With our next adventure less than 24 hours away, I thought I would share some tips I have learnt preparing and travelling with our children.
1. Don’t bother getting them to pack!
I know this is a controversial one. Everyone says “they are old enough to do it themselves”, but mine (12 and 15, female and male) just don’t. They leave it and leave it. When the time comes, everything they want is on the floor dirty and the arguments begin.
Some would say I have facilitated this laziness and reliance on Mum and that may be a fair call. But, I think my kids just know……if you want a job done properly, get Mum to do it! And don’t think I haven’t tried. There was that one trip when Master Travel Bee had one pair of undies for a week (you couldn’t even buy any at our destination) and had to resort to wearing his father’s. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it wasn’t the best start to a relaxing break.
Do make sure you start early. Put things in the cases they aren’t going to be using and encourage them to leave it alone. Stay on top of your washing for the 10 days leading up to the trip. Start filtering more into the suitcase, telling the kids to only rotate through a few outfits for the last couple of days.
Call me a control freak, but the advantage of doing it this way, is less worry down the line. When you are heading to the other side of the world with loads of activities planned, it is good to know what is in the bag and that all activities are covered or at least what you may need to pick up along the way.
2. Just deal with it, there will be rewards at the end.
I have run around endlessly for the last two weeks packing suitcases, buying Christmas presents, trying (and failing) to buy warm clothes, sorting the house out ready for house sitters, ordering school books for next year, planning itineraries and booking tickets. I am shattered but calm. It’s done.
Yes, I may have moaned about being the only one that does anything but at least I am in control (I really am a control freak). I know what is done and what needs to be done. You can always ask someone (AKA the husband) to help, just make sure you are clear in what you want them to do. I did this last week and with two of us working on it, we blitzed through some of the more arduous tasks together.
Remember once you are on that plane with everything planned and everything booked, you can relax and enjoy the ride. If things aren’t planned and you don’t have what you need, you will end up in a world of pain with grumpy and bored children.
3. Prepare the kids for things going wrong.
Especially at the moment, travel doesn’t always go according to plan. Planes do get delayed, luggage does go missing and activities can go wrong. Kids (and adults) have to be able to roll with the punches. Make sure everyone has at least spare underwear in their hand luggage (if not a full change of clothes) and activities for delays. Make sure you have chargers for devices you may need on your journey. Accept that at least one thing will be left behind at some point.
If you are heading to the UK like we are, prepare for anything! Below is a schedule of all the upcoming strikes. We are fully aware that at some point, something we have planned is either going to be disrupted or not happen at all. I guess we should scrub the driving test off the itinerary 🤣
4. Plan rest days.
I think this goes for adults and children alike, travel can be overwhelming. Everything is new and exciting, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can not waste a single minute, but this is a mistake. Rest is vital, particularly if you have a long haul flight to contend with.
Have a day off and sleep in. The next day you will feel so much better and enjoy whatever you choose to do that much more feeling refreshed. The kids are less likely to drag their feet and you won’t get caught out spending a fortune on coffee.
5. Always pack snacks.
This goes without saying. Same as any other trip out of the house. Make sure you either have snacks in your bag or quick access to them! Hangry travellers is a recipe for disaster. If you have a teenage son, plan the whole day around meals!
6. Just do it!
It is easy to think travelling with kids is too hard. No routine, different foods, too tiring, close quarters, they don’t like what you like, but honestly the benefits are huge.
Children are far more resilient than we give them credit for. In my experience they handle change far better than us adults. Travelling with children is awesome, they force you to look at things from a different perspective and find the fun in everything you do. The wonder and awe you see in their eyes plus memories created is truely something to cherish.
Wow! Now I am super excited now! Half a sleep tonight (airport at 3:30am) and we are off. I can not wait to share our stories with you all.
For quite some time now, I have been feeling uneasy and overwhelmed. It has kind of built up over a few weeks (maybe months) with little niggles and annoyances. Things have been slowly but surely getting on top of me. My mind has felt full and jumbled. I have been unable to think clearly and to remain present in everyday life. I have been racing ahead thinking about what needs to be done, diligently crossing things off and moving forward. All the while, standing completely still in my mind.
Finally I have realised what the problem is…………… or at least part of it.
I have stopped writing.
You see, I felt that the whole essence of my blog was supposed to be about travelling and I wasn’t able to travel. So what would I have to say? My secondary blog entitled ‘Covid Parenting’ seemed equally useless. I mean in reality I have no idea how hard it has been for many parents around the world navigating the challenges of lockdowns, I only had to do it for five weeks!! Again, what did I know, what could I say?
Yet through all this time of writing silence, people have been reading my blogs (The Travel Bee and the old ones from Stressaholics days). I had a hit today on a blog post I wrote almost 3 years ago. I was writing about happiness and satisfaction (Happiness and satisfaction – The Travel Bee). Now three things occurred to me when I saw this:
I have been blogging for more than 3 years!!
Random people actually read my blog (admittedly only a few!).
I actually had a point back then and maybe it would serve me well to go back and reread my own writing! I wrote about finding sparks in everyday life. In reference to my blog I wrote; ‘What matters is that I am doing it, fuelling my spark, and that every time I do, it gives me a little more energy and makes me feel a little more alive.‘
How have I allowed myself to lose that spark?
I alluded in my blog post at the end of 2020 that changing the name of my blog from ‘Stressaholics Anonymous” to ‘The Travel Bee’ may have been a mistake. I had no idea what the world had install for us back then. I wanted to get away from calling myself a Stressaholic because I firmly believed I had moved past that and I still believe I have. However, ‘The Travel Bee’ name has rather restricted me.
Or perhaps I have been looking at this all wrong. I mean what is life, if it is not a journey? What is a journey if it is not travelling? We are all travelling every day. This realisation means I can actually write about anything!
I listened to a wonderful podcast the other day called Happy Place. Fern Cotton was interviewing Robbie Williams. We all know Robbie and his music. We all know he has been through some troubled times but what I took away from this particular interview, is that we are all human and humans have a fundamental flaw. We are never satisfied.
We keep thinking if I just get past this or I just achieve this, then everything will be alright. Of course this is not true because all that happens is we find something else we want! We are in a permanent state of dissatisfaction. To top it off, we forget things! We must constantly remind ourselves of the things that matter, what makes us tick and that we will make mistakes BECAUSE WE ARE HUMAN!
It also reminded me that whether we are famous, in high power jobs or the average person going about our day, we face many of the same challenges day in and day out. We have to find the things that are unique to us and feed them in order to make us feel alive and with direction. We also have to realise that happiness is not a constant, it is not something we can achieve and expect it to stay that way forever, we have to work constantly just to feel okay.
For me, writing is an important part of that process and not one I should sideline just because it doesn’t fit nicely in a box or blog title. It is a spark I should fuel, not for anyone else but for me. It doesn’t matter what other people think of it or whether anyone reads it. It matters only what it does for me.
For months (since the start of the Covid pandemic) I have been searching for new inspiration. I have asked questions of myself…………..How can I be travel writer when I can’t travel? Do I have anything else interesting to say? I tried a parenting blog about the challenges facing us and our children with Covid, but it fizzled…… mainly because I live in an area that for the last six months has been really quite unaffected by it all. Our children here in WA, have a normal life again.
Our government has virtually shut us off, not only from the rest of the world, but from the rest of the country. This has been great on one hand, we have all felt very safe and have had the luxury of carrying on our day to day activities in our new normal way. We haven’t had to worry about outbreaks or our friends getting sick and dying and for that I am truly grateful. However, on the other hand it has felt somewhat isolating. Families have been torn apart and as we approach Christmas there seems no end in sight to our separation. It is fortunate that we have such a vast state with so many areas we have yet to explore, but for me it is just NOT normal being this restricted.
I have been thinking about what it is to travel and what it means to me. I guess in a nutshell, I love to see something new, to see the way different people live their lives and to see the vastness and complexities of our planet. This has got me thinking about our planet because I guess that is really what I am in love with! We don’t treat her well and one does have to wonder if this virus is just one of mother nature’s ways of beginning to reset some of our wrongs. There is absolutely no question earth is in trouble.
Last week I watched David Attenborough’s ‘A life on our planet’. I started it alone but in hearing what I was watching, the family slowly gathered. Without me saying it, one by one, they all realised this was something they needed to see. At first it was like watching a horror movie. The statistics of what has happened to the world in one man’s lifetime is utterly staggering. The tears flowed (well for me anyway). The children’s jaws dropped. My husband shook his head. My son in particular looked very worried. But there is hope. David came to the rescue, telling us what needs to be done and that we DO still have time to fix things. But things must change.
What really hit home for me, is that age old mentality of ‘well I can’t fix it on my own so I might as well carry on as I am’ just isn’t going to cut it any more. We all need to be in on this. There are changes we can make that I had never dreamed of and that really are not that hard. For example, I hadn’t really thought too much about what we choose to eat or where our money is invested and how it impacts the natural world. In essence, the main thing that is required is space. Space to ‘re-wild the planet’ as David calls it. The amount of space taken in food production for example, is truly astounding.
So, how does this affect me and my travel writing? Well, it made me realise that to travel in this day and age may in fact be a very selfish act. There is my carbon footprint to consider, the impact I have moving around delicate parts of the planet, the food choices I make when I am away, just to name a few. With this in mind and no end to our current situation in sight, it is time to join the rest of the virtual world and embark on some virtual travel writing. To love my world and to explore from afar.
What is stopping me from doing some research and writing about the places that I want to travel to? To do it armed with new knowledge and from a slightly different slant? To explore how humans have affected my destinations and how we humans are now trying to mitigate our wrong doings. To find out how, when I finally do get to visit these places, I can do so in a sustainable fashion without making things worse for our planet. I could even take a step back into some of the places I have already visited and look for the things I missed when I was there.
In reality many of the places I dream of visiting don’t even exist in the way I imagine them. Places like the Great Barrier Reef isn’t what it was 20 years ago, the open plains of Africa have shrunk, rainforests are half the size they were. Yet in my imagination they are how it was…… in their ‘hay day’. As David Attenborough says himself, he has been incredibly lucky to see what he has in his 93 years but also not. Seeing the decline before his very eyes must have been terrifying.
If you have not already, please do yourself, your family and our world a favour and watch this film. It will invoke shock, sadness but above all hope. Let us ‘re-wild’ earth so that our future generations can enjoy what we have.
The Virtual (and hopefully sustainable) Travel Bee
I feel this overwhelming desire to write at the moment. Not that I think what I have to say is that important or particularly insightful. I am just an average person trying to go about my life like everyone else. But right now, that (the very essence of my life and yours) is in limbo.
All because of a virus.
A virus that 2 months ago sounded just like any other that frequently does the rounds. But, it turns out, this one is very very different. This has the potential to kill not only people we know and love, but the whole economy in which we live.
Travel has become a dirty word. If you have travelled recently people are scared of you. As you know, I love to travel. Fortunately, I haven’t recently travelled but it is a huge part of my life. My husband and I spend our money on travel, we work and save to travel, we spend hours thinking about travel. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that the sheer ability to travel could or would be taken away. But, here it is happening right now.
How does one be ‘The Travel Bee’ without travelling??!!!
However, I feel very grateful to be here in Western Australia. If I had to be anywhere in the world I am just really glad it is here. I know that if I can not travel for months, this place has so much to offer to feed my soul. From the amazing beaches, walking tracks and forests to the people of compassion and strength.
When I am not pretending to be a writer, I am a healthcare professional. This means throughout this crisis I will likely be working, it may not be in my normal role, but I will be on the battle field somewhere. I am lucky in that I will have an income, many I know will not. For me, the dilemma is my sense of duty at work vs my duty as a mother and family member.
I think the coming months are going to be very interesting indeed. I can already feel a change in myself, my focus and values are shifting. I read something the other day that I had to agree with. This is a wake up call to the human race. We have become greedy and too busy for others. This crisis will change that, there will be a silver lining and taking a step back into a more simple life will not be a bad thing.
Like I said. I am very grateful to be where I am. I love where I live and I love who I am with. We humans are tough and we are resourceful. We will get through this. Please remember to be kind. If you can help those that are less fortunate than you, do it.
There are some friends and family around us that are going to find the next few months very tough, both from a health perspective and financially. But if we stick together and support each other we will get through this.
‘United we stand……………divided we fall’ Father John Dickenson
If you ever want an excuse to come and visit the wonderful town of Busselton in Western Australia, then the famous Busselton Jetty Swim is it. In its 25th year, the 2020 swim saw a record 3300 swimmers hit the pristine waters of Geographe bay and brought some 10,000 people to the foreshore to watch the spectacle.
In my opinion, you are unlikely to witness an event with more excitement, professionalism, grit and determination anywhere.
As the name would suggest, it is basically a whole bunch of people swimming around a jetty. But……. it is not just any jetty, at 1.8km it is the longest wooden pile jetty in the Southern Hemisphere! That is a big swim, straight into the Indian Ocean. You can swim the distance of 3.6km solo, in a duo or team of 4 or in a recent addition to the event, you can walk out and do the mile swim home.
In my 10th consecutive year, my husband and I (due to a lack of training this year) decided to do the duo together. Having mostly completed solo swims in the past, it was quite a different day for me. Today I was able to actually watch part of the swim from the jetty. What a treat!
It began with 50 elite athletes taking off first. These men and women hitting the water with a hunger and strength you couldn’t help but envy. The way they were able to glide seemingly effortlessly through the water was amazing to see. They vied for their place as they headed out into the depths.
The rest of the field started a minute behind in a new ‘rolling start’. 8 swimmers were sent off every 4 seconds. This made for a continued wave of swimmers for some 40minutes. Swimmers wore coloured caps determined by their estimated finish time, allowing swimmers of similar capabilities to be grouped together.
Meanwhile, things were hotting up at the front of the field. The two leaders were clear of the pack as they rounded the end. I was lucky enough to watch them come past as I arrived at my start post 1.4km out. These two guys literally playing cat and mouse as they curved around trying to stop each other drafting. They were neck and neck the whole way in.
In the end, it was a sprint finish with only 1 second separating them. The winner a 17 year old boy from Bunbury just up the road. I could not have been happier for him. I have watched him rise through the ranks and it was clear last year he was a force when he came in second. Third place going to one of his training mates. It was clear though, that what looked like an effortless swim, was in fact a swim in which they gave everything. The winners were spent at the end, embracing each other before bending over hands on knees to catch their breath.
Of course by this stage, I was in the water (I have only seen replays of the finish). Our swim was so enjoyable! After a rather hectic changeover where we lost a lot of time, my husband and I met in the water, he tagged me and I was off.
The first 400m to end was probably the hardest as I tried to find my rhythm. There were swimmers all around me, some swimming straight, some not. It is pretty crazy, but as I rounded the end I settled down and found my groove.
From there, the years of experience kicked in. I knew which buoys I had to sight, how my line should be and how far from the jetty I should be. I just cruised along, the odd song flitting in and out of my head, I thought about what I would say if I was interviewed at the end (strange I know but it actually happened one year!) but mostly I just let the rhythm take over.
I realise now, that is what I love most about swimming, the rhythm. It is like my body just completely takes over and it all just flows and happens naturally. Considering the number of people out there, there were few times today that the rhythm was broken. By the end I felt great, I could have kept swimming and swimming in my own little world! It truly felt, in the midst of thousands of people, that I had escaped! I almost felt disappointed it was over!
As the competitors met their supporters on the beach there was much smiles and excitement. Everyone super proud of their achievement. Each had their own story, from swimmers who had only just learnt to swim, to those breaking their personal best times to those overcoming illness or injury, their achievement was simply finishing.
As a life long swimmer and a coach of many kids, I still can’t wipe the smile off my face. Today, it wasn’t about the time, it was about being a part of something big. Bigger than you or me, something that teaches people just to get out there and give it a go because you never know what you might achieve.
I know it was on my doorstep, but the stories I saw today made me feel like I traveled a long way ………. perhaps I did in a funny sort of a way. Maybe it was a journey down the lane of perspective.