After more or less 4 years living in beautiful, lush Thailand, we’ve decided our next area to explore ( and hopefully settle in!) will be Tofino, British Columbia.
The politics of immigration in the UK right now doesn’t look like it’s going to change in the near future, and because we are one of thousands of families dealing with the visa issues ( learn more about them here) , we’ve had to come up with a plan B as to where we should go.
And because both Billy and Kaya are Canadian, it makes sense for us to explore that part of North America, and also base our businesses there while exploring gorgeous British Columbia.
Where is Tofino? And why did we choose to go there?
Well first off nothing is set in stone. Tofino was one of many options that we researched and had the type of laid back vibe that’s similar to the one here in Thailand ( sabai sabai as they say). Second, countless people have recommended we investigate it, and after getting in touch with both the mayor ( who is amazing!) and community, it felt right.
Prices are more affordable than Vancouver and Victoria. There are also homeschoolers, and no super strict regulations on homeschooling either. So it has the community we are craving as well as the laid back, hippie friendly lifestyle.
Immigration may change one day in the UK, and at that point who knows. Maybe we will finally get to go back.
But until then I cannot wait to discover Tofino, and look forward to my Mother and Brother coming up for Christmas, as well as being closer to family in general. We also look forward to vacationing in other parts of Canada, and maybe checking out niagara falls.
Have you been to Tofino? Tell me about it in the comments below, I’d love to hear more about Vancouver Island in general!
photo: Dustin Scarpitti on Unsplash
Bright-Eyed And Blog-hearted
As part of our Lifestyle Design series, I am reviewing the wonderful blogging course & community Bright-Eyed and Blog-hearted. I originally posted this on my personal blog but because it’s such a valuable resource I wanted to share it here with you.
I’m thrilled to be hosting both a spectacular linkup and another paypal giveaway!
A crazy special thanks to the following blogging mamas who happily visited our hop over the year, partnered with us, built community among other moms here and of course for contributing to the cash giveaway!
Now, after you enter this AWESOME giveaway, don’t forget to scroll down farther to link up to the hop! Don’t miss our 52nd!
Also, If you are interested in co-hosting FOR FREE shoot Hannah an email at hannahsjoyfullife (at) gmail.com to get on the list, growing your followers couldn’t be easier!
I haven’t been shy on here about how stressful I find international travel, despite how frequently we fly. From excessive security ( pat downs, scanners, belt/shoes off, laptop out, no metal in pockets, take out your wallet, don’t carry liquids) to long flights or transfer after transfer, I absolutely understand why it stresses people out so much and even prevents some from traveling long distance. My brother for example loves visiting new places, but told me how totally knocked out he is after a long flight and jet lag can take him weeks to get his sleep schedule back to a normal hour.
One of the things I always suggest to friends looking to take a long journey is to plan ahead for jet lag. Take long relaxing baths with essential oils to help your body wind down after a few days on the road ( or in the sky). Doing yoga in your hotel room will aid circulation and help resolve any mental stress that could cause you to feel out of sorts.
My Mom flies from LA to China and then to Phuket every year. It’s about a 20 hour journey for her. Her way of relaxing while traveling and recouping once she arrives usually has to do with her sleeping as much as possible on the plane, and then taking the next few days as easy as possible. We pick her up from the airport at around 2AM and help her settle into her hotel room and don’t come over until at least a day or two as she likes to lounge around the pool with a glass of wine for the first few days before she plays with her Granddaughter for the next month.
Another way to relax as much as possible while traveling is to pack light. I can’t even tell you how much easier it is when you are only flying with a bag or two! It makes the world of difference, especially if you are traveling on trains or by bus. Our night train from Firenze to Munich was hectic, balancing a 3 year old and 4 extremely heavy bags that contained most of our belongings. It was necessary at the time but caused much unwanted stress, and when we again enjoy a night train ( we adore trains in this house!!) it will be with way fewer bags.
When flying, try to take only one carryon bag and one suitcase per person. I managed to do this even when we flew from LA to Korea when Kaya was only 15 months. We made sure we had all the baby essentials but didn’t go bonkers on toys and other things that would have made the journey harder than necessary. It worked out perfectly; she slept the entire flight while I watched movies.
Driving more than a few hours with kids goes smoothly ( or more smoothly rather) if you accept the fact that they may want to watch more movies than usual. The same goes for flying with young children: if they can’t sleep during say a 12 hour flight, don’t feel bad about letting them watch a few movies, or play with age appropriate apps. Our 13 hour flight from Phuket to Berlin was such a flight, as Kaya only slept a few hours during the long journey.
Despite how stressful traveling long distances can be, there are a number of ways to make it easier and not complicate things. Pack light, indulge in some me-time when you can, and relax as much as possible when you arrive at your destination.
My husband and I spent our honeymoon on a 2 week cruise around Asia. It was his first time exploring the continent and we visited Japan, Thailand, China, Vietnam, and South Korea together. From partaking in a tea ceremony in Busan to touring Nagasaki, our honeymoon was filled with memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
Kaya has yet to go on a cruise but is eager to. Whenever we drive to Ranong and go to the Andaman, there is a small boat we take over to Myanmar. She’s been used to going on this boat every few months and views it as the highlight of the trip. I’m not sure when we will end up taking her on a longer nautical journey but when we do, we plan on researching to the best of our abilities what cruise will be the most family friendly yet offers the unique, off the beaten trail destinations we crave.
Planning Your Cruise
If your family is looking to book a cruise in the near future, start by checking out CruiseAbout These cruise specialists offer advice on their blog and even offer last minute specials for cruises around the world. You can check out their destination guide for unique ideas as to where a cruise could take you ( I personally have always wanted to go to Antarctica, no joke).
Preparing For The Trip
Although my daughter is now 6, I am still used to making sure she has everything she could possibly need to stay entertained on long journeys. We’re planning an international move at some point and even though I’m dreading the long flight, I’ve done this so many times before that I know what works and what doesn’t. If you’re flying internationally to hop on your cruise, make sure to bring lots of sticker books and movies to entertain wee ones on the plane. Booking red eye flights has also been a winning strategy for us and Kaya has always slept on the flight.
In case you or any member of your family gets motion sickness, there are a number of homeopathic and natural remedies ( such as ginger) to help you as you acclimate. Eat frequently throughout the day. If any of you have food allergies or dietary restrictions, make sure to let your cruise advisor or travel agent know so they can confirm the ship can meet your requirements. We eat mostly vegetarian and had no problem with finding meat free options onboard.
Planning Day Trips
The highlight of the cruise was every time we booked a day trip or cultural excursion. Our tea ceremony in Busan for example was booked before we boarded the cruise. You can frequently check out what events are going on weeks before you board the ship and can even book that early, or you can wait until you are already on vacation to decide what your kids want to participate in.
Being a photographer, I’m a little bit mad at myself for not having invested in a better camera when we went on our honeymoon. The photos turned out fantastic, but now that I own a DSLR I would never take a point and shoot with me unless the cruise is super short or we’re headed to a rainy destination. Even then, I know how important it is to capture memories when I go on vacation with my family so next time around I will make sure to bring my Canon with me.
It’s important you find a camera that you enjoy using and that takes the best quality photos possible. An iphone can be great in a pinch ( and of course for Instagram!) but if you’re looking to step up your game I highly recommend investing in a DSLR, even if you shoot in auto.
All in all, cruises and families go well together. If you research and plan ahead of time, you’ll have a fantastic vacation with loads of photos to capture the memories you share with your little ones.
4 Things Your Kids Will Need In Their Summer Holiday Suitcase
Now that summer holiday season is fast approaching, there will be many things for you to get sorted. Not only do you need to book holiday transfers and get your travel money, but there are suitcases to pack too! As a parent, this means organising your own, as well as packing those of your kids – and let’s face it, they are likely to miss some essential items if left to their own devices! Of course, you may be prone to forgetting a few bits yourself if you leave everything until the last minute.
Therefore it makes sense to take plenty of time to get all your holiday jobs done, as it should allow you to do everything right the first time. Although it is always helpful to get a little assistance sometimes, so here is a little something from us… we have the lowdown on a few things your kids will need in their summer holiday suitcase, meaning that you can pack the essentials first!
We are cheating a bit with the first item on the list, as there are quite a few things that can be classed as sun protection. However they’re all really important to keep kids safe and healthy, so it makes sense to group them together. You’ll definitely want to pack sun cream alongside with some protective sunglasses and a hat. There are other items you can buy such as cover-ups for the beach which can be ideal for the midday sunshine.
Next up is swimwear, as this is something your kids will use each and every day on a sunshine getaway. Whether they’re playing in the pool or by the sea, swimwear is essential to keep other items of clothes dry. Swimming costumes and shorts are made of a material that will dry very quickly, which is great for comfortable wearing, as well as when you rinse them out in the evening when playtime is over.
Another really handy addition to a holiday suitcase is flip flops. There are plenty of brands out there, but Havaianas are a favourite of many due to the design and quality of the product. Flip flops are a lightweight addition to a bag, meaning they can be brought along on carry-on only flights, as well as in beach bags when going down to the sea. They are also ideal for wearing by swimming pools where the ground is often slippery for bare feet.
Shorts are something that are really versatile for travellers of all ages, but they are even more perfect for kids. Many holiday resorts do not expect tourists to dress overly smart for dinner, meaning your kids can often stay in the same outfit both in the day and the evening. However a dirty top can be replaced if necessary and will likely still match the shorts they are already wearing, especially if they are denim.
Exploring Thailand via car, bus, or motorbike is an incredible experience. We haven’t had the pleasure of driving throughout Northern Thailand, but we’ve driven to Ranong through Phang Nga dozens of times, explored Krabi, and Billy has taken the bus to Bangkok ( a long drive) 5 times. From what we’ve experienced plus what our friends have told us, the best way to experience Thailand is on the road.
Most of the large roads are safe and well traversed by trucks and drivers, as well as tour fans. My neighbor regularly drives from Phuket to Bangkok to visit her family, bringing her 3 year old son along for the 12+ hour drive. There are plenty of roadside stops for coffee, lodging, and food along the way, whether you are going to Ao Nang or Ranong.
We hope to fly to Northern Thailand sometime before we leave, and may drive from Chiang Rai to Pai. It’s a twisty drive that is known to make people sick, but is apparently gorgeous and well worth doing.
Have you explored Thailand in a car, bike, or bus? Let us know in the comments about your experience.
Now it’s time to link up your travel posts in Expat Diaries!