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Camping in Joshua Tree National Park


Joshua Tree is an enormous out of this world outdoor playground. Jumbo rocks, cactus gardens, beautiful canyons, easy to access trails, a palm oasis and the Junior Ranger program made our trip to this National Park amazing.

joshua tree national park jumbo rocks campground little explorer


Oasis Visitor Center

Our first stop was the Oasis Visitor Centre to get the low down. This turned out to be quite fun and informative. There are interactive activities and exhibits inside and a small giftshop. The park staff were very helpful in directing us to a campground and suggesting activities and sights to see. They also hooked us up with the Park Newspaper which has a map of the park that we used throughout our visit, as well as weather info and fun facts. Both our kids picked up a Junior Ranger book (more on that below).
oasis visitor center joshua tree national park

Skull Rock

We did an easy trail walk to Skull Rock from our campsite at Jumbo Rocks. There were signs all along the way highlighting different plants and animals. boulder piles, desert washes, and a rock formation known as Skull Rock which was a great photo opp and fun to find.

trail to skull rock jumbo rocks joshua tree

skull rock trail jumbo rocks joshua tree national park

Keys View

Before heading south we drove to Keys view, which offers breathtaking views of the San Andreas Fault, Mount San Jacinto, Mount San Gorgonio, and the Salton Sea on a clear day. There is an accessible overlook right where you park your vehicle, as well as a short, paved path that is a bit steep, but you could bring a stroller. Unfortunately it clouded over and started raining as we headed that way so our view was a big canyon of fog. The drive was still really cool as you go past some of the expansive joshua tree forests with some of the largest joshua trees in the park.
joshua trees drive joshua tree national park

Cholla Cactus Garden

This natural cactus garden has thousands of densely concentrated cholla cactus with a short 1/4 mile (400m) trail through the prickly patch. If your kids happen to be sleeping, the cacti come right up to the parking lot so you can hop out for a quick view and snap some photos without waking them. Shortly down the road is a patch of really cool looking plants called Ocotillos that we also stopped at, marked on the map as “Ocotillo Patch”.
cholla cactus garden joshua tree national park
ocotillo patch cactus joshua tree national park

Cottonwood Visitor Center

On our last morning we visited the Cottonwood Visitor Center which similar to the Oasis Visitor Center has informative displays and a gift shop. The memorable part of this visit was that my daughter got her junior ranger badge.

Cottonwood Spring Oasis

Cottonwood Spring Oasis also called Lost Palms Oasis features a short trail to a fan palm oasis and cottonwood trees, as well as other plants and animals of the Colorado Desert. There are great viewing opportunities just a few feet from the parking lot and longer hiking trails of varying lengths leading to higher viewpoints. We hung out at this refreshing spot for about an hour, doing a leisurely walk through the palms and up one of the trails. We enjoyed the informative signs about the history of the Cahuilla Natives who have frequented the oasis for hundreds of years, as well as gold miners. Cottonwood Springs is one of the best birding sites in the park too.
cottonwood springs palm oasis family trail
cottonwood springs trail


I first heard about the Park from cousins who visited with their kids and came home with some gorgous starry landscape photos of the park. (The photos definitely inspired me to visit the park) It has some of the darkest night skies in Southern California and I loved sitting around the firing admiring the starry skies at Joshua Tree.
vw van stargazing joshua tree national park
stargazing joshua tree national park

Junior Ranger

This awesome Junior Ranger Program offered in many national parks provides young visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service “family” as Junior Rangers. My daughter loved it! The Junior Ranger book helped us all learn a bit more about the park and includes activities such as drawing, writing, attending a ranger program, and picking up trash in the park. On our last morning we stopped in at the visitor centre. One of the park rangers gave my daughter an age appropriate quiz of things she’d learn (loosely based on the activities in the junior ranger book she got when she entered the park) and she recited an oath (to protect parks, continue to learn about parks, and share their own ranger story with friends and family.) Then she received the badge and a paper ranger hat – they also gave us an extra hat for my little guy who was sleeping in the van with Dad. She also got a cool book called “A Joshua Tree Named Lily” which is a great souvenir that we still enjoy.
junior ranger national park program joshua tree


We ate in our WV Camper Van and outside. There are no stores in the Park, so make sure you bring your own supplies. We had camped the night before in Dana Point on the coast, and stocked up at a Ralph’s Grocery Store. We arrived from the north end of the park, via 29 Palms. We also stopped at a gas station there and got some extra water. There are big chain stores in 29 Palms and restaurants. When we left the park we saw lots of great restaurants in Indio and we ate some amazing pizza at Your Pie. http://yourpie.com/stores/indio/
your pie pizza restaurant indio california

eating pancakes vw van camping meals


Joshua Tree National Park has 8 campgrounds, and we stayed in two of them – Jumbo Rocks and Cottonwood Spring. You can also rent a hotel or AirBnB just outside the park in 29 Palms and the town of Joshua Tree which are right by the north entrances. About 40 minutes – 1 hour from the south entrance are a number of resorts and hotels in the cities of Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, and Rancho Mirage.
vw van camping jumbo rocks campground joshua tree

exploring jumbo rocks campground-joshua tree national park

Jumbo Rocks Campground

$15/night, pit toilets, no water

The helpful staff at the Oasis Visitor Center recommended Jumbo Rocks Campground as a family friendly place to stay. It was a good choice and there were other families around. Our campground had lots of room and backed onto some of the huge rocks that the campground is named for. After the long drive we had a beautiful afternoon climbing and exploring behind our campsite. In the middle of the night it got really windy. The kids were sleeping on the top bed of our Van and we were a little nervous about them blowing away so we ended up leaving the next day. I’m not sure if it gets that windy very often and it wouldn’t have been an issue if we’d been in an RV or even a tent on the ground.

cottonwood springs campground vw van

Cottonwood Spring Campground

$20/night, flush toilets, water

Cottonwood Spring is in the Colorado Desert (rather than the Mojave Desert like the northern part of the park) and the landscape is quite different. If you are staying in the Palm Springs area, this is the closest campground and is only about a 20 minute drive from the Southern entrance of the park. The campground has lots of small trails and desert washes to explore and the big attraction is the nearby Cottonwood Spring Oasis.
cottonwood spring trail joshua tree national park
October through May is the busy season and there are two campground you can reserve ahead for. The other six campgrounds are first come first serve. The summer months June – September are quieter, but it is very hot, and some campgrounds may close in the summer. More info on the Joshua Tree National Park Campground page – https://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm


We flew to Los Angeles and rented a VW Westfalia Van from vwsurfari.com – we booked the flights before the van. If I did it again I would fly to John Wayne airport which is way closer to the Van rental place. We travelled, slept and ate in the van, which came equipped for camping and it was an amazing experience. The VW Surfari folks were super helpful and we had so much fun travelling in our van for the week.


Joshua Tree National Park official website
Oasis Visitor Center
Skull Rock
Junior Ranger program
Joshua Tree National Park Campground page
VW Westfalia Van from vwsurfari.com
Pizza at Your Pie Indio
RV Camping in Joshua Tree National Park

cottonwood springs exploring trail kids travel

Packing tips

We visited at the end of February and it was close to freezing at night, and shorts and tank top weather in the day. We also experienced a very rainy afternoon. If you go in the winter be prepared for hot and cold weather (think warm layers, extra blankets and rain jackets). The summer can be scorching hot. It is a desert with extreme temperatures so do a little research about the time of year you plan to visit. Some of the campgrounds have no water so bring lots with you. Even though there is lots of sand in the campgrounds you are not allowed to dig holes so leave the buckets and shovels in your vehicle. There are lots of wildlife spotting opportunities so it’s fun to have a pair of binoculars.
joshua tree national park wildlife desert jackrabbit

Wilsons Promontory National Park


Wilsons Promontory is an amazingly peaceful, quiet and beautiful park that is within a day’s drive from Melbourne, Australia.


walking on the beach Wilsons Promontory National Park Australia

Wilsons Prom (all names are shortened in Australia) is a National Park which means that all accomodation, eateries and other services are run by the state park services. This contributes to its peaceful and quite feels as there are a handful of eco lodges, glamping tents and campsites.


We love going to The Prom, Australians love shortening names, every year. The park is HUGE but the accommodation numbers are low (as long as you avoid Christmas School Holidays and Easter which are Australia’s biggest camping periods) which means your kids can run wild and explore with little concern of cars and hoardes of people.

Playing between rocks at Wilsons Promontory National Park Australia

Tidal River is the place to stay. There is a basic grocery store/fish&chip shop, showers and toilets. We have never camped at Wilsons Prom but we have stayed two possibly three times in their ecolodges. The eco lodges are lovely. They are owned and run by the park so they are not Trump Towers, but this is a good thing, to the best of my knowledge each lodge contains two bedrooms, a toilet/bathroom and a kitchen/lounge with a huge glass sliding barn style window that opens out onto a patio. You can be at one with the Australian bush.

baby playing at Wilsons Promontory National Park Australia


We ate in our cabin and we ate well. Wilsons Prom is a bit of a distance away from any large shopping towns so you need to plan your meals and bring the ingredients with you. If you forget salt or sugar you will be able to grab these at the local shop but if you forget you prosciutto or gorgonzola you are out of luck and will be eating fish & chips. Which are pretty good.


We stayed at the Tidal River Eco Cabins, but there are cheaper huts available, even cheaper camping and more expensive glamping tents available.

wilsons promontory national park beach


It is easiest to drive in a car to Wilsons Prom. It is a 2hr and 45min drive. There are sure to be buses, but if you rent, hire, borrow a car then you will be able to stop anywhere along the coast and take pictures, eat and explore.


Wilsons Promontory National Park official website

Packing tips

Take all the food that you will need. The local shop is limited in supply and more expensive. Perishables such as milk and bread are available at the local shop.
Take beach toys, bug repellent (great natural brand is Moove) and sun shelter. The sun in Australia is extremely intense due to the ozone hole. Buy sunscreen and use it everyday!

San Diego Forever


I could spend months in San Diego and still have more to discover. There are tons of well documented activities for families and even more great sights waiting to be found. City spots. Beach excursions. There’s something for everyone.



children's museum - bounce

The New Children’s Museum. The museum’s tag is: Think, Play and Create. The exhibits are interactive, educational and a lot of fun. We’ve been every year since C was born and each time there is something new for him. The exhibits cater to young children, so even when he was 6 months old it was worthwhile. The museum also has an outdoor playground free to the public. The play structure is enclosed and gets locked at night. It opens around 9, so if you’re staying downtown and have an early riser like us you can go play here for free.

Petco - Bumblebee field

Petco - Baseball Flag

Petco Park. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy San Diego’s new baseball stadium. According to our tour guide, it’s the only ballpark in North America built to be open to the public on non-event days. Bumblebee Field was literally a hit; we bought a small bat and ball at the Padre’s shop and spent the next couple of days making pit stops at the field so we could play baseball. We also sprung for the stadium tour, which took us behind the scenes to the locker room and dugout. If, however, you’re not a baseball lover there is a terrific playground just outside the stadium. It’s located beside a trendy café, so you can grab a coffee/tea or snack for your little one. There is a grassy area great for running around. (Full disclosure: my toddler is baseball obsessed and has an unusually long attention span when it comes to America’s favourite pasttime… we don’t know where he gets it from!)

seaport - kites

Seaport Village. This spot is located along the water overlooking Coronado Island, just down from the massive convention center. There are all kinds of shops and restaurants. Pirate-themed stores, athletic wear, toys, you name it they’ve got it. The kite shop was amazing – best kid-friendly service I think we’ve ever experienced. The village is along a walkway and you can take a stroller without a problem in a few directions. On the weekends there were car shows in the small embarcadero marina parks (north & south). It was stress-free watching our little one run ahead. There isn’t shade, which makes this a great early riser activity. And looking is free.


Balboa Park. One of the most popular destinations, Balboa Park is home to the famous San Diego Zoo. The park is home to all kinds of museums and entertainment though. On this trip we went to the San Diego Automotive Museum because we traveled with my father-in-law who is a car buff; it was ok, but I wouldn’t rush back there. Instead, we loved the sculptures and entertainers. We also had lunch before heading off in a new direction. It isn’t the most stroller friendly location. You can get around, but you have to find alternate routes sometimes. There are places to rent four person bikes and on our next trip we’d definitely do that for a fun activity. Parking is free and there is a lot of it. It’s also free to get into the park if you want to explore sites like the rose garden.

Explore neighbourhoods.

north park - make boards

North Park. We found this trendy up-and-coming neighbourhood through a great blog post by Chrissy Powers. It was a very cool little spot to wander around. We loved spotting the diverse murals and unique shops – look for gold chairs and carved motorcycles. If you travel down 30th Street, you’ll find Shaper Studios where you can take a class to design and manufacture your own surfboard. One of the owners was so friendly and offered to tour us around the studio and explain how everything is made. They’re also located beside a fabulous mural with “San Diego” on the wall if you’re searching for a great place for a family photo op.

Little Italy. In the fall we happened to be there for the Little Italy Festival, but if you check the calendar of events you’ll find there are interesting things going on year round – you can definitely find a spot to play bocce ball, enjoy pasta or pizza and generally take in this cute little neighborhood.

italy - playground

Waterfront Park. Basically Little Italy’s play ground. What a fantastic place to take your kids and let them run, climb and interact with beautiful sculptures. Located just across the road from the maritime museum, you could easily tour boats or hop on one of the ferry tours. There isn’t sun coverage, so this was a great early riser outing. There was a great bathroom and a little café to get water, fruit and other snacks for the kiddies.

Liberty Village Art Exhibit


Liberty Station. This historic site is a former navy base for training new recruits. It’s been transformed into a multi-use space that is a wonderful place to take children of all ages. It’s stroller friendly – just know on a busy market day on the weekend it will be crowded. First, you can enjoy the architecture – wander around the covered walkways of the Spanish Colonial revival features and gaze out (or play on) the manicured green space. We, however, most enjoyed the Liberty Public Market. The market starts to wake up just before it opens at 11. There are all kinds of yummy food vendors and artisans to explore. We arrived a bit early and had the pleasure of watching one of the resident artists hang some new works on display. There is lots of cool art around Liberty Station to enjoy (including a beautiful wooden sailboat that you can play on). Nearby there is Liberty Station NTC Park – we spent a lot of time enjoying this awesome playground.




Liberty Public Market – You can enjoy just about every type of food. Here are the ones we tried that were very kid-friendly: Le Parfait Paris – we enjoyed traditional French pastries for our post-breakfast snack. Pasta Design was great for my pasta-only boy at the time of the trip (note, the pasta at Halloween was on-theme!). Parana gave us a taste of our first-ever empanadas., which were handmade and totally delicious! We also celebrated my birthday while we were there and had a delicious slice of cake from Crafted Baked Goods… yum. There is an indoor and outdoor lounge area. The outdoor area even had some games to play.

North Park – Encontro. We ate at Encontro and had a delish meal. It wasn’t set up for kids, so if you need a high chair this isn’t the spot, nor if your child is not an adventurous eater. There was a food tour on when we went and as we strolled we saw all kinds of delicious food on offer, no matter your taste or that of your child.

Little Italy – Ironside. This seafood restaurant was delicious and visually fed the soul. Everything was detailed like a giant old ship, with anchors adorning inlaid floor light fixtures and a giant octopus wrapping around the lamp in the bathroom. There was no children’s menu, but the staff were still accommodating (but I wouldn’t bring a child needing a high chair here). We were able to get our big stroller inside without problem though.

Balboa Park.

The Prado. On a couple of trips we’ve eaten here with our family. It’s a sit down restaurant, but we found it relaxing every time. Great food for adults and kids alike. They had kid-friendly cups (which for some reason I always find stressful when they’re not) and we were seated outside by the fountain.

Whole Foods. Until recently we didn’t have a Whole Foods in our city, so we often go there and load up from the hot bar. There are a few in the city and if you’re out near Balboa Park its very close. You can eat at tables there and its got a good mix of healthy and delicious food. It’s expensive though.


Green Bellies. The café at the New Children’s Museum has great healthy options and snacks. The patio is lovely and all the seating is very kid-friendly.

Cheesecake Factory. Sometimes its nice to go somewhere simple and familiar. There is a CF in the historic portion of Seaport Village.


Manchester Hyatt Club Level. We found a really great deal online for the Club Level at our hotel. As advertised, they offered “snacks” in the morning and evening. We found for breakfast it was perfect – a combination of hot and cold foods, including scrambled eggs and oatmeal. For dinner it was a little light, but if we splurged on a big lunch, there was enough to keep us full. They had a variety of veggies to make salads for adults, corn for my sometimes picky boy, and often a nice pasta salad for him too.


San Diego Pool Sunset S'mores

We lucked out and found a great deal at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. It was a total paradise. Located on the water beside the Seaport Village its within walking distance to a number of major attractions. We were also able to rent bicycles with a child seat right at the hotel from Stay Classy Bicycle Rentals — they were so great, even providing tips on playgrounds to stop at along our route. If you can swing it, I highly recommend the Hyatt – there is a fire pit, multi-use sports courts, a pool and weekend yoga for adults. We splurged on a s’mores kit sold in the lobby tuck shop and had a few great nights with this evening treat.


We rented a car. Parking was pretty expensive, but easy to find. We wanted to do a lot of day trips, and so the car was convenient. However, there is great transit so having a car isn’t essential. For example, we took the tram out past Old Towne. There is also a Trolley, but with the car we didn’t need it.

We rented bikes downtown that had a child seat for our little one. As a result, we did a little exploring and found great playgrounds all along our journey. Highly recommend StayClassy Bikes, which now has an arrangement with the Hyatt to rent at the hotel. There is a relatively easy path from Seaport Village that follows the water all the way to Liberty Station along North Harbor Drive. There were several playgrounds along the route to stop if the little one is restless. There wasn’t sun cover, so make sure you’re covered in sun screen, hats or long sleeves.


MTS transit is handy if you aren’t interested in renting a car.

San Diego Trolley Tours. They operate the Old Towne Trolley, which looks like fun and a practical way to travel around the city to key spots.

Bike Coalition: San Diego County. If you’re planning on doing some bike riding, there are great resources on this site.

There is an awesome play place called Kid Ventures Liberty Station. There is also an art studio, Pachis, and on certain days there is a sort of drop-in program.

Chrissy Power’s blog on North Park has other great ideas, including yummy eating options.

Balboa Park. There is so much to see and do here you could plan a month just to visit everything. If you’re looking for a free play space, there are several located in the park. You could picnic, but there are also a lot of restaurants.

Iceland Ring Road in 7 days


We travelled to Iceland in the summer with our one year old daughter and quickly added this beautiful rustic country to one of our favourites!



Overcoming Jet lag

We arrived to the main city Reykjavik and had booked a one bedroom suite for the first night. This was so we could have a separate sleeping area for our daughter while we were all fighting jet lag and adjusting to our new time zone (8 hours ahead). While not a perfect system, this definitely helped as our daughter sleeps well, but very lightly in her own room. We regretted instantly not bringing a playpen along as our hotels & bnb’s did not have any. Thankfully, were able to buy one at a department store quite easily!
The first 3 nights were definitely rough in terms of sleeping for all of us, but this is something we expected. Each day we all became a little more adjusted to the time schedule.

iceland waterfalls with baby

Activities & pit stops

We tried to cater the trip somewhat to our daughters routine and would start driving the ring road each day (1-4 hours of driving) based on her nap times which kept our car rides quiet and peaceful. My husband and I took turns exploring rugged waterfalls so one of us could be with our daughter during her nap time, to maximize the trip.
We would get her out of the car frequently to crawl around beaches and enjoy the scenery with us. At one year old & not walking, she was very portable! Older children would be happy exploring the rapidly changing landscapes & towns around iceland I’m sure. We already hope to bring our child back when she’s older to do some day hikes!
We heavily relied on the ergo carrier while visiting places such as the famous black sand beach.

iceland family trip black sand beach

On our last night as a special treat, my husband and I took turns at the very popular Blue Lagoon.
Keep in mind that you must book weeks ahead online and children under the age of 2 are not allowed. As our daughter was to young to partake, we both thoroughly enjoyed our solo visit to the lagoon and saw it as the perfect destressor to have some alone time & reflect on a wonderful trip across the globe with our one year old!

mom time at iceland blue lagoon
Some mom time at the popular Blue Lagoon.


Restaurant food in iceland is very expensive (were talking $18 USD for a small bowl of beef soup at a casual diner). We bought snacks frequently from gas stations and did our best to get our daughter eating nutritious foods she enjoys such as eggs, bread, cheese etc. Reykjavik had a lot of kid friendly pubs and cafe’s.

iceland cafe sleeping baby


We stayed at a different place each night and enjoyed the one bedroom suites the best as we could have our daughter sleeping in a separate room from us in her playpen and we all slept better that way!

The official tourism site has tons of links to a variety of accomodation options.


We rented a car (a must if you have more than 2 days in Iceland, especially with children).

iceland family ring road trip waterfall

Packing tips

We wish we had a little more rain gear and better shoes for some of the rainier days we experienced. A “muddy buddy” or full rain gear suite for our child would have been perfect!
We’re glad we brought lots of her favourite snacks along from Canada to enjoy, as well as a couple small books and toys to keep her entertained on the road.


The cool detailed map above is courtesy of martynj.com/driving-around-iceland-ring-road-1 and has links to more detailed blog posts for each day of the road trip.
Visit Iceland Tourism Site
Blue Lagoon
Guide to Iceland

baby and waterfall on iceland ring road trip

A couple Iceland Instagram accounts for more inspiration:


Mighty Skógafoss waterfall yesterday #southiceland #iceland #icelandsecret #katlageopark #skógafoss

A photo posted by South Iceland (@southiceland) on

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


We went for a quick weekend, coming from Sao Paulo it is only a 35 minute flight (! perfect toddler flying!). We stayed at an easy hotel by Ipanema beach and just enjoyed the amenities that Rio has to offer.


rio de janeiro brazil family vacation christ the redeemer


There was a park just a couple blocks up from our hotel which had a little playground, an outdoor workout space and some space to run away from the shops and traffic. Of course, going to Ipanema beach was also a highlight and easy entertainment but not the best “swimming” space for young kids. The beach dips steeply down into the water but if you go down towards Copacabana beach there is an inlet and it is easier swimming spaces for younger kids.

rio de janeiro brazil family travel ipanema beach

To go to Christ the Redeemer many people might say to take an Uber, but you just have to go to Copacabana beach hotel and they organize tickets to be brought up the (very) windy road to the top of the hill. You stop at a very sweet, cute and museum-esque gift shop before heading back up by bus to the top. You can take an elevator up (strollers!) or you can take the stairs (which our 3 & 5 year old were totally fine climbing). Once up there you only have an hour to explore but it is just the statue and many people. It is best to go first thing in the morning when the weather is clear so you can get the gorgeous view of up top and not so many tourists venture out there early (they’re still partying in Rio!)

rio de janeiro brazil kids travel christ the redeemer


Just a block up from our hotel was a great Suco bar (juice bar) which served delicious healthy sandwiches, fresh juices, smoothies and acai (with granola, bananas or on its own). We ate on Leblon beach at a cool beach bar- we had the most delicious caipirinhas, amazing fries, burgers and fish. It is an easy, beautiful and fun walk on the boardwalk of the beach to get to this bar. You can even rent chairs on the beach and order food from the bar! (hello easy kid entertainment! Playing in the sand!!)


We stayed at Everest hotel. It was fine, nothing too special in the inside but the hotel swimming pool is on the rooftop and you have an amazing view. From our room we looked out as well to Christ the Redeemer towering over the city.

rio de janeiro brazil kids travel ipanema beach


We flew from Sao Paulo which was very easy. We left from the local airport which is downtown and easy to get too compared to the International airport which about a 2 hour drive. The Rio airport is an amazing landing strip right off the water and the plane takes a tour next to Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer. VERY exciting to come into!


Everest hotel

Rio de Janeiro is a pretty easy city for young families, you can bring a stroller (which I wish we had brought to walk further and shop more). It is easy to find snacks and bottled water. Rio is also a tourist spot so English is pretty common whereas in Sao Paulo there is hardly any.

Bali, Indonesia: stunning beaches, amazing food and friendly people


Bali ticks so many boxes. The weather is good, the food is amazing, the people are friendly, the flight times are fairly short, it’s relatively cheap, the shopping is decent, and the beaches are stunning.


Ku De Ta beach club bali infinity pool


There’s a range of fun parks for the kids and plenty of bars and restaurants to explore for the adults. Adventure activities include surfing, hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, canyoning and quad biking. You can also hire a babysitter or a nanny to look after kids at your accommodation for a fraction of the price compared to home. Our nanny “Isha” formed an instant connection with our kids and was absolutely amazing with them and this gave us the confidence to regularly head out for kid-free lunches and dinners.

Every morning after the buffet breakfast we would swim and play games with the kids at the resort pool. After that we would either take a massage, go for walk or head out for lunch.

Finns Splash Water Park Bali Indonesia

One afternoon was spent at Finns Beach Club which has a smaller and less busy waterpark than the famous Waterbom Park. We also visited the Bali Bird and Reptile Park. At night we frequently ventured out to some amazing restaurants and also explored the many bars along the nearby ‘Eat Street’.


Delicious food bali indonesia

The resort breakfast buffet featured a variety of international cuisines and different food stations. We also ate at number of world class restaurants including Mama San, Sarong, Ginger Moon, Potato Head, Ku de Ta and Corner House.

Motel Mexicola (Mexican) is fun food experience for the whole family. It has a vibrant and colourful vibe at night when it’s all lit up.

There are plenty of supermarkets scattered around the tourist areas where you can stock up on the basics.

Occasionally for lunch or dinner we would get takeaway nasi goreng (fried rice) or mie goreng (fried noodles) for $3 from a little local restaurant across from our resort. If you decide to try some local food remember the golden rule – follow the locals and observe what they order. The best and safest restaurants will be filled with locals. Sometimes the best food is the cheapest!


The Trans Resort Bali indonesia family accomodation

Located in the heart of Seminyak, The Trans Resort Bali feels like an oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the surrounding vibrant streets. The central feature of this 5-star resort is the spectacular pool area that extends from the lobby down to a beautiful 18-meter waterfall and hanging garden. Surrounded by palm trees the man-made sandy beach swimming pool with water slide was a resounding ‘winner’ with kids. The resort also offers an on-site spa and wellness centre, free Wi-Fi access and all-day dining in the world-class restaurant. A complimentary shuttle service provides transport to Potato Head and Seminyak Plaza.

kids mom resort pool bali indonesia

Even if you don’t stay here it’s worth visiting on a day pass on Sundays for Yum Cha when you can all access the pool facilities.

luxury villa bali indonesia family accomodations

After spending seven nights in a premier resort room we were then extremely lucky to experience an additional two nights in a luxurious private villa. Located amongst beautiful lush Balinese gardens the villa with private pool, spacious living, grand bathroom, hot tub and dining area is the pinnacle of comfort and luxury. We didn’t want to leave!


The flight from Melbourne to Denpasar is 6 hours. The return leg is a bit over 5 hours. Taxis and private cars were arranged by the concierge at the resort. We also hailed a number of taxis out on the street. You can either agree on a fixed price before jumping in or request the driver to use the meter. The best way to explore the streets is on foot.

Seminyak bali indonesia eat street


The Trans Resort Bali
Finns Beach Club
Waterbom Park
the bali bible
bali guide

Packing tips

We packed all the necessities for the kids such as nappies, swimming floaties, sunscreen, hats, medications etc. For the kids we also made up some ‘party bags’ with small toys, games, snacks, books etc to keep them entertained on the flight.

I kept it very simple – shorts, t-shirts, swimmers, thongs and hat. My advice is to pack lightly as you can pretty much buy everything you need over there. The two most important things are your passport and credit card.

Kids Fun at The Trans Resort Bali

Craig Sheather is a travel writer from Australia and father of two.

Exploring Western Australia


My husband, two year old son and I recently visited Western Australia. We loved how family friendly it was! We started in Perth and fell in love with the Fremantle area.


western australia family road trip beautiful beach


My husband, two year old son and I recently visited Western Australia. We loved how family friendly it was! We found an amazing playground everywhere we went. The beaches are spectacular, and exploring the area in a car allowed us to make our own schedules in response to our specific needs, which in this case was particularly important because I am 5 months pregnant!

We started in Perth, we loved exploring downtown, but we mostly fell in love with the Fremantle area. It’s such an artsy and easy going place! We were lucky to be there for a music festival and the main road was filled with little stages where different bands and groups presented their songs. Lots of people cheered and danced, and tons of families enjoyed as well, with their tiny babies, toddlers and children and older kids. We were able to sit at nice restaurants to enjoy a yummy meal while our son danced and played with all that was going on. The atmosphere was great!
We also took a day trip to Rottnest Island, which was lovely! The beaches and natural landscapes there are gorgeous. It was an amazing day of exploring the island and chilling out on the beach.

traveling with baby in Australia


In Fremantle’s main road there are tons of restaurants which are all very family-friendly. They have a kids menu and high chairs, and although we felt prices were a bit higher than we are used to, it was affordable.

We also visited the supermarket throughout our road trip and loved all the options we were able to find! Most of the time we bought prepared meals so that we could simply heat up and enjoy in our hotel/apartment.

australia coast roadtrip with kids


In Fremantle we stayed at the most amazing location! It’s called Gypsy Cottage and you can find it on booking.com. The little house is located in a very nice and quiet area of Fremantle, but at the same time, a block away from very nice cafés and restaurants, near a beautiful playground placed in the middle of a green field, and walking distance from the beach (although we felt that beach was way too windy for us to enjoy). The house is perfectly equipped and the host is a lovely lady that went out of her way to help us and make sure we were comfortable. I would absolutely stay there again and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to visit the area!


We hired a car in the airport and explored different areas of the city, as well as took a road trip to Esperance. We always buy a SIM card when we travel, which we use so that we can have access to our phone’s GPS. Although we were sometimes nervous because 3 and 4G are not available in many parts of the road trip, we were able to preload the maps and find our way throughout Western Australia with no problem at all.

western australia beach mom baby


facebook groups are fundamental to me when planning any trip! Although I do a lot of research in google, it’s important for me to be able to confirm information or get insider’s tips from real people who have recently been the places I am going to visit. There are some amazing groups of supportive traveling families, that have always been of amazing help to me.

Western Australia Parks and Wildlife Service
Experience Perth – Official Perth Tourism Site
Tourism Western Australia
Gypsy Cottage, accommodation in Fremantle

Packing tips

Pack light! We usually travel with the bare minimum, so taking a small container with laundry detergent is key in making sure we have enough clean clothes for our trips.

We also decided to leave our stroller at home, especially because we’d be traveling by car so it wouldn’t be absolutely necessary. Instead, we took our child carrier (we have a Deuter Kids Comfort 2), which we used when we explored the city, took little hikes, and walked through national parks.

Dani is the family travel blogger behind A Baby Abroad as well as the gorgeous and inspiring Instagram account @a_baby_abroad

Angkor Wat and Siem Reap, Cambodia with Kids


We spent a week in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This is a great family spot for young and old because the adventures are limitless!


toddler cambodia siem reap family travel


toddler angkor wat temple cambodia family travel

Angkor Wat temples

We visited the temples in the morning, spent the afternoons napping and swimming and the evenings eating in town at the cafes. Our little boys were almost 2 & 4 when we went and that schedule was perfect for them and us. We got to do lots of exploring with a three-day pass to the Angkor Wat temples which allowed us to freely visit the temples at the schedule that worked best for us. We also smartly stayed at a hotel that had a pool and rooms on ground level so we could enjoy the nap and swim all at once!

happy travel kid angkor wat temple family adventure cambodia


backpacking with kids cambodia angkor wat templeThe temples are fantastic and if you have older kids you would definitely explore longer and more, but we tried to get up and get out to beat the heat and the crowds (and while our boys were at their happiest selves). We brought hiking backpacks which was brilliant because then we could push through another couple hours more before they were completely exhausted or fed up. The earlier you get there, the more space you have to explore and find “unpopulated” spaces to explore safely and climb on. There are tour guides but we skipped this option because we wanted to explore on our own and get out when we needed to. We did however hire a tuk-tuk driver who waited for us and was at our hotel on time and had cold water waiting for us when we were done. Excellent investment (which was so cheap anyways!).

dad toddler backpack temple family trip angkor wat cambodia

Grasshopper Bike Tour

We also enjoyed a Grasshopper Bike Tours guided bike tour. It was a half-day family bike ride through the countryside. I am not a biking pro, but it was at anyone’s pace. We biked with our boys in bike seats! They loved seeing the cows, the rice fields, playing in the local farms and a cold coconut water at the end. They even enjoyed a nap at one point as we biked on the dirty backroads!
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Local temples, cafes and wandering

There are also some cool temples in town in Siem Reap and neat little cafes you can pop in and out of. We just kind of wandered and were happy to do so with the boys.
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We ate at no-name cafes in town which were great but anything you tried would be wonderful! Cambodians love kids and were eager to give our boys bananas as they waited for food or bring them behind the bar to make a smoothie. We enjoyed wandering through pop-up markets and grabbing snacks on the go.


siem reap angkor wat cambodia kids family backpacking trip

Our hotel is very highly recommended, Model Angkor Resort. The staff were incredibly kind, concerned with our well-being and very accommodating (even when our 2 year old set off the safe alarm in our bedroom early in the morning!). We ate breakfast at the hotel and happy hour drinks by the pool while enjoying appetizers that the boys felt were their special treat! The hotel is not right in town but enjoyed that and they had a tuk-tuk available at all times to bring you where you wanted to go. We enjoyed the tuk-tuks as part of the day and to break up the ‘activities’ of going into town or going to the temples.

The hotel also offers in room and by-pool massages which we took advantage of as the boys slept. Yay parent-win!


We travelled by plane to get there. We flew from Dhaka to Bangkok. From Bangkok it is very quick and cheap.

Packing tips

cambodia backpacking with kids angkor wat siem reap familyI was happy with the packing we did: play clothes, diapers, our own medicine for kids (just in case), hats for all, sunscreen and cotton clothes for adults for hiking and exploring. I also packed three bathing suits for all so that we could swim in the morning if we were up that early (never…!), and in the afternoon or the next morning and still have swimsuits to spare! Our son was old enough to sit on any chair but when he was younger and we travelled to Nepal I was very happy to have my travel highchair — highly recommended for Cambodia because there are NO high chairs. We brought hiking backpacks for our older boy and younger so we could each have one on our back if they got tired at the temples. There is a lot of walking and hiking and it would be a waste to bring a stroller.

Shanghai is great for kids


Shanghai has an amazing skyline, parks, museums, local markets and countless shopping options, yet it enables you to experience everyday local life in modern China.



Shanghai is a city of more than 24 million people. It might not seem like an ideal place for family travel destination at first glance. But look closer and you will soon discover a range of things to do to keep the whole family entertained.

Hang out with locals in Fuxing Park & Xintiandi

Shanghai has multiple large green spaces with many locals actively using them to socialise and exercise. Fuxing Park should definitely be your family’s first stop when visiting Shanghai. This massive 10 hectares parks is designed with French style, having beautifully manicured flower beds, relaxing pavilions and even have a small lake. We absolutely loved leisurely walking around the park watching the seniors performed outdoor ballroom dancing, playing music, practicing martial art, calligraphy writing and mah-jong. There are also many families enjoying this park. Weekend mornings will be the ideal time to visit.

Fuxing and Xintiandi parks dancing shanghai china

Located within walking distance to Fuxing Park is the tree lined streets of Xintiandi. This historical area is made up of rebuilt traditional mid-19th century shikumen (“stone gate”) houses on narrow alleys. It is now home to many trendy restaurants and shops.

Transport: Xintiandi Subway Station

Go up Shanghai Tower to visit the world’s highest observation deck

Opened in 2016, Shanghai Tower is the world’s 2nd tallest building. Family travellers can go up to visit the world’s highest observation deck. Located on the 121st level, it is 6 meters higher than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa observation deck. Al though entry is a bit pricey, it is definitely worth it. The comfortable journey up with the elevator took less than one minute, reaching speeds of up to 18 meters per second. Views over Shanghai are simply amazing! Best time to visit is just before sunset.

Transport: Lujiazui Subway Station

Take a stroll along the Bund

This amazing riverfront boardwalk has a series of classical Western style building on one side and modern skyscrapers on the other side of the Huangpu river (Lujiazui). This is a great photo opportunity for your family with Shanghai skyline standing in the background. If possible dine at one of the riverside restaurants. We enjoyed an afternoon tea at M on the Bund. Visit The Bund early mornings to see local groups doing Tai Chi or otherwise visit in late afternoon. Remember The Bund area does get crowded most days towards sunset.

Transport: East Nanjing Road Subway Station

Oriental Pearl Tower & Lujiazui Shopping Area

Oriental Pearl Tower Shanghai China with Toddler

The space rocket like Oriental Pearl Tower building will appear in most images of Shanghai. It has a revolving restaurant, observation deck and history museum. But waiting line can be excessive. Your family will be better off visiting the other observation decks (at Jinmao or Shanghai Tower) which offer better views. We only went there to visit the Shanghai History Museum. Kids will love this museum and be amused by the actors re-enacting traditional Shanghai life, many town models and historical house displays. But do note this museum is not ideal for strollers.

Right across the Oriental Pearl Tower is a Disney Store and a series of shopping malls including Super Brand Mall, IFC Mall all of which are within easy reach of each other. These places offer plenty of kids friendly shops and countless dining options.

Transport: Lujiazui subway station

Enjoy Yuyuan Garden

This Ming Dynasty era garden is located right in the heart of Shanghai. Kids will enjoy the beautiful ponds filled with Koi fish, decorated bridges and many beautiful pagodas. There are plenty of shops, market and local restaurants right outside of the garden area. Best time to visit is late in the day, which will help you avoid peak tourist hours. There is not much shaded area in the garden so bring an umbrella or avoid hot days.

Transport: Yuyuan Garden station.

Take time to visit a Water town

Water town Qibao Shanghai

Shanghai is surrounded by a series of small water towns such as Zhujiajiao, Nanxun, Xitang (shooting location for Mission Impossible 3). We went to the closest one, Qibao, which can be easily reached by the metro system.

Chill out in Renmin Park

This is another nice Shanghai park to visit with a tea house and small children amusement area (though it is a bit dated). On the weekends some locals use the park to play mah-jong, practice English and some parents even use it as “marriage market”. Other attractions worth visiting nearby include Shanghai Museum and the urban exhibition centre.

Transport: People’s Square Subway Station

Other things to do:

Nanjing Road – Considered to Shanghai’ Fifth Avenue back in the day.
Shanghai Circus World – the equivalent of China’s Cirque du Soleil.
Tianzifang – arts and crafts enclave in the French Concession area.
Shanghai Disneyland – we didn’t visit as our son was a bit too young for Disneyland


Eating pizza in Shanghai China with a toddler

Shanghai offers all variety of food you can think of, from local delicacies to Western restaurants. As for ordering food, waiters are very helpful and usually understand basic English. All we needed to do was smile and point at the menu or at someone else’s food. Our then 18 months old son Berlin even discovered his passion for eating pizza while in Shanghai.


Narada Boutique Hotel (see the map up top)


Traffic in Shanghai is not the best, however the subway metro system is great. The stations are all modern, clean, with all station names written in alphabet so you will have no problem knowing where you are going. We were also surprised by how orderly the locals were. Lining up on the train stations, even giving up their seats for us! As a bonus subway tickets are cheap, very cheap!

Taxis are very reasonable priced, however most Taxi drivers do not speak English. So asking your hotel to write down your destination in Mandarin is helpful.

Arriving at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport you can hop on the super fast Maglev bullet train, which is the world’s fastest commercial high speed electric train. It takes only 8 minutes from the airport to reach Longyang Road station. From there you can take a taxi or subway direct to your hotel.

Lujiazui shopping with toddler shanghai china


China’s official Tourism website

Packing tips

Lets Go Bear Travels has a complete packing list for this trip.

The best beaches around Cowichan Lake and River

Pristine lake on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Lake is a beautiful 30km long lake located in the Cowichan Valley, popular for swimming, boating and fishing. It is also where the Cowichan River starts, providing another fun activity – tubing down the river!

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The area is sparsely populated, in large part because only a small section of the lake has paved road access. The largest town on the lake is Lake Cowichan at the eastern tip of the lake where the river starts. (That’s Lake Cowichan on Cowichan Lake, not to be confused with Cowichan Bay which is a nearby town on the ocean – confusing, right?) On the south side of the lake are two smaller communities – Mesachie Lake and Honeymoon Bay. On the north side of the lake is the community of Youbou (pronounced you-bow). It is possible to drive around the whole lake along logging roads, which can take up to 2 hours.

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Boating and water sports are popular on Cowichan Lake

So where’s the beach?

When we first moved to Lake Cowichan nobody seemed to be able to give me a straight answer when I asked where the town beach was. Now I know it’s because there is no single “main beach” on the lake. Instead the lake is dotted with small to medium size beaches and secret spots as well as some private beaches. Here is a list of my family’s favourite places to swim around the lake and the river.

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Little Beach on the Cowichan River is great for swimming

Popular swimming holes

Cowichan River Tubing

The two main places to launch tubes are Saywell Park (drive through the roundabout, over the blue bridge and park beside Jakes at the Lake Restaurant) and Central Park (right beside the roundabout – park at O.R.K.A. Tube and Kayak Rentals, Country Grocer or beside the park). O.R.K.A. and The Tube Shack are the two tube rental outfits in town, and both provide shuttle service to pick you up from the exit point of Little Beach. You can also bring your own tube or buy one from one of the stores in town.
Saywell Park: 125C South Shore Road Lake Cowichan BC
Central Park: 46 Stanley Road, Lake Cowichan BC

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A few tubers on the Cowichan River in Lake Cowichan.

Little Beach

As mentioned above, Little Beach is the place where tubers finish their ride down the river. As the name suggests, it is quite a small beach, and yet one of our favourites. The water is a very nice temperature July through September and there is a deep pool for swimming as well as shallow areas for wading. The water alternates hues of green, gold and turquoise depending on the light and we regularly see kingfishers, herons, a variety of ducks, geese, crayfish, otter, small fish and once even saw a black bear crossing the river a little ways up. Because of the popularity of tubing which peaks on weekends, it can be a bit crowded and even rowdy on the weekends, especially in the early evening. Midweek though we rarely see more than a couple other people and often have the place to ourselves.
Address: 7940 Greendale Rd, Lake Cowichan, BC

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Beautiful green waters of Little Beach on the Cowichan River

Arbutus Park

Our kids favourite place on the lake is Arbutus Park in Youbou. There’s a large grassy field with picnic tables and a covered picnic shelter. There is a small playground with slide, short flying fox and swings. The main attraction is the sandy beach with a dock, water slide and diving board. In July and August there’s a lifeguard and life jackets available. There are also a couple places nearby to stop for a snack or ice cream. We love Cassy’s coffee house which has homemade food and ice cream, and the Youbou Mini Mart has basic groceries and often has fresh fruit and house-made packaged sandwiches.
Address: Alder Crescent, Youbou, BC

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Sunset from the dock at arbutus park in Youbou on Cowichan lake
arbutus park in Youbou Summer beach swimming waterslide on cowichan lake BC
Picnic shelter at Arbutus Park in Youbou is a great place for birthday parties.
arbutus park youbou swimming beach on Cowichan Lake on Vancouver Island in BC
Great family swimming spot at Arbutus Park in Youbou

Lakeview Park and Campground

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Playground at Lakeview Park and Campground in Lake Cowichan
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Sandy beach at Lakeview park and campground in Lake Cowichan on Cowichan lake, BC

The Duck Pond

The Kinsmen Duck Pond is a playground and beach on the river with a dock you can swim out to. If you plan to float the river with your own tube it is a great spot to launch. There are bathrooms and changerooms and a foot bridge from the park will take you to the main strip in town for an iced coffee at Scarlett’s Boutique and Coffee Bar or an Ice Cream at Deep Fried Ice Cream or J&V’s Diner.

Gordon Bay

Gordon Bay is a Provincial Park with a campground and nice flat sandy beach in a protected bay. There is a 20 minute trail that will take you a beautiful sunny spot at the mouth of the bay with a short swim or wade to a small island. The trail starts at the end of the parking lot.

Lesser known local favourites

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Sunset on Cowichan Lake from Spring Beach

Spring Beach

Spring Beach offers a nice, secluded gravel beach at the tip of the north arm of the lake. This is a day use site that can be reached by a short trail through the forest. Coming from Duncan on Highway 18/Youbou Highway, turn left onto Meades Creek Road. If coming from Lake Cowichan along North Shore Road, turn left onto Meades Creek Road and continue until you see a forest plantation on the right (fenced forest with lots of hats on the fence). Park along Meades Creek Road and look for a big yellow gate and big sign for Spring Beach Recreation Area. The beach is a short walk down the trail from the gate.

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Kids playing with logs at Spring Beach

Price Park

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Secluded beach in Price Park, Youbou

Price Park in Youbou has a series of small beaches accessed via forested trails. Main trail access is from Miracle Way. There are also entrances from Youbou Road and Swordfern Way.

Price Park CVRD info

Lily Beach, Honeymoon Bay

lily beach honeymoon bay cowichan lake dock

Lily Beach in Honeymoon Bay gets sun all afternoon. There is a roped swimming area with a dock as well as picnic tables. The beach can be reached by a short trail from the parking lot which is located on Beach Drive off of South Shore Road.

lily beach honeymoon bay cowichan lake picnic

Central Beach, Honeymoon Bay (Park Avenue)

A great little gravel beach that is generally not too crowded and sunny late into the afternoon.

Fisherman’s Beach

Fisherman’s Beach is only accessible by a trail that crosses the Trans Canada Trail. It is not marked so a little tricky to find. The trail starts from Cowichan Lake Road, approx 4km west of the Skutz Falls turnoff, or 4km east of Lake Cowichan. You can park on the side of the road at an ‘S’ curve about 20m east of a blue house on a small farm with a barn. Follow the trail until you reach the river – approx. 20 minutes.

Fishermans Beach Cowichan River Vancouver Island BC
Fisherman’s Beach on the Cowichan River (portrait by a toddler)

Gravel Road Access Beaches

There are quite a few beautiful campgrounds around Cowichan Lake that have their own beaches. These are gravel road access only so roll up your windows and slow down. Many of these roads are also in active logging areas, so drive with extra caution during work hours (Mon-Fri).

Pine Point Campground

Pine Point is about 3.5km past the end of the paved road in Youbou and has a day use beach.

Maple Grove Campground

Maple Grove is approx 5.5km past the end of the paved road in Youbou. Drive through the campground until you reach the sign for the beach.

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Picnic dinner on the beach! Maple grove recreation site and campground near Youbou on Cowichan Lake
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Time for a dip in the lake! Maple Grove campground beach on Cowichan Lake.

Caycuse Campground

Heather Campground

Nixon Creek Campground


BC Local News Best Beachs of the Cowichan Lake Area