India my beloved india

I have taken Lilly-May to India twice…. we love it. From Mumbai, to Goa, to Hampi.
You do face challenges as a single parent if you are travelling that way..but that shouldnt stop you!

As soon as you arrive in India it hits you, the smells, the feeling, the beloved sense of hope and love and fear. It is a fantastic place where children are treasured! Go for it. Prior to having my daughter id spent 6 months there and travelled all over from the north to the south to Rajastan and the Himalayas! I couldnt wait to take my daughter!

I first took my daughter when she was 2.5 years old, we ended up there for a month due to the Icelandic volcano! This didnt stop us! On this trip we took in, Mumbai, Agonda beach in Goa, Palolem beach in Goa and Hampi.
On the second trip a year later we went to Mumbai, Goa and Kerala.

Mumbai Airport – On arrival. Go straight past all the touts to the Taxi counter. If you are with Children it is best to take an AC cab. I do love the smells of India and the last time i took a non-AC one..but my advice would be to take an AC as its cooler…Ask to be taken to Colaba..This is the best area i have found. I have been here many times and love Bentleys Hotel. It is mid range in the Lonely Planet. Flights tend to be much cheaper to Mumbai.

When you arrive in Mumbai go to the train station to buy your ticket to Goa. Take a taxi, you can hail them down. Make sure that they put on the meter. When you get to the station go upstairs to the tourist ticket desk. They reserve a number of tickets for tourists each day, you can usually get a ticket to go the next day. Buy an AC ticket or a 1st class ticket. I used to travel non-AC and tried this with my daughter on our first trip..id never noticed how loud the breaks were!
The train journey is a must!! Its is fantastic experience. The best station for the south of Goa is Margao, from here you can take a taxi to Agonda beach.. We stayed at Madu beach huts here two years in a row…Agonda is gorgeous. There is a working town behind the beach and a local town called Chaudi which has a great fish market!! Palolem is more touristy but still very beautiful…

Panjim, the capital of Goa is gorgeous and for a treat we stayed at the Panjim guest house…for £20-£30 a night we stayed in the most goregeous room in a beautiful hotel…there are great hotels with swimming pools, my best tip..and we do this in many places is to pay to use the pools in hotels..in most places you can!
You must take a boat trip in Panjim!! They are fantastic – all the passangers get up and dance on the stage, there is singing and dancing!! My daughter loved it!

Hampi Hampi Hampi…this is a jewel of India..the centre of the gods..we took an overnight bus to Hampi…this was a tourist bus..to book this there are many agents on the beach..India is very easy to travel around. Before i had my daughter we stayed in the Bazzar, this is great but i find with children it is better to stay over the river in Virupapur Gadde. This area is so beautiful…we stayed for £4 a night in a bungalow with an ensuite overlooking PADI fields..with water buffalo. I blew up my daughters boat and made a paddling pool for her on the veranda..
You must go to the Mango Tree restaurant….in all the guide books..to get here you walk through the mango plantation..try a mango, they are sweeter than anything you have ever tasted..There will be a boy at the entrance to the path leading to the restaurant..i first met him in 2006 when he was learning to sculpt, he now makes incredible sculptures…you must stop, he is incredible..

Food – Ok,,,so everyone says that my daughter must be a great eater….i would love that to be true…she lived off Rice and Chapatti…banana pancakes..fries….banana lassi….lots of banannas…you get by. you just do.

What to take:
Pack one backpack and one daysack and pack light. I always pack a small backpack for my daughter, it is getting slighlty biger as she gets older! This contains lego…a colouring book..toys…I usually carry the story books..You can buy buckets and spades and all of that there.
First Aid Kit
Diahorrea tablets
Rehydration tablets
cotton wool
Deet – check the percentage and if it can be used on children.
T-shirts – do not bother with vest tops as you need to cover your shoulders
long flowy trousers…buy a couple of pairs from the markets when you arrive.
A mosquito net..ive never used mine as always provided but you never know.
Your childs cup or drinking flask.
On arrival go to the pharmacy and purchase:

- antiseptic alcohol – our first aid creams are not strong enough.
- norofloxin.
- check the malaria risk in the area.

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i did my first long haul with Lilly at 16 months on my own..SInce then she has been on a few long hauls and some short hauls…also on long car journeys..
1. A bag with enough nappies/wipes for the journey
2. Snacks…the healthy type of snacks from Boots are great..I remember Lilly making such a mess!
3. Milk cartons and two clean bottles
4. I took calpol on the flight as I was worried about take off and landing, lilly wont take it but if yours will its worth taking
5. A change of clothes, every time I end up changing Lilly as she spills something.
6. Take pyjamas..i put her in them to signal sleep time.
7. Books/toys/games/reading books/wipe clean colouring books
8. Ensure you ask for water for the take off…
9. A slumber suit is a good idea also try to get the bassinet seat, that way you will have room in front of your seat for them to play also.
10. The time of the flight does affect the flight, if you can try for a night flight.
11. An ipad if there will be no TV, we only got one a year ago…
12. You may want to take a small mat to signify their play space to them
13. If your baby is fussy as Lilly was you may want to take food in jars.
14. I now take Lilly’s reading book from school or we practice writing in her wipe clean books.
15. Music, download onto your ipod and get a pair of kid friendly headphones! (also good for the ipad so they dont annoy the person in front)
16. A sling to carry the smaller children..sometimes the walks through airports can be long
17.make sure that your hand luggage is a backpack as if you have to carry them through the airport you need spare hands!

Travelling mum @justustravels Top 10 things to take camping with children…

1. A plug in cool box…to keep the milk, butter, beer! Cool…
2. A cool bag, I’ve just discovered ‘Friopacks’ for when you are out and about
3. Colours and a colouring book/wipe clean books/lego/their own backpack with toys/cards/games/puzzles
4. Wind up LED animal torches
5. A beach UV tent – doubles up as a play tent
6. Waterproof backed picnic rug
7. A Sat Nav – this way you know exactly how long it will take you to get somewhere!
8. Kids music
9. A potty if that age!! I potty trained Lilly camping
10. A fun sleeping bag! – Lilly loves her pink one!
11. A cuddly toy..just the one.but a bit of a home comfort
12. An ipad…
13. At least three story books
14. Games – sticky ball/tennis/football/bat and ball
15. Chairs..their own little camping chair
16. Their cereal bowls and plates and those multipack small cereal packs are great
17. A water bottle for the night so it doesn’t spill
18. Their own little wash bag set to take to the shower.
19. A travel cot..if needed, there are some great ones on the market
20. UV suit/hat

indonesian village

Travelling through Flores in Indonesia with Lilly. Overland for six weeks from Java to Flores. Taking public transport and staying in guest houses. Fantastic place for Kids. What a trip..story on its way!!

Snowdonia camping Incredible

Incredible valley camping, or high up on a hill side with mountain, sea and castle views…..get the map out….look for the camping symbol and go!

We camped at

Llyn Gwynant campsite in Snowdonia close to the foot of Snowdon. The first time we went here was when Lilly was two and a half..i have only been here twice even though im desperate to return. Myself and Lilly did return in January..and we trecked through the deserted valley…even then it was incredible.

http://www.gwynant.com/pages/find_us.html

This was the best camping holiday ive been on..When i drove into Snowdonia i had to actually stop the car to take in the view, it was a dreamland. The campsite is on a lake, they Hire out Kayaks for elder children and adults. There is a stream running down the edge of the campsite and we camped next to this. This was one of the first times i had put up my tent..this was a dome tent (my advice..a tunnel – see camping tips) but i was learning..i have done a lot of learning over the years..i was justifyably nervous when the hippy looking guy said pitch anywhere…what a choice..id never been to a campsite when you could do this! In the same breath he said ‘ i love the Valley man, ‘ i will never leave.. i’d been there 10 minuites and i didnt want to leave…i pitched the tent successfully..now Lilly helps me…

I am an explorer by nature…i cant sit still and so off we went to discover what there was to offer out here in this incredible place…and did we find it! My first though was Snowdonia…Mount Snowdon…how do we see that, more importantly how do i get up that?? For young children there is a tourist train that takes you up Snowdon. It really is very cute and its free for under 5′s, even so, with my 2 and half year old in tow we were walking down…no question. The view from the top is magnicficent..lakes and mountains and the sea??! so close??! this really was my dreamland and 5 hours from London?? I took a backpack child carrier and for the first part of the way down Lilly-May was in it, its slightly Rocky. From then on she walked…there is a small cafe on the way down which offers a welcome cup of tea and a flapjack! She didnt fall at all until we reached the very end of the walk where she tripped climbing into the car…

Llanberis is a great town to visit..we took a boat trip on the lake, again quite touristy but again with travel with children, you adapt..you just do, she loved it.

So, the sea…i’d seen the sea..now to find it..i looked on my map (my advice always have a map..) and headed to Harlech.. Here there is the most beautiful beach, long white and sandy backed with sandunes and mountains…incredible. It was so incredible i decided that we must camp near here…i looked on the map and saw a camping symbol..i navigated and found the cutest farm with camping..Myrther Farm..they have since created a website..like everything people have found out..but why not good for them! I just went here to check this out..The owner piled into my already packed Polo with little lilly squashed somewhere in the back. He was so keen to show me the field (thats all it was) and the views..from here you can see the castle…from here you can see snowdonia..from here the sea…i have never been so glad of my explorations. Two days later we stayed at the campsite. What a dream.

http://www.merthyrfarm.co.uk/index.html

There are so many incredible walks, views and places to visit here. It is great for children. Lilly and i returned this January. I booked a log cabin (see page) and we donned our ski gear. This time i discovered south snowdonia. Wow!!!!! We had snowdonia pretty much to ourselves. Just drove and explored. Incredible surroundings. fantastic.

250px-Zugspitze-Blick_auf_Ehrwald

Id just qualified as a teacher and there was the question of what to do with the summer! Lilly was 3 nearly 4. I had 6 weeks until i started my new job.i decided on camping..i got out my cool camping books and a map and started to research…

I then found myself in a book shop browsing the cool camping in Europe book..Europe it was! But where to go…i started to research…i decided that i would drive towards Austria and Slovenia…and hopefully Croatia!! I’d always wanted to go and camp near lake Bodene and visit Lindau ever since i’d passsed through threre with my sister on the way back from a ski trip two years prior.

I looked up the cheapest way to get across the channel, it seemed it was the DFDS seaways…it was about £50 for a return crossing although you can get reasonable tickets in advance with P&O and TESCO club card do good deals on the Euro Tunnel..

So, with the help of my friend Charlotte, we packed up the car and myself and Lilly set off on our adventure.

I’d booked our first night camping in Luxembourg, i worked out that our ferry would arrive by 11.30am and i wanted somewhere that wasnt too far away but was well on our way and well, i’d never been to Luxembourg! We arrived at the campsite at around 4pm..shattered. This was a lovely campsite with a lovely owner and a very calm atmosphere, there were lots of children running around. This was only the second time i’d put up my new tunnel tent…and a few people did rush to help, others looked on curiously, i hadnt realised at this point that this was only the very start of a journey where many people would offer their help, want to talk to us, give us things they no longer wanted!

The next day we set off and headed towards lake Bodense. I drove down through Germany. We arrived in the campiste around 6pm http://www.kirnermartes.de/. This was another lovely campiste and a great area to spend a couple of days, the coutryside consisted of green hills and mountains, and was near Friedburg, this was a lovely city to visit, we also took a cable car up a closeby mountain. http://www.schauinslandbahn.de/ once at the top there were some fantasic walks to be had. Very accessible for children.

We then drove on down to , ‘Camping Überlingenit’ on Lake Bodensee it was recommended by cool camping..on paper it looked lovely, you could camp on the lake..in reality, the campiste had big metal gates which created a hositlity..the owners informed me that as i was on my own i couldnt camp near the lake..we stayed for a day and moved on, it wasnt all bad though, there was a lovely lake walk from the campiste and a lovely Island you could take a boat out to with a great playground for kids, it just didnt feel quite right!

As you drive along the lake towards Lindau the scenery changes, the mountains started to rise up out of the mist…We camped in the most fantastic place, ‘park camping, Lindau am See’ http://park-camping.com/ on a lake, a large campiste but with a lovely small camping field..when you go in, ask to camp in the field to the right of the entrance at the far side of the campsite. This campsite has a beach with great swimming to be had in the lake. The campsite has a KIDS ClUB! it was fantastic. We ended up here for five days and Lilly went every morning, they spoke to her in German and she loved it, every day she returned with a new piece of art work! The campsite is close to Lindau which is a lovely german town right on the lake. The view from the top of the lighthouse is just stunning. As the campsite is on the border with Austria, Bregenz is very close and anther great city on the lake, from here you can take a cable car up the mountain, the views from up here are stunning. There are also many boat trips that you can take on the lake. This campsite was a real treasure. Highly recommended. One thing that i found about this trip was making the right decision of where to camp. I did often call ahead to see if i could book or if there was space. i would recommend this, especially in high season. I also would sometimes turn up to a campsite and if i didnt like it would move on or change the site. Its the same as travelling, if you feel happy, move on.

By this time in my trip i had worked out that it was best for us to leave a campsite at around 3/4pm on the days i was travelling. This meant that by the time Lilly got in the car she would fall asleep after an hour or so and i would have ‘my driving’ time listening to my music..on the open road, fabulous! Having the sat nav as well, meant that i knew pretty much exactly how long the journey would take. Definately a TOP TIP!

After a great swim in the lake we set off to the next campsite in Austria….this was an unforgettably stunning drive..one i will never ever forget. Huge towering mountains and sky so clear it looked like glass. We were heading towards http://www.fernsteinsee-camping-tirol.at/index0.php this was a hidden campsite near a lake but the best thing about the campsite was the location…close to the border of germany..this was home to one of the most stunning mountaiin ranges ‘Zugpitze’ the driving around here was just incredible, we took a cable car http://www.ehrwalderalmbahn.at/ehrwalderalmbahn/de/start_sommer.html up from Erhwald, this is the best for kids, at the top you suddenly found yourself in a picture postcard place, with a gorgeous walk up to a restuarant which served ice cold beer, the scenery was just stunning, you really felt as though you had found a little bit of heaven. There were times whilst driving around this area that i had to lterally pull off and stop the car to take it all in. Austria is a hidden gem, just beautiful. This area was also host to King Ludwigs famous castles just over the border in Germany in Fussen, another great and magical day out.

TO BE CONTINUED>>>>>>>

(Camping gives you this sense of being at one with the earth, it sort of puts things in perspective, i was soon to learn that this isnt always the case with European campsites..an adjustment i had to make).

We went to Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Switzerland.