Returning to Australia with children in tow

The coronavirus has sent shockwaves through the world, causing us all to re-evaluate all kinds of things in our lives. This has especially been the case for expats. I was surprised to learn that around 336,000 expats had to drop everything and return to Australia because of the virus. Many families did so within days because if they did not they would have run the risk of being stranded in a foreign country, without work. To get home and resettled they had to overcome the following challenges.

Finding transport to get home

For many, even finding transport to get them back was a struggle. Most governments told their citizens to return quickly but did not provide many, if any, repatriation flights. So, if you do live abroad you need enough funds in the bank to get everyone back to Australia. When disaster strikes prices soar, so it is wise to put aside at least triple what you think you need. If that is not possible, get yourself a credit card that you only use in case of this kind of dire emergency.

Financing your return

In fact, having a financial plan in place for your return to your home country is a good idea regardless. Knowing how to send money from UK to Australia, or between other countries, at the best rates can potentially save you a lot of money. 

It means that as soon as disaster strikes you can immediately move cash back to Australia, before the Australian dollar crashes and starts to lose its value. Some expats that did not quickly transfer funds lost 5 to 15% as a result of currency fluctuations.

Helping your children to adjust

Being suddenly ripped from their home is going to be a traumatic experience for your child. They are leaving everything that is familiar to them. Including their friends and school. It is a huge change and one that you may not have had time to prepare them for. Use the information you can find in this excellent article to make it easier for them to cope with the situation.

Try not to worry

Of course, you are also going to find having to suddenly move countries to be traumatic. It is a worrying time. There is a huge amount to sort out and the decisions you will be making, often under time pressure, are going to affect your lives over the long-term. That is going to be stressful. So, be careful to look after yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you do not, you can easily fall ill, which would make a bad situation much worse.

Hopefully, none of you will ever have the experience of suddenly having to move countries unexpectedly. But if you do, I hope this article will prove to be helpful.

Tips for travel with kids because life shouldn’t stop

samantha feuss

People often believe that once you have kids your life suddenly stops. Well, at least the fun and wild part of it. How many times have you heard that you should travel as much as you can because when you have children you won’t be able to go anywhere? As a parent you probably know that this has nothing to do with reality. Okay, traveling with little ones is a little bit more complicated than traveling solo or with friends, but it is far from impossible. In fact, with these tips and tricks you will be able to have an enjoyable vacation without unnecessary unpleasantries. 

Plan your trip carefully

Maybe you really want to see those old churches of Europe or visit museums with incredible pieces of art, but save that for another time when your kids are older (or grandma volunteers to babysit for a couple of days). This type of sightseeing can be too tiring and too boring for little ones so instead try something else. While theme parks are always a good idea, you don’t have to spend the next decade in Disneyland. Kids love to play, explore, touch, see and experience new things so any activity that involves nature and animals will keep your children happy and entertained. However, if they will be spending a lot of time outside make sure you protect your kids from the damaging sun rays.

Travel light

When you picture traveling with kids it is likely that an image of several suitcases, bags and a full trunk of toys pops into your head, but if you want to turn your trip into a dream vacation and not a living nightmare, pack only what you really need. This way you won’t have a lot of stuff to carry and you will find everything you need more easily. Keep in mind that you will be able to wash your clothes wherever you go, so you really don’t have to pack your whole closet. After giving this a try you will realize how little you actually need on your trips.

Fight the jet lag with activities

Jet lag is the arch-enemy of most parents. When your little ones should be sleeping they are hanging from the chandelier full of energy and anxious to do something fun in a foreign land. However, there is an easy way to deal with jet lag. Since you will most likely stay up late the first night, take your kids out and stay active the whole time. There are so many fun outdoor activities for children you can try out at a playground or a park, you can explore the city and check out some of the attractions. Keep in mind that your little ones might get hungry in the middle of the night, so by making a stop by the local store you can avoid nerve-wracking tantrums. 

Stick to the same routines

Do you read your kids before bedtime? Or maybe they always get a bath before going to sleep? Do your little ones always take a nap around noon? The younger your children are, the more important the routine is for them. Therefore, try to keep the same habits you have at home and you won’t have to deal with cranky monsters.

Forget about souvenirs

If you have ever taken your kids grocery shopping, you surely know that they always find something they want to take home. The same thing will happen with souvenirs, but you need to resist the temptation (and avoid their puppy-eye looks) because once you cave and buy them something, they will keep asking for something else until you return home. In addition, souvenirs will keep them entertained for just a couple of minutes, and after that they will break, get lost or worse, just take up space in your baggage. Therefore, save money and spend it on something else, like ice cream. 

Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be stressful or exhausting. With just several clever strategies you can have a memorable trip with your loved ones. 

How to Ensure an Excellent Beach Trip

A beach getaway is a must for the summer months, but remember the last time you went? You likely forgot something, or maybe the trip there wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. From having the latest modern navigation devices to buying sunscreen beforehand (to avoid the high costs at local shops) a little planning can go a long way.

It’s tough because going to the beach makes you think of being carefree—but in reality, a beach trip demands at least one responsible member in the party. Here are the best ways to make your trip to the waters more enjoyable:

  1. Know where you’re going. Research not only the city but the actual beach before going there. What’s the weather forecast? Is the perfect beach for you open to the public right now, and is there parking? Does it fill up quickly? Is it in a historic town that only accepts change in their meters? Since you can get a full idea of what to expect with a little research, avoid any negative surprises. You might even stumble across a beach that’s better suited to what you have in mind. At the same time, make sure you have a navigation device that’s updated and works for you.
  2. Pack the essentials. Make sure you have plenty of unexpired sunscreen with at least an SPF of 20 and reapply it every two hours. For adults, you might want to make sure you have a sunscreen designed specifically for the face (otherwise you risk breakouts). Sunscreen does expire, and when it does that means it’s not as potent. It can be expensive, so shop your local discount store and make sure you have plenty available for everyone. You’ll also want to have plenty of beach towels, dress in layers, and a change of clothes. Stow some water shoes in the trunk, along with any props like boogie boards that you’ll need.
  3. Plan your dining destinations and/or pack a meal. Maybe part of your beach getaway is sampling the catch of the day at a favorite restaurant. Research dining options near your beach, or if you’d prefer to truly dine al fresco pack a picnic and save money. Whatever you do, don’t depend on hoping for the best and getting stuck with a subpar or expensive dining experience. For many people, a picnic on the beach is a hallmark of summer (and food always tastes better with that salty air).
  4. Have a means of protecting your phone. Smartphone and sand don’t mix. Either leave them in your car or come prepared with a waterproof and sand proof carrier. For many beachgoers, getting a simple magnetic key hider to tuck under their car keeps them from worrying about keys, wallets, and phones getting lost or stolen on the beach. Who wants to be stuck on their towel to guard the goods while everyone else enjoys the waves?
  5. Follow the beach directions. It should be obvious, but if there are warnings about diving, undercurrents, or anything else, pay attention. Every year there are injuries and casualties at the beach that could be avoided with a little common sense. Avoid drinking if you plan to be in or near the water, and save those indulgences for dinner afterward. Too often a fun day at the beach can turn disastrous because of carelessness.
  6. Choose a beach with an outdoor shower. Nothing is worse than a long trip back home covered in sand. With so many options available, make sure you choose a beach where you can spray off the sand before getting back in the car.

A beach trip can be an absolute blast with a little prep work. From researching the area before you go to making sure you pack everything you need, it doesn’t take much to optimize your sandy outing. For the best experience, try to arrive early and beat the crowds. Enjoy a beach to yourself and a gorgeous sunrise—it’ll easily be the peak of your summer.

Jolly Breeze- Whale Watching on the Bay of Fundy

Disclosure- this was part of a media trip.  All opinions are my own and honest. For more information, please see “I Disclose”.

Please read the whole article on This Girl Travels!

whale watching in the bay of fundySometimes you find a special place.  One of those places that not only makes you slow down and really appreciate where you are, your surroundings, and the people you are with, but that will also truly make memories that will last the rest of your life.  The kind of place you frequently find yourself saying “do you remember that time when…..”   One of those places is Canada’s beautiful Bay of Fundy.

The Bay of Fundy has the highest tidal range in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. Burntcoat Head, Nova Scotia has the highest tides in the world, with rises that swell more then 50 feet in some places during high tide.  There is diverse and flourishing sea life in the Bay of Fundy, as well as (as would be expected) a large fishing and lobstering community.

Should you find yourself near the Bay of Fundy (or should you desire to find yourself there), some experiences are not to be missed.  First, bring your appetite, as the seafood fresh and delectable.  If you are so inclined, you can catch your dinner yourself- there are fishing excursions available, or you can rent (or bring your own) kayaks or canoes.  With water, water, everywhere, watersports are plentiful and easy to come by- in many places, you will see signs for fishing and aquaculture wherever you look.

low tide bay of fundyIt is an amazing thing to walk on the ocean floor when the water has receded away.  You can do this yourself, or under the eye and guidance of a tour group or guide.  For me, this was the only option, as I was not familiar with either the area or the tides, and didn’t want to find myself (or my young son) washed away with the next one.  Another perk to being with a tour guide is that they can point out all sorts of fun things that I would not have noticed or been able to identify on the ocean floor- different types of seaweed, crabs, and shellfish.  We took a great tour called “Plankton, Periwinkles, and Predators” that we booked through our hotel in Nova Scotia, the Digby Pines (  The hotel was beautiful, with tons to do for families both on the grounds and nearby, and the rooms were clean with various sizes available, including cottages for rent.  You can also book the tour independently however, via Led by a father/daughter duo, you and your family will explore the area from the very top (where no water reaches) down to the very bottom, where water has only recently drained. It gets a bit soggy, so bring your puddle-jumpers and pants you don’t mind getting dirty in.
[Read more…]

Tips for Traveling with Young Children

Perhaps those who find it most difficult to take vacations and travel in general are parents of young children. These people face a variety of challenges, such as dealing with naptimes while traveling, bringing mountains of baby supplies, checking additional luggage and entertaining their children in small, confined spaces. Thankfully, there are several helpful tips that can make travel easier for these harried adults who are in desperate need of a little downtime.

travel with kids

travel with kids

One of the most important things that parents can do is be organized. Parents should consider the length of the drive or the time of the flight before committing to a set of travel plans. In general, it is easier for very young children to fly rather than drive because they will not be confined for such long periods. Most domestic flights are five hours or less, and airline passengers can unbuckle their seatbelts and move about the cabin for short times. Layovers also provide time for children to burn off energy and to get a snack and use the bathroom. Parents should plan ahead by making lists of things to pack and by being sure to bring extra clothes, diapers and snacks.

Parents should find simple, inexpensive ways to keep their children entertained. If they have the money and the space, they could consider purchasing simple, inexpensive gifts to give their children for each day of travel. For example, recommends coloring books and crayons, a small car, a new book or an electronic game. These gifts will provide children with something to look forward to and will provide hours of fun each day. Parents can also come up with fun travel games, such as I Spy.

Traveling by air can bring its own set of problems. Babies and toddlers may really struggle with the change in air pressure. Parents can try to give infants a bottle or toddlers a sippy cup to drink from during takeoffs and landings. Children may also want their favorite stuffed animals or blankets if they are not used to flying because they may be scared. Parents should consider loading a few movies onto their tablets that can be watched in-flight.
[Read more…]

What To Do In San Francisco with Kids

When visiting the famous “City by the Bay”, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the variety of activities and dining options that you will be presented with.  Everything you see looks like fun, all the food smells amazing- so if you only have a few days or week, where are the best places to spend your time and money on your family vacation?

If you like to take a tour of the city you are visiting, let me suggest the Ride the Ducks Tour. This is a chain that can be found in several states, with San Fransisco being one of the newest places to tour on an amphibious WW II DUKW.  Yes, this is definitely “touristy”- and it’s also extremely family friendly, and a good way to see the sites of the city in a way that adults will enjoy and kids will love.  The DUK Captain (yes, your knowledgeable, often funny guide and driver is certified by the US Coast Guard, you are in good hands) knows the city inside and out, and will not only point out landmarks, but also fun spots you might like and good places to eat or shop.  They also let the kids have a turn driving the DUK while it’s in “boat mode” in the bay, which will thrill them.  Since they “guarantee” they are “cheaper then other” sites in San Francisco, you won’t spend as much to see and do what you’d like to.

04 04 14 106

You and your family will see the best of San Francisco from land and water. Get up close and personal with the iconic Bay Bridge, float by Alcatraz, see Fisherman’s Wharf, roll through Chinatown, wave at cafe patrons in North Beach (San Francisco’s answer to New York City’s “Little Italy”), as well as taking in great views of the city skyline.

04 04 14 110

To see as much as you can for as little as you are able spend, continue saving by purchasing a San Francisco CityPASS.  Available for $84, the pass gives you access to many of the most popular sites in the city, as well as 7-Day unlimited-use Cable Car and Muni transportation pass to help you get around.  If you don’t have a car, this is the best way to get from place to place.  If you have a car with you, be aware that most venues require payment for parking, and many of them are none too inexpensive.  You could rack up the price of the pass in a day or two very easily.

04 04 14 016

Another spot included in the CityPASS booklet is the famous California Academy of Sciences ,where you can climb into the treetops of a man-made rainforest to see life on literally all levels, see what it feels like to be in an earthquake, check out eggs that are bigger then your kids, view the bones that show the evolution from ape to human, and see a rare Albino Alligator (Claude, in case you’d like to get formal).

04 04 14 251

Also included in your pass is the Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure, which gives you a tour of the city via boat.  See the sights from the inside or outside of the boat, which ventures out several times a day.  This hour long tour is scenic and narrated (so that you know exactly what it is that you are seeing) and available in 9 languages via audio tour as well. The children will love being on a boat as they cruise past the Pier 39 sea lions, which are a must see for any visitor to the city.  You can also see them on land when you visit the pier later on (and make sure you take a spin on the merry go round).
[Read more…]

London with Kids on a Rainy Day: What to Do

You are in London with your kids, planning to visit the city in a balmy sunshine and then starts the outpour. What a huge turn-off it can be. You had planned to stroll down the famous parks of the city, taking lunch in some of the most famous restaurants of the city and hunted down London Zoo to delight the kids. However, now here you are sitting in your hotel room with your kids constantly nagging you and you waiting for the rain gods to shower some mercy. Sounds gloomy, doesn’t it?

Therefore, it is recommended you make a plan B to counter such unfriendly conditions. Here is the list of things which you can do with kids on a rainy day in London.

A Visit to London Museum

London is saturated with plenty of museums with most of them providing free access to visitors. As you have kids with you, the best museum to venture into would be The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum.

The Natural History Museum is one of the biggest museums in the city. Your kids will have the opportunity of meeting life-sized whales and a giant T-Rex. Highlights of this museum include Dinosaurs gallery, Mammals with an impressive model blue whale and the spectacular Central Hall, home to the Museum’s iconic Diplodocus skeleton. While you are at this museum, do not forget to pay a visit to Cocoon where you will have the opportunity of seeing alluring specimens of plants and animals.
[Read more…]

5 Kid-Friendly Destinations Around the World

It’s that time of the year again. The holiday season brings around a familiar setting and a yearning for togetherness. For some, family holiday vacations are a yearly tradition. Not only do parents and kids get to travel to new places, but they also learn how different cultures celebrate the holidays.

Of course, travel during the holiday season requires a lot of forethought. Not only do you have to purchase tickets (bus, plane, train) tickets ahead of time, but you have to agree with your family on your destination way beforehand in order to dodge the holiday season rush and price hikes. So, now’s the time to choose your destination, make it a good one.  If you’re running low on ideas, why not consider the following family-friendly destinations?

San Juan, Puerto Rico

One of the most popular U.S. territories and vacation destinations, San Juan, Puerto Rico, is definitely recommended for beach goers. If you and your family are looking to find a good place to have some fun in the sun, this island may just be what you’re looking for. Many cheap airlines are now adding this destination to their itineraries, and tickets are being offered at a bargain value, especially for those traveling with kids. San Juan is also rich with historical sites and is easy to get lost in it’s archaic beauty. It may even give you and your family the photo opp you’ve been looking for to use as the family Christmas card.

cancun with kids

Cancun, Mexico

Much like San Juan, Cancun has beaches for days. Popular for it’s buzzing tourist industry complemented by stretches of golden sands, Cancun has been gaining fame for being one of the best family-friendly tourist destinations in the world. Cancun is abundant in kid-friendly, beach themed attractions while still providing an attractive nightlife for parents; not to mention both airfare and accommodations fit well within budget.
[Read more…]