Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How I survived 16 flights with my son before he turned 2

I was always that person that got on an airplane and looked around to ensure there were no babies. I love traveling and I love flying so the thought of a crying baby next to me would always worry me. But then I decided to move across the world away from everyone that I know and start a family! Karma! So we have made quite a few trips from Australia to Canada and the US and several around Australia since my baby was born. Also, my hubby can't always come with me, so most of these 16 flights were by myself with the baby!

Note: On all my flights, I have never paid for a seat for my son. If you do have the extra money, this will ensure extra space and peace of mind. Also, I have heard that bringing a car seat is a big help too.

Here are my tips for flying with a baby:

  • Planning -  Bottom line: I really didn't want to deal with an energetic baby/toddler in a small space, so I made the whole schedule to ensure I didn't have to. We have been very lucky with our little guy in that he has a very regular nap schedule. For his first year, he slept 9-11am and 2-4pm most days. Since he was one, it's usually around 12-2pm. Whenever we travel we try to plan our car rides or plane trips around this schedule. So when I went to plan a monster trip from Brisbane to LA to Toronto, I made sure each leg of the trip was during either a nap OR overnight. Even if it meant having a 3-4 hour stay in an airport, we would just have a meal and I would let him run around. This would wear him out and then on the next leg, he would be ready for a nap and/or sleep.  I spent 12 hours in LA at one point to ensure our last leg would fall when he goes to sleep for the night. We took am $8 shuttle into Santa Monica and spent the day at the beach. Worked really well! 
  • Airplane Bassinet - For any trip longer than 4 hours, I would recommend requesting the baby bassinet. This is available on long haul flights on most airlines. For me, I would pick an airline based on the fact that they have these - total lifesaver. To guarantee a seat when a bassinet can be used, you need to book early! You have to get the bulkhead seat and then request a bassinet after you book. I called and made sure I spoke with someone to ensure it would be there. Most airlines say it can be used from newborn to 10 months, or there will be weight/height limits. I used it even when he was 19 months as he was still under the 11kg limit. I would hold him until he fell asleep and then place him in bassinet. He slept 9 out of 10 hours on our most recent flight! It is great as it frees you up for eating meals, watching movies and going to bathroom.
  • Packing - One thing to remember is that you will be running around airports quite a bit so don't pack too much! Since most of my flights were by myself, I really had to remember this one... If you are traveling with your partner or other people, you can bring more for sure. Some airlines will give you snacks or food for baby but I would always bring my own just in case. Lots of those squeeze packs that can be spoon fed to babies and older kids can sip them from the pack. Also lots of granola bars and baby snacks to keep them busy when you need to. If you use a pacifier/dummy, make sure to bring a clip that secures to babies clothes. The worst thing was when it would fall on the ground on the plane or airport... yuck.
  • Empty Seat - If you don't score a bassinet seat, there is always the lottery of getting an empty seat next to you for bub to sit/sleep on. There are a few ways to make this happen. First, if you are traveling with a partner, book your seats ahead of time and make sure there is a single seat in between you. If the flight isn't jammed packed, you will get the extra seat for baby. If you are traveling alone, make sure to arrive extra early to ask the front desk when you check-in for empty seats. Almost all flights I have been on alone with baby, they have given me an empty seat next to me. They know it will be beneficial for the whole flight :)
  • Baby Carrier - We don't use the carrier that much but when traveling alone, it's a huge help. I have the Ergobaby 360 which allows me to hold him facing in for sleeping and facing out when awake. I realised when traveling alone, it would be impossible to pull luggage and push a stroller at the same time. So I put him in forward facing carrier, folded up travel stroller and pushed it on a cart with our luggage. The other great use for it was when I had a short flight and no extra seat. I would ensure we were close to nap time and have him in the carrier facing me. They even let me keep carrier on me (with arms unhooked) during take off and he fell asleep quite easily. This way I had free hands and he was sleeping very cozily on my chest for the flight.
  • Meds - On the overnight long haul flights, I gave him a small dose of Phenergan about an hour or two before the flight. I asked our doctor and they assured me a small dose would be okay. Each time I used it, he seemed to sleep really well. Make sure you do a test run of the dose before you travel to ensure it will have the right effect. Apparently it can have opposite effect on some kids and make them very hyper... you really want to avoid that issue! 
  • Toddler Leash Harness - I really hate these backpack harnesses for toddlers. Like really hate them. BUT my toddler is a runner and there weren't a lot of options when I was traveling alone. There are times in the airport when you need to fill out paperwork, wait in lines and buy things. These are all times when I can't hold him so the harness was a huge help. I know they aren't for everyone but for a very energetic 18 month old it was a lifesaver. 
  • Boarding the Plane - There is always a pre-boarding for families with young children. I found that this was the opposite of helpful. My little guy loves to run around and doesn't do well in small spaces... so boarding early was a nightmare. I soon realised I needed to be on the plane for the least amount of time as possible. I now board at the very very end and let him run around the airport until the last second. It also wears him out more so the sleep comes very soon after take off! When we finally get on the plane, everyone is already in their seats and willing to help you with bags and getting settled. Win win :)
Let me know if you have any other tips or tricks!

Some photos from our travels:
First flight! (5 months)
Always look sharp for traveling (5 months)

Killing a 12 hour layover in LA (18 months)

Sleeping like a baby in bassinet (19 months)

Monday, October 19, 2015

8 Great Podcasts to Download - 2015

People are always asking me ideas for new Podcasts to download so I thought I'd write a quick post. I tend to listen to A LOT of Podcasts these days. The best part about them is that they are free!

Why download Podcasts?? Well, I listen to them when I'm out walking the baby in the stroller, in the car on road trips, while washing dishes, hanging laundry... you get the picture. I do like listening to music, but really love a good story or great interview when I'm tired of music.

Here are some that I love:

The Nerdist - Pretty simple.  A guy named Chris Hardwick and a couple other comedians interview one celebrity each show. I like it because the celebrity tells the story of how they got started in music/tv/movies before they were famous. Fun to hear about their rise to fame through a long format interview (about an hour) where they can chat casually.

Stuff You Should Know - Two guys pick one topic (Scientology, Airplanes, Cancer, etc) and research the hell out of it. Then they spend about 1 hour explaining it to the audience. The guys are great at this and it's cool to learn something at the same time. There are TONS of these so pick any topic you want and they probably have it there.

Q with Shad - Arts and Entertainment show from Toronto, Canada. I used to listen every morning on the radio when I lived in Canada and really liked it. Shad is the host (great guy I know from high school) and does everything from interviewing celebs to have panel discussions and chatting about current events. There is usually a musical guest each week that plays live on the show.

The Dollop - Like "stuff you should know" but about a moment in history AND super funny. Two comedians tell a true story from the past. It is always SUPER funny and quite interesting too since they are all 100% true stories. (most are hard to believe) Listen to 'Reg Spiers', 'The Yankee Switch' or 'Rainbow Man' to get started :)

WTF with Marc Maron - A lot like The Nerdist but the interview is just with one guy - Marc. He is also a comedian but is rather long winded - notice the 20-30 min long intro to each episode (Nerdist has a 2-5min one) Marc has made a huge name for himself and had OBAMA come to his garage as a guest earlier this year.

Serial - This podcast made podcasts famous in 2014. It takes a true crime story and tries to solve it with more clues each week. It was absolutely fantastic but became massively popular so you have probably already listened to it. I hear the new season is coming soon.

Mystery Show - From the makers of Serial but I liked it waaay more. The host is completely awesome to listen to, I love her dry sarcastic wit and genuine interest in each rather strange 'mystery'. She solves one mystery each episode and usually they are pretty small and insignificant. The journey is a lot better then the destination in this one. Really excited for the new season. Listen to the 'video store' episode, so good.

60 Minutes - This happens to be one of my favourite TV shows so naturally the Podcast is one I love. It is simply the show from Sunday night in Podcast form. So if you watch the show already, don't bother. But... if you constantly miss the show like I do, make sure to download. Always super interesting stories about politics, entertainment and current events.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

10 Things to Do in Los Angeles for FREE

(Post not finished yet - baby got in the way!)

In 2014, I got the chance to stay in LA for 10 days at a friends house and check out the area. She had just moved there and was eager to show me around and explore the area herself. We were staying in West Hollywood and had a car so that made things easier too. I highly recommend renting a car when exploring LA.

Here are my favourite 10 things to do for free and a few things below the list that are low cost but amazing experiences too!

Relax at a Rooftop Pool
A few of the pools in LA are open to guests AND non-guests. This is very different to what I have experienced in other cities (usually you need a room key to enter pool area). Not only do they let you swim, but you can use chairs, towels and get food/drink service to your pool chair! Most pools seemed to open around noon, so we went around 12:30/1 to get chairs. We also got a light lunch and some drinks. The lunch was surprisingly cheap but drinks were a bit pricey. Either way, this is a great afternoon activity on a hot summer day! Check out The Standard Downtown - we also LOVED The Standard in Hollywood - lots of palm trees surround the pool :)

Hike to the Hollywood Sign
Everyone has grown up seeing the "Hollywood" sign in movies and TV shows and now if your chance to check it out in person. There are tons of hikes around this area and make have a great view of the sign. Unfortunately, the parking area closest to the sign is now closed due to neighbours complaining about the traffic. We did a hike that was about an hour and didn't get too close (as you can see in photo). If you have 2-3 hours, you can do a hike that gets right up close to it.

Visit Santa Monica Pier
A great place to stroll along, check out the mini amusement park, listen to buskers and enjoy the beach. A must do!

Relax at a Malibu Beach
If you want to escape the city and relax for the day, nothing is better than El Dorado Beach in Malibu. It is quiet, easy to get to and gorgeous. Remember to check the tide chart, because during high tide, the beach can get very small.

Check out The Last Bookstore
This bookstore in Downtown LA is something out of Harry Potter. It sits inside an old 2-story building and is filled to the brim with new and used books. Within minutes we each had a book and they were $5 each. Much less expensive than any other bookstore I have been to. Make sure to explore the upper level called the Labyrinth with over 100,000 books that are all $1 each! More details here. 
  1. Do a Free Trial at a Fancy Gym
  2. Hike Runyon Canyon at Sunset
  3. Be a tourist at Venice Beach
  4. Spend the Day at a Hollywood Pool
  5. Sunset at Venise or SM P
Or for a small amount:
  • Outdoor Movie in a Hollywood Cemetery 
  • Jay Leno Stand-Up

Monday, September 1, 2014

What to do with 2-4 weeks in Australia?

A summer day in Noosa
A few of my friends are planning trips to Australia in the next few years and have been asking me what to do and where to go. Here are a few of my "must-sees" and you can get more information about each place at http://www.queenslandholidays.com.au/

I will start and end the trip in Sydney to make it easier to get around. Add or remove days as you see fit. Email me if you have any more questions! I'm sure you will :)

  • Fly into Sydney - Usually this is the best place to fly into since it has so many flights everyday. You can also fly into Brisbane is you plan on skipping Sydney all together.
  • Chose your transport -  You can do the rental thing: Rent a car or a van and make your way up the east coast by yourself. Some vans come with camping gear and you can sleep in them and eat meals this way too. If you want the road trip experience, do this. Otherwise fly to places and take cabs and buses. 
  • Sydney (2-3 days) - There is lots to see and do in Sydney but you don't want to stay too long. I would spend your first day hanging out in town and exploring (you will be jet lagged!), check out the Opera House, The Rocks (cool area w good food), Bondi Beach, etc. On day 2, take the ferry to Manly Beach, spend the day checking out the beach and ocean side cafes. Time your ferry home with sunset. You will get an incredible view of the Sydney Opera House on the way back. Leave in the morning. 

  • Fly or Drive up the Coast (1 day) - Flight should be about $100 and drive would take about 15 hours. There are some great things to see along the way but won't make sense if you only have 2-3 weeks. (Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, etc)
  • Brisbane (1-2 days) - This is where I live! You can easily spend a week here but with everything else to see, you will want to keep moving... There are literally 100's of things to do here: Click here I would spend the day walking around town, check out South Bank (a man-made beach in the middle of town), check out some great restaurants and visit me! If you have more time, check out North Stradbroke Island or Moreton Island. 

  • Surfers Paradise (1-2 days) - If you are under 25 and love dance clubs, strip clubs and staying out all night, this place is for you! Kind of like Miami but in Australia. High rise apartments lining the beach and lots of great night life. If you don't care for this type of thing, skip the place all together. 
  • The Zoo (1 day) - You have a few choices for the zoo. You can go BIG. The Steve Irwin Australia Zoo is like Disneyland for Zoo's... big and touristy. Or go small. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is very small, quiet but still has what you need. Both have a place to pet kangaroos and you can hold koalas at both too. 

  • Noosa (2-3 days) - This is where Nathan is from and where we met back in '04. I lived here for 4 months back then and it was amazing. This is a great place to take a surf lesson and explore for a few days. Some of the best beaches and hikes in Australia are here. If it is good weather, you will never want to leave. Spend a day walking through the National Park, you will pass through about 5 beaches that are never packed and you will feel like you are in a postcard. (ask me how to find the secret beach) Have dinner along Noosa River and take in one of the best sunsets you will see! oh and have brunch on Hasting Street with an ocean view. 

  • Fraser Island (2-3 days) - Do a group camping trip for 3 days if you are up for an amazing, camping experience. You will have all your food provided and a guide to help you get around. If you are not into camping, stay at Kingfisher Resort and do a day trip around Island. But the camping is the best for sure. See the best lake in the world - Lake Mackenzie and some of the most beautiful spots only viewable in the 4 wheel drive vehicle you will have. Such an incredible experience. 

  • Cape Hillsborough (1 day) - This beach is close to the town of Mackay. It has the most amazing sunrises where kangaroos come out and play on the beach. I haven't been here yet but want to go check this out sooo bad!

  • Whitsunday Islands (2-3 days) - If you want an amazing experience, do the 3 day sailing trip around the islands. You will snorkel, sail, eat and sleep on the sailboat. You will visit the world famous Whitehaven Beach (best beach in world) which you can only get to by boat. If you aren't up for long sailing trip, do a 1 day sailing excursion to Whitehaven instead or stay on Hamilton Island Resort. 

  • Great Barrier Reef (2-3 days) - Head up to Cairns to snorkel or scuba dive on the great barrier reef. You can do amazing day trips out of Cairns to see some of the best reef in the world. 

  • Fly Back to Sydney (1 day)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Walking from Canada to Australia

In January, my boyfriend and I moved from Canada to Australia. I wanted to create something that would capture the difference in climate, the excitement of the move and some footage from our adventure. 

We started in my hometown of London, Canada and traveled all through Panama and ended up in his hometown of Noosa, Australia. I shot one second from each day on my iPhone and put this together. 

Let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tulip Festival in Agassiz, BC

Every year in Agassiz, BC, thousands of tulips go on display for the public to see. These festivals happen all over the world and are absolutely breathtaking to see. I first saw photos on Instagram and did some research that led me to Agassiz. It was only about an hour from Vancouver so made for a good day trip.

Facts on the Agassiz Tulips of the Valley Festival:

  • This will be the 9th year of the festival
  • There are 14 hectares of tulip fields
  • There are over 20 different varieties of tulips on the fields
  • Up to 3,000 visitors can come on a busy day
  • Tulips can be purchased on site as well as local crafts and a farmers market
  • The 2014 festival might be over May 1st, try to get there this week! :)

Tips for going to the Tulip Festival:

  • Research - The tulips are only in full bloom for 1-3 weeks so do your research before making plans. The Agassiz Festival posts all info on their Facebook Page 
  • Check the weather - Photos won't be as good if you get rain or overcast skies... make sure to check before you go
  • Battery and Memory - Ensure you have plenty of battery power and memory for your cameras and phones before going. It's waaaay too beautiful to miss out. 
  • Bring cash - parking is $5, entry is $3 and there are great local products to buy to support the farm
  • Avoid the Crowds - Go early. Check what time it opens and aims to get there then. The worst thing would be to wait in line all day in your car. I heard they even had to turn people away last weekend because too many showed up at the same time.
  • Have fun! :)

 For my FULL Flickr Album click here.  (a sample of photos below)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

12 Things You Must Do In Bali

In 2011, I went to Bali for two weeks and absolutely loved it. The people are amazing, the beaches are beautiful, the food is delicious and it's all super cheap. Here are some tips for the things we loved. All the photos are mine unless noted underneath. For the full photo album from Bali, click here. 

Tanah Lot Temple at Sunset 

A gorgeous temple that is located in the ocean, close enough so you can walk there when the tide is low. When tide is high, it is surrounded by water. We visited at sunset and it was just beaitiful. There are quite a few tourist shops around so you can buy snacks, drinks, etc. More info: Tanah Lot Wiki Site

Monkey Forest
You can find Monkey Forest in Ubud. This area of Bali is far from any beaches and home to lush forests and rice fields. It is a spiritual place and was where she stayed in "Eat, Pray, Love". Monkey Forest is free to visit and you can walk around see tons of monkeys. Just be careful, they do like to grab things! More info: Monkey Forest Website

Seafood Dinner on the Beach in Jimbaran Bay
There are tons of restaurants located along the sand that are set up for dinner at sunset. You will be so close to the ocean, that you will have the water sweeping over your feet at you eat. We did this twice and paid waaaay too much the first time. Then we learned the best spot was Menega Cafe which offered amazing seafood and was really cheap. You can actually see the seafood all lined up and pick what you want! Full seafood meal for 2 people (incl Lobster) was about $20 USD. Unreal. More info: Jimbaran Wiki Site

Photos from: http://biyo2011.wordpress.com/category/about-bali/
There are TONS of beaches for surfing in Bali and they offer everything from beginner waves to ridiculous pro surfing quality waves. You can either walk to the waves, rent a scooter for the day or hire a driver. All the options are very cheap.

Visit the Rice Fields

We actually tried to find these rice fields for an entire day. We probably should have stopped to ask someone.... but we didn't. We want to find something that looked like the photo on the front of our guide book for Bali (we are dorks!). We rented a scooter in Ubud and finally found them at the end of the day. There was even a local man there who charged $1 for photos with him... it was worth it. More info: Trip Advisor Rice Terraces

Echo Beach Sunday Night

Every Sunday at Echo Beach they have a live band and a seafood BBQ. This means you can walk up a huge layout of fresh-caught seafood and pick what you want them to grill for you. Then you get to devour this fresh seafood with amazing cocktails (try the ) and listen to a great band as the sunsets. Not much is better than that. More info: Echo Beach Website 

Rent a Scooter
We were VERY apprehensive to do this at first because of the craziness of the Bali streets. It is very scary. But after a few days we decided it would be the best bet to get around. They change less than $5 USD/day for the rental. Just remember to always get a good helmet and be VERY careful.

Rock Bar at Sunset

I celebrated my birthday in Bali and we decided to try out The Rock Bar for birthday drinks and apps. It is situated on the edge of a cliff with ocean views all around it. The only thing to remember for this place is that it isn't cheap. The drinks and food is pricey but definitely worth it to splurge on this one. Call ahead to see if you can reserve a table and make sure to stay for an unbelievable sunset. More info: Rock Bar Website

Try the Local Cuisine 
I absolutely LOVED the food in Bali. Here are some of my favourites: Nasi Goreng (pictured above) - Fried Rice topped with an egg, Chicken Satay - marinated chicken on a stick with peanut sauce, TONS of fresh seafood, pancakes - more like crepes with bananas or mangos, Fruit drinks - fresh fruit mixed with ice and some sugar (my favs were watermelon and pineapple) and of course fresh coconuts with a straw!

Temple at Uluwatu 
This temple is located on the edge of a cliff and offers amazing views. You have to wear a traditional sarong when entering the temple, so it's a bit more traditional than some of the other tourists spots. Watch out for the monkey's here! They like to steal your cold drinks and cameras if you aren't careful. Close by you will find Padang-Padang Beach which is gorgeous white sand and clear water, a must do as well! More info: Trip Advisor Uluwatu

Get A Beach Massage
I am a sucker for a good massage. In Bali they are unbelievably cheap. In town, you can get a full hour massage for $5 USD. We did that a few times! Also, on the beach, they come right up to your beach chair and offer you massages. (you don't even need to move!) These ones run about $5 for 20 minutes but you can always barter with them. Oh man, I miss this SO much :)

Drinks at Ku De Ta
Photos from http://indonesia.travel/forum/
One of my biggest regrets is that we didn't get to check out this beach front restaurant. We were headed there one night but were too tired and didn't make it. We will definitely have to check it out next time we are in Bali! More info: Ku De Ta Website