Over these past 2 months, we’ve been to London, Nottingham, Menerbes, Aix en Provences, Paris, Stockholm, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Bannf, Revelstoke, Kamloops, Whistler, Vancouver, San Fran and Santa Cruz. With Harry (2) and Leo (1), it’s been challenging but a lot of fun.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Sydney is actually an awesome place to live. I left there feeling tired of it, but I return feeling grateful to have a home there.
2. Ski resorts in the summer are a bit like pubs during non-happy hour – they’re still fun, but it’s like everyone’s waiting for the real party to start.
3. When your toddler says he feels sick in the car for the 5th time, it’s usually a good idea to pull over (especially if he’s drunk his first ever bottle of chocolate milk moments before). #exorcist
4. Traveling with a baby who’s just learned to walk is like non-stop wrestling with a baby octopus.
5. Traveling with a toddler who’s just learning to talk is like Chinese water torture. (#Not-sure-if-terrible-twos-or-just-a-bastard).
6. Grandparents are worth their weight in gold.
7. Grandparents who travel with you are worth twice their weight in gold.
8. @RyanAir are b*stards. On any given day, their complaints desk has a queue longer than their checkin desk.
9. Stansted airport in the UK is designed like IKEA. If you hear a final boarding announcement and you’re still at checkin (thanks RyanAir!!), be prepared for a 2km sprint through an American Ninja Warrior assault course of winding duty-free comedy.
10. Sprinting through an airport whilst pulling rolling luggage with a toddler on your shoulders may lead to injury/death, but being stranded at Stansted airport would be far worse.
11. When traveling with kids, choose an Air BnB of a family with kids of similar age. #freetoys
12. When photographing a wedding that your wife is also attending as a bridesmaid, hire a baby sitter to help avoid divorce.
13. Screaming babies can get you fast-tracked through long customs queues. To speed up the process, carry drawing pins…
14. Despite visiting the wonders of the world, get used to the fact that the highlight of your toddler’s trip was Thomas Land.
15. Visiting sights or museums with your kids usually consists of reaching the location, racing through as fast as possible, then rushing home having remembered less than 10% of it.
Here are some of my favourite photos from our trip, taken with a little Fujifilm X100F, which I now recommend on this list of the best travel cameras.
1 | Nottingham, England
Our first two weeks of the trip in my home town of Nottingham were marred by the kids’ jet-lag and illness, meaning challenging times and lots of frustration….
The highlight of our time spent there (and no doubt Harry’s highlight of the entire trip) was Thomas Land!
2 | Menerbes, France
Menerbes is a village no one’s ever heard of in the Provence region of southeastern of France. We’d hired a glorious Air-BnB-cum-castle which with our good friends Ben and Gab and their two kids of a similar age to ours, Cooper and Oliver.
Our time in Menerbes with them actually proved to be the highlight or our trip – a combination of not moving from one location or trying to do too much, the awesome company, Menerbes itself, and delicious local produce made it all so memorable.
Our days consisted of visiting the food markets of neighbouring towns, then returning to our mini-chatelet to cook fresh food and laze in the pool.
3 | Paris
We only spent half a day and a night in Paris, simply because we couldn’t get a flight from Marseille direct to Stockholm. Most of the time spent there was in a daze, having spent 5 hours on the train from Marseille to Paris wrestling with Harry and Leo.
I lived in Paris in 2000 in the Chatelet area (second arrondissement), and it was great to see how much the area had improved since that time.
Up until this time, we always had someone else involved in our holiday – be it friends or family, either helping with the kids or at least diverting some of their attention elsewhere. Stockholm was where it all kicked off for real – just us vs them!!
Leading up to wedding day, most of our time was spent in park opposite our Air BnB. The wedding day itself was a crazy affair, with Elissa part of the bridal party, and me the photographer. Harry and Leo spent the day tossed between us, with a good portion of my photos being shot whilst holding Leo like a mini, albeit useless, photographer’s assistant!
5 | Montreal
Finally, the cavalry arrive! Elissa’s ma and pa, sister and her boyfriend joined us at our Air BnB in the Plateau region of Montreal to experience first hand some of the craziness of traveling with kids of a certain age.
The wedding I shot at an apple orchard outside the city went well since it was just me and my cameras this time…
6 | Torronto
We’d heard mixed reports about Toronto, ranging from amazing to boring. We found it enjoyable during our few days there, especially the area around our Air BnB in Little Italy.
7 | Niagara
We came, we saw, we got wet. It was amazing.
8 | Banff
A short pit stop in Banff where we did saw some amazing scenery and celebrated Leo’s first birthday.
9 | Lake Louise
20 minutes at one of the most picturesque spots we’ve ever seen. Traveling with kids is like sightseeing on fast-forward.
10 | Revelstoke
This ski-in-ski-out resort was our random stop off to break up the mammoth drive from Banff to Whistler, and it turned out to be a great one! Who’d have known a railway museum could be so fun for a 2 year old…
11 | Whislter
After road diversions due to forest fires and numerous stoppages due to crankiness/vomiting (see stop off above, for example), we finally arrived in Whistler.
We went in a cable car or two and Harry and Leo saw snow for the first time.
12 | Vancouver
By this stage of the trip, we were thankful for a few days spent in the one place, to acclimatise a little and catch our breath. Our Air BnB was in the cool but somewhat isolated Kitsilano district.
I didn’t really take many photos in Vancouver – perhaps I was getting a bit tired, or just that I found it a little uninspiring. I think it’s one of those places you need to live in to really appreciate.
13 | Santa Cruz
Joining our friends Arian and Danae and their little girl Ava in their condo in Santa Cruz marked the end of our trip.
The second shot below was taken with my new toy (DJI Spark Drone!) of the ‘Santa Cruz Boardwalk’ – a slightly dated, but nevertheless fun place for Harry and Leo who did some trucking of their own until it was time to go home.