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. 

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