Hello friends! So excited and finally somewhat ready to share about the trip that our family took last month. We were originally planning to go to a different country but we had to change plans at the last minute and fly instead to Melbourne, Australia. We didn’t need a visa since we are residents there, so we literally packed our bags and hopped on the plan within two days of deciding for it. Brave? Foolish? I think both. Since with two toddlers, it could have gone all over the place. But luckily for us, everything worked out for the best and it definitely was the best vacation we ever took.
I have got memory cards full of photos and videos to share from the trip but currently playing catch-up with life back home and haven’t even gone through all of that stuff yet. Safe to say that I am gonna bore you guys with my trip details, stories, videos and images for weeks to come. So you have been warned! 😉
I often get asked how is it to travel with toddlers and I know many people just put off the idea for the sake of the challenges it poses. But for me, its just the best thing. My kids are really great little travelers, they love exploring and being in new spaces, be it outdoors or indoors. Yes it does involve a truckload of planning and even bigger truckload of luggage to haul, but i have been doing it for a few years now and all that experience definitely comes in handy.
Our biggest challenge was the flight and transit to Australia (will be a compiling a video of our journey to share with you guys soon). I packed a lot of snacks, games and books, loaded up the iPad with new stuff and said a prayer in my heart. It was a 10 hour long flight to Manila (Philippines), 12 hour stay there, and then another 8 hour flight to Melbourne. After what felt like a week of being in planes and airport lounges, we finally reached Melbourne! (I was looking really awesome by the time we reached, with oily hair and the darkest under eye circles). It was too long, too hectic and tiring in the worst possible way. Hamza did pretty well throughout, even slept for long stretches of times but poor baby Azaan couldn’t sleep much cause he need his comfy bed to lie in and therefore got really cranky and annoyed with the sight of plane. He did better in transit though. And once we reached Melbourne, he really caught up on his missed sleep and was back to his happy, naughty self in no time.
Luckily, on our journey back to Riyadh, both kids did really well and we didn’t have to pull our hair out. 😛 Although we had an even longer transit in Manila on way back (22Hours!!!), but they both slept through the night and exhausted their energies by playing with new toys and running around so flights itself weren’t that stressful.
Although jet lag is a monster but in our case it really helped our kids settle into a new routine pretty fast. During all our days there, they would be up at 6 or 7 in the morning, and then we would be out exploring, eating, playing all day and would only come back at 6 or 7 in the evening. By that time, they would be totally exhausted and would hit the bed for the night. So it worked out quite nicely. We are forever grateful to our double stroller that we bought just a few days prior to the trip. Our boys would nap in it whenever they wanted during the day. And i would pack the whole house in its huge baskets beneath for all our needs for the day.
We were also lucky that we had family living in Melbourne, my brother and sister in laws and their families. My boys got to meet their cousins and Hamza still asks to go back to their houses, haha. We’ll forever cherish the times spent with the family. We planned our itinerary in this way that we spent a few days with the family. And the rest of time, we took off on our own and rented out places on Airbnb. You guys, this was definitely one of the highlights of our trip! Previously, we would always book hotel rooms but this rental thing is a game-changer. We are converts for life! Why would anyone with kids want to stay in a cramped hotel room when they get a whole apartment or house, with a fully equipped kitchen, laundry room etc? This thing made me really happy and in control of my life over there, haha. Kids loved staying in a “new house” every couple of days. Discovering new books and dvds, nooks and corners, and making sure every gadget and cabinet in the kitchen worked to their absolute liking. We would make and have some breakfast before we set out for the day, and I would often make the kids a quick dinner before bed, and then throw all our dirty clothes in for a wash before making a cup of tea and cozying in with various magazines and books lying around. It all felt so comfy and rejuvenating, and also just like home in a foreign country after being out on the roads for the whole day.
I feel like I have to say a lot and I could go and on without any sequence or scheme of things. So let me just divide it up a bit and then take it from there.
For now, sharing a few photos from the balcony of our city rental apartment and then lots of photos from our first day exploring Melbourne CBD.
Oh Melbourne, where do I begin to write about you! One of the most beautiful cities I have ever been! After spending some days there, I am not surprised that it has been voted the most livable city in the world, many times! Fell in love pretty hard with its graffiti laneways, victorian-style heritage buildings, mix of old and new architecture, coolest art displays on every other corner and the most ordinary of places. Seriously, the city art is awesome and so chic! I loved bumping into new graffiti walls and art installments every corner we turned.
There is something about a city bustling with life and an environment that promises brilliant opportunities and endless possibilities, that has me torn between choosing a busy city life over a peaceful, slow paced country/suburb life. aah! life decisions.