My no brainer list of must have travel essentials for holidaying with children!

Without a doubt the question I am asked most is ‘how do you make traveling with children look so easy?’

I am not going to pretend to you that it is a walk in the park.  We all have our days, we all have our moments.  I still remember the reality check of our first family vacation and the sudden realisation that things were ‘different’ now.  Call me crazy but I wouldn’t swap back to those lazy beach days, and genuinely love the beautiful chaos of travelling as a family of four.

With that said, there is a small but non negotiable list of travelling essentials which I ALWAYS pack for our trips.  These items are guaranteed to make holiday life easier!

Each store in linked for easy shopping…

CoziGo – The CoziGo is a dual purpose cover which can be used on both airline basinets and prams.  It provides 97% light blockage, so that babies and toddlers can fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.  The fabric is UPV50+ keeping children safe from the sun, and is 100% air permeable to allow air to flow freely through the cover.   The design is a universal fit meaning it works on all strollers and most airline bassinets.  This is a simple and far more effective (and much safer!) solution to draping blankets over a pram.  I love that I can not only use this during travel but also on my pram at home.

Plane Pal & Packing Pal – Pane Pal have two incredible products; the Plane Pal and the Packing Pal.  Both products massively enhance your travel experience whether in a plane, car, camper van or bus.  The Plane Pal is a custom designed inflatable cushion which fills the space between your own seat and the seat in front of you.  This creates a bed like arrangement making sleep time so much more inviting.  We have one each for Ari and Chloe, and when they let me I sneak my legs up on it too!  The Packing Pals are mesh packing shells which help you to effectively pack and organise your suitcase.  I use a system of packing tops in one, bottoms in another and so on.  They com with a separate bag for shoes and another for dirty laundry.

Very Busy Bag – The perfect take anywhere entertainment for busy and time poor parents.  The Very Busy Bag is vital for keeping children entertained during travel.  It can be used on planes, car trips, trains, buses, in hotel rooms, you name it!  Each bag is filled with age and gender appropriate toys, activities and games for little ones to enjoy whilst on the move.  There is so much variety in these bags, Ari and Chloe’s kept them entertained for three weeks in Europe!  There are straps on the back of the bag so that older children can carry it themselves. My favourite thing about it is that the Very Busy Bag provides screen free time!

Bubba Bump Baby Bag – After lots of trial and error I have found the perfect solution for hand luggage when traveling with little ones.  A back pack is hands down the way to store all of your essentials.  This way you hands can be free to manage children, negotiate customs and all the other busy parts of airport travel.  The Bubba Bump Baby is the baby bag I chose to use not only when traveling but also at home, which means I don’t have to purchase addition items.  Its also great to use for day trips, once we have arrived at our destination.  This bag is luxurious, stylish, and many pockets are perfectly positioned to store all of those quick grab items like dummies, bottles and comforters.

Nordic Naturals – Staying healthy whilst travelling is key to the success of all holidays because no one wants to be sick on a trip!  Nordic Naturals is made from purified Cod Liver Oil, which benefits multiple body systems including brain, eye, heart, bone and joint health.   It also aids in overall energy and  vitality, which is so important on busy holidays.  Nordics Naturals have products to suit both adults and children, lots of which are naturally flavoured to test delicious.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive my exclusive discount codes PDF which includes some of the brans listed above.

Now that you have all of your travelling essentials its time to book your next family holiday.

Enjoy!

Thank you to the wonderful brands mentioned above for sponsoring this blog post so that I can share our favourite products with you. My opinion is of course and always is my own.

SCHOOL LUNCHES FEATURING YAYTRAY

With the new school year here in Australia well and truly past, and lunch box ideas running low, I thought this would be the perfect time to refresh all of our Mum brains with new inspirations for school lunches.  I absolutely LOVE making kindy lunches, and take a lot of pride in the options, variety and presentation of Ari’s food, making lunchtime a really exciting time for him.

As in the past I prepare Ari’s lunch in his Yaytray which is a super cool, fun and innovative lunch box from Yurica Labs.  Prior to this blog post I have written 7 Lunches for 7 Days featuring the Yaytray which you can revisit here.

I have previously shared the many reasons why I love the Yaytray product.  Here they are again:
1. It saves me time – I only prepare and clean up one container.
2. It is great for the environment – no more cling wrap.
3. It is neat and compact – the worlds first all in one eating tray.
4. Things don’t get lost – it holds it’s own cutlery.
5. Is clean and convenient – leak proof and packs up in a matter of seconds.
6. It holds a large meal – 400mls actually!
7. It’s stable and non slip – making it easy for children to eat from.
8. All the important things – like food-safe, BPA-free, phthalate-free, microwave-safe and dishwasher-safe.
9. It’s cost-effective, you don’t have to buy a million containers just this one.
10. They are a small business, so you are buying from real Mum’s and Dads who designed it because they know what we need.

To purchase a Yaytray click here and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and you will receive your 10% off discount code!  To follow Yurica Labs on Instagram click here

MONDAY – Bold and Bright
Fresh, crisp and healthy.

Rice Paper Rolls
Leftover Roast Chicken
Pretzels
Blueberry, Lemon and Coconut Slice
Strawberries

Recipe – Roast Chicken.  Blueberry, Lemon and Coconut Slice.  Rice Paper Rolls.
Time Savers – Roast your own chicken the night before and serve it for dinner with vegetables, or buy a store-bought version to save even more time.
Variations – Swap the chicken breast for any cold meat selection, a can of tuna, smoked salmon or cold marinated tofu.  Cheese can be swapped with a vegan alternative.  Rice Paper Rolls can be made in countless variations.


TUESDAY – Turning Japanese
A yummy selection of food from one of our favourite destinations.

Sushi
Edamame
Cucumber Sticks
Orange Slices
Pop Corn

Recipe – Sushi.
Time Savers – Edamame can be purchased in peeled form in the freezer section of grocery stores.  I just pull a bag out from my freezer when I am ready to use it, and let it thaw in the fridge overnight.
Variations – Sushi can be made using lots of different options to suit all dietary requirements.  If your children don’t like the idea of seaweed there are lots of varieties that are seaweed free.


WEDNESDAY – Family Favourite

A freezer friendly twist on a family favourite.

Macaroni Pasta Bites
Carrot Sticks
Soy Crisps
Raspberries
Blackberries
Dried Fruit

Recipes – Macaroni Pasta Bites.
ime Savers – Use last nights left over pasta (any variety it doesn’t have to be Macaroni) to easily create this meal.  Or double the batch, you can even freeze a bunch of pasta cups for future lunches.
Variations – Use your favourite pasta meal to create this dish.  Carrot sticks can be exchanged for ticks of cucumber, carrot or capsicum.


THURSDAY – Healthy Balance
My perfect go to for stocking up the freezer.

Mini Quiche
Vegemite Twist
Snow Peas
Banana Slices
Yoghurt Covered Sultanas

Recipes – Mini Quiche.  Vegemite Twist.
ime Savers – Make a double batch of the quiches and store them in the freezer or serve for dinner the night before.
Variations – There are countless options of quiches available.  Vegemite twists can be made glute free.  The fruit and vegetables can be swapped out for your littles favourites.


FRIDAY – Baker’s Delight
Homemade versions of family favourites!
Savoury Scroll
Banana, Zucchini and Carrot Loaf
Bean Mix
Apricot Delight
Dried Cranberry
Kiwi Fruit
Capsicum Slices

Recipes – Savoury Scroll.  Banana, Zucchini and Carrot Loaf.
Time Savers – These savoury scrolls are seriously so quick and easy.  Banana loaf can be cut and popped in the freezer for future lunches.
Variations – There are lots of scroll variations like keeping them meat free for vegetarians.


After School Snack –
This last recipe is a new favourite afternoon snack which my littles are loving.  I came across it on the Instagram page of Sarita Holland who’s account is ful of delicious recipes that she makes with her children.  Click here to see the post with full recipe that contains only four ingredients.

Before I wrap this up I want to share with you my three biggest time-saving tips for when it comes to meal prep!  Once again I have shared these before, but they truly are life savers! 
1. Make all of your meals in one go.  I make breakfast, lunch and dinner all in the morning.  This is a huge time saver especially in the clean up and it means that I don’t feel like I ‘live’ in the kitchen.
2. Food prep in bulk with cook ups every few months.  I tend to do a big one every three months to get my lunch staples sorted.
3. Always take a packed lunch out with you when you have little babes.  I make Ari and Chloe’s lunch in their Yaytray every morning, even if we think we might be home.  It saves me time and money if we end up unexpectedly out for lunch.

To purchase a Yaytray click here and don’t forget to subscribe to receive my discount code!  To follow Yurica Labs on Instagram click here

DETAILS
Photos –
Nicola Holland Photography
My outfit –
Mumma Bear Nursing Wear
Chloe and Ari’s Outfits (for their picnic) – Piper and Me
Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog for a full list of discount codes including ones for all of the stores mentioned in this blog.

THANKYOU for reading, I hope that you  gained a useful tip or meal to work into your lives.  on’t forget to keep up to date with our family life on Instagram.

Enjoy!

Small-Signature-Nat

*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion.  Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and www.thissweetlofeofmine.blog only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here.

Amalfi, Italy

 La Dolce Vita in Italy… I have fallen in love.  Having grown up with a Maltese Grandmother and frequent trips to the area I know for sure that my heart belongs in the Mediterranean Sea.

Rome to Positano
Italy is a dream for anyone who visits including my family of four ( 2 adults, 2-year-old and 17 month old) who travelled there in June and spent seven nights exploring the Amalfi Coastline.  We flew into Rome from Abu Dhabi after a four-hour flight, (we had just spent 3 nights there.)  I had pre arranged a hire car which was easily picked up and we headed off to find Positano.   NOTE:  If you plan to hire a car in Italy get one with a GPS it’s a no brainer.  We had done no research on the drive other than it would take three and half hours according to Google… well it took us six and included a 100 euro toll fine, a bottle of Prosecco (shhh don’t judge I wasn’t driving) and getting locked in the toilet of a random bakery screaming for help.   Isn’t it always the events that seem the most stressful at the time that you remember as the best!  So the second piece of advice I will give for driving in Italy is NOTE: Do some research on what to do at Tolls BEFORE you get there! I had booked our five night stay in Positano on Air BnB through Sorrento Holiday Homes.

The apartment was located in a more ‘locals’ area of Positano about 400 stairs up from the beach (the only way to get the best view and eat more gelato!) In true Italian fashion we met the owner with the key at his gorgeous restaurant Ristorante Mediterraneo which overlooks the coastline.  After indulging in delicious spaghetti we took our very tired babes home to sleep.  The apartment was both beautiful and spotlessly clean, featuring 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen/living and the most idyllic balcony taking in the coveted Positano view.   WOW.  Bertia who runs Sorrento Holiday Homes was fantastic to deal with from start to finish and even baby sat the children for us when we went out to dinner.  She manages properties throughout the area and runs a few websites which I have listed below. Accommodation in Positano is key and Berta has a lot of variety to offer, and having someone available to talk to at anytime is important when renting an apartment outside of a hotel.

Our time in Positano was kept jam-packed with things to see.  The absolute highlight though being two boat tours with Blue Star Positano.  Our first trip was a group tour to Capri with 12 people in total on board the most gorgeous traditional boat, it looked like right out of the movies!  As we made our way to Capri with Captain Massimo he pointed out icon landmarks before dropping us at the port.  We were given 5 hours to explore the island which wa a great amount of time.  Blue Star provided us with a map and outlined the perfect itinerary should we choose to follow it, we did!   We grabbed a taxi up to Anacapri where we took a cable car to the lookout.  This was super fun for the kids as the cable car was more like a single person chairlift and once we arrived the view was incredible.  After catching another cab back to main Capri we ate literally the best Gelato of our lives at Buonocore Gelateria.  There were so many sites to see in Capri and I will honestly say that it is one of the cleanest most pretty places I have been to.  Once onboard the boat and heading back to Positano we stopped to swim in one of the famous caves that shimmer blue. Even with all of Capri’s beauty and marvel the highlight of my day was the look of joy on Ari’s face when Massimo let him ‘drive the boat.’  Hands down Blue Star Positano are the only way to see Capri in my eyes, the ticket cost is inexpensive and the boat is low on passengers compared to some of the other boats I saw that had people packed in like sardines.  (They may have bribed me to say that with lemoncello… jokes!)

For our second tour we decided to hire one of Blue Star’s boats privately and my gosh did it feel glamorous!  We were picked up at the pier by Captain Sandro aboard Nanninella and made our way down the Amalfi Coastline.  To have the boat to ourselves was a dream.  The children fell asleep while we ate the food and drank the Prosecco provided.  We pulled up at private swimming holes and beaches that were only accessible by boat.  The whole coastline needs to be experienced by water to take in its incredible beauty.  After docking in Almafi we spent a couple of hours there eating lunch in the courtyard outside the front of the Almafi Cathedral.  Once back on the boat Sandro took us to Da Tersea which is only accessible by water and famous for their local fish. After lunch we relaxed at their private beach. This restaurant has a really local feel about it that I loved. We ended the day with a cruise back up the coastline taking in the beginning of sunset as we arrived into Positano.  The staff at Blue Star (especially Elisabeth the owner) really became our friends and we loved enjoying a drink (and ice cream for Ari) with them at the end of the day.

Revello was next on our list to visit and being that we had a rental car we decided to drive there and explore.  To get to Revello you drive along the coast past Amalfi and then take a short detour inland.  It was amazing to experience the Almafi drive by sea and land.  There are so many opportunities to take photos so we allowed plenty of time to drive there.  Revello is a special place, a photographers dream I would imagine.  It sits 365m above sea level and is famous for its two stunning villas which is what most tourist go there for. The highlight of our day was lunch at Da Salvatore which was recommended by a local shop owner.  I am going to tell you that this was without a doubt the best Italian meal I have EVER tasted and we even considered driving back to Revello just for another meal there!

On our last day in Positano we headed down the many steps to the beach called Spiaggia Grande and hired beach chairs costing about 25 euros on the front row for the day.  If you want to relax this is a must especially if you have children!   You get two chairs, an umbrella and a waiter who will serve you food and drinks so you literally don’t have to leave all day.  Just sitting on the beach in Positano is breathtaking with its view of the colourful town right out to the Mediterranean Sea.  I won’t tell you how many bottles of Prosecco we drank during our 9am to 5pm day down there!

We had huge days so ate a lot of our dinners in our apartment on the beautiful balcony.  We bought ingredients from our local store and made pasta with pesto, olives and buffalo mozzarella.  We did eat out at Chez Black which sits on Spiaggia Grande and is worth mentioning for its interesting boat like decor and relaxed vibe, we went here on date night but it would have been a great place to take kids.  Positano was a dream come true, somewhere I had wanted to go for years and was everything I expected and so much more!

Sorrento and Pompei
After Positano we headed back up the coast for a two night stay in Naples.  (From Naples we would then drive to Rome before flying to Santorini.)  Between Positano and Naples there are two major must see being Sorrento and Pompeii.  By leaving early enough (10am haha) we found it quite easy to fit both into one day and with two little ones.  The drive to Sorrento was only 40 mins so we arrived in time for lunch and with both kids asleep in carriers we decided to make it a walking lunch from Queen’s Chips (Amsterdam style hot chips.)  We didn’t spend a lot of time here so I can’t say much except that it is a stunning place to just wander round, look at shops as explore.  Sorrento can also be an excellent base while in Amalfi as there is a port that runs ferries all over the Coast and our to the islands.  In saying this my preference would always be to stay in Positano.

We hopped back in the car and continued the drive onto Pompeii to see the ruins.  You just cannot go past the area without visiting the site which was at the center of the Mt Vesuvius eruption in 79AD.  You could spend a whole day here or just a few hours.  We opted for the latter (because kids in carriers) and found that to be perfect for us.  Paying for an English audio guide would be recommended otherwise you really have no idea what you are looking at.  Visiting late (we got there about 3pm) is also a good idea as the sun is not as hot and there are barely any ticket queues or crowds.

Naples
From Pompeii it was onto Naples and to find our accommodation that was booked on Expedia.  We stayed directly on the promenade which I was told is the place to be.  I found accommodation to be a lot cheaper than other areas on the coast but that might be because of the place that we stayed in which was basically a room off of a lady’s apartment.  The best restaurant we ate at in Naples was Gusto & Gusto a family owned chain.  The owner was wonderful with the kids and let them make their own pizzas by moulding the dough.  We only had one day in Naples  and our must see were a ride in the tram to explore the castle, a visit to the gardens and walk along the Promenade.  Naples was a great and diverse stop to break up the journey between Amalfi and Rome.

 

Small-Signature-Nat
Click on the linked sites below for more –

Sorrento Holiday Homes various sites :
www.sorrentoholidays.com
www.villasinsorrento.com
www.sorrentoapartments.it
Blue Star Positano
Ristorante Mediterraneo
Da Salvatore
Da Tersea
Chez Black
Gusto & Gusto-Tripadvisor

*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion.  Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and www.thissweetlofeofmine.blog only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here