Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bus Renovation

I'm utterly smitten! Over the last week our bus has really bloomed. Our packages have a arrived and key parts of our home are starting to come together and while we still have a little way to go, the pressure is on to move in as soon as possible as I have work in Perth over the upcoming month. W e have finally finished the insulation on both the floors and walls, as well as the floor boards, bed, kitchen cabinet, bench top and kitchen sink/stove with our fridge arriving soon! It's bizarre to see the transformation, and I can finally envision what it will look like. For the most part, we have stuck to our original design, but occasionally we make decisions based on how to space looks in the flesh. We decided to keep our original mattress (instead of getting a custom made one for the space) and use the extra room to create a couch of sorts next to Lilly's corner and making the area look a little bigger.
We also decided to add an extra cupboard for our business supplies and for Toby (our newly acquired legless lizard) cage to sit on. Space is still of the utmost importance to us, and we have to be creative in turning every nook and cranny into something useful as well as beautiful.

Aaron has finished up with working his everyday job and now has a lot of time to do renovations, meaning changes are happening each and every day. It also means we now rely solely on my photography and writing, making me the bread winner for the first time since quitting my jobs to try for a family, and although it's a little daunting I'm excited to know that what I love doing actually serves a purpose.
We take our home on her maiden voyage this upcoming Saturday, and I couldn't be happier! (unless she breaks down...) Hopefully the rains hold off and the bus is a little more leak proof by then ;)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Flying with babies & toddlers (and how to make it affordable!)

Looking for flights online can be confusing at the best of times, with so many choices and budget airlines popping up almost daily you can easily find the whole process a little daunting. 

Over the last year, we have discovered so many tips we wished we knew about flying (especially with a baby/toddler) that I've decided to write a little post about it, hopefully to spare some other parents from making the same mistakes we did!

Planning & booking flights:

Book ahead: Don't leave your flights for the last minute, it may seem wiser to save first for your entire holiday and then book, but by then you often miss out on the cheaper flights, are left with the bad seats and flights at obscure times which may not work on with your child's routine (if you have one). Aaron and I have been known to book flights a year in advance sometimes, meaning we have more then enough time to save up, book accommodation and get the time off that we need. Sure, it's not particularly spontaneous or free spirited, but it does mean you're paying less and have more time to plan and save.

Sign up to email alerts and newsletters: We have signed up to so many airlines and booking companies that it's insane, BUT between all the bumf they send you, you get great sales, cheap bookings and 24hour deals you wouldn't have a clue about otherwise. Plus, you can always unsubscribe from them if they're a bit too much.

Budget!: I can't stress this enough!! Look at your finances, look at what you might be earning over the next 6 months or so, look at what you can cut from your budget (you would be surprised how much buying a coffee every morning can add up over time). Look at how much your willing to pay for a flight and figure out how to achieve that. Sometimes, you can sacrifice comfort for affordability for shorter flights to splurge out on longer flights (which trust me, you will be at your most stressed) 

Keep your child in mind: You know your child the best and the most important thing to having an easier flight is to keep your child in mind when booking. Will she do well getting up and flying out at 4am? Does she have a particular time of day where she's grumpier then usual? What are her nap times? Is she a good sleeper? Is he flexible or does he thrive on a strict routine? Is she due for her wonder week the day you fly out? Take all these things into consideration as well as keeping in mind that babies and toddlers constantly change, so although they might be sleeping great now, they could be teething or sick during the flight. We found with Lilly that booking at night was the best when she was a baby and less interested in flying, but now she's a thriving toddler, mornings work best to travel as she's her happiest and most flexible. I would try rule out afternoons for babies and toddlers as the witching hour might make your flying experience hellish, unless your child is the rare few that are chirpy in the evenings. 

Pay for meals and entertainment before hand: If you book online, you can often pay for meals, movies and kids entertainment ahead of time, meaning you have no nasty surprises when you get on the plane and realise you only have limited cash on hand for a meal and didn't have time to eat beforehand. In saying that, don't get sucked in either! It's all to easy to order too much food or gadgets depending on how you feel when booking, think how you might be feeling at the time of the flight. Do you really think you will be watching on flight movies at 2am? or need to eat a huge breakfast on a 2 hour flight?

Fly with your favourite: If you have a airline that you love travelling with, or continues to give you great service, then (budgeting permitting) keep flying with them! They generally have memberships for people who often fly with them which leads to cheaper deals. For us, we love flying with Airasia, who always give us amazing service, are fantastic with Lilly and really well priced! They often move us to a row of empty/bigger seats (free of cost!) on smaller/emptier flights to make travelling with Lilly easier and have gone above and beyond the call of duty many, many times. Can't recommend them enough!
P.S. They are also having ridiculously amazing deals on at the moment!

Buy the extra legroom: Often the seats closets to the doors have more room (making them a tad bit more expensive) but they are a lifesaver! You can make a little play corner on the floor with some toys and pencils as well as having some where for you child to move around in without upsetting the other passengers. Not to mention having room to stretch your legs on long flights! 

Take advantage of flying under 2: Most airline only charge a very small fee (sometimes none at all!) for flying with kids under 2. This is because they're apparently sitting on your lap (I have a toddler who would very much disagree with that), but it does make flying a whole lot cheaper. Paying only a fraction of what it costs for an adult ticket, is partially why we can afford to travel overseas so much with Lilly. So while the kids are still young enough, take a family holiday! As a rule, we tend to travel places that are closely located (eg: Asia & New Zealand) while Lilly is little, because we know we can always return back when she's older. Overseas destinations that are further away (and most likely a once in a lifetime trip such as Europe or South America) we plan to only travel to when Lilly is older and can appreciate it more (and actually remember it!) 

Before and during your flight:

If you have an iPad/Tablet, use it: It saves time, space and is an environmentally conscious way to have all your flight details and papers in one place. It took us a while to realise it was so much easier to hand the iPad to staff instead of rummaging through a treasure trove of kids snacks and passports looking for our printed out flight details. 

Check your flights: and then check again and again and again. Seriously. You have no idea how often we have checked our flights and then the night before realised we said one hour too late while organising transport to the airport. There is nothing worse then the mad dash to the airport with only half your stuff packed and no idea which bag has your passports in it because you didn't plan ahead. 

Charge everything the night before: For the love of god, CHARGE YOU APPLIANCES! This is definently aimed at Aaron and I, too often we have barely charged our phones etc and when it come's to arriving at your destination and you hit a speed bump in your plans, you will be kicking yourself for not charging it beforehand, especially if you need to do an online transfer, contact a driver or call the owner of your accommodation. 

Pack entertainment: A lot of your time will be spent waiting, something toddlers don't exactly excel at, so remember to pack drawing utensils, books and toys, because you will need them. Even if you don't think your child will be awake during the flight or beforehand, they probably will (partially out of excitement and partially to drive you insane). Also, keep in mind to pack stuff you don't mind loosing/forgetting in the airport, so although it may seem cute to bring your child's teddy/blanket/thing their great grandmother has handed down for generations, remember there is a fairly good chance you will forget something behind and that will be it. 

Be patient and stay calm: It's all to easy to become overwhelmed by everything and your child might be feeling it more so then you, so remember to take deep breaths and remain calm. Holidays are meant to be fun, and throwing a toddler sized tantrum because your child won't sleep/stop running around the airport won't exactly be a great start to it. Just remember that kids get excited, and sometime's that means being lenient on your everyday rules. If your child wants to run, sit at a quieter side of the terminal where you won't be disturbing anyone or take him for a walk to wet his curiosity. 

Go to the toilet beforehand: I cannot stress this enough! I've decided to wait so often, that by the time we finally take off I'm busting to go and I have a sleeping toddler on me (or even worse, an upset one!) and everyone is trying to rush to the toilet at the same time. Same goes for nappy changes, do them beforehand! There is nothing worse then changing a nappy in a cramped airplane bathroom with a line of people waiting for you to get out. 

Get a kids backpack: In Borneo, we bought Lilly a little Winnie the Pooh backpack, packed it with a few of her snacks and goodies (nothing too important!) and popped it on her back. She loved it! She waddled around the airport, with her very own bag and it made her feel included (not to mention it helped us with the carrying of her stuff) Even if you land up carrying it in the end, at least you have a go to bag filled with kids stuff without having to go through your main carry on luggage.

Breastfeed/bottle feed/give pacifier when taking off: This is the greatest advice I've ever been given, every time we take off I breastfeed Lilly, and she's generally so focused on feeding she doesn't even notice we have taken off (she even falls asleep sometimes!) The feeding action helps their little ears adjust to the change in cabin pressure, so if you notice your ears popping, don't forget to offer them something too. 

Babywear: This will save you so much time and space. When it's time to board the plane or check in, we always wear Lilly, it saves us trying to keep her from exploring as well as ensures she's safely in our arms. Not to mention how much easier it is not having to lug around a clunky stroller and when your child is over tired in the airport, it's the easiest way to get them to sleep while carrying your bags. 

There is probably going to be crying: Once you realise that it's going to happen and all you can really do is be loving and understanding towards your child, the easier your flight will be. Lilly doesn't often cry during her flights, but the more overwhelmed I get about trying to keep her quiet for everyone else, generally the worse she gets. So take a deep breath, and just keep cuddling and reassuring your child, eventually it will pass and they will calm down, but until then there's no point getting wound up. You would be surprised how understanding passengers can sometimes be, especially as more and more kids take to the skies. 


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