Travelling presents all kinds of opportunity for fun, for challenges and intrigue. We’re so glad our Hanging Travel Makeup & Cosmetic bag came in handy for Nine Honey’s travel editor, Amy Helmes. While the trip to Fiji looks like it didn’t go quite to plan, we’re glad our products came in handy. Read on to find out all the things that Amy took were useful, practical and helpful of course including our travel makeup and cosmetic bag (hint: it helps provide space in small bathrooms and keeps all your makeup and cosmetics tidy!)
Back in the day, if a new mum had said they were packing up their baby and going for a solo jaunt during their maternity leave, they’d probably be labelled crazy.
But in recent years, mammas are using their mat leave as an opportunity to travel, with many, like Travel Mad Mum, even blogging their way around the world.
Daunting? Perhaps. But it just takes a little confidence. Travel Editor Amy Nelmes and her bub, Max, recently visited Fiji for their sixth trip abroad and here’s her top tips to make travel smoothly, and why Fiji is the perfect place for first-time solo mamma travellers.
Choosing the destination
Fiji is the ultimate destination for families and solo-parents. The resorts throughout the islands are designed with children in mind, with lagoon style pools for wading toddlers, sports like kayaking and snorkelling for older children, and kids clubs to keep them busy and parents recharged.
Most resorts have nannies that can help with baby duties, and can watch bub when they are put to bed to allow parents a few hours alone. And for solo travelling mammas, it means an afternoon at the spa is possible even when dad isn’t there.
There’s also the convenience. A quick four hour flight and you’re in Fiji by the afternoon. And everyone soeaks great English so there’s no concern that if something goes wrong – which is often does with children – that there’ll be a language barrier.
Be prepared for the flight
It’s only four hours to Fiji from the East Coast of Australia, but don’t underestimate how bored the little one can get in that time.
Top tip is to buy a new toy they haven’t played with before, but don’t weigh yourself down with lots of toys as small children find new surrounding interesting enough. The sick bag puppet is often a big hit.
Instead, pack a bag with a change of clothes – mid-sky vomming or exploding nappies isn’t unusual – and plenty of snacks, including extra milk or formula if they have a mid-flight freak out and need soothing.
Also, your small bub will need to equalise their ears on the way up and down, so use a dummy or a bottle to ensure this happens. Or you’ll end up with a screaming child during the whole flight.
Must have item: If there’s only one thing to purchase before travelling with children, it’s a fold-away stroller which goes into the overhead locker.
The GB Pockit is my favourite. It’s light-weight at just 4kg and is so easy to fold-up and down, it’s possible to do with one hand so perfect for a solo mamma on the go. They retail at $329 and are worth every cent.
Arriving at the airport
Fiji is child-friendly but child seats in the cars aren’t the norm. It’s impossible to carry a car seat when travelling alone, so organise your taxi before arrival – you can do this through your hotel – and book a car with a car seat. It’s a little more expensive but what you spend in money, you save in time as you will be the first whipped out of the airport and into a cool car to the hotel before the rest of the crowd on your flight, meaning there’ll be no queue at check in at the hotel.
Which hotel to choose?
The biggest tip when solo travelling with small children is to talk to the hotel before. Are there lifts, not just stairs? Is the pool lagoon style? What is the lowest age at the children’s club? Do they have nappies, baby food and formula in the hotel shop? (Many of them do in Fiji)
We booked into the Radisson Blu in Denarua in Fiji. It’s a family-friendly resort, which is 20-minutes from the airport, and is the perfect place for children. There’s a pull-out bed for older children or a cot for babies and toddlers. I’d recommend booking into a room with a kitchenette on the ground floor, as the lift is at the entrance end of the property, rather than at the pool and beach end. You can read a full review of the hotel here.
Must have item: Never forget your monitor, even if you think you won’t need it as it’s just the two of you and where are you going to go. The Arlo baby monitor is noise and movement sensitive, sending an alert to your phone at even the slightest of movements. The balconies in a lot of resorts are soundproof, to ensure the noise from the children’s pool doesn’t seep into every room. So when bub is asleep, you can still sit on the balcony with a vino. And it works as a night light. Arlo retail at $389.
Eating and drinking
The food is safe for children at the resorts in Fiji – including the fruits- but offer bottled water to smaller children from mainstream brands, like Fiji Water, to ensure its not recycled water. Also, don’t let them eat ice-cubes as the water might not be filtered.
Must have item: We took a Thermos Frogo sippy cup, which keep the water cool in the heat, and a Thermos food jar, which is perfect for keeping a few bits of fruit from the buffet breakfast fresh for snack time.
Don’t miss a moment
We used the Samsung Gear 360 during our trip, which is a little easier to use than a GoPro if you are just looking for a wider lens. It links up to a Samsung S7 and is easy to take wide-length shots or fish-eye pictures. There’s also the rather simple but highly effective waterproof floating phonecase by Globite.
What to pack for baby
The biggest faux pas us mums make is packing too much. First up, check with your hotel if they sell nappies, baby food, formula, and check what brands. We stayed at the Radisson Blu and the on-site shop had nappies, swim nappies, baby food and S26 baby formula. There was also baby Panadol.
Instead of filling your suitcase with nappies, take baby body products which are tried and tested to our Aussie standards. Baby Bum suntan lotion for bubs is the best, offering UVA/UVB protection but its water resistant for up to four hours. We also used The Base Collective‘s calming Sleep Spray at bedtime to help calm bub down. And a nappy balm by WotNot ensures the bot doesn’t get too dry after a day in and out of the pool. Also take the baby wash and moisturiser you use on a daily basis, instead of using harsh products in the room.
Nappy bags are essential, with WotNot biodegradable bags our go-to to ensure the hotel room doesn’t turn into a big stinky den. And also wet wipes, as many of the brands abroad are a little harsh.
Pappe have a range of lightweight clothes to keep hot bubs nice and cool. Supplied
Beating heat rash when it a hot country is tricky. Baby’s skin is so sensitive. And while bub will spend most of their time in very little, in the evening when the heat is still in place, invest in some lightweight clothes with premium fabric. We tested out the Pappe sailor pant and it kept the little dude cool.
Also, for those who have just started walking, the Minnow booties are perfect. They are the same material as scuba gear and ideal for little feet who can’t wear flip flops yet.
What to pack for mum
Sorry mamma, but the babe does get most of the space in the suitcase, so everything needs to be compact. We packed the fold-up beach bag and fold-up rucksack by Globite, which roll-up to the tiniest bags.
Loved the Sperry trainers, perfect for the active mum wanting checking out the rock pools, as they are made from materials which easily go from dry to wet. And they look cool.
Also, a hanging cosmetic bag as a lot of hotels have low sinks and it isn’t long before bubs is swiping your goodies and throwing them down the toilet. We like the range at Tonic.
Things can go wrong
At the end of our second day in paradise, the little dude got incredibly sick. Oh so sick. That’s the thing with babies. They are unpredictable.
But it couldn’t have happened in a better place. Fiji is well-equipped for when things go wrong, and the staff at the Radisson Blu were incredible.
Language isn’t a barrier in Fiji, like it is in somewhere like Thailand, so it was easy to get a doctor to the hotel room. And from there, with a viral rash and a double-ear infection, our every need was looked after. The prescriptions were taxied over and brought up to the room. Fruit platters were sent up. When we ran out of baby Panadol, they were on hand.
And a few days trapped in a hotel room with a sick baby isn’t ideal, but baby hugs and room service aren’t too bad, especially when you know your travel insurance is covering the costs. Always book travel insurance, and always call them as soon as something goes wrong.
The doctors who saw us in Denarau knew all the documents we needed, and the correct layout and information, for our insurance and emailed them to us, with copies of the receipt straight after every visit.
Upfront costs were $150 a visit, no matter what time of day and night, and these had to be paid up front so always have an emergency pot of cash when travelling with children as you may need it.
And last but not least, ensure you have a first aid kit with you. We took one from Brenniston, which was compact but had everything we might need in there.