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Although cold and a little snowy, winter presents some wonderful opportunities for the hardy caravan owner: scenic views of frosted valleys and mountains, plus cheap, empty campsites, could make this Christmas the most glorious, and peaceful, yet.

Imagine the whole family waking up on Christmas morning – stockings are filled, mince pies left by the window have mysteriously disappeared, and all around Jack Frost has cocooned the caravan and the surrounding field in a magnificent white blanket.

Family caravanning at Christmas

Family caravanning at Christmas

It’s a day of wonder, and what could be more majestic than opening presents in the middle of the great outdoors, with the morning sun glistening all around through trees and over rolling hills?

Top tips for dealing with the cold…

I know what many will be thinking…“but it will be freezing!” Don’t be such a Scrooge. If you bring along extra warm layers and duvets for the evenings, and ensure you leave the heating on to prevent pipes from freezing, there’s nothing to be concerned about. Insulating external water carriers with bubble wrap or old blankets is another creative tip that will keep you toasty, and won’t leave you chipping away at ice blocks just for the sake of a morning brew.

If it’s going to be an especially chilly winter, you will need to change your gas supply from butane to propane cylinders. Propane operates at a higher pressure and can still be used when temperatures plummet as low -40 degrees centigrade. (But be aware that you will also need to change the regulator, as it won’t be interchangeable between the two cylinders).

Those who have boldly gone before…

Debra and Chris took their two kids Max (5) and Jamie (9) caravanning in Northumberland for Christmas 2011, and said it truly was a magical time. “We wanted a change from the usual hectic Christmas in London and so took our caravan on a tour way up north for some actual peace and quiet” reports Debra. “The kids were reluctant at first (“but mum, how’s Father Christmas going to find us?”) but we managed to convince them when we said they’d be allowed to play football and go sledding all day without having to ask us for permission!

‘It was a lot colder than London, but it meant we actually got a white Christmas! The views were lovely, and on Christmas morning we all snuggled up like a family of penguins to open presents.”

Choosing a campsite

The winter months can get very harsh in the UK, and so you’ll want to choose your campsite carefully. Firstly, make sure you know which campsites are actually open over Christmas (you can see a comprehensive list of UK campsites here). Once decided, you’ll also need to be careful where you pitch up: avoid exposed areas (like cliff edges) and stay away from valley bottoms, where water may collect and make your trip uncomfortably soggy.

How to tow in the snow

Towing in the ice and snow is a serious hazard to be aware of when winter caravanning. Not only do you have to navigate the car, but also ensure the caravan doesn’t pull you off the road, and it’s much easier to lose control of both when the tarmac is slippery. Here are ways to minimize the danger of towing you van in frosty climes:

Michelle and Andrew Maddox with their dogs

Michelle and Andrew Maddox with their dogs

  1. Make sure tyre pressure is set to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Arrange luggage evenly throughout the caravan, with the biggest Christmas presents locked down low and close to the middle of the trailer.
  3. In order to avoid the caravan’s breaking system interfering with the car’s ABS, you should adjust the breaks on the caravan so they don’t react as powerfully (this should only be done on especially ice roads).

It is of course advised to drive slower, in a low gear and at a consistent speed in order to stay safe on the roads: and remember, delicate breaking! If you do find yourself slipping out of control, pumping the break pedal is recommended.

Cooking tips

You can do away with the open hearth and static walls, but Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the feast. Therefore it’s important to make sure it’s done properly. With limited space to work with it may be worth cooking the centrepiece before you leave, whether that be turkey, chicken or ham. This will leave you more space in the over for roasties and all the other trimmings.

Alternatively, you could book a table at a local country pub and relieve you and your family of a whole lot of stress. But be sure to book extra early as there are likely to be many others with the same idea!

Still not convinced?

Michelle Maddox, sales administrator at Salop Leisure, her husband Andrew, and the dogs regularly take their touring caravan on a small caravan site near Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia. They are passionate about exploring the great outdoors, no matter the time of year.

Our touring caravan is like home from home for us.We have central heating, double glazed windows, a shower, a toilet and a fixed bed. We love the freedom of being able to step outside into the countryside. What more could you want? 

The beauty of modern touring caravans is that they are so warm and comfortable that they can be used all the year round. If only more families were as adventurous as Michelle and Andrew!

On Christmas morning, we will be going for wild swim in our wetsuits in one of the lakes with our dogs, who love swimming

Ever spent Christmas cozied up in a caravan? Please tell your stories in the comment section below!

Prague is a very picturesque city, first of all famous for its medieval atmosphere, variety of fantastic architectural monuments, theaters, museums and of course excellent beer and cheerful pubs.

Prague is ranked 6th in Europe by the number of tourists who annually visit this city. The first five most popular cities are London, Rome, Paris, Berlin and Madrid

Prague with kids

Visit Prague with kids

Image source: https://flic.kr/p/kPqX37

You are very much mistaken, if you think Prague isn’t a good family destination and here are 7 reasons to prove the opposite:

Prague Zoo

Address:  U trojského zámku 3/120, 171 00 Praha 7

Distance from the airport: 21 km

Driving time: 32 min

Gas consumed: 1.3 liters

 

Prague Zoo with kids

Kids love the Prague Zoo

Image source: https://flic.kr/p/7QqU3r

It is among the best and largest zoos in the world! It covers an area of about 60 hectares in the picturesque hilly terrain. More than 170 species of mammals and almost 300 species of birds are kept in conditions as much as possible approached to natural. Prague Zoo is proud for its premises, where the hot and humid Indonesian jungle climate is reproduced. Small kids will be also interested in visiting a petting zoo, where they can play with small animals.

Prague Dinopark

Address: OC Galerie Harfa, Ceskomoravska 15a, Prague

Distance from the airport: 20.3 km

Driving time: 32 min

Gas consumed: 1.3 liters

This unique park will take you to the prehistoric times. Here you’ll find many exhibits of animals of the Mesozoic era in their full size. All of them make sounds and some even can move! Can you imagine how much fan it’ll bring to your kids? The Prague Dinopark also has a 3D cinema and the children’s paleontological playground, where kids can conduct their archaeological research under the supervision of specialists.

Prague Luna Park

Address: Výstavišt? Praha-Holešovice, Prague

Distance from the airport: 15.3 km

Driving time: 22 min

Gas consumed: 1 liter

 

Prague with kids

Visit Prague with kids

Image source: https://flic.kr/p/6sEyzo

All of us remember that cheerful atmosphere of amusement park, where we were brought by our parents.  And now it’s time for you to show your kids all the joys of a Luna Park! 

In Prague Luna Park, there are more than 150 attractions including the Ferris wheel, cave of fear, carousels, “roller coaster” and of course all kinds of sweets and goodies. One of the best places for a family vacation at an affordable price!

 

Sea World Aquarium

Address: Výstavišt? 422, 170 00

Distance from the airport: 16.7 km

Driving time: 27 min

Gas consumed: 1.1 liters

 

Prague with kids

Visit Prague with kids

Image source: https://flic.kr/p/ecEofF

Sea World in Prague, which is home to rare species of fish and marine animals, will be interesting for kids of all ages! Here, your children will have the great opportunity to see real sharks swimming in the huge aquarium with a volume of 100 000 liters!

 

Museum of Toys

Address: Jirska 4, Prague 1

Distance from the airport: 15 km

Driving time: 22 min

Gas consumed: 1 liter

 

Museum of Toys Prague

Museum of Toys Prague

Image source: https://flic.kr/p/5wE8CC

Toy collection in this museum is considered one of the largest in the world! Here you’ll see hundreds of teddy bears, dolls of different eras with their doll houses, metal cars, railway stations, castles, robots and even the whole toy cities!

And this is only a small part of all wonders of the museum, a real toy world in the heart of Prague!

 

Ghosts and Legends Museum

Address: Mostecká 46/18, 118 00 Prague

Distance from the airport: 15 km

Driving time: 23 min

Gas consumed: 1 liter

This place is definitely not for small kids, but it will be particularly interesting for older ones. The museum contains the most significant characters of local legends many Prague residents still believe in. This place became home for headless ghosts, mysterious aquatic creatures, the baby ghost, fiery skeletons, golem and many others. So all fans and lovers of mystery and secrets are strongly encouraged to visit this place!

 

Lego museum

Address: Národní 362/31, 110 00 Praha 1-Staré M?sto

Distance from the airport: 17.6 km

Driving time: 26 min

Gas consumed: 1.1 liters

 

Lego museum Prague

Lego museum Prague

Image source: https://flic.kr/p/dYvcuw

Visiting of this museum is a real fun for every child and especially a boy! Among all exhibitions of the museum the most popular are Harry Potter World, History of Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Landmarks of different countries.

After exploring all museum rooms you can try to build something on your own in a special room. Here is also located Lego shop, so don’t forget to buy a constructor for your kids!

 

How to get a car in Prague?

Long walks through the city are tiresome for children and public transport isn’t very convenient, especially if you have a big family. That’s why the best solution is renting a car. Nowadays, car rental is cheap, affordable and very popular. You can get acquainted with the rental prices of the most popular car models at Prague Airport.

Travelling with kids is never as straightforward as we’d like it to be, but that shouldn’t overshadow the prospects that accompany any child’s first time away from home. Unfortunately, it’s not all down to making a few toilet stops and keeping them entertained with a favourite cartoon.

 

 travelling with young kids - trips and tricks

Travelling with young kids

Image by Sankara Subramanian

There’s more to travelling with kids than just making sure they’re entertained of course, as you need to make sure you have all the necessary supplies with you including medicines, clothing, passports etc. A holiday with children should include a heavy checklist, so make sure you take time out to go over everything you’ll need.

If you’re not looking forward to the idea of keeping an eye on your children every step of the journey, we’ve put together a set of top tips for travelling with young kids that is sure to keep you organised as well as encourage less tantrums and plenty more joyous memories that you’ll treasure for years to come.

Medicines

Kids are prone to injuries even at home, so taking them abroad or on a long car journey somewhere out in the open definitely requires a first aid kit.

You can build your own customised first aid kit to suit the needs of your children, while some of the necessities should include plasters, painkillers (preferably as syrup) and antihistamines for any surprise allergic reactions.

If you’re travelling somewhere where malaria is common, you can get hold of anti-malaria medication in syrup form as well. 

Travel Journals

Children will always be just as mesmerised by the prospect of going on a journey as you will, so they should have the opportunity to log their experiences in a journal. You can encourage your kids to draw or list some of the things they’ve seen or perhaps the new types of food they’ve tried.

They can also use journals to keep souvenirs such as stamps that they collect from their holiday. Hopefully they will refer to their travel journal for many years to come once the holiday is over.

What’s more, travel journals almost act as an academic substitute to the work they might be doing in school at the time and they may even decide to take their journal with them to school on the first day back.

Multiple Activities

You should try and make sure that there are numerous activities available to get involved in throughout the journey, from small puzzles and colouring books to miniature board games and audio books of favourite books at home.  Many books these days may come with an accompanying CD that not only follows the book but also includes activities to do which can help pass the time on a long car journey such as the Julia Donaldson classic Stick Man.

These help to pass the time when on a particularly long journey, whether it’s by car, train or plane. Once you notice a child has started to lose interest in a toy, introduce something new for them to play with. Try not to throw all the toys at them in one go as they are more likely to lose interest.

Savoury Snacks – Not Sweets!

Sweets are the easy way out when it comes to keeping a child fed on a journey and they aren’t particularly good for health. Instead of feeding your children sweets on the journey, bring along some bagels, breadsticks, sandwiches or fruit with you that they have enjoyed in the past.

There’s no point bringing foods they haven’t eaten before as they probably won’t eat them, so make sure you bring foods that are easily recognisable.

Passports

You should give yourself a lengthy amount of time to renew a passport before travelling as children’s passports run out after five years. It’s quite common for people to forget to renew passports before travelling and last-minute passports can cost you huge amounts, so make sure you know exactly what you need way before the date of travelling.

Tablet/Device Apps

While you probably keep mobile phone games and apps as treats for your children, they prove to be extremely useful when looking to keep children engaged on long journeys. They act as substitutes for toy boxes and various board games that require taking out and assembling, so they help to reduce the amount you need to take with you. The Toca Boca apps in addition to the CBeebies app are great for pre-schoolers and provide a good balance of education plus fun elements.

These compact devices are excellent for travelling, although you should consider bringing alternative forms of entertainment to stop a child from being on a device for hours on end. If they are too addictive they can distract them for the entire holiday as well as the journey.

Cameras

If you give a child their own child-friendly camera to keep with them on holiday, they are far more likely to focus on their surroundings and inherit new interests.

Children are capable of snapping all kinds of photos on holiday, including animals, plants, views and more. You can then keep the photos that have been taken and store them in a memorable photo album.

Clothing

If you’re going somewhere that’s notorious for cold weather or isn’t likely to offer much shade from the sun, you’ll need to come equipped with all the required clothing to keep children comfortable depending on the terrain.

If you haven’t already done so, go through what you already have and then make sure you visit a shopping centre to get hold of all the necessary clothing in the appropriate sizes.

Keep Track of Them

Travelling with children can be quite daunting at times, especially when you start venturing through unknown parts of a new country or an airport where it can be particularly busy. It’s a good idea to write your mobile number or alternative contact information on a child’s arm or item of clothing in case you do lose track of them in a large crowd.

Take Your Time

There’s no need to rush when on holiday with children, whether they’re in a good mood or not.

Time tends to fly when you’re heavily occupied, so whether you’re relaxing with a bit of sightseeing or watching planes fly over at the airport, give your children the time they need to digest the new, exciting environment and let them explore new places as often as they can.

There’s no better way to stay calm when there are toilet stops, tantrums and other expected things to worry about.

Well, if you ask me, most businessmen and women will jump at the idea of having a kid-free peaceful flight. They think they deserve it. Of course they do, after all they have paid a lump sum of money to maintain a distance from all the chaos and rowdiness of the economic class. Then, why should they compromise?

 

Kids Flying Business Class

Kids Flying First Class

Image by Evan Bench

But then again, imagine a situation where a couple has to take their sick child out for treatment. Needless to say, they will opt for first class tickets in order to provide maximum comfort to their child. Even if you feel disturbed by the constant howling and colic of the infant, your humanity will prevent you to take any step against it. After all, you know well, that the baby is no more responsible than the parents who are trying hard to cope with everything- the child’s pain, co-passengers’ irritated stares and grumbles.

God forbid, but if you are in the same situation few years down the line, you might understand the hardships they are facing in dealing with the whole thing. So, conclusively, you remain quiet.

Does it mean you have to bear with all nuisances?

No, of course not; why should it be? Remember one thing; it’s not your fault either. The above mentioned theory was just an assumption. There might be cases in which the parents are totally ignorant of the fact they their kids are disrupting the tranquility meant especially for passengers who are travelling on premium class. They go on shouting, fighting with their siblings, playing, running up and down, in spite of the flight attendants’ constant warnings.

A lot of my friends have been narrating disastrous flight stories to me in which they have faced similar situations. Sometimes, if you dare to say something, the self-conceited parents might go to the extent of raising questions regarding your humanity. According to them, it is a quite natural thing for the “little angels” to behave erratically and you, as a matured individual might as well learn to bear with it. Just imagine!

Some rare exceptions like the Malaysian flights and Australian Air Asia X provide kid-free zones in their first class section. Even the cheap Scoot Airlines of Malaysia have joined the no-kid-in-first-class bandwagon lately by providing a 41-seat all-adult zone with some extra dollars. But most of the US and Asian flights do not offer such facilities.

So, what can you possibly do in such a situation?

  • You can either keep mum and tolerate everything with a huge heart,

OR

  • You can stand up against all atrocities and raise your voice, be a revolutionary inside a flying airship.

Well, if you can think of any other way, please let me know.

It is one of the main responsibilities of the flight authority to deduce measures which keep all the first-class passengers to settle down in peace. It should be. No matter in which situation you are, you cannot expect a stranger to be “its okay” and, “alright” with your problems and difficulties; everyone has their own set of troubles and most importantly, when they are all paying for first-class comfort.

No kids in business class please!

Nowadays, the no-kids-in-business-class controversy is at its peak. You cannot deny the fact that businessmen/women traveling from one end of the world to another in order to attend important meetings and seminars deserve a proper and unperturbed flight experience. However, the words “kids” and “peace” do not go hand in hand. If they are children, they will create noise, no matter how much you scold them. Even the most well-behaved and disciplined child cannot be expected to remain absolutely quiet for 6-7 hours. Hence, if you are in a conference call or a private meeting, you would better be off without kids whimpering and crying behind.

Can you really ignore the presence of a yowling kid in first class?

With the word “ignore”, I didn’t mean for you to be deaf and dumb and plug in your earphones for the rest of the journey. What I actually meant to say here is if the situation demands, like there’s a sick child in the room, complaining of abdominal pain or a sudden earache, you can always try to be sympathetic towards the poor soul. You can talk to the parents, offer them your help if required and be like a single family for some time. Being human has nothing to do with loving or hating kids. It just means that for once in life, you stop thinking only about yourself and offer your selfless help to somebody in need of it.

How to cope with a child in business class?

However, it becomes quite difficult to show your empathy when you are in a meeting or conference. But, if you ask me, I think your business associates will not kill you if you excuse yourself for a minute and go talk to the parents regarding your situation. You genial attitude will not only impress them, but also make them aware of your circumstances and you never know, they can take their child elsewhere for that moment. After all, we are all humans, aren’t we?

Can the flight authorities do something?

With respect to the fact that the Airline industry is running on huge profits, according to me, it should not cost them a sweat to spend some extra dollars to provide exclusive facilities for the premium class passengers.

The following points illustrate how the flight experiences can be made suitable for all without denying their basic rights:

  • Kids and adult zones should be made separate in business class and first class sections. Only the parents will be allowed to travel with the children while the rest can have their own space.
  • Action should be taken against arrogant parents who do not comply with the basic rules and regulations and even encourage their wards to continue misbehaving. A fine or a penalty warning might serve the purpose well.
  • Sickrooms should be provided for ailing children where they can rest far from the angry glares of co-passengers.

Several other ways can be thought of to help preserve the tranquility exclusively meant for first class passengers. You just need to be a little considerate and see what comes off your patience and perseverance.

This year I self diagnosed my condition: “Travellers ADHD”. We are taking advantage of my parental leave from my job as a project manager, have rented out our house in Perth, Australia and have dragged our kids to Asia for four months to enjoy the warm weather and cheap living. We are having a great time and the kids are loving having both parents around every day.

I found out I was pregnant with our third child when our oldest child turned two which was a few months before our now middle child turned one. The idea of having a third baby was very exciting. The idea of having to look after 3 kids under 3 on my own, not so much.

As time got closer to a new baby arriving and parental leave looming, I googled “where to travel with kids?” “sabbatical with young family” “Asia with young kids” “where to have a mini-retirement?”. I read blog after blog, did cost of living comparisons on numbero.com and read numerous articles from International Livings website trying to find somewhere suitable to escape to and explore.

Our prerequisites were somewhere with a high quality of life for a low cost of living, excellent medical facilities, close to the ocean, good local food, access to a pool, some sort of Childcare facilities (ie low cost nannies, kids club, daycare) and cheap flights if we wanted to get out and explore.

Two weeks before we were due to leave we still had no idea where we were going. Our top 5 locations were Penang Malaysia, Hua Hin Thailand, Hoi An Vietnam, Ensenada Mexico or Puerto Vallarta Mexico.

I woke up one morning just before we were about to leave thinking we have three young kids “let’s just keep it simple” so we booked our tickets for our first trip to Thailand and found a condo to start our journey in Hua Hin.

 

Welcome to Hua Hin

Hua Hin with kids

We stayed at the Blue Lagoon resort in Hua Hin. It is right next to the Sheraton (Cha-Am) on the beach. You can buy a Sheraton family membership for about $2 a day. You have access to the pools, kids club, kids pool, gym and yoga. The Blue Lagoon resort also has its own lagoon style pool that snakes around the condos. If you have a ground floor condo you can jump into the pool from your patio. It also has a kids pool, is a walk away from Yai Yai hotel where you can similarly buy a membership and use their facilities and join their yoga classes. Food from Lila’s Sawadee restaurant can be delivered to your condo. The Green chicken curry and Penang chicken curry were our favourites at $3 a dish. We had Lila’s delivered for lunch and dinner almost every day.

 

Kids on the Danang beach

Kids digging on the Danang beach, Vietnam

We are now staying at the Ocean Villas in Danang Vietnam. We rented a 4 bedroom villa with attached maids room. We have a room for each of our kids and another one for our nanny who we brought over with us from Thailand. There are 6 bathrooms with 3 bathtubs in the house and our own private pool. The beach is a few steps away. There is a kids playground and kids pool about 100 metres away at the White caps beach club. Ocean Villas have a number of different sized villas ranging from around $50 – $100 a night if you book a monthly rental.

 

With Kids in Vietnam

Kids Vietnam Style

Danang is a fantastic place to live. The beach is amazing and being able to drive 30 mins to Hoi An, one of my favourites places in the world is ideal.

 

Kids Exploring Angkor Wat

Exploring Angkor Wat

During our family sabbatical we have learnt:

  • Book low cost airlines and pay the few extra dollars for premium seats. People who fly low cost airlines, usually want the cheapest deal and do not want to spend more money for premium seats. This usually means that the premium rows are empty so if you have paid for a premium seat you can spread out with your family.
  • Travelling overland by private mini van although it may take longer, is actually easier and about the same cost to flying. You can fill the van with all the toys and stuff you end up accumulating for the kids. Our threshold for travelling with the kids in a minivan was about 11 hours with at least one nanny.
  • The kids will still have fun at a daycare where no one speaks English. New toys, songs and making new friends is the appeal.
  • Renting a villa or condo for a month can be cheaper than booking a villa or hotel for a 10 day holiday. Find somewhere with a great monthly deal and pay for a month but only stay for 10 days if that is all the annual leave you have. 2+ bedroom condos and villas are so much better than cramping your family into hotel rooms. You get the bonus of a kitchen, lounge room, TV and sometimes a pool as well.
  • Our annual, bi-annual, quarterly family holidays will no longer be at a resort in Bali just because we are scared to travel more than 4 hours on a flight with the kids. The places we stayed in Hua Hin and Danang were more economical than any Bali resort we have been to and it has been nice not being surrounded by tourists and tourist prices all the time.
  • We found living 20 minutes out of a city worked best for us. We were still only a taxi ride away from anything we needed and we had luxurious accommodation on a bigger plot at a cheaper price than what we would have paid for inner city living.
  • Apply for the longest multi-entry visa you can well-before arriving at your destination. Because we had too many choices of locations we found it hard to commit to a place until the last moment. We wanted our location to be perfect. I think if we had just booked any of our top choices we would have had a good time. Not having a long multi-entry visa meant we kept on having to leave Thailand to reset our 30 day visas and we kept having to spend money to apply for visas for Vietnam. We would have cut out these costs if we had have applied for the long multi-entry visa at the beginning and we would have still had the freedom to move around if we didn’t like our first choice.

Read more about us on our blog: 3under3asia.com