Archive

September 2018

Browsing

4 countries, 12 days

COPENHAGEN, Denmark

At the beginning of January my Nanny Family and I  flew 7 hours from Dubai to Copenhagen, Denmark. We had 24 hours there and were leaving the next morning for a flight to London. So, with an exhausted toddler and the afternoon closing in on us, I put my NK down for a short nap, before we went out on a little walk down the streets of Copenhagen. I had never been to Denmark before and in the short time we were there, I found it quite beautiful, even in the cold. It seems the city is well known for tall terrace block buildings painted in white and some streets, painted in rainbow colours. There are many museums that look amazing from the outside so I can only imagine they are amazing on the inside too. I had been told before we came, that Copenhagen is known as the ‘black city’ and that everyone wears the colour black. That definitely was true, everyone I saw was wearing black! Although I did not get much time to explore Denmark, it was nice to be there and learn a few things about the country I didn’t know before. Three fun facts I learnt:

  1. No place in Denmark is more than 30 miles from the sea.
  2. Denmark is reported to be the happiest country is the world!
  3. Denmark has twice the number of bicycles than cars and Copenhageners pedal more than 1.13 million km on their bicycles each day.

London, UK

We flew to the UK the next morning and once at the hotel, I  went straight out with my NK. Getting through those last few hours of the day before bedtime is always a struggle, after a time-zone change. Staying busy helps, as the time then goes quicker. (See my Jet lag Article for tips on helping defeat jet lag with children)

Over the next 3 days in London we did many fun things, one of them was London Zoo. This was my Nanny babes first time at the zoo, he loved seeing the animals. My NK was at a good age as he could walk and explore himself, rather than being pushed in a stroller all day. Other than the usual animals, London zoo had an animal that many zoo visitors wouldn’t have seen before, the Okapi. It looks like it’s crossed between a deer and zebra, but it is actually cousins with the Giraffe. I definitely recommend anyone who visits London zoo, to go and find the Okapi.

While we were in London, I had some time off which was so nice as I got to spend the time with my partner. The Lumiere light festival was on, which only happens once a year, so we walked the streets in the evening, viewing some of the 50 light displays. There were many street entertainers out as well, which was fun to watch. Some of the light displays were projected onto buildings and others were actual structures that hung in trees or suspended off buildings. My favourite was the butterflies, they turned on a scaffold structure 360 degrees and were lit up purple and orange.

We also visited the National history museum, as they had a special whale exhibition on. This was a great activity to do in the day, to get out of the rain. It was the weekend and so the museum was packed full of people. I would recommend seeing it in the week where it is less busy, but we managed to see everything we wanted too, so that was lucky. This museum is definitely a perfect place for children, there was so many interactive and hands on exhibits that children could touch and play with. Plus, it is FREE entry!

Paris, France

We continued our travels onto Paris by Euro star, which was also a new experience for me. It was much quicker than flying, if you add on the amount of time you spend in the airports before and after your flight. This was another city I’d never been to before, so I was excited to be there. I walked the Champs Elysee all the way to the Arc de Triomphe and then to the Trocadero, which I discovered was an amazing place to view the Eiffel tower from. The Trocadero is so touristy, but if you get there early before the crowds, it is a great photo opportunity.  One evening I was out around 6pm and to my surprise all the sparkly lights came on the Eiffel tower, this was really special. Later I learnt it sparkles every hour in the evening. While we were here, I also got to see my twin best-friends who I went to school with , they happened to be in Paris the same time as me. We caught up and explored Paris together. I had always wanted to see the Mona-Lisa painting in real life, so on the last day I visited the Louvre museum which was incredible and got to tick that off my list before we left. 

Courchevel, France

Our next stop was the snowy mountains! We took a 2-hour train journey to Lyon airport, where we then got picked up by helicopter, which flew us 1 hour across the countryside and into the mountains. This was incredible, the views we had were simply stunning.  Once we landed at our final destination Courchevel 1850, the pilot told us they had got 3 metres of snow, over the last few days so we had arrived at the perfect time.

First full day, I had my NK while his parents skied. So, I took him sledding and into town. Babies always look so cute all wrapped up in winter gear and a fur hood, he looked like a little Eskimo. In Courchevel town there is a carousel for children and a horse and carriage that you can take rides in. My NK loved seeing the winter horses, watching them eat and jingle the bells around their necks. I was surprised how well my NK took to the snow, he was happy to be outside in the cold, a lot of children I have cared for at his age haven’t enjoyed the snow, but he did so that was a bonus. In the late afternoon I had some time off and got a few ski runs in before dark. I love skiing, I love the mountains and going out in the late afternoon or early morning is always great as it is less busy.  I got to ski the next morning also, as my NF went into town. I got to practice some more skiing techniques and went down a couple of black runs, I always love pushing myself and feeling like I am getting better and progressing. In Courchevel there is a proper sledding track, going from 1850 to 1550 which is another town. I went so fast the breaks on the sled didn’t stop me, so I had to stick my feet out which caused all the snow to fly into my face. I did catapult out of my sled at least twice and got a huge bruise on my bum but it was so worth it.

Something we did as a family was Husky sledding, another one of my bucket list items. It was beautiful to see how the dogs work in the winter and how much they love the snow, they were rolling in it and eating it. I got to sit in a huge sled and 7 dogs pulled me along for the ride. The man on the back of the sled commanded the dogs in French, all 7 dogs listened and knew when to stop and go. Our stay in the mountains really was amazing and two fun facts I learnt there were:

  • We were skiing on the largest ski field in the world.
  • In Courchevel they don’t call it a ‘Gondola’ they call it a ‘bubble’.

Geneva, Switzerland

We left the mountains after 5 days and travelled to Geneva, Switzerland to catch our flight back to Dubai. I feel so lucky to be able to have these opportunities and explore parts of the world doing the job I love. Always so grateful to the special families I have worked for.

Find more of my Nanny travel blogs here on the website x

JET LAG FROM TOTS TO TEENS

Traveling to any destination with a time-zone change with children, can feel impossible and exhausting. Many families do decide not to venture to far from home, to avoid the disruption of routines and their sanity. However, you shouldn’t let the fear of jet-lag change your decision from deciding on going to that dream destination you’ve desperately been saving for, rather than settling for that holiday close to home. Here I have explained some of the best ways to tame your children’s jet lag, minimize the effects of time-zone travel and help save your family vacations.

Consider the age of your child…

Firstly, you should consider the age of your child…. Newborns – 2 months generally aren’t aware of their own sleeping patterns just yet, so jet-lag will most likely not impact them. Children who have already established a sleeping routine and sleep through the night are the ones who most likely get affected the most. You may experience more waking’s in the night which would be completely normal if you’ve travelled through time zones of a greater difference than 2 hours.

Older kids who no longer nap in the day, tend to respond similarly to adults physically, but are usually less driven than adults to stay awake in attempts to adjust to the new schedule.  As children get older, they do learn to make adjustments like adults do, which makes time traveling less of an issue.

A good idea if your child is verbally capable, is to pre-warn and talk to them about the time zone changes you as a family are going to endure, which will somehow prep them slightly for the upcoming changes, that way it’s not such a shock to them when it does happen.

Plan ahead…

Flight planning is also a great way to improve jet lag, if you can fly during the day and avoid disrupting a good night sleep, then do it. Of course, understandably families do take into consideration cost and most of the time the cheaper flights, are the ones with the most terrible flying times, but if you’re on a budget sometimes the night flights or early mornings are the only options you have, which is fine if you are prepared.

For long international flights I recommend choosing a flight time that lands in your destination in the morning/midday, meaning you then keep the family awake all day to kick start adjusting to the new schedule. Try planning something exciting for the family that day, it’s always a great way to keep children occupied and entertained forgetting that they are even slightly tired, it is more likely they will then crash later on and sleep all night.

Enjoy the journey, not just the destination….

There are lots of products on the market that make traveling with children a whole lot easier, stress free and gets your children sleeping. After traveling with families all over the world, these two products have got to be my favorite especially during over night flights.

  1. Cozigo – Cozigo is a must have for flying and travel, it is a multifunctional airplane bassinet cover and pram sunshade cover. It helps to prevent inflight meltdowns and over tiredness from your baby when out and about. It is a universal fit for all bassinets, stroller types and airplane cots and improves babies sleep by upto 500%. Cozigo won most popular product in Australia’s mother and baby magazine in 2017 and has continual 5-star reviews. You can find this product at www.cozigo.com
  2. Plane-Pal – Plane Pal is a custom designed inflatable cushion that fills the space between your child’s seat and the seat in front. It is light weight and compact and comes with a pump for stress free, easy inflation after takeoff. This awesome product was designed with children 2- 8 years old in mind, as they can utilize it to its full potential, by stretching their legs out or lying flat. It has been approved on over 41 airlines making traveling with children stress free and more enjoyable. Plane Pal can also be used on trains and buses and for car travel. You can find this product at www.planepal.co.uk   
Arriving at your destination…

When you’ve landed, getting straight into a schedule in the destination you are in, is important from day one. If you can do that, the family should be adjusted to the new time zone within 3-5 days depending on how long you are staying. Try and eat at the new local times instead of snacking all day, this will help prevent midnight feasts and having hungry children at 3am. Fill your day with activities to keep children entertained, they are more likely to last longer. A few days of that and you won’t even remember what jet lag feels like!

If your child cannot cope with staying awake all day and you feel they or you do need a catnap, that is okay, just ensure you or your child does not sleep for too long, as you could make bedtime all the harder.

Coming home…

Don’t forget when you return home, keep in mind your body clock will have to adjust back. Depending on the how far you have flown will depend on how fast your body will adjust. For international flights up to 8 hours’ time difference I would recommend scheduling in at least one recovery day, anything above 8 hours I’d give two days.  However, some families have also found that sending their child/children back to school the day after they return off an international flight helps them get straight back into routine. With them being distracted at school with friends and activities, means when they come home they are so tired they then sleep all night, more or less adjusting straight back to normal schedule.

Just enjoy the time…

Always remember to let go of all expectations, not every time you travel will everything go to plan, this could include flight delays, lost baggage, or even just your child struggling to adjust to a new time zone despite all the preparation you have done to help them. Be sure that this is all okay and totally normal, make light of any situation and try and make your holiday the best it can be in any situation.