This week we had the pleasure of sitting down with Cameron Holland, CEO of Luxury Escapes. One of the world’s fastest growing travel websites, providing access to limited-time offers at ‘insider’ prices.
Cameron Holland, CEO of Luxury Escapes
Frequently travelling with his two daughters, aged 5 and 8 in tow, Cameron shares his top five family-friendly travel tips.
1. CHOOSE ACCOMMODATION WISELY
Choosing child-friendly properties with babysitting, separate kids pools or kids clubs, can allow you to spend a lot more ‘me-time’. We also always make sure to triple check the fine print on age restrictions, open times and activities on offer to ensure you’re getting the right inclusions for your family.
At Luxury Escapes, our website has a ‘family friendly’ filter (which is actually the most used filter on-site) so parents are easily able to find suitable holidays.
2. KEEP THE CHILDREN BUSY AND AT BAY
It’s always good to have activities on hand – colouring books are great for planes and restaurants.
For kids with iPads or devices, make sure you preload any streaming app for the flight. I’ve also noticed there are plenty of options for kids Bluetooth headphones out now, which has put an end to the all too frequent damage to our old corded models.
3. EXPLORE YOUR OWN BACKYARD!
It can be daunting travelling on long flights with children – so domestic holidays are often the easiest option. You can avoid the stress of an international holiday (long flights, language barriers, currency exchange etc.) while still experiencing new destinations and enjoying a relaxing time as a family.
Domestic escapes accounted for 43% of holidays booked in 2018 so there’s plenty of families making the most of the beautiful destinations Australia has to offer.
4. SEARCH FOR ‘KIDS STAY AND EAT FREE PACKAGES”
If you are travelling overseas with school-aged kids you’re often restricted to school holiday periods which are usually subject to surcharges. We always recommend looking for a ‘kids stay and eat free’ package such as the Melia Bali, which has kids club access included, so both parents and children get to enjoy a holiday.
5. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TREAT YOURSELF!
There’s somewhat of a misconception that luxury travel is only for honeymooners or empty-nesters…that’s certainly not the case. Luxury resorts are becoming increasingly family friendly, allowing parents to enjoy all of the luxury inclusions built into packages, like cocktails, massages and fine dining experiences while still bonding with their kids and creating family memories.
Editor’s note: How to get there? The speedboat journey to Six Senses Fiji takes approximately 35 minutes from Denarau Marina. Alternatively, a short helicopter journey from the mainland (Nadi International Airport, Denarau or other locations) will whisk you to the resort’s own helipad.
Invented by an Aussie mother of three with a clear vision to make travelling with children less stressful, Plane Pal is the answer to parents actually being able to enjoy a flight, watch a movie and perhaps even get some shut-eye for a change!
HOW DOES IT WORK?
For instant comfort at 30,000 feet, simply inflate and place in front of a plane seat. Voila!
Sounds simple enough? But wait, there’s more!
FIVE THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT PLANE PAL
1. IT’S BEEN EVERYWHERE, MAN
While Plane Pal was designed with aircraft in mind, it can be used en route virtually anywhere!
In the car – with the bonus of little ones being unable to kick your seat, and for reasons I can’t explain, their heads don’t seem to flop forward as much either (added bonus)!
On the train
On the bus
In the caravan
And even in your living room as an ottoman! (Trés chic, non?)
2. IT’S EASIER TO INFLATE THAN A POOL DONUT
Plane Pal comes with a handy inflation kit. But, you can also easily inflate it yourself. If you’ve got enough puff for a pool donut, then Plane Pal will feel like a breeze. Only takes a couple of minutes to inflate – and seconds to deflate!
Depending on your use for Plane Pal, it will fit virtually any aircraft, bus, car, train or caravan. Place it length ways for the exit/bulkhead row, sideways, right way up, upside down, partially deflated, the options are endless.
Length ways for Bulkhead rows
Upside down for budget carriers (and also cars)
Right way up for Standard airlines
4. KEEP CALM AND PUT THOSE FEET UP
We love that Plane Pal has two chambers. So if you prefer a footrest, simply inflate only the top section to achieve instant anti-DVT leg support.
5. SEAL OF APPROVAL
Plane Pal is approved by over 40 airlines! Just keep it deflated during take off and landing and avoid the aisle seats. Otherwise, you’re good to go!
WANT TO WIN ONE?
Plane Pal are giving away a travel prize every month for a full year!
WHAT YOU CAN WIN!
1 x Plane Pal Travel Pillow with Pump – worth $79.95
2 x 6 Packs of Packing Pals (Including Free Laundry Bag) – worth $119.90
6. Multiple entries from the same person are permitted via the entry mechanism as stated in the “How to Enter” section.
7. Closing date for entry will be 9pm AEST on Wednesday 20th March 2019. After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
8. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
9. The rules of the competition and how to enter are as follows:
Enter via Facebook:
LIKE The Family Travel Hub, LIKE Baby Jogger Australia, LIKE the Competition post so we know you’ve entered.
Enter via Instagram:
FOLLOW The Family Travel Hub, FOLLOW Baby Jogger Australia, LIKE the Competition post so we know you’ve entered.
Enter via Website www.thefamilytravelhub.com:
Subscribe to the The Family Travel Hub newsletter (new subscribers only)
Comment on this blog post and tell us what new Baby Jogger City Tour 2 feature you love most
10. The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
11. The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.
12. The prize is as follows:
One (1) x Baby Jogger City Tour 2 worth $499 in the winner’s choice of colour (Jet, Seacrest or Slate)
13. The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
14. Winner will be chosen at random by software, from all entries received and verified by Promoter and or its agents.
15. The winner will be notified method of entry within 1 day of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
16. The promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected / is delivered.
17. The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
18. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
19. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by Australian law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Australia.
20. The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity..
We’ve literally just touched down from Sri Lanka and have absolutely fallen in love with it! There is so much on offer culturally, food wise, coast and inland adventures. But the best of all it was a beautiful time just to reconnect as a family after a big year.
The highlight for us was our morning ritual of a gentle wake up, roti (flat bread) filled with either banana, pineapple or spicy vegetable (so incredibly good!) with a papaya juice, followed by a surf at one of the many incredible beach breaks along the southern province of Lanka.
WHERE TO STAY
We based ourselves in Weligama and traveled from there in tuk-tuks (so much fun for big and little kids alike) with our surf boards strapped to the roof we just stopped wherever we felt like it. Whilst there is lots on offer in terms of surf, forest adventures, historical elements, the beauty of Sri Lanka is that it isn’t over developed and so the simple pleasures like days on the beach with naps and not making ourselves ‘busy’ with so many holiday activities is what made our time there the most special.
OUT & ABOUT IN SRI LANKA
In the southern province of Sri Lanka there are beautiful historical monuments such as the Galle Forte which is worth a visit, especially at sun down with a gelato from Isle of Gelato (salted caramel was phenomenal just in case you needed more reason to go!).
Along the coast as you travel (by tuk tuk naturally) you can stop at lots of different beaches and if you’re lucky enough see the turtles pop their head out of the water and swim with them. New Years Day this year I was walking on the beach and came across a baby turtle whom I helped back out to sea, I feel confident he was a good omen for the year ahead!
We also ensured we visited the gorgeous tea plantations and experienced the finest Sri Lankan (Ceylon) tea. Walking through the expansive plantation my son Jet was really taken by the men climbing and picking coconuts high in the coconut tree, and the different varieties of teas grown there. I think he was most fixated on the tea tasting experience at the end however as he loves tea and absolutely dived into the tasting – mango flavoured tea was the winner!
Mirissa is beautiful for snorkeling and the highly instagrammed palm tree peninsula was gorgeous, especially at sunset. You can go onto the restaurants in Mirissa after sundown and enjoy some of the absolutely scrumptious local fare. The food in Sri Lanka is heaven – we became obsessed by it! Such an amazing variety of food and so much flavour – absolutely something for everyone!
And… because we’re such a family of foodies, we attended a cooking class one evening (taught in a kitchen 185 years old!) to learn how to make the foods we love. Immersing ourselves in the Sri Lankan food, we learnt vegan, Ayurvedic recipes for traditional dhal, sweet potato salad, an absolutely divine pineapple mushroom dish and the best raw coconut pineapple cake for dessert. We all agreed that evening at Welle Gedara was the pinnacle foodie moment on our trip.
I think the highlight for all of us though was our days spent at Kabalana beach. We ate roti surfed, ate more roti, swam, body bashed, saw turtles, enjoyed seafood and fried rice for lunch, slept, read books, hung out and Jet made a lovely little friend, a local Sri Lankan boy of the same age, Carindu. Even without speaking each other’s language they understood each other completely, because play is a universal language.
We didn’t need to race about on this holiday and tick boxes, we just needed to ‘be’ as a family and we did just that.
Road trips, train rides, long flights and transit delays all call for a little entertainment to pass the time. But what if you could secretly get your children doing extra homework without them cottoning-on?
When they’ve had enough of the usual card games, balloon games, and eye-spy, give these digital learning games a try.
Just don’t mention they’re educational
1. MATIFIC GALAXY
This is by far our go-to right now. Our children are loving the challenges because they feel like they’re playing games, not honing their maths skills.
The creators use ‘genuine gamification’ (the typical elements of playing games) to get them hooked. Think of it like hiding vegetables in your children’s favourite dinner. At last you can forget about ‘bad’ screen-time and actually encourage them to get on board Matific Galaxy!
HOW TO PLAY: Matific Galaxy is fully downloadable onto whatever device you’re using (via the Apple app store, Google play store or as a desktop app).
BONUS! You won’t need WIFI to use all the features.
2. DUOLINGO KIDS
Tap into your child’s natural ability to learn languages from a very young age. Scientifically, it’s because they form neural connections rapidly (allowing them to form even native accents).
But, enough science. All you need to know is Duolingo Kids is a super fun way for your children to learn new languages in a ‘gamified’ environment; unlocking new levels, earning crowns and playing with friendly, animated characters!
HOW TO PLAY: Download all the Eggy Apps on the Apple App store, Google Play and Amazon Apps – depending on the game
4. TINY TAP
If you want to access 150,000 educational games handmade by teachers, then this app is for you!
Tiny Tap turns screen time into an active learning experience including everything from games, puzzles, quizzes, e-books, soundboards, interactive presentations, digital textbooks, photo albums, classroom activities, plus many more!
HOW TO PLAY: Download via Apple App Store, Google Play and via desktop
BONUS! You can download games ahead of time in case WIFI is limited
5. DR PANDA
*Editor’s special commendation
What’s not to love about a Panda bear – and this one is oh, so adorable! If you haven’t used Dr Panda, get your children on the program. With Dr. Panda, kids can discover the world, while creating their own experiences and having fun. They could run their own restaurant, be a firefighter, build their own city or blast off into space. There is so much cuteness and fun you’re fingers will be twitching to join in!
FATHER OF TWO CHILDREN
Source: Club Med Punta Cana
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
The Dominican Republic observes a dry season from June to September in the North and from November to April in the South. Punta Cana is best visited from November through April.
Source: Club Med Punta Cana
Oli and I were always super skeptical about all-inclusive family vacations. We assumed they would be really cheesy or generic.
But after a tricky vacation to Bermuda, which involved a lot of unnecessary moving around in the heat (i.e. long distances between restaurants, crowds to get space on beaches, paying to swim in certain areas etc) we decided to take the plunge at a Club Med Punta Cana, and we had a blast!