5 tips: when travelling as a family

suitcases pic

We are a well-travelled family with quite a bit of experience between us. So you’d think we would have everything planned and organised down to the last toothpick for our recent trip to Sri Lanka, oh no. For some strange reason, before this particular trip my husband and I were overcome with an unusual laid-back almost zen-like approach to catching our flight. I have to admit I’m generally the drill master in this situation but not this time. This was different. We (I mean ‘he’) agreed on the set time we would leave the house without allowing for the holiday mayhem that was about to unfold.

We arrived at the airport with just over an hour to boarding to be told to join the crowd after giving our meager reasons for being ‘a bit late’. After a few minutes a lady with a clipboard meekly called  for any remaining Colombo passengers. We made our way, chest-first through the bulging queue, to the desk to be told boarding had closed. After a few heated arguments, we finally listened to the helpful chap behind the desk  who explained that we must simply convert our big case into two newly-bought all cases (this seemed impossible at the time), if we want to get on the flight. We had gone from a relatively normal 2.2 family to a rampaged group of savages scurrying around on the airport floor flinging knickers around. The madness continued to the gate with my husband and I sprinting off through duty free like it was every man for themselves leaving the two kids to struggle with their luggage. We finally made it on board huffing and puffing, head down in shame, only to be sitting on the tarmac waiting for late passengers to arrive from shopping. Tut, tut.

Coincidentally, I’ve decided to review our family travel rules and here are 5 of the more important ones:

1. Leave 2 hours earlier than usual especially when it is school holiday time – it may seem obvious but no one wants to start their trip with the slow painful shuffle in the misleading queue from hell.

2. Use hand-luggage sized suitcases only – when they’re old enough, give each child a bit of responsibility by allocating them their own piece of luggage.

3. Check and double check the kids packing – my daughter felt that having two swimsuits and pj’s were far more important than any underwear or clothes!

4. Discuss the travel plans more than once – and not on the day of the flight so you avoid pre-holiday airhead mode

5. Appoint a person in charge– this not only gives someone responsibility i.e. they think about the finer details, it also gives you the chance to blame the other person if that person isn’t you!

As expected, we arrived in Sri Lanka four or so hours later, $70 lighter (visa cost) where we were greeted by our smiley driver ‘Udaya’ with a perfectly incorrect sign ‘Mr Z Looper’.  


What the volunteers say

volunteer video

Ever wondered what it would be like to be a volunteer? In June, my daughter Sadie and I are heading off for two weeks of volunteer work in Cusco conservation zoo, Peru. Here’s a short volunteer expectations video from people who have been there and done exactly that.

Hear what they think about their experience, advice on how to make the most of your time and dealing with culture shocks as well as what you can expect to gain personally.



Dubai to Peru in under 30 hours!


The web spat out far too many flight options which caused a number of head hurts along the way. But, we finally decided to go with British Airways from Dubai via Heathrow, to Madrid then on to Lima. The reason we picked this flight was mainly because of the leaving and arriving times and figured that the time in between will be a mix of sleeping, eating and waiting i.e. a bit of a blur.

Going with the same airline all the way seems to have some benefits including; collecting air miles (although actually using them is another matter), luggage transfers (the airline will send them onto the next flight rather than having to check in again) and generally keeping things simple. 

Our last flight will be Lima to Cusco but that will be booked nearer the time as the flights are every half an hour with many different airlines. 

So the journey looks like this:

Leave Dubai at 9.30am and arrive London Heathrow at 2.05pm – 7 hrs 35 mins

Layover: 2hr 45min

Leave LHR at 4.30pm and arrive Madrid at 8pm – 2 hrs 20 mins

Layover: 4hr 20min

Leave Madrid at 00.30am and arrive in Lima at 5.35am the next day – 11 hrs 55 mins

Total time: 28hr 55min

Nearly 22 hours in the air and 7 hours waiting time, not including Cusco flight.

There are 6 or 7 flights per day to Cusco from Lima, and the flight time is about 50 minutes.

I hope the movies are good!


Word of mouth: where to go in Peru?

nazca lines

Here are a few tips and suggestions on travelling in Peru including; where to visit, what you should pay and more. All from an avid traveller and photographer who recently explored the area. Cheers Rav!

Assuming you are flying to Lima then either taking a bus to cusco or flying. I suggest you stay somewhere near Plaza de armas in the city center. You can book tours to Machu Picchu just about anywhere expect to pay around $250 USD for a 2 day tour. (You need a two day tour because you will sleep in Aguas Calientes and wake up early for Machu Picchu) DO NOT pay more than $250 for 2 days.

So, what is the Global Volunteer Network all about?

GVN what is

I thought now is a good time to give GVN a bit of web time and highlight some of the reasons why I have decided to volunteer with them.

The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) was launched in December 2000 by Colin Salisbury, its Founder and Executive Director, after spending time volunteering in Ghana, West Africa. While he was there he saw the tremendous difference volunteers could make in helping local organizations achieve their goals. Upon returning to New Zealand he spent some time researching the different volunteer organizations around the world and was amazed at how expensive and limiting many programs were in terms of volunteer opportunities.

Over the past 14 years the Global Volunteer Network have built up strong ties with grassroots organizations throughout the world, and placed 19017 volunteers. 

Bill Gates personally recommended GVN by stating “I’d love to see more young people taking action to help the poor and disadvantaged. Two places to get started are Network for Good and Global Volunteer Network” and CNN listed the Global Volunteer Network as one of 10 organizations that can help you to make a positive impact on the world around you.


Challenge: See all the best bits in a 5 day family trip to Sri Lanka

This is not my first time to Sri Lanka but it will be our first trip to the island as a family. I’ll be travelling from Dubai with my twin 9 year olds, Rudi and Sadie along with my husband Nigel, four bags, lots of chargers and an ipad. We are expecting a whirlwind, unpacking/repacking type of holiday with a good few hours of car time so distraction tools and stops will be necessary!

After a thorough look at a map and some great tips from some friends via a ‘do you know of..’ Facebook post, I have concluded that the best option is to start in Colombo, move on to Kandy, go south to Ambalantota and head up the coast road towards Colombo stopping at Galle. We are considering leaving one night free and booking a wild card hotel when we get there in one of the coastal villages on the way back.

How are we going to get there? Where are we going to stay?


I’m a Brit, do I need a visa for Peru?

Peru entry requirements

The below visa information is current based on my research, but may have changed since this post was written, so you should check with your local embassy for confirmation.



British nationals don’t need a visa to travel if the purpose of the visit is tourism. On arrival, you are normally given permission to stay for up to 6 months.

Volunteers from the majority of countries are automatically given a 90-day tourist visa on entry into Peru. 

If volunteers wish to stay longer than 90-days, they have the option of crossing the border into Bolivia or Chile and re-entering Peru, where they will be given an additional 90 days. Alternatively, volunteers can request an extended visa on arrival to the country. Peru will give visitors as many as 183 days of visa when entering the country in Lima. It is essential that volunteers request this when they arrive in Lima, as once issued, a 90 day visa cannot be extended.