Once again we are passing the baton over to another fabulous, and famous mumpreneur, and this time its the brilliant Natalie from 'Mini Gourmets - for kids who love to cook'. Now, we, at 'the little hip traveller' love this website because, when you are not out and about with the kids, why not do something fun and productive at home, like teach the kids to cook! But, before you head over and check this beautiful website and fantasise about turning your kids in the next junior Masterchef, check out Natalie's tips on travelling with her kids. She has some fabulous advice and ideas.
Thanks Natalie. We love Mini Gourmets, and can't wait to follow some of your fab recipes and use some of your brilliant kiddies cooking utensils...(loving the Aggie and Archie aprons, and Bertie and Betty bowls!)
So, tell me about you and your family?
There is me: Natalie, 35, SAHM, WAHM, former High school teacher and Year Co-ordinator (before children)
My Husband: Runs our family business in engineering testing
Our children: Our little girl who is 4.5 (who is into anything pink and frilly) and son who is 22 months (who loves In the Night Garden, meat, carbohydrates and saying MUMMMMAAAA)
Where have you been recently with your hips?
We went to Sydney this time last year for a week, which was a big trip with a 9 month old and a 3.5 year old from Perth. We decided to spoil ourselves and go business class.
We have also been to Broome twice in the last 18 months which is only 2.5 hrs from Perth. We love it so much we are going back there again in a month. We always stay at Cable Beach Club when they have the 'kids eat free' deal so it makes it so much cheaper. The weather is beautiful, its safe, they have a brilliant kids pool (with a huge park right next to the pool), plus you don’t have to do much else except relax.
Things have been a bit hard since having our son as travelling with 2 kids is so much more complicated, so we have kept with “safer” and shorter trips. We are looking forward to our son getting older and being able to travel longer distances and not have to be back at a hotel room at 12.30 for a day sleep, as he gets very cranky without one!
How did you get there?
We went Qantas business class to Sydney. Its 4.5 hrs there 5.5 hrs back and I was worried about having our very big 9 month old with us, without having a seat. I wanted something that would have good in-flight entertainment for our daughter and we got a bit of luxury, plus the club lounge (which is a great place to relax before a flight and great place to stay a while if you have a delay). The club lounge was fine - we did get a few raised eyebrows, but we were pretty strict with the kids and didn't let them run around at all.
To Broome, we have travelled on both Qantas and Virgin Blue. Virgin Blue is so much better than Qantas, as their planes are newer and a bit more roomy with nicer seating. The Qantas meals are pretty poor and depending on what time of the day you fly, you can get some terrible planes that are small and uncomfortable.
Where did you stay?
In Sydney we stayed at the Swissotel. The staff there were nothing short of brilliant. We had interconnecting rooms and the kids room was all decked out with kids toys, kids bedsheets and was just fantastic. The location was great - being so close to the mall and public transport. One of us would look after the children for their afternoon sleeps while the other one went down to the mall for a coffee, or a walk or to do some shopping.
In Broome we have stayed at Cable Beach Club twice and we will be staying there again in a Bungalow. Every time we've been there, they've had a special package with free breakfast, kids eat free, and usually a night free too. We do tend to go just before or just after peak time (middle of the year), hence the special deal. The family pool is fantastic with a massive shade sail over the shallow kids section and a large park that has been built next to the pool. There is such a great atmosphere around the kids pool with parents all talking and enjoying a drink and the kids all becoming friends.
The Bungalows are great with the kids bedroom being separate and the parents room in the middle. The little kitchen is great for making your own meals if you don’t want to go out. The eating out in Broome is a little expensive so we tended to eat in.
What is your biggest challenge when travelling with children?
- Getting anywhere on time (airports, dinner, tours etc)
- The flight - I always feel so anxious as to how my kids will behave and how others will respond to them. That is why I always OVER PACK. I always have extra food, extra activities etc, and my husband thinks I am crazy!
- Children get tired very easily so best not to plan full day trips - stick to morning activities. My 4 year old reverts to day sleeps on holiday.
- The kids find it hard to get used to new sleeping environments and are quite unsettled and don't sleep well, or are up super early.
Any big recommendations?
- We love Broome as its tropical hideaway, while being so safe! We wanted a reasonably costed tropical hideaway but didn’t feel comfortable taking young children to somewhere like Bali or Thailand.
- Love Trip Advisor as we love the honest opinions as well as the pictures taken by travellers. Sometimes the glossy pictures in magazines don’t show the real truth of hotel!
- For travelling with young ones who are still in nappies, I love the Change Mat Clutch by ISOKI. It just makes travelling with little ones so easy as it keeps all the nappies and wipes within a small clutch.
- Earplanes are good for children who have problems popping their ears. We use them for landing for our daughter as she gets very sore ears and can’t seem to be able to pop her ears properly.
- Often it is better to make the call and deal with the hotel direct. And don’t be afraid to ask for a discount if you are a repeat traveller to a hotel. We have got 5% off at Cable Beach for being a repeat customer.
What are your main tips for travelling with kids?
- Be prepared! I have a list that I have made on an excel document and I keep it on the computer and print it out for every holiday and amend it as needed. I bring a small bag out about 2 weeks before we go and start getting little bits and pieces (as I remember them) and throw them in the bag
- I buy special toys for the kids for holidays, new pens and scrap books and put away until I need them. I don’t like to rush a few days before the holiday.
- Don't pack the kitchen sink. On holidays you can purchase things there.
- We never plan flights for night time. If the kiddies don’t sleep, then we would be up with them and we don’t go well with no sleep. And then trying to function the next day.... ewww!
- Choose airlines and planes that are kid friendly. So think about seating configurations (we are going Virgin to go to Broome this time as its 2/2 and that way we can just occupy a row as our son will have a seat) and plane types (so age of planes and in-flight entertainment). We always study the plane type first before making a decision on what plane to take. When we chose to go to Sydney we flew in an Airbus A330 (which only flies once a day to Sydney. ) It has entertainment on demand (and lots of TV channels) which was great for our daughter who loves the ABC for kids, and meant that we could watch shows and stop the show if our son needed anything.
- Try to get breakfast included in any packages you get. Last thing you want to do when you wake up is to organise anything.Try to pick a hotel near public transport if you are in a major city. Yes it might be 400m to the nearest train station but with little ones who are tired and might be too old for a pram? Thats miles!!
What would you have not left home without?
- Portable DVD player. I use it as a LAST RESORT on plane trips but its a godsend.
Thanks so much Natalie. Some fabulous advice.
Now, go on readers, go and check out the Mini Gourmets website as I know you'll love it!