‘Ooo that’s cold’ I remark to anyone within earshot. I then count to three and brace myself, submerging my shoulders under the water with a keen breaststroke. Ten seconds later…. ‘Oh it’s fine, you just have to get used to it’.
It’s the same conversation every time I step into a European outdoor swimming pool. Unless we’re in Iceland. Oh they’re toasty warm!
Splash About gifted the boys each a UV Sun & Sea Suit in Shark Orange in return for this honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.
On our recent trip to the Dordogne with Eurocamp for May half term, the pool at Camping Le Port de Limueil was again on the expected chilly side, and there was also a beautiful river right next to the parc, perfect for a paddle except the water was freezing! I did consider putting the boys in a full wetsuit, but I knew that once they got out of the water they would melt with the 30°C air temperature. Yet they would get cold quickly in the water wearing normal swim shorts.
The Splash About UV Sun & Sea Suit is perfect for this scenario. Not only is it UPF 50+ and offering great protection from the sun, but it also acts as a lighter wetsuit to keep their core warm. Therefore longer play in and outside of the water!
My boys both chose the Shark Orange Sea Suit, because sharks are very cool (according to them) and they like the colour combination of orange and blue. And because the fabric is slightly thinner and more flexible than a normal wetsuit material, it was easy for my boys (aged 3 and 5) to get it on and off; although I had to help them with the zip at the back.
It’s such a clever combination of materials with the wetsuit core and sleeves as a normal swimsuit material. A sunsuit and wetsuit combined. It’s great for dipping in and out of the water and means that they are comfortable all day long.
Head over to the Splash About website to order. They have eight designs in total and sizes are 1-2y, 3-4y and 5-6y. The sizes I ordered for my boys (to match their ages) fitted perfectly.
With all the hiking, travelling and exploring we do with our boys, I always make sure that they have quality footwear with good grip, waterproof material, and can last a year (well, until they grow out of them). I recently wrote about the importance of good hiking boots for helping little legs walk further. It’s all about being comfortable and supported, and a pair of wellies just won’t do it. Similarly, when it comes to the summer, a pair of flip flops or poorly fitted sandals is not going to do them any good if you want them to go the distance.
Now that we’re coming into the summer, I’ve been on the look out for good hiking sandals for the boys. Their hiking boots are great, but with the warmer weather I want their feet to be able to breathe.
We’re actually headed to the Dordogne in France next week and I needed to find the boys some new sandals before we left, as obviously they’ve grown out of last year’s! Just in time, Keen got in contact with us and gifted the boys each a pair of Newport Neo H2 Keen Kids Sandals in exchange for an honest review. Ezra picked a red pair, and Arthur a blue pair.
What I love is that the Newport Neo H2 kids sandals are designed and developed for travel and exploration. Well that ticks our boxes! I know that these sandals are going to end up splashing through rivers, climbing rocks, leaping off walls and running down hills.
On initial inspection, they seem to have excellent grip and I love the simple bungee cord design in the place of laces – even three year old Ezra was able to get them on himself quite easily. The toe is protected, which is perfect for rock climbing and there’s good cushioning of the sole for protection when leaping from great heights.
And I don’t know about you, but my boys sandals usually get so stinky in the summer! Thankfully all Keen sandals are machine washable, so I can hopefully curb the stinks to a degree! Apparently the ‘chemical free Cleansport NXTTM treatment’ (whatever that is) will help with that too.
This is the info from the Keen website:
Durable synthetic overlays
Secure-fit lace-capture system
Adjustable hook-and-loop closure
ESS shank offers lightweight support
PFC-free durable water repellent
Cleansport NXT™ for natural odor control
Washable polyester webbing upper
Non-marking rubber outsole leaves no trace
Lightweight EVA midsole for cushioning
Quick-dry lining for active use
Metatomical EVA footbed for cushioning
All KEEN water sandals are machine washable. Use a small amount of detergent, wash on gentle cycle and air dry.
All sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Well there are some impressive technological words in there. But for me the test of time will tell. I’ll report back at the end of the summer and let you know how we go with them.
Who else gives the Keen sandals the thumbs up?
A very good sign is that our friends over at Mini Travellers are big fans of Keen footwear. Their girls first wore them to Rwanda in 2017, and loved them so much, they got them again for their Malawi trip (where we met them) last year! Check out their review of Keen Newport Sandals for kids.
“Keen shoes have been a staple summer purchase since we moved to Europe. They are perfect for the playground and Kindergarten, a hike in Schwarzwald, or a splash in a river. Comfortable for kids and easy to clean for mom. The durable toe cap keeps my energetic son’s feet safe while the adorable ballerina design ensures my daughter has suitable outdoor shoes that cater to her girly needs. We’ve never regretted a Keen shoes purchase!”
“Keen sandals are probably the most versatile summer shoes you can buy for kids. They’re comfortable and suitable for so many different occasions – school, theme park visits, beach vacation, city trips, and of course also for outdoor activities like easy hiking or kayaking. Not only are they sturdy and have a good grip, but they are also washable and dry fast. In fact, we’re just about to buy three new pairs for our kids for the upcoming summer.”
“We have been using Keen sandals are the past 5 years and mine are still going strong. The kids of course growing as they do have had a few pairs each. I love that you can wear them in the water Keeping feet safe and just wandering around town. Perfect to slip on and off when visiting temples plus they come in cool colours! Because they wear them everyday especially while travelling a drop of lavender keeps them fresh too!”
We love getting outdoors and hiking as a family. From the short Peak District walks on our doorstep to more challenging multi day treks, such as the 5 day trek to Poon Hill in Nepal’s Himalayas. Our boys are now 3 and 5 years old and they can easily manage 8 km hikes, which I think is pretty good going, especially for our youngest. Plus, their hiking stamina has also proved helpful for our European city breaks.
They are good little hikers and I put this down to the fact that we go hiking every weekend possible, LOTS of snacks, and GOOD children’s walking boots. Wellies are great for splashing in puddles, and trainers are fine for playing in the garden, but if you want to get some distance under those little legs, you need to ensure they have a quality pair of hiking boots that fit well and support their feet, without breaking the bank.
Are you looking for boys hiking boots or girls hiking boots? I’ve done a lot of research into the best kid’s walking boots, so I thought I would share my findings with you. And remember, a good pair of kids hiking boots is not just for walking in the hills, they are our footwear of choice when we’re travelling to colder destinations like Iceland and Nepal, and also for our European city breaks.
***Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click to purchase, this is at no extra cost to you, although I receive a small commission. However, this is an honest review from a Mum who loves to keep the whinges at bay when hiking with her young boys.
Click hereto skip the research and see our vote for the best children’s hiking boots.
Comparison chart of children’s walking boots
There are lots of children’s walking boots out on the market, but I’ve focused on those that have sizes available for younger kids. So there are a couple of options here for toddler hiking boots.
*The more ticks the better 🙂
Things to consider when buying children’s walking boots
Kids’ feet grow so quickly, right? I generally avoid spending too much on children’s shoes and clothing, and the same goes for children’s hiking boots. However, we don’t want them to fall apart at the seams. When we go hiking with our boys, we rarely walk from A to B without finding a puddle to jump in or rocks to climb. These walking boots need to be up to the challenge and hopefully last a year, or more. It’s a balance right?
Ease of putting on and taking off
I always say that the hardest part of hiking with kids, especially when it’s cold, is getting them dressed and out of the front door. Boots need to be easy to get on and off, and ideally without a complicated lace system. Plus, you don’t want to be re-tying laces a zillion times on your hike. Make sure the laces are simple to fasten.
Do the provide enough support?
Unlike adult hiking boots that need to be worn in, you want to ensure that your kid’s hiking boots are robust and offer enough support right out of the box. Young ankles and arches need to be well cushioned and protected, and there should be good shock absorption throughout the shoe, to cope with uneven terrain.
Do they provide enough grip?
My boys are always running off down hills on our hikes, so ensure the hiking shoe has a good tread pattern to prevent slipping and sliding at speed. Admittedly someone is guaranteed to fall over at some point on our walks, but a good tread will limit this (and hopefully the tears).
Are they waterproof?
As soon as little feet get wet, they get cold, and the whinges commence. Time to head back home. If your walks are going to take you through wet grass, mud, streams and puddles, you need to ensure feet stay dry. To make their walking boots extra waterproof, cover them with a waterproof spray (like this one).
You don’t want anything too heavy to weigh down and tire legs. Whilst many adults (including myself) opt for leather walking boots in cold/wet weather, this is not suitable for young children.
I found it very difficult to find children’s hiking boots that came in sizes smaller than a UK size 9. There are only a couple that I have found and therefore, size availability may be your strongest buying factor.
This is your bargain buy and good option for smaller feet as sizes start from UK 6 child. A black boot, with a choice of fluorescent green or pink highlights, and easy to fasten. If your kids aren’t yet doing walks longer than a kilometre or two, this is a good option. But they are unlikely to last the distance if walking every weekend.
It’s difficult to get good quality kids hiking boots in small sizes, yet these start from a UK size 6 child, and you can purchase them in purple or dark blue. Laces are stretchy with a Velcro fasten, so they are easy to put on and get off, and potentially means that your little ones could get their own boots on. These are also watertight to keep feet dry and great value. A fantastic year-round walking boot for smaller feet.
I generally prefer a hiking boot with ankle support. However, this means they take up more room in your backpack when travelling. This shoe is a good alternative, designed more like a trainer, but still providing some support to the ankle with padding on the tongue and behind the ankle. It also has a very good tread on the sole for added stability and grip. A lighter style of walking shoe, ideal for warmer months, trekking in a tropical climate like Thailand, or an arid climate like Namibia. Only available in size UK 10 child and up.
With a nice range of colours available, this hiking boot has excellent grip and heel support (heel height is 3cm), and also has the easy laces and Velcro fastening. These are a fantastic option for winter walks in the ice and snow as the lining is furry to keep feet warm and there’s a flip down steel claw on the sole to provide extra grip! I wish we had bought these for our family trip to Iceland. May be a bit too warm for the summer months though. Only available in UK size 11 child and up.
This is the hiking boot we purchased Arthur for our Poon Hill trek in the Himalayas. Whilst not technically a children’s walking boot, it offers good support and grip for hiking, but with the added benefit of being like a welly – totally waterproof and easy to get on and off (there’s also a zip on the side). This is a good option if you’re looking for a hiking boot that’s easy to get on and off.
Starting from a UK size 10 child, these children’s hiking boots from Trespass are built for some serious hiking year-round. They offer good support and whilst waterproof, are still breathable due to tres-tex membrane technology (sounds fancy and I’ve no idea what this actually means! But seems to do the job). Although they are on the pricey side, you can often get them at discount on Amazon. Only downside is the laces are a bit tricky for little fingers and seem to undo a lot of the time.
These are the ones my boys have and they’ve certainly lasted the test of time. They have a range of colours on offer. I managed to get them in a sale, but once they grow out of them I will definitely purchase them again. They fitted perfectly, straight out of the box, and have kept my boys feet comfortable and dry. The smallest size you can get them in is a UK size 9 child. I find them a little tricky to get on as they are a firm fit, and laces need to be tied tightly to prevent them untying mid-hike. They are on par with the Trespass Cumberbatch (above), and so price and size availability will be your deciding factors between the two.
My verdict for the best children’s walking boots
The Mountain Warehouse Drift Junior Kids Boots is a good purchase for their first pair of walking boots, especially as sizes start from a UK size 6 child. As your child builds up their distances, I really believe it’s worthwhile spending a little more for comfort and support. My top choice would be the Regatta Holcombe Mid Jnr, which are certainly lasting the test of time with my boys.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click to purchase, this is at no extra cost to you, although I receive a small commission. However, this is an honest review from an Mum who loves to keep the whinges at bay when hiking with her young boys.
So you’ve booked a long-haul flight, but now you’re dreading the jet lag with kids. What to do???
As Daddy Lynn read the last line of their favourite book, the boys drifted blissfully off to sleep. It was 8:30pm and us parents eagerly high-fived with smug grins. We had survived our long, delayed flight from the UK to Bangalore, lasted the day through a bleary eyes and foggy head and BEATEN JET LAG! Hoorah!
Or had we…
At 11:30pm our 2 year old sprung out of bed and started scrambling around looking for his toys. His older brother soon followed suit and helped by switching on all the lights. Before we knew it, dinosaurs were attacking a Lego tower. We gave in and by 1am I was picking up the phone ordering pizza and fries from the hotel’s room service and switching on kid’s TV.
MASSIVE KIDS JET LAG FAIL. How do parents beat jet lag in kids? Especially toddler jet lag!
Usually as a family we managed to adjust fine to the time differences when travelling; it’s only a 5.5 hour time difference between the UK and India. But for some reason, jet lag had well and truly got the better of us this time. It took us a good week to get back to normal routine.
So I turned to my fellow family travel blogging community for their advice on how to how to help kids with jet lag. Here are their tips:
1. Consider your flight times
Marianne (Mum on the Move) believes ‘a good trick for beating jet lag is to try and get your body clock on to your destination time zone as quickly as possible – even before you get there. Think about the local time zone as soon as you board the plane, and adapt your sleep on the plane accordingly. For example – if your plane lands at 7am local time you will need to ensure you have been sleeping right up to the time you land, which often means staying awake for the first few hours of the flight.
Is the overnight flight better?
‘Where possible, we look to fly overnight when it’s already the kids bed time. We always look to find ways to exhaust them in the afternoon with a lot of fresh air before catching the plane then they will settle much faster and be at least partly rested . On arrival, we’ve found we’re all less inclined to want to nap straight away and can battle it through to the normal bed time in our new time zone. If you want the body to adjust quickly, tired or not, we all go to bed the following night at the correct bed time in the new time zone. At the very least, dim the lights and turn off electronics so there’s a natural cue that this is now the new bed time. If you give into the urge and think ‘we’re awake anyway so let’s go and explore’ it will just delay the adjustment.’ (Keri, Our Globetrotters)
Or is the day flight better?
‘To beat jet lag, we try to fly during the day and arrive at our destination in the evening. We check into a hotel, eat dinner and to right to bed, no matter what time it is back in Sydney. Usually we are so exhausted by then that we have an amazing night’s sleep and wake up well-rested and very close to the routine for the time zone we have landed in.’ (Christine, Adventure, Baby!)
But what if your flight arrives in the middle of the night?
‘Set your alarm for 8am local time, get everybody up and start your day. We find that you need to get onto local time straight away to beat jet lag, even if you’ve only had a few hours sleep. You can always have a short nap after lunch to get you through the rest of the day.’ (Nicky, Go Live Young)
And if your flight arrives in the morning but your knackered and haven’t slept on the flight?
‘When we travel we have found the best way to avoid jet lag is to have a sleep! Once in the hotel everyone has a quick shower then hops into bed. The alarm is set for two hours later. Once we are all rested we head out and about to explore the local area and have dinner out. Then back to the room for bed time. Wake up the next day ready to go.’ (Debbie, Travel with the Greens)
Or perhaps consider a stopover.
‘Back when we were just a couple, escaping jet lag seemed to be pretty easy, but fast forward to the arrival of our two kids and beating jet lag has almost become a sport. These days, when booking a long haul flight, we look for options that include a stop over around half way. It provides an opportunity for the kids to adjust, sleep and eat, before continuing on to our destination’ (Leah, The Kid Bucket List)
2. Splurge on your arrival accommodation
‘During the first few days we know we’ll spend more time at our hotel than usual, so we splurge on upgraded accommodations. Things we look for include: 24/7 room service for when the kid’s demand breakfast at 2 am, a separate sitting area where one parent can entertain children while the other tries to sleep, and a beautiful city view to make the middle of the night restlessness more exciting!’ (Jessica, Magnets from Everywhere)
3. Get out and about on that first day
Sally’s top tip (Our3kidsvtheworld) is ‘drinking a lot of water and getting out in the sunlight. You are less likely to feel tired if you are out and about in the sunshine and keep moving. I feel the jet lag worse when I stop and inside not moving around. If you stay busy and try and ‘hit the ground running’ you will adjust to the new time zone much quicker.’
Having a run along the Corniche in Abu Dhabi
Similarly, Kayla (Wanderlocity) believes exercise is key. ‘When we get home, we bust out the bikes and scooters. Some fresh air, sunshine and movement always does a body good. Getting exercise also assists in getting back in the general swing of everyday kiddo (and adult) life. By being out in the sunshine and fresh air, you’ll be using the light cues to help get your circadian rhythm in sync with the local time zone. Light tells your body it is time to be awake, especially when you pair it with movement!’
Whereas Wisterian Watertree puts his faith in absolute physical exhaustion. ‘Obviously works only once they are old enough to move on their own, but when they do and if you time it right, so they can not keep their eyes open at bedtime, you can reset their body clocks and they will sleep through the night and will sleep at naptimes the next day. Works the same way when you get home, but they have to be so tired they literally fall asleep in your arms. This is why you need to research the options for playgrounds near where you are staying (indoor playgrounds if there is any risk for rain). If you are going somewhere wintery, make sure to have clothes appropriate for outdoor play in cold weather. Consult the locals. It probably works for the adults too, by the way.’
4. Stick to the routine you have at home
‘To help combat jet lag when travelling, we do our best to keep naps and bedtime consistent. For us this means keeping our routine and schedule similar to at home. We usually travel with a sleepsack, blanket and a couple of favourite books plus do our bedtime routine in the same order as at home. Additionally, we do our best to keep naps and bedtime at the same time (but on local schedule). Sometimes, we just need to wait it out but we are usually back on track in a few days.’ (Celine, Baby Can Travel)
5. Eat meals at local times
‘Studies show that by adjusting to eating your meals at local time instead of when you would normally eat, that you ‘reset your body clock.’ Fasting during your flight is also recommended but with kids this is obviously not possible. I would recommend small meals and snacks during your flight is best, then indulging in a big meal (whether that be breakfast, lunch or dinner) in your new time zone.’ (Mary, The Abbottses)
6. Healthy eating and drinking
‘Jet lag hits my daughter really hard. On the first day after a long flight she is not just out-of-sync with the clocks but often suffers from an upset stomach, which always makes me feel awfully guilty. We have discovered that giving her healthy snacks and avoiding anything sweet or exciting like chocolate really helps her. She immediately perks up and this means in turn she deals with tiredness a lot better. Our food of choice for jet leg now is apples and grapes, they work like a charm!’ (Marta , Learning Escapes)
Carrie Bradley (Flying With Baby) stresses no caffeine after 2pm and a good healthy meal before bedtime.
7. Be patient and flexible
Aja (The Wandering Chaos) advises that ‘it can take several days longer when flying around the world for them to adjust.’
Indeed, Chelsea (And Then Life) recommends adjusting the daily routine by one hour at a time – ‘The gradual approach works for us because it’s not such a shock to the system, for lack of a better word. You are able to slowly get back into your norm. The shorter time difference, the easier, but if you have the luxury of doing this for more than a day or so, I think it could work even for multiple time zones.’
Jules (Shades of Courage) embraces jet lag and even plans craft activities for 3am – ‘It is just human nature to come home exhausted and dreading the sleepless nights and grumpiness. Nothing kills the holiday buzz quicker then a bad bout of jet lag. So one tip would be to anticipate it, embrace it and accept it, as part of the holiday. We always say hope for the best, expect the worst and take what you get. So plan to have snack time at 3AM and plan on how to use the time with the kids in a nice way. Why not use the time to complete a travel journal/draw pictures of the holiday & co with the kids. This will make it less painful for everyone and is a good way to look back on the holiday memories.Obviously this is fun for a day or three and not the new normal’
The Grand Conclusion
These are all fantastic suggestions from my fellow family travel bloggers, but what works for one family may not work for another. By all means, make the best of efforts to combat the dreaded jet lag, but also be flexible with your kids; it may take time.
What did we do wrong on our recent trip back to Bangalore? We may have napped too long that first day. The pizza and chips at 1am probably wasn’t the best idea. But really, I believe you just have to take jet lag as it comes. One time it’ll win, the next maybe you will. Like so many challenges of parenthood, it’s a phase. It’s just a case of riding the wave, with a few tricks up your sleeve.
No we don’t earn megabucks, no we haven’t received a massive inheritance, and no we haven’t won the lottery (reminder to self: must buy lottery ticket this week)… yet.
I receive lots of emails and messages from parents who want to travel with their little ones. I love receiving them and I’m always more that happy to reply and offer advice; whether it’s asking about booking trains in India, vaccination questions (although I encourage that this one is better answered by a medical expert), safety of tuk-tuks in Sri Lanka, or what to do if you need a no.2 on the road in Africa (I’ve had this more than once). But the most common question I receive is – “How do you afford to travel so much?”
I always smile a little when I receive this one. It’s so very un-British to ask someone about money, and I know it’s taken some balls to ask.
I admit that we travel more than your average family, but there are lots of families like us. In fact, there are families who travel even MORE than us; digital nomad parents who homeschool their children, or families on year-long sabbaticals. If you’re looking for ways to travel more as a family, 5 Lost Together has a great series interviewing families and finding out how they find ways to travel; from using maternity leave, using home exchanges, renting your home, and just saving bloody hard for a gap year.
But this post is about how we, TraveLynn Family, have so far managed to afford to travel.
We do feel lucky and appreciate that we’re in a privileged position to decide how we spend our money. However, we don’t drive a fancy car, we have never stretched ourselves on a mortgage (although we do have one), we don’t go out for fancy dinners, and you’ll never find me clothes shopping unless it’s absolutely necessary. We watch the pennies and the majority of our disposable income goes to travel.
We travelled as much as possible before our eldest started school
Up until very recently, we weren’t tied down to school holidays. We could travel as and when we wanted, as much as money and time off work would allow, meaning we could get off-peak airfares and accommodation. From long weekends, fortnight holidays, to our epic 101 days in Africa, these trips were all done during school terms. Now that our eldest is in school, we’re having to work a lot harder in finding ways to fund our travel. So if your kids aren’t yet in school, NOW is the time to travel with them!
In 2017, through an opportunity at with husband’s work, we moved to Bangalore, India. This was an incredible year, full of highs and lows, but A LOT of travel adventures. We had a new base to explore a new corner of the world, and used EVERY available opportunity to travel; popping on a sleeper train of a weekend to explore Hampi, Pondicherry or Kochi, and cheap AirAsia flights took us to Northern India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. And on the occasions we flew back to the UK to see family, we would always ensure a stopover in Doha or Abu Dhabi. Living as an expat was a fantastic way for us to travel more.
This was a bold move. My husband was in a good job in India and he loved the company he worked for. But, when an opportunity for voluntary redundancy arose seven months before our eldest started school, we jumped at it. This gave us the pot of money we needed for long-term travel, and the timing was perfect. So off to Africa we went – 101 days in a Land Rover with roof tents, the boys were aged 2 and 4 at the time. And for those of you worried about whether he found work again on our return. Yes, he did 🙂
When we have a pot of money to go travelling, we don’t race around trying to fit in as many places as possible. Actual travel between places costs money. So if we travel to fewer places, closer together, our money goes further. A round the world airfare sounds tempting, but perhaps look at return flights to the one destination and embracing slow travel from that start and end point.
Travel to cheap destinations
As a family, we haven’t been to the States, we’ve only dipped our toe in to Scandinavia, and we’ve never been on a package holiday. We generally travel to cheap destinations, so that when we are there, we know our money will go further. Yes, this may mean more expensive flights. But an all-inclusive two week holiday at a Spanish holiday resort can sometimes cost more than two weeks of budget travel in Thailand or Sri Lanka, including flights.
Bangkok, Thailand, has long been our favourite Asian city. December, 2017.
We’re also yet to take the boys skiing. Although this is a pricey holiday, it’s something that I think is worth paying for, especially when they’re young. So we’re hoping to take the boys next season and have started to put some money aside for it. I particularly love the sounds of this Chamonix Ski Resort recommended by Mags at The Family Freestylers. Sounds perfect for kids!
We are budget travellers
When we travel to cheaper destinations, we travel on a budget. Accommodation is going to be your largest outgoing when travelling, and we keep this to a minimum. We love camping, and are always happy to stay in cheaper accommodation if it means saving money. We almost never use tours or travel agents, as we prefer to travel independently and be accountable for our own time and money.
More used for long term travel, but ever since hubby and I travelled from the UK to Sydney without any planes back in 2007 (pre-kids), we’ve used a budgeting spreadsheet. We enter in EVERY expenditure into the spreadsheet (from tuk-tuk rides and overnight bus journeys, to purchasing toilet paper and restaurant tips) and from this work out our average daily spend. This then calculates how long we can travel on the pot of money we have. This is a fantastic way to keep our spending in check.
Always checking for flight deals
A few times a week, if I have a spare moment, I hop onto Skyscanner and check for the cheapest airfares on days I know we’re available to travel. I type in an airport close to us (I can chose from a few) into the ‘From’ box, and then select ‘Everywhere’ in the ‘To’ box. This then brings us the cheapest flights available across the world from my airport on those given dates; you can then play around with dates accordingly. There’s always a city that pops up to surprise me. This is how we ended up travelling to Nuremberg at the end of last year, spotting cheap Ryanair flights from Manchester.
I became a travel blogger
One of the perks of being a travel blogger is that we are frequently offered free accommodation, transport and activities, in return for featuring on this website and/or social media coverage. I started this blog initially as a creative outlet and to connect to like-minded people, but I’ve recently had my 2-year blogiversary and really had no idea that it could grow into being my ‘job’. Recent trips to Nuremberg, Lisbon and Iceland have all been hosted by tourism agencies, and we’ve stayed at lots of wonderful accommodation for ‘free’ around the globe. This certainly makes travel more affordable for us and has meant that we have recently travelled to destinations that we previous avoided due to their cost (e.g. Iceland). Although I’m very reluctant to call these opportunities ‘free’.
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 bloggers get ‘free’ trips. There’s a lot of work that goes behind the scenes. I therefore don’t say ‘yes’ to everyone, as I put a lot of care and thought into the content I produce for companies, and need to ensure the return of ‘free’ stuff is worthy of my time.
Plus, with all blog and social media posts, 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.
It was school photo day at the boys’ school and we were in the queue for their first ever school photo. The photographer lady had seemingly all the right gear, and she certainly seemed to be taking her time. I had high expectations.
“Now show me those big grins. Great. Open your eyes. And hold it there…”
Both my boys froze like stunned Wallace & Gromit characters. It was a hilarious, but terrible photo of the boys. For novelty purposes, I still bought the photo bundle with pictures of varying sizes, ready for the grandparents’ Christmas presents.
Whilst I don’t consider myself a professional photographer, I’m always snapping away when travelling as a family, and have learnt a few things along the way. So I thought I’d share with you my tips for taking better photos of your kids.
Say ‘wee wee’
This not only makes little ones laugh but naturally brings their mouth into a smile. I often follow with – “Did someone do a smelly trump?” Oh yes, bathroom jokes win the day with projecting happiness through a family photo!
Embrace the selfie
Yes you can pass your camera to a stranger to snap your family pic, but it will be a miracle if everyone is smiling and looking at the camera. With a selfie you can see everyone in the photo, frame it yourself and have better control.
The running shot
Set your camera to sports mode (so lots of photos are taken one after each other and the lens can cope with movement) and line up your kids to race, standing behind them. Give them a point to run to. “Ready, steady, go!”
Embrace the moment
When we visited the Taj Mahal, I really want to get that perfect shot of the boys looking angelic in front of one of the world’s most iconic buildings. This is what I ended up with (see below). Yes, it’s a bit blurry. Yes, they look silly. But they’re happy and the photo is true. It ended up being one of my favourite photos I ever took in India.
See the world from their perspective and avoid taking photos just of the tops of their heads.
Use the timer
Find a quiet spot, set up the camera and your family, ready for a family photo. This one often takes a few goes and I find that a little bribery is sometimes required. Also, watch out for the signal from your camera to give you the warning that it’s about to take the shot, so you’re ready to say “wee-wee”!
Get in front of the camera
I’m the one who takes most of the family photos, and as such I am the one behind the camera. It is therefore rather rare to find a travel photo with me actually in it! I get so hung up on angles and getting the right ‘shot’, that I don’t trust handing my camera over to my husband. However, in years to come, it would be nice to have proof that us Mums were on that trip. So, get over your inhibitions and perfectionism, and get in front of that camera!
Get cameras for the kids
Not only does this help them better engage in their environment, but it also gives them an understanding of how special photography is and how nice it is to have a memory of a moment. I sometimes get us all to take turns in taking the family photo. My 3yo uses a Vtech Camera (view on Amazon), and my 5yo uses a Vmotal Compact Camera (view on Amazon).
Know your camera
I’ve used the same camera for almost ten years now. I should probably upgrade, but I know how to use it and can change the settings quickly. Last thing you want to be doing is faffing with complicated settings whilst the kids are patiently perched on a precarious rock. I love my Sony DSLR (this is the latest model to buy).
Although I’ve lately started using my phone more. It’s incredible how much phone cameras have improved of late. I’m currently using a Google Pixel 2 and I’m LOVING the quality. If you can afford it, it’s worth going for the latest Google Pixel 3.
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Have you tried potty training while travelling? Or maybe you’re planning potty training on the road. One of the golden rules of potty training is, ‘Do NOT potty train on holiday’. It’s just too much hard work and it is a holiday after all! Plus with the change of routine and surroundings, surely it’ll take longer for your little one to adjust? So what’s the point?
The thing is though, if you’re travelling long term with a toddler or you travel a lot (like us), you’re just going to have to take the plunge and potty training while travelling. Unless… you don’t travel? Nope. Not an option.
Now potty training on holiday or travelling isn’t ideal, but I’m telling you it isn’t impossible and actually with a bit of planning and a flexible approach, it could be… dare I say it?… Easier! And just think… don’t you look forward to those days where you don’t have to source nappies from random locations around the globe? I remember sending Daddy Lynn out for nappies one afternoon in Rishikesh, India. Two hours later he successfully returned after visiting almost every pharmacy in town. What a mission! Then there’s the waste of space in your luggage. Many times we have ended up buying a big bag of nappies and strapping them to the side of our backpack.
I am by no means an expert. In fact far from it. And guru Gina Ford would be aghast at my laid back, longer term approach. But, I thought it worthwhile to share with you what has worked for us when potty training on holiday:
1. Have the potty out before you start training
Whether you’re at home or in a hotel, just leave it in an obvious place so your little one becomes familiar with it. Let them play with it if they want to. Our potty has been used as a dinosaur bath and, frequently, a hat. Also, ensure your little one goes to the toilet with you as much as possible; they learn so much from watching.
2. Don’t force it
The older they are, the easier it’ll be; principally because your little one just understands more. The aim is to keep the process as stress-free as possible whilst travelling. We left it until our boys were 2.5 years old. When the time feels right, replace their nappy with underpants for a couple of hours each day, and see how it goes. If it’s stressing everyone out too much, try again in a couple of weeks. If it’s going well, try a full day!
3. For that first week, arrange to be in the same place
It is true that potty training is harder if you’re moving around every other day. Travelling with kids is all about embracing slower travel. So park yourself in one place for a week, ideally in a warm place where layers of clothes aren’t required and it’s easier to dry clothes, and hang out with the potty. Just don’t time potty training with that African safari when you’re unable to get out of the vehicle, or that trek in the Himalayas where you will need to peel layers of clothing off before they even get to the potty.
4. Nervous about that long train journey or long flight? Whip on a nappy!
Honestly, no judgement! It will just make life easier and your little one will more than likely pick up on your anxiety otherwise. It honestly won’t undo all your hard work so far. Similarly, don’t try and keep the nappy off day and night straight away. If you’ve all mastered the days, then just hold off a while until you attempt the nights (especially if they’re having milk before bed or during the night).
5. Get crazy excited when your little one is successful!
Jump, cheer and clap for joy! Make a HUGE fuss! So what if everyone around can hear you – they may join in! Treat your little one to a chocolate pancake on the beach, or if they’ve had a good day, perhaps a little toy from the markets. And don’t get angry with the accidents. It really doesn’t matter; even if you are on a flight, or checking in to a hotel (we recently had a no2 accident on a foyer floor with the latter).
6. Ensure you are somewhere where you can clean and dry clothes, or cheaply pick up new ones.
If, like us, you travel very light, you may find that you go through all their clothes in one day. Ensure you have an ensuite bathroom (I love the Asian ‘bum gun’ for washing clothes!) and a balcony or verandah to dry clothes in the sun (consider packing a no-peg washing line). Or even better, be somewhere where you can get clothes laundered cheaply (places in Thailand and India are great for this!) If you get fed up of washing though, pick up some cheap clothes from the local markets.
7. Have a potty training bag at the ready
Have a separate bag containing two changes of underpants and shorts, wipes, nappy bags (for soiled/wet clothes), hand sanitiser, sarong (to provide some privacy if you require, but also as a change of clothes for you) and small change (you sometimes have to pay to use public toilets).
And of course, a travel potty! You really don’t want to be lugging a big plastic potty around. We love the super-lightweight and compact My Magical Potty (feature photo). Alternatively, some parents like the potette, which although is bulkier, converts into a seat. Boys may enjoy the novelty of this portable urinal.
If you’re travelling in a place where you’re always going to have easy access to a Western toilet, consider packing a folding travel potty seat.
You may also consider packing a seat protector for car, bus, train journeys, or even flights.
8. If out sight-seeing, stop EVERY time you see a toilet.
You never know when the next one will be and it’s easier than getting the travel potty out. The cleanliness of public toilets can often be questionable. I taught my boys to go standing up on the seat (and this can go for girls too if they squat). Although if it’s a squat toilet, they they’ll have to stand anyway. Have the hand sanitiser at the ready.
Toilet on an Indian sleeper train
If there’s a queue for the toilet, just go to the front and explain. Every parent across the world has had to go through it and will hopefully be sympathetic to your plight. Have your small change (money) ready.
9. Remember you’re not alone!
Don’t compare yourself to other parents and just stick to what feels right for you as a family. All parents have been through it and many have even attempted potty training on holiday and whilst travelling, and survived! Here are some experiences from fellow family travel bloggers:
The half-hearted approach
“I’ve been a poor potty trainer in that I get distracted, don’t spend enough time at home hunkered down so never “did” potty training which meant that it was half-hearted for a long time…. So we did the same thing when travelling. Had a potty for when he wanted it but resorted to nappies a lot of the time to avoid issues. Even when my kids were much older I would resort to nappies vs having an accident.” (Ariana, A World of Travels with Kids)
The trickle on the flight
“Oh…toilet training whilst away – what better time to put your toddler on a plane in front of a movie where they become starry eyed and lose all ability to think of anything else! Our bad! When the movie finished it was mandatory stand and stretch the legs time – but I saw the cross legged and bent over stance – oh no! The toilet in front of us had a queue so I whisked up said toddler into my arms and made a dash (as much as you can dash on a plane) only to feel a warm wetness trickle down my sides – I try not to think about whether any of it dripped onto any of the other passengers I was brushing past – I made no eye contact!! I always, always pack a change of clothes for the kids but never for myself – so for the remainder of the flight I was wet and stinky!!!! The joys!” (Amber, Hill Tribe Travels)
The failed attempt in Antigua
“I tried it when my son was just over two yeas old and it was a huge mistake! I was working full time at the time for a tour operator and the three of us (hubby, son and I) were reviewing three luxury hotels in Antigua. We had discussed it in advance and decided that two weeks off together with our son who would mainly be in swim wear was the perfect time to potty train him… how wrong can you be! We arrived at our first villa suite and it seemed perfect, white tiled floor, so no carpets to get wet etc, located right on the beach so we could nip inside if he needed to go for a number 2:) As soon as we arrived I whipped off his nappy and told him where he was potty was. After a couple of days of constant accidents, peeing all over our villa, slipping on the wet floor and banging his head we gave up! (Six months later he did it in a couple of days whilst at nursery). He just wasn’t ready and whilst now I can see why I thought having the two weeks off was the perfect time to potty train him it’s only the right thing to do if your child is ready.” (Lisa, Travel Loving Family)
The bespoke rock toilet in the Rocky Mountains
“We’ve potty trained whilst travelling with two of our three so far. I think potty training in general is a nightmare so I figured it couldn’t be worse on a trip! Our youngest decided he had to poop in a toilet while we were hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. My quick thinking husband built him a toilet out of rocks. It amazingly worked! The Middle child has been far harder. We’ve trained him a few times only to go on the next trip and find it all undone! But fear not – he is in fact (mostly) toilet trained these days. Although we’ve thrown out quite a few pairs of underwear along the way. Most recently though, in Greece, I could be heard coaching him in a public toilet how I could see his poop coming.” (Elizabeth, Dutch Dutch Goose)
Saved by the fold-up potty seat
“We’ve brought potty training toddlers on holiday twice before, and the second time was much more successful than the first. In both cases the kids had already begun to have some successes at home. The first time we figured we’d just help our son stay balanced on the toilet or let him stand to pee, but as a not-quite-2yo our son just wasn’t comfortable and completely refused the toilet. Two years later, our daughter was in a similar stage of potty training and she was able to maintain and build on her progress during our family trip to Ireland. The key to her success? This amazing fold-up potty seat (which fits perfectly in this wet bag for carrying around)! We tried other portable seats and the kids always refused them, but this one is so great that she even used it at home for months after our trip.” (Melissa, The Family Voyage)
Have you tried potty training while travelling or on holiday? I would love to hear your tips and experiences!
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Is 2020 your big year for family adventure travel?
I’m frequently asked, ” What’s the best country you’ve ever visited?” and always fail to answer with just one country. Every country offers something different. We love to get off the beaten track and take our boys on true adventures, pushing the boundaries of family adventure travel, yet we still love a good European camping holiday or city break. But our favourite travel memories as a family are always amongst epic landscapes or bustling Asian cities where we have stepped out of our comfort zone.
So I’ve decided to compile this list of our top 5 Family adventure travel ideas for 2020, drawing from our own experience. I’ve realised that there are currently three Asian countries in my top five. We may be a bit biased, but Asia is a fantastic family travel destination!
If your crave epic lunar landscapes, affordable and rewarding safaris, and a true African adventure, Namibiagets our vote as one of the best places for intrepid family travel. Don’t do an organised tour. Hire a 4×4 with roof tents and go it alone! The quality of roads in generally very good and the campsites are seriously fantastic. Add to this a low malaria risk and an amazing climate, and it’s a definite winner in our books.
We fell head over heels in love with Sri Lanka. We visited whilst we were living in Bangalore and although there were many similarities with India, we found it to be cleaner and less chaotic. It’s a relatively small country so travelling between places is easy, yet it still offers enough activities, must-see sights, and fun to keep the whole tribe entertained. Indeed, for a country roughly the same size as Ireland, it manages to offer so much variety – both natural and cultural – that we’re sure you’ll fall in love with it too. Our favourite experiences in Sri Lanka were the incredible beaches and spotting wild elephants.
We had put off visiting Iceland for so long, as we thought it was too expensive. But we were tempted by cheap easyJet flights and photos of those dramatic landscapes. Admittedly the car hire and accommodation are going to be your biggest outgoings, but self-catering will keep costs down, and if you travel independently, exploring Iceland‘s natural wonders and hiking through it’s expansive landscape is totally FREE! Check out these other tips to save money on a family trip to Iceland. Carhiretips.co.uk has lot of car hire tips regarding insurances, what to think of when driving abroad, one-way care hire and other useful information.
On our 5 day Iceland itinerary we explored the classic Golden Circle, but also ventured off the beaten track and over to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. If you’re a family who love the great outdoors and wild landscapes, Iceland is a perfect destination for you; just ensure you pack layers as the weather is extremely interchangeable. You may also want to check out these strange and interesting facts about Iceland.
We love the energy, the ornate temples, the colourful markets, the polite people and the food… oh my THE FOOD! Oh, and of course the incredible beaches! Don’t rush straight to the islands though, enjoy your first few days in bustling Bangkok. It has to be our favourite city to explore with our boys (check out our Bangkok with kids itinerary).
There are so many reasons to travel Thailand with kids. It’s easily one of the most accessible countries we’ve visited with the boys. Many restaurants, even along the once backpacker enclave of Th Khao San, have highchairs, and we found that some beach restaurants in Ko Lanta have toys and kids’ play areas. Also, kid-friendly food is available everywhere; think sticky rice, banana pancakes, and tropical fruit aplenty. Throw in tuk-tuk rides, exploring mystical temples, and jumping in the waves crashing on to tropical islands, and you have the perfect mix for a fantastic family adventure holiday.
Now India isn’t everyone’s cup of chai. It’s loud, chaotic and confronting. But, it was our home for a year and it feels wrong not to include it. Admittedly, it’s not a place to visit with kids for a first visit to Asia. But if you are ready to take on the challenge, India will be one of you most memorable family adventures ever. The tourist dollar goes far here, so you can spend a little more on accommodation to create an oasis away from the chaos. Allow time to drink in the vibrancy and energy of this magical country, and once you’ve finished exploring the temples and spice markets, head for some downtime on the beaches of Goa.
And the runners up are…
It was honestly so tough narrowing it down to our top five countries, but Malawi, Nepal and Morocco are close behind…
Would love to hear what your favourite family adventure travel destination is! Let me know in the comments 🙂
2018 has indeed been an incredible year of travel for us (read: Our Top 12 Travel Highlights of 2018), and I honestly don’t think we’ll be able to top it in 2019. But that’s not to say that we won’t be having any adventures. Indeed, just a month until I’ll be taking on my first solo-parenting trip!
But for those of you trying to work out those new years resolutions, I say – scrap the crash diet on the 1st Jan! Here are 12 New Year’s TRAVEL resolutions that will be fun and benefit the whole family.
1. Start a travel savings account
You need money to travel. Until you win the lottery, put aside a little each month solely for travel. This may mean you have to prioritise travel over material items. But you know it’ll be worth it.
2. Use up all your annual leave
How some people finish the year with leave outstanding, I will never know. Take the paid break from work and go on an adventure and make memories with your family.
3. Be overseas for your kid’s birthday
Kids’ birthday parties can be expensive. Rather than another manic soft-play event, go overseas and make it a birthday that everyone will remember.
Celebrating Ezra’s 3rd birthday in Zambia earlier this year.
4. Travel to a completely new destination in your home country
You don’t have to fly somewhere exotic to have a holiday. Save your airfare and find somewhere new to explore in your own country. Check out these best city breaks with kids in the UK. Or want to make it a cheap holiday? Pack the tent and go camping!
5. All talking family members learn 5 foreign words for each country you travel
Hello. Goodbye. Please. Thank you. Milk. These words go a long way and will guarantee a smile from any locals you encounter. Especially if it’s your toddler saying them.
6. Travel lighter
It just makes travelling life easier; take only the bare essentials. Don’t bother packing any toys, you know they won’t play with them. Nappies can almost always be bought on arrival. This year we visited Iceland with just carry on only! Check out our Iceland packing list.
7. Step outside your comfort zone
Trust me, it will be your best adventure yet! Our overlanding adventures across Africa earlier this year certainly took us outside our comfort zone. There were seriously challenging moments, but they were totally outweighed by the incredible memories we created together; my favourite will forever be camping each night under the African night sky.
8. Make a photo book or calendar
I’m sure I’m not the only one who plans to make a photo book from each holiday. I’ve succumbed to the true realisation that I will never have time to do this. Instead, I try and do one each year. This is much more manageable and they are a beautiful memento. Still don’t have the time? Well in that case, make a travel calendar. There are 12 months in the year, that’s just 12 photos you need from your previous travels.
9. Get in the photos
Getting a photo of the kids is easy. Hubby and kids – also easy. Me and the kids – need to work on that a lot. I’m always the one behind the camera, and I get rather particular about my photography and rarely want to hand my camera over to hubby. But in future years, the kids are going to want that reminder that Mum was on holiday too with them! We also need to work at getting more photos of us all as a family.
10. Eco-conscious travel
Think about how your travel effects the environment. We all see the videos going round social media about the devastating effect of our plastic use – but are you doing anything about it? Use a water purification bottle, pack metal straws and a bamboo toothbrush. Ladies, use a menstrual cup rather then tampons/towels. If you’re visiting a beach, collect any rubbish and dispose of correctly.
11. Forget about social media
This is easier said than done if, like me, you’re a travel blogger. However, we can get obsessed with getting the ‘right shot’ and posting our perfect holiday on to social media, that we forget to live in the moment and appreciate the now. Try leaving your phone at home for a weekend away.
12. Travel more
Make 2019 The Year of Travel! 🙂
Happy New Year! May 2019 be filled with your best adventures yet. Jenny, Jason, Arthur and Ezra xxxx
If you’re reading this blog, there’s a pretty good chance that at some point in your life you’ve allowed yourself to daydream about a life of perpetual travel with your family? No work, no mortgage, just trip after trip, returning home only to check-in with the real world and plan the next adventure.
Alas, for the majority of us, it’ll remain just that; a daydream (reminder to self – must buy a lottery ticket this week). Even if you have managed an extended trip for six months or a year, there has probably come a point where you’ve put down some roots, found a proper job and started earning money again to pay for ‘grown-up’ things like mortgages and pensions. Throw the kids into the mix and suddenly the likelihood of upping sticks, tearing up roots and disappearing for never-ending travels becomes even more complicated.
One day we’ll become digital nomadic homeschoolers right? 😉
The trick is to realign your expectations and work with what you’ve got. It’s common for workers in the UK to have twenty-five days of annual leave so with a little bit of juggling and compromising, it’s possible to turn those days into something substantial. And if you’re travelling before the kids start full-time education, you have the flexibility to travel during the school term when most travel and accommodation is cheaper.
So here are TraveLynn Family’s tips on maximising your annual leave. Pretty much all of our suggestions are straightforward but hopefully there is something here you haven’t thought of, even if you work in education, have school-aged kids and are limited to travel during the expensive school holidays.
Make use of Bank Holidays
Those bank holiday days are free holiday days! Use them. In 2019 there are 9 working days between the Easter bank holiday Monday and the first May bank holiday in the UK. If you take off those 9 working days, you will get 18 days of uninterrupted holiday. That’s almost three weeks!
Depart and return from your travels at the earliest and latest opportunity
Have the bags packed and everyone ready to go so that when you finish work, you can be on your way. This requires forward planning and organisation earlier in the week, but it’s worth it. It’ll open up lots of possibilities for sneaking extra time at the beginning of the trip; you can catch a (cheaper) late evening flight. Or perhaps catch that early morning flight you’ve always ignored by leaving for the airport the night before and staying in an airport hotel (sometimes it’s not much more expensive to stay and park at the hotel versus long-stay parking at the airport).
If you’re taking a driving holiday it just means you’re on your way sooner. Of course, if you’re looking for last minute airport parking, then do your research to help find the best possible prices
For the return journey, consider arriving home the morning you’re due back at work. When we’re driving back from holidays in Europe, we often catch the early ferry from Calais which arrives in Dover at 7.40am. We can then drop Dad off at his office for 8:30am (this won’t help everyone – we’re lucky to live and work so close to Dover). Just don’t have any important meetings booked for the day you return to the office, in case of travel delays (unless you have a sympathetic boss). Although this is a rather hard core option if you’re flying long haul with kids as there is jet lag to consider.
Book a few long weekend breaks
It’s amazing how much you can fit into a long weekend by only taking off one or two working days either side; it can be just as restorative and exciting as a two week long holiday. Although you may want to limit travel time to a 2 hour flight or 3 hour drive, so as to maximise exploring time.
Take annual leave days from the following year
It means you have fewer days the following year but if you find yourself booking a holiday somewhere amazing and thinking, ‘I wish I had just a little more time there’, then many companies are open to borrowing a few days from the following year. Also consider taking unpaid leave if the company allows it and you can afford it.
Book your annual leave as early as possible
This increases your chance of having annual leave dates approved by the boss. Many companies only allow you to take 2 weeks off at a time but if you give them enough notice (perhaps a year), they may be open to you taking three or four weeks in one go. Whilst this means you are using most of your annual leave for one trip, the reward is that you can explore a destination in more depth, go even further off the beaten track, or travel to the other side of the world and have time to properly get over the jet lag.
Book your travel as early as possible
Early booking usually means you have first pick on the best deals for airfares and accommodation, and also provides better choice on travel dates. If you are following some of the tips above, it’s likely that you are going to be very specific on the dates and times that you can travel and won’t have as much flexibility.
Utilise your shared paternity leave (SPL)
SPL was recently introduced in the UK to allow parents the right to share up to 50 weeks of leave after the birth or adoption of a child. It means that a couple can split the time how they wish, taking it together or separately. For SPL to start, the mother must end her maternity leave (more information can be found here). Some parents are even overlapping Mum’s accrued annual leave with Dad’s SPL. What better way to bond as a young family than travelling the world (or at least some of it) together?!
Were you an intrepid backpacker in your previous life? Exploring distant and exotic lands on a budget, getting off the beaten track and feeling like you were doing something different? Now that young kids are in the picture, travel priorities may have changed. But you don’t have to get sucked into the package holiday bubble. Adventure travel with young kids is possible! Jenny x