Tag: travelling with kids

Family Friendly Accomodation – Planning A “Staycation” around Gauteng

Family Friendly Accomodation – Planning A “Staycation” around Gauteng

First and foremost, let me start by saying this post is in no way sponsored, or paid for. These are my own thoughts and views and genuine recommendations based on places I love.

These past December holidays we decided, like many other South African families who just can’t comprehend the cost involved in oversea’s vacations, to take a “staycation” around Gauteng. It was also the last time we would be able to properly “adventure” as a family of four (and a normal sized car :)). I ticked off places on my bucket list that I have been meaning to visit for more than 10 years (there are still quite a few more to go).

We chose to explore the Cradle of Mankind area a little more and wanted to stay in places that offered activities for the whole family to enjoy.

First up on the agenda was the serene Kloofzicht Lodge. We had been there before previously, in fact I booked in there for a night for our wedding anniversary (and boy did they pull out the stops), so I knew it offered great service coupled with family fun.

Hubby had been dying to just spend quality time with the boys, teaching them how to fish and taking them on nature walks. Aadam is the perfect age to fish but Yusuf still gets a little bored and his mind wanders, so we needed something to cater to us all. I loved the fact that at Kloofzicht the swimming pools are all pretty centrally located to the lakes. So Daddy and Aadam went of fishing and the moment little one got bored, Mummy and Yusuf could go off and jump into the pool! They also have perfect “shallow sections” for kids to splash about in.

When we arrived we were greeted by 3 healthy looking Giraffe slowly cruising their way through the bush. The sign of a beautiful weekend to come! At Kloofzicht you can go on hikes and the grounds are home to Giraffe, Zebra, Eland, Wildebeest and Warthog to name a few. To walk amongst them in the mornings was an absolute treat! All the rooms overlook the mountains and six exquisite fly fishing dams (one of which you can fish for carp). If you are keen on the fishing side you don’t need to be “resident” at the hotel to fish, visitors can pay a daily rate for a permit and use the facilities for the day as well. We had such a huge milestone moment with Aadam bringing in his first catch and learning how to cast all by himself.

For those that don’t know the lodge also offers a fabulous spa which offers a variety of treatments, massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and tailor-made spa packages. They also stock my favourite Matsimela range. Hubby and I took it in turns to have a treat at the spa allowing us each to get some quality time in.

For me personally, one of the things I appreciated most about the lodge is the layout. You never ever feel that it’s too “busy” nor does it have a “resort” feeling. I felt comfortable spending my days lying by the pool without feeling conscious of my body or too many people around. The pools are always warm and inviting. My only “stumbling block” if that the poolside bar in front of the family rooms wasn’t operational. It would have been great to have been able to order some mocktails or snacks without having to trek up to the “Overmeer Bistro.”

Whilst we were in the area we stopped by our favourite Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. It’s literally around the corner and due to it being under construction is quite quiet. They have the most fabulous BMX bike park that they boys spend hours riding around and we helped give Solly the giraffe a bit of lunch too. The Nature Reserve is an actual “Nature Reserve”, the predator enclosure is nice and big and you don’t have that horrible “I’m in a zoo” feeling.

Our next stop after was another member in the Guvon Hotel Group,  Askari Lodge. The one thing you should know about my husband is that is expectations are extremely high. He will not stay in a hotel or place that is not “better than his house”, because otherwise, “whats the point of leaving home” 🙂 We have different views of travel… but I digress, I was a little nervous about Askari as I hadn’t been before and we had heard mixed reviews. I booked the “garden suites” and had no idea what to expect!

We were very very pleasantly surprised! The garden suites are newly built (I cannot comment on the older thatched rooms as I didn’t see them). Our “room” however was brilliant! It had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, SUCH a treat for mum and dad to have two separate rooms, woooo hoooo! The rooms were joined in the middle with a little kitchenette, complete with a sink and a microwave. Such a bonus when travelling with small kids. We often battle when travelling as most hotels don’t “cater” for halaal without bringing in external vendors, so we usually opt for fish/vegetarian options. After 4 days of pizza/pasta or fish we usually crave meat. At Askari, we had our own braai area on the outside patio which was fantastic! Definitely something to keep in mind for future trips.

The garden suites overlook the central swimming pool and are just a short walk away from some of the watering holes where you can spot the resident hippos. The old restaurant is fantastically quaint, it stems off the Bodenstein family farmhouse, and some of the original pieces like the family bible, telephone and staircase are still in tact. We spent an afternoon playing chess upstairs with the kids.

Of all the places we ate at, we actually enjoyed Askari’s food the most. It was mainly buffet style, again a bit limiting if you can’t eat the meat, but the food was tasty and well spiced. One area they could definitely improve on is “afternoon tea”. We went through to the restaurant at about 4pm wanting to get some tea and cake to keep the boys going till 7pm dinner time. They were very accommodating but stated they would have to check with the “top” kitchen if there was any cake (all food is prepared in the bigger kitchens at the main reception and brought down). Our waiter brought us down some scones they had left from breakfast I presume but didn’t supply any jams, honey or cream. I would recommend that they should always be prepared for “tea time”.

Breakfast was a bit of an odd set up as well. The buffet is situated precariously around the stairs of the main reception room and hot water for tea in the morning had to come from the “coffee station” machine. I had to go to the manager to ask him for a pot of hot water for tea as the waiters told me to utilise the self-service station. That being said, the views from the deck are fantastic and we could have sat there for hours but our game drive was waiting.

Being the only “family” there with small kids we were treated to our own safari vehicle in case the kids got bored quickly. (I loved the consideration they took not only of us but of other guests as well). I was disappointed at the “lion enclosure” – we weren’t allowed to drive inside and there were only 3 lions (There are better options around Joburg for a better lion experience). Though I was hugely impressed with our guide. He was friendly, informative and very clued up on the history of the area, the weather and the animals. We got to see Giraffe, Hippo, Springbok, Eland, Waterbuck, Impala, wildebeest, rhino, zebra, jackal to name a few., we even got to “walk” with the giraffes for a bit. It was definitely worth the price and I hope the kids appreciated the beauty.

Askari is also home to the Plumari Heritage Museum. Our transport obsessed kids were enthralled by all the old Ox Wagons and carts, and it was such a treat to show them how transport has developed. The famous “Mrs Ples” is also at this museum and we had a mini history lesson for the kids. The museum is also home to a much sadder story, but a very important one for our kids. It contains the fetus of a baby rhino, a mere 2 months away from being born. Sadly his mother was a victim of poachers and by the time they found the mama the baby rhino had already passed on inside her womb. The boys took it in and understood more than I thought they would. But to see such a perfectly formed baby rhino, so close to being born, is just heartbreaking.

On Sunday we got the biggest treat when the two resident elephants walked down to the watering holes at lunch time.  One of my absolute favourite animals, it was magical to get to watch these beauties up close. The boys even got to give them a few treats! These are memories we will never ever forget!

We will absolutely go back to both Askari and Kloofzicht. At 45 minutes out-of-town it’s really such a treat to escape from the city. Im so glad we chose to explore our province in more depth, these are really memories we will always cherish as a family. I encourage you all this year to explore whats around you and take time to adventure.

Part 2 is coming up soon where I’ll feature a few more of our stops, so keep an eye out for that!

Rolling with the Punches – Making The Best Of Stressful Situations

Rolling with the Punches – Making The Best Of Stressful Situations

When it all unravels……

For us personally, 9 out the 10 times we travel, one of the kids will get sick.. I don’t know what it is, but it is something we can pretty much place a bet on. My sister was the same growing up, she was the one who would always fall sick as we were about to embark on the 13 hour car journey. Perhaps that’s why I roll with the punches and go with the flow, because I expect it.

Its been a while since I wrote a “from the heart blog”, and I miss it, it’s the reason I started this blog. To reach out to moms and parents to let you know you aren’t alone. We have all or, will all be there at some point. So bear with me as I tell the tale of our past weekend.

Rewind 5 days and we are packing for our first little family getaway for the whole year, yep, our first weekend away in 365 days as a family and one that was desperately needed. My eldest had not slept well the night before and when he woke up in the morning he complained his tummy was sore, but “Its OK mummy, it’s because one of the boys’ in my class had a sore tummy too”. OK, not too bad, I can deal with a tummy bug. I ran out in the morning to organise a few last things before our afternoon flight and got back home at noon to a little boy with a 39 degree temperature. I gave him his first dose of Nurofen for kids, and packed up the last few things in the bags, expecting the fever to drop. No such luck, hubby comes home from work expecting to change and jump into our cab for the airport, only to find our son crying of a sore ear now and his fever had only gotten worse! I was not a popular person….

They say you need a balance In every relationship, and my golly we got one in ours 🙂 I am typically the calm one, “it’s going to be OK”, “It’s not too serious”, “we will get through this”, and my hubby is well, to put it lightly, clearly not 🙂 He wants to cancel everything and not go. Enter my “mummy make a plan mode”. I first check, to appease my hubby largely, the likelihood of us changing our flights to the next day. (Not going to happen and the price was ridiculous). Next move is to add Panado into the mix this time (which dropped the temp) and thirdly I packed Zip Lock bags packed with ice for face cloths to travel with to bring the fever down.

I know kids, rather, I know MY kids. I know when things are very serious, and typically when it’s something that’s “part of life”.. This (I was hoping), was the latter. By the time we reached the train station and airport the Panado had kicked in and our little man perked right up. Though I confess, I decided, after many years of not using one, to whip out the stroller. I was not about to make a sick kid run through the airport.

We made the flight with literally 2 minutes to spare (hubby was convinced we were still turning around and going home) and seemed to all be OK. Until we started to descend…. My eldest has always had more sensitive ears, and now we with some sort of ear infection/tummy issue going on it tripled the pain. He had fallen asleep on the flight but as we started to descend, we woke up screaming, and he didn’t stop. My poor baby. Now mama was feeling bad, I shouldn’t have made him come. Bubble gum, food to chew, swallowing water nothing helped and he didn’t want anything either. I just held him tight and told him to chew chew chew.

Then came the puking, luckily that was not on the plane, and was actually the only thing I feared when travelling with him. However we were safely at our destination, and it actually made him feel better. Remember my post on what to pack when travelling with kids? At the last-minute I left my Celestamine at home because the bottle was a bit leaky, and boy oh boy did I regret that. Poor little poppet couldn’t even breathe properly at night he had such a bad post nasal drip.

But the very next day, my baby was ALMOST right as rain, a bit of a gunky eye, but he had a weekend filled with swimming and beach fun. It was a weekend filled with late nights and adventure, and one we could have missed.

The late nights of course, slowly catch up though…

So to anyone who saw us at the airport on Sunday, I publicly apologise for the melt down my youngest had. My boys, I’m thankful to say, are typically well-behaved. Except on this occasion. Waiting to board the plane, with 200 other passengers lined up around us, my little one had the melt down of the century. I had bought them little planes from the sweet store, so they could “fly their planes” as our plane flew. Expect my “smalley” didn’t want a plane, oh no, he wanted a race car, and he let every single passenger know. I’ve never received “looks” before, but oh boy, I received a crap load of them in that moment. I gently told my son the reason why I bought two planes that were the same, instead of his beloved race car (because I knew that when it came down to it, he would have cried for the flying object) and ignored him until he was done crying. I will not shout at my child and cause a scene in public, they have already done that for all of us. I told him his behaviour was unacceptable, explained my reasoning and told him when he was finished, if he wanted, he could have his plane. 10 long minutes later he came up to me and said, “OK, but can I have the orange one please”. The looks I received though, with my wailing child walking behind me, will stay with me for a while.

Thankfully our flight home was much calmer, with no dramas or ear ache. Everyone is back home and now it’s my smalley’s turn to fight this bug. Funnily enough a lady we sat next to on the plane ride over said “we were amazing, and had ‘aced’ parenting”, probably the best compliment I have ever received 🙂

My point of this post is really that life happens. Of course, not every person would deal with this situation as I did, some people may even think it was selfish to still travel. Of course, If I felt my son was horribly ill I would have cancelled everything. If he got worse the next day I would have stayed with him every moment. My life Is my children’s. I was blessed with the honour of bringing them into this earth and it’s my duty and privilege to be there every single moment. But life also happens and sometimes things unravel. Plans don’t go according to the way we hoped. We adjust, we do the best we can in situations, and that is all that anyone can ask. Embrace the chaos, and roll with the punches mama.

We have a weekend filled with beautiful moments now, and after a long stressful year, I wouldn’t have changed any of it. Thankfully, hubby had a great time too 🙂 Now I just need to teach him how to calm down in stressful situations 🙂 Any tips on that?

Top Tips For Travelling With Kids {Giveaway with Trunki South Africa”}

Top Tips For Travelling With Kids {Giveaway with Trunki South Africa”}

As families across South Africa start gearing up for their annual summer holiday, a load of parents may be faced with anxiety about flying with their kids. My boys have been fortunate enough to fly a few times and I’ve put together some of our “flight saver” tips. I’ve spoken about general travelling tips with children before, but today I want to focus on packing the perfect in flight bag.

Before you fly

Thinking about the time of your flight. If it’s a long haul night time flights are often the best so you can prepare your child for a night time sleep. Try not to book at peak hours as hopefully there should be a little extra space.

Get them excited – an airport is probably one of the most exciting places in the world for kids. Prepare them on what’s to come, read stories about flying in the sky, get them their own little suitcase and let them choose their own comfort items. Trunki South Africa plays a huge part in creating this excitement. They believe that “travel is about creating new experiences, creating memories and making every journey just as exciting as the destination.” Every little traveler needs a Trunki, and trust me mama’s it will make your life a whole lot easier. It’s great for keeping the kids entertained during long waits in the departure lounge and it can also be a handy way to pull them along when little feet get tired. The design options are incredible and it was a tough choice between mummy’s favourite “Pedro the Pirate” or the boys choices which were “Rocco Racer” and “Tipu Tiger

Preparation of your in-flight bag

It all comes down to careful planning.  I map out essentials needed for the flight so we are never left in an awkward situation. Separate packets that contain snacks, medicine, entertainment, so its easy to quickly whip out.

Activities to keep to them entertained.

You want to pack non bulky items that are easy to grab and don’t have a thousand and one pieces involved (no lego please).

Melissa and Doug make the cutest “On the go” range which are always included in our travels. One or two small toys – for us that’s super hero figurines and cars of some sort. Activity books – these range from colouring books to sticker albums and our favourite Tower Kids activity packs for easy and convenient entertainment. Of course we bring along a tablet with our favourite Netflix series downloaded when we need quick saves.

Emergency Medicine

My kids are typically quiet healthy the whole year around, bar birthdays and travel. Isn’t life funny? All of a sudden my healthy 5 year old will come down with a fever or tummy bug the day of travel.

As they are a little older now so thankfully our medicine pack is a little smaller but I never travel without Panado/Nurofen, celestamine for pesky post nasal drips, and a saline spray. Alongside that I pack in Tissues, some Dettol Wipes and the water-less hand sanitiser.

Comfort Toy/ Warm Jacket

We never travel anywhere without our favourite travel pillow and the boys best teddy or toy. It’s no secret that aeroplanes are freezing, I always pack a warm hoodie and extra socks to change into.


You can never have too many snacks on hand when travelling with kids. Our favourites include the Kiddylicious snack range with its yummy wafers, coconut rolls and cheesy straws. Yoghurt covered rice cakes are a staple in our house as are good old apples. Crackers, raisins and of course you need a few bribery items for meltdowns. Mini Marshmallows are our trick!

The right luggage

A durable suitcase is a must for flying, you don’t want to be dealing with sore shoulders or broken zips. Our Trunki came just a few days after ordering and I can safely say these things are darn durable. They have been through the wars already with the boys racing around the house, so that 5 year guarantee is pretty handy! It has convenient lockable latches and a and handy key keeping all your secrets safe and sounds, with the key cleverly added into the tow strap, so you will never have to dig in the endless pit of your handbag. The 18 litre storage capacity carries all you need and then come and when comes to the actual flight itself, preparation is key.

All of this fits into their very own Trunki Suitcase which they pull along. Once we are on the plane I pull out the essential items and away we go! PS the Trunki can also double up as a foot rest on the plane for the kids. Slide it between the seats and the kids can sleep with their feet up!

You can find out more about Trunki here:

Website: https://trunki-sa.co.za/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/trunkisouthafrica/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrunkiSA/


I’ve been giving you sneak peaks into our favourite Trunki’s on my insta-stories, and now its your turn to share yours! Together with Trunki, I’ll be giving away one lucky reader their very own Trunki worth R1000, just in time for Christmas!

  1. Comment below on what your favourite Trunki Character is.
  2. Share this article across any social media page
  3. Make sure you are following Trunki South Africa on Facebook and on Instagram

Winner will be randomly selected on December 13th to allow for delivery time.

*We received a Trunki suitcase to review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Top tips for flying with Kids

Top tips for flying with Kids

The one thing I love to do in the first week of the New Year is plan my holidays for the year ahead. It gives me hope, something to look forward to as i push through the days ahead. I spoke about travelling with children a little while ago on the blog and how its changed our outlook Continue reading “Top tips for flying with Kids”