Cruise Prep Extras!

 

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You’ve booked your first all inclusive cruise holiday for your family..You’re excited and you’re beginning ask yourself all sorts of questions? What do I pack?  Will I need this?  What if I get sea sick? What if the kids get sea sick or any illness for that matter?  Can I buy this on the cruise?

Pack all your usual personal hygiene products in travel size.  If you don’t mind packing the normal size products, go for it!  Or settle for what is supplied on board.

You will mostly likely over pack for your first family trip, and that’s OK; most of us do. As you and your family evolve you will learn what is right and wrong to pack for your family.  Here is a little bit of a guide for you in case you need some ideas.😁

First of all, check your passports are actually up to date. 

Note:  Some cruises will need your passports to be valid at least 6 months beyond the return date.

LAUNDRY

If you’re travelling with kids don’t worry about packing too many every day clothes.  Most cruise liners have a laundromat.  Keep a few dollars in the draw for the washing machines, dryers and laundry powder.  If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to pack a small  packet of your preference laundry liquid/powder.  We used what was available on the ship and it did the job.

Globite Pegless Clothes LineSea To Summit Liquid Laundry Wash

Pack a collapsible laundry basket/hamper to put all your dirty washing into; this way when you are heading to the laundromat it makes your job a little easier.  Folds easily into your luggage.  If you are packing plastic bags; consider reusing them to pack your  dirty shoes in when you are packing your bags at the end of your cruise.

Another GREAT item to pack is a peg less clothes line.  There should be a small one in your shower recess but when your travelling with kids you will have a lot more wet/damp items than the line provided can handle; like wet swimmers and hats. Compact and easy to use.

TIP:  Don’t leave your washing for the last minute.  As soon as you have a full load head down and get the washing done.  

FIRST AID/HEALTH

We pack our usual First Aid kit supplies but I like to be prepared for the unexpected..#Mumlife💊

The little extras that we packed:

  • Paracetamol (for the kids and parents)
  • hydrogen peroxide for all cuts or sores
  • electrolyte supplements (we use the purple Hydralyte sachets)
  • ginger tablets ( worked great for me; our kids didn’t seem to get sick)
  • ask your pharmacist for other travel sickness prevention for your children
  • eye drops (swimming & air conditioning can dry your eyes)
  • hand sanitizer (maintain hand hygiene at all times)
  • throat gargle  (in case you pick up any nasties)
  • antibacterial wipes ( wipe the toilet over before using it, etc.)
  • Pawpaw ointment (I have one in my home, car and bag..all time favourite)
  • cotton wool & tips (just a couple of each in a small ziplock bag)
  • eucalyptus rub
  • Berocca ( this one is great for Mum’s & Dad’s to give you your bounce back after an exhausting couple of days)
  • Probiotic (if you’re super cautious you could even pack these)
  • Fess for little noses (in case your little ones get a stuffy nose or hay fever)
  • Thermometer

Image for Lucas' Papaw Ointment - 25g from AmcalImage for Ocean Healthcare Anti-Bacterial Wipes - 30 Pack from AmcalImage for Betadine Sore Throat Gargle - 120mL from AmcalImage for Gold Cross Hydrogen Peroxide 3% - 100mL from AmcalImage for Hydralyte Apple Blackcurrant 4.9G - 24 Sachets from Amcal

Of course, wherever you are reading from there will be similar products to these options.  These are just my personal favourites we use that I am using for examples only.

I know it sounds like heaps to pack but you can get most of these in travel size so you can easily pack them into a small toiletry bag.  And if you need anything in the middle of the night, you will have everything in your cabin!  Convenient right!👌

SKIN PROTECTION

At the top of the list is, of course, SUNSCREEN & ZINC!  Do some research to find a great product that suits you and your family.   It’s important to be sun safe so don’t forget your hats.  If you’re spending a  lot of time in the sun it may even be a better idea to take sun safe swim wear.

TIP:  Utilize the shade as much as possible when spending the day in the sun.  Especially in the middle of the day.

Depending on your cruise ports I think it’s a great idea to pack some Aerogard or something similar.  Mosquito’s are known to transmit a variety of serious diseases so it’s best to safe gaurd yourselves and reduce the risks.

Here’s a secret weapon that you may or may not want to pack.

After sun aloe vera gel.  Great when you can’t get your hands on fresh aloe vera.  It’s soothing if you are too busy to reapply and get a little too much Vitamin D.☀️

ELECTRONICS

Save the arguments and pack a USB port hub.  This way you can have all your electronics charging at the same time.

If you’re worried about your device running out of batteries, a power bank is another great option.

For the battery operated devices, remember to pack extra appropriate batteries.  It’ll save you a small fortune as purchasing on the cruise ship may be at a higher cost.🔋

2200mAh Colourful Powerbank PinkJ.Burrows 7 Port USB 2.0 Hub Black

DRESS CODES

NIGHTLIFE – There are some nights that have dress codes.  We researched our themes and packed the appropriate outfits and costumes relevant to our cruise.  Our dress codes were:  Back to school, Gatsby, White and cocktail.💃🕺

I know what you’re thinking…’I won’t be dressing up’.. Well I was nervous about it too but I stepped out of my comfort zone and packed matching outfits for the whole family and it was so much FUN!  I can’t recommend it enough.

ACTIVITIES

If you plan on going snorkelling; pack your own snorkel gear.  There is equipment available for hire but this can become quite expensive when you’re travelling with kids.

We packed our own aqua shoes as well. Not very fashionable but the coral can be quite sharp and getting an injury from coral can cause infection quite quickly.🏊‍♀️

TIP:  Before you leave head to a $2 shop and purchase your family LANG YARDS  These are not supplied and can be expensive.

You’ll get a program delivered to your room so it isn’t a bad idea to pack a HIGHLIGHTER to highlight the activites you’re interested in..and if you like BINGO, pack your pens🖊 These are available on the cruise for a small fee, so don’t stress too much if you forget yours😄

FINDING YOUR CABIN

The absolute BEST tip I have been told and one I wished I had used was to pack some magnets or make a fancy door sign.  The halls all look the same so make your door stand out from the rest with some decorations..If only I knew this when we cruised the Pacific.🖍

COMMUNICATION

Another hot tip I learned from our last cruise was to pack walkie talkies…this makes for easy communication with your friends and family during your cruise.  It’ll save your legs when you’re roaming the halls trying to find where everyone is to plan lunch or dinner.  This is particularly helpful when travelling with teenage children.  They are impossible to find!📱📣

Trust me…we are so reliant on our phones that when you are suddenly without one you realise that we have terrible communication skills.  

I have to admit that I absolutely loved being off the radar during our trip.  There are wifi options available but we opted to detox and immerse ourselves wholly in our holiday.


 

When you’re on an all inclusive holiday you can’t help but make an absolute pig of yourselves.  I think we all put on 5KG each.  So maybe walking the endless halls trying to find your travel buddies wasn’t a bad thing.😂

**DON’T FORGET YOUR COMFY PANTS**

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P&O PACIFIC DAWN

What are your must have bits and pieces when you go on a cruise?

What are your top tips when cruising?

Would love to see if everyone else travels with a fully equipped pharmacy..😂😂

 

♡Mrs Bleakley

 

 

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Travel Snack Ideas & Tips

15 Snacks To Pack for Your Road trip!

 

We all have different taste buds, I get that..and I’m not sure if anyone else notices but our little ones taste buds seem to change, ALOT..One week they will be eating strawberries and the next week they will be telling us that they don’t eat them anymore, and so on…

So variety when on a road trip or travelling for that matter is important.  And a I always tell the kids about the junk food last because the last thing you need is a toddler jacked up on sugar early in on the trip.

But I must admit, on some occasion when everything seems to be haywire I will reach for the packet of chips just to quiet them down…we are all guilty of this so don’t feel bad.

What We Pack

  1. Water – we will freeze some bottles of water to keep everything else cold.  This is great when all the unfrozen bottles are either finished or have gone hot.   The frozen bottles are usually ready to drink by this stage and can be very refreshing.
  2. Juice – 250mL, same deal with the juice boxes.  Get your favourite juice boxes, freeze some and put some in cold.
  3. Yoghurt pouches – this one would be one of our main snacks that we always pack.  Vaalia seems to be the flavour of choice for our kids.
  4. Popcorn – Who doesn’t love popcorn!! Make your own and store them into separate sandwich sized lock seal bags.  If that sounds like too much, you can always buy small packets of popcorn with or without salt and/or flavour.
  5. Pretzels – this one is a bit hit and miss.  Some times the kids love them, sometimes they don’t.. I still pack a couple of packets just to add to the variety, plus Mum or Dad will probably enjoy them anyway, so they won’t go to waste.
  6. Fresh fruit – apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries and grapes are the big hit on our road trips.  No mess, no fuss! Well, to an extend!😂
  7. Carrot, Capsicum and cucumber sticks – really happy to say that this seems to be the first to go..to get the kids to enjoy the less ‘enjoyable’ snacks we pack one of thier favourite dips. (eg, french onion or avocado)  This has been our trick to get our darling children to eat their raw vegies. Works a treat!
  8. Sandwiches – you can’t go wrong with packing a few sandwiches with everyone’s favourite spreads.  If you’re wanting to pack some sandwiches with meat on them; as long as you have some frozen bottles or ice packs in your esky or cooler bag you should survive.
  9. Ritz or Jatz – Ritz are my favourite as they don’t seem to be as hard as a Jatz biscuit.  We have already packed some dips for our fresh vegetable sticks so a packet of Ritz will be perfect to add to the trip.
  10. Nuts/trail mix – I’m a little fussy and only like the salted peanuts.  Try a DIY trail mix and creating one with all your family favourites. Include some dry fruit in there as well. (eg. banana, apricots & sultanas)
  11. Muesli Bars – NOT a hit at all in our family unfortunatly. We are a little naughty and get the choc chip ones; for Dad AKA ‘The Driver’ he seems to like this snack the most.
  12. Beef Jerky – Now this is what I’m talking about!! Mum’s favourite!  I could actually live off jerky if I could.  I always buy the biggest packet at our first fuel stop.  Yes, to my disgust, I do share. When I get the not so hot one; chilli is my fave. *insert evil laugh*
  13. Packets of Chips or shapes – The convenient go to.  We always have chips and/or shapes .  When the kids are tired, cranky, exhausted between stops sometimes a packet of chips is the easiest and most fulfilling and in my opinion this is absolutely fine!
  14. Mints – Keep this one a secret…We pack mints for the parents only.  This is our reward for surviving the trip.
  15. Snakes – The Natural Confectionary Co. snakes are a special treat for the kids.  This is what we use for our bribery tool…Eat that sandwich and you’ll get a snake.  I know you all do it; plus it works! and as the old saying goes.. ‘whatever works’, right?
Road trip snacks
Road trip snacks…

Note: before you begin your road trip or journey.  Always check and be aware of the quarantine zones if you are travelling interstate and ensure correct disposal of any restricted products (fruit & veg). For more information on zones in Australia, click here.

Travelling long road trips can be tiring for everyone especially our kids.  Patience, lots of snacks and regular breaks can help the whole family overcome any second thoughts about travelling with your kids.  And if it is a first time, yes it does get better, however there will always be someone who seems to be more tired & cranky.  The best approach is to not join thier chaos. Stay calm.  Talk about all the cool things you will be doing with them when you get there (after unpacking & a rest).  And if you’re on your way home, have a discussion about the good things they get to do and see when they get home (eg. see thier family pet, all thier friends they haven’t seen for a while or just being back in thier own beds).

Tips:  If you haven’t got one already, fit a seat protector on your backseat.  This will help with cleaning out your car and save alot of stress during your trip if someone spills thier juice or drops a berry in a hard to get to place like under your baby’s car seat.

The best way to avoid the mess in the car is to stop for picnics.  This is when everyone can stretch thier legs and go to the bathroom.  Or if you’re stopping to go the the bathroom, make this the time for your picnic.

Pack rubbish bags – put all rubbish into a bag straight away.  This way when you are stopping for the bathroom stop or fuel you can easily dispose of the rubbish.

Of course, our snacks change as our kids grow but these are main snacks when we are road tripping.  The main idea is to pack your favourites that won’t send the kids too hypo and can be easy to dispose of at each stop.  Healthier options are obviously ideal.

The less plastic the better…

 

Let us know what you pack by posting in the comments.

 

♡Mrs Bleakley

Australia’s Capital Territory

VISITING CANBERRA

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If you’ve read our previous posts you will know that our eldest daughter, Louvaro is a National Athletics Champion. We’ve been lucky enough to travel to a few of our capital cities in Australia for different competitions.  We’ve travelled for sport for the last 3 years and this post is about our visit to Canberra.

Canberra is the capital of Australia and less than 3 hours South West of Sydney.  More than 1800km from where we live in Central Queensland.

We flew into Canberra via Brisbane and hired a car for the duration of our trip.

The Canberra airport would have to be the cleanest airport I have ever seen!

This trip started off to be hectic as the airline actually forgot to load our 18 month olds pram onto the plane.  The airline then went on to miss the next flight as well, however, we did eventually get it couriered to us. I have to say that both our forearms got a good work out.

Nevertheless, here are some of the things we got to see and do during this trip.

Australian War Memorial

A world class museum where even the children will be pleased that you dragged them along.  There are free daily tours run by a magnificent team of volunteers or you can explore everything the museum has to offer at your own pace.   This one is great to help the kids understand the sacrifices made and just what happened during the war and teach them why it is important to remember the men and women who served in the Australian Military forces.

Inside you will find memorials, information, simulations and much, much more.  If you’re wanting to look up a loved one, head to the archives, give them a name and they will direct you to where you will find more information.  Buy a poppy and pin it beside your loved ones name on the wall of poppies.  If you hang around until 4.55PM AEDT you can witness the incredibly moving last post ceremony or watch live online.

You can find out more on what the Australian War Memorials displays and tour times, here.

Parliament House

The Parliament House actually caught us by surprise.  My husband took some convincing but once we were in we actually really enjoyed ourselves and for people who weren’t too interested in visiting – we seemed to take the most photos here .  There is plenty of parking beneath the building and to get inside you need to pass through a heavy security screening similar to the screening at the airport.

There are free daily tours, tours you can pay to join for a more in depth experience or you can self-guide around the building.  If you’re taking a self-guided tour make sure you are reading the signs displayed as to where you can and can’t enter.  The foyer is something you just have to see for yourself with a stunning marble staircase and 48 marble columns.  The Great Hall isn’t much to see but if you are into everything politics than you might enjoy it.  Most will also enjoy the parliaments architecture.  We were lucky enough to visit during a non-sitting day so we were allowed to enter  into the House of Representatives and Senate which was kind of exhilarating. Our favourite part was heading up to the roof and a photo opportunity out the front of the house.  I do recommend everyone to go to the gift shop though.  I guarantee you will not leave empty handed.

 

Questacon

With spectacular science shows, displays and hands on activities this is one the kids will LOVE.   There just isn’t enough hours in a day to discover it all.  If you follow the link below you will see just how much there is to see and do at Questacon alone.  Plan at least a half a day here.

Questacon – The National Science and and Technology Centre.  

A large granite stone ball sitting on a large slab of stone, which intern sits within a stainless steel bin. Water flows from under the granite and over the stone to the bin.A rectangular black granite pilar about 1500 milimeters heigh, with for slits running from across the top to three quarters of the way down the sides. The pilar sits on concrete and is located in a garden environment.

Cockington Green Gardens

Handcrafted miniature buildings have never been so cool.  Cockington Green Gardens is for the whole family.  If you have green fingers you probably won’t want to leave; you will be busy admiring the perfectly landscaped gardens on show.  There is also a miniature train ride and  I don’t know about everyone else but I think these rides never seem to get old.

Entry for the whole family will cost you around $60 (up to 3 children).  And it is well worth it!

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What we missed…

Our daughter was competing in 5 different events so you can only imagine how busy we were throughout the trip.  So here are a few things that we have on our list the next time we visit.

Royal Australian Mint

National Dinosaur Museum

Australian Institute of Sport

National Zoo & Aquarium

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

National Library

MORE INFO

Everything in Canberra is easy to get to and too expensive for a taxi so hiring a car is a good idea.  If your planning a trip to Canberra with children check out the 3infun website.  Here you can purchase a family pass to the Australian Institute of Sport, Questacon and the Cockington Green Garden.  Great value for money if you ask me and a time saver.

Canberra grocery stores have already ditched the plastic bags so be prepared to pay for a more biodegradable bag or pack your own tote shopping bags.

As always, we used AirBnb  and we scored a perfect little cottage behind the owners house.  It had everything we needed and heating for the cool nights, YES there were still cool nights in December.

Pack for both cold weather and hot.  The evenings and mornings were cool (for us Queenslanders) but the middle of the day was HOT.

Note: I will get $25 credit if you sign up, book & stay using our AirBnB link. And we always read reviews before booking.

 

♡Mrs Bleakley

Our TOP 5 things to do in Vanuatu!

EFATE, VANUATU

WHERE IS EFATE?

In the Pacific Ocean, above New Caledonia and West of Fiji.

Languages spoken are French, Bislama and English.

Ni-Vanuatu or Ni-Van is a term you will hear and is used to refer to the locals.

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Just a short, less than 3 hour flight from Brisbane you fly directly into Port Vila, the capital of Efate, Vanuatu.

I’m not sure about everyone else but I found that the short flight was perfect for when you’re travelling with children.  And not just anywhere…to paradise!!

‘The happiest place on earth’…

There is so much to do when you visit the island of Efate and if you get the chance – stay for at least 10 days.  Whether it is for the cultural experience, family holiday or a romantic getaway.  There is something for everyone, GUARANTEED!

SO MUCH TO DO

I thought I’d do a blog post on my TOP 5 things to do; which was extremely hard to narrow down.  Some places I have visited myself with my family (we have been here twice now) and others that I had on my list and didn’t quite make it – no thanks to Cyclone Pam!  But, I am determined to return within the next 2 years to complete my list of things to see and do on Efate.

BLUE LAGOON

This place like most of Efate is STUNNING.  For a small fee you can go in and enjoy the crystal blue waters all day, which includes use of the BBQ areas.  Pack a picnic, take your snorkeling gear and explore whats beneath the surface.  You will discover the tropical fish that appear unbothered by your curiosity.  You may even spot a turtle or two.  And if you’re sense of adventure is waiting for something exciting, you will LOVE the rope swings scattered along the lagoon.  Test your skills or watch the local children show you how it’s done.

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UNDERWATER POST OFFICE  

The ONLY underwater post office in the WORLD!  You purchase waterproof postcards  for $3.00 and dive down to post your card.  Pretty cool, right?  For more information on the underwater post office, click here. This was my TOP thing to do on Efate.  But unfortunately due to Cyclone Pam the Hideaway Island was forced to close and we were actually evacuated the next day.  For those who are wondering, YES we did make it out on time and what an experience it was for our first trip overseas. To read more about our first adventure to Vanuatu you can read that blog here.

VANUATU JUNGLE ZIPLINE 

This is something everyone would like to experience.  Take in the breathtaking views over the jungle as you fly through the air on Vanuatu’s famous zipline.  There are a couple of tours daily and a couple of different tours to choose from so there is something for the beginner and the children or if you’re a little more game and adventurous there is a tour for you too.  If you prefer to sit this one out there is a jungle walk available for you at no cost.  This tour will be etched into you and your families memories forever.

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DUGOUT CANOE RIDE 

Dugout Canoe rideWe experienced a dugout canoe ride in the Epule River.  A dugout is a hollowed out tree trunk.  As nervous as I was with an 8 month old baby on my lap I felt really safe and I really enjoyed the tour.  Our canoe ‘driver’ and I’ll call him a driver because to be honest I’m really not sure what you would call them; an operator maybe?? Anyway, he was dressed in traditional grass skirt and body art, it was kind of magical.  My main concerns was of what was beneath the surface; so I asked the question.  ‘Are there any crocodiles or sharks in the water?’  To my surprise, apparently Vanuatu doesn’t have any of these dangerous creatures lurking in the waters…Nothing like where we live in Queensland, Australia.  We were apart of the round island tour to experience this one but I’m sure if you ask the locals they will point you in the direction if you’re doing a self-guided tour.  The locals are very friendly, accommodating and always happy to help.

CASCADE WATERFALLS

Rated as one of Vanuatu’s most popular attractions Cascade Waterfalls just has to be on your list of things to see during your holiday in Vanuatu.  Venture through Vanuatu’s largest village with a population of about 6000 residents to get to the base of Cascades.  Appropriate footwear is recommended as there is a short walk and the rocks can get quite slippery.  There is a small fee to access the waterfalls, however, if you do book through a tour agency to do a round island tour or half island tour the prices for your attractions is included in the price you pay for the tour.

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If you’re like our family and choose to wing it most of the time, make sure you interact with the locals and get all the information you need about the attractions and fees.  If you don’t have any tours booked and still wish to see any of these attractions you will find someone who will be more than happy to help.

To narrow our top 5 down was tough.  There is so much to see on Efate.  There are hot springs, WWII relics, great surfing, unforgettable fishing, and plenty of snorkelliing  just to name a few.  Or maybe you are interested in visiting the local schools and interacting with the ambitious children of Vanuatu.

 

 

The more you discover the more you will realize that you will be back again.

My favourite place to visit (yes, I’m letting you all in on my secret paradise and where my husband and I married)  is Le Life Resort.  Le Life Resort is on the north of the island and offers deluxe bungalows or for the people seeking the cultural experience they have glamping AKA Glamorous camping.  For the day trippers they offer an amazing traditional lunch  menu.  You will absolutely love the staff, they are very welcoming and make you feel right at home.  The bonus… the stunning views!

NOTE: You will pass Blue Lagoon, village schools and picturesque coconut farms so allow for some stops on your way there. 

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Vanuatu
A very cheeky bird drinking from someones drink

A MUST DO to fully capture a Vanuatu experience is to get involved with the village communities.  In Vanuatu you can even stay with the locals. Book a couple of cultural experiences.  And don’t forget to try some local Kava.  Try finding a common bar where they use bottled water to prepare the Kava.

I also recommend keeping a few Vatu (local currency) on you so you can purchase locally made artifacts for souvenirs.  Most is OK to bring back into Australia but just check the regulations relevant to your destination before you travel.  In some markets you can purchase sealed souvenirs if you want to play it safe.

We used Melanesian Tours to book our round island tour but there are a few options available and we flew directly into Port Vila from Brisbane with Air Vanuatu.

You will find that the Vanuatu way/culture is very special and the more you discover the more you will realise that you’ll be back again.

♡Mrs Bleakley

STANAGE BAY

STANAGE BAY, QUEENSLAND

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Ideal for the whole family or just a fishing trip with mates, Stanage Bay is  a hidden gem located on the Queensland  coast.

Where the dirt road meets the ocean

We’re already four weeks into our new year and our main New Years Resolution was to do more little road trips. Long weekends are perfect to pack the car up and get away.

Our first long weekend road trip of the year found us glamping in Stanage Bay, Queensland.  We had this trip planned before Christmas and we are lucky enough to have a family friend with a hut located 2 minutes from the beach, who let us stay the whole long weekend.  So we had shower & toilet amenities #Glamping 😂

GETTING THERE

Less than 100km north of Rockhampton you turn off onto an unfenced dirt road where you are met with the abundance of Australian wildlife free to roam thier territory.  Take your time, as you will come across lots of cattle and kangaroos crossing, and if you’re really lucky you may catch sight of some emus or a deer.  Some have been lucky enough to even have to stop for a passing turtle, snake or echidna.

Stanage Bay Road is perfect for all those wildlife photographers out there.

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Although, we had the option of spending our nights in The Hutt, we took our tent along to test our camping skills.  And I don’t know about everyone else but ‘THE TENT’ is always the biggest test for us when it comes to your patience and communication skills. 😂

  • Tell us all about your tent set up horror stories in the comments.

Between the 6 of us (10 including our kids) we packed plenty of food.  We had a Webber Q for all out meat and the camp fire for everything else.  Corn cobs and potatoes in the camp fire seem to be our favourite and they go a long way.  On our last night we even cooked the best of what Stanage Bay has to offer on our camp fire, The Mud Crab, which we purchased due to having no luck in the pots that day. YES, you can purchase them from the local Marine and Accommodation Store and Omg, the mudcrabs are an ABSOLUTE MUST! If you’re not allergic.

More info

Stanage Bay will catch you by surprise.  A small town with a population of less than 100.

The town is famous for boating, crabbing and fishing.  If you luck out catching any mud crabs you can always purchase some from the local Marine and Accommodation store . This is where you can also purchase any bait and tackle needs you left behind or if camping isn’t your thing this is where you’ll book your accommodation for your group fishing trip.  Where the Marine and Accommodation store is booked out, give The Barra Lodge a call or you can always look up AirBnb .

If you don’t have a boat, that’s ok! If you’re experienced you can hire one, if available, or take the kids down to one of the deserted beaches to try your luck.  More often than not the kids will be more than happy to spend thier day playing in the shallow waters.

Alligator Bay
Alligator Bay

If you have a 4WD head up to the lookouts (only accessible via 4WD) or head to Porters Creek, our kids LOVED fishing off the rocks. You can camp on Porters Creek but campfires are band in some areas due to the the turtle reserve areas so be sure to check with the locals where these bans are located.   And remember to pack your OWN WATER.

NOTE: If there has been plenty of rain you can ask the kind Coast Guards if you can fill your water containers, all they ask for in return is a donation.

All campsites are maintained by local volunteers as well and you can make donations to the volunteers at the local Plumtree Store.

The Plumtree Store has everything else you may need and at reasonable prices.  We always seem to get anxious with the costs being raised for small towns like this but they are honestly fantastic prices and friendly service.  The shop owners are long time residents and have kept the prices reasonable to keep you coming back.

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At the end of the day be sure to pop into the Crab Pot Bar for a cold drink and enjoy a meal.  The locals are friendly and love filling you in on the history of the town and might even share some good fishing spots with you.

Crab Pot bar
Crab Pot Bar

We all enjoyed ourselves so much that we will definitely be returning this year.  Maybe we will even have our own boat next time!! 😜

 ♡ MrsBleakley

Two weddings and a Cruise

TWO WEDDINGS

We were planning our own location wedding when we were invited to a good friends location wedding and I was given the honour of being a bridesmaid..what better way than to turn a cruise holiday into an epic wedding vacation.

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P&O PACIFIC DAWN

I was planning my wedding in Vanuatu and sending my dress measurements to my friend for thier wedding in New Caledonia.

HENS NIGHT

We celebrated our hens night on the 2nd night of our cruise. Of course on this cruise they have strict RSA (responsible service of alcohol)laws. Now when I say strict, I mean, you can’t be too noisy because they will simply cut your service from the bar. So imagine a group of excited girls (who haven’t had a drink yet) preparing to celebate two weddings..🍹Yep, we were cut from the first bar we walked into, to be fair, we were walking into a relaxed blues bar..well actually, we were very enthusiastically entering via a conga line 😂

So a very early lesson was learnt and we very quickly tamed ourselves. Well at least until the nightclub opened later that evening. And I think we tried all the cocktails available on our drinks package through the night.

While the ladies were busy forming conga lines and being refused service (in the blues bar) the men were in the Casino where they didn’t seem to have much luck but they did learn how to play things like black jack & whatever elese they have on offer in a casino.

Hens Night – Out at Sea

ALL YOU CAN EAT

When your package is ALL INCLUSIVE, you find yourself eating ALOT. There was so much variety and I found we were having 2 or more helpings in one sitting..I even found myself eating food that I wouldn’t usually eat, like baby Octopus and WOW what a treat..sorry to any Vegans or Vegetarians 😁

On a couple of nights we dined a la carte and my favourite part was that they seated the kids at thier own table and the big kids helped our little ones out. It was good to see them enjoy the dining experience just as much as we did in all the restaurants.

Fine dining for a 3 year old

OUT AT SEA..OUT AT SEA..OUT AT SEA

FIRST STOP – Noumea

We stopped in Noumea first and joined a ChouChou train tour. This is a MUST when stopping in Noumea. There is a big market of heaps of different items amd lots of music. This stop was a short stop so we were back onboard before we knew it.

Don’t forget your passport. If you like collecting stamps in your passport you can have your passport stamped for $2.00 during your day on the islands. Stalls are located around the markets for passport stamping.

NEXT STOP – LIFOU – Wedding one!

What a BEAUTIFUL day in a BEAUTIFUL location to celebrate the wedding of a BEAUTIFUL couple. There isn’t much more to say. The whole day went smoothly! And they picked a stunning part of the world, we are so grateful to have been apart of the day.

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LIFOU – Stunning. Picturesque. Beauty. When you arrive you are instantly welcomed. The markets are full of local cuisine to try and if anything I would recommend learning some basic french just for communication purposes. In the markets you can try the local Kava and for all the people with long hair, you can have you hair braided for a small fee. There is so much to see on Lifou and always remember your snorkel gear when on any of these islands. There is so much to explore and an abundance of sea life to discover. If you forget your snorkel gear, thats ok, you can hire them on the islands too.

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Stunning Lifou 🌴

WEDDING TWO – VANUATU

OUR WEDDING DAY…and just as we had hoped our day was PERFECT. Very relaxed and smooth. Our pastor was 2 hours late but this meant we had the time to look around and take in the beauty of the day while the kids went snorkelling.

Our son (the ringbearer) decided he wouldn’t get dressed so he spent the whole day in his undies. But this is how he spends his days at home so I wasn’t about to bust his bubble and create an unnecessary scene that could potentially upset the day.

I kept makeup to a minimum and left my hair naturally curly. Most of our close family and friends who could make it were there and we were so blessed to be spending such a wonderful day with them. I wish I could do it all over again and I wouldn’t change a thing.

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A very cheeky bird drinking from someones drink

OUT AT SEA

The remainder of our trip was spent by the waterpark..Yes, our ship was a small one but they have a waterpark & a waterslide.

The older kids have a kids club available to them jam packed with activites. They did alot of dance lessons & karaoke.

There are also things like a zipline & rockclimbing.

The littles also have a kids club with plenty of activities but we found our 3 year old was happy by our side enjoying the water play.

One thing I will be taking with us next time is: walkie talkies..we are actually hopeless without our mobile phones when it comes to communication 😂 and travelling in a group on a cruise was challenging to maintain good communication, however, the exercise from trying to find each other wasn’t a bad thing when there is all you can eat available.

THEME NIGHTS

We researched our theme nights and packed for the occasions but there is plenty on board for purchasing. Our theme nights were back to school, gatsby, white and you have formal nights as well.

SHOPPING

There is something for everyone!

WHAT A GREAT HOLIDAY WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS

We had a group of 35 of us! And so much fun was had during our week on board Pacific Dawn..And we are planning our next adventure altogether to Hawaii in 2019!! And we can’t wait! 🌴

REMEMBER:

Snorkel gear (or hire for a fee)

Langyard for your cruise ID/card for onboard use or purchase on board

Research your theme nights and travel prepared

Walkie talkies to stay in contact with family members

Swimwear, hats etc of course,

Cameras

& be prepared for a great time!

PS. I went prepared with ginger tablets in case of sea sickness and took them the whole time. This seemed to work for me.

♡Bleakley Family

First family trip overseas – VANUATU

VANUATU 2015

Our first family trip overseas. Planning this trip was so exciting. I hadn’t been overseas since I was a little girl and that was to Papua New Guinea to visit family. Lulu, our eldest, was 10, Preston was almost 8 months old. I think I checked to make sure our passports hadn’t magically grown feet and disappeared about 5 times leading up to the trip. I had also packed and repacked our bags a few times. Our first trip overseas was starting out to be stressful as I was preparing for every scenario, which, for future reference to anyone who wants to take their children on holidays. Let it go, whatever happens will happen, and I really wish I had someone giving me advice and telling me to relax. #hindsight

At the airport – Vanuatu bound!

OVER PREPARED AND READY TO GO

It’s a bit of a mission to get to Vanuatu from where we live in Queensland. Well, I consider it to be when hauling precious cargo like children around.  First, we fly to Brisbane (our capital city in Queensland) and spent the day there with some friends before flying out that night. We are all excited at this stage, until we get to the airport.

Here comes the stressed out #Mumlife bit.. The hauling of luggage, prams and children was enough to put anyone off taking the kids on a holiday.  Then you have the outgoing passenger cards to fill out for everybody.  And I’m thinking, why can’t there be a check box on them for parents to tick for children under one, and just didn’t make sense to me. Alas, I still completed all the forms.  NOTE TO SELF: No point complaining because nobody listens.  All while this is happening my 7 month old has been begging for boob.  YES. I’m travelling with a demanding breastfed baby.  You start to stare at your children and begin to think if it will actually be worth it and if we should have left the kids at home hahah then you’re thinking that they had better appreciate this trip.  (Not really staring at the children, just into space trying to picture paradise)

We get on our flight and there is about 10 people on the whole flight (midnight flight) so we could literally have a whole row to ourselves if we wanted to, though Lulu was the only one who took up this opportunity, she thought it was great.  Dad aka Zac (husband) thought the Nambawan beer was pretty good, and so did I 😉  Preston got comfortable for a feed and he was out to it before we could even get into the air.  This was the best part, finally we could enjoy the fact that we were on our way to paradise.

HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH

Some consider Vanuatu the happiest place on Earth.  And I can understand why.. You’re greeted with beautiful song and the smiles when you disembark and walk through the airport,  Ni-Van locals ALWAYS have big, genuine smiles.  You are made to feel very welcome on arrival – even when you arrive at midnight.  Then, if you arranged hotel transfers your drivers are waiting for you with an adorable shell necklace, cold drink and a cold face towel.   We are pretty much sold on Vanuatu being our home away from home at this stage. Completely loving all aspects.  #easily pleased

What can I say, this was our first trip and it’s the little things that matter 😂

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Local kids stopping to say hello after school

OUR WEEK IN VANUATU

Our week was filled with delicious food, beautiful people and an amazing experience.  This is where I appreciate the fact that I could have my kids with me and that it is in fact all totally worth it.

The Ni-van locals absolutely adored the kids, especially the little fat one.  We couldn’t go anywhere without people squeezing our little fat man.  We enjoyed lunch at a beautiful restaurant overlooking the water and the staff were more than happy to take Preston off our hands while we enjoyed our meal.

Enjoy your meal while staff keep your kids busy

We visited a couple of schools where the kids were more than pleased to show off what they had been learning about and would even share some of their songs they had learned.  If you’re looking to visit schools on your trip to Efate, Vanuatu there are so many to choose from, if you’ve got the time you could almost visit them all.  The schoolkids are so eager to learn and their communities do a fantastic job with them considering their resources are short and if you travel prepared I suggest packing some books and pencils to donate and/or visit with a little extra Vatu (Vanuatu currency) to purchase locally made items.

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Local school built by the community

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Experiences like village tours, jungle walks and dugout canoe rides were my absolute highlight.  These would have to have been my favourite things.  If your really game, try some local Kava, but take this as your warning.  DON’T drink too much unless you want to find yourself in a state of some type of full body paralysis.  The locals have great stories of tourists who have had more than recommended and they needed to be carried home.  I do recommend you ask where a Kava bar is that is made with bottled water.  Some villages make it fresh for the cruise ships that are docking so I suggest to head more towards those bars.

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There are so many places to swim and snorkel so don’t forget to pack your snorkel gear and water shoes.  Vanuatu also has the ONLY UNDERWATER POST OFFICE in the world.

You will never fall short of things to do in Vanuatu!

Unfortunately, our trip was cut short due to Cyclone Pam, so we are yet to discover more of the island.

HEADING HOME

We were extremely lucky to be able to get on the last flight out of Vanuatu.  Personally, I think it had something to do with travelling with a young baby.  The airline called us and told us that they had flights for us free of charge, this was after trying to book a flight earlier in the day with no luck.

The drive to the airport at 4am was a nightmare.  A cyclone was due to hit that day and the rain was so heavy we couldn’t see a thing.  So, I switched on the go pro just in case something went wrong on the drive over.  The airport was absolutely packed full of people trying to leave the country and there were families lined up out the door trying to book tickets.  This is why I thought to be extremely lucky when the airline contacted us with our reserves seating.

What was worse is that Preston had an upset tummy.  We ended our Vanuatu experience with a demanding breastfed baby with diarrhoea in a very congested airport.  Not pleasant but thankful to be flying home.

 

We returned in 2017 and married at a little paradise location we found on our first visit.

Is Vanuatu on your list of places to visit?

All in all it was a fantastic first trip despite the evacuation 2 days early!

♡Bleakley Family

 

 

First of hopefully many blogs..

Our Wedding Location
This photo is my own from Our wedding in Vanuatu

FIRST of all HAPPY NEW YEAR to all.  I hope this year brings you lots of laughter, great health and new adventures.

FIRST POST!!

I’ve been sitting here for the past week trying to figure out how to write my first post. I now have a new respect for writers. Writers block is real and I am, by all means no writer. I don’t even read books but I guess now is the time to start.  It’s not easy trying to think of how to start or what to open with and I think for me it is the uncertainty of not knowing if I’ll be able to actually continue to find things to talk about, but I have nothing to lose, so here I go.

I have little to no writing experience. As far as I go with writing it’s the odd appreciation post on Facebook or if I am updating friends and family on my daughters outstanding sporting achievements and even that was kept to a minimal.  She is a national multiclass athletics champion by the way, with being awarded Sportsperson of the Year, two years in a row..#proudmum

I have been asking my 13 year old daughter (the athlete) for help and she has been reading over what I have written to see if she thinks it sounds good. YES! Mums need help sometimes and what better person to ask than your tech savvy teenager.

Together, we have been thinking of topics to write about and we, including my husband decided that we will stick to family travel & lifestyle with a lot of local. When I say ‘a lot of local’ it simply means we are faced with the harsh reality of needing fulltime jobs and we will be blogging our litte road trips (see what I did there), while we save for our major trips.

THE START

Our journey started when my daughter was diagnosed with a severe rod-cone dystrophy – Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition.  My darling daughter is legally blind. Now don’t get me wrong, the diagnosis hasn’t changed much of her lifestyle at the moment. She is super resilient, has adjusted well and is an oustanding athlete which keeps us busy and I think I struggled with her diagnosis more than what she did, BUT..and the is always a but, being diagnosed with this rare condition means that there is little known about the condition.  Which means, from what I understand, she could go blind at anytime or she could be lucky enough to maitain the remaining vision for a long time.  Being faced with something like this and realising time is precious, it changes your perspective.

We gave her the idea of a visual bucket list, simply, a list of things to see and do before and if she were to go blind. This has since turned into a family bucket list.  And here we are, ticking one little thing off our list at a time.

Sharing our life so publicly is a huge step and sounds a little crazy but what better way to start the new year: with a new hobby.

We’d like to give other families encouragement, inspiration and tips while travelling with children and welcome all the help and tips that you can share with us because lets face it, travelling with kids can be challenging, escpecially with a toddler.

Most importantly we’d like you to start talking about your bucket lists and start ticking things off tour things to do list.  Your bucket list doesn’t have to be huge, it could be as simple as finding out about your local attractions and making the most of what is in your local area. Just because you’re not a ‘tourist’ doesn’t mean it can’t explore the area or book a tour.

And there you have it, our first post!

Bear with us as we stumble our way through learning the ropes of blogging.


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