Woah, we’re half way there! (+ more tips for travelling with kids)

5 months down, 5 to go. Shit you probably think, I’ve got to read this dribble for another 5 months.  Well a few weeks back we officially hit half way through our family trip of a lifetime.  5 months ago we left Sydney airport not really knowing what the year had ahead.  Key questions would need to be answered:

  • Will Ez be able to put up with my dad jokes for a year?
  • Will Evie be sent home early for bad behaviour?
  • Will Piper be better at drawing than dad?
  • Will a diet of ice cream be good for my curvaceous figure?

To summarise Ez is very good at tuning out, Evie is still travelling, Piper probably was before we left home and no, it’s not.

So what has happened so far in the first 5 months?

Here are the stats that matter: –

10 countries visited (12 if you count Monaco and our fleeting visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina) – not heaps, but that was never the point.  We wanted to see some new places while go back to some favourites.  Taking it slow as we go.

39 beds slept in (the kids have probably fallen out of at least 6 of them). From a horse stable in Argentina to a converted castle in Florence.  A fisherman’s shack in the Greek Islands to a glamping tent in Croatia.  A 13th Century cow barn in Italy to a funky city apartment in Rio De Janeiro.

12 flights caught (probably about the same if I was working anyway) Air NZ to Lufthansa to Blue Express to Ryanair to  Aerolineas Argentina to Sky Chile.  So far they’ve all got us there, some a little more comfortably than others. Flying with the kids is a breeze now (I firmly just knocked on wood).

5 cars hired (from a brand new Peugeot to a desert ute to a shitbox Fiat)

31 That’s the number of countries where  people that have viewed this blog.  There are some weird and wonderful like Senegal, Ukraine, Honduras and Iceland. Over 6500 views in total (I think our mums account for about 6450!)

12 land borders crossed. The most memorable crossing was definitely the 4200m altitude climb over the Andes between Argentina and Chile.  We also did about 3 countries in an hour or so between Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro. Before we left home the kids couldn’t comprehend crossing from one country to another over land. How could it be possible without a flight or an ocean involved. Now when we come to a toll booth the kids ask ‘Are we crossing the border again?’

1 sea border crossed – Italy to Croatia on the love boat (might have well been the best cruise ship in the world as the kids were suitably impressed).

2 doctor visits – Ez for her bum, Pipes for her head

3 wasp/bee stings (Pipes got done by two wasps while dad cried for days after copping a bee sting)

5 vomits (Piper 3, Mummy 1, Daddy 1, Evie yet to score)

5 football games visited (don’t get me started on what I have seen there).  Boca Juniors at La Bombonera in Buenos Aires, The Chilean El Classico, the fiercest Sao Paolo rivals in Brazil, the world’s best player in action for Barcelona,  to achieving a life goal of an FA Cup final.

0 hangovers (this is a worrying stat in itself) – I’ve turned old. We’re doing that cultural Euro thing where we drink more often but not to excess.  I’m hoping Vegas can change all that.

8031 Ice creams eaten (maybe a slight exaggeration but you get the drift).  The most popular flavour on trip has been limon (Piper always explains that is lemon in Spanish)

So what lies ahead over the next 5 months?

We’ve still got the Netherlands, Denmark, England and Scotland in Europe before heading to USA, Mexico, Cuba and Belize.

I also quickly asked the family (and myself) what we have been missing the most from back home.

Evie – She misses Erskineville, our Erskineville house, our Erskineville car. She often says ‘we did that a long time ago in Erskineville’.  We have recently worked out that Erskineville actually means Sydney with Evie.  She had lots of memories from ‘Erskineville’, too many we thought and it finally twigged when she said something about the Erskineville beach we used to go to.

Piper – I don’t really think Piper misses anything.  She is quite content with a minimalist life on the road!  Put some new toys in front of her and she’d go nuts but she never talks of really missing anything.

Ez – Thai food, good showers,The Bachelor, recycling.

Me – I miss a good shower, putting toilet paper in the toilet (and 2ply toilet paper), drinking water out of the tap, sport on TV in English, Thai food, Sunday papers (that are not on a computer), milkshakes, waves at a beach.

What we are not missing from back home – $4 Avocado’s, $7.50 beers, shitty public transport, people not singing at football games, 6am wake ups, setting an alarm clock, winter, rain, cleaning the bathroom, traffic, school nights…

What will the next 5 months bring? Stay tuned to find out!

So here’s a continuation of my earlier blog about tips for travelling with kids (this time in Europe).

1.Turkish Towels. Along with the earlier mentioned packing cubes these would have to be our next best piece of luggage (thanks mum!). So much lighter and more versatile than a beach towel, they have been a lifesaver for a summer on the beach.

Piper and Evie – Boring.  It’s a towel only it isn’t as soft…what’s there to love?

2. Have the kids learn the language. Just a few simple phrases like hello, thank you and excuse me is the first thing we talk about on arriving into a new country.  Evie could be crying, weeing on the floor and throwing her food and then Piper drops a simple gracias, efharisto etc. One minute we are about to get thrown out and then the next we have a free dessert.

Piper and Evie – It’s really not that hard.  If we can learn some phrases surely you can dad.  Dad also often tries these jokes that none of the locals understand – like when we were in Barcelona he would always say Grassy Ass instead of Gracias…just not funny.

3. Very small toys. Someone once asked me ‘But what toys do you have?’  The answer is none, sort of.  We have some small figurine type things.  Probably the most popular so far has been the little bag of My Little Ponies and Pets we have with us.  Hours of fun at home, they can come with us to a restaurant, they’ve been great.  I’ve even let the kids play with them sometimes.

Piper and Evie – Our biggest toy is the size of my thumb, does that say enough.  If I hear ‘some kids don’t have any toys’ one more time I’m going to lose it.  You don’t hear us saying ‘Some kids have parents with jobs and live in a house with toys’ do you?

4. Technology. We bought a bit with us­­­­ – phones, laptops and iPad.  It’s just a time and a place thing.  We still haven’t broken our cardinal rules – no iPad at dinner or while driving and to be honest the kids never ask for them. Aeroplanes it’s a free for all, whatever it takes! We also had a refresher on kid’s movies get delivered by friends which was needed.  Ez also has 3 cameras to capture every moment. Literally, every moment.

Piper and Evie – I’d just love to be able to go to the toilet without mum shoving a camera in my face. Don’t give me that ‘it’s so you remember it when you’re older crap’. I’ll remember you being a peeping Tom, that’s what I’ll remember.

5. Accommodation -Mix it up. If you’re travelling for long periods of time you need to change up the places that you are staying in, whether it be in the city or the middle of nowhere. We find something for the kids to get excited about at every accommodation place we get to.  It has its own pool, there are trees to climb, 2 balconies, a lift in the building.  We even tried to get excited about the place that had 100 stairs.  It worked for a little while.

Piper and Evie – Mum and dad – some places are just shit. The only thing we were excited about with the place with 100 stairs is that we thought it might help the Michelin Man lose a few kgs.

6. Find-a-playground. It’s my new app. A kid’s playground fixes everything.  Some days they’re our saviour after searching high and low, others we make up that we see animals out of one side of the window just so the kids don’t see the playground at the other side.

7. Music and Audio Books. – Audio books are a lifesaver for the kids on long drives.  I hate them but they keep the girls amused for hours.  We also carry a small portable Bluetooth speaker (thanks LK), coupled with my Spotify subscription and dodgy song choice, we have tunes wherever we go.

8. If you get invited somewhere, go. We have tried to say YES to most things. Pizza dinner (we were invited by google translate) with our Argentinian hosts, Italian BBQ, French aperitif.  One Airbnb host invited us over for drinks, we thought it was weird when we had to put our keys in the bowl, but when in Greece hey?

9. Find good Wi-Fi – If you are like us and you are booking as you go, decent Wi-Fi is a must. We’ve wasted countless hours being frustrated by poor Wi-Fi or driving somewhere just to get some WiFi.  It’s replaced guidebooks from past trips but we are also constantly researching so it’s essential for our trip.  Also very important for porn.

Piper and Evie – If dad spent less time worrying about WiFi and more time looking after the kids we wouldn’t have the potential mutiny on our hands.  Off your phones…there are neglected kids to look after. 

10. Have your own escape. Mine is football, it’s pretty much my only time away from the family but something I love doing.  Ez’s is hiking and photography.  Piper’s is playing fairy gardens. She can play imaginary games for hours.  Evie’s is crying, just kidding (sort of), she also plays mumma with a little bubba for hours.

There are no photos with this blog, but if you are interested in a look back over our first 5 months, check out Erica’s photo a day Travel Journal.

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