Top Ten Tips for taking the Kids to stay with your Parents

Those of us who live away from our parents often just don’t get to see them enough, particularly if your parents are older or ill and aren’t able to travel themselves. Once the kids come along, seeing your family can become all the more important. Unfortunately, at the same time, the travel to see them can become more complicated.

When this happens you may also find your family totally unprepared for the joy of pitter patter’s in their own home. In this situation it can pay to do some planning beforehand to ensure everyone is comfortable during your visit. Here’s some light-hearted tips and some thoughts from my own experiences to help get you on your way;

1. If travelling as a solo parent, have someone drop you off and pick you up if you can; having a helping hand at either end can be helpful while you are navigating toilet stops and luggage.

2. Discuss where the kids will be sleeping beforehand, with both your parents and the kids (if they are old enough). What your family have planned for you might be different to your preference. For instance, would you prefer the kids slept with you or you had a cot in or out of your bedroom? Kids sharing a room? Often its easier to have this sorted out before you get there.

3. Don’t be afraid to send a shopping list on to your folks, just a general list of any nappies, fruit, veg and cereals you and the kids like. grandparentsYour folks may be unsure what to get and will be happy to have an idea of things you like. It will make it easier than having to get out to the shops once you get there. Don’t forget to mention some treats too!

4. Discuss visitors. No doubt, if you don’t get home much everyone will want to catch up with you and the kids. See if you can limit the visitors or organise a weekend lunch or something with an open invite – otherwise you may find you’ll have visitors everyday. This can get hectic and you may not get to spend time with the ones you love most.

5. Try for an early night the first night. You may find you have slept with one eye open throughout your journey and need some catch up sleep. Also, don’t forget to take a book, you may find you cant sleep at all or are going to bed a bit earlier (maybe with the kids) so may get more reading done than usual.

6. If things get hectic and the kids are unsettled, don’t hesitate to put on a favourite DVD for older kids. Lots of new faces and travel can be tiring and overwhelming. You may be fussy about screen time at home, but a spot of Wiggles during a dinner your folks have organised may get you through.

7. Pick an outing you all enjoy and repeat.  There is a family restaurant and a park my kids go to with my parents and they look forward to going each time they visit – its creating some lovely shared experiences.

8. Look on ebay. If you parents don’t have much in the way of  kid activities at their home, look on ebay using your parents postcode. You may find something close to them they can pick up and have ready to play. We got some great push bikes and scooters for my parents farm for $5.

9. Pack wisely. Sounds silly really but it’s so hard to do. Pack so the kids have ample underwear and fewer outfits (things that can be worn a couple of times – this gets easier as the kids get older and less grubby).  I used to like taking “good” outfits for my kids (so they looked lovely and all) but in reality jeans and runners really do wash and wear easily. Lately I have been travelling in “nice” outfits that can also double for a special occasion if need be. I then keep it simple and they wear the same clothes home. And think about the climate and how comfortable you are likely to be. (My folks always warn me about how cold it is at their place in winter and to make sure we bring coats. In reality, we are living in a colder climate and tend to get warm at my parents house – even in winter! The coats don’t get worn and take up too much valuable packing space).

10. Don’t forget safety while you’re away, What is “safe” for some may not be for you. For instance, plan ahead for any carseats etc you may need.  See if family may be able to borrow some gear from a friend or hire what you need. If the kids are travelling in family or friends cars, check that car seats etc have been installed correctly and straps are at the right heights.  If you visit regularly, as we do, it may pay to purchase some car seats and leave them at your parents house. We have done this and keeps it simple for us.


So, you’ve saved up the cash, booked the time off and are ready to take the leap…have a great time and remember to take lots of photos!


Visiting the UK with your kids

Travel and exploration is a rewarding way for children to learn about the world and different cultures. By visiting other countries, children are exposed to different food, lifestyles, environments, languages and more, and will be better equipped to accept difference and change. Taking a family holiday is a great way for you to bond with your children and is a fun and adventurous time for everyone.

The U.K. is a great place to go because many Australians have family and friends living there. Often looked over in the excitement of going on holiday are the little, but important details of getting your travel insurance, packing the perfect games for the flight and the jet lag preparation. The flights to the U.K. are long and you have to deal with jet lag, which is uncomfortable for both you and your kids. There are a few tips you can keep in mind when traveling to the U.K. to make the trip a lot easier.


Organise and prepare for the trip as soon as possible because the longer you wait, the more expensive and stressful it becomes. Book your plane tickets, organise Budget Travel Insurance, and reserve accommodation for when you arrive. Check with the British Embassy as to whether or not you and your children require visas for your stay.

Be Ready for the Flight

young passenger sleepingIf your children have never flown before, prepare them as much as possible before the big day. Explain what they can expect to experience on the plane and reassure that it will be an exciting adventure. Tell them they will get to play games, read books and watch movies in their seat. For fussy eaters, request a childrens meal to make sure there is food that they will eat. Take lots of entertainment and their favourite toy on the plane to ensure they are happy and comfortable throughout the flight.

If you have a tablet, load it with games and movies for the time during the flight where you can use electronic devices. For the times when you can’t use electronic devices, pull out plush toys for younger kids and books for older kids. Bring a bag of wipes for those sticky fingers, cleaning off the arm rests and any unexpected messes that may occur.

Consider a Stopover

Some families find it easier to travel the long distance between Europe and Australia by having a stopover in the country where you change flights. This will break up the trip and give you the opportunity to adjust to the time changes.

Dealing With Jet lag

Jet lag is a difficult thing to handle and with overly-tired children can be even more stressful. Adjust to the new time zone as soon as possible. As soon as you land, follow a normal routine for whatever time it is. If you land in the morning, then start your day; if it is night time, then go to bed. The quicker you get into the time zone the better.


Once you have landed and settled in, go outside and explore! Take your kids to some of the U.K.’s best castles, like Framlingham Castle, Suffolk or St Mawes Castle, Cornwall. If you’re going in the summertime, take your kids to Avon Valley Country Park or Wellington Country park for a picnic and a day of outdoor exploration.

Camping anyone?

Just when it seemed the cold days in Melbourne were just getting colder, here we are with some warm(er) sunny days. Its really Spring! School holidays are back again and our family are excited to be going “real” camping, that is pitching a tent. I love how the kids are excited about the things I am dreading, like sleeping bags and fishing! But I do appreciate that it is a lovely way to spend some quality time together and make some special memories. Really I do! And bring on that spaghetti on toast I say, hmmm?

Recently we headed off to Anaconda (“Australia’s largest camping and adventure superstore”) to get the kids in the mood. Wow, they loved it. They checked out some tents, discussed which would be their “bedroom” and rated some air mattresses. They also loved the accessories, mini kitchen set-ups, tables, cupboards – the works. Solar powered fridges? Did you know there are washing machines FOR CAMPING? How do people carry this stuff around? We can barely fit the kids and a suitcase in the car!

Have you heard the term glamping? That is, glamorous camping? Its a good way to start if you’re a novice or a bit iffy about taking the kids offroad. For our first effort (when the kids were younger) we chose a “wilderness retreat”, so it was kind of camping, but with toilets, showers and a kitchen! We only needed to take sleeping bags and food. It was an easy trip and very relaxing. Everyone in the family often refer to it with that wistful “we should go back there one day…” It has certainly been our favourite family trip to date.

So, although that experience will be hard to top, we’re off to spend some time with a family of other “experienced” campers. As a friend said to me (at school pick up yesterday) “camping is fun when you go with someone who has all the gear”. So that’s a good thought! Also, our youngest is 3.5 now, so night-time should be toilet-accident free and trips to the shower block a lot more bearable.

Here at Little Gulliver we’ve been busy adding some new kids travel gear, while restocking some old favourites. All of them are perfect for that camping trip or would equally at home on a First Class flight to Paris! If you love Trunki, you’ll be happy to see Tipu the Tiger is back in stock! And we’re happy to welcome his brand new friends from the Trunki Snooihead range; Dudley the Dinosaur, Pippin the Penguin, Milo the Monkey and Leeroy the Lion. In our Play category, you’ll love the latest Finding Nemo Invisible Ink,  the crafty additions we’ve made with Alex Toys, some new Usborne books and zooming around with Tonkas Chuck & Friends. Mum and Dad will love the new Moshi noise isolating headphones.

Here’s a look at some of our new kids travel gear;

As always, let us know any feedback. We’d love to hear what you think of our range or anything you would like to see us stocking.

Make the most of your trips with the kids when they are small. And if you’re going camping in particular – enjoy!

Safe Travels,
Donna, Ben and the team at Little Gulliver.

Car Travel for Kids in France

Ange said: April 17 2012 11:42 PM


Just wondering if you have any info regarding safe car seats in France? Is Britax the same company as safe n sound and do Australian car seats fit into French Peugeot cars? I think I know the answers to these questions but just don’t know how to go about organizing car seats for our French trip.

Also I am planning on getting the CARES harness for my 2.5 yr old but was wondering what the safest thing would be for my 6 week old?



Donna @ Little Gulliver said: April 20 2011 2:16 PM

Hi Ange,

Hmmm, a trip to France sounds fantastic to me right now! I think you’re at the same place as me, when we first started travelling with our kids…we’re so geared up to keeping them safe at home and suddenly there is this black hole of information and the rules and regulations suddenly disappear (this is how Little Gulliver came about). It makes no sense to me and we’re fairly determined to make things easier and clearer for folks.
I’ve broken your query down into a few points, I hope you find it useful;

* any info regarding safe car seats in France?

I’m sure you’ve already read up on the basic car seat regulations in France, such as;

A child under 10 must sit in the back and “use restraint system appropriate to weight (between 9-15 kg child seat, over 15kg booster seat in conjunction with normal seat belts).” So I guess you’ll need either 2 car seats or a car seat and a booster. More about safe car seats in France later…

* is Britax the same company as safe n sound and do Australian car seats fit into French Peugeot cars

Yes, Britax is the umbrella company which manufactures the Safe n Sound range available here in Australia. But – do they fit in French cars? I wish this was so much easier for us travelling parents to navigate! I cannot say for sure, but my understanding is that while the Australian car seat would likely fit in the car, it wouldn’t be approved for use in Europe. One reason being the safety anchor bolt we use in our cars is not present in European cars. I’m also not aware if the Peugeot has the Isofix system, if it does you would need an Isofix car seat (not yet available in Australia).

Have you seen the Bubble Bum? If you are happy to use a backless booster for your older child and if they meet the requirements etc then it may be worth checking out… (we can’t sell it here because it isn’t approved for use in Australia, but it is approved in France)…

* Also I am planning on getting the CARES harness for my 2.5 yr old but was wondering what the safest thing would be for my 6 week old?

The CARES is perfect for your 2.5 yo. For your baby, there are a few options.

You could try to book an on board bassinet. You generally have to book ahead and may not be able to secure one. Also, some folks don’t like them as the seats in this area often don’t recline. If you know the make of aircraft, maybe check on Seat Guru and see if you can get any more info.

The airline (if it is Australian) will provide you with the “supplementary loop belt” you have probably used before with your toddler. There are other products available you may like to look at, such as the Baby B’Air and the Flye Baby. The Baby B’Air, while it looks like a great product, in my opinion, doesn’t provide a lot more protection than the supplementary loop belt provided here and cannot be used during take off and landing. I do agree that it is smart to have to the child restrained in case of unexpected turbulence. The Flye Baby certainly sounds popular and has recently been made available in Australia. Again, I’m iffy about this one too (again, just my opinion and this is why we don’t stock it at this stage). Note, this is not a safety device and again cannot be used during take off and landing and while the seat belt sign is lit. I can see that it may be handy if you are the only adult travelling with a number of children and a baby. I must stress here though, don’t be afraid to ask the crew for help or accept it when its offered (learnt this the hard way).
Of course, there is also the option of taking a car seat on board. This could be considered the safest option and CASA provide some good tips and info here. Again, look out for red tape and this has to be approved with your airline. If you have an Australian car seat and you are not travelling on an Australian airline, chances are your seat won’t be approved. There is no anchor point on the plane however, so the seat is attached using the seatbelt and again, you may not be able to use the seat in your vehicle in France. (Check out the Go Go Kidz TravelMate if you do consider taking your car seat with you).

I’d love to hear your thoughts and how the rest of your plans go. All the best for your planning and a great trip.


Kind regards,


Information Sources and Handy Links;

New Zealand to Ireland with 2 children

Jude said: December 6 2011 9:19 AM


I just purchased a Cares harness for long haul flight from New Zealand to Ireland with 2 children on my own. I wanted to avoid lugging the bulky carseat around airports esp as I haven’t got the spare hands! Air NZ specify the cares harness but unsure of Aer lingus, where can I get a letter for crew if I come across any problems?

Many thanks.

Ben @ Travel Toddler said: December 6 2011 11:07 AM 

Hello Jude,

Thanks for your CARES query and your order, the parcel will be shipped to you today.

The best approach with Aer Lingus seems to be the approach followed by a customer recently on the USA CARES facebook page. Back in Sept 2011 they said they emailed Aer Lingus saying they were using the CARES and received the following email:

New Aer Lingus statement:

AMSAFE CARES harnesses are permitted on board, but not as the primary restraint. The harness must be used in conjunction with the aircraft seat belt.

Harnesses by other manufacturers such as CRELLING require special Irish Aviation Authority authorisation. This authorisation requires some extra time to arrange, therefore passengers who require such a harness should contact Aer Lingus special assistance; as soon as possible in advance of the flight. The make and model of the harness should be included along with details of any other particular requirements.

The CARES customer then received a further Aer Lingus email:

And my final follow up-Received an email this morning from aer lingus stating CARES is permitted and that cabin crew have now been made aware and given instruction on how to use it. This is from the Aer Lingus head office in Dublin.

It’s also worth noting that Aer Lingus are not very clear with their car seat approval process either and seem to leave it at the discretion of the staff on the day. This is from their website:

Please be advised that with the number and variety of infant car seats available on the market it is not possible for us to guarantee in advance that any particular seat is suitable for use. In the interests of safety, Aer Lingus reserves the right to refuse permission for the use of certain types of car seats on the aircraft or during take off and landing. In these circumstances the infant must be carried on the adult’s lap (under 2 years) or in a seat using the standard lap belt (2 years and over). Safety is always our first consideration.

We’d recommend taking a copy of our airline list (attached) that shows what our local airlines say on their website about the approved use of CARES. Also, try and have it noted on your booking that you intend to use the CARES harness. Also, show any curious airline staff the tag on the CARES unit that states FAA approval and “Approved for Aircraft Use”.

Hope this helps, have a great trip.

Kind regards


Readers view – family meals in Europe

We travelled through Europe for 5 weeks

  • staying in apartments and self-catering.
  • we tried to learn to say ‘egg and nut allergy’ in each of the languages with varying success.
  • Google translate is handy to print out allergies and add pictures.
  • we looked up supermarkets close to each of the apartments on Google maps before we left, which helped with ease of supplies when we arrived.
  • As far as choosing where to eat out when we did, it was a combination of exploring the local neighbourhood and using Lonely Planet suggestions – sometimes good, sometimes terrible – what is a great venue for a 20 something y.o. backpacker is not necessarily such a great spot for a family meal! Lol.


The Enchanted Palace Exhibition – Kensington Palace

A visit to Kensington Palace is often a must see visit when travelling to London (it was for us anyway)! I wish we were heading off shortly as I would love to see the Enchanted Palace Exhibition.

What is the Enchanted Palace Exhibition?

Shoes_01_large_2Its a unique tour through the state apartments which have been “enchanted”, following a map to reveal the stories behind seven princesses who once lived there (Including Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales). My daughter and I would love to have a wander through and admire some of the gowns displayed throughout and I guess the boys would enjoy the light show too! Entertainers around the exhibition will help you solve the clues to work out which princesses reside in each bedroom. There are also some kids craft activities, which can be fun for a bit of sit down entertainment.


Plan your visit though, due to the current renovations only the State Apartments remain open. This exhibition finishes 3rd of January. The Palace will then close its doors before its grand reopening March 26, 2012.

Good for younger children?

Note, there is stroller access, but no lifts and a lot of stairs. Under 5’s are free.

For more information Palace fashion

Bhutan with a 2 year old

Amanda said: September 5 2011 11:41 AM

BhutanMap1We would like to travel to Bhutan for 10 days in 2012 with a 2 year old – are you able to recommend any tour companies for us to do an individual/personal tour with?

Thank you

Donna @ Little Gulliver said: September 8 2011 2:06 PM

Hi Amanda,

our family would also love to go there! My husband recently saw a documentary on Bhutan and has been talking about it ever since (in fact he’s talking about it right now)!

I cannot personally recommend any tour companies, but have put a shout out on our Facebook page. I’ll let you know if any of our readers have any ideas. I’ve listed a few suggestions which you may like to look at, all of them profess to have a love for the country and a unique perspective to share;

I wondered if it may also be worthwhile contacting the Australian – Bhutan Friendship Association? They may be BhutanRobe1able to recommend someone or provide answers to any questions you might have during your planning. The website has some good information too, under “Bhutan facts”

Then there’s the Bhutan consulate in Sydney;

Consulate of Bhutan in Sydney, Australia

78 Louisa Road
New South Wales 2041

A little about Bhutan

For those of us needing a refresher, here’s some general information about Bhutan – the last Shangri-La (source);

“Bhutan is one of the most isolated and least developed nations in the world. Kingdom of Bhutan is known for its culture, architecture and archery, but in many ways, it has remained a mystery until half a century ago.
The serene country, is cradled between its neighbours China to the north and India to the south. Its lands include subtropical savannah’s to forests, to the Himalayas guarding the country’s eastern border.

Its isolation, domestic policies and decision to limit tourism have helped to protect its culture and its natural beauty. These are among the reasons it is referred to as the Last Shangri-la and the crown jewel of the Himalayas.

On the other hand, the Bhutanese call their country Druk Yul, Land of the Thunder Dragon, because of the violent snow storms.”

Thanks for your question, it seems like a magical place. I would love to hear more about how your trip goes!



Further information

Taxi regulations for kids in Australia

inside taxiPeter said: August 31 2011 5:18 PM

It seems that Australia has the toughest car seat law and requires car seats to be used even in taxis. We are planning to travel in Australia with our 4 years old during Xmas. We won’t be renting a car when we are in Sydney and Melbourne. After checking around, it seems that it was rather difficult to find a taxi with car seats and even if they provided car seats, they would start charging from their car seat depot until getting to the destination. As carrying a car seat would be quite a nuisance, I am wondering if the “RideSafer Travel Vest” ( can be used in Australia in lieu of a car seat or booster. Thanks.

Donna @ Litttle Gulliver said: September 7 2011 5:29 PM

Hi Peter,
yes, there are tough laws here and your query is one which many parents wonder about (even those that live here)! However, there are exemptions for children riding in taxi’s if a carseat is not available (therefore, legally your child would not have to ride in a car seat if you did not have one available). The exemptions include;

* a child under one is travelling in a taxi and a suitable restraint is not available, however the child must not travel in the front seat

* a child over one is travelling in a taxi, and there is no suitable restraint available and the child occupies their own seating position.

* a child is travelling in a police or emergency vehicle

* a child has a medical condition or physical disability that makes it impractical to use a child restraint, and the driver has a certificate from a doctor indicating this is the case.

Source; RACV

I have looked at the Ride Safer Vest before and think its sounds great. However, I cannot see that it is approved for use in Australia. Having said that, it may seem unlikely that a taxi driver would stop you from using it! (I have never used one and would be really interested to hear about it if you decide on getting one).

As you mentioned, a car seat would be a burden and bringing your own from overseas is unlikely to meet Australian regulations anyway. If you decided to consider a carseat you may choose to buy a cheaper car seat here and then donate it to a charity when leaving. Other alternatives could be to consider a “booster cushion” seat with a seat belt adjuster such as a Safe Fit. These would be a bit less bulky than a car seat and provide more protection than a seat belt alone. There are also reputable hiring companies, but again, when you aren’t hiring a car…

Also, have you seen the Trunki Boost A Pak? I love these (note; they aren’t approved or sold in Australia). The back pack style may suit you as they seem ideal for travel. This allows the child to be lifted up in the seat and move the seat belt away from the neck.

Since taxi’s in Australia is an area of interest to many, I’ll now include some general information below;

A note on Child restraints in Australia

All child restraints used in Australia must comply with current Australian standards – one of the main features of which is the use of a rear strap to an anchor point. Australian child restraint standards are some of the most stringent in the world and most overseas child restraints do not comply with these standards and cannot legally be used in Australia – this includes restraints from countries such as the UK and USA.

Travelling in taxis in Australia

Taxi drivers are not required to provide child restraints or booster seats.

All taxis should have the correct anchor point for fitting the restraint, but it is always advisable to call the taxi company in advance to check.

Taxi companies may be able to provide child restraints if they are given sufficient notice. A surcharge is the norm for the hire of the child seat and you will often have to pay for the taxi to collect the seat from a depot or taxi company’s headquarters. Your journey will be metered from the carseat collection point, to wherever you are picked up and then onto your final destination. Check all charges with your taxi company in advance and ensure that you book your vehicle well in advance (at least an hour).
taxi-238478__180The rules for travelling in taxis with very young children do vary from state to state within Australia. It is advisable to check with taxi companies when booking and to order a child seat in advance. Customer service desks at airports (both within Australia and internationally) should be able to assist you with booking taxis with childseats if you are not able to pre-book a taxi prior to your arrival.

Finally, Peter and family – all the best for a fabulous holiday! Sydney and Melbourne have some great attractions for families. I hope some of these ideas are useful and would love to hear what you decide. Enjoy the rest of your planning and let us know if we can help further.




Other relevant Little Gulliver Blog articles:

Child Restraints and Taxi’s

Transport in Bali and Cuba

Travelling on a Bus with a 20 month old


Other useful links:


Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA)

Bub Hub

Vic Roads

Christmas markets cruise for kids?

Andrea said: July 17 2011 4:55 PM

Christkindl Markt

Just wondering if you know of any cruise lines in Europe that do the Christmas Markets and will take children aged from 2 and 3 quarters to 8?



Donna @ Little Gulliver said: July 22 2011 4:29 PM

Hi Andrea,

its lovely to hear from you again. We hope your last European trip went well and are really pleased to see you’re planning another (also a little envious)!

The Christmas markets sound like a ‘must do’ activity for the bucket list and I think experiencing this when the kids are young sounds like lots of fun. However, I’m  unsure of a specific cruise line to recommend.

History of the Christmas Markets

For those of us who know little of the Christmas markets, I’ll give a brief rundown of their background…The Christmas markets are a tradition believed to have

started in Germany in 1434 and are now held all over Europe. There are genuine market stalls where visitors can search for handcrafted gifts while soaking up the Christmas traditions (such as Santa, nativity scenes and carolling). And for us in the southern hemisphere it is a way of experiencing the best of a European winter Christmas.

I love the tradition of the Christmas markets and it seems those in Germany may be the best to check out, with Nuremberg being the most famous. They run from late November to the third week of December or later, depending on the location. Another thing about sticking to a German cruise is that you may be able to select a shorter option (and can make an exit if it isn’t suiting the kids) while still able to see the ‘best of the best.’ Some families prefer a longer cruise and incorporate sight-seeing with the Christmas markets. Parents report they are able to have some adult time on shore, while leaving the kids in the care of experienced workers.

Cruises for Families

I would suggest checking the Cruises for families website (type in destination Europe, date November or December 2011) and have a look at the types of cruises it suggests. It will allow you to get a feel of your ‘ideal’ Christmas markets family cruise. If you find one you really like, it is then a matter of tracking down this or a similar through a local (Australian) agent ot tour operator. (Generally you cannot book with an overseas operator. Australian cruise enthusiasts are constantly unhappy that this invariably means paying more for the same cruise than our European counterparts).

Further Reading

Europes best Christmas markets

Taking teens to the Christmas markets

Christmas market cruises

Christmas market tour search

Australian Operator


I hope you find this information useful. Let us know how you go, I’ve loved reading about these cruises and would love to go on one!

Thanks again for contacting us and sorry we can’t be of more help.

Kind regards,