Agents vs Online, what is the difference?

In a world where technology is right at our fingertips, online travel agencies and book it yourself services are popping up left right and center. With more options for travelers to log on line and book themselves, more travelers are venturing in taking control of their own bookings and utilising online booking services. This is a great new client reach for those who wish to venture out on their own, and focus on their area of expertise. It also provides a new set of challenges and competition for your traditional walk-in travel agents and service providers. 

People are more informed, have generally done a lot of research and are wanting a sense of control in their travel itineraries that online booking options provide them. Why not we live in a day and age of information at our fingertips.

So you’ve done some destination research and got an idea of where you may want to stay or tours you may want to include. Now it’s time to find your best deal. So you start jumping onto google & various websites because you got this! 

There are certainly some clear advantages to be had in looking after your travel yourself. After all, it’s your holiday, you want it to be exactly what you want and why pay someone else to organise it, when you can book it all yourself online?

As a travel agent and online travel provider this question is something I am asked all the time, I actually love this question, it’s a great question to ask. So I thought I’d address three important topics so you are informed and armed with all you need to know for the next time you’re making your travel plans. 

  1. What are online booking engines. 
  2. How to make an informed decision on which online service provider you choose to use.
  3. Explain the benefits to using a travel agent services.

What are online booking engines

So, to address this let’s take a look at what a travel agency is, and you’ll see why in a moment.

A travel agent service provides information and recommendations on behalf of (hotels, airlines, car rentals, cruise lines, railways, travel insurance, package tours etc) and on sells these services to the traveling client.

There for, all your online booking engines that are not providing the product directly and are on selling you another providers service, are essentially a travel agent service. Unless your booking directly with the airline, hotel or travel provider of choice your essentially utilising an agent service.

There are a wide variety of online agencies, some that provide quick click and book options, last minute or cheap deals and others that provide a more traditional on line agency services that tend to have a niche or are experts in their chosen product or area. Each offer their own benefits to utilising them. So its just a matter of finding the right type of booking experience your looking for in your travel requirements and of course one that you feel a sense of value and trust with.  

With this wide range of choice it can often become a little confusing or overwhelming in choosing the right booking provider or agent for your travel plans. Which brings me to my next topic.

How to make an informed decision on which online service provider you choose to use.

So this will depend on what kind of travel services your requiring and how much time you wish to spend doing the footwork.
You have companies that combine a large variety of flights, hotels, and transfers, etc, to book independently or to combine to form a packaged holiday. That can be a great quick one-stop-shop.

You also have options of boutique and specialised companies that provide particular services for either specific destinations or tailored to a certain clientele.

Like any industry be it a large or small company, there are companies that offer great and reliable services and then, some that fall behind when it comes to after-sales service and even more horrifyingly a service at all.

Sometimes that old saying of you get what you pay for, can come back to bite you when your booked travel services don’t turn out to be what you anticipated.

So how can you make sure that you are finding the best fit for your travel needs?

There are a range of things you can do to make sure that your travel provider is both legitimate and servicing their clients at a good level or as we prefer an excelled level of customer service.

A good starting point is to check reviews, you can do this through some reputable travel review companies such as Tripadviser and Trust Pilot.
Here you can usually find both the good the bad and the ugly. So it’s always worth a browse to see what the general feedback is.

Depending on your country in which your based, there are also national and international accreditations that suppliers, agencies and airlines can join to help be an identifier of company legitimacy and security. However, there are a large number of established independent agencies that don’t take that step as they feel no need to pay the extra yearly memberships and are ultimately providing a legitimate and excellent level of customer service and product. But the choice is there for you to determine what’s right for you, I always find reputable client feedback to be the best indicator of an agency’s value.

So what are the benefits to using a travel agent services

So we’ve established that travel agencies come in all shapes and forms. Both instore, online or the new ease of use booking engine type. There is a booking option to suit all clients’ preferences. It is fair to say that these days the traditional travel agent, gets a bad wrap when it comes to price. Often I find agents are held to much higher accountability standard over the cheaper and quicker to book it yourself options. But there are still some real advantages to using an agent.

Personalised service
A travel agency be it in-store or online will always be a good point of call if your someone who likes to have a direct contact experience. Be that in person, over the phone or a combination of both. These days more agencies are becoming more mobile making it easier to consult in more flexible ways, such as after hours, at cafes in your lunch break and even video conference. Whichever way you prefer connecting with a real person to share your ideas and plan your travel. There is a travel agency to suit you.

Specialised and knowledgable Companies
More and more we are seeing boutique and specialised agencies popping up. This is great as instead of going somewhere and having someone that knows a little bit about a lot. You get experienced agents breaking out on their own to provide expert advice and knowledge about your destination, travel style or demographic. These companies know a lot about their destinations and clients’ needs. They help you think about things that you may not have thought about. When traveling to off the beaten track destinations this can be particularly useful. So if you’re traveling somewhere unique or want to. Have a browse for some specilised options.

Saves you time
Not everyone has the time to search through 100 hotels to make sure that it has everything they need. Maybe you’re a busy person and have an in-depth itinerary you want to put together and need some advice and tips on. Regardless of why you’re putting off your travel plans because you simply can’t seem to find the time, contacting a trusted agent can be a quick call or email away, and what could have taken you days to sort through could be in your inbox with a multitude of options and tips in the afternoon.

Comparable Prices
There is a massive assumption that travel agencies are much higher than online booking engines. This can sometimes be the case for sure, however, is only because these properties are already heavily discounted or on a sale. Outside that most agents have the same access to hotels, flights, and tours and often some deals of their own. If the price is of importance a simple price match request is often easily fulfilled.

Accountability
Finally, more than likely your agent has spent time putting together your itinerary, you’ve had some contact with them and built a relationship. More than likely they are located locally or nationally. They have probably been easy to get a hold of when you’ve needed to call or email them. So when in those dreaded and unforeseen circumstances happen and they do happen. You can feel comfortable knowing that you have a name and number to call for assistance.

Providing you have a good agent, we are always willing to help when things go pear-shaped. I feel a good indicator of your after service is how your agent continues to look after you after your payment has exchanged hands. I believe you are my client until you land back into the country from your trip.

Overall, I agree and see the value in both online booking engines, specialised agents and our more traditional agent. They all have their benifits and as should be the case, whom you choose to book with should be one that suits your travel requirements.

Our Sunburnt Country is up in Flames

As the Australian summer sets in and families enjoy their Christmas and New Year holidays together. Many Australians are finding themselves battling to keep their homes, business, and families safe from fire. 

Fires are burning across the country with many people fleeing for their lives. According to wikipedia.org, the fires have burned an estimated 6.3 million hectares (16 million acres; 63,000 square kilometers; 24,000 square miles), destroyed over 2,500 buildings (including over 1,300 houses) and killed 25 people as of 5 January 2020.

I almost cancelled my own New Year Holiday as I had to travel 453km to northern NSW as I’d have to take alternate routes to avoid bush fires and even then I was still going to be in a high drought and bush fire areas. Whilst I was away fires burnt 400 hectares only 15 minutes from our home and was event thought to be deliberately lit. This is simply the story of many across the eastern coast of Australia right now. 

Driving past many distant mountains with smoke clouds rising up to the sky, through kilometers of roads with obvious fire damage and even via flames and smoke coming up the mountainside as helicopters flew past and dumped water on them to keep them under control. More depressing is seeing the rivers that once flowed only months ago, with either stagnant water puddles or just dry rocky riverbeds. With no water for water planes to fill up with the rivers, the job is left to helicopters which trucks of water are driven in to fill the bags to be dropped. Which to me seems so much less than the planes can do. However, what choice is there when there is simply no water to help combat the flames, to begin with. It feels like a vicious cycle set to continue all summer as temperatures are set to continue to sore. 

One town one of our friends visited did have water, however, it’s so below usable that the council is issuing out bottled water. I can tell you that the heat is unbelievable and many towns and farms are struggling and with the fires now yet another threat has only highlighted to the world just how bad our drought really is. We’ve known for years now that our rural farmers are suffering in drought, but as the threat and effects creep closer to our coastal and metropolitan areas it is more than ever obvious that our water problem and dare I say, climate problem is not going away anytime soon. As many as half a million of Australian wildlife have died and will continue to be effected and displaced.

Now more than ever our country needs our support, while our fires blaze and brave men and women battle daily the blazes. People’s homes and businesses burn to the ground, many that won’t be able to come back from this as with the flames, their entire stock is gone with it.

There are many ways in which you can help support our country at this time. For a list of donation options, you can visit https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/bushfire-relief-how-you-can-help-those-in-need/news-story/a0476ac3538b8c373f281ea6be204421

Where you can choose to help firefighters, wildlife and those affected and displaced. 

The effects of these fires will surely continue to be felt well into the year even after the flames settle. We will then need to continue to support our country in many ways. Keep this in mind when the cost increases at the grocery store for Aussie products. Buy them and support our farmers, spend your tourism dollars here and refrain from overseas for your next trip. Help keep the financial support here to rebuild our great country. 

Main picture instagram source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B68_tKvH2Bl/

5 tips for road travel with kids

Road trips with the family have to be one of the most fun childhood memories I have. I have memories of leaving before the sun came up, to beat the traffic and the antics me and my siblings would get up to on the way. We would stay in Caravan parks, cabins and do some pretty basic camping, with no floor tents, dig your own hole for the bathroom, a lot of canned food and potatoes cooked in foil on the fire. I loved it and most of all the more relaxed versions of my parents.

Now as a mum road trips are something we do often, particularly when we can get a bigger holiday in. From a short weekend of camping or motels stay, its just the escape from reality we enjoy and the where to next?

There are so many options for roads trips, weather your packing your own tent, driving to a motel or hiring a campervan. Which ever or whatever it is your choosing you may want to take the following into consideration when you are travelling with your kids.

1. Pack entertainment for the car

Australia is a huge country and you’ll find that in some places it’s a couple of hours between stops. The last thing we want is the kids getting bored and giving the “are we there yet?”. Be prepared and pack in car games, Ipads or movies, books, whatever it is that works for your little people. Make sure you have a selection in easy reach.

2. Pack a lunch box for each child

Again long trips and hungry little tummies are not a fun combination, pack a school box lunch so kids have a choice to choose from. I even like to sometimes pop nuggets into a thermo to change it up. This will also save you on fast food stops, you can even consider packing a picnic lunch in and esky for halfway to break up the journey and allow the kids to stretch their legs.

3. Plan your travel days

This can depend on what kind of road trip you’re doing and the distance you need to travel. Also how much packing and setting up you have to do. There are some great apps and websites that can help you work out point to point travel times. So you can know the distance and how long it is straight through and then to take into account a stop and stretch. The worst thing when you have an amount of set up to do, in particular camping is having to do so in the dark. You also want to avoid driving in the evening or on dusk on many of our roads as you don’t want a Kangaroo imprinting itself on your dash!

4. Pack an Emergency First aid kit

There is a range of options for you around and I do personally think the St Johns or Red Cross options are pretty good. Some things to keep in mind here in Australia are we have a lot of venomous creatures. Try to include snake bite bandages. Also depending on your kit you buy you may want to consider adding an Epi-pen ( you may not think you need it, but out on the road we don’t know what our kids may run into and turn out to have an allergic reaction to.), stop itch cream, butterfly bandaids for cuts that may require stitches, Saline and or Betadine, a good set of tweezers, cold packs and stingos and insect repellent. Whichever kit you decide on be sure to also restock your kit before every new holiday, or if using while traveling as required. I always keep one in my car year round for those just incase times.

5. Safety

For any traveler and in particular those traveling alone with kids. Trust your gut when choosing your accommodation. If it feels unsuitable just move along to the next destination. Try the best you can to have an outline of your planned trip and leave it with someone. If you can perhaps message when you’re leaving and when you arrive places. Roadside assistance is a good option on our open roads to have and make sure you check your cover will be available in your area of travel. Depending on how remote you plan on going as well you can also consider some other safety travel devices such as a beacon or satellite phone. Oh and don’t forget to check your fuel! There are also some really good apps that can help you decide if its time to grab extra now. Lastly your kids are in an unfamiliar place, I always take a walk around with my kids show them where they can and cant be, how to get back to our spot if they are lost and anything else that may be of importance. Ie. if you’re in the bush, things they need to be mindful of such as snakes and what to do if they see one.

Do you have any extra tips or ideas for road trips with kids? we’d love to here them, pop yours into the comments below.

Finding your travel tribe!

Taking our kids on a holiday is something we are sometimes equally excited and anxious about. I mean kids can be so unpredictable and when they are out of their element, it’s even more likely that there will be tiredness, disruption to routine and even the odd extra tantrum or 20! 

Travel has loads of benefits but can come with many challenges too.

My first experience of traveling alone with my children was while I was still married. We had booked a great kid-friendly resort on the Gold Coast, Queensland. With plans for a great family getaway. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my then-husband flew home to Sydney leaving me alone at the resort with our then 5 and 1-year-old. 

Stubbornly deciding not to waste our booking or let the kids down. I decided to stick it out and enjoy the holiday with them. Both the kids and I were having a ball enjoying the resort’s activities and even managed a visit out to a theme park (that’s a story for another day). Every evening during what I call the witching hour, I’d let the kids go, have fun and take their dinner at the kids club so I could sit and enjoy my hot meal without running after a 1 year old and eventually eating it cold. Zero mummy guilt! 

It was about day 3 when, I sat there eating my dinner, sipping my margarita and looked around noticing the couples and friends also enjoying their child-free meal time. Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying my alone time, but also starting to feel a little lonely. It was then for the first time, the idea of this single travel business had entered my mind.

I sat there thinking how hard and daunting it must be to consider traveling solo with your kids as a single parent. Particularly if you’ve never done it before. Plenty of people are fine with being on their own, I enjoy it at times too, but I also really enjoy having people around to talk to from time to time. While I certainly had a little conversation here and there with other parents around the resort. We all know that feeling of being the third wheel and really, they are waiting for their 5 minutes of freedom to spend some time together as well and understandably.

I’ve been separated now for almost 4 years. Being in the travel industry, travel is a huge part of both my career and my life, even if I was not working in travel. It is something I’d continue to invest time and money into for both myself and my children, as the value is just so great.

 I’ve continued to travel and adventure with my kids and it’s certainly not always easy. In fact, often it’s not even a holiday for me but more hard work than opting to stay home. But the benefits and smiles on their faces are well worth it to me.

So while I happily go away just me and my now 3 girls, I also highly enjoy the group trips I take with fellow single parents and their kids. My kids have even become accustomed to looking forward to meeting new single-parent families. I even feel sometimes that they like the single-parent family vibe. As they identify with each other and the journeys they are going through. For many women, traveling in a group environment can give an element of safety and support over traveling alone. Hopefully, this can also encourage some mums that may not have ventured out with their kids, to do so and finding out just how great it can be.

From camping, resorts or tours there is something to suit anyone’s travel style or budget and there is something to be said about traveling within a like-minded community. Actually, there was an article I read about women and how friendships can increase serotonin and oxytocin. So it’s actually good for your health to travel with friends or when its hard to organise your friends for holidays, your “travel tribe”. 

I’ve made some really great new friends through setting up travel together and I find you still get your time to yourself, time with your kids as well as the added socialising aspect.

There are many travel communities around where like-minded parents can connect and organise group trips. We have one of our very own on facebook for Aussie parents. You can connect with other families, share your trips, tips and ask other members advice about your destination. We also run group travel from camping, cruising and more. Come along and check it out. Join a trip or create your own.

If your considering a trip and feel a group setting would be good for you or if you’ve benefited from group travel in any way. We would love to hear from you!

Help me make a difference!

I believe its important to give back and through many stages of my life I have needed someone to lean on and it’s not always been someone close to me.

So, I’m excited to have the opportunity to get involved in this great project and be an official cast member of the socially conscious (and award-winning) TV series Adventure All Stars. Produced by the acclaimed Charity TV Global, this ground-breaking media format provides a platform for me to raise funds and exposure for a philanthropic cause I’m passionate about. Pre-filming I’m proud to be raising awareness for Mental Health a condition affecting millions in our Australian community alone and funds for Headspace Australia. As all net proceeds from this award-winning TV series will directly support this great cause.

Why am I fundraising and how can you help me?

We all have our personal experiences with Mental health at some point in our lives. For me, it has been supporting the people that struggle around me. My daughter who will face challenges with her anxieties, social awkwardness and internal battles to stay upbeat with her life long condition called Autism, will face the world with struggles most days. As a parent, the journey has been been an emotional one and often pushed my own mental health and emotions to its very limit.

Mental illness is a silent killer. The symptoms and signs are not always visible or easy to
recognise and in fact, individuals struggling with mental health conditions may be the
people you would least expect. More than 75 per cent of mental health issues develop
before a person turns 25 and suicide remains the leading cause of death for Australians
aged between 15 and 44. Approximately 1 in 5 Australians are suffering from mental illness in any given year. This has to change! You can help bring these struggles out of the dark and join me in tearing down the stigma and discrimination surrounding one of our leading health issues. By donating to my fundraising campaign you’re helping me to highlight the importance of empowering one another to feel safe and supported in asking for help.

You can make a personal Donation via my fundraising page here. I am also currently working with the Producers of the ‘Adventure All Stars’TV series to seek sponsorship. If your a business and would like to sponsor me and my cause for Headspace. You can contact me here and work towards a benefit for your business.

About Headspace

More than 75 per cent of mental health issues develop before a person turns 25.
And yet, many traditional services aren’t equipped to address the unique barriers that
young people face to accessing mental health support. Headspace began in 2006 to address this critical gap, by providing tailored and holistic mental health support to 12 – 25 year olds.

With a focus on early intervention, they work with young people to provide support at a
crucial time in their lives – to help get them back on track and strengthen their ability to
manage their mental health in the future. At the heart of their services is ensuring they meet the evolving and unique needs of young people and those who support them. Therefore, young people are at the centre of everything headspace do, and they play an active role in designing, developing and evaluating our programs.

With almost 3 million occasions of service provided, they have helped thousands of young
people get vital support through our 110+ national headspace centres.

You can find out more by visiting headspace website https://headspace.org.au/


What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unshamed conversation.

Glenn Close

Donate today and help our youth have a place to reach out to.

Testimonials, past fundraising successes, TV shows, extensive press coverage,
awards and more can be found at www.charitytvglobal.com

Follow on social media at #adventureallstars and #charitytvglobal

Why a Travel Company for Single Parents

The idea of a Travel Company that focuses solely on single parents came from a combination of my travel Industry career and my own experiences traveling as a solo Mumma!!

Travel has been a big love and passion in my life and sharing this with my children was a natural progression. Traveling with kids can be so rewarding! As it can also be stressful and tiring, but the benefits often outweigh the bad and it has taught my children and myself to be more patient, adaptable and resilient. Most of all it has brought us closer together as a family.

Last year I decided to pack up my home and children and set off on a road trip for 3 months up the east coast of Australia. We soon had families following our journey and watching our adventures unfold.
It was really lovely to have so many families, contacting me and letting me know their dreams of traveling with their kids and how we had inspired them to take a leap of faith and start planning a trip with their children.

Upon returning home, I wanted to keep that inspiration going and I wanted to find a way to keep helping other parents feel comfortable in taking a trip and experiencing travel with their kids. Being that my career was already in travel and I found it a passion to help people plan and organise their holidays, it was an easy decision to take this to the next level in starting a company that focuses on the solo parent traveler.

I wanted to create create a travel brand that provided travel options that are fun, engaging, full of nature and great experiences. While connecting fellow solo parent families in a safe, community environment.

Our tours have been designed with a mix of nature experiences, animal encounters and added educational aspects such as Australian history and learning the culture and traditions of our first people of this land. You’ll find that our tours operate predominantly over a 2 night 3-day itinerary and highly based on the weekends. This provides a more open available range for those with limited or restricted travel capabilities and their children.

Our beautiful country has so many great sites and things to see and do, right here on our doorstep. I am passionate about Australian Travel and I am passionate about seeing happy solo-parent families immersing themselves in the excitement of travel and something new!

In addition to our growing range of tours both nationally and working toward international tours. We are excited to be working on tours that provide an adult only aspect to the adventure touring for when parents don’t have their kids. Again this links parents with like-minded solo travelers that they can connect with and form some great friendships.

We hope to grow our travel community and make real connections for single parents from all over Australia and the world to inspire them to seek adventure, to stretch their limits and experience all the world has to offer and most of all. To share those experiences with our children, together!

If traveling with your kids to amazing places and connecting with other parents sounds like something for you? Get in contact with us now and have a chat about your travel plans.

Why Cruising is a great holiday choice for single parents!

I went on my first cruise for my 21st birthday with a couple of cousins all celebrating our birthdays close together.

Back then it was party, party, party. I’ve since taken a couple more cruises, with friends and family and watched as the cruise industry slowly changes and finds more, out of this world ideas and experiences to shift that thinking of, Cruises are boring … what can you do stuck on a ship?

Well as a mum I can tell you that cruises have come along way in regards to onboard entertainment. Once referred to as a floating hotel, I’d be more inclined to refer to some of them these days a floating theme park.
There are all kinds of cruise ships and travel styles on offer from adventure polar regions, river cruising, ultra-luxury, and my favorite family cruise ships.

These days families are more and more hoping on board as cruising makes travel very easy with kids. There are loads of onboard family entertainment and a range of activities like Kids clubs, waterslides, pools, water play areas, rock climbing, movie theatres, Disney characters, abseiling, games rooms, hang out areas and even sky diving and bumper cars. So the next time someone says to you, “what are you gonna do stuck on a ship for a week?” you can give them that list right there.

As a parent, cruising is by far one of our top holiday choices as a family. My kids are itching to get on their next one and I’d certainly love to get us booked on the next one as soon as possible. I’m normally a more adventurous destination kind of gal and I certainly love sharing that with my kids. However, if you want something that is going to give you some real-time to relax kids free for a couple of hours a day, cruising will be for you.

Being a single mum of 3 kids under 10yrs old. Sometimes my holiday choice needs to incorporate some free time for me. Traveling on my own with my kids, I don’t have someone to watch them for 30mins to go and get a spa treatment or to do anything on my own for some recharge time. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not about jumping on board, throwing them in kids club and saying see you at the end kids, or???…. Joking!

I love to spend time doing all these fun things with my kids and its very much about family fun together as it is finding some well deserved time out for mum. I have no mummy guilt here what so ever I’ll add to that. haha. My kids will ask me if they can go off to kids club more times than I try and convince them to go. Particularly for the younger ones, the kids’ clubs are totally fun as! They have science activities, games and not to mention OTHER children their age for them to play with. My 5-year-old left our last 4-day cruise with 5 new bestest friends in the entire world. She loved bumping into these kids around the ship.

If you think that your tweens and teens may get a little bored onboard. There are a lot of choices for them to hang out with other teens sailing, their own clubs and chill spaces and most important of all WIFI !!
There are still ships with internet that lags and a little overpriced, but it is not longer the norm and most ships as they undergo their updates are getting better and better service. Some with land speed style connections. This also serves well for those of us that take our work with us.

With more inclusions than ever before, endless entertainment, unpacking once and more destinations worldwide to choose from. Cruising is fast becoming a hot travel choice with families. An advantage of cruising for us single parents is it’s pretty all-inclusive, cruise dates are pretty set years in advance so we can find an option to deposit on and have plenty of time to slowly pay it off. I really could go on and on about all cruises can offer and I have not even touched on the onboard experience for adults and the land excursion opportunities.

So if I haven’t at least tempted you by now to cruising as your next holiday choice perhaps some crazy specials may help you. Visit our Promotions page, to check out all our cruise offers and more.

Contact us now for your free cruise consultation.

Sydney to Melbourne with Kids

Sydney to Melbourne

Earlier this year I took the girls and myself for a journey down to Melbourne Via overnight Train and Than spent a 4 night Carnival Cruise sailing back to Sydney.

We decided to take the train for something different and also Riley my eldest was getting anxiety about taking her first cruise. As she also gets a lot of anxiety about flying, I thought it only fair to push her so far. So it was the overnight 11hr XPT Sydney to Melbourne for us

We called to make our reservation for the train as they can then book you a family pass. I paid almost near to the adult fare and kids were all $1 each to add. How good is that, we also upgraded to first-class for a little more comfort and chair recline for me to attempt sleep. They also have 4 berth sleepers available which were approx $600 and although I’d have been a lot more comfortable in that. I wanted to save some money and the kids would sleep ok in first and myself the ever suck it up traveler would deal with what sleep I got. 

Tips for Overnight Train Travel with kids

  • Do have dinner before getting onboard save on the train meals. Take a water bottle each to save on up and down trips.
  • I have 3 children under 10yrs so I also ask to be somewhat close to a toilet so it’s less drama organizing 3 kids every toilet break.
  • Take some entertainment for kids and yourself, ie, Ipads (with downloaded content), books, coloring pencils.
  • Take a travel pillow and blanket each, everyone will be that little comfier and the Aircon can get cold. Earplugs if you want to block out some noise.
Melbourne

Although I find Melbourne a lovely city to stay in, I chose to stay in St Kilda with my kids as its a quick and easy Tram ride from Melbourne. Its located by a calm bay which is great for kids and Luna Park is also right off the water. So it ticks a lot of boxes. You’ll need to grab a Travelcard (MyKi) to use the Trams and public transport around Melbourne which was easy to grab at the train station and top up online too.

After checking in to our hotel we headed back to Victorias National Library to check out the Ned Kelly and WWI memorabilia. It’s a great free place to visit, as it was heatwave we opted to hang here have some lunch and head back to the hotel for a nap.

In the late arvo, we walked down to the bay to cool off, grab some hot chips and watch the sun go down over the bay, before heading into Luna Park for a couple of hours of rides.

More Free things to do with kids in Melbourne

Cruise Day! back to Sydney we go.

Excitement day! Well for Riley she was a little anxious about cruising, being stuck out at sea and everything that could possibly go wrong. As we drive up the harbor and she can see the ship getting closer and closer. Her nerves start to calm and change into intrigue and excitement.

Carnival so kindly arranged a personal check-in when I called to advise my daughter has ASD and anxiety around crowds. We got an early boarding, walked through check-in and a private on-boarding so she didn’t have to sit in the packed hall while they talk about all the scary things that could go wrong.
We did a walk around our floor on how to find the main deck in case we got lost from each other and what to do. I allowed both my 5 and 8 year old to wear their room cards around their neck so they could be identified and have access to the room if we got lost and they managed to find it.

We sailed on the Carnival Legend. She was fancy and plenty of entertainment for us all. My kids enjoyed Kids clubs and made friends. Emma was just under 2 so too little for kids club. She really wanted to stay and play there, although there were plenty of fun games and interaction around the pool decks as well. The water play area was ok on not as windy days.

I got a lot of reading in when Emma slept and in the evening enjoyed a show after dinner with the kids as Emma could go into babysitting with her sisters after 9.30 pm. It was $8 per child per hour until midnight, for me it was some well earned and nice alone time.

It was a short 4-day cruise, endless self serve ice cream and 24/7 pizza the kids couldn’t be happier. Riley got so confident that she asked if she could venture to the main food hall to collect some Pizza for us to have an in-room movie night on her own. As it was only the next floor I allowed her to, as to get this kid to be independent like that is so rare.

They can’t wait for their next cruise and I hope to include something with port stops next time. The shorter ones are a lovely little all-inclusive break.

We love cruising and they are very entertaining for kids. If you have a cruise lien you love. Tell us why in the comments below.

Fun for kids on board

  • Pools, hot tub spas and waterslides
  • 24-hour Pizzeria
  • 24-hour soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt
  • Kids club from 2- 17yrs
  • Games Room
  • Putt putt golf
  • Poolside games and entertainment
  • Family shows
  • Theme nights
  • Characters walking around
  • Other kids woot woot!

Catch me on 7Two in 2020, in a new Travel series Adventure All Stars!

I’m excited to be confirmed as a cast member of a new travel series called Adventure All Stars. I’ll be taken to a secret location to be filmed by an award winning film crew for 6 days of adventure and fun! This life-changing TV series features inspiring cast members undertaking an unforgettable journey & will be broadcast nationally on Seven Networks 7TWO. Produced by the internationally acclaimed Charity TV Global this media project combines adventure, travel, and philanthropy.

Pre filming, cast members will embark on a fundraising campaign with all net proceeds from the TV show going to my nominated philanthropic cause – Mental Health Awareness.

I started my campaign passionately on behalf of my daughter who is Autistic and has many other contributing diagnoses like anxiety and ADHD. She has often felt alone, struggling to fit in, afraid to be exposed to her issues for fear of judgment and bullying. I’ve always encouraged her to be herself, whatever version that is. Everyone is different and some just get to know a specific reason why they are, like her.

Starting on this journey and revisiting her diagnosis path, it has brought up some very real truths that I had never really faced about my own mental health over the last 3 to 4 years, since my marriage breakdown and my daughter’s diagnosis and maybe many points of my life, and it is very confronting!

You see, mental health affects many people in many ways and can be something you’re born with or something that happens to you with the impacts of life situations. 

Mental health refers to a wide range of conditions and/or disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Now, who out there feels that at some stage and time in their life. One or all of these areas have become somewhat challenging for you to feel in control of?

Imagine struggling daily, year after year with this ongoing battle to just face the day. Approximately 1 in 5 Australians are suffering from a form of mental illness in any given year and more than 75 percent of issues develop before a person turns 25! We don’t always know who may be suffering in silence behind a smile, often until it’s too late.

So many people hide their struggle, afraid to reach out or seek help. They feel they may be judged, misunderstood, lose their job or friends. Some even just afraid to be vulnerable and come to terms that it ok to not have everything under control, particularly for men and our young boys. 

This has to change! You can help bring these struggles out of the dark and join me in tearing down the stigma and discrimination surrounding one of our leading health issues.  By donating to my fundraising campaign you’re helping me to highlight the importance of empowering one another to feel safe and supported in asking for help.

Please go to my fundraising page for mental health and join my fight!


You can be sure to check out all the action @AdventureAllStarsTV and @charityTVglobal Be sure to follow my instagram @myjourneymyworld & my Adventure all stars journey at #AdventureRichelle


Want to join me and make a difference for something you’re passionate about?

If this is something you think you could do and you’d like to raise funds for a cause and give back to the community. Casting calls are still open, go to https://www.charitytvglobal.com/ to find out more information and apply.

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact:

  • SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) — call 1800 187 263
  • Beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
  • Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) — online help
  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) — call 13 11 14 or chat online
  • Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) — call 1300 659 467

Sources

Australian Government Department of Health:   https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/mental-health

Health Direct:  https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mental-illness

Life line:    https://www.lifeline.org.au/about-lifeline/lifeline-information/statistics-on-suicide-in-australia

Headspace:   https://headspace.org.au/young-people/understanding-and-dealing-with-suicide/?stage=Live   

Retro Camper Road Trippin!!

Remember back in the old days, being packed up into the Kombi and setting off on a good old Aussie weekend away with the family?  

I don’t ! I’m not that old! ha ha. However being a kid from the 80’s & 90’s it certainly didn’t stop my love affair with the Kombi. 

When I was married my husband bought this great little Kombi book and I think it was the only book I ever seen him read and get into. It was about the Kombi icon and I believe someone taking a journey around Australia and his discovery of becoming a dad. 

I’d long wanted to do a lap of Australia and hoped this would convince him to pack up and go! But my ever so sensible husband was against the thought of trekking around the country with a our then 2 yr old in tow.  I personally couldn’t think of anything more fabulous! However it was quickly popped on to the, when we retire list. 

So nearly 4 yrs on and having done my mini road trip with 3 kids in tow on my own, thank you very much!  I am always looking for my next adventure or something that peaks my excitement. 

So imagine the excitement when I found these guys? 

Retro Campervans!!

Retro campervans are a vehicle hire company in Byron Bay. They offer a range of Kombi campers and even a VW Buggy oooh! am I getting some high school memories coming back.

But lets stay on topic! 

Let me introduce the fleet

Bettsy

Bettsy is a 1974 VW Kombi T2 Campervan 

Sleeps up to 2 adults and 1 child (under 60kgs). If you only want to hire her to drive and not camp then it will seat 4 comfortably. 

Restored in 2014 with updated interiors and respray. She is fully equipped for camping old school with fridge (battery or mains operated), 2 burner camping stove, on board water supply, and ample storage space. Cookware/crockery and bedding are available as optional extras. 

Being an older Kombi it is recommended that you do stay within a 200km radius of Byron Bay with her. 

The Colonel 

The Colonel is a 1974 VW Kombi T2 Campervan 

another little pop top VW kombi T2 seats and sleeps 2. Comfortable sleeping on a fold down bed or if your traveling with a child the above bunk is still able to be used to have separate bedding (under 60kgs again here).

Again fully equipped with a battery run or 230V fridge, camping stove, on board water supply, and storage space. Cookware/crockery and bedding are available as optional extras. The Colonal can push a 300kms radius. If you desire or require to go further it is something that needs prior approval.

Lily

Lily is a 1977 Kombi T2 Campervan

That can seat and sleep up to 4 people. 2 adults and up to 2 children on fold out bunks above. 

Lily can again only keep within the 200km radius of Byron Bay and is also well equipped with setup including a 230V powered fridge, camping stove, on board water supply and storage space. Cookware/crockery and bedding are available as optional extras.

Retro campers also have 3 more options as well. 

Mitsu

The Mitsubishi Express – Budget surf VAN/Traveller 

Sleeping 2, this 2007 van is a great option if your on a tight budget but would like a bit of a road trip ex Byron. Being more modern your more free to take her further. Again this van comes with camping stove, on board water supply, fridge and storage space. Cookware/crockery and bedding are available as optional extras.

Trevor 

A 1989 VW Mini Bus /Surf Bus

Now who else is getting there Scooby Doo flash backs with good old Trev here?? 

Can easy seat up to 8 people so for those larger size families looking for something cool to drive around in this is your guy! All though can a car really be a male? 

Trev is pretty popular for day trips and festivals, he’s confined to the 300km radius and its advised although he can be hired with camping facilities he’s not really made for that so we highly recommend you look at “Bob” the T3 Camper-van.

Bob

A 1985 T3 camper

The more modern again 1985 T3 camper that can sleep 2 and a fold down bench seat if you want  a child to sleep separately. Camping facilities, 230v cables for campsite hook up, second battery systems for running fridge and lighting when 230v, NSW east coast map for old school navigating ( I feel people will cheat here ha ha), 2oL water capacity, Road side tools, CD player with AUX input  and fire extinguishers.  

All of the vans have the equipment just mentioned except Lily does not have a back up battery. You may not be able to travel too far and as old cars go thats very sensible as I know that even the best re done golden oldie can still have some issues and you don’t want to be caught out. 

Byron Bay has plenty of beautiful spots to park up by and if you couple it with your Wiki Camps app you’ll find some good places to camp. 

Hire options available in high and low season, weekends Fridays – Sunday, Mid week Monday to Friday with a min 2 night and weekly rates.

What a fun and different option and completely suites the vibe of Byron! 

To book one of these awesome vehicles, just pop on over to our Road trips area and complete the booking form >


Just had top add Daisy isn’t she just so cute!!!

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