Category Archives: Personal Blog

In Barcelona: The Sagrada Familia with Kids

Crowds wait at the back of the church
Crowds wait at the back of the Sagrada Familia, at the groups entrance.
older Sagrada familia set against lighter modern construction
The Sagrada Familia has been under construction for well over one hundred years, and it's easy to see how construction practices have changed in that time. Here you can see the older, concrete construction set against newer and ongoing work. The museum underneath the church is free with entrance and can give a fascinating perspective on the construction.

Traveling with kids is definitely different to traveling without them. Of course that’s not news. And I’ve traveled with kids before, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I supposed I haven’t traveled to places where I want to behave like a tourist before – sightseeing.

Today we went to the Sagrada Familia, which was amazing. This is a church designed by Gaudi, which has been under construction since 1882, with completion expected around 2020. Some people come back to Barcelona every few years to see how it’s progressing. I think we took about 100 photos.

Even at 10 in the morning the line to buy tickets to enter the church was around the block, but there were far fewer tour groups waiting than when we visited two days ago and decided not to go in, an hour or two later in the day. But, the line moved quickly, and once inside it didn’t feel particularly crowded, if also not particularly reverential.

Tickets cost us €12 each and the kids were free, all being under 10. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go up in the lift into the spires, because a) under 6 year olds can’t go up, so someone would have had to stay down with Mikaela and Eliane, and b) the next time we could go was 1&1/2 hours away – tickets were sold out until then.

A spiral staircase
If you go up to the top of the spires in the lift, you have the choice of coming back down the lift or walking down the spiral staircase.

An hour and a half seemed too long to wait, and we were not wrong in our assessment – the two younger kids were over it long before that, especially Eliane, who woke up tired and grumpy today, after a short nap yesterday and an unsettled night. There really wasn’t a lot in the church for them to do – when you’re 1 or even 5, it’s pretty much a case of seen one amazing glass window, seen ’em all.

Liam had his own camera and so enjoyed taking photos himself, while Chris and I took turns with child supervision and church appreciation. That was okay, but we simply weren’t at leisure to read the various plaques or spend any time in the museum (underneath) and so on. We walked through the museum, but only to find the toilets!

While the Sagrada Familia was well worth the visit, for Liam as well as us grown ups, I would love to go back without the kids (or without young kids at the very least) to be able to really appreciate the church in all it’s glory. After the money and energy that has been poured into this church, which was Gaudi’s last and some say greatest work, I imagine it will always be a tourist attraction. But I would like to think that there will be facility for it to be used as it was, I’m sure, intended, not only to hold services, but for the devout (or even not so devout) to sit in mediation or prayer in what should be an amazing atmosphere – if ever there is a time when it is not crawling with sightseers and their cameras.

Speaking for which, here are just a few of the photos we took:

Angels around stained glass window on the outside of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
Detail on the outside of the church

 

Looking up in the Centre of the Church

 

Stained glass windows in brilliant colour
Just some of the many brilliant stained glass windows in the Sagrada Familia

 

Barcelona City from Montjuic with the Sagrada Familia in the middle
View of the Sagrada Familia with several cranes just visible, situated in the middle of the city of Barcelona, from about half way up the popular tourist spot, Montjuic.

 

 

Travel Notes – Day One, Flight Two.

Flying doesn’t give me quite the same buzz it did back when I took my first flight at 19 years old (from Adelaide to Timor via Darwin), but I do still get a kick out of it.

Of course it’s partly being on holidays, especially at the start of a trip like this – the flight is filled with so much to look forward to and is the culmination of months of anticipation, weeks of preparation, but is also the moment we can finally relax.

I wasn’t sure how it would go, this flying with (three) kids thing – and let’s be clear, this is only the second flight of four before we reach our first destination. But so far, so good.

Elli was a bit grumpy and hard to distract for a while there after the first little while in her seat. We boarded early to give us plenty of time to get the CARES and car seat installed, and deal with any more strife over using the CARES device (there wasn’t any), and there was a little delay on the runway, so by the time we made it into the air the kids had been strapped in for about an hour, and Elli was over it. (Lesson learned: don’t strap the baby into her seat until the plane is really ready to take off, and the fasten seat belts sign is on.)

But, I kept her more or less distracted until the dinner arrived, and then she was very happy for a while eating chicken and peas, chewing on some bread and butter, and eating not only her own tiramisu, but most of Liam’s and Mikaela’s!  After which Chris took her to change her nappy and get her into her pajamas, so that in theory she could nurse to sleep. In the end it took probably another half hour or more of play time – mostly on my lap, some on Chris’s, before she was ready to go to sleep, but once she did she’s been great. She’s woken a few times to change positions or nurse some more, but mostly she’s been settled.

So here I am in the middle of the night stuck between another passenger and her car seat with her on my lap, one arm trapped under her. So why am I having such a good time?

I think it’s that not only are we off on a big adventure, but also that this is enforced down time. I’ve just watched two and a half episodes of junk – but fun – TV, something I virtually never have time to do, and now I’m writing a blog post. Something else I struggle to find time for.

Admittedly I’d probably be having a better time if I’d had more than 3 hours sleep last night, and if I didn’t gave the consequent headache. Actually I’d possibly be asleep now – or at least dozing, if we didn’t have to get off the plane in Singapore in a bit under two hours. It is, after all, after 11pm, Canberra time. On the other hand it must be about 3pm Barcelona time, so if I *can* sleep on the next flight (more likely to happen early if the kids weren’t asleep now I’d guess) that’s probably quite good from a jet lag perspective. And that’s a 13 hour flight or there abouts, so it won’t matter if it takes a while for the kids to resettle – except in the sense that I will be utterly, utterly exhausted!

Hmm, they’ve turned the lights back up. Must be time for another ‘refreshment’ 🙂 – I do like the food on these international flights – Qantas ones, anyway. (Edited later to add – and yeah, sorry to say none of the other airlines’ food really matched up.)

Edited to add:

Thirty hours later, we’re on our forth and final (for this week) flight.

Everyone is exhausted, though all three kids got substantially more sleep than me or Chris. Tempers were slightly frayed getting through Heathrow and onto this flight, but overall we’ve all done remarkably well.

I’m the only one who seems to gave any significant ear trouble with take off and landing, which is good. (Edited again later to add that Liam did have some ear trouble, but intermittently, like me, and only one flight where it really truly bothered him a lot.)

I’ve had about three or four broken hours of dozing over the entire time, and with only three hours of sleep the night before we left, that makes maybe six hours in the past 60, with another 10 or so hours before I can go to bed in Barcelona!

Up, Up and Away!

We made it! We’re on the plane!

(I´m typing on my iPhone to upload later)

First flight, a dash 8 from Canberra to Sydney. Eliane was asleep, nursing before we started taxiing to the run way. Yay!

This is the first time the big kids have been on a plane, in their memory. They have both been very excited about it. I was a little concerned that Mikaela might be scared, especially with the bumpy start we always have getting out of Canberra. But no, she giggled a bit nervously, but was okay and interested in the view, and in going through the clouds.

It’s a small plane, two seats on either side. Since we have a seat booked for Elli (she can’t use it, as we can’t use the car seat on this plane, but it’s part of our round the world ticket), we’ve got the four seats on either side of the aisle, plus one behind. So the kids are sitting together, with Mikaela in the window and Chris across the aisle (no-one next to him), and I’m behind them with Elli on my lap (and no-one next to me).

The kids are enjoying being together though it might be easier if Chris were next to Mikaela.

Unfortunately they didn’t let us put the CARES harness on for Mikaela, and we didn’t get on early enough to feel we had time to argue, but I am convinced we should be allowed to use it (according to the Qantas website it is pre-approved for use, unlike car seats, which need to be approved a day or two before flying). I can´t see any reason being on a Dash 8 would matter for it, we had it on the seat fine before the flight attendant told us to take it off. I suspect it will be less likely to be a problem on the international flights, but I wish we´d printed out that page from the Qantas website. (Updated to add – there were no problems on the international Qantas or British Airways flights – other airlines still to come).

(Edited later to add – we did not have another flight where the CARES harness was questioned, including on the Dash 8 flight back from Sydney to Canberra)

Still To Do

  • Book accommodation in Athens
  • Pack
  • Finishing cleaning out bedroom for housesitters
  • Clean house for house sitters
  • Write out instructions re animals for housesitters
  • Pick up tickets from travel agent
  • Figure out what we do re frequent flyer etickets – do we need anything printed out?
  • Practice using the Kids Fly Safe/CARES contraption on a dining chair for (and with) mikaela, so we can install it quickly and easily in the plane.
  • Sort out how the car is getting home from the airport.
  • And what the cars are doing during our absence.
  • Email the person we’ve never met who’s offered to have us to stay in Manhatten, to confirm details.
  • Order SafeRider for Mikaela to be sent to his house, to use in cars in the states.
  • Sign up for last pass or something similar and figure out how it works.
  • Get travel ($$) cards
  • Get Liam (and Mikaela?) a travel journal
  • Figure out what to do about phones/sims
  • Print out itinerary & photocopy passports and travel insurance to leave with people here.
  • Deal with frickin family lice infestation, once and for all!!
  • Sinc iPod.
  • Do taxes!
  • Figure out how we are going to carry passports and travel docs with us
  • Print put paraphernalia re CARES & Elli’s carseat, Inc airline/FTA regs re using them.
  • Get some sleep!
  • Did I mention, Clean House?

Finding the right travel journal for kids

We’ve spoken to Liam’s teacher about whether she wanted to give us some work for him to do while we’re away, since he’ll be missing 6 weeks of school, and her response was to suggest he keeps a travel journal of what we do, or his impressions, each day while we’re away.

When I was about 8 my Dad and his girlfriend took me and her daughter (who was my best friend) to the snow for a few days, and they bought us each a drawing book and a notepad and we were supposed to write/draw in them each day. Even though I have kept a journal since I was about 9, I still remember how stressful I found that process, partially because I couldn’t draw to save my life, and partially I assumed that whatever I did would be compared to my friend’s efforts and found lacking. That shouldn’t be seen as a reflection on my Dad or her Mum, but only on my own insecurities.

Anyway, I don’t want Liam to have an experience like that. However, I do want to get him something he can draw as well as write in – because unlike me, he loves to draw. And, I’m considering whether to get something for Mikaela as well, but of course she can’t write yet, so I’m not sure if it’s worth it. I’m thinking she could stick things in it, like ticket stubs or postcards.

I’ve looked for kid’s travel journals on Amazon and Fishpond, but with limited success. I’ve also been down to the local newsagency and found a bunch of travel diaries (most of them not specifically aimed at kids though), most of which I thought were overpriced, and not that useful.  Here is what I have found so far:

Travel Journal in pale blueThere is The Children’s Travel Journal on Amazon, with lots of prompts and things to fill in (which I would have loved as a child), but it doesn’t have many blank pages, much less one per page per day as a general daily journal, which is what I am looking for. It does have sections like “planning” and “packing list” for filling out before the trip, and then pages for “first impressions”, “the route”, “what we did”, “the language” and so on, which could be a good way of structuring a journal, particularly for a child who maybe isn’t sure what to write. But it doesn’t have any daily pages, and it assumes you have one destination, not several as we do. At the moment this is $14.9616.16 (2019 price) on Amazon.

Kid's Trip Diary by Loris and Marlin BreeThen there’s the Kid’s Trip Diary, which looks like fun, and again, I’m sure I would have loved this as a kid, but it only has pages for 28 days. It does have a lot of list type pages to fill out before you go, which could be fun for a child for whom the wait for the trip seems interminable. It has a ‘special note to parents’ at the front with a checklist of things to take with you. It’s all good information, but seems to assume that your child will not read those pages (mine would!). At the moment this is US$6.95 on Amazon. You can also purchase the Kid’s Trip Diary on Fishpond, currently for AU$7.7212.86 (updated 2019) with free shipping Australia wide, but that is more than 50% off, so I don’t know if that price will last.

In the newsagency I found:

kids travel journalThe Kids Travel Journal by Mudpuppy Press, which is also on Amazon. This one was closer to what I am personally looking for. It has less pages of lists to fill in, and more daily pages for your trip. It does have a world map to mark your route and stops, pages to fill in about your country of destination  (only one country though), a page to write about your journey and arrival, postcard address pages and so on. Then it has more than enough daily pages for our purposes – I stopped counting after 60. It also has a few pages for drawing, but not enough.

The main downside of this one is that the daily pages are very structured. Each one is divided into three sections with the headings: ‘What I did’, ‘What I saw’ and ‘What I ate’. I’d rather Liam had the opportunity to write whatever impressions he might have for the day, and maybe draw pictures some days or paste in ticket stubbs or other souvenirs. Price at the local shop was AU, $22.99, price on Amazon is US$8.50 $9.60 (2019).

It's not the destination, it's the journeyMy favourite option so far is the Fountain FOK Travel Journal.  This is not aimed at kids, so hopefully I am not just projecting my preferences onto Liam. It has I found this online for AU$11.95, but I’m pretty sure it was under $10 in the shop. It comes in three different covers with different famous landmarks. It has a personal information page at the front, followed by a checklist page, postcard address pages, itinerary pages and then stacks of lined blank pages with a plastic pocket in the back. The lined pages don’t have anything printed on them, so could be a page per day, or several pages per day, as necessary.

I know this is in someways more a grown-up style book than they others, but it also leaves a lot more room for creativity and for also using it for scrapbooking, which I think Liam will like.

What I would really have liked to find is a book similar to this, but with a kid’s style theme, and alternating lined and blank pages for writing and drawing. There’s still the possibility that I might just buy them each an A5 visual art diary for around $4 each from Big W, and let them have at it. I will ask Liam whether he’d preferred lined or blank pages and go from there I think.

Getting passport photos for the kids

Back when we got Liam’s first passport, when he was about 18 months old, there were still lots of those little photography shops around, where you went to get your film developed. Camera films, remember those? Anyway, that’s also where you’d go to get your passport photo taken, and the staff pretty well knew what they were doing.

Getting a passport photo for a baby or toddler is tricky (at least in Australia – I have no idea what it’s like anywhere else), because they are supposed to be:

  • Looking at the camera
  • Mouth closed
  • No hands in the photo (and no other part of the parent or anyone else in the photo)
  • Head not tilted

These days you get your passport photo done at the post office, by whichever postal worker happens to be available.

It wasn’t until after I’d paid for photos for all three kids that I discovered they don’t have a seat or even a stool that Eliane could sit or stand on. They were able to fetch a stool that lifted Mikaela up to the right height, but for Elli I had to crouch down, out of sight of the camera, and hold her up above me, with no part of me visible to the camera. Easier said than done, especially as I had to hold her there for quite a few minutes while they tried to get a shot where she was at least looking straight at the camera. They didn’t manage to get one where her mouth was closed, but hopefully that will be alright for a toddler. The postal worker seemed to think so, but then she was probably just happy to be done.

I don’t know how you’d go getting a real baby passport photo (ie for a baby not yet sitting up, or worse, able to hold their head up). I’m glad I don’t have to do that, anyway.

Flying with babies (and young children) – the car seat issue

So, we have not yet resolved the umbrella stroller issue (though I have had another recommendation of the Esprit Speed Sun Stroller, which certainly looks like a better stroller overall than the ones I was looking at yesterday, but over $100 – my theoretical limit – and also a bit bigger when folded), but tonight I am focusing on researching the car seat issue.

We have booked a seat for Eliane even though she is under two, because I just can’t see how it is possibly safe to carry her on our laps if it’s not safe for the rest of us to be unrestrained (although yes, I realise air travel is much safer than car travel), and also because for 32 hour trips, or even 8 hour trips, I think having her own seat is going to be a god send. I know we both felt it was well worth the money for Liam’s seat on long haul flights to and from the States when he was this age.

So, we will be taking a car seat for Eliane. The question is about Mikaela. She is still in a five point harness in the car, though she’s big enough to be in a booster by Australian standards (over 14kg) and she’s getting close to the top limit for the standard car seat which is 18kg. She’s not there yet though. So, do we take a car seat for her as well? I don’t think so, simply because transporting two car seats, a toddler, hand luggage for the lot of us and a sleepy Mikaela and Liam between flights just might be pushing things too far.

For instance, we have one transfer where we have to get off the plane in Singapore after flying for something like 8 hours, it will be about 12:30am our time, and we’ll have 1½ hours between arrival and departure (so presumably significantly less than that actually off the plane) , and will have to go through security again (though I really don’t know why – we’re getting back on the same plane, for heaven’s sake, but have to take everything off with us. Grrr.). Then there’ll be another time when we’ll have 45 minutes between arrival and departure (it was an hour when we booked) and need to get from one plane to another. I’m thinking we’ll have Liam pushing the pram with the Eliane in it, me pushing a trolly with bags and car seat, and Chris carrying Mikaela, just to get there quickly enough.

So, no car seat for Mikaela. So I’m thinking maybe we should invest in a CARES harness, but according to this site, British Airways (who we will be travelling with for some flights) approves the harness for 12 months to 4 years. Mikaela is five but she is more than 2 kg under the weight limit, so what the? I’ll have to double check if that is up to date info. In the meantime I’ve found this awesome site: flying with children written by an ex-flight attendant who has also travelled internationally a lot with her own children, and she says:

Just a reminder to never use car seats provided by a car rental company. I had a bad experience once and unfortunately, this is not rare. The car seats provided by rental companies are at best dirty, worn and incorrectly washed (i.e. soaked straps). At worst, they could be expired, missing parts and could have been involved in a recall. Your children’s safety is too important to take the risk of using one of these. Always bring your own or make other arrangements at your destination.

Huh. I’m really not sure what we’re going to be doing about transport on the ground in the various places we’ll be. It’s going to be tricky if we don’t hire cars, since the five of us can’t fit in many other people’s cars along with them. But we can’t afford to hire cars for eight weeks. However, this has reminded me that I’d been wondering if we should invest in a couple of those backless booster seats (this sort of thing) that don’t provide any head support or protection, but do at least position the seat-belt right – just so we have something we can fit into other people’s cars pretty easily. Liam is still small enough to use a booster seat, although he doesn’t legally have to any more in Australia and most of his peers don’t – and of course Mikaela is still in a car seat.

Wow, you just really don’t travel light with children, do you?!

Edited after the trip to add: The only place we had trouble using the CARES harness was on the way to Sydney on a Qantas Dash 8 plane. They told us it was ‘not approved’, and I didn’t argue because I foolishly hadn’t printed anything from the Qantas website (it is approved), and we were among the last getting on the flight for reasons beyond me. By the end of the trip we’d learned a good thing to do was to send Chris on first with the car seat and the big kids, so he could get the seat in and strap Mikaela in, then I’d get on last with Elli, so she wasn’t strapped into her seat for too long. Anyway, on no other flight did anyone question our use of the CARES harness for Mikaela.

Buying an umbrella stroller/travel stroller

Last time we went o/s we took our regular stroller with us. It was a relatively lightweight one, and I had bought it specifically for a trip to Melbourne when we were staying in an upstairs apartment – so it was much smaller and lighter than our original stroller. But it wasn’t a small umbrella stroller, and we frequently had to “check” it, and so didn’t have it for moving between connecting flights.

This time we want to buy a ‘proper’ umbrella stroller. The best umbrella stroller for travelling that there is, at a reasonable price (by which I mean under A$100 at most, since we really don’t need another stroller except for travel – though maybe we can resell it on eBay afterwards?).

Chris found a Zulu Zippi upright stroller on sale at Big W, but it doesn’t say on it how heavy it is, and to be honest, it doesn’t seem that much smaller than our normal stroller. Though, I have nothing to compare it to yet. I’ve been googling ‘travel stroller reviews’ and ‘umbrella stroller reviews’ but most of the results have just linked to Amazon or other US sites, which doesn’t help me in Australia. I did find a few  (4 star) reviews of the Zulu Zippy on the Big W website, which may just have to satisfy me, but the main thing I want to know is, can we take it on planes – will they let us take it right up to the door?

Anyway, here is my research so far:

Zulu Zippy:

  • weight: approx 4.5kg with packaging (this is from weighing it ourselves) (so about 10lb or slightly less)
  • rated to carry 17K
  • folds to approx 107x15cx20cm (again, measured ourselves, still in the packaging) (actually, this is a lot smaller than our existing stroller)
  • reviews found: 3 x 4stars
  • carry/transit bag: no
  • carry strap: no
  • sun shade: yes
  • five point harness: yes
  • bag/basket: no basket underneath, small bag on the back

Chicco Ct0.6 Capri Lightweight Stroller in TangarineChicco umbrella strollers

I keep reading references to the Chicco Ct0.6  or Ct0.5 (which I’m presuming is an earlier version), but so far I haven’t seen it for sale in Australia except on eBay (and that was the 0.5). From the description of the 0.5 model, it sounds heavier than the zippy, but probably more comfortable and useable too. So the question is, what are it’s dimensions when folded? The dimensions I found listed said 39″ folded height (which is signifcantly smaller than the Zippy), but it had a similar depth and a width of 19″, which seems unlikely!

Any suggestions or reviews in the comments would be welcome!

We’ve also had recommended

The Esprit Speed Sun Stroller (currently on sale at BabiesRUs for $129.99, down from $160); and the QuickSmart EasyFold Stroller, (also on sale for $129.99, down from $199.99). They are about 8kg & 7kg respectively, but I haven’t figured out what size they go down to yet. The QuickSmart folds down quite small, but wide, with it’s own carry bag, and rain cover and I’m wondering if we could even take it on as carry on luggage (edit: answer: No). It is only rated up to 15kg, which is fine for Elli (who is maybe 9kg I think), but just means it won’t last as long, and Mikaela won’t be able to sit in it. Then again, maybe we’ll just sell it after this trip…

Edited to add: we’re leaning towards the Esprit Speed Sun Stroller now. We tried out a friend’s very basic stroller with no basket underneath or pocket at the back and a very small and flimsy shade, and it drove me mad having no where to put stuff. Being out and about with kids – especially at this time of year – I use the stroller to carry beanies, spare jackets and the nappy bag as much as to carry Eliane! And then to the advice of the flyingwithchildren site is:

“People ask me which stroller I recommend for flying. I always say to bring the stroller you need for the entire trip, not specifically for the flight. Most airlines accept any stroller than folds and I’ve seen too many tiny babies slumped in rickety umbrella strollers in airports.”

So, now I’m trying to decide if we should really bother getting a new stroller at all, or just stick with the one we’ve got. On the one hand, it’s quite a bit heavier than any of the other options we’ve looked at, and while it is an ‘umbrella stroller’, it’s quite long, and we did have some airlines refuse to let us take it to the gate last time. Also, we’re thinking we might want a stroller Eliane can sleep comfortably in, since most of the time we won’t have a car we can all fit in, so might be walking a lot. And we won’t have a nice quiet room for her to nap in either, so walking and stroller napping might be a good solution. Then again, she’s barely ever napped in a pram or stroller, and not for months and months, so who knows if that will even work? Still, she does nap in the car quite often now, so there’s a good chance I think, if we have a comfy enough stroller with a bit of a recline.

The Esprit is quite well padded, goes from upright to full reclined, which also makes it an option for nappy changes. It has a large sun shade and has good reviews.

On the other hand, we already have this stroller, so in terms of our own resources, and the earth’s, can we really justify buying another one? Yes, this one is getting old and ratty, but then, that will work in our favour when we don’t worry too much how they mishandle it on the plane! And, how much of a big deal is it if they insist on checking the stroller all the way through? Well, we’ve got the ergo baby carrier, and if there’s plenty of time and it’s not too hectic, Elli can always walk some. So maybe it’s not a big deal. No matter what stroller we take we’ll need to be prepared for that possibility and make sure any carry on stuff we have, from jackets to kids’ books, can be carried without assistance of a pram.

So the advice to take a stroller that will suit for the rest of the trip, and not just focus on airports is good.

So, points in favour of Esprit compared to our existing stroller:

  • smaller
  • lighter
  • may be more comfortable (definitely more padded and can lie back)
  • bigger sun shade
  • lots of good reviews
  • probably steers better

In favour of just taking our old one:

  • doesn’t cost us anything
  • doesn’t cost the earth anything (slightly more fuel if for the plane, but it doesn’t weigh that much more)
  • did I mention, doesn’t cost us anything?

We’re going to look at the Esprit at BabysRUs today, to make a decision before the sale ends…

Edited again with the decision: We’re sticking with the stroller we have.

We looked at the Esprit and felt that although it is slightly lighter, and significantly shorter when folded (though nothing like the Zippy Zulu) it has

a toddler in a red Esprit stroller
This is Eliane trying out the Esprit stroller. I think you can see from this photo the way she seems to be just sitting on the seat right out form the back, with virtually no side protection or support.
  • a fairly flimsy sun shade attachment  – this seemed almost universal in the umbrella strollers we looked at today, so perhaps it’s not as bad as they seemed, but with the stroller we have now the sun shade is flat, and strong enough that I can put a shopping basket on it. I also routinely drap jackets over the top. I don’t think these fancier strollers would stand up to that treatment (certainly not the shopping basket!)
  • a slightly fiddly buckle – this would certainly not be a deal breaker on it’s own, but when I tried to do up the buckle with a slightly wriggly Eliane in it, one of the shoulder strap pieces slipped off and I couldn’t easily reattach it (probably just takes practice) and then I had a hard time getting one side of the buckle to undo.
  • very shallow side supports/shade – it felt like Elli was just sitting on a seat with a back but almost no sides, when the seat was all the way upright, which at this age would be virtually all the time. Also, while the back was nicely padded (much more so than some of the other ones), the sides aren’t at all. When the seat is fully reclining the sides would support a baby who fell asleep, but with it upright or semi upright, it seemed like as soon as Eliane fell asleep her head would loll to the side and find no support at all. In fact, if anything the padded back almost seemed convex. This was the deal breaker for us. I just couldn’t imagine her sleeping, or even resting, comfortably in this stroller.

To Do List

  • Travel insurance! Must email our travel agent, Emma, for a quote, but from quick perusal of the brochure she gave us, NRMA looks better.
  • Buy an umbrella stroller – last time we didn’t know what an umbrella stroller was, and the stroller we took was big enough it had to be “checked luggage” for a number of our flights, especially on smaller planes. We definitely want to have that stroller with us for the in between flight bits, where we have to get a toddler, two older kids, hand luggage for the lot of us, plus Elli’s car seat (which we will be using for most flights) from one plane to another, sometimes with a couple of hours to fill in. And we’ll be wanting to take a sling to carry Eliane in, cause that stroller is going to be full!
  • Return stroller to friend’s who lent us one that they have used as travel stroller but that we’ve decided is too big.
  • Buy a second suitcase. We have one good suitcase, which was fine with just the three of us last time, but with the five of us? I don’t think so!
  • Consider whether we have appropriate bags for our carry-on luggage.
  • Oh, get passports for everyone (except me, I had to renew mine last time). Getting a baby passport photo done is always fun! (not.)
  • Declutter/tidy house for the house sitters!
  • Organise to use that house cleaning voucher I bought a while ago, before it runs out at the end of August!
  • Decide whether to let the housesitters manage the chooks or ‘board’ them with a friend.
  • Book accommodation for the night we are spending in Athens (part of a night anyway – our flight out is about 5am, and it’s an international flight, so I’m guessing we need to be at the airport by around 3am. Fun!).
  • Write packing list.
  • Buy gifts for people we’ll be staying with.
  • Ask friend’s who own the house on Karpathos whether there’s anything they’d like us to take over for them. Get a housewarming present for their house (which is new) (I’m thinking some kids books to leave there – and maybe some grownup ‘holiday reading’? After all, what’s a beach house without an Agatha Christie novel?)
  • Pick up the tickets from the travel agent.
  • Check with the travel agent about that flight that keeps getting moved up and back by five minutes – should we be worried about the connecting flight yet?  There’s now only 45 minutes between them.
  • Get approval for Eliane’s car seat from qantas and find out whether or not we’ll have to take it off the plane in Singapore.

Hello and Welcome!

So. Welcome to my new blog: narrating kayoz goes travelling (with three kids!). We went overseas once before with Liam, when he was nearly two, and of course we’ve been on the odd road trip with Liam & Mikaela, but this will be the first trip of more than about a two hour drive with all three children.

So where are we going? Well, primarily back to the States. Chris has a lot of family over there, my brother and his wife and their new baby are there, and my best friend is there (with partner and children). So that’s always going to be a regular destination for us – at least in the sense they you can call something regular that you do at most once or twice a decade!

But, this time we are going via Europe. We’ll be spending a week in Barcelona (and maybe catching up with a friend from Lyon, in France, if she can make it down), and then another week on a Greek Island (Karpathos) in a house owned by some friends who have family over there. It’s not enough time, but we’ll have to make do. Then we have a little over a week in New York City/New Jersey/Pennsylvania (in the Pocono mountains), and then a few weeks in California/Oregon. The timing works out the way it does in large part because some of the our flights are using frequent flyer points (saved for years on our credit card, not from actually flying!), so we had to travel when we could get the seats. On the other hand, I would have preferred to have more time in all those places, which we simply couldn’t do anyway.

Are we a little excited? Hell yeah. Is the idea of an (almost) 8 week trip with several very long days on planes with three children, one still in nappies, a little daunting? Uh – yeah! Especially with the first ‘day’ of travel totalling more than 30 hours, taking us from Canberra, Australia to Barcelona, Spain. But it will all be part of the adventure.

Both Liam and Mikaela are really looking forward to visiting Greece, partly as a result of me passing on my interest in Greek mythology. I hope spending a week in a sleepy little Greek village on Karpathos won’t end up disappointing them, but I think everything will be sufficiently different to be interesting even for a five year old. Plus, there are beaches! Actually, I’m probably looking forward to Greece even more than they are, as I’ve never been there either. One week is far too little time of course, but I’ll take what I can get! I’ve never been to Spain either, nor NYC, so lots of firsts actually.

However we’re not actually on the eve of departure yet, and we’ve got lots to do before we get there, beginning with organising passports for all three kids!

So, next on the agenda: write a To Do list.

Edited to add: all those other posts showing on the front page? Under the category ‘Destination’? They’re just pretty pictures at the moment. But in a matter of months, I will be in those cities, taking pictures of my own 🙂