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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5 Positive reasons why I travel with kids, as a single mum!

Traveling with children can certainly be a challenge, for any kind of family.

Your in an unfamiliar environment, your routines can be out of whack, your trying to juggle your children as well as any luggage or belongings you’ve brought along.  

Lets face it, we can be stressed and the kids certainly for any god given reason at all, can just choose to throw themselves on the floor and show the world what an Oscar winning wobbly performance is all about! So the thought of heading on a holiday as a single parent with some rug rats in tow, can understandably be a really daunting thought facing that one your own.

It’s certainly not a walk in the park and I’ll admit that there are definitely moments I’ve cried, moments I thought screw this!!! I’m packing up and going home and there are definitely times I felt lonely as hell. I’m often asked how do I do it with 3 kids ranging from 2 to 10yrs? They ask me isn’t it hard? aren’t you exhausted? why do you even bother?

If I’m honest my answer is, yes its hard, yes I get exhausted and despite all of that here is why I bother!

Its Good for your health 

Yep that’s right! 

Planning that getaway to where ever it is your looking forward to going, is giving yourself something positive to look forward to. Having something positive to focus on improves our mental health. There are actual studies that show people who don’t have goals or things to look forward to are more likely to have anxiety or depression. We all know that as a single parent we can be very busy or on the opposite left with a lot of empty time while our kids are not with us. Knowing that we have this great trip planned where both we and the kids are going to get some quality time together is surely going to be something uplifting to re focus on. 

So in turn planning that next holiday is actually going to improve your mental health. 

It’s super educational

What better way to learn about life, outside the school box bubble. Than to get out there and experience it.

My 4 yr old daughter is obsessed with animals, I’m sure she is going to be a vet or work in some kind of animal loving industry of some sort. More recently she’s been fascinated with the cheetah. You tubing documentaries on the Savanna and learning all there is to know about a cheetah. Imagine her experience if I took her to the Savanna to see one in real life! Outside the beneficial cultural experiences and different ways of life she’d learn, I could imagine that having that real time experience would only raise her interest level to a higher degree.

Now, you don’t have to be heading to exotic parts of the world to learn valuable lessons with travel. A simple weekend campout in nature somewhere will provide plenty of lessons on wildlife and water conservation alone. If your more of a stay in a hotel type, while your away your surely going to go and visit the local sites and do things you may normally not do at home. 

Exposing your children to things they normally don’t do or see while at home in your normal routine. Allows and endless amount of curiosity and then come the million questions. I find I end up learning a lot more when I travel with my kids because they notice and see things so differently to myself . 

It creates connection

Often at home we are so busy doing life, particularly as a parent. After we’ve done the shopping, hung out washing, run all our errands and taken this and that kid off to sports or dance we find ourselves lost for time in the day for quality time.

Taking a trip of any kind is an opportunity to remove ourselves from our time frames and the list of this and that we have to get done around the house. 

Sure! Some things still need to be done and we still have kids to look after.

But a large majority of the time we are probably are not going to be cooking all our meals like at home, we have tours booked or lazy days by the pool or beach planned and most of all there is no timetable we must adhere to. We can sleep-in go to bed late and eat ice-cream for lunch if we want to. Although if you have toddlers I highly recommend trying to keep some familiar routines in place to avoid too many meltdowns.  That’s a topic for another day! 

I also find that my girls bond more while we are away. They pair up to go explore and they are always so amused by the new environment that they tend to fight a little less often. They look out for each others safety and in general seem to really enjoy each others company.

Its good for your social life

As a single parent I find at home between work, all my list of things i need to be doing and attending to the kids every need. I’m often so busy I don’t give myself enough me time or when I finally do get the opportunity to get out and be social I’m often too tired.  

I’m a very social person and I miss adult conversation a lot as many of us do. I find at home everyone is in there life bubble and normally rushing off here and there. People don’t always take the time to stop and say hello. 

When your traveling you just meet people and speak to people. Maybe its because people your bumping into are more relaxed as they are in holiday mode too. But you can guarantee that when your on holiday someones gonna give you a smile or wave in passing and that kids parent by the pool is probably going to say hello and spark up a little chit chat to pass the time while your both standing there supervising the kid swimming! 

People just seem to be more relaxed and happy when on holiday and believe it or not when we are relaxed and happy, we seem more approachable to other people.

It builds Resilience

Change allows for our kids to adapt to different situations. Having their environment change constantly can be challenging for sure. However the more we travel and try new things the more my kids realise that they can do so many things they thought they couldn’t or were even just at first afraid to do. I was very nervous taking a long committed  trip with my daughters. In particular my eldest as she has ASD  and  suffers a lot of anxiety along with enjoying order and routine. I have to say that along with the challenges and there were many. Came so many more benefits, this doesn’t just go for the kids. Everything it gave and taught my kids, was just as much a lesson for me too. 

The most valuable thing I can give to my children and to myself, after love is experience! The good experiences encourage us to reach further and the bad teach us valuable lessons. For me, travel provides a great stretch to our safe and routine environment and I’ll always come home with a sense of gratitude.

Need to Escape Reality?

So did I and why travel helps me to…

Taking a trip on my own after my separation was one of the best things I ever did. I was able to take a break from the pressure. I was able to have something else to focus on and I was able to take a moment to breathe again!

There, no one knew my story. I could be whoever I wanted to be and what I wanted to be was just me!

For the first time in a long time, I felt what life was like making choices for just myself again.

Seems selfish? Maybe but many of us get lost in our relationships and when they fall apart we again get lost in guilt.

The guilt of failure, guilt for our children, guilt from our ex-partners and the list goes on of all the pressures.

So allowing yourself permission to be removed from your reality and give YOU some time outside your ordinary pressures and expectations. Is gifting yourself time to think and reassess life! You quickly find what you’re looking forward to in returning home and what your not!

Taking a “separation time out trip” was my first step to taking back my power and giving time and energy to myself again. Time and energy I rightly deserved and so do you!

Travel is so much more than taking a holiday to me. There are always valuable lessons you learn when you travel. The further away and the more removed from your own comfort zones the greater the lessons.

It doesn’t need to be far, it doesn’t need to be for too long. However, taking that first gift of time for yourself is often your first act of kindness to yourself and in such a hard time of your life. You need to remember to be kind to yourself!

Tips for travelling solo with kids to Bali

Bali is an Indonesian Island located roughly 6hrs from Australia’s east coast. The Balinese are a warm, welcoming  and if your after a hit of culture your set to find it almost everywhere you go. Well known for its lively bar scene, affordable beachfront properties, surfing, adventure experiences and stunning scenery. It no wonder why Bali continues to be a popular travel spot for Aussie families. 

Best time to Travel to Bali

Busy and high Travel seasons tend to be Easter, Christmas, Ramadan , Lunar new year Nyepi (both have date changes each year) 

Other Peak Travel months are July to August when it is dry season. Its busiest week would be the first week of School holidays. 

The best time to travel tends to be April, May, June and September. Just before and after the high seasons. This tends to be when more stay pay deals will be offered and better chances at sale airfares, also local restaurants and markets offer better rates. Its still within dry season too so less humidity than the middle of wet season. Let alone less crowds means less line ups for attractions and less traffic!  

Seasons:

Dry season is May to September 

Wet season is November to April 

3 Fun Things for kids:
  • Visit the Ubud Monkey Forest, where you take a stroll through lush rainforest surrounded by its cheeky monkeys. Visit temples, waterfalls or take a plunging swing over the hillside if your not too afraid of heights!
  • Take the kids to Bali waterbom park, located in Kuta it’s a fun day out with a variety of waterslides and activities.
  • Visit the Bali Zoo, where you can have breakfast with an Orangutan, get an interaction with a Sumatran Elephant or even choose an evening at the Zoo. You’ll see it form a different perspective and when all the nocturnal animals are more lively. A chance to see a bengal tiger, lions, sun bear, Gibbons and many bird species. 
My 8 helpful Tips
  1. Pack light, Bali is generally going to be warm, so you can leave your big jumpers at home. You can check the weather for your travel here. Keeping less luggage means more free hands to keep our little ones at bay.
  2. Hire an arrival airport transfer. Private car transfers are not very expensive in Bali and if your a first time visitor you may feel overwhelmed by all the driver approaches that will hit you up as soon as you leave the arrivals hall. Pre booking one will mean your driver will be waiting at the arrivals hall and also there to assist you, your luggage and your children to your hotel after a long flight.
  3. Blue bird Taxi seem to be highly recommended if you prefer to take a taxi. Make them turn on the meter and if you can’t find a taxi with a meter, negotiate your fare before you take the service.
  4. Airport Porters do not work for the airport. If you use them to assist with your bags they will try to charge a high fee. Negotiate prior to using. Frankly me + 3 kids in hand I find them of good use if i’m struggling with my luggage.
  5. Prescription medications (including strong painkillers such as morphine and codeine, sleeping pills and medications for ADHD) are considered illegal narcotics under Indonesian law. Other medications such as paracetamol, antidiarrheals and antibiotics won’t be a problem but if you’re at all concerned about your medication, check with the Indonesian embassy
  6. If traveling with young children check your properties facilities age requirements for things like, Kids Clubs and their babysitting services and ratio rules. Also check the hotel policy as to what qualifications their carers have regulations differ from Australia.
  7. Markets and high traffic areas can be very busy places for little ones. Try for opening hours to avoid the crowds. Take a carrier or pram so they don’t wander off, markets can be tight places with many places to hide and a lot of people. Don’t be afraid to use harnesses.
  8. Download the Go Jek App, this gives you access to cheap transport around town and you can even order food to be delivered. It’s a really good money saver!

Bali is really a great family destination, its close to home, locals are warm and friendly and there is a large Aussie expat community so your bound to bump into some other Aussies and feel familiar. Most of all it’s a beautiful place to be with fun things to share with the kids.