Londoner Sian Maddock braved a trip across the world with two babes under the age of three. Here’s her account:
What was the nature of your trip and where did you go/stay?
My husband had a three and a half month sabbatical from his hectic job as a lawyer so we decided to take off to New Zealand and Australia with our two girls (8 months and 25 months at the time we left). We spent two months working our way down north island and south island with a hire car, driving for about three hours, staying somewhere a week, driving three hours, staying somewhere else a week etc… We then did 5 weeks in Oz doing internal flights and no car including catching up with friends in Sydney, three weeks in a camper van in Tasmania (that was the biggest challenge of the trip!) and a week up at the Great Barrier Reef.
How did you manage the journey with two little ones and what tips do you have for parents travelling abroad?
I was truly petrified about travelling with two little ones. We splashed out on business class with lie flat seats and exceptional service. A spoonful of Calpol and a cuddle from Daddy and our toddler was out like a light for hours. She had her own seat and I was breastfeeding my baby which made life easier. If she squawked, I could just breastfeed her to sleep. If I were bottle feeding a baby over six months I would only take one sterilised bottle on the plane and straight after each feed get cabin crew to wash immediately with boiled water. Beware taking baby food and ready-mixed formula cartons because you have to taste a sample of the food/liquid if you don’t present it in a plastic bag at the airport. Not great for 20hrs flying. Once on the plane, you just go with it. Any routines go out of the window but that is liberating!
And on arrival?
I was AMAZED at how well the children coped with the jet lag. On arrival in Auckland (London – Singapore – Sydney – Auckland in one go on three planes!!!!) we touched down late afternoon. We put the children to bed as normal and by the following day and night they totally clicked into their normal sleep and nap pattern. We were the ones falling asleep on the sofa in the evenings! Our new motto is ‘Have kids will travel!’. We have a friend in South America so we are planning a three week trip over there.
What was your most essential travel item?
The ERGO baby carrier was a total triumph. I was already using it with our baby and we bought another one to carry our toddler (who is not so light) on long walks. This was a perfect solution in cities so we weren’t weighed down by buggies on buses, we could move from A to B fairly quickly and the children were happy chatting to each other on our backs. They also slept well in them on days out. We also highly recommend Phil & Ted’s travel cots which we used in the camper van. They’re so sturdy and used now as play dens.
What differences did you notice between Londoners and Australian/New Zealander parents?
Just how relaxed and hands off they are down under. The parks are more adventurous there and in school playgrounds you see interesting climbing frames which you’d like to try yourself. Children are allowed to take more risks and parents are not so uptight about their children’s interactions with other children. Also children have amazing water confidence. We saw very small children swimming well in pools and in the sea.
Any funny things that happened you’d like to share?
Bumping into our neighbour across the street in a hot spa in Roturua, NZ. This is a town where you drive along the side of the road and the earth’s crust is so thin steam rises randomly from natural vents. You can visit bubbling mud pools, spurting geysers and the place has a smell of sulphur. Remember stink bombs at school?!…. The Polynesian Spa is a wonderful experience with budget and luxurious options available where you can lounge around in hot pools. There we were clad in all but our swimming costumes and our neighbour rushed over. “Hi, what are you doing here?!” he said….
What will be your favourite memories from your time away?
Our baby learning to crawl on our first day in the camper van (just when you don’t want them to start moving!)……stunning colours of fish on our day snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef ………..swimming with dolphins……….TASMANIA no trip to Oz would be complete without a stint in a camper van around this island the size of Wales…..Cradle Mountain there was a highlight particularly the camp site where wallabies, possums and other creatures would come up to the door of the camper van at sundown….a helicopter trip to Milford Sound (a stunning fjord on the West coast of NZ)…..and a skydive in Queenstown!
Sian booked her itinerary with Russell at DezigNZ on Travel
Do you have a story of travelling with the babes that you’d like to share? Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org