We have done a lot of travel with the kids - we love to travel and we have a lot of family overseas so we take at least two big trips per year. Since having the kids we have been struggling with that feeling of being more exhausted when you get home than when you left. Now that I am running my own small business as well (Riff Raff Sleep Toys) it is fair to say a good break is a requirement for good health!
One week ago we got back from Bali. That was our fourth trip to Bali and our third trip with the kids. We have firmly decided that we will holiday in Bali every winter for the next few years and here is why...
Two words - NANNIES and VILLAS
Having a nanny to support you with the children is amazing. It is the one factor that has been making such a substantial difference how we feel, how much time we get as a couple, and how we play with the kids while on holiday.
But not all nannies are created equal. Our first trip to Bali with the kids was sort of spontaneous - we only had 3 weeks notice, it was high season and I had no time to investigate properly how to find a good nanny. I just went with the biggest agency and hoped for the best... Evie was 22 months and Louis was 10 months. The nanny spent one hour with them and then quit. So much awkwardness ensued. I freaked out, called her boss to get a replacement, her boss called her and obviously threatened her because she came grovelling back and so we continued a very strained relationship for the rest of the week. It wasn't great - but we still had some extra hands to help with food prep, clothing, sunscreen, playing so it was better than no help at all.
Still I had faith this was the key to a relaxing holiday and we had fallen in love with the Balinese people so when the following winter edged closer I started my research on finding the perfect nanny for our next trip. That is when I stumbled across a review for Wayan - Bali Best Nanny and got in contact with her - being her own boss I felt confident she would have a better work ethic than our previous Nanny. In my first email to her asking whether she did 'live in' and whether she would mind sharing a room with the kids. When she replied 'I prefer to sleep with the kids to make sure they are safe' I booked her instantly and two trips later we have never looked back.
Bali is not the only place where you can hire a nanny. But it is very affordable in Bali - this trip was about $5 per hour for casual nanny or $70-$80 per day for live in (for up to 2 kids normally).
BENEFITS OF HAVING A NANNY
- Sleeping in. Remember that concept? Lying in bed and getting up any time you like? Seeing as us parents are pretty much conditioned to wake up at 6am regardless you probably won't be sleeping per se but it is such a nice feeling to wake up and see your kids because you want to, not because one of them is punching you in the face for breakfast. And lying in bed listening to them have breakfast and playing around is one of the sweetest sounds.
- Extra hands. When holidaying in Bali with kids you need lots of hands. With the kids in and out of the pool all day the endless reapplications of sunscreen and mostiquo repellent is enough to keep you busy. Putting on rashies, hats, blowing up floaties, preparing snacks, putting on nappies... The extra hands to help you with all the day-to-day stuff really helps you cut straight to the fun stuff - which for my kids is swimming, playing pirates in the pool and more swimming.
- Extra eyes. I feel it is worth noting that we have found the nannies are extremely attentive and risk adverse with the children. Unless you have explicitly asked them to do so they would never take your child swimming, leave the property or anything else that might make you feel uneasy. In our case, with our quite relaxing parenting style, it is safe to say that they are safer in their hands than in ours!
- Going on dates. We don't have in-laws close by for date nights at home so the idea of being able to go out child-free and spend quality time talking to each other is pretty novel and exciting. And the idea of being able to do it any time we like, day or night, without time limit... Amazing! Although we normally go when the kids are having a nap/quiet time or else when they are in bed for the evening, it is super liberating just to know we could if we want to.
- Getting a break. Instead of reading The Snail and The Whale you get to break out a real adult book! Or nap. And you don't feel guilty because your little one is being entertained with real games, drawing, puppet shows and gecko hunts.
VILLAS VS RESORTS
There are some beautiful resorts in Bali but the last few times we have chosen to use private villas for most of our accommodation needs and thoroughly enjoyed it. While the buffet breakfast are amazing until the kids are old enough for kids club (and actually want to go) we will stick to villas for a few reasons.
- Value for money. With the villas we have rented in the past we have managed to stick around the $200 per night budget per family and have been able to get some beautiful places. This might not sound particularly cheap, and it's not, but a quick google quickly shows that trying to get a half-decent resort with two-bedrooms is almost impossible. And sharing a room with your kids on holidays is not an option for us.
- Privacy. I didn't realise how much I valued my privacy until a recent resort trip in Ubud. My kids like to be naked a lot. They get their gear off whenever they can and we like it. I like to have my coffee and breakfast in my PJs. None of this is acceptable at resorts.
- Relaxed. The villa life is laid back - there is no time the breakfast opens and closes, you don't have to brush your hair or put make up on, there are no towels on the best seats at the pool, there are no drunks swimming in the kids pool. You have breakfast when you want it (or when you asked the staff to make it for you the night before) and you have the best seat at the pool all the time.
TRAVELLING WITH OTHER KIDS
This trip to Bali was the first time we travelled with friends with other kids and it was nothing short of amazing. It sounds hectic - 4 couples and 8 kids under 3, and sometimes it got a little crazy but the advantages far outweighed any madness. For the older 3 year olds to have their best friends there meant they were never bored, always someone to play with and other kids novel toys to play with. For the parents there was that comrardie and support - taking turns supervising in the pool, taking turns cooking the kids dinner each night and group showers before bed. We are even closer as friends now (if that was possible) and we hope to travel with friends for pretty much every holiday we take from now on.
- Pool fence and swimming safety in Bali. After staying in three different villas around the Seminyak area it is fair to say that not all pool fences are created equal. The second place we stayed at last year said it had a pool fence - this involved some wonky panels, rope and a bush. A blind poodle could have got through let alone a cheeky toddler. For ultimate relaxation a secure pool fence is a must and while you may find a villa with one up to your standard I would recommend getting in touch with Wayan again - her and her husband also run Little Angel Pool Fence Bali and the quality is excellent.
- Currency exchange. This one always used to bug us - we were never certain if we were getting a decent rate and would often be shocked at all the international fees on our credit card or withdrawal fees on our debit. We now avoid all that. First we take Australian dollars with us and change it there. The rate is so much better than anything you can get here and if we take the right amount we avoid all ATM fees. Obviously security can be an issue so if you do this you have to have some nice, safe places to carry cash and always split your amount and carry in at least two different places. Then we found the best travel credit card - 28 degrees travel credit card. https://www.28degreescard.com.au No annual fee, no currency conversion fees and no international fees at all. As long as you wipe this baby clean at the end of your trip it is the only way we have found to avoid fees.
- Flights with more than one child. Flights with toddlers are always going to be a bit of tough but we have found splitting our seating up has made a huge difference. By taking one child each reduces the kicking, fighting and biting and can also provide them with a change of scenery when you do a swap if required. If you happen to be travelling with another adult I would recommend to give it a go... You might just have to flip a coin with your partner to see who gets the more 'active' ones.
I hope I have provided you with some sunny holiday inspiration to get you through these chilly winter days. If you have any tips for me - other ideal kid friendly holidays, plane hints etc. please send them my way! xx
I cannot recommend these nannies enough - they are like angels.
Wayan - Bali Best Nannies
Kadek (Ubud area) - Kadak