October 2017


Taking your kids on vacation should be the perfect chance to create some great family memories but things don’t always turn out as expected unless you can manage to keep them happy and up for the adventure.

Experiencing the Perfect Family Holiday

Experiencing the Perfect Family Holiday

Here are some tips to help ensure that your next family trip goes to plan, including a way to make your kids feel right at home, why it pays to take your time, the case for doing some usual things, plus a reminder to steer clear of too much sugar.

Yes, there is indeed more than one way to be an awesome parent, keep reading!

Getting a good night’s sleep

Being away on vacation is exciting for kids but they need their full allocation of sleep if they are going to be able to function properly and not descend into a bit of a meltdown when their energy levels fall through over-tiredness.

If you are staying at a hotel, there won’t be any problems with comfort or lack of facilities, but however nice the hotel where you are staying it’s not home as far as the kids are concerned.

The way to resolve that issue is to make their new sleeping environment as familiar to them as possible. You can do this by packing their favorite blanket, stuffed toys, and anything else that can travel easily and will calm your child.

Helping them get a good night’s sleep will have them ready to go and in the right mood for the day ahead.

The unhurried approach works best

If there’s one thing in particular that can trigger a tantrum or make your child over-emotional it is when you try to hurry them because of time constraints and the stress levels rise.

Rushing to the airport gate with minutes to spare is a typical scenario that is going to trigger some unwanted behavior from your kids and is not going to be that good for your blood pressure either.

It’s much better to allow yourself plenty of time for unforeseen delays and keep the lid on any meltdown’s that could have been avoided.

Keep a regular routine

Being on vacation is all about breaking your usual routine and doing something different with your day but kids don’t cope as well as adults with changes to their internal timer.

With younger children, it often pays to try and keep them on a familiar routine as much as possible. Eat breakfast and lunch at the usual time if you can and if they have a nap in the afternoon for a couple of hours, try and schedule this into your vacation plans for the day.

Limit the treats

You want to have some fun and enjoy some treats while you are on holiday but be mindful about inducing a sugar rush with too many sweet things that they can’t process quickly enough.

Some kids are worse than others in dealing with sugary snacks, so if you have one that tends to bounce off the walls with too much sugar, don’t do that to them or yourself, just because you are on holiday.

Give them some protein-rich snacks if their energy levels are failing and limit the sugary treats if they could trigger some uncontrolled and bad behavior.

You know how to keep your kids happy and comfortable at home, so use some of the same tricks while you are away and you should have a great and stress-free vacation.

If you find it too hard to organize a family vacation, going a cruise might be the answer you are looking for. After all, only by experimenting will you increase the likelihood of finding a holiday format that suits every member of your family.

Falling into a trap of going to the same destination with same ideas and activities every year is just as easy as forgetting how to enjoy small things in life, and setting off on a colossal ship is a definitive change of pace that will give you a whole new perspective.

However, if you are inexperienced when it comes to cruising with kids, you will need to get acquainted with something akin to a complete guide to planning and attaining the perfect cruise vacation.

Cruising with Kids

Cruising with Kids

How to choose it?

The best aspect of a cruise is the fact that it offers focus and structure to your vacation. You do not have to spend extra energy when it comes to thinking about what sort of activities your family should enjoy and what sort of days you are going to have. Everything is planned ahead for you and there is no room for compromise. Once you choose a particular travel package (they usually come with a certain overall theme in mind), there is no room for compromise.

However, this is where choosing the right cruise becomes the issue – there is a staggering amount of packages but only some of them are suited for an average family. However, thankfully, cruise lines have become very diverse and adapted to people of all ages.

Some programs tend to focus on specific things that are suited for children – such as colourful Carnival cruises in 2018, the adventures on the Pacific islands, spending time in historically important ports, etc. Additionally, Disney and Royal Caribbean Cruises are renowned for high-quality entertainment value and excellent program for children.

Cruise liners were popular for a long time, but as a worldwide phenomenon they are pretty fresh, which explains why some people are surprised to find out it is not that hard to attain a perfect cruise vacation these days (and especially during the following years) as more and more reasonable and manageable packages emerge every day.

Be mindful of restrictions

However, before you decide to go on a cruise with kids, you have to be aware of particular age restrictions if one of your children is too young. By law, kids have to be at least six months of age on the exact day the cruise liners embarks from the port in order to be allowed on a cruise.

Additionally, you will need to submit a material proof that your baby is of the right minimal age – the birth certificate should be just the thing. However, if the cruise is transoceanic, like in the case of very popular programs in the south Pacific, your child needs to be at least one year old.

Furthermore, you need to do a thorough check of the cruise liner itself before you book a trip and see if the ship offers the right supplies and amenities – cribs for babies, the right sort of bed mattresses for younger kids and other supplies. If the cruise liner is solid and respectable, it will be well equipped with stores that will be stocked with all the daily “requirements” for your children. Additionally, if your child is younger than 21, he or she cannot be staying alone in the cabin, and the other person needs to be at least 25 years old.

The way you pack

One of the perks of going on a cruise with your family lies in the fact that you do not have to pack heavy and plan for every contingency. After all, you are spending time in a controlled and physically limited environment where your children will always be safe and there are dedicated medical professionals on board that will have everything you’d otherwise pack in the emergency kit.

You will also be able to reserve more package space for your children, as you and your spouse won’t have to bring as many things. As far as diverse formalwear goes, you need only one pair, plus elegant shoes and one pair of sneakers. Things like towels, bed sheets, soap, and shampoo will all be part of the cruise arrangement.

Do it your way

This is another crucial thing you need to be aware of in order to plan your cruise properly – not everything on a cruise liner is part of the original arrangement with the agency. In other words, you might choose a package that is “all inclusive” but it will only satisfy your everyday needs as a customer plus some perks.

Many activities your children would enjoy will have to be paid straight out of your pocket, so prepare your finances for this particular aspect of cruise lining. In a way, it would be best if you saw the ship as a sort of “tourist town” which is perfectly tailored to your consumer needs. From pool parties, playgrounds, and arcades to wall climbing, sports, and shopping sprees, you will hardly find time to be bored with your kids.

Additionally, ports of call offer adventures of their own and you will be perfectly free to behave completely independently with your family as long as you are back on a ship before it embarks. On the one hand, you can take guided tours of locations or you can take your family on small excursions without the supervision of anyone.

However, always be mindful of the fact that shore excursions which are an integral part of cruise lines are already paid for and they provide access to a plethora of stimulating activities. The independent ones will cost you quite a few bucks and there is always a possibility they are not particularly kid-friendly.

No matter how young or old your children are, spicing things up every now and then is just as good for them as it is for you and your spouse. If you repeat the same pattern of vacation more than a few times, it can become a really stale activity that does not garner as much pleasure as it should.

Visiting same locations repeatedly takes away any luster and wonder. However, big cruise liners can offer something much more – a diverse adventure filled with exciting locations, a variety of people and absolute comfort. If you try it out, you are bound to bond with your kids through this seafaring experience more than you could have ever imagined.

Japan is the land of possibility and the land of extremes. It has one of the craziest, yet elegant cultures of any country on the entire planet.

Traveling In Japan

Traveling In Japan

It is a country that you could never possibly finish seeing in one trip, so here are some of my favourite things to do that you should too.

Visit the dive sites of Okinawa

If you are travelling to Japan for the first time or visiting again, Okinawa is a unique place that you absolutely must visit. In particular, diving is something to enjoy in Okinawa, which you certainly cannot experience in other parts of Japan. The most interesting site for me is Umincyu not far from Tokashiki Island, which is an artificial reef that has stunning clear waters and white sands. The huge variety of fish is stunning to see, especially the Saddleback clownfish or the Pinnate spadefish. There are more to explore, so you should definitely head to Okinawa.

Visit some temples

The Japanese are world famous for Zen Buddhism, and Kyoto is the modern home of Japanese Zen, especially with its hundreds of stunning temples. I would highly recommend spending some time in this beautiful city if you want a break from the hecticness and big lights of Tokyo. Kyoto is a place to learn, relax and see the beauty of nature.

Bathe in an onsen

The Japanese landscape is dominated by over 100 active volcanoes, which all shape the beauty of this wonderful country. This, of course, means a huge number of hot springs to enjoy. An onsen is a public bath that is a place that you shouldn’t miss when you are visiting Japan. They are normally arranged in a very relaxing and very Zen fashion, with gardens, water features, stones and much more. Many locals and tourists are drawn to the healing waters of these wonderful baths, so you should definitely go too!

See Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is perhaps the most picturesque place in all of Japan, this mountain is not only an icon but has a rich historical and spiritual significance to the Japanese. It is the highest mountain in Japan and if you are fit enough I would highly recommend hiking to the top. The view from the top is well worth the effort, and it is one of the most beautiful mountain tops I have ever had the pleasure of hiking too. If you are looking for a more relaxed experience, ?you can naturally hike in the surrounding area, which is equally as beautiful with its lakes and forests.

Take part in the tea ceremony

The Japanese are world famous for their tea and also the tea ceremony. It truly is an interesting experience to see it in action. The tea ceremony involves the preparation and ritual of preparing matcha tea. THere are some? different ways that this can occur, but it normally occurs in a special tea house with ceremonial bows and preparation of the tea. The matcha tea is whisked with a brush to mix it thoroughly and the tea is consumed. It is fascinating to see such a simple process become such an intricate and elegant thing.

When traveling with the kids on holiday, you ideally want destinations that please both parents and children alike.

Believe it or not, Cape Town’s incredible wine farms make the perfect family destination. As all of South Africa’s largest winemaking region, there is no shortage of excellent wines for parents to taste and beautiful vineyards for children and parents to explore, against the gorgeous backdrop of the Table Mountains.

With their beauty, and often educational opportunities as well, many of the Cape vineyards are the perfect spot to stop in for an afternoon picnic with the whole family.

To help you plan your family picnic, with tasty wine for you and some fun adventures and learning opportunities for your kiddos, we’ve selected the top 20 wine farms for just such an excursion.

  • Boschendal

    Very few vineyards are quite as family friendly or activity packed as Boschendal.
    Book a picnic in the beautiful and renowned Boschendal gardens with many gorgeous mountain views. Stroll the gardens afterward, go on a vineyard and/or cellar tour, go horse-back or carriage riding, and if you stay over-night, hike their exclusive trails!
  • Solms Delta

    For a rich experience in South African culture, responsible agriculture, and very tasty wine and food, Solms Delta is a must-see for all wine-loving families.

    Freshly prepared picnics are available on their grounds, including lush lawn spots by the forest, sandy riverbank spots where the kiddies can splash while you sip, or cool shady spots overlooking the dam. Vegetarian and children’s baskets are available, and the freedom to roam and picnic where it suits you best.

  • Vergenoegd LÖW Wine Estate

    Yet another wine estate with surprisingly more going on than just its vineyards and wines, Vergenoegd has enough to keep you AND the kids busy all day.

    Artisanal picnics packed fresh daily to give you a taste of the unique Cape fare, and special items just for kids are included as well. Enjoy your picnics in the newly renovated gardens or under their ancient oaks. If there’s rain, no worries – they will set your picnic up in a cozy barn for you!

    Be sure to check out their list of things to do while you are there! Between tours, blending workshops, markets, and more, you can spend a very full day enjoying this unique Cape experience.

  • Vergelegen

    Enjoy a mystic, fairy-tale picnic in Vergelegen’s Camphor Forest. This picnic is sure to transport your family to a tranquil, other-worldly experience you won’t soon forget.

    Afterwards, the whole family can walk through the gardens, visit the heritage sites of the 18th/early 19th century homestead, library, mill ruins, and slave lodge for a fascinating educational experience, or even take a formal tour, among many other activities.

  • Cape Point Vineyard

    Enjoy a relaxing picnic with gorgeous views on the Cape Point Vineyard property. Choose your spot and enjoy your complementary blanket and pillow for a true, authentic picnic experience. Options for kiddie friendly baskets are also available.

  • Buitenverwachting Winery

    Spend a day on this old, historic Constantia farm, first established in the late 1700s.
    Enjoy a pre-booked picnic in some of the most stunning, historic gardens filled with ancient-oaks, then be sure to enjoy a walk and view the breath-taking vine-covered hills and feel the sweet ocean breezes.

    Buitenverwachting also offers a formal restaurant as well as a coffee shop and bakery on as well.

  • Uitkyk Wine Estate

    On the South Western slopes of Simonsberg Mountain overlooking the Cape Flats, this beautiful, old estate is a must see. With 18th century Georgian style houses still surviving on the premises, it provides both a historical charm and educational experience.

    Uitkyk offers picnics on the lawns of the restored Georgian Manor, and presents its picnics vintage-style to bring a bit of history to life. Enjoy some croquet or boules with the family as you snack on your picnic fare.

  • Spier

    Spier is yet another wine estate that has thought of something for everybody.
    Picnic on their expansive grounds – enjoy a prepared basket of farm fresh cheeses, bread, and salad.

    The grounds also include organic vegetable gardens, extensive pastures, and a rehab center for injured eagles and the opportunity for guests to interact with the birds.

    Want to stay and enjoy their luxury hotel accommodations? They’re available, as are kids activities that will be sure to impress.

  • Delheim Wine Estate

    Situated high up on the slopes of Simonsberg Mountain, Delheim is a cozy, family-owned wine estate. Enjoy your Delheim’s homemade picnic goodies packed lovingly in a hand-woven basket under their towering oaks by the Klip River.

    Afterwards, go on a hike or mountain biking on one of their trails, or if you’re visiting at the right season, enjoy one of their festivals.

  • Hartenberg Wine Estate

    Order a picnic and enjoy a relaxing time on Hartenberg’s beautiful grounds. Their property is open for walking, with 6 featured spots across the premises. They offer a walking trail, and as the grounds are full of birdlife, it is a popular spot for birdwatching as well. You also can’t beat this location for the family with a children’s play area located near the picnic locations.

  • Zevenwacht Wine Estate

    Enjoy a unique picnic experience at Zevenwacht estates when you pre-book their braai basket, where you cook your own food over a vine wood fire! For the slightly less adventurous, you can order a regular basket full of delicious breads, cold meats, salads and cheeses.

    Enjoy their beautiful, sloping lawn, shady trees, and lake as you relax and enjoy this luxury estate complete with spa and accommodations if so desired.

  • Oak Valley Wine Estate

    Another luxury wine estate with lots to do, Oak Valley offers packed picnics with blankets and/or table in their tree-shaded gardens. A kiddie menu for the kiddos is of course provided as well.
  • Warwick Estate

    Book a picnic with Warwick estates and choose your picnic area ahead of time. Unique picnic pods set up throughout their gardens offer private, peaceful, relaxing picnics with beautiful views. Baskets for kids and vegetarian options, as well as full-service picnic areas are available for a truly no-fuss picnic experience.

  • Babylonstoren

    Enjoy a visit to this very eco-conscious vineyard, with its active farm, gardens, education centers, tours, and workshops. There is lots to do and lots to learn for the whole family.

    There are numerous restaurants, with the Greenhouse Restaurant offering perfect picnic fare and environment, ideal for enjoying after taking the garden tour. Food is served in wooden crates, picnic style, and includes jams, preserves, salads and fresh breads.

  • Holden Manz

    Relax under the ancient oaks by the Franschhoek River side as you enjoy your Holden Manz picnic basket and wine.
  • Groot Constantia

    First established in 1685, Groot Constantia vineyard is the oldest wine producing farm in South Africa. Included on its premises are numerous buildings dating back to the 18th century and which are part of the Iziko Museums.

    With its incredible, vintage wine options, restaurants, and vineyard and museum tours, there are things to do for the entire family. You can enjoy a lovely bistro lunch out on the Jonkershuis Restaurant with gorgeous views and surrounded by beautiful oaks. Kids can play safely on the lawn and you can follow lunch with a walk through the museums.

  • Durbanville Hills

    Visit Durbanville Hills wine estate to enjoy the breathtaking views of Table Mountain and Table Bay. Their restaurant on premises is geared towards a family-friendly experience and they also offer Table Mountain Wine Safaris! The tasting room also offers picnic food and a play area nearby.
  • Signal Gun

    When you visit Signal Gun vineyard, you will get a truly unique historical and cultural experience. Have lunch at their restaurant or do a game drives with the family. If you visit on the first Saturday of the month, you may get the opportunity to hear their 300 year old canon, a relic left over from when signal guns warned the local militia of intruders in the Cape.

  • Jordan Wines

    At this luxury wine estate and resort tucked away in the Stellenbosch wine country, you can enjoy a variety of tours and fun experiences. Dine al fresco when you order from the bakery on the premises and enjoy a tasty and fun time.

  • Remhoogte Wine Estate

    Last but not least, the Remhoogte Wine Estate offers outdoor tastings in summer on their beautiful grounds with views of the Stellenbosch mountains, their biodynamic vineyards, and a wildlife camp with Wildebeest, Zebra and Springbok. Enjoy some tasty food and wine, then take the kids to walk the grounds and see the native wildlife!

For more information on South African Wine tours and how to visit them when in South Africa Explore Sideways has all the information you will ever need.

About Brittany Hawkins:

Brittany’s passion for food and wine began in her hometown, Napa Valley, California, where she grew up immersed in the wine industry. After receiving a degree from DePauw University, she began her career in Silicon Valley in the advertising and marketing industries. Brittany moved to Cape Town 3 years ago where she launched Explore Sideways and has since been able to marry her interests in food, wine, travel and tech to create transformative experiences around the world.

If you’ve ever taken your kids on even a day trip, you already know that traveling with children can be stressful. Add in overnight stays, and one potential source of stress is the hotel. The unfamiliar setting can be uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing for young children.


Hacks You Need to Make a Strange Hotel Room Feel like Home

Hacks You Need to Make a Strange Hotel Room Feel like Home


Don’t cancel your reservation just yet, though. There are things you can do to make a hotel room—any hotel room—feel more comfortable and even a little more like home for your kids. As you plan your upcoming family travel, keep in mind these nine ways you can help your kids feel at ease in a hotel that’s thousands of miles away from home.

Wear children out during the day.

Studies confirm what most parents have known from Day One: a physically active child sleeps better. They fall asleep faster and they sleep more soundly. While this might not make the hotel itself any homier, it likely means your child will spend less time awake and stressing over unfamiliar surroundings. Let your children expend their energy during the day, and they’ll have less room for worry at night in the hotel.

Getting enough physical activity can be difficult if you’ve been on the road (or in the air) all day, but it’s worth taking time when you arrive at your hotel to let your children get their energy out. Visit the hotel pool, or go for a walk as a family. A little time spent being active will mean a lot more time sleeping later.

Don’t throw out bedtime.

Travel often means a radically different schedule than usual. Parents aren’t at work, children aren’t at school, and families often spend the entire day doing fun activities. While some flexibility in scheduling is necessary, try to fit your activities around your children’s normal bedtime.

It might be tempting to let your children stay up late every night on the road, but early bedtimes have clear benefits. They help children fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Studies show that an early bedtime even means children will be less likely to wake you at the crack of dawn! Plus, sticking to the same bedtime they normally have will minimize the differences between your home and your hotel.

Mimic your routine from home.

Along with sticking to bedtime, try to maintain your normal bedtime routine. While letting things slide might seem easier on vacation, the normalcy of routine will be helpful in making children feel secure. So make sure the kids still brush their teeth, change into their pajamas, and do whatever else they normally would.

Likewise, if you normally sing your child a lullaby, take the time to do so in the hotel. You’ll also want to pull out a favorite story book. Research shows that reading at bedtime can lower children’s stress levels, making it a perfect activity to bridge the distance between their home and hotel experiences.

Bring a favorite stuffed animal.

Younger children might benefit from sleeping with their favorite stuffed animal from home. Not only will it serve as a familiar object in a strange place, but it very well might help your child feel braver. Having teddy by their side will help them cope better with a potentially scary environment.

Of course, you’ll want to be careful with any stuffed animals you bring along. There are plenty of parents who can tell you horror stories about leaving a child’s beloved teddy at a hotel and then dealing with the fallout that ensued. You can set rules with your child for where their stuffed animal goes—don’t let them take it to the hotel pool or lobby, for example. Then make sure the stuffed animal gets packed up when you leave.

Have some white noise.

A big part of what makes a hotel seem so unfamiliar are the noises. They keep many travelers up at night, particularly children who may not have heard the grumble of an industrial ice machine before. There are doors opening and closing at all hours, unfamiliar people talking, road noise, and many other sounds that can unsettle children and keep them awake.

White noise can help block out these unsettling sounds. You can use a white noise machine or even just an app on your phone. Ideally, you should introduce your children to white noise before you leave home so they are already accustomed to it. Just make sure you follow guidelines for using white noise machines around children. Don’t put the machine too close to the bed, and then lower the volume after your child falls asleep.

Make sure there are enough beds.

If your children are used to sleeping in their own beds at home, being forced to sleep together in a crowded room can be distracting and upsetting. You won’t be able to perfectly recreate their home sleeping arrangements, but giving every child their own bed can go a long way.

There are plenty of ways you can arrange to have enough beds in a hotel room. While getting a rollaway cot from the hotel is always a solid option, you can also get creative by rearranging chairs and couches if you need to. For infants and toddlers, consider bringing a travel bed with you. When everyone has their own sleeping space, you’ll all feel less like you’re cramped in a small room.

Make the hotel smell like home.

The sense of smell is incredibly powerful. It can elicit strong emotional reactions and trigger memories. It’s unlikely your hotel room will smell much like home. If anything, the unfamiliar scents can continually remind children how far away they are from the bedroom they know and love.

Fortunately, there are easy and safe ways to make your hotel smell more like home for the kids. Dryer sheets from home can be used in a variety of ways: you can put one in your child’s pillowcase so the familiar scent keeps them happy at night, you can put a few in various places around the room, or you can even put one over the hotel A/C unit to spread the scent throughout the room. You can also bring a candle from home. You’ll want to avoid an open flame, but a candle warmer can safely disperse a familiar scent, helping your family feel right at home.

Bring a pillow from home.

Another way to introduce a familiar scent into your hotel room is to bring your own pillows from home. But it’s not all about smell—a familiar pillow under your child’s head will help them feel right at home, unlike a hotel pillow that likely has different materials or firmness. Just keep in mind that experts recommend bringing your pillow with a protector to avoid things like dust mites from hotel bedding.

You might also consider bringing your sheets from home, particularly if your children have sensitive skin or if they are used to sleeping on a unique material like flannel or bamboo. Again, the familiarity of smell and feel will help even a hotel bed feel just like their bedroom back home.

Bring your own toiletries.

While it can be inconvenient, bringing your own toiletries is often a good idea when you travel with children. This will ensure, first of all, that you have plenty to go around. Small hotel-sized toiletries get spread thin quickly with multiple children.

More importantly, toiletries from home will help children maintain their routine. Their own toiletries will feel the same on their skin and their hair (especially important for the sensitive skin of younger children), and they will smell the same, too. Consult a toiletry packing list for kids to ensure you have everything your children need for their stay.

Traveling with kids will always bring unexpected bumps in the road, but you can make things easier by using these tips to prepare. You don’t necessarily have to use every one of these suggestions, but try incorporating a few on your next vacation, prioritizing what you think will matter most to your individual children. You’ll help your family feel more at home—no matter where you are.