You recently travelled with your two kids River (6) and Sunday (1) to Toronto, Canada where your husband Robbie was based. Can you tell us about what he does?
Robbie works in film as a professional stuntman which means he travels a lot. It’s also unpredictable - we don’t always know who or where he will be next so it can be hard to plan things ahead of time and we do spend time apart. But this year marks 15 years together (5 married) so it’s a life we are used to. This time Robbie’s work took him to Toronto for 5 months so the kids and I joined him for the first and last months.
Your snaps looked amazing: Toronto, Yosemite, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, New York, Niagara Falls. Tell us about the places you explored...
The destination for our first trip was Toronto. We left on New Year’s Day in the dead of summer to arrive in the dead of winter - the coldest winter they’d had in 57 years, -28 celsius. It was freezing cold like we’d never felt before, bite-your-face-off cold, but also completely magical. A city under snow is my favourite kind of city.
The kids handled being rugged up in so many clothes surprisingly well, considering they don’t usually wear shoes! Although the first night River did strip down to his long johns and bare feet in the middle of a restaurant!
Weekends we spent travelling the winter wonderland with Robbie - Niagara Falls & Muskoka Country were stand outs.
Our last trip - husband retrieval. After 3 months of solo parenting, the kids and I were very excited to be going back to collect ‘Daddy’. The plan was to meet Robbie in Toronto, then fly home via California once filming had wrapped.
But first, NYC~ OMG what an amazing place! I’m not really a city person but wow, we LOVED it. We stayed in the most gorgeous Airbnb in the West Village, coincidentally in the same street as ‘Carrie Bradshaw’s stoop. The West Village is so New York - family friendly, lots of parks with mummas' breastfeeding on the grass. It was springtime too, so in full bloom and the feeling was so vibrant, with the locals lapping up the sunshine after a long winter.
We did the Natural History Museum and Central Park which were awesome but steered clear of all the big ‘tourist’ spots with their queues.
Next stop was Palm Springs - seriously amazing and we headed straight for the desert. We stayed at The Ace Hotel. It’s super funky and cool but also family friendly. We sat by the pool with inflatable pink flamingos, drinking margaritas, listening to 50’s inspired beats with palm trees and an incredible desert landscape as our backdrop. It was completely surreal, like being in a movie.
Onto Joshua Tree - vast, sandy, rocky and arid but with green sculpture-like Joshua Trees everywhere, with a real presence of nature and history.
A highlight of the trip was Yosemite. The kids nailed the 7 hour car ride like legends... It was a ‘bucket list’ destination for Robbie as he grew up rock climbing. We even saw a bear (from our car) as soon as we entered the national park!
We stayed in a wilderness lodge which had been there since the 1920’s with rustic cabins and summer camping - think big open fires, communal areas with leather chesterfields, board games, marshmallow toasting and games area.
I was afraid the kids would get a little restless with the hiking around Yosemite but they weren’t at all. The presence of this place is breathtaking and almost created a ‘calm’ within them. River was completely blown away watching the rock climbers up those enormous sheer granite rock faces and it was spring so the perfect time for waterfalls. Yosemite was awe-inspiring and we are already planning to go back!!
Tell us about LA....
Venice Beach....what a fun, eccentric place, kind of like Byron and old school St Kilda on steroids, full of life and personality, grunge and groove, and the cutest Californian bungalows. Probably not somewhere you’d want to be out too late at night with the kids but so many cool characters, boutiques and cafes (all the best are owned by Aussies)
We took River to Santa Monica pier, it has such a nostalgic, fun fair vibe. He and Robbie went on every ride together, then we ate Organic burgers at Pono Burgers.
Malibu, as a surfer this one was iconic for Robbie. Sadly, the surf was tiny but we got our feet in the sand and admired all of the amazing beach front houses. We ate at Malibu Farm which is a gorgeous organic cafe on the pier. The food in LA is pretty great, they’re pretty pedantic about everything being organic and gluten free; there's even a joke going around that you could rob a bank with a bagel in LA because everyone is so scared of gluten!
What are your top tips for travelling with kids?
We are learning more each time we travel but the important things we’ve learned so far are:
Stay at an airport hotel rather than commuting a couple of hours before a long haul. It means not waking up at some stupid hour, not buckling up the kids before having to buckle them up again for 17 or more (or less) hours. The kids love it - the novelty of staying in a hotel with plush white beds, room service, movies and being able to see planes take off and land just adds to the excitement of the trip.
When booking your seats, book the window and the isle and usually, if the flight isn’t full, people don’t book a middle seat so you get a spare seat... which is everything! If for some reason someone does the person will happily swap.
Also, when packing and choosing clothes for the kids- think comfort and layering.