Feb 18, 2011

Three Weeks On, So How Are The Girls Travelling??

It’s been 3 weeks since we left Australia, so how are the girls adjusting to life on the road??  Much to our delight and surprise, Maddy and Yasmine are handling it very well.  Naturally, there are challenges but also we are seeing the reward already too.

Choosing Bali as a first stop has worked out very well.  Although there is much to see and do here,
at the end of the day Bali is a relatively compact island and the distances are not great between places.  And having the luxury of being able to spend 28 days here together with having hired our own car for 11 days, has allowed us to explore the island at a leisurely pace.  We have also generally been able to maintain the girls’ eating and sleeping routines as at home, which has probably been quite instrumental in our ‘success’.  Maddy and Yasmine wake at practically the same time as at home (7ish); we eat breakfast, then generally spend the morning swimming at the beach or in the pool or explore the town a bit.  After lunch, the girls go for their nap for a couple of hours, and Jim and I enjoy the peace and quiet ;)  Depending on what time they get up (which is based on what time they go to sleep), we either swim some more, or go directly for dinner.  The girls are then in bed for around 8:30ish.  This is our typical day, unless we are either a) on the road driving somewhere or b) somewhere where we can’t swim!

As for our sleeping arrangements:  we’ve generally been in 1 room with either a queen bed or 2 singles which we push together.  If only 1 bed, then the girls sleep on their therma-rest mattresses and their sleeping bag liner on the floor.  If the singles are large enough (or if the floors are too dirty), we sometimes can all sleep together on the beds.

The girls seem to be enjoying themselves, although they do have their moments as at home where they get on each other’s cases and just squabble.  Surprisingly they haven’t been too bothered about changing ‘homes’, which sometimes happens every 1-3 nights, or about their sleeping arrangements, nor even about the lack of toys.  However at times they have voiced that they do miss their downtime activity of watching a bit of tv and going to a playground.  (We have only ever encountered 1 outdoor playground, which was in Candikuning today, and it was a great one, and we have discovered an indoor playcentre at a shopping centre and there are a couple of water parks which we haven’t visited.)  The food choices in Bali has also at times been an issue as there’s not a lot of variety among the local Indonesian fare which suit the girls’ pallets as a lot of it tends to be spicy.  On the plus side, they are getting more than their usual share of veggies and fish as its quite a staple fare, with fresh fish being especially prevalent (as well as cheap and tasty) in the coastal areas of Amed and Lovina.  
The Giant Swing at the Playground
The Recreation Park at Candikuning

Jim & Maddy Snorkelling
On definite ‘reward’ that we’ve seen so far is that Maddy has learned to swim and to snorkel.  Although she’d been in swimming lessons at home for the past year, she still lacked confidence in the water and was only managing small distances in deep water with swim aids.  Now after just 3 weeks (of some days spending 3-4hrs in the water) with her new swim coach, Jim, she can breast-stroke/dog paddle approx 8 metres while in deep water. She snorkels in the pool too and she and Jim even tried it in the sea, although it seems that seeing the fish and coral has frightened her a bit as she’s been a bit reluctant to try it in the sea again.  She is definitely much happier on days which are spent in the water, which compensates for the lack of playgrounds somewhat.  Yasmine’s water confidence has also increased.  As the water temperature is much warmer than at home, she’s been more eager to go in for a dip, although she prefers to lazily float around on her dolphin swim float than to learn to swim properly at this point.  Hopefully this will change.

We’ve also been able to experience more cultural events as a family that we wouldn’t otherwise been able to at home given a) the expense and b) the time.  So far, we’ve seen 3 Balinese Dancing performances, including the dramatic Kecak Fire Dance.  The girls have loved it, especially Yasmine who has a love for dancing at the moment.

Another ‘reward’ that we’ve seen is also been with Maddy and her independence.  Her Grampy Lam (aka Gung Gung) from Vancouver joined us 3 days ago and since then, Maddy has been ‘sleeping over’ in his room.  Even though it’s just in the room next door, it’s the first time that she’s spent the night away from us and she’s had no issues with it.  This morning, the two of them awoke before us and they even went out for breakfast together on their own.  Having Grampy Lam here has been fun for us all and has even given Jim and I some time to explore our surroundings on our own while the girls are asleep, which is nice bonus :)

We’re off to a good start on our travels.  We have found our ‘travel legs’ relatively quickly, we’re under budget, and our ‘family bonding’ has already started to show rewards.  Our travels will challenge us more after we leave Bali next week but so far, we couldn’t have hoped for a better start to our trip.

TIPS (for successful travelling with young kids/travelling with toddlers):
  1. Have a good gradual start to your new travel life, especially if the children are young.  If you can keep to their usual daily schedules of eating and sleeping, at least in the beginning, things will be much easier for everyone. 
  2. A laptop where they can watch the occasional DVD of their favourite show can be a great asset.
  3. When deciding on travel clothing, go for items with patterns and which mix and match with each other well.  Patterns show less dirt and stains than solids.  Also, technical fabrics (ie  ‘drifit’) are best for drying quickly and maintaining their shape even after numerous washings, but can be difficult and expensive to buy for children.  Second choice of fabrics would be a light cotton-sheeting type material, which also dries quickly.  This is especially important in humid climates.  Cotton knits take a long time to dry and quickly stretch out of shape after numerous washings.
  4. Depending on the age of your kid(s), consider bringing camping mats like therma-rests, as well as sleeping bag liners/sacs for them to sleep on.  They are light to carry, can attach to the outside of your packs, pack up well, and offer you some flexibility for your sleeping arrangements.


  1. So great to see the girls are handling it so well. Great tips and wonderful writing.

  2. So happy for you all Jess, look forward to your updates. Hopefully I will need the traveling with children advice one day ;-)

    Take Care ~ Graham

  3. Great to hear that the girls are adjusting so well! Yay Maddy for the swimming! Awesome pic of her jumping into the pool! Ya-ya will be a fish soon enough. :)

    Say hi to everyone for us. Liam was talking about the girls and Goong-Goong tonight and said good night to them. :)

    Like Graham said, hopefully we'll need the traveling with kids tips one day!!!

    Glad to hear you are having a great time.

  4. Great tips! I have been trying to decide if we should bring some sort of sleeping mat for the boys so I am glad you addressed that issue. I love the fact that your girls are becoming little fish! That is one of the goals I have for my boys, to increase their confidence in the water.

  5. thanks everyone! the sleeping mats have come in handy and they definitely give you some options without really making much difference in the packing/weight as we've just strapped them to the outside of our backpacks. its amazing how much difference being around water constantly has made, but also to have the time to do so as at home, even if the kids were in the water, we surely wouldn't have had the time to spend it with them!

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