Category: About me

TraveLynn Family’s Top 12 Travel Highlights of 2019

In 2017 we moved to India and explored every possible corner and nearby countries, including Sri Lanka, Thailand and Nepal.

In 2018 we trekked the Nepalese Himalayas and spent 101 days overlanding Africa in a Land Rover with roof tents.

2019 was our first full year back in the UK and with both boys in full time schooling from September. How on earth was 2019 going to compete with the previous two years?

Well with 9 overseas trips and a total of 15 weeks travelling across 7 different countries, including a return to Africa… I think we did alright. Being back in the UK means we are now nicely based to explore more of Europe. We just have to be smart about where we go and how we travel in the school holidays. There were a lot of road trips in 2019!

I started doing these yearly highlights post at the end of 2017. Three years on and it’s become a bit of a blogging tradition for me. You can read our 2017 highlights here and our 2018 highlights here.

But without further ado, here are TraveLynn Family’s highlights of 2019 in no particular order…

1. Sand boarding in the Sahara

boy on sandboard

We were desperate to return to Africa this year and with cheap short haul flights from the UK, Morocco is an obvious choice. It was our third visit to Morocco with the boys. Previous trips had been to Marrkech and Essaouira. But this time we wanted to delve deeper and really explore this North African country.

So we hired a car over the Easter holidays and embarked on a 2.5 week road trip starting in Marrakech, then up to the blue city of Chefchaouen, via the capital Rabat, down to the Sahara, and back across to Marrakech through the Atlas Mountains. . You can read our Morocco road trip itinerary here.

There were so many highlights from this trip, but if you asked Arthur he would said ‘sand boarding in the Sahara’. I couldn’t believe how quickly he picked it up!

2. A summer camping in France

camp ground with blue sky

The summer holidays brought another epic road trip. Flights anywhere from the UK in the summer holidays are extortionate. So we booked a ferry from Dover to Calais and embarked on a 5 week road trip from North France, down to the Spanish Pyrenees, and back again. You can read our summer camping road trip itinerary here.

We stayed at campsites all along the way, camping in our large Vango tent, and I loved how all the campsites were so contrasting and a destination in themselves. The boys, however, loved the fact the got to jump in a swimming pool every single day.

3. Swimming in Iceland’s geothermal pools

TraveLynn Family at Krauma

Our Iceland 5 day road trip in 2018 was so successful, we decided to return again in 2019. This time to the North (check out our North Iceland itinerary here). Whilst we love exploring the epic scenery of Iceland, perhaps our best experience is enjoying the views from a geothermal pool.

So many travellers head to The Blue Lagoon, but for us they’re too crowded and expensive, plus kids under 8 have to wear armbands. There are so many fantastic, and dare I say better, Blue Lagoon alternatives in Iceland that are much cheaper and less crowded.

4. Exploring deserted beaches of the Vendee

Would you believe me if I told you that this photo was taken on the Atlantic coast in France… in FEBRUARY?!

We were blessed with outstanding weather for our week in the Vendée for February half term. Apparently there are queues to get in to the car parks at these beaches during the summer, but we had the beaches almost completely to ourselves!

Plus our accommodation was perfect. We stayed at L’Ecurie Holiday Home; a beautiful cottage in a quite village, with garden, games room, and if you’re visiting in the warmer months, a swimming pool!

5. Getting off the beaten track in Lanzarote

Lanzarote with kids

At the beginning of this year, Ezra hadn’t yet started school, so I was keen to whisk him away for some sun and some precious 1:1 time. I found cheap flights to Lanzarote, but had concerns that it would be too package touristy for us. The island doesn’t have the best reputation.

But we based ourselves in the North of the Island, far away from the resorts, and stayed in a luxury yurt for two weeks at Finca de Arrieta; an eco resort complete with playground, heated swimming pool, and donkeys. It was amazing!

Our accommodation also came with a hybrid car, so we were able to explore the island at our will and managed to really get off the beaten track in Lanzarote. Lanzarote seriously impressed me. There is a wild nature to the barren landscape, and we fell head over heels in love with the island.

Plus, how much easier is it just looking after one child?! That 1:1 time made be feel like I was travelling with my mate, and I rarely had to put my mum hat on.

6. A ‘mumcation’ in Vietnam

private infinity pool at Green Bay Resort

In September, I took a little mumcation; an overseas trip without hubby and without the boys. This was an absolute first for me and such a treat. I love travelling with my boys and all the time we spend together, but before this trip I could count on one hand the nights I’d had away from the boys since Arthur was born and it had all been for work.

This was an actual holiday and I met up with one of my best friends who lives in Sydney, who I hadn’t seen in a very long time. We spent ten days backpacking around South Vietnam (check out our itinerary here), finishing at the incredible Green Bay Resort, Phu Quoc, complete with our own infinity pool. Absolute bliss and the most relaxed I have ever been.

7. Riding in a bucket by Lago Maggiore

bucket lift overlooking Lake Maggiore

Yes, that’s an open bucket that takes you up a mountain side. But, check out those views!

Jay and I used to live on the shores of Lago Maggiore in Italy back in 2003. We were working for a geographical information systems company on an eight month contract. So when I was invited on a press trip along with some of my favourite UK family travel bloggers to explore and promote the region, I jumped at the chance to return!

This is a place off the radar for many tourists, but extremely accessible from the UK due to regular cheap flights in to Malpensa (Milan). It’s an outdoor lovers paradise with water sports on the lake, hiking and biking trails in the mountains, and even skiing in the winter. There are plenty of things to do on and around Lago Maggiore with kids, including this bucket ride!

But despite all these adrenaline pumping activities, Lago Maggiore also the perfect destination to kick back and potter between lakeside restaurants along cobblestone alleyways. We stayed in self catering appartments at Golfo Gabella Lake Resort.

8. Watching King Arthur and his Knights at Puy du Fou, France

King Arthur's table rising from lake

We’re not usually ones for theme parks. It’s just not our thing. The queues, the overpriced food and souvenirs, the rush to tick things off, means that a trip to Disney or Alton Towers is way down our list. We’d rather spend the money on an adventure, doing something different.

But Puy du Fou in the French Vendée is something different. It may have won international theme park awards, but I believe to call it a theme park degrades it. There are no amusement rides at Puy du Fou. This is family outdoor theatre at its best, offering an abundance of historical shows with costumes and special effects fit for Hollywood.

A weekend spent watching epic battles of knights, vikings and musketeers meant that my boys (aged 4 and 5 at the time) were in their element! For me, the magic was in watching their reactions to each stage show. It honestly brought tears to my eyes. Truly magical.

And it’s very doable in a weekend.

9. Walking into a glacier in Iceland

walking through the tunnels of Into The Glacier

Iceland is well known for its glaciers, the majestic sheets of ice which cover large areas of land. Whilst most people have heard of them and will have seen pictures from above, not many are able to say they have ventured onto them, let alone been inside. Almost by definition, they’re inhospitable places, hard to reach and difficult to appreciate if the weather turns bad.

But on our North Iceland road trip we were able to venture inside a glacier by walking through man-made tunnels. Just thinking about the incredible force of nature sliding slowly above our heads was amazing, as well as seeing all the different colours of ice and the layers from season to season.

The boys’ highlight here? Getting to lick the walls of the glacier.

Read our full review of Into the Glacier here.

10. Kayaking in the Dordogne, France

family in kayak on river

Over the May half term we drove to the Dordogne in France. You may have noticed now that we spent a lot of 2019 in France!

We stayed the week at a peaceful and idyllic Eurocamp site in Limeuil. Beautifully situated at the confluence of the Vézère with the Dordogne River, it’s a perfect spot for a kayak.

The river has a steady current, so paddling requires little effort and you can cover a good distance in a short space of time. You can be driven further upstream with the aim of paddling back to the campsite, thus avoiding any exertion working against the flow.

Unfortunately kids under 5 are not allowed to use the kayaks or canoes, and this is the same for all similar companies in the region (we did ask around). However, we found a way around that 😉 and it was tremendous fun. A must for anyone visiting the Dordogne with kids.

11. Trekking the Atlas Mountains

Riding a donkey in the Atlas Mountains

Another highlight from our Morocco road trip. Trekking amongst snow capped peaks backed by crystal clear blue skies. We were in heaven!

It was 5 hours up and down steep tracks, and the boys had a helping hand from Jaquelin the Donkey.

We organised the guide and donkey through our accommodation. You can read all about our Atlas Mountain trek with kids here.

12. Hiking the Spanish Pyrenees

hiking in the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees, the most southern point of our summer road trip, were absolutely stunning. The Panticosa cable car is open for a few weeks during the summer, which meant we could get right up in to the mountains and hike amongst these incredible views. There are marked footpaths all around, so it’s very easy to find your way.

And your favourite blog posts from 2019…

Whilst my posts on Sri Lanka, India and Africa are always popular in Google searches, the posts that social media followers enjoyed most were:

  1. My three year blogiversary – where I talk about my blogging journey and how I earn money.
  2. North Iceland itinerary – detailing our second road-trip in partnership Hey Iceland.
  3. Self drive Morocco itinerary – advice and day by day itinerary for self driving Morocco
  4. How we afford to travel with kids – an honest account of how we find the money to be able to travel so much.
  5. The TRUTH about doing an African safari with kids – debunking some myths for that ultimate African safari.

And what’s in store for 2020?

We have a few European trips planned for the beginning of 2020, including a return to France and Germany. But we’re trying to keep the first half of 2020 rather low key as plans are in motion for something rather epic later on in the year. Can’t wait to share our plans with you!

If you’re planning your 2020 adventures, make sure you read how to maximise your annual leave allowance for 2020.

family on North Iceland itinerary

As always, thank you to everyone that reads our blog and all the messages and comments you send. Every little interaction means that I’m able to make a living out of doing what I love and enables us share more adventures with you.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a all the adventures possible in the next decade.

Jenny x


 

You may also like to read:
Our best family travel destinations in 2020 for intrepid families
How we afford to travel with kids
How to maximise your annual leave allowance for 2020

with Heidi Booth

TraveLynn Family Live on BBC Radio Derby

I was on the radio this morning! I didn’t tell anyone beforehand (besides family) as I didn’t want the added nerves of knowing people were listening. It was my first time chatting on the radio, and I’m not always good at thinking before I speak! But it actually went ok…

Heidi Booth, BBC Radio Derby’s roving reporter, arrived at my house this morning with a big satellite on top of her van to talk about our family travel experiences, tips, and how I became a family travel blogger. Heidi has been following me for a while on instagram and I was very excited to receive her message asking if I’d come on to the show.

BBC Radio Derby van

inside BBC Radio Derby roving van

It was really lovely chatting all things TraveLynn Family with her and you can listen to the radio interview below. I downloaded it as I knew my Mum would want to listen to it on loop 😉

Click PLAY to listen to the interview:

 

You can also listen on the BBC Radio Derby website (click here). I’m on at 9:52 am and again at 10:45 am.


You may also want to read:
How we afford to travel with kids
Family adventure travel ideas for 2020
Our story

becoming a family travel blogger

It’s my 3 year Blogiversary!

“Let’s just do it,” I decided, “and see where it goes.”

We had just tucked the boys into bed at The Tamajun Hotel in Chanthaburi, Thailand, and were enjoying a couple of Chang beers on the wooden veranda overlooking the river. I had been receiving messages from friends asking for tips about travelling with young kids (our boys were 1 and 2 years old at the time) and one friend mentioned that I should become a family travel blogger.

*This post was originally written for my 2 year blogiversary, but I’ve updated it for my 3 year blogiversary! And according to the Collins Dictionary ‘blogiversary’ is actually a word 😉

Jenny and Jay’s UK to Australia Blog

We had actually started a travel blog back in 2007. This was pre-kids, when hubby and I travelled for 8 months overland and sea (no planes) from the UK to Sydney; we took a freighter from Singapore to Brisbane for the last leg.

This blog was really just a diary to keep friends and family back home up to date with our adventures.  We never continued writing once we settled in Sydney, and in all honesty, forgot all about it. But for anyone interested, here’s the link to Jenny and Jay’s Blog!

becoming a family travel blogger

This new family travel blog would be different though. We had travelled extensively before kids (read our story) and we wanted to continue our travelling lifestyle. This blog would hopefully inspire and provide tips to like-minded parents who wanted to do the same. We had no plans for what it would become, we just thought we’d start it and see where it went.

Starting TraveLynn Family

Once we returned from that family holiday in Thailand, Jay (hubby) wrote our first post – 10 reasons to travel with young kids. We hit publish, set up a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter page to tell our friends about it, and TraveLynn Family was born!

becoming a family travel blogger

This was our first ever logo! The photo is from one of our first trip to Morocco with kids.

Note that Jay wrote the first blog post. I never considered myself a writer back then, I was more into the photography and social media side of it. However, after a few weeks I decided to start writing some posts myself, and I loved it.

I was a SAHM at the time and this creative outlet was just what I craved. I found the writing process calming and rather therapeutic, and when you’re writing about something you’re passionate about and know a lot about, well, once you start, the words begin to flow.

Those early posts are far from my best work, and most of them were written late at night once the boys were finally asleep. But as with most things in life, the more you do it, the better you become. Well that’s what I like to think anyways…

Growing the family travel blog

When we moved to India in April 2017, the blog really took off. Whilst living in Bangalore we took every available opportunity to travel when Jay wasn’t working, be it a weekend in Hampi or Pondicherry, or flying to Northern India or the neighbouring countries of Nepal and Sri Lanka.

People seemed interested that we were doing something different; although through the blog I’ve connected with so many similar families and there really are a lot of us travelling the globe intrepidly with our young kids.

Sri Lanka Itinerary with kids - Galle

Galle, Sri Lanka – August 2017

Our 101 days overlanding Africa in a Land Rover brought more followers, as again, I suppose it was something a bit different.

Namibia itinerary with kids

Caprivi Strip, Namibia, and our Land Rover – May 2018

Since returning to the UK in July last year and setting up a new life in the Peak District, we’ve managed to continue our travels (albeit around school term) and have in turn created more and more content for the blog.

I thought keeping up with our travels would have been tricky with the restrictions of school and European travel costs, but over the past 18 months we’ve had some amazing trips including two separate Iceland road trips, a Morocco road trip, and a 4 week camping road trip in France, (we do like a good road trip!) as well as lots of city breaks in between, and I managed to sneak in a little mumcation in South Vietnam.

If you’re wondering how we afford to travel so much, have a read of this post

Becoming a family travel blogger

Since finishing a Masters at Nottingham Uni back in 2004, I’ve worked as a spatial software consultant (my short-lived corporate years), a travel agent, an actor, a wine adviser (hello free wine!), a performing arts teacher, a swimming teacher and even started a little sewing business called Sew Ape. You could perhaps call me flaky, or indecisive, but I’ve just always fancied trying new things, although I always thought that blogging was just a hobby.

becoming a family travel blogger

Music theatre days back in 2009 – playing Petra in A Little Night Music

If you told me three years ago that blogging would become my ‘job’, I would have stared at you in complete disbelief. I had no idea that you could make any money out of blogging, and I certainly didn’t imagine all the amazing opportunities that would come our way. Nor did I really appreciate the amount of work that goes in to becoming a travel blogger and making it successful. Over these past years I have learnt a lot about building a website, growing page views, SEO, coding, as well as social media strategies, networking and content creation (yes – a lot of this used to be foreign lingo to me too).

And would you believe that this is technically the longest I’ve ever been in one ‘job’?!

Travel blogging is the first job I’ve had where I’ve thought – “this is long term”. It allows me to work from home, be totally flexible about my hours, talk about travel all day, and enables us to travel more as a family (which is what we love to do).

We’ve been hosted by tourism companies to promote destinations such as Johannesburg and Iceland, been invited to stay at accommodations across the globe, and worked with prestigious travel brands, including Lonely Planet, Mountain Warehouse, and Vango.

In fact, I often feel uncomfortable telling people it’s my job as it sometimes sounds too good to be true, even to me.

Iceland itinerary with kids

Iceland – October 2018 – hosted by Hey Iceland, car hire provided by Europcar Iceland, and outdoor clothing gifted from Mountain Warehouse.

How do I make money from family travel blogging?

I make money from lots of different revenue streams, and I’ve learnt that you cannot rely on just one. My income can fluctuate A LOT from month to month, and having different revenue streams helps balance this out somewhat. But family travel blogging is not something to get into to get rich quick. It takes A LOT of unpaid hours to build and grow a blog.

Some of my income is from affiliate links. This may be an amazon link or a booking.com link, for instance, where I have recommended a product or accommodation on the website, and I receive commission if you click my link to purchase (this is at no extra cost to you). There is also advertising on my website, which I am paid for.

I also get paid on occasion to write travel articles for online and print magazines, or sponsored posts for my own website, and also to publish posts on my social media channels like this one for travel vaccination advice.

View this post on Instagram

When we found out about our move to India, one of my first concerns was about which immunisations the boys needed, especially as they were so young 💉. Ez was just 20months old at the time. We tracked down a specialist travel clinic as we knew that was where we would get the most up-to-date and correct advice. We had called the GP before but they were extremely vague and unconvincing 🙈 .. If you're travelling to places like India, it's important to have the right advice, especially when travelling with young kids. A fantastic website to find your local travel clinic and book at appointment is https://bewareofthebugs.com/. I always get lots of questions from readers about which vaccinations are required for destinations, and what malaria pills kids should take. I'm really not an expert and every family is different. Best to contact a registered travel clinic through @bewareofthebugs 👍 #ad #fundedbyValneva .. .. .. .. #amberfort #rajasthan #thepinkcity #rajasthandiaries #visitindia #amerfort #jaipurdiaries #indiawithkids #doorsofinstagram #fearlessfamtrav #lpkids #travelkids #explorerkids #lpfanphoto #lppathfinder #ourtribetravels #adventureparenting #parentswhowander #showthemtheworld #ourtribetravels #worldschooling #tmom #bbctravel #guardiantravelsnaps #takeyourkidseverywhere #incredibleindia #travelmadfam #wanderlustmomblogger

A post shared by JENNY LYNN • FAMILY TRAVEL (@travelynnfamily) on

In all instances, whether I am paid, hosted (complimentary accommodation) or gifted (I’m sent a product for free), I will always disclose this to my readers (you may sometimes see #ad #hosted or [AD] in my social media posts), and I will ALWAYS say EXACTLY what I think and be honest with you. For example this campsite review isn’t very favourable, and this post advises people with young kids NOT to go to the Alpkit outdoor festival.

It sounds like the perfect job for a travel-loving Mum!

It’s not all smooth sailing. For a good 18 months I built the blog around looking after my boys full time and whilst we lived in India for a year, neither of them were in nursery/pre-school. This meant lots of late nights and very early mornings, writing and editing, for no payment whatsoever. Although I started to get invites from accommodations asking me to write a review for my blog and post to my social media channels in exchange for a complimentary stay. One of the first invitations I received was from the Savoy Hotel in Copenhagen, and since then I’ve reviewed many hotels across the world, including Living Heritage Koslanda (Sri Lanka), Ayana Fort Kochi (India), Game Haven Lodge (Malawi), and Green Bay Resort (Vietnam), to name a few.

Whilst these may sound like a free holidays, in all these instances I am working. I’m making notes, taking photos, posting to social media and even writing the blog post(s) whilst I’m there.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But I just want to portray the full picture for anyone believing us family travel bloggers get ‘free’ trips. There’s a lot of work that goes behind the scenes.

Plus I never switch off when travelling now and have to really make an effort to put my camera down, and appreciate the moment. I’m always wondering how a particular view or scenario could fit into a social media or blog post.

Packing for travel Mums

Searching for hippos in Zambia with my boys – May 2018

The future of TraveLynn Family

We’ve been back in the UK for almost 18 months now and had some amazing European trips, as well as our Moroccan road trip. School kids actually get a lot of holiday time in the UK, but we’ve had to be organised and savvy to be able to afford to travel as much as we have done within the school holidays. Check out my post about how we afford to travel so much as a family.

But plans are in motion for another BIG adventure. We’re in the very early stages, so I can’t share anything with you yet… Watch this space 🙂

As for the future of the blog, even though I’ve now been blogging for three years, there’s still have so much to learn, and Jay always comments that I never switch off (I think any self-employed person has that). But I love it! This job fits so well around my family and gives us amazing travel opportunities, I think this is one that I’ll stick at for a bit longer…

 

 

 

You may also like to read:
How we afford to travel with kids
What is the best age to travel with kids?
Our Story

 

Jaipur with kids

I’m a finalist in the 2019 Brilliance in Blogging Awards! #BiBs2019

I’m still pinching myself. I’m one of 5 finalists for a national blogging award! I’ve been nominated for best photography in the 2019 Brilliance in Blogging #BiBs2019.

I’ve been blogging now for almost three years, and sharing many of my photographs over on my Instagram page. Photography is easily my favourite aspect of blogging and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed well before I even started the blog. Words don’t always come naturally to me. I’m forever editing and re-editing the written content of the blog. But capturing an image has always felt instinctive. Even without my camera attached as an extra limb, I can’t help but notice the angles, colours and lighting around me waiting to be captured by the lens.

So I thought I’d share ten of my favourite photos from our travels with the boys. A massive thank you to everyone who has voted for me so far. If you would still like to vote click here. #BiBs2019 voting closes on Friday 4th October and the Winners of each category will be announced live on Twitter on Thursday 10th October 2019 at 1pm. Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!

1. Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

Tanzania itinerary with kids

2. Etosha, Namibia

Namibia itinerary with kids

3. , Nepal

Poon Hill with kids

4. Sahara, Morocco

sandboadring in the Sahara

5. Chitemba, Malawi

Malawi itinerary with kids

6. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon in December

7. Goa, India

Agonda with kids

8. Iceland

Iceland itinerary with kids

9. Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur

Jaipur with kids

10. Little Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

boy on mountain top


You may also like to read:
How we afford to travel with kids
Is it worth getting a GoPro for family travel adventures?
Family adventure travel ideas for 2020

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