This month I am honoured to introduce you to Travelynn Family. I can say with all honesty that Travelynn Family is one of my favourite family travel blogs out there. It follows their lives as they explore expat life in India. I am also excited to be able to tell you that Jenny is also our guest host for this month’s fearless family travel link up! so without further ado, I am excited to help you to get to know them better.
What is your family travel? Full-time, part-time, digital nomads etc.
We are part-time travellers from the UK, based in Bangalore, India. We moved here with my husband’s work in April this year. Living in Bangalore provides us with a new base in a new corner of the world to explore. We can hop on a sleeper train for a weekend away in Kochi, Pondicherry or Hampi. Or we jump on a short flight to Colombo, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Kathmandu (all less than a 4 hour flight away) for a longer week or fortnight holiday. Although, living in India means that every day feels like an adventure. Just getting to softplay involves careering around chaotic streets in an auto (tuk-tuk), dodging meandering cows and getting caught up in street festivals.
Photo: The boys running around the streets on Kochi
Jason and I met back in 2000 at uni and we’ve travelled full-time a few times before we had the boys. However, we always had to return to ‘normal life’ to keep the bank balance happy. Digital nomad travel is certainly the dream, but for now we’re very happy living as expats and taking on the adventures on our new doorstep; using every annual leave day, public holiday and weekend possible.
2. How has your travel style changed since becoming a family?
We still venture off the beaten track as much as possible, but the biggest change is that we currently avoid areas with malaria. There are so many incredible places to explore on this planet that it’s not worth travelling to places where the boys (just 2 and 3 years old) have to take anti-malarials.
We now also embrace slow travel. Particularly in India, travel can be quite a sensory-overload even for adults, so we ensure there is downtime every day. We also plan our routes, journeys and accommodation in advance as much as possible, as travelling with young kids means that we have much less free time.
Accommodation is also another aspect that has changed. I remember staying in a hut in Laos for $1 per night pre-kids. We were travelling over land and sea from the UK to Sydney (without the use of a plane) on a very tight budget. The mattress had dead cockroaches underneath and the ensuite bathroom consisted of a hole cut into the wooden floorboards for a toilet and a bucket for a shower. Not exactly kid friendly! These days we still stay on the budget end, but spend a bit more to ensure at least a clean room and decent toilet. We also like to stay somewhere with a balcony or patio, so that we can enjoy some adult time when the boys go to sleep.
3. What was your baby(ie)’s first trip? Why did you chose to go there? What were the highlights/lowlights etc?
When the boys were first born we were living back in the UK, after previously living in New Zealand. We loved the NZ countryside and promised ourselves that we would explore Scotland more on return to the UK as there are so many similarities. So when Arthur (our first) was just 5 months old we took a 3 week road trip around the Scottish Highlands. This was such a good age to road trip! We would time the drives with his naps and he would sit happily in a highchair in pubs. It felt like a very easy holiday and I honestly can’t remember any lowlights. My sleep-deprived mum-brain probably
Once Ezra came along in May 2015, we all went camping in Dordogne in the South of France soon after. We were living in Kent at the time where it’s so easy to get a ferry across the Channel and cruise along the smooth French motorways. That trip proved more challenging though as we didn’t sleep too well. It was towards the end of the summer and the nights were unusually cold in our tent, our eldest had molars coming through and I was breastfeeding my hungry bub every two hours through the night. But we would still have been knackered at home and we look back on that trip so very fondly. We got to explore a beautiful area of France together and as the boys’ didn’t sleep too well at night, they would sleep well in the buggy and sling during the day, meaning us parents could stop for a quiet beer in peace (gone are those days now!) Those early days were all about creating memories amongst the sleep deprivation for us.
4. What is your favourite family travel gadget and why?
The Amazon Kindle Fire for kids loaded up with all their favourite TV shows and games. I know, I know… screen time is bad. But for long flights, delayed trains and when the kids wake at 5:30am and there’s no TV in your hotel… it’s Paw Patrol to the rescue
5. What is your favourite family travel destination and why?
So far, it has to be Essaouira in Morocco. It was our first intrepid destination as a family (our boys were 2 and almost 1) and with just a 4 hour flight time from the UK, no jet lag and no visa or vaccination requirements, we were off to a good start. We found a beautiful house on AirBnb in the centre of the medina with fantastic rooftop top views and enjoyed exploring the working fishing port, riding camels on the beach, jumping in the waves and high-fiving locals around the medina. Plus, with Pampers nappies available on every street corner, it just felt easy.
6. What is the most family friendly accommodation you have ever visited?
We rarely sought out specific family friendly accommodation as we tend to use a hotel as a base for exploration, rather than spend too much time there. Although if it’s hot and there is a pool, that’s always a bonus! We’ve found all the hotels we’ve stayed at in India so far to be extremely welcoming and staff have a wonderful nature with the boys.
Although if I had to pick one place, it would be the Sheraton in Abu Dhabi. We stayed there for a stopover when we moved to Bangalore. With all the stresses of packing up and leaving our home, we just wanted to chill and treat ourselves. This was one of the rare occasions we sought out a family-friendly hotel as we weren’t too bothered about exploring and wanted to relax. They have a fantastic separate kids swimming pool next to a little playground and staff at the restaurants would specifically ask what our boys wanted to eat and would cook to order.
7. Family travel bloggers can be guilty of showing only the good stuff – what is your worst family travel experience?
Thankfully, we are yet to have a moment where we question what we’re doing and want to go home. Yes we’ve had difficult meals out, whinges about walking too far, sleepless nights and fights over who owns which stick in the park. But that’s all stuff that would be happening at home anyway. It’s standard family life. Travelling provides you with a constantly changing backdrop to take on those daily parent chores and with new adventures to experience together, daily life becomes all the more rewarding.
Although come to think of it, I do remember an 18 month old Ezra being quite a pickle on a flight from Bangkok back to London. But he was at that awkward age and we were (just about) mentally prepared for it. Our eldest watched Paw Patrol on loop and us parents took it in turns entertaining the ‘live one’. Yes it was exhausting, but we laugh about it now.
8. What are your top three tips for other families who wish to travel?
1. Change your expectations from your travel pre-kids. As a parent travelling with kids, you still have to be ‘on’. Kids are just as demanding and unpredictable away from home. Lounging by the pool, sipping cocktails, reading a novel and recharging your battery is not going to happen if you’re travelling with young kids.
2. New places, people and cultures can be a sensory overload for little minds. Don’t try and cram too much into your day. Otherwise you may end up with grouchy, stroppy, overtired kids… and parents. You know your own kids, don’t push them too far.
3. With so much change, the familiarity of routine is comforting. Try to keep nap times the same and also consider they may need to sleep for longer. If you have kids that don’t usually nap, it’s still best if they get some downtime in the middle of the day.
9. What do you wish you had known or done before starting family travel?
We always knew we wanted to travel with our kids before having them, but it’s fantastic how much support there is amongst the online family travel community. There are so many great resources for sharing ideas and inspiration.
10. What are your future family travel plans?
We’re off to Sri Lanka in a few days (in fact we will probably be back by the time you read this), Northern India in September, meeting old friends in Thailand for a week in Koh Lanta in November and planning an Aussie Outback road trip for early next year (we used to live in Sydney pre-kids and we’re desperate to take the boys back!). We want to keep pushing the boundaries of travel with the boys, especially as they get older. I’d love to do Cape to Cairo as a family one day. Watch this space…