Sunday, September 25, 2011

A very hip African experience...aka The Lion King

Today, we took our little 'hips' to an early morning viewing of The Lion King. As a rule, I am not a massive Disney buff, but this cutsy little flick is a one that is v close to my heart. Back in 1994, I spent an extended period with wonderful people in East Africa. One of those people, one of my besties, died in a car accident a few years later, and I vowed that I would do all things possible to explore the world, as she had introduced me to the world through her family in East Africa. Hence my passion for travel, through my career, love, life, and now The Little Hip Traveller.

When we returned from our adventures in Africa, The Lion King was big news, and we loved it. And today, I loved that my little hip family were absolutely in awe of the flick, as I was back in 1994 (and still am!) Mr 4 year old hip was super delighted - African animals are totally his thing, and he was jumping around in his seat with excitement. He even yelled out (really rather loudly), "Are you okay Dad" when Simba's dad was fatally injured in the buffalo stampede. And of course, our little lady was equally excited by the wonders of the savannah. 

The Lion King is a terrific way of introducing your little people to the beauty of Africa, and I was delighted to pass on my passion of this amazing continent to them. However you choose to do it, absorbing your little ones in other cultures is just key to creating little hip travellers. Oh, and its lovely to go and see a wee flick together as a family on a Sunday morning too! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Travels in Tassie with 2 little people in a campervan...

A few months ago, we met up with our very good friends over in Tasmania. We were all heading there for a wedding (which was wonderful), and for hip hubby and I, this was a good excuse for a weekend without little people (thanks inlaws). 


Our friends however, decided this was a good opportunity for a holiday with the 'hips' and were gracious enough to write a h  ugely informative review of travelling through Tasmania in a campervan with a then 3 1/2 and 6 month old! 

Have a read - Its a great source of info for those heading over to Tassie with the family, or heading off elsewhere in a campervan. 

Thanks Tony and Jill. We loved spending some time with you in Tasmania and being ever so slightly in awe of you whilst we travelled carefree without our little hips! Over to you.....


Here's a bit about our family 
We’re a family of four plus two cats, all kiwis living in Wellington NZ. Jill and Tony with Sienna who is now just 4 and Lucia who is just 1.
The trip
Our latest trip took us to Tasmania - the excuse was a friend’s wedding on the east coast and we decided to make it longer, hire a campervan and have a look around as well as visit friends.
How did you get there?
We flew Qantas, Wellington- Melbourne- Hobart, then Sydney on the return trip. We’ve flown with Qantas and children previously, but rarely with the combined package!  Some of our trips with Qantas have been better than others. The flight over was ok, Sienna was pretty excited about the flight, which was luckily in a newer plane with a personal TV screen and the tray table. We got the person in front of her to lean their seat back so she could see the screen due to Sienna being vertically challenged, which seemed to work brilliantly. It was great travelling with three seats, as there was no risk of offending a stranger, however there isn’t much room when there is four of you and an infant that grabs anything within her reach. Luckily she spend a lot of the time asleep on mummy. On the flight over the staff were great and helpful even taking Lucia for a walk up the front. 
However on the flight home our call bell was ignored for twenty minutes while Lucia cried as she was hungry and we couldn’t reach her food as we needed our trays collected. The air stewardess was really rude when she finally came so not such a good experience. Overall we don’t think that Qantas is overly child friendly, certainly no children meals or strollers allowed but maybe this is a Trans-Tasman experience. We did get a kiddie pack of colouring pencils and activity pads that were a bit old for sienna. Being Kiwis we would recommend Air New Zealand for in-flight service but we may be bias!
Touch down in Tasmania and Hobart airport was an interesting experience with queues to get into the building on the tarmac due to slow screening of baggage for fruit. We had wished that we had jumpers available for the children as the queue was outside in the dark at night. We wondered what sort of an airport we had arrived at!
Where did we stay?


We had hired a campervan through
Maui as we thought it would be good to have the kids in the same beds every night, quite the new experience to get used to but it was fun. Great being able to travel around and only have to unpack/pack up once for our trip was great. Tasmania 
 is also quite campervan friendly with lots of places to stop and quite a few places to camp as well as campgrounds. Not always the easiest to find a place to park up a big camper in the towns and cities (Hobart) though, so if anyone knows of a guide book on where to park a big bus let us know – there’s an opening for a new guide book collection!!
Our biggest challenge?
Winding narrow roads with a large camper, combined with cyclists and logging trucks! Balancing battery power till the next plug in with demands for the Dora DVD on the big screen.
Big recommendations
Warm clothes for everyone even in summer- swimming one day and almost snowing the next, Tasmania!
Eureka Berry farm, yummy lunch and we brought home a few sauces and jams.
Tasmania Devil conservation park at Port Arthur was awesome.
Port Arthur – a educational experience but cold on the day. Good for a picnic on a warm day with a great backdrop.
Best experience was playing and swimming at the beach in surrounds of Coles bay, Freycinet National Park, and the wedding of course.

Main tips for traveling with kids
Don’t forget to play with them to help pass those waiting hours in planes and airports. Handy to always know where the toilet is and the next supermarket with room for the camper in the car park. Scrapbooking with a small exercise book, glue stick and kiddy friendly scissors (not as carry on), was a  good time filler. We wrote in it every day and stuck pictures and photos of what we had been doing. Information centres were great to grab pamphlets from. Sienna took this to Kindergarten when we got home and it has helped her remember the trip. The journey can be just as exciting as the destination, especially in a camper travelling with your toys in your home every day – and for the kids it was even better! 
And don’t leave home without!
Baby Bjorn front pack, was great as we didn’t need a push chair and is super comfortable. 

Thanks Jill and Tony - maybe next time we'll take our kids too! 

Friday, September 16, 2011

We are just loving My Busy Bag...

School holidays are just around the corner - yikes! So for those getting out and about with the little 'hips', whether it be a road trip, plane or train ride, or just merely heading down to the beach for the day, we must try and keep those little ones entertained.

Whilst us grown ups might like getting out of the hustle and bustle and seeing 'not much' every once in a while, there's only so much looking out of the window that kids can do...we know that. I-spy really doesn't last that long when travelling with the little 'hips'.

So we at 'The Little Hip Traveller', have been fortunate enough to review the very hip activity packs from My Busy Bag. Not only have we used them on a road trip from Melbourne to Canberra, but we also refilled them and sneaked them off to Malaysia to keep the kidlets happy. This is one that we've been meaning to share for a while, as there's nothing better than having a prepacked goody bagged delivered to your door, whilst you are trying to pack for your whole family, and do a million other things before you head off.

My Busy Bag are experts at just knowing how to entertain a little person on a long journey. They've hand picked some really unique bits and bobs, and popped them all in a super convenient (and rather cute) cotton drawstring backpack. They have different bags to suit different ages (toddler, 3-4 and 4-6) so fun for all the family.

Yes, you may think that this is all rather easy to collate yourselves, but who has the time, or energy to find activities that your little Mr or Miss have never seen before, or will be bored of within two mins? Parents can choose relevant age / gender related quality entertainment for their little people, whether it be the ready to go Travel / Activity Busy Bags or the other hip goodies that can be purchased in addition. Brands include Melissa and Doug, Peaceable Kingdom Press, Tiger Tribe. Bobble Art and Wild Republic to name but a few.

So what does one receive in a My Busy Bag?

Our Mr 'animal / dinosaur loving' 4 year old hip was totally entranced by his goody bag which contained the following:

Travel Busy Bag (3-5 years) - Boy

ê  Educational Colours colouring book
ê  Crayola 12 pack crayons
ê  Wild Republic dinosaur figurine
ê  Wild Republic Find and View camera
ê  Lace & trace shapes x 2
ê  Wikki Stix mini pack
ê  Peaceable Kingdom Press Stickers
ê  Wooden ball puzzle
ê  Wooden caterpillar game tin
ê  Wooden giraffe press toy
ê  Mini Notebook
ê  Stamp
ê  My Busy Bag cotton drawstring backpack

And Little Miss 2 year old (going on 12) hip, loved her My Busy Bag

Travel Busy Bag (3-5 years) - Girl

ê  Educational Colours colouring book
ê  Crayola 12 pack crayons
ê  Wild Republic Lil’ Keepers fairy
ê  Wild Republic Find and View camera
ê  Lace & trace shapes x 2
ê  Wikki Stix mini pack
ê  Peaceable Kingdom Press Stickers
ê  Wooden ball puzzle
ê  Wooden caterpillar game tin
ê  Wooden giraffe press toy
ê  Mini Notebook
ê  Stamp
ê  My Busy Bag cotton drawstring backpack

I also have to say I have since used the cute drawstring bags for other means - currently my little lady is sitting on the potty totally absorbed with rifling through her 'My Busy Bag' looking for something new...Result!

We love a good quality product such as this, and would highly recommend heading over to My Busy Bag when getting ready for your next family trip! Thanks My Busy Bag. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The best new products of 2011....

The very hip Kind and Jugend show is on, as we speak, in Germany, and rumour has it, that the best new products of 2011 have just been announced. Here's a little glimpse at one of the winners.

The Origami Stroller from 4moms is the World's first power folding stroller. Also equipped with a kilometre counter, speedometer and thermometer, it folds automatically at the touch of a button. Check out the little vid below. Looking good...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fiji for beginners...

So Fiji seems to be totally 'on trend' at the moment, so why not post this fabulous thoroughly enjoyable and in depth review of Fiji, and one that I've had tucked up my sleeve for a while.

Sue, Mike and their little man Matteo travelled to Fiji a few months ago, and were generous enough to provide us with this hugely excellent review. Thanks in advance Sue and family for such a well written and article write up of Fiji. My little hip family and I totally want to go there NOW!

So here we go...over to Sue (many thanks).

Bula Fiji !!!
So tell us a bit about your family
There’s three of us – me (Sue), hubby (Mike) and our little hip (Matteo – 14mths).  Although we live in Sydney, our families are based in Perth and New Zealand, so Matteo is quite the avid traveller already. This, however, was his first international holiday not to go see family....... and what a holiday he had!
Where have you been of late with your little ‘hips’?
Having previously worked in the travel industry, Mike and I indulged in years of carefree travelling the globe, but now with a ‘little hip’, choosing a family holiday took on a whole new perspective and some serious consideration.
In the end we chose to go follow the sun and head to Fiji. I’d been there a few times before and loved it but this was to be a new adventure for the boys.
How did you get there?
We flew to Nadi with Air Pacific and they were great. 
You know you are truly on holiday when you step into an aircraft and hear the soothing sounds of Island music playing and are greeted by beaming Fijian smiles and a resounding “Bula”. Ahhhh...farewell Sydney!
 We had our bassinet cot confirmed for Matteo. Matteo is about 11kgs and was probably just about the right size for the cot. They say it will hold a child up to 16kgs but I have my doubts the cot would be long enough for a child of that size. The staff were fantastic on board and very attentive with our cot put up straight after the seatbelt sign going off (as with the half a dozen other cots).
With sleeping child, Mike and I had plenty of time to watch our own TV screens and eat our yummy meal. Having a child too small for activity books and asleep over meal times, I can’t comment on what other children received in way of services but there was a cartoon movie on one of the channels that looked good.
I would highly recommend Air Pacific, a full service airline for the same price as some of the budget carriers and staff who genuinely seem to love their job.
Where did you stay?
We stayed at the Outrigger on the Lagoon – and this was the true centrepiece to our holiday. Recommended to me by one of my Fijian friends for being the most kid friendly, this place did not disappoint. Located about 1 hour south of Nadi Airport and at the top of the Coral Coast near Sigatoka, this is a manageable distance for a transfer and a brilliant kid’s resort.
We took a prearranged seat in coach transfer with Coral Sun tours to get to the resort. After a 3 ½ hour flight the coach took the ‘mail trail’ and 2 hours to get there stopping at all the resorts to drop people off on the way. I don’t recommend doing the seat in coach option. In actual fact on our way back to the airport we used a company called Pacific Destinationz for our transfer, in a beautiful private car and they provided a baby seat (unlike a coach).  One hour after leaving the resort, we were at the airport. A word of warning though – the roads in Fiji are atrocious so always give yourself more time than needed to get anywhere!
The Outrigger on the Lagoon satisfied all our needs. Hubby got the largest pool in the Southern hemisphere, a golf driving range and course, loads of water activities and four restaurants to choose from to eat.
 I just wanted some time to myself (I’m sure you can relate) so the exclusive Bebe Spa did it for me.
We stayed in the Superior View Room which is their standard room in the main wing. This was all we needed and apart from having a ground floor view, it was just like the Ocean view rooms but cheaper. Two double beds and a supplied portacot, and there was still plenty of room for our son to run around. For larger, more vocal families I would consider the Bures (house huts) located throughout the resort.
Kids are treated like Kings and Queens at this resort.  Aside from the fact that all staff pass by you with a vivacious ‘Bula’, don’t be surprised if everyone from the gardeners to the porters stop to say hello to the kids and ask for a ‘high five’. Our son absolutely loved the attention and didn’t shy away from the kisses and cuddles from the ladies too.
For those that have older kids this resort offers a ‘Kids under 12yrs Stay and Eat Free’ plus access to the free kids club. They have two kids club groups – Ages 3-7 and 8-12yrs and a special fenced in kids club area complete with a play area for the little ones. You name it, they had it when it came to the activities. I saw some of the older kids on the beach learning to fish, having watermelon smashing competitions, t-shirt tie dying lessons, crab racing, and coconut throwing, just to name a few. The little ones were doing all the sorts of things they would at child care – except with copious amounts of singing and dancing Fiji style. 
Sadly Matteo was too young to take advantage of the club activities but here comes another option for others like us. The Outrigger offers a personalised Meimei (nanny) service. For about $40 a day (min 4 days) one of the trained nannies becomes yours for up to 8 hours a day. They meet with you on day one and run through a complete child debrief before you book them in for the days/hours you want. The great thing with this option is you dictate where and what you want your child to do. The nanny will even spend the entire time pushing your child around the pool in the pram if you really wanted it! 
The one thing we personally did take advantage of was the casual babysitting service offered by the nannies. Matteo spend an hour with a nanny (costing us a measly $9) for an adult’s only dinner. It was bliss to not have to warn fellow dinners of incoming ‘grape or cheese grenades’ from our son in his highchair.
Speaking of eating, the Outrigger on the Lagoon has four restaurants and as many bars. The main restaurant is a full buffet option, including a separate kids buffet complete with all time favourites like Spag & meatballs, fish and chips and hot dogs. There’s three other restaurants including a more upmarket adult’s only option. Themed dinners and entertainment are available at the buffet restaurant every night.
When booking we were offered a meal package. We took the breakfast only option given it wasn’t great value otherwise for just two of us, especially since we are not big lunch eaters. For those going with a couple of hungry little munchkins, take the full board package for the adults (at around $600 pp) as this entitles the kids to eat all meals free and at most restaurants. Other than that there is always a child’s menu available offering some surprisingly good food options. The food is not that cheap at the resort if you are just buying a meal at a time, although we walked away only spending around $100 a day for meals and drinks.
This resort is probably the most family friendly resorts I’ve come across. Not a recommendation for a couple of honeymooners, but certainly one for families with kids of all ages and mums/dads that are ready to relax.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

a tiny & little read...

We are very proud regular contributors to the Tiny & Little Magazine, so we thought it necessary to shout out loud, and make sure you all know about it!

The most recent edition came out a few days ago. We were totally excited to be a part of it as it was all about the wonderful world that we live in (and oh, how we at 'the little hip traveller' love talking about our world!)

Have a wee read, and remember to check out our article on p38, 39, & 40 - all about our current favourite must have travel products (thanks Il Tutto, Phil and Teds, Jetti Spagetti, Lima Bean and B.Box).

Enjoy x


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