Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sweet sounds...

School holidays. Love them....Hate them. Double edged sword. Whilst we are not officially at 'school' as yet, we at the tail end of the 'kinder / occasional care / activities' holidays. We all love the fact that we can lounge around in PJ's, watch DVD's, read lots of books and bake lots of cakes, however I do believe my little hip family are a little bit over their hip Mumma. So now it seems that its time for the early morning rush hour to recommence once more.

Yesterday though, my biggest hipster and I checked out some of his 'bestest' things on YouTube. Consequently, I woke up this morning, to the sweet sounds of Mr 5 lying in bed reciting his current favourite...Wonky Donkey.

Whilst I cannot say its totally my cup of tea, whatever floats his boat works for me. So it only feels appropriate to share these sounds. Enjoy, and check out those yellow cheese straw toothy pegs.

And whilst we are here, it feels rude not to share my current personal favourite...An interview with 'The Very Cranky Bear'. Enjoy

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mummy blogger hype...

I am totally loving all the 'mummy bloggers' hype that is trending at the moment, and that people are finally waking up to the importance of listening to influential women such as these. I am also loving that Julia Gillard recently invited some of the more well known 'mummy bloggers' for a tea and a chat. Would have liked to have been a fly on the wall of Kirribilli house that day.

Like many bloggers, when you find something you love, you feel the need to share, and I do have to say, I have a few absolute fave Mummy Bloggers that I LOVE to read daily....BabyMac being my ultimate read (feel like she's a sister from another mother), also Edenland, All consuming, and of course Mamamia

I myself, could somehow, somewhere, fall into this 'mummy blogger' category too, even though I currently:
a) have too little time to spend with my beloved 'little hip traveller' of late, due to a ridiculous life schedule and no time for anything me related (something which must change!)
b) am currently more focused on 'travelly' posts, rather than 'mummy life' posts


I do feel that I have a lot more to share because....

Not only have I got a wealth of travel knowledge gained through years of personal travel, living for years in different capacities in various different countries, being a citizen of four countries (yes, I'm greedy, I know), travelling to all continents in the world (yes, work did send me to Antarctica...and I do have to keep reminding myself that is not a dream!), but also, I spent many years working in the travel industry in the 'adventure travel' scene. I now spend my time travelling backwards and forwards (though not much of late), visiting my mum, dad, bro, etc in the UK and Europe, whilst I reside in Australia with my hubby and three gorgeous little hips, and have been here for the past 11 years.

Plus, my oldest little hip, Mr 5, has special needs - nothing too severe, but still testing at times, so that, I feel, is a whole new story, and perhaps one that may offer others out there a little insight and perhaps some assistance in their lives should they be going through something similar.

Oh, and then travelling with a family of 5, one presenting special needs, is also an adventure in itself!

So, whilst I have been a little bit absent of late, I may find myself jumping back on that bandwagon, and getting stuck in once more, but perhaps in a slightly more 'sharing' capacity. We'll this space!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Loving this little hip Babymule....


Sometimes, when I get sent a travel product for review, I just get a real 'wow' moment, and this was certainly one of those. My good friend, Jacqui, (who I have to say knows a good thing when she sees it), was with me when I opened this particular parcel, and she, immediately "offered" to test it our for me! 

So, without further ado, I hand you over to Jacqui, who has returned from a trip overseas with the very very hip Babymule (oh, and family) in tow. So, here we go...

" .....I must admit two of my favourite things in the world are bags and travel gear.  So when offered the chance to test drive the Babymule nappy bag on a recent trip to the UK I jumped at the chance.  OK… so my kids are 5 and 7 and no longer in nappies but since one of its (many) selling points is its longevity I thought why not!
As it turned out the nappy bag “extras” were perfect for our trip.  The nappy wallet was the perfect size for a change of clothes for each child for the plane, and an additional wash bag whilst in the UK.  We even took the change mat as an emergency seat cover in case of spills or “accidents” on the plane (which thankfully we didn’t need).  Similarly, the dirty bag/wet bag was a good backup in case of wet, dirty clothes whilst travelling and also as a makeshift “sick bag” whilst in the car.  Again, thankfully uses which were not required but it was a close call a couple of times.  
The bag itself is surprisingly spacious and seemed to swallow everything we threw at it.  The waterproof material came into its own on a trip to Legoland when it rained non-stop all day long.  I had conveniently forgotten why they call them “April” showers.  The silver lining to the rain meant we had no queues for the rides and had a fantastic trip to the park and our belongings stayed safe and dry within the Babymule.  Despite the slightly “girlie” fabric DH had no problem carrying the bag so win win on fabric design as well as durability.

I had been particularly excited by the fact that the bag turned from backpack to messenger bag – thinking this would be great for the airport so I could have easy access to passports etc without having to take the bag off.  In reality I felt it was simply more comfortable as a backpack (and narrower for walking up the plane aisle on boarding) so kept it as that – but I can see how the messenger mode with buggy clips would be good if you were using a stroller.
My only complaint about the bag would be that because of the dual functionality as backpack/messenger bag the zips only open on 2 edges (top and one side). I imagine this is so that you don’t risk losing your contents when using the bag in messenger mode.  This annoyed DH more than me and I expect after a few weeks use you would get used to this.  Oh, the other complaint is how many pockets there are – normally this would be a good thing but not so much when you get stopped by security leaving Heathrow airport as you forgot to take the juice boxes out of your bag – doh!  I think the customs officer was very impressed (or just annoyed) at just how much this bag holds!"

In summary:
Pattern – it’s really cute but not too much
Deceptively spacious
Really comfy to wear
Lots of pockets and accessories to stay organized
Not so much:
Zips only on 2 sides
Additional things that make it versatile (messenger bag straps, waist straps for backpack) also add weight and bulk.  
Whilst I would have loved it when I needed a nappy bag, better late than never I say. The Babymule has now become my new go to daybag.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hip travel tips from Go Go Babyz...

We all love a good travel product that ensures a seamless transition for travelling alone as adults, to travelling with little people, and Abby from Go Go Babyz has a few products that are worth investing in. Fortunately, Go Go Babyz and 'the little hip traveller' have joined forces to provide you with a brilliant giveaway that is most certainly worth entering (and be quick...only a few days to go!)

Check out our product review and enter the comp here, and also, read a little bit more about the family behind Go Go Babyz. Abby and her family have done a fair bit of travelling, both locally and round the world and have some excellent tips to share.

Thanks Abby - over to you.

So, tell us a bit about you and your family?
I moved to Australia from the US two years ago for my husband's job when my daughter, Harper, was five months old. It was definitely the scariest thing I've ever done, and there were times I thought we were nuts for leaving home and family at such a vulnerable time in our lives. But by stepping out of our comfort zone, we've met wonderful new friends and had adventures all over the world. We definitely get homesick, but I can't imagine not having done it when I look back.

The best part is that I was given the opportunity to bring Go Go Babyz products to Australia and New Zealand! I had traveled here with the Infant Cruizer (coming soon!) and was stopped so often by people wanting to know what it was and where I got it, that I contacted the company in California and the rest is history. I have always been a bit of an entrepreneur, but importation was new for me. I was just so inspired by their products - and by all the Aussie parents who would light up when they saw them - that I had to pursue distributing here. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made.   
And where have you been of late with your little ‘hips’?
We have been around the world twice and all across Asia and Australia with my daughter over the last two years (just for the record!).  But latest trip was a week-long adventure that started with 3 days of horseback riding in Jindabyne, NSW (my little hip stayed back at the lodge with a friend), and then we drove down through Victoria and toured the Great Ocean Road.  It was magical. There is so much to see just in Australia, and I can't enough of the natural beauty here. I write about my travels at AbbyinOz.
How did you get there?
We flew to Canberra on Virgin Australia, which we've flown several times. They are always very nice, but not particularly kid-friendly. We weren't given any special snacks or toys. I find boarding and exiting the plane from the outside a bit tricky, holding my daughter's hand and balancing bags while walking up metal stairs. (I know they do this at the Gold Coast, but maybe not all airports in Australia.) Also, we weren't given preference for checking in with a child, and I was particularly aware of how many children were waiting in the long lines and losing patience, etc. My daughter had to use the toilet at one point, but there was no way we could leave the line. She was content in her car seat, which was strapped to the Travel Mate, so we were doing better than others. We booked a Kia Carnival for the drive through VroomVroomVroom and it was SO easy. Highly recommend that website.
Where did you stay? 
We did a 3-day horseback riding trip with Snowy River Horse Back Adventures at Old Ingebirah just south of the town of Jindabyne in NSW.  I'm not sure if they have a minimum age requirement, but the horses were safe and the hosts are incredibly knowledgeable. If Harper was older, I would've definitely let her ride. There are shared guest accommodations, but it is spacious, and Harper was made to feel very welcome and was a part of all of the meals and activities. This would be a great thing for a family to do with children who are old enough to ride. We saw wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, deer and wild brumbies!

Once we left Jindabyne, we stayed at several hotels as we drove to Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road. We were particularly impressed with the Comfort Inn & Suites in Wodonga, VIC. We got a 'kid's pack' as soon as we checked in with a coloring book, crayons, and a couple of toys. The rooms were very comfortable, and the staff was very sweet to my daughter the next morning at breakfast.  Sometimes it's the little things that we notice as parents! Just being nice to my child goes a long way in making a memorable experience.
Your biggest challenge?
Being able to do two things at once when we're traveling, particularly in the airport. That causes me tremendous anxiety. Just yesterday I was in the Melbourne airport and I left my phone in the security screening area because I was chasing my daughter. We usually keep Harper in her car seat with the Travel Mate attached all the way to the gate to avoid this very thing. This time I didn't - I checked her car seat at check-in and let her walk with us - and I sorely regretted it. I was nervous the whole time about where she was in the bustling crowd. There is just so much to pay attention to when you're traveling, and I can't focus on anything but her if she's running around. Like, most parents, I'm sure.
Any big recommendations?
We are huge fans of exploring and taking road trips. We've done everything from taking 10-day road trips through the Australian bush to hiking up the Great Wall of China with our daughter. I think my biggest recommendation for parents is to simply get out there and explore. You don't have to travel far to have an adventure, just start with a neighboring town or city. That's one of the benefits of being an expat - everything is new and the world becomes so much smaller and more accessible the more you do it. Don't be afraid to travel with your child. A lot of people worry about everything that could go wrong, but don't let that keep you home. The more you do it, the more your children will become accustomed to it. It's not always smooth sailing, but you'll get through whatever comes up. My daughter threw up all over herself in the car on the way to Brisbane airport last week and we had to stop, change clothes, clean out the car, etc. It's not fun, but you just deal with it and move on. The benefits far out way the drawbacks, and I believe the traveling with your kids is a gift you give them.  

A product I love is the CARES harness. Harper is an extremely tall two-year-old so it works well for her.  I think it's a personal preference whether or not you'd use your car seat on a plane and each airline has their own restrictions about it. A lot of my customers do take their car seats on the plane.  It might be a luxury to have both the Travel Mate and the CARES harness, but I take them both. I still want my daughter's car seat at our destination and to use it as a stroller with the Travel Mate, but I like how easy the CARES harness is to use on the plane.  Just check the weight and height requirements for the harness because if your child is too short, the chest clip will hit them in the throat.
What are your main tips for travelling with kids?
It will depend on the age, but I'm a big fan of small, periodic rewards for good behavior. This is especially handy on airplanes where the most chaos is sure to ensue. (It's our worst fear, isn't it? Our child melting down mid-flight!) Harper is now two and a half and she totally understands that she'll get a little gift for being good. I don't overdo it though - at a certain point, she simply has to behave because that's what expected of her. But, it's fun for her - and me - to offer her something once we're in the air because she kept her seat belt on during takeoff. We went horseback riding last week, so I got her a My Pretty Pony to play with on the plane. Something related to the theme of the trip is fun. Another thing that I just started doing on this trip is actually getting Harper to engage with the flight attendants herself. Normally they will ask me to tighten her belt, etc. But I asked them to ask her directly because it involves her in the process and it's not mum telling her what to do...again! That worked really well. 
What would you not have left home without?
Organic pureed fruit and veg pouches. They are a lifesaver. They pack well and they're healthy. It adds to the stress trying to make sure everyone is well-fed while traveling, and this is one less thing to worry about.  Our favorite brand is Bubs and you can get them at any Woolies or Coles. Also a few empty plastic bags!
And finally, anything else you want to add?
I'm imagining what advice I would've given myself two years ago, and I think it's to embrace all of the adventures that life has to offer. I was driving through the Murray Valley in Victoria at sunset just a few days ago with a car full of people, and we were all speechless at the beauty of the landscape. I rode a horse through the Snowy Mountains and saw the Twelve Apostles, ate fish and chips next to a lighthouse and met the nicest people along the way. This is what traveling is really about. And it's important to have great products that facilitate these experiences.  nvest in a few travel gadgets that will make your life easier, and then have some fun with your family!

I know I sell Go Go Babyz products, so I'm not completely impartial, but I couldn't live without my Travel Mate. It's why I've invested so much of my time and money bringing them to Australia. These products have had the single biggest impact on my travel experiences with my family. I am able to take my daughter's car seat with us everywhere we go and that peace of mind is priceless. When we were planning our move here when Harper was a baby, I was so worried about the details of getting around with her in an airport and lugging prams and car seats. I'd probably think twice about traveling as much as we do if I didn't have an easy way to take her car seat and get her around airports and busy streets without having to take our pram everywhere we go. And I talk to so many parents who feel the same way.  I'm just grateful that it's an option for parents who might not otherwise plans trips with their babies and children. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Get excited....Its a Go Go babyz giveaway!

When I am asked to test out a new innovative product, I get really excited. But I get uber excited when its a product that you just don't see every day. These kind of goodies, just so you know, are the kind of things that really float my little hip travelling boat. So when Abby, a clever business mummy from Go Go Babyz got in touch, and told me about her new products, I just thought "Bingo"...send them over, and send them over she did.

(Note: Be sure to read to the very end, as there is a super hip giveaway to be won!)

What fun we had testing out these. As our little hip family of 4 is now a bigger hipper family of 5, getting on a plane right now is not something thats on the agenda (not quite yet), so testing these products out were done in a somewhat 'play based' environment. Yes, left hip, right hip, brand new hip (my little family for those new to the little hip traveller!) pretended we were at the airport (and had heaps of fun at the same time, checking in luggage, whizzing through customs and passport control, eating our aeroplane sandwiches, etc etc...)

So, exactly what products were sent for us to play with?

Well, firstly, there's the Aussie Kidz Travel Mate. An extremely unique and hip product designed for ease of mind and practicality. A car seat and stroller in one! If you are taking your car seat interstate or overseas, why not ditch the stroller as this nifty product doubles up as both. You simply harness your car seat into the wheeled attachment, (which is compatible to most car seats), and away you go. Excellent for pulling or pushing through the airport whilst ensuring your little people are safe and keeping up with you! (For a seasoned Heathrow airport traveller with multiple kids in tow, this is a godsend....think how far you have to walk to get to your gate?). Plus, kill two birds with one stone - no car seat to hire upon your destination, or even if you are taking a taxi, you can use your own car seat for that extra bit of safety. Perfect!

Even if you are heading off on a road trip, the Travel Mate is a perfect option. By leaving your normal stroller at home, you'll have more space to pack other essential items. When not in use, the device can simply be stored in the boot of the car, ready to use again when necessary. Super lightweight (just 2.25 kg's), easy to construct, even though Mr hip traveller (hmmm, the engineer), was a tiny bit confused, and super cool looking (check out those funky wheels), the Travel Mate is an absolute key product when on the go with your little hip travelling team.

Our second funky product is the SideKick Bliss....a very hip nappy bag and baby carrier all in one! This one is not just perfect for all those moments when you have to juggle multiple kids, bags, lunch boxes, and a busy road (think kinder / daycare pick up / drop off a million times a week), but also of course when you are travelling with the little hip family.

This good looking bag comes in a choice of three colours, and has multiple pockets plus your usual nappy bag accessories (change mat, snack pouch, and lots of really useful little finds). I love the magnetised buckle on the bag, and it totally passed the hubby test, who was really keen to try it out!   The great thing about this bag is, when not using as a baby carrier, you simply zip away the excess material provided for the 'seat' part, and you can use it as a normal bag.

Versatility certainly is the name of the game, as the bag can be worn over the shoulder, round the waist or across the shoulder / body. Oh how I love multi purpose items!

Its best to make sure bubs has good head control as you cannot really be totally hands free (I did feel the need to hold on to my little hipster), however, it can take up to 15kg which really means your older toddler would be far more adept to holding onto you!

And you know, the best thing is....combined with Abby from Go Go Babyz, we are giving one of each product away!!!!!  

Click onto the following link to enter this super easy giveaway:

Thanks Abby. Loving these products, and cannot wait to find out more about you and your travels. Check out Abby's travel tips coming up soon!

Oh, and whilst you are on the Go Go Babyz website, check out the Infant Cruizer too...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When needs must...

Whoops...I totally got caught out today on the daily "picking up / dropping off my little hips from a million places run" today. Little Miss 3 urgently needed a wee stop "NOW", and there was no option but stop there and then to rush to her needs. No hiding behind a tree for us, as I remembered the wonderful 'My Carry Potty'. A super little potty that is perfect for keeping in the boot of the car for these exact moments. After use, you simply shut the lid, and its completely leak and odour proof....! Check out our past review of the 'My Carry Potty'. Love it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The carkoon...Is this the way of the future?

Image: Daily Mail

A British engineer is the latest to invent what could be classified as an ingenious development in child car safety.

The carkoon is a carseat with a difference - the main feature being a special fireproof airbag that folds out on impact, protecting the child from fire or any objects that could have become dislodged, for up to 20 minutes whilst help is on its way.The car seat can then be swivelled around to aide emergency services to release the child quickly.

Clever, or what?

Love anything that'll keep our little hip travellers safe.

Check out the Carkoon website for more info.


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