Natalie Sullivan (@this_sweet_life_of_mine) is a wife and mum of two (Ari and Chloe) living on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She understands that motherhood takes on many forms, and hopes that her experiences along the way can provide you with inspiration.
I’m all for overindulging when you’re travelling, but I’m even more for maintaining a healthy balance between enjoying the wonders that reveal brings and the familiarity of a home routine. The food we eat, the exercise we enjoy, the choices we make to keep ourselves and our families healthy, are all a part of what makes us… well, us, so why not carry some of these through into our ‘vacay life?’ Routine is a huge part of our lives, and many people can feel uneasy when they can’t maintain theirs in an unfamiliar environment, but I’m going to share how I personally strike this balance, so that you can adopt some my strategies into your own travel.
I journey within Australia and overseas with my family regularly throughout the year, and we spend quite a large portion of time on the road. As a mother to a two- and four-year-old, it’s essential that our daily routine can still work outside of our life at home, and also be adaptable for our holiday lives.
It’s very important to enjoy a new destination with all of your senses, and taste is one of them. The majority of people love to try new foods and taste different things, though, for some, too much of this can be uncomfortable. I try to keep our diets fairly close to what we eat at home, while leaving space to sample the new tastes that we want to.
Children can be very fussy eaters, so something I always do is to take some of their favourite snacks on holiday with us – things like crackers, popcorn, sweet bars and canned tuna. This gets us through the first couple of days before we make it to a supermarket to stock up on our favourite supplies. Of course, I always check the regulations for each entering country first.
Eating at foreign restaurants with children can be quite tricky. Normally, all Ari and Chloe want to eat is chicken nuggets or crumbed fish and chips. These are foods I don’t cook at home and only enjoy every few weeks when out to dinner. They’re are often served with a salad or vegetables, which I cannot seem to get my children to normally eat! I get around this by asking restaurant staff to alter meals when possible by requesting the vegetables I know that they enjoy, like cucumber, sweet corn, broccoli and peas. This way, I feel comfortable with the fact that some variety is being added into the foods that they are eating. Of course, I also relax and, if they want a scoop of ice cream a day, then that’s okay too!
At breakfast buffets, it can be extremely tempting to eat anything and everything. Every morning, I try to choose foods that I would normally eat for breakfast at home, like eggs on toast with avocado. I save the last morning of the trip for overindulging on all the things I really enjoy (and probably shouldn’t eat too often).
I love preparing lunch for my children, and that doesn’t change when I’m on holiday. Once we arrive in a new place and get settled in, we always head to the local supermarket and pick up some of our favourites for me to make during our trip. This is a big money-saver too!
I love to exercise – it’s a huge part of my life and helps to maintain a balanced body and mind. We add exercise into our trips by walking as much or as far as we can. We take bike trips where possible, walk the stairs instead of taking short lifts, and take it in turns to go to the gym before the children wake up. There are also some amazing exercise programs that can be found online which are suitable for at home or on holiday. These can be done in half an hour while the children are sleeping, or by the pool whilst everyone is having a swim.
Keeping healthy goes deeper then maintaining your existing diet and exercise. When travelling, our bodies can become prone to catching a whole variety of illnesses. Exercise and healthy food are just two ways to combat sickness; making sure that everyone gets enough rest and isn’t run down is another.
When travelling, I take a small first-aid kit with a thermometer, Band-Aids, antiseptic cream, oral pain relief and essential oils that help fight illness. I even bring this first aid kit with us on the plane. We also take our regular supplements that assist with boosting our immune systems.
Being vigilant with hand washing is a huge tip, as is hand sanitising regularly, whether your preferred wash is from essential oils or purchased at the chemist.
There are, of course, other common-sense pointers to be mindful of, like only drinking bottled water in certain countries, being careful where you purchase food from and being mindful of things you touch/come into contact with.
We find our holidays run more smoothly and our children stay in better spirits if we stick to some sort of daily routine. This was even more important during their younger years. At two and four years old, we’re able to ‘push them’ on the odd day by skipping lunch naps or having late nights. That said, we do find it important to balance this out by have a quiet day the following and allowing for lunch naps. It’s so important to remember that these little people need more sleep than us and get drained more easily.
When they were younger and lunch naps were essential, we always made sure we’d be in one spot during this time, so that the nap could be taken in either a pram, car, carrier or bed.
Having all the general sleeping gear with you while travelling can be incredibly helpful – think teddy bears, sleep suits, special blankets or milk in a certain bottle. We always plan to have at least a few of these on us if we know a sleep is coming up, whether we’re on the plane, in the hotel or on the go.
I am a big believer in planning ahead and preparing the best you can, but things can always happen that are out of your control. Above all, relax and have fun! The world is there to explore and be enjoyed. Tick off your family bucket-list and make incredible, lifelong memories while doing so!