Travelling with kids; learning to adjust budgets.

We’ve just landed in London. A few hours later than expected – because we missed our flight this morning. No harm done, we were shifted to the next flight and we still arrived with plenty of time to spare. However with 4 flights in the past 7 days, I’ve learned that travel budgets have to change drastically when kids come along.

The obvious financial budget – compared to my backpacking days, I’m now paying 4 times the price for plane flights. When you’re travelling solo, you don’t mind the red eye flights, the ugly connections if it saves you $200. Times that by 4 with the family, and an $800 saving is very enticing. But a red eye flight with 2 kids is suddenly 4 times more painful. I took that option recently, finding an amazingly cheap flight. But doing a red eye with the kids – way too painful. Never again.

*NB Side note – the transfer from Sydney to Brisbane was so bad, we ended up just stumping up for a much earlier flight to make it home before midnight, so the cheap flight was null and void anyway.

FullSizeRenderThe budget I have really learned this week – is the time to get to the airport, through check in and to the gates budget. Single traveller, business trip, minimal luggage = online check in, carry on, through security, to the gate in 5 minutes. Time to either stay longer at home, or time to enjoy a meal and a beer before getting on the plane.

Travelling with kids, every section of the journey seems to take 400 times longer. First of all, we have to all get up, out of bed and downstairs. And I’ve discovered that can take at least half an hour. Of course, Jack always decides he’s hungry just as we’re about to leave. And he’s only hungry for something that takes time to make. Not a banana or an apple as we’re running out the door, but suddenly he wants an egg on toast.

Arriving at the airport and somehow everyone needs to use the bathroom, but never simultaneously. There can be a toilet stop before check in, another before security, another halfway to the gate, another in the line to board the plane. My male logical brain can’t comprehend it. How can you suddenly, desperately, urgently need to go to the toilet 5 minutes after your sister just suddenly, desperately, urgently ran to the toilet, which was 5 minutes after your mum suddenly, desperately, urgently ran to the toilet as soon as we got out of the Uber?

Security is a whole new fun ball game now too. There’s always something, somewhere that sets off an alarm. On Tuesday we flew home from Paris after visiting DisneyLand. Of course what did Jack want from DisneyLand? A light sabre. And it couldn’t possibly go in the suitcase. So we get to be the parents that walk through security with our son shooting people with his light sabre. (Of course I know you can’t shoot people with a light sabre, but HE doesn’t realise that).

Earlier in the year we were coming through Singapore and Jack had a toy gun which he’d bought from the markets in Thailand. So again, we get to be the parents that are walking through security while their son is screaming full pitch ‘I WANT MY GUN BACK’ after it had to be scanned. Thankfully, the Singaporean people are nice and relaxed and it was pretty funny in the end. In Paris, with the armed guards carrying M16s as big as small child – not quite as funny.

So as always, I’ve had to learn that patience is a true virtue. Being a parent requires almost super human patience in most areas of life. Patiently waiting for your son to decide exactly which flavour juice he wants from the shop despite the airline gate warning you that you’re about to miss your flight…. Patiently waiting for your wife to test every perfume in the duty free – even though she has no intention of buying them and she knows that our gate is closing…… Patiently waiting, patiently waiting.

From now on, I think I’ll have to only purchase afternoon flights, and tell everyone we have a morning flight. Maybe then, just maybe, we’ll make it from the bedroom, to the Uber, to the check in, to the gate on time. We can get to the airport, all our luggage makes it with us, and we enjoy a stress free trip. Cause isn’t travel meant to be a stress release?

Andrew

Rainy Scottish weather = childhood reminiscing.

After only just recovering from a 40hour transit with 2 young kids, I’ll be very open with my love of the iPad. I don’t think we could have survived the trip without them. iPads, battery power pods and USB chargers on flights. Honestly, how did we survive all those years ago? My first long haul flight I remember having to talk to the person next to me. Like a weirdo.

FullSizeRender-2But after a few weeks of false advertising and some actual warm weather, sure enough, the Scottish weather we all knew was coming is here. And it’s settled in for the Summer by the looks. Days and days of wind, rain and cold. Miserable weather that can only be solved by slippers and a fireplace.

But thanks to a ye olde time toy shoppe down the road, we’ve been able to solve the rainy weather blues with the kids, as well as re-living our childhood. The toy store has a stack of travel sized old school board games; Guess Who, Monopoly, Cluedo. Man if they had Battleships I’d never leave the house again.

The greatest thing, is that the iPads have gone away. The kids are loving getting around a mini board game again. ‘Colonel Mustard with the Rope in the Study’, accusations going everywhere, ‘Do you have Glasses?’, ‘No’, ‘Are you Eric?’ deductions. Outside of the inevitable argument over who gets to be the Dog on Monopoly, everyone is happy again.

We even ventured out the other day during a small break in the weather to a Ten Pin Bowling place of all places. I didn’t even know they still existed – and one’s just down the road from us. Granted, this place probably hasn’t had a hygiene check or technological upgrade since I was 7, but therein lay the charm. Watching Jack’s delight as he pushes ball after ball down the gutter (never mind we’re paying $2 per bowl or something) made up for any weather concerns.

At night time, Oce is in bed reading Enid Blyton to Jack under the covers, the muffled stories of meddling kids solving mysteries coming through to our bedroom. Angie and I drift slowly off while the kids stay up by the lamps glow lost in the adventures. Tangent – surely someone noticed these kids missing for days on end? Imagine if she wrote those books now – talk about irresponsible parents. Then again, those Dursley’s hardly cared too much about Harry’s whereabouts and no outspoken parents groups seemed to care. But I digress.

It’s been a wet week, a cold week, a miserable week. But it’s not like we came to Scotland to get a sun tan. If I wanted to hang around British people and get a suntan, I’d go to Ibiza. The important thing is that the kids have been happy. And the fact that Angie and I could do that whilst re-living our own childhood has been even better.

To your health.

Andrew

35 today, celebrating and reminiscing.

Today is my birthday. 35 years old today. A nice round number, but nothing to really celebrate. The memories behind my birthday today was the full circle life seemed to have taken. Exactly half my life ago, I took my first ever international flight, over to Scotland for a year travelling. 17.5 years later, I sat in a cafe with my family, enjoying a relaxed birthday lunch with the kids, watching my son literally demolish the food in front of him – enjoying the entertainment of creating a mess over the taste and satiety.

So many lessons were learned in this trip 17 years ago, and it’s been so much fun taking the kids around the beautiful country that is Scotland, reminiscing the old for me, and seeing the new excitement in their eyes.

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They say everyone has a book in them, perhaps this is the beginning of my first book. I say first book, because I have so many ideas flying around my head, I’m sure I could write a few, they’d just be short at the moment. Needing the time to pad them out into something that someone would actually want to read. Hopefully this can serve as a warm up to a new skill I never thought I would develop. In fact at school if I managed a pass in English class I was proud. A conceded pass was normally my modus operandi, with teachers turning a blind eye to my poor English skills on the back of my Maths and Science scores dragging me over the line.

So today I sat in that little cafe in a back street of Edinburgh, a handful of people walking past braced against the frigid winds of a country only a few sleeps away from ‘Summer’. I thought of the decisions that I made 17 years ago, the decisions I’ve made since, and how everything has ended up to bring us all to this point.

So many people are scared to make that big leap, scared to do something crazy in case they leave the pathway and never come back. But, as Henry David Thoreau says, ‘the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation’. Desperate to do something different but suffering in silence. The decisions that have allowed us to get here haven’t been easy at times, have been met with plenty of judgement and ridicule. But if we can inspire others to take the leap of faith and end up in a happy place at the end of it, then we’ve left the world in a better place.

The truth of course is that it’s never one major leap, it’s never 1 critical decision that changes everything. It’s the accumulation of small everyday decisions that seem so meaningless at the time, even irrelevant. But really, it’s a matter of building a different mindset in, that allows you to review those decisions from a different perspective and take a slightly different path. The results won’t appear overnight, but give it a month, a year, a decade – and people will be asking you how you did it.

There is a great book by Jeff Olsen called The Slight Edge, where he discusses these exact concepts. The slightly better decision every day. Having a handful of nuts rather than a snickers bar. Doing it once won’t really change your body – either way. Skipping the gym one morning won’t do any damage, nor will spending an extra 5 minutes there one day make any discernible gains. But multiply these small decisions over a year and imagine where you’ll be. The person who skipped the gym every morning, vs the person who got there every morning. The person who had a handful of nuts for afternoon tea vs the person who had a chocolate bar. The problem is, we never take into account the accumulation of our decisions. We tend to look at them as isolated incidents. Successful people develop the mindset that every decision matters, and they know that success takes time to develop. The growth curve at the start is slow to get off the ground, then at the end it’s exponentially fast.

Taking a leap is a great expression, but huge decisions are rarely followed through with the same gusto they were made. But turning small decisions into successful habits will take you places, take you amazing places; just might take a little bit of time. But one day, someone will tell you you’re lucky, and that’s when you know your hard work and discipline has paid off.

Andrew

Holidays are a great excuse to indulge, but not blow out.

I love to travel. I love to stay fit and healthy. And for so many, it’s essentially a dichotomy. You can have one, but not the other. For me, no two things go hand in hand more than exercise and travel, except maybe football and nachos.

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I’ve spent a lot of the past 15 years travelling. From a fresh faced teenager straight out of school, to a professional travelling with teams, to now a global speaker and business owner. Along the way, the one constant was always that exercise was the greatest way to meet locals.

With the proliferation of healthy lifestyle all over the world, you can’t walk far without finding a gym these days. Most hotels will have basic (and free) gyms, but there will easily be something bigger down the road. A lot will give you a free trial. Personally I love CrossFit, and a freebie for a drop in, or trading a t-shirt from my home box (gym) for a free session is common practice.

Once you’re there, you can meet so many locals, find out the must see places, learn of the best restaurants, the secret gems that only locals know about. Local knowledge is the difference between seeing a place and experiencing a place. All it takes is a simple hello to the person next to you. Chances are your accent will immediately spark a conversation.

With a morning session at the gym / box complete, the blood is pumping, your energy is up and jet lag can be defeated swiftly. Even better, with a good strong session in the morning, you’ve given yourself some extra wiggle room to enjoy the indulgences and bigger meals that come with travel. What good is travelling if you’re not going to experience the food. With a sharp session each morning you can enjoy the food, and maintain without the gain.

Maps and apps in the modern world can bring any gym to your attention. Set your body up Day 1 of a trip by getting up early and getting into some weights. Meet the locals, find out some secrets and justify that glass of wine and desert come dinner time.

 

 

Andrew Logan