There’s a certain excitement in the Blogosphere air. Even writing this first paragraph I have butterflies in my tummy. If you are into blogging or reading blogs then you may see lots of travel posts circulating about being a #MarkWarnerMum or #MarkWarnerDad at the moment. Bloggers up and down the country keen to become a part of the fantastic ambassadorship programme from Mark Warner Holidays. Something that I have only heard amazing, inspiring and heart felt love for. Anyone who has been on one of their fantastic holidays or who has been an ambassador for seems to only have good things to say and it’s no surprise their accolades feature consecutive awards for excellence, or that their innovative approach to holidaying with children are regarded as some of the best trips in the world.

#markwarnermum travel to Bruge to document for Mark Warner Mum ambassadorship 2017

As both a Mum of 2 young boys and a huge fan of travel this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get stuck into. We’ve been so fortunate in the past to have done a lot of traveling and have managed to see so much of the world as young and care (child!) free singletons. Flash forward 5 years Stuart is out the house 12 hours a day working and as soon as the children go to bed it’s my turn to work. Time together is a fragile balance and duly savoured over the weekends, our carefree days exchanged for a blur of nappies and sleepless nights.

I’m on a forever mission to be the fun mum: This usually ends in major #mumfail. Like that time I tried to impress my 3 year old and ended up flying face first off of a trampoline, almost breaking my knee. Or when I fell head first into a river, in an attempt to get the perfect angle for a family photo. Laughter is the soundtrack to our parenting style and without fail Stuart will be able to make the boys fall about in fits of it mid toddler meltdown, essential skills for life with 2 under 4!

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

We love to make all of our travels an adventure even within our own country but I’ve been thinking a lot lately how I would love to spend quality time as a family learning new things, and not just seeing new things. A chance for balmy days spent teaching the boys to swim under the summer sky, the opportunity for Stuart and I to learn a sport or skill together. I love that there are so many activities available on a Mark Warner Holiday that we can take part in as a family, but with the unique opportunity to put the children into childcare while we rekindle our passions together, or even learn a new exciting challenge neither of us have done before like water sports!

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

After we had Henry we did a little traveling in North America, however latterly our adventures have been constrained to the UK. You see traveling with children isn’t quite what it used to be. Gone are the spontaneous weekends away, jumping on the Eurostar a distant memory. Our Top 10 holiday essentials are not quite what they used to be. As part of the challenge to become a #MarkWarnerMum or #MarkWarnerDad I’ve been asked to share my top 10 travel must-haves…Now if you’re a parent also you’ll know that packing isn’t quite the same post children, so I thought I would share my top 10 holiday essentials – before and after kids!

TOP 10 TRAVEL MUST-HAVES BEFORE KIDS….

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

 

  1. Outfits. 3 per day. Hiking in the morning, perusing the town’s market in the afternoon, not forgetting a special dress for each evening to wear to a fancy restaurant.
  2. Bikinis. 7 in total. Well I can’t be seen in the same one in each photo?!?
  3. Books. Plenty of them and as many magazines. Hours spent reading, lounging by the pool ordering cocktails and nachos.
  4. Factor 6 tanning oil. No responsibilities and no apparent awareness for sun safety!
  5. Cocktails!! See points 1 and 3. Time to drink and party and roll in at 4am...well we wont be getting up ’til noon anyway so we can worry about the hangover tomorrow…
  6. Make Up. Lots of it. A bag full! Nights out are prefixed by 2 hours blissfully getting ready by myself.
  7. Sun bathing. Not a must have, but certainly a must-do. To be done at our leisure. Hot? Take a dip in the pool or a trip to the swim-up bar…
  8. Accessories. Planning outfits months in advance and making sure I have just the right fedora to compliment that new Maxi dress of mine.
  9. Hair dryer, straighteners, tongs, curling iron…Did I mention I have 2 hours to get ready each night??
  10. The Spa. Ahhh, the spa. Couples massage? Go on then, we’re on holiday after all…

TOP 10 TRAVEL MUST-HAVES AFTER KIDS….

 

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

  1. Outfits. 3 in total for the week including something I can be comfortable in whilst cosying up on the sofa once the children are down to sleep.
  2. Bikinis. High-waisted essential to hide inevitable mum-tum. In fact a swimsuit would be best. There’s a whole lot of bending down involved when looking after children by the pool.
  3. Books. Hmm, I had one of those once. It was replaced with an iPad, pre-loaded with the CBeeBies App.
  4. Factor 50 sun block. To be frantically applied 6 times a day, attempting to avoid mixing with sand, dodging imminent toddler meltdown.
  5. Juice…Squash. Water. Ice Pops. Anything to make sure little one is hydrated and won’t suffer from heat exhaustion when all they want to do is play. Repeat hourly.
  6. CC Cream. Store by the front door so you can apply quickly on your way down to breakfast (after having packed 4 beach bags full of stuff, wrestled toddlers to get dressed, yawned 3,000 times)
  7. Bucket and spade, frisbee, skittles. Anything to entertain the children with. Why not build a huge sandcastle with big windows for you to look out of over at the couples sunbathing, carefree, cocktail in hand.
  8. Accessories. 12 children’s sun hats – ensuring you have at least 1 that doesn’t get lost throughout the week.
  9. Dry Shampoo. You may, if you’re lucky, have time for at least one shower without a small visitor or 2 tugging at the shower curtain. Maybe take a couple of cans just in case.
  10. Baby Wipes. Ever been at a spa where they bring round cold cloths for your hot brow? I have and it was bloody glorious. Well that you can forget that. Instead bring 247 packs of wipes for all those baby related spills, scrapes and sick.

Check out my #MarkWarnerMum Pinterest Board for more Travel must-haves and holiday Pins!

I hope our passion for travel is passed down to the children. There really is so much to see in this world and I love showing the boys the beauty that travel has to offer. As part of our application I’ve made a little vlog of our travels in 2016, we would love it if we could make a very special one for 2017!

 

#nofilter – have you ever seen a more incredible sunset?!

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

I’d love to know how your must have holiday items have changed since having children – let me know below!

This has been my application to become a #MarkWarnerMum, Thank you for reading xx

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

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I love the planning that goes into organising a romantic weekend away. The anticipation, the excitement of escaping the ordinary. Before we had children we used to book a weekend at a spa or jump in the car to another city every couple of months. Being based in the South of England, we’re lucky to have lots of beautiful places within a couple of hours drive away and equally just on our doorstep. I love getting lost in beautiful surroundings, learning things about the places we go and I’m passionate about exploring close to home as well as further afield.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

It is especially exciting planning a weekend away now, because since becoming parents they are understandably rare. In fact I think we have only done one or two so far, but as the boys are getting older, in turn they are getting (slightly) easier to send to doting grandparents. Equally we love to show the boys the adventures we can have as a family, hopping in the car and going off on a road trip together. Although it has to be said it’s not quite as spontaneous as it once was when we only had to think of our own needs.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

As Valentine’s Day approaches I’m sure many couples are planning romantic ventures, be it at home or away. There’s a certain pressure that comes with a weekend spent with a new partner, a relationship in its infancy is put to the test when trying to plan for a weekend away together. It can certainly be a deal breaker. It’s probably a good idea to have spent a couple of nights together before putting your relationship to the test of a full weekend away. There’s nothing quite as awkward as realising actually you’re not the match you thought you were, when 300 miles from home and have 2 days to get through.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

I love the spontaneity of a loosely organised trip. Not knowing exactly what lies ahead provides extra excitement and adventure to your weekend. Showing your partner how you can be flexible can be an endearing quality, especially if you have children who don’t normally allow for such impulsive freedom. Getting insider tips from the hotel staff for the best brunch in town, or the secret spots they don’t show you in the guide book can be exciting and a fun way of getting to know each other. It’s great to discover the places on foot too if you have the time to meander through village streets without time constraints.

how to plan a romantic weekend away

It’s especially important to make time for a romantic weekend away if you have children and rarely spend time together as a couple. Even just to give yourself that time, have a bubble bath without interruptions, to take things slowly, enjoy each other’s company like you used to be able to without having to think of your children first. Rediscover each other, remember what made you fall in love with one another in the first place. It’s so so hard to make time for yourselves in day to day life amidst the school run, the food shop and the daily battles with getting children to eat their dinner. Each day ending with falling into bed, your head hitting the pillow desperately hoping for a few straight hours of shut eye and any thoughts of intimacy as distant as the memory of a full nights sleep. We’ve all been there and it’s only natural to put yourself and each other last.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

Finding the perfect spot for your weekend of romance is key to getting the mood right. Whether that’s a weekend of escaping to the countryside to an exquisite peaceful retreat where you can spend the whole weekend soaking up the splendour of the romantic setting, walking amongst stunning gardens and taking time over afternoon tea. A weekend in the City, shopping all day, fine dining and taking in a show by night. Or perhaps an action packed weekend of fun and mayhem, jumping on the Eurostar and picking a destination as you get to the station. It’s important to choose something that you would both enjoy and that is an escape from the norm. Personally I like to make sure I get as much from the weekend as possible, which means the less travel the better – there’s not much point flying to New York if you only have 48 hours to enjoy your adventure.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire  Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

Packing for a weekend away needs to start with the bag. Nothing too big so that you have to check it in for a flight, nothing too small so you have to scrimp on outfit options. I found the perfect bag whilst scouring one of my favourite websites, where I often get lost scrolling through their pages of beautiful homewares, iconic designers and luxury gifts. It’s just one of those sites where you want everything. I knew I wanted to get something uber stylish and special for a weekend bag because it will be something I use time and time again. This beautiful Ted Baker weekend holdall is a definite investment piece and one that I think will see me through years of adventures.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall HampshireValentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

What ever you do, wherever you go, it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourselves to be romantic, just relax, enjoy the time do something fun together.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

What’s your favourite kind of adventure?

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With thanks to Tylney Hall for the use of their stunning hotel in rural Hampshire.

I love living so close to London, it’s just a quick 45 minute train to get to the city and each time I go I try to find new places to explore. Many of my school friends have settled in London so it’s always nice to pop up and visit. but having to make a quick dash for that last train is always a stressful experience. Sometimes it’s so much more convenient to stay up there, so when I was invited by Novotel to check out their stylish and contemporary hotel in the Royal borough of Greenwich I was really pleased.

Novotel #1000 stories blog

Sadly I didn’t get to the hotel until pretty late, so I didn’t utilise all of the facilities such as the stylish bar, pool or international cuisine restaurant. I did, however, very much enjoy a full night’s sleep in the super comfortable bed dressed in eco-designed “LIVE N DREAM” comfort bedding and pillows – a real treat which anyone with young children will agree!

Nespresso with Novotel #1000 stories

#1000 stories with Novotel

#1000 stories with Novotel

Any hotel which offers Nespresso on tap is a winner for me. I love being able to have a strong coffee in the comfort of my pyjamas before heading down to breakfast.

nespresso with Novotel #1000 stories

I was racing out the door first thing the next day on my way to Blogfest so I just had enough time to grab a quick bite to eat from the breakfast buffet which included a nice selection of continental and cooked options. I probably should have loaded up more but I was, of course, being characteristically late!

Breakfast was served with view. The cosy cobbled streets and iconic red telephone box set the scene for a traditional London landscape. Morning was rising with a cool dampness to the air and I was excited for the day ahead meeting lots of fellow bloggers. It was such a shame I couldn’t explore the area as from what I had seen it had so much to offer. I’d love to go back again with the boy’s when I had more time to take a look around the area; especially as they offer great facilities for families. The hotel was so close to the train station it was really convenient to navigate to despite feeling quite far out initially.

#1000 stories with Novotel

Greenwich has a unique village feel to it, home to a World Herritige site, a Prime Meridian and where hemispheres meet. It’s so easy to get to out of central London, and the over ground train takes you through the winding tracks above Canary Wharf’s waterways which is never something I’ve seen from such a perspective.

I loved that all the toiletries were Fairtrade. Novotel is committed to PLANET 21, the sustainable development programme of the AccorHotels and there are many eco friendly materials used throughout the hotel.

Novotel #1000 stories blog 

Thanks to Novotel, Greenwich for inviting me to stay. You can take a further look at my stay at over on my YouTube 

If you stay with Novotel make sure you tag #1000stories on social media to share your story.

 

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As the time got closer for our adventures in North America to begin, one of my main concerns after Henry’s overall safety abroad was the flight. Flying with a baby isn’t exactly something that fills any parent with much joy, after all. But it is a necessity of course, so my search began trawling through the internet to find tips to help me prepare for our 9.5hr flight to Chicago with a 10 month old.

tips for flying with a baby or child

Our little Henry is by far the most strong willed baby I am sure I’ve ever met, and I’m sure this will stand him in good stead as an adult, however as a baby it means a situation such as our impending flight and our having to restrain him for most of the waking day was a serious worry for me. He doesn’t sit still for more than 30 seconds at home, gets bored of toys immediately and never watches TV. And when he is made to do something he’s not keen on, my gosh do we know about it! (a phase, right??) As you can imagine not the ideal ingredients for a stress-free flight.

We flew with American Airlines, despite booking with British Airways, and I would be complaining about their terrible service with a frown, lack of refreshments, being made to wait an hour to disembark while Henry wailed his little heart out, the seat belt light being on for 4 hours and constantly being told Henry needed to be restrained  despite zero turbulance…IF they had not given us the bulkhead. This was a Godsend!! I had been frantically trying to get it secured on advanced check in which I was continuously calling & being passed around to no avail. But I could have kissed the check in lady at the airport after she managed to secure it for us as I knew just how much difference this would make to us. It meant he had loads of room to crawl about on the floor and play with lots of exciting things whilst flirting with the ladies on our row.

Setting off from Heathrow!

 

If you are reading this, I am sure you too are looking for help and advice so here are my tips for what helped us with a relatively stress-free flight!

Tips For Flying With A Baby Or Family;

Don’t let the pre-flight stress get to you;

The thought of flying with a baby, or taking a baby on holiday may scare you from even attempting it until they are older. But let’s be honest, a trip down the road isn’t what it used to be when you think of all the paraphernalia you need to remember, how much milk or food they may need and timing it around feeds and nap times. So don’t be put off by it, if you set your expectation that it’s going to be horrendous, then I am positive you will be pleasantly surprised. most airlines really cater well for families with young children.

Get the right flight;
The ideal flight time for long haul is over night to fit in with your baby’s schedule. Unfortunately there wasn’t this option for us so we had to go for a midday flight. try your hardest to get a non stop flight as you not only want to get there as soon as possible, but having to get your child in and out of the aircraft, through terminals and customs adds so much more pressure to you all.

Tips For Flying With A Baby.

Book the “best” seats;
These may not be the best for everyone else, but if you can book ahead then go for seat at each end of a 3 person row (if the flight isn’t full it’s highly unlikely a solo traveller will book the middle seat) this will give you more room to play with and them to play in! If the flight is full then book the aisle if you have a baby who wants to walk or crawl everywhere, or the window seat if you want privacy to nurse or a leaning post to set up camp for them to sleep on you. You then have the added bonus of having a bassinet which clips on for them to sleep in, but beware this isn’t a failsafe; Henry was too big at 10m so they aren’t going to fit most babies above around 9 months.

Take a bag of tricks;
Buy new, small toys to entertain your little one; the excitement of these being unplayed with before may keep them entertained for longer and keep them small so you can take quite a few.
Pack as many snacks as you can, all sealed so they don’t get taken away at customs! Brands such as Organix and Kiddylicious make some organic, sugar free selections; I bought everything on offer as Henry certainly has an appetite on him.

Milk is your saviour;
Regardless of if you’re breast or bottle, milk will soothe and satisfy your baby throughout the flight. Make sure you have it at the ready for take off and landing as it will take away the pain of their ears adjusting to the cabin pressure. I’m still breastfeeding Henry and my nipples were shredded by the end of the flight and there was certainly no milk left, but they definitely helped with his ears. A dummy or pacifier would work too if your baby takes one. Make sure you pack more milk than you think they could need as it having too much isn’t half as much of an issue than running out! – while we’re on this, make sure you pack more of everything you need such as nappies, snacks & clothes as you never know how long you may be delayed along the line.

Dress them for comfort;
It may sound obvious, but you really don’t want to be fussing with intricate outfits with tights and shoes or similar when dealing with a dirty nappy in a miniature aircraft toilet, so make sure your dress baby in something easy and comfortable.

Tips For Flying With A Baby.

Take the right equipment;
Some people choose to take a car seat to fly; which would mean the child will need their own seat on the plane, but for us that just looked like far too much to pack and carry with us, so we are renting one along with the car once we arrive at the destination.
Depending on how many flights you are taking (6 in our case) your stroller is going to need to withstand some serious throwing about. Chances are you also aren’t going to want to travel with your big, special pram from home. We bought a Mamas & Papas Barnie stroller for the trip, which compared to my beloved Sola pram I really don’t like much, but it is lightweight, small and ideal for taking on holiday. These days pushchairs like the BabyZen YoYo can fold small enough to put into the overhead locker so you know they aren’t going to get trashed in the hold.

I really hope these tips help you relax a little about your flight, honestly I was really panicking about ours but it was brilliant in the end. Henry actually only slept for 45 minutes in the whole 9.5 hours and I can still say it went really well, we were so proud of him.

Happy holidaying!!

tips for flying with a baby or child

 

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It’s no surprise that when we were telling people of our plans to take our 10 month old baby traveling we were met with a lot of shocked expressions and “wow you’re brave” comments. And of course we were concerned about certain aspects of it and knew we’d need some tips for traveling with a baby. But I can honestly say that it was so so easy. It really wasn’t any different to being back home, apart from adjusting to the time zones and a couple of difficult bed times. So if you are in the position to be able to take your baby on a long holiday then please don’t be put off.

TIPS FOR FLYING WITH A ABABY OR CHILD

The flight;
I wrote some tips here on how to survive the flight. During our first 9 hour flight Henry only slept for 45 minutes so we certainly needed some serious distraction tools. For us snacks worked better than toys. We were able to make a box of raisins last about an hour at one point! We took 6 flights in total and Henry was brilliant, so much better than I anticipated in a confined space at funny times of the day. My main tip would be to try to get the bulkhead so that you have a lot more room by your feet for them to have freedom and you can get the bassinet for them to sleep in if you can get them down. If you expect the worst, they will probably pleasantly surprise you!
Our 7am flight from LA to Vancouver.
Jet Lag;
I won’t lie, the first 4 days were very early starts. He would wake at around 4am and be ready to start the day playing! And it was also tricky when we returned home. If you’re looking for tips to readjust your child I would recommend the following;
Try and give them the first day to catch up on their sleep when they want to if like Henry they didn’t sleep much on the plane. Don’t book too much in, take the time to adjust.
Give them as much daylight during the day time hours, this adjusts their internal body clock most effectively if they are back to front.
Try and stick to your home routine as much and as quickly as possible, gradually introducing a later or earlier bed time depending on which way they are out.

tips for travelling with a baby

Timings;
Day 1 of our return;
Henry was spot on to his pre trip routine the day we got back – 2 naps and bath and bed at 6.30pm – talk about a false sense of security! At 9pm he woke up and would not go back to sleep despite shushing then almost an hours walk out in the pram. We came to the conclusion that he was just not ready for bed and so we allowed him to get up and play for a couple of hours before trying him back again at 11.30. At this point Stuart and I hadn’t slept for over 37 hours so we were tired little bunnies. Luckily for us Henry slept in until 11.30am – so 12 hours, just the wrong times!
Day 2 – Awake at 10am, bedtime 9pm
Day 3 – Awake at 9am, bedtime 8pm
Day 4 – Awake slight slip back to 10am, bedtime 9.15pm
Day 5 – Awake at 8am, bedtime 7.30pm
Day 6 – Awake at 7.30am, bedtime 7pm
Tomorrow let’s hope for normal 6.30am wake up and 6.30pm bedtime!
My main advice would be, don’t book anything too intensive in for the first few days. This will help limit the stress for both you and your baby. We were lucky that we were staying with our friends in Chicago for a week, so we had loads of space for him to play in for those first few early starts, and we could limit our adventures until he was settled.

tips for travelling with a baby

Packing;
We certainly didn’t travel light, and that was mainly due to the amount of time we were away for and the 2 extreme climates we had to dress for – Canada in April and California in May! If you are struggling with luggage weight limits I would recommend that you try not to bring too many of the same thing, such as sleep suits and vests as there will always be washing facilities within the hotel or nearby. You shouldn’t need towels as all hotels have them for both showering and swimming. Think about how many days you may have by the pool or on the beach as these days you won’t necessarily need a full outfit for them on top of their swimming outfits (sadly ours wasn’t such a holiday this time!). Think also about your traveling days as you could think about using a sleep suit for the aeroplane rather than an outfit (my experience is that they get utterly filthy from crawling around on the floor during the hours of waiting for planes.) Here are my top 3 products I wouldn’t go away without.

tips for travelling with a baby, the review

Driving;
It goes without saying to time your naps around your traveling needs of course; as you would do at home. But this was really key for us as a couple of days we had a lot of ground to cover. We would set off straight away after breakfast so Henry would have 1hr 20mins plus another 40 mins or so of being amused looking out of the window. Then a break for lunch and a play somewhere he could get out and explore, followed by the same during his after lunch nap. This only happened a couple of days as usually we would limit our driving to 1 sleeps worth every few days.
 tips for travelling with a baby
Day time Activities;
It was really important to us to make sure Henry was getting enough mental and physical activity as possible, so if you’re feeling the same I’d suggest you do some research to see where local soft play and children’s centres are. In America they have “Children’s Museums” which are fantastic and we were given passes by our friends in Chicago to the local one there which was packed full of amazing activities for all ages of children, Henry had an amazing time exploring. We found loads of these around the States. The beach was also a huge hit for our boy who’d never felt the sand between his toes before and on cooler days he would spend hours playing with it, fascinated.

tips for travelling with a baby

After 6 weeks, 6 flights, and 4 time zones we certainly learnt a lot as well as seeing a fantastic array of beautiful sites, and these are just a few tips, but please get in touch if you wanted any further advice for your upcoming trip. Try not to let the planning and preparation stress you out and enjoy the memories you’ll be making with your family.
 tips for travelling with a baby the review
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