holiday excitement in the weeks leading up the departure. Admittedly Phil and I were very apprehensive and nervous about the flights with Jonah. I would go as far to say there was moments of dread about flying leading up to the 3rd May when we departed. I recall saying to many people that once they were over I would then consider myself to be in “holiday mode”.

Strategically planning flights and having ideas to make the journey and process easier on everyone doesn’t mean it’s the highlight of the trip 🙄😛 Flying for some (myself included) is never pleasant and not something to look forward to. Completely understandable. I’m not writing this blog entry to try and change someone’s feelings on flying. I am just giving some tips and recommendations that worked for us which made the whole experience helpful, less stressful and overall very manageable. Please note that Jonah is a good kid most of the time. He’s a good sleeper and not a “screamer” child so this was an automatic advantage. However even with this being the case, it didn’t mean he would remain so under unusual circumstances like flying. Phil and I didn’t expect too much of him and went into it expecting it to be challenging, and knowing we would have to be gracious towards him due to the difficult nature of extensive flying, disturbance in his schedule and drastic change in environments.

 

That would lead to my first recommendation: Have low expectations of the experience. Plan well, but don’t put pressure on yourself and especially your child to adjust perfectly and behave flawlessly. It’s unrealistic even for the most well behaved child and good sleeper. Also any parent would know that a baby 6-7 months or younger sleeps ALOT more than a toddler, and therefor easier in many regards to travel with. I am writing about my experience with flying with a (then 2 weeks ago) 14 month old, not a 6 month old who sleeps 15-18 hours a day and can’t run around!!

 

Second recommendation: Schedule a night flight for the longest part of your flight journey. This clearly worked for us so that’s why I would say it’s one of my top recommendations. Flying from Brisbane to Abu Dhabi was a few minutes short of 14 hours. We negotiated with our travel agent in length and opted ourselves to make this decision to fly at night. It paid off. We will travel this way again in future if we travel again with our second child. Originally we booked a flight at around 9:30pm, however the flight time got pushed back to 10:35pm over the months. Admittedly this wasn’t ideal for us. As we were going through customs and then boarding the plane it was leading up to 9:30-10pm and by this time we were hoping to have already taken off. The flight being pushed back meant that Jonah was getting very overtired by the time we took off. That first hour on the plane was tough on everyone and for a moment I thought the whole flight would be a disaster. I was just praying “Lord please help hims settle and get some sleep!” Jonah was so tired, very emotional, moody and was crying quite a lot. Poor little guy. He was also confused as to why there were so many noises, lights on and people sitting/walking around him at his bed time. He did end up crashing out on my lap and slept 8.5 hours on the flight. This is what we hoped for. Being on a night flight and having your toddler sleep for a good half to 3/4 of it makes for a very manageable experience, not to mention you don’t have to try and entertain them as much as they don’t feel confined for a long period of time. Ideally you want to try and keep them on a similar schedule to what they are on at home, obviously pushing back the sleep times each day a little bit until they are adjusted to the new time zone.

The only negative about the whole flight was the fact it was later than we wanted. A flight being pushed back cannot be helped, but in our opinion – now that we have done it, is that a 9:30pm flight would be ideal. Depending on when your toddlers bedtime is (Jonah’s is usually at 6:30pm) you don’t want to book the night flight too late. You want them tired by the time they board but not overtired as then it becomes tedious and so difficult to calm them. Flights between 8:30-9:30pm would be ideal if they are an option to you.

 

Third recommendation: Invest in buying your toddler their own seat on the plane. It does cost extra and makes you cringe a bit – but what price do you put on overall comfortability of your child and yourself and general ease of a flying experience? Buying a ticket for your toddler means they have their own independent space they can stand up on or sit down on to play. It means there is extra room as an entire family in your row – you don’t have to share with a stranger and feel more cramped (this is already an issue enough in economy!) We saw many couples on our flight that were travelling with toddlers. Obviously wanting to cut costs and sit their toddler on their lap. The flight did not go as well for them. The child fussed and kept wanting to break out of their arms, didn’t want to sit on their laps the whole time. I guess this is what starts to happen when they are toddlers – they no longer enjoy long periods of being restrained.  This is not how we wanted Jonah to feel, but instead a little more free to be a slightly independent of his mummy and daddy. He was very contented much of the whole flight because of it. Not to mention the third person in the seat next to these families did not seem all that amused. Obviously you can’t always consider everyone else but it does put pressure on a parent if they would have to constantly consider what the random person next to them must think of their child. I also saw a toddler trying to crawl off her mothers lap onto this random lady next to her. Things like this are bound to happen and it requires a lot more attention from you to make sure this doesn’t happen. As much as we cannot control the noise level of our children or how they react to things at times – we do have to control them clambering and climbing onto other people. It cost us $700 each way for Jonah’s own seat and we agree to this day it was worth every cent. Usually a child on the lap cost about $300 or something similar I believe. Big price difference but we weighed up the pros and cons and the cons far outweighed if we didn’t get that extra seat.

 

Fourth recommendation: Purchase a flight hammock so your toddler can have more leg room AND more importantly lie flat and have a little bed to sleep on. I was advised by my hairdresser only days before I left overseas about a product called “Fly Legs Up” that she was told about by another mum. I immediately looked it up when I got home and did some reading. It is such a helpful travel accessory that every parent should own if they fly with a child. It allows your child extra space and comfortability for sleep and play, it’s compact, lightweight for your carryon luggage and quick to assemble. I ordered that flight hammock so fast and got it express posted and it arrived the next day! We found it to be SO helpful for the flight and 100% believe Jonah slept longer because he was able to lay down. We used a blanket in the plane to make a little cubby for him and to block out some light. It worked a treat. The only thing that woke him a couple of times was when he pilot had to make an announcement and people turning bright lights on.  The Fly Legs Up Hammock was invented by a Gold Coast mother and is a local business so definitely an extra bonus! Here is the link to the website: Fly Legs Up Hammock

 

Travelling with a toddler

 

Fifth recommendation: Ask other parents who have travelled with children to give you any advice they may have. Don’t be afraid to ask for tips. If you’ve never travelled extensively with a toddler you really don’t know all that much. Even writing this now and having flown to England I know a lot less than a couple of parents I’ve spoken to who have travelled frequently and with TWO young kiddies. Reading about something beforehand is a far cry from actually experiencing it. I know this to be true now. So parents who have physically done it may have a couple of very worthwhile tips as opposed to parents who just think something would be a good idea based on little or no experience. Not to mention those parents who haven’t travelled further than interstate. A 2-3 hour flight is a lot easier than a 12+ hour flight. I know I’ve gathered a couple of pointers from parents I have spoken to (mostly social media) who have taken their children from one side of the world to the other. I’ve taken into consideration what they’ve said and not thought I knew it all. It’s been helpful for us to gather ideas.

 

Sixth recommendation: Pack a few little interesting toys or books that your toddler has never seen or played with before. I went to Kmart a week before our holiday and bought a few little toys that were colourful and had different textures so that Jonah could be amused by them on the flight. Truth be told I never needed to pull them out of the backpack on the long 14 hour flight even after he woke up, as he was amused enough by plastic spoons and forks from the meals, sachets of milk and sugar, his tv monitor, headphones etc. However these little toys came in handy on our second 8 hour DAY flight from Abu Dhabi to Heathrow where he spent most of his time awake during 2 naps that he had. I was actually given a few tips about packing some toys for Jonah by other mothers. I was intending to do so anyways but the idea of packing or buying a few toys that Jonah had never seen or played with did not occur to me until I asked for advice from other parents and they gave me that helpful tip. It really helped because when I pulled them out he was excited and engaged immediately, and his attention was drawn to the toy for a decent period of time.

 

Travelling with a toddler
Jonah was so entertained by milk sachets
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Trying to feed his milk sachet to daddy 🙂

 

Seventh recommendation: When flying to Europe take a stop over for a couple of days to minimise fatigue and jet lag for the WHOLE family. This 100% worked for us, we barely got jet lag at all to be honest. It meant we were able to recharge, unwind, get our bearings and not fall behind on any sleep at all really. After the stopover my recommendation is to take your second shorter flight in the middle of the day. For us, the plan for the 2nd flight was to take the trip during the day just before lunch, so Jonah would have his big day nap shortly after take off (which he did – for 1.5 hours, which gave us a small breather), wake up then play the rest of the time and wear himself out before landing at 7:00pm at night. He was so tired by the time we got to our Airbnb accomodation at 8:45pm that he slept 9 hours that night, only waking once. Which is brilliant for a toddler who has just travelled 22 hours and 2 plane rides in 3 days, and slept in many different beds and environments.

 

I hope other parents who want to travel with young children will be able to find this blog helpful! As I have already mentioned – these methods worked very well for us and aren’t necessarily going to work for every child but we believe the overall strategy of night flight, stop over, then day flight is very successful. We barely got any jet lag, our son was content for most of the flight, he slept well under the circumstances and the whole experience was very manageable and with minimal stress. He was a delight to many passengers and the crew who complimented me on his behaviour and happy personality. He did not make things hard on us or others – and aside from this being Jonahs nature in general, it certainly did also come down to careful and strategic planning…and PRAYER 🙏🏼😋 I hope some of these tips help other parents if they want to take long flights with their little ones and give you some options you may not have considered previously.

 

Take care and safe flying

 

Jess xo

 

 

 

 

 

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Small suitcase essentials!

Our 7 month Europe trip is fast approaching with under 2 months until we depart!!

Passports – check. Phone – check. Laptop – check. Camera – check. International drivers license – check. Some items are easy to remember and are a no brainer when it comes to packing.

We haven’t started the bulk of our packing as yet but I am starting to make a mental note of the SMALL items I mustn’t forget to pack and couldn’t live without! These items could be purchased over in England when we arrive, but considering we have a 13 hour flight, 3 days in Abu Dhabi, then another 8 hour flight – I am quite certain the first thing I don’t want to be doing as soon as we arrive in the UK is go shopping for these items. Not to mention it may slip my mind amongst the dreaded jet lag recovery, entertaining Jonah and endeavouring to inspect and purchase a camper van with 5 days of arriving before we depart for Belgium 🇧🇪 😮

These few items are my travel essentials. I may amend this list for our next trip wherever that may be, but for now these are the little necessities I am making a list of. I hope this may help any others that might be planning a long trip, especially those with children to consider!

 

  1. Dental Floss

I am very particular about my oral hygiene and see dental floss as an absolute essential. I plan on taking a box in my larger suitcase and also a box of floss on my carryon luggage. Seeing as I will be eating on the plane it will be needed. It’s one of those small and easy to loose personal hygiene items that you will kick yourself if you forget or don’t have it on hand. Who wants a large particle of food lodged between your teeth that you cannot remove even with a toothpick? This is something that would bother me greatly, so that’s why it’s top of my list. Obviously a toothbrush is an item that will be automatically packed but dental floss is often overlooked.

2. Essential Oils

The medicinal and health benefits of essential oils are extensive. Upon researching them recently I discovered I must invest in buying several of them to aid in symptoms such as jet lag, fatigue and potential stomach upsets to name a couple. They also are fantastic for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Seeing as we will be travelling to many countries (approximately 15) with different climates and potential health cautions we may face, we think it’s crucial to carry oils with us to help cure or surprise any symptoms that may arise in that time. In our family we always opt for natural remedies as opposed to seeing a doctor or taking antibiotics. However it’s not common that any of us (including Jonah) are sick, thankfully we are all very healthy and have never had anything serious, and a cold or flu is extremely rare. It’s sensible however to be prepared incase any of us do become symptomatic so we don’t have to rush off and try and find a chemist

3. Vitamin C powder

Same as above really, for health reasons. Vitamin C powder is something great to supplement with especially on a plane ride where you are in close proximity to other people in a confined air conditioned space. We plan on taking Vitamin C a couple of days leading up to our departure and during the flight as a cold/flu symptom preventative. Jonah will obviously get it through my breast milk. We take a high quality powder we purchase from a health food store (not a mainstream chemist) in powder form so it is more readily absorbed.

4. Universal wall plug adapter

This will transform the voltage from a particular power outlet into one appliance you can use in any country. Very handy to have on your travels and will always be needed for things like phone and laptop chargers.

5. Nail clippers

Jonah’s little nails are like sharp needles and they grow at an extraordinary rate haha. I am forever cutting them, and my own as they also grow so quickly. I don’t like my nails getting too long for hygiene purposes so try and keep them clipped. Once again thinking of hygiene is so critical when travelling and so many germs are stored under the finger nails (gross i know) and it’s just another little precaution I like to take. It’s one of those easy to forget items that would probably be a pain to “dash out and get” once you are in another country. So it will be going in that toiletry bag!

6. Sunscreen and FACE sunscreen

Because I break out from using standard sunscreen on my face, I will definitely be sure to be packing my own facial sunscreen. I have bought a natural facial sunscreen called Little Urchin from my local health food store. Because it only uses all natural ingredients it should be safe for Jonah also. We will be outdoors for the majority of each day so aside from a hat face sunscreen will be my biggest protector from the sun. A bottle of each will be put in the suitcase.

7. Lip Balm

Being on a plane make your skin dry out and your lips do become chapped. I can’t stand not having natural lip balm on hand. I intend to bring a couple (they are easy to lose!) both on my carryon luggage and also in my main suitcase, preferably one with an SPF. Paw paw ointment is also a handy one to use as it has multiple uses aside from using on chapped lips. It also caters for insect bites and burns to the skin etc, so I will also pack one of these as I am not sure if they sell this in Europe!

8. Hair ties

Not just for myself but for hubby haha! Phil is growing his hair whilst overseas (he’s already started doing so) because he doesn’t want to have to get a haircut every 3rd week. Growing his hair is low maintenance and saves us money. So the condition is that he must tie his hair up in a little pony or man bun (*cringe* i know :S don’t judge me! HAHA!) My hair is quite long now and I need strong hair ties that are hard to come by. I go to Priceline where there is an impressive selection of thick and strong hair ties. A fresh pack of these and a few smaller black hair ties for Phil should last us the whole trip. Nothing worse than snapping a hair tie with no spares on hand :O

9. Jojoba Oil/Natural skincare

I use jojoba oil as a facial moisturiser and it’s an essential as far as my skincare routine goes. I get my oil from The Jojoba Company Australia as they do a very high quality oil. I struggle with my skin and am still prone to break outs so have found jojoba oil to really aid with that. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and regular use can control acne to a degree. It mimics the skins natural sebum levels and is a natural skin conditioner, and also contains Vitamin A and E. It can be used to soothe chapped lips, psoriasis (Phil occasionally gets this from chemicals in hand washes etc) it can be used on cracked feet and dry hands, reduces the affects of sunburn plus more. As you can see it has multiple uses so this is why it’s such a handy oil to carry with you. As much as I would love to take a selection of natural oils with me I realise I need to condense it down as my toiletry bag is only so big! Jojoba oil, a few natural soaps and body moisturiser will be my main go to skin products the entire trip.

10. Baby wash and moisturiser

I refuse to use any chemical based washes and moisturisers on Jonah’s skin and I can’t be certain that I will find a reliable brand that I can trust overseas to use on him at such short notice. So I intend on taking my own. I will take a combination of MooGoo and Four Cow Farm products that only use 100% natural and organic ingredients that are safe for Jonah’s still soft and baby like skin. My friend Bella introduced me to the Four Cow Farm brand and it’s been by far a favourite. I have used the baby lotion and Baby Wash since Jonah was born – and a little goes a long way.

11. Wide brimmed hat AND cap

I think hubby and I need one of each of these! Wide brimmed for the ultra sunny weather and days at the beach, and a cap for the general exploring indoor and outdoor days. I find a larger wider brimmed hat for exclusive beach days gives more protection from the sun but they aren’t as convenient as a cap or as easy to fit in a day bag. So if we bring one of each then we cater for all occasions! As for Jonah he just has a little hat with a brim.

12. Child walking harness

This may seem a little “dog on leash” for some parents but for us it is crucial we pack one on our trip. If you have a toddler it is something to consider investing in and they aren’t that expensive. They wrap around your child’s whole torso and buckle up, and usually have a little fury animal on the back to make it fun. One thing we are being mindful of is the safety of Jonah whilst we go exploring everyday. He loves his independence and likes to walk around outside the pram. This way we can allow him some freedom yet can be at ease that he won’t get kidnapped. Might sound a bit over the top but yes we do think Jonah would get kidnapped. It means if I turn to quickly look at something, or take a quick photo, I can hold onto the end of the harness and be able to feel that he is only a couple of feet from me. A very useful item to pack for peace of mind and safety of a toddler!

13. Sippy cup

Jonah’s trusty sippy cup will be far better than a random water bottle! He will need this daily and especially to use on the plane to sip on and assist with aiding the cabin pressure on his ears as we take off and land. We will also take a bottle for his day time milk feed. Can’t forget these 2 baby essentials to pack in the carryon bag.

14. Tea Tree Oil

Useful for cuts, bites and stings – a great antiseptic oil to have on hand for these purposes plus many more. I use it for my skin when it breaks out. Another addition to the toiletry bag.

15. Resistance bands

A great accessory to use for training and exercising when you are on a long holiday/trip like we are. We obviously cannot always get to a gym as we will be on the road in a camper coming and going from places. A gym might be accessible once a week at best but if you’re travelling like this you need to do your own workouts and training. Resistance bands are lightweight and compact to pack in the suitcase and are still an effective way to train in their own right. You don’t want to lose all your muscle tone and fitness whilst on a holiday right??

16. Wireless bluetooth speaker

We love our music and sermon podcasts so this is a must have. We have a large Marley bluetooth speaker for home use but we are buying a very tiny compact speaker to take with us so we can play our music in the van, out at a day picnic or train ride etc. An item to consider if you’re wanting to listen to anything as a couple or a family socially.

17. Pain relief inc baby panadol

Good to have readily on hand for a sudden headache or in Jonoah’s case, teething symptoms.

18. Pen and paper

For obvious reasons, a pen is always handy for filling out forms (customs etc) and paper to take notes, or journal in.

19. Nappies

We plan on packing a 50 pack of nappies so we don’t have to buy any on the stop over in Abu Dhabi and will still have some for a few days after we land in the UK. The last thing we need is to run out in transit. Not to mention they are likely to be a very expensive item to buy from an airport!

20. Bible or a good book

This one is obvious, not only something to read but something to live by – for us anyway. We will pack a book or 2 for each of us including some children’s books for Jonah for his amusement.

 

~

Hope this list might be a good point of reference for anyone planning a holiday and you find something on here that may have skipped your mind to pack.

 

Safe travels ✌🏼✈️🚐

 

J xx

 

 

7 month Europe trip instead of a mortgage

Two months ago in October we had a huge change of mind and heart. After the past year and a half of saving for a house deposit, my husband suggests what many people would freak out and run for the hills about – spending it all. And not on a house.

“How about we forget about trying to buy a house for now and use the money we’ve saved to travel around Europe? Let’s just do it. Money is just money. We can always make more, but we may never get this chance to explore again.” – My husband, October 2016

😁 I didn’t freak out at him at this sudden suggestion. I was more curious as to where the discussion was going to lead. I was slightly apprehensive to begin with, a bit unsure if it was doable. Then as we spoke more it all sounded so ideal, so beneficial and exhilarating.

Part of me to begin with was thinking  “really, no buying a house anymore? Is that dream totally over?” “How long would it take to start saving again?” – however I then remembered our struggles with our attempts for getting a loan and how it hasn’t been achievable for us as yet nor will it be for some time. Understandably  these questions briefly went through my mind but they were quickly dismissed moments later.

We had come to the stage many weeks back that we were resigned to trying to pursue buying a house for a while and were tossing up whether to put plans on hold. The banks make it very hard for families on a single income to buy a family home these days and Phil is the sole income earner in ours. I do the odd bit of hours here and there at market stalls etc but it’s inconsistent. We’ve been rejected once and assessed again and told it’s not possible in our current situation. I must return to work for significant part time hours before they will consider us – and I’m not willing to do that as yet. Jonah isn’t ready, he’s still breastfed 3 times a day (I’ve already cut back 1-2 feeds) So I’m not ready either as I can’t and won’t try and force him to drink formula just for financial gain. Coz essentially that’s what it would be for. Phil and I are very firm on the fact we want to raise our son and have him 90% of the week. I don’t want someone else who most likely has different morals and beliefs spending the better part of a day or week with him. So for this major reason house loans are out of the equation for us at this point. Honestly we had become over trying to exhaust the topic and our options. Those plans are a couple of years away at best. And that’s ok…because travelling will bring so much more to our marriage and family life than what buying a house would. Anyway as Phil said – money comes and goes. It’s only money. We can save again. It’s not what you earn, it’s what you spend. We’ve become very sensible with our dollars and know how to save well (as proven) – So we can do it again.

Aside from the initial reactions I did feel (and still do at times) a little overwhelmed at the scope and duration of the trip. Initially we were talking about travelling for 9 months but have scaled it back to 7 😮😬 There’s a lot to be planned and thought over. Since these first couple of long talks we had about it, Phil has researched so much, so have I. We also have our desires of where we want to go and favourite countries. We decided to explore most of Europe, the UK, Scotland, Ireland, Croatia, Slovenia and Morocco in a campervan. We have been down to Escape Travels in Bulimba and 2 lovely travel agents who work there (Danielle and Serah) have been so incredibly helpful and attentive, not to mention so thorough in planning with us the where, the how and the why for each location. Together we have begun to map out a rough itinerary which Phil and I have continually tweaked and adjusted.

We booked our flights about a month ago on the 17th November so there is no looking back. The more we have planned and organised the more exciting it’s becoming, and such a worthwhile decision that neither of us regret. May 2017 is a month that we will look forward to immensely as this is when our adventure will begin!

“One day” “Sometime soon” “In the near future” “Maybe one day” “When we retire” or the very common “When the kids leave home” are phrases that are thrown around all the time when it comes to travelling or parting with a substantial amount of money to do so. Phil was looking at this forum online when we just made the decision to do this, and the amount of comments that resembled the above were astounding! What was scarier was the amount of people who said (even tagged their partners in the comments to join them in the discussion) that they were going to do this but never followed through. Comments like “we said we would and still haven’t” were said repeatedly. Many couples or families didn’t actually get around to travelling. Life got in the way, there were other expenses, another house to buy, another car, their kids didn’t leave home until much later than they thought, poor health. The other day someone told me a story about their parents who said they would always travel but only when they retired. Well their dad only made it to his early 50’s before he died suddenly. They never got the chance. We get so caught up in trying to build a life in the suburbs instead of going out and living it, experiencing it. There is so much more life to be had outside one city or one town. By the sounds of it many people don’t know that, and may never know. Excuses pile up, or there are restrictions that have set in that will take years to live through or pass before they can have the option to leave the country. By that stage it’s a big IF or MAYBE.

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Our moto ✌🏼️

We have been met with mixed reactions to our major decision. Some people have made it known that they believe we are being foolish or stupid, that we are making the wrong decision. They feel we should buy a house instead or just keep saving for when we can, and believe we can always do all this travelling another time. Well, to those people the above is a logical rebuttal to their judgments.

We have considered all major factors and have spoken at length about them. Most of these factors or points were clear cut and obvious and we didn’t need to over think it – they were advantageous if anything. I’ll briefly include these points below and perhaps they can encourage others in some way if they are considering doing something similar to us. Perhaps the points I will make may help overcome a particular hurdle in your brainstorming if you are considering making a large trip overseas also.

✖️ We have a passion for travel we want to share together ✖️

Phil has travelled quite a bit more than I have. Before we met and whilst we dated. When I met Phil he had a one way ticket booked to travel most of the globe and maybe never return!! He’s a bit of a drifter and hippy at heart and exploring new countries and cultures is very appealing to him. My first overseas experience was our honeymoon last year when we went to Vietnam and the Philippines and it triggered a passion in me to continue to travel. I’m so glad I waited to travel with my husband and didn’t do it with an ex boyfriend or ex friend so I don’t have any negative memories or attachments to any country I’ve been to 👍🏼 After doing a small spot of travelling in New Zealand in a camper last year when I was pregnant with Jonah, that cemented that I wanted to travel further with my husband as we had a ball together. Because Phil and I haven’t actually been together long (we got married just shy of our 10 months) and fell pregnant with Jonah quite quickly (7 weeks post honeymoon) we didn’t get the chance to travel together like many couples pre children. However that’s no reason for us to not still enjoy travelling together now just because we have our little man in tow. Children should not make you neglect enjoying your life, embracing adventure and change, or making new memories. You must enjoy each other after you have children, not cease to make plans out of the normal because of society making you feel you are at a standstill. This leads me to my next point we considered.

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Switzerland view while on the road

✖️ We have a young child ✖️

“But you have a child?” People will say, and have said.

Yeah so? Having a child means you’re chained to suburban living for the rest of your life? Who decides that our lives as parents must cease to be exciting once a child becomes part of the family? Phil and I still have a passion for adventure and travelling and don’t see having Jonah as a deterrent in fulfilling our dreams and aspirations. We intend on including him, not allowing him to become a preventative. The only thing between allowing children to be a prevention instead of an inclusion is simple – making a choice and putting it into action.

Jonah is such a good boy who has such a chilled personality. Aside from the odd clingy moment he is low maintenance and wouldn’t be hard work at all. Besides, he is small enough to be very portable 😂 He is also young enough not to be stubborn and refuse to join us in any day trip, escapade or journey anywhere. At 15 months he will be too young to have a hormonal moody outburst and ruin the plans made for the day, or wander off rebelliously somewhere to get away from his parents 😂 He will be happy to fit in with what we do and so enjoy the stimulation, the sights, sounds and tastes of new cultures. He will learn so much and gain a real advantage when it comes to social interaction compared to what many other children his age would get exposed to. Admittedly it will be manageable because we have just him to watch and cater for between us, not multiple children. This is one significant reason we are choosing to make this trip now. Before we have a second baby and there is more work involved.

✖️ We are a team ✖️

This is a huge reason to consider if and when you travel. Some people may be puzzled this is a reason to consider. It’s actually very important. You can’t have one person being stuck with doing all the work, all the research, all the planning leading up to the trip and DURING the trip. Not to mention the mundane everyday things that need to be done once you’re overseas. Basic chores, responsibilities and schedules still exist and need to be maintained. If both husband and wife are a team they can both get things done and also feel like they are enjoying themselves on their holiday. If you are someone with a lazy, complacent or non-enthusiastic partner who doesn’t show initiative, this may be a big reason NOT to travel as a family. Without teamwork a trip of this magnitude with a child isn’t possible. Or it may happen with a lot of help from a travel agent but once you’re over in another country doing all the work you may not feel up to being adventurous or that blissfully happy about your holiday plans after all. Sharing the workload and all travel responsibilities is the way to ensure everyone gets the most out of their overseas adventures. Hubby and I are a united and supportive team so this makes our daily lives so much easier here in Brisbane. We are in unison and harmony about everything. We consider each other and we help each other – with chores, with cooking, cleaning and all things Jonah. Travelling won’t change any of the above, merely the environment in which we do so.

✖️We are healthy, fit and in our prime ✖️ 

This was one of those very logical points that we didn’t have to touch on very much. It’s a huge advantage to us travelling NOW instead of later. Its also one reason why we will find it easier raveling with Jonah – we are energetic enough to manage looking after him and also enjoying ourselves at the same time. If we were 60, we would have a more limited amount of energy (just from living life longer) and less get up and go. As you get older the tendency is just to kick the shoes off and relax over exploring tirelessly for 10 hours a day! Understandably too! Phil and I are both in great health with no physical ailments aside from a couple of old injuries that surface from training occasionally. We have no intolerances, no allergies and no physical conditions that would prevent us from travelling anywhere or eating anything. God willing we will always be this fortunate but as life goes on there is no guarantee is there? SO our health is perfect and our ages of 29 and 32 put us directly in our physical prime. A very easy point explored and answered for 😛

✖️ We don’t want to be a “conventional” couple yet ✖️

This is just our way of thinking. It doesn’t have to be everyone’s, and we realise some people may like being conventional. We can’t relate to them at this point really but hey – we are all different and desire an array of different things – and it’s a great thing we do! There are a few different ways to not fall into the trap of being a conventional couple or family, this is only one way not to be. There are others. I am not saying going on holidays makes us non conventional. That’s silly. I am saying our ability to follow through with what we say makes us non conventional. Our ability to not let fear rule our lives. Our ability to say we will be adventurous together and ACTUALLY live that out. Make plans and follow through by experiencing them. Diving in the deep end. Really taking the repetitive phrase that is used by so many “YOLO (You Only Live Once) seriously. Phil had said when we first got married and we would talk about the future and not slipping into the same boring trap of monotonous married life – “I really don’t want us to say we will do these things like travel yet never do.” We made a promise to each other that we would not get caught up in the suburban life (or trap) of slaving away for bills and house repayments with a dull repetitive rhythm. To us, not being caught up in this repetitiveness means that we are less likely to take one another for granted and grow a gradual distaste for the other.
As human beings we can often have a recurrent nature and slip into a systematic, dull and tedious pattern of work, work and more work. With our limited downtime we may often go to the shops to buy things we don’t need, drink alcohol, eat takeout, go to the gym, talk about going to the gym, spend copious amounts of time online, gossip about others over coffee dates, fight with friends or family, fight with our spouse, get angry at our kids, spend time reminiscing, spend time daydreaming etc etc the list goes on. When does the pattern or mould break? For many it never does. How much strain can this sort of life have on a marriage or close relationship? A great deal, but over many years – so you don’t notice right away. For us the mould breaks – it has too. It’s one reason we wanted to start a life together…our attraction of this trait in each other to pursue a life free of conventional restraints was prominent right away. It’s a promise we made to each other, and we are following through on our promise which shows our commitment to not only being non conventional but more importantly our commitment to our marriage.

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We will spend 3 weeks exploring Italy and the coastline is something we don’t want to miss. So beautiful!

✖️ Life is short ✖️

Before you realise it and in a blink of an eye you are 40, which is only a decade from being halfway to a century old. People say age is only a number. I agree with this to an extent, but age does alter us physically and is reflected in the energy we output. The months and years are escaping us all. They slip through our hands like grains of sand and can never be retrieved again. I look at my son now and cannot believe he is 10 months old. It’s so bittersweet this time that passes us by so quickly! We all make comments about time escaping us in relation to something or someone in our lives. We have all wished we had done something more memorable with our year every time we come to the end of another. So…maybe you can?
After discussions and many thoughts on the alarming fact that life is short, we have agreed to make a decision to seize this exciting opportunity and take flight on a fearless journey NOW before we blink and are middle aged.

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Tulip season in Holland – can’t wait to see this!

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I will endeavor to blog on my experiences in each country whilst we are on the road. We do intend on staying in some hotels in certain countries (so I will upload my entries when I have wifi) but will write as we travel day to day in our van. We depart May 3rd and fly to Abu Dhabi to spend 3 days there, and then continue on to Heathrow Airport. Once we arrive in the UK and spend a week recovering from flying we begin our summer journey in Belgium, then onto The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Rebublic, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, back to Italy for the west coast, France then Spain. After that we will catch a ferry over to Morocco and spend 2 weeks exploring – it’s actually one of the places we are most excited about visiting! From there we spend Autumn in UK, Scotland and Ireland, then will finish early December for winter in Norway and Sweden to see the Northern Lights and for Phil to experience a husky sled ride (on his bucket list.) I am sure in 7 months I will have many experiences to blog about being a tourist travelling in a campervan with a young family. My entries will also be like a journal that we can look back on of this once in a lifetime trip, and one day I may even look back on them as further inspiration to travel again! I hope some of you enjoy reading my blog along the way and find it insightful, entertaining and inspiring at the same time. 🌎

Take care,

J xx

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The Nothern Lights in Norway 😍 Can only be seen after November so we finish our Europe trip in December so we don’t miss it!