Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Guest blogs

Former model, mother and owner of fabulous Notting Hill toy shop, Honeyjam, Jasmine Guinness writes exclusively for kodomo on a recent getaway with her husband without their children. They visited hip bath hangout, The Gainsborough Hotel, for a spa, some sleep and a seriously good breakfast.


Jasmine Guinness by Adam Fussel

Photo credit: Adam Fussel

When my husband and I pulled up outside The Gainsborough Hotel in Bath, late on a wet Friday evening, having battled the traffic and argued about directions, we were well overdue a rest. The excitement was palpable. We were away for the weekend! Having been parents for 15 years we had never done this before. There had been a week away 13 years ago when we only had one kid but not much since. We love travelling as a family so to leave them all behind felt wrong….but the prospect of real sleep was intoxicating.

The Gainsborough Hotel, Bath

Walking into the reception of the Gainsborough was a huge relief after our fractious journey. The staff were incredibly welcoming and ushered us up to our heavenly room. It was just the right balance between comfort and beauty with two huge windows overlooking the Thermae baths and Bath Cathedral, both sparkling in the wet night light.

The Gainsborough Hotel, Bath exterior

We scurried downstairs, ravenous after our long journey and were not disappointed by the menu. Full of modern combinations of traditional food, I found all my favourites. I had tender scallops followed by delicious lamb washed down with lovely red wine. We ate and drank as if we never had before. No one to persuade to eat their dinner or sit down. Just us. Grown ups. So of course we behaved like kids….

The Gainsborough Hotel, Bath restaurant
Having giggled all over our beautiful puddings we wandered out to see Bath at night. This didn’t last that long as it was drizzling but it was lovely to see the Georgian buildings all slick and shiny in the lamp light. Back in our room the real luxury wasn’t just the incredible linen and comfortable bed but the fact that we knew for sure that no one would wake us needing a pee in the night (except perhaps us, of course).

The Gainsborough Hotel, Bath cocktails

We woke, amazingly, feeling refreshed. The child radar had been properly off all night and I could feel the difference. This is what people meant when they said that every couple needed a break from their kids occasionally; now I understood! I always thought they had been exaggerating.

We  ran down to the best full (and I mean full!) breakfast I had ever had with masses of tea and even managed to read a paper or two. We then slowly meandered out the door to check out Bath, which was rocking. There were street markets and food stalls, tiny independent shops and lovely old pubs. Sadly, we didn’t have long before our spa ritual but we didn’t want to miss a minute of that.

We were welcomed into the beautiful spa by a charming team. We were given a probiotic drink to start our cleansing process from within (a brilliant touch and utterly delicious), then we were sat down at an aromatherapy bar to figure out what should be in our Neals Yard scented salt bag to keep with us during our treatments. We had a bit of time in the spa before our treatment so we dove right in. There are three different pools at different temperatures with the restorative Bath springs flowing into the spa. No other hotel can claim that, I don’t think. The steam room and different pools could have kept us busy all day, but we had a date with some magnesium.

We had chosen the magnesium wrap as our treatment as it is known for its replenishing powers and it is very good for helping aid sleep. Most of us are magnesium deficient as it is what we use up when we are stressed or tired, so this was perfect for resting parents. We started with an invigorating salt rub, great to get all that winter skin off. The magnesium massage and wrap was incredible, quite simply one of the best massages I have ever had. I felt like a butterfly coming out of its chrysalis! Refreshed, renewed and relaxed. All we could then manage in such a relaxed state was to collapse on our amazing bed and sleep – during the day, no less!

Feeling guilty that it was finally sunny outside, we gathered what was left of our wits and stumbled out like moles. Bath is so beautiful it soon had our eyes on stalks and took our breath away. I am a huge fan of Georgian architecture and couldn’t believe the beauty that surrounded us. I felt like a kid in a sweet shop! Everywhere you turn you find another beautiful street, alley, perfectly balanced circus or crescent of buildings. We found ourselves in a proper pub called “The Star,” built in the 1700’s. Pints during the day….another rare treat.

The Gainsborough Hotel, Bath The Canvas Room

We wandered back to our haven of a room and collapsed, yet again. We watched terrible telly (which was a joy) and took our rare chance for an early night to make the most of our time away.

The next day was Sunday and I dragged my reluctant husband out of our comfy bed to take him to the nearby Roman Baths. One of my favourite subjects at school was Classics so I couldn’t believe we could visit a real Roman bath. It didn’t disappoint. Despite its many rebuilds you can still see how it would have looked all that time ago. With ancient arches and beautiful mosaics, all the Roman underfloor heating and statues, it was so inspiring. We then tasted the water straight from the spring (horrid) before going crazy with “guilt buys” for the children in the shop.

It was with a heavy heart that we packed up our bags and checked out. Brian, the manager, was as helpful as ever and although I felt much better than when we arrived I hated leaving. Our car was brought round to the door by a charming valet and the final beautiful Gainsborough touch was a box of mints in the car; such luxury and attention to detail you rarely see. I can’t wait to go back.


When our daughter was born last year, it was clear to my husband and I that our way of life would be changed forever. As would our way of travel. No longer fleet-footed and fancy-free, our one-time fearless forays into the unknown now had to be well-planned, flawlessly coordinated excursions into certainty. What better opportunity to test our new method, we thought, than a jaunt to Japan in the spring on a trip organized in collaboration with my parents (whose 40th wedding anniversary served as the raison d’être for our journey)? Our daughter was 14 months old and entering a very intrepid stage of her toddlerhood, a fact that upped the planning stakes; we laughed, we cried, we vomited, and all our follies eventually landed us with the following snippets of wisdom that I’d like to pass on to future, far-eastern travellers.

Vanessa Able Japan child

Rent a car

Most visitors to Japan get around by buying a pass for the Shikansen, the high-speed train network that’s a very efficient way to get around unless a) you have a baby-sized amount of luggage or b) you want to explore the countryside. A road tripper by DNA, I’ve always been a fan of the car and its flexibilities, and I imagined it would be a lot more practical than schlepping around train stations trying to decipher Japanese characters with my family and all our associated accouterments in tow. We rented an ark-sized Toyota Noah from the airport in Osaka, where we got to choose from an impressive line-up of baby seats, and we finally left the car, three weeks later in Tokyo. Our main concern was parking in the cities, which turned out to be easy – though pricey – due to the proliferation of private parking lots on every block. Another cost we massively underestimated was the price of the highway tolls, which were so numerous as to elicit gasps and curses from us all as we scrambled to rummage around our wallets every time the GPS warned us of an oncoming toll. On one four-hour journey from Nara to Kanazawa, we spent close to $100 on tolls, to give you some idea. But for me, the trade-off was worth it: door-to-door service between every hotel, toilet and nappy-changing stops on the way, and the chance to see something of Japan beyond the urban sprawl.

Vanessa Able child and father

Food heaven is 7-11

Until I went to Japan, I always thought of 7-11 as a walk-in vending machine to be called upon only in times of great intoxication or in the absence of all other options. But 7-11 in Japan (as well as other chains like Lawson’s and Family Mart) is a convenience store with bells on – not only is it one of the only places you can get money from an ATM with a foreign card, it’s also an excellent source of all sorts of baby-related treats, from yoghurt and fruit to boiled eggs and rice snacks, as well as things I probably shouldn’t publicly admit to having fed my toddler like hot dogs and some very salty-sweet white bread rolls. She loved them all, and she especially loved the miniature baskets small enough for her little hands to haul around and make her own selections of shopping goods like dried shrimps, canned coffee and facemasks. It was all fun and games until a pot of yoghurt bespattered the floor right by the cash desk and a disgruntled employee arrived with a mop to politely clean up my bad parenting.

Vanessa Able window shot

Brace for bugs

It’s true that Japan is an exceptionally clean country, but kids do have a way of tracking down even the most elusive germs, so you need to be prepared. We were nestled in on the tatami floor of a ryokan in the hills just south of Nara one night when I heard the labored retches of my little one bringing up her dinner all over the sheets of her cot. Then all over our bed. Then even a bit on the tatami floor. She had caught a virus, and though the vomiting only continued for 24 hours, she refused all food for the following week (even 7-11 hotdogs) and became listless and skinny. Luckily, we had friends in Kyoto who took us to a kids’ clinic and translated the exchange between myself and the doctor, but if you don’t have such a resource to hand, I recommend this page on that provides more solid information on finding Anglophone medical care in Japan.

Vanessa Able group shot

Embrace the Airbnb

When choosing where to stay, be sure to book well in advance and bear in mind that hotels in Japan come in three categories: ryokans that are the old-style Japanese guesthouses, budget hotels, and expensive hotels where one night will cost you the equivalent of a month’s rent back home. If you can afford the latter, god bless your fortune and enjoy every extra inch of space that is thin on the ground in the budget options. Despite the wide-angled photos flaunted on, many of the rooms we encountered, especially in the big cities, were barely large enough to fit a suitcase, let alone a baby with a cot. The ryokans tend to be more spacious, with rooms valued by the number of tatami mats that make up their area, and the futons on the floor are a very practical way of sleeping with a toddler. However, the walls here are often literally paper-thin, inducing cardiac arrest each time your child goes within arm’s length of one with a pokey object, and – if your little one is vocally expressive – regaling other guests with night-time screams and early-morning squeals. (The owner of one ryokan in Nara actually asked me to take my daughter outside until 8am for the sanity of fellow guests. We went straight to 7-11). The best answer I found to the price/space/noise riddle was to rent an apartment. In the big cities, they’re easy to find, they’re bigger than hotels and, if you are several people, the price per head works out much better. Besides, the prospect of a kitchen with a fridge and dishwashing facilities alone should be enough to clinch the deal.

Vanessa Able playground shot

Divine the fun spots

Whereas pre-baby travel used to be all about food and cool cultural experiences, post-baby travel has become all about food and finding cool places to play. The good news is that Japan has no lack of neighbourhood play parks, and a lot of the sightseeing can be fun for little ones too: our daughter LOVED the deer park in Nara, the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, the Kanazawa contemporary art museum (especially the swimming pool sculpture), the Roppongi Hills Observation Deck in Tokyo and any Japanese garden in any given spot. All outings were marked by frequent photo ops with locals who repeatedly declared her to be kawaii, the Japanese term for ‘cute’, ostensibly one of the most overworked words in the language, and lots of hugs with local kids who were curious to find a blondie in their midst.

Vanessa Able pool

Watch where you eat

Back to food: one of my favourite bits about Japan is the food there and the range of dining options from sushi bars to sizzling okonomiyaki and yakiniku joints. But how to negotiate these composed, beautifully choreographed meals that involve the delicate layout of fish and rice or a sizzling hotplate/open flame just inches from the edge of the table in the company of a spirited fourteen-month-old? I discovered three solutions: firstly, the take-away. Lots of places we came across – especially sushi bars – were more than happy to prepare food for us to go, which we could take home and eat in the comfort, noise and chaos of our apartment. The second option was babysitting: I struck up an excellent rapport with our Airbnb host in Kyoto who had a team of babysitters ready to farm out to her guests, and so we hired an Indonesian PhD student to come over and look after our sleeping daughter while we indulged in a kaiseki dinner. The third and most genius idea was arranged by our friends in Tokyo who have a toddler of their own: reserving a private room in a restaurant. I imagine this is only an option in larger establishments, but it comes highly recommended. It meant we had a room to ourselves, were waited on by the staff as though we were part of the restaurant, but the kids could run around at will, and there was nothing to break in the room and no strangers’ handbags to rifle through or open kitchen doors to run into. Japanese dining bliss.

Vanessa Able outdoor play

Vanessa Able is a travel writer and author of the book Never Mind the Bullocks: One Girl’s 10,000km Adventure around India in the World’s Cheapest Car.

Culinary Backstreets got its start in 2009 as the blog Istanbul Eats, founded by Ansel Mullins and Yigal Schleifer. Taking on its present form in 2012, it has expanded beyond Istanbul and into several other cities worldwide. In Istanbul and elsewhere, the goal is always the same: to introduce travelers and locals to a city’s best unknown traditional eateries and to celebrate the food makers keeping these places alive. Yigal Schleifer is Culinary Backstreet’s Editor-in-chief and chats to about this fantastic, family-friendly business.

Culinary Backstreets Kostas

So what exactly is Culinary Backstreets’ Eatinerary?

The Eatinerary is a food-focused custom travel itinerary that we developed after realizing two important things: firstly, finding great local and authentic places to eat and avoiding tourist traps is one of the most stressful parts of travel and, secondly, more and more people now are structuring their travel days around where they eat, making the search for those great food spots all the more important (and, again, stressful). So, we decided to make it easier for travelers by crafting for them an itinerary that guides them to all those vacation-defining, special places that they might not have found on their own. The final product is a PDF document that can be either printed out or used on a mobile device that serves as an indispensible travel companion.

How does is work?

The Eatinerary is created using a client’s taste and Culinary Backstreets’ on-the-ground expertise. To get started, someone goes to our site and fills out the online Eatinerary survey, which asks them a series of questions that gives us a good sense of how and what they like to eat and what particular cravings they may have. We then send that survey to one of our local correspondents who gets to work on creating the guide. Depending on the profile, we’ll send you to the best backstreet dive bar, the busiest lunchtime joint or a romantic place to impress your beloved. We’ll also advise you on eating with kids, the best options for vegetarians or what to avoid if you’re on a particular diet. And, whether it’s someone’s first or fiftieth time in a particular city, we’ll be sure to send them only to the spots that we’ve tried and tested ourselves.

Culinary Backstreets steamed buns

How can travelling families use the Eatinerary?

This service is really ideal for families, who have an even harder time when it comes to finding those perfect places to eat while travelling. As we all know, travelling with kids can often limit our options for what to do and where to go to eat, but we don’t think family travel should mean the end of eating really well. With our Eatinerary, for example, we’ve directed families to the best local spots in Barcelona that also serve dinner before bedtime, exceptional kebab joints in Istanbul that just happen to have kid-friendly museums nearby and to friendly Shanghai noodle houses where the staff will happily listen to your request to hold the spicy chili oil. Of course, with the Eatinerary we can also send a family to a city’s best traditional ice cream spots or its top chocolate makers, places that will leave the kids giddy with delight. We see our job as making sure our clients – and that includes the little ones – have the gastronomic holiday of a lifetime.

Culinary Backstreets child eating

Can you tell us a bit more about what else Culinary Backstreets offers?

The global guide to local eats, Culinary Backstreets covers the authentic food scene and offers small group culinary walks in several cities around the world. We got our start in 2009 as Istanbul Eats, a blog devoted to exploring Istanbul’s best local eateries, and soon after started offering food walks that took visitors off the typical tourist map and into neighborhoods and little restaurants they typically wouldn’t have gone to. In 2012, we expanded beyond Turkey, bringing our model of telling the story of a city through its food and the people who make it, to several other locations worldwide. Today, we are working in nine different cities and offer several different walks in each place we work in. Along with our reviews, walks and Eatineraries, we also help people explore our cities with guidebooks and an app that we’ve developed.

Where are you currently offering your Eatinerary service?

Eatineraries are available in every city that Culinary Backstreets works in, which currently include Athens, Barcelona, Istanbul, Lisbon, Mexico City, Rio, Shanghai, Tbilisi and Tokyo. But, we are always in the process of adding more cities to our roster, so stay tuned!

Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley

Our favourite “Goddesses of Good Eating”, Hemsley and Hemsley, are back. Their new book Good + Simple was recently released and it’s flying off bookshelves. Last Monday saw the first episode of their new show, Eating Well with Hemsley + Hemsley air on Channel 4 to great applause and they recently opened the gorgeous space that is the Hemsley Cafe on the new floor of Selfridges London. Being delightful as Jasmine and Melissa are, they’ve taken some time out of their furious schedule to share a few of their favourite recipes from the new book. As ever, they are healthy but bursting with flavour and they will work wonders with children for days in the garden this summer or further afield on holiday. And if you see only one episode of their television show, make it that which airs on May 30th as it’s the family special. Meanwhile, from the girls….



Courgette and Cannellini Bean Lasagne

3 large courgettes


250g ricotta

80g Parmesan or Pecorino, finely grated, plus extra for sprinkling

1 egg


1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 garlic cloves

120g sundried tomatoes (about 20 pieces) in oil, drained

3 tablespoons tomato purée

A pinch of sea salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 Add the ingredients for the ‘béchamel’ sauce to a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

2 Add the ingredients for the tomato sauce to the food processor (no need to clean out the bowl) and blend until smooth.

3 Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, finely slice the courgettes lengthways into 3mm-thick pieces.

4 Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/Gasmark 6. Spread about half the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 16cmx 22cm ovenproof dish which is at least 8cm deep, as a thin layer. Top with about a third of the courgette slices in an even layer. Cover the courgettes with about half the ‘béchamel’ sauce, then top with half the remaining courgettes in an even layer.

5 Repeat the layering with the remaining tomato sauce, courgettes and ‘béchamel’, then sprinkle over a final layer of Parmesan to finish.

6 Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5–10 minutes before serving.



Hemsley and Hemsley Huevos Rancheros

4 large handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped

4 eggs

1 large handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped

1 small handful of grated mature Cheddar


1 large onion, diced

1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 red peppers, halved lengthways, deseeded and sliced into strips

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

A pinch of cayenne pepper or finely diced fresh red chilli, to taste

2 x 400g tins of tomatoes or 800g fresh tomatoes

200ml water (100ml if using fresh tomatoes)

Sea salt and black pepper


1 large ripe avocado

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Juice of ½–1 lime

2 spring onions or 1 small handful of fresh chives, chopped

1 handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

1 First make the tomato sauce. Fry the onion in the ghee or coconut oil over a medium heat for about 8minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.

2 Add the garlic, peppers, bay leaves and spices to the pan and cook for another 2minutes.

3 Add the tomatoes and water, season generously with salt and pepper, then stir everything together and leave to simmer for 10 minutes until reduced to a thick, rich sauce.

4 Meanwhile, make the guacamole. Halve and stone the avocado, then scoop out the flesh and roughly chop. Place in a bowl and stir in all the remaining ingredients and some seasoning. Set aside.

5 Check the seasoning of the tomato sauce, adding extra salt, pepper and cayenne/chilli as needed, then stir through the spinach and cook for a few minutes until just wilted.

6 Use a spatula or spoon to make four wells in the tomato sauce mixture and crack an egg into each. The eggs will poach in the sauce and cook in about 4 minutes (lid on) for set whites and runny yolks.

7 Scatter over the coriander and cheese. Serve immediately (as the eggs will keep cooking) with big heaped spoonfuls of guacamole on top.

Cannellini Vanilla Sponge Cake with Chocolate Avo Frosting

Serves 25–30

Hemsley and Hemsley Cannellini Vanilla Sponge Cake with Chocolate Avo Frosting

For the cake

125g butter or coconut oil, melted, plus extra for greasing

3 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

9 medium eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

220ml maple syrup

5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

90g coconut flour

2½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

¼ teaspoon sea salt

150g punnet of fresh raspberries, to decorate

For the chocolate avo frosting

4 medium ripe avocados

5 tablespoons (about 75g) coconut oil, melted

8 tablespoons raw honey (to taste)

10 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon orange extract (not essence)

A pinch of sea salt

1 Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/gasmark 6, then line the bases of two 25cm-diameter cake tins with baking parchment and grease the sides with butter or coconut oil.

2 Blend all the ingredients for the frosting together in a food processor until smooth, adding a dash of cold water if needed. taste, adjusting the flavourings to taste, then transfer to a bowl and set aside in the fridge.

3 For the cake, add the cannellini beans to the cleaned food processor bowl with the eggs, vanilla extract and maple syrup and blend until smooth. Add the remaining cake ingredients, except the raspberries, and blend to combine.

4 Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake tins, spreading out evenly and smoothing the surface. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until well risen and lightly golden on top. (Check the cakes after 25 minutes and swap the tins between shelves, if necessary, as they will cook at different rates.)

5 Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely in the tins before turning out.

6 While the cakes are cooling, gently wash the raspberries and dry them carefully using kitchen paper or leave to air dry; (they must be thoroughly dry before adding to the cake.)

7. Spread half the frosting on one of the cooled sponges, top with the other sponge and spread over the rest of the frosting. Store in the fridge and bring to room temperature to serve. decorate with the fresh raspberries just before serving.

Extracted from Good + Simple by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley (Ebury Press, £25)

Photography by Nick Hopper

Mercedes Sieff is co-founder of the award winning Yeotown Health Retreat. A long time Vinyasa Flow Yoga instructor and, arguably, one of the UK’s happiest and most creative teachers, Mercedes divides her time between London and Devon. Flow Yoga Mama to two baby girls, Mercedes also miraculously ends time to lifestyle blog for the Huffington Post and frequently contributes articles to popular wellbeing websites such as MindBodyGreen and Elephant Journal. She is an ambassador for Lululemon Athletica and Manduka and features regularly on ITV1, BBC Radio and in publications such as Tatler, The Sunday Times, Conde Nast Traveler, OM Magazine, Harpers Bazaar and Yoga Magazine. If that’s not enough, Mercedes is also a Positive Psychology Coach and holds a Diploma in Coaching from Cambridge University. 

Mercedes Sieff with daughters

Q: What is your first childhood memory of travel?

I grew up in Ottawa, Canada but my mother is from Barcelona so my earliest memories of travelling was the plane ride over to Spain with my parents and three sisters. It was back in the day when air travel rules were a quite relaxed to say the least (remember smoking sections?!!) and I vividly remember my sisters and I setting up makeshift beds with the blankets and pillows and sleeping stretched out on the floor the whole ride over, something you’d never be allowed to do now.

Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
Gosh, this is a hard one as I have always had a sense of wanderlust and so have been fortunate to have travelled to some pretty cool places and experienced many great trips that would definitely battle it out for the title of best holiday ever. On top of that list would probably have to be when I went to Peru by myself for my 25th birthday and hiked Machu Piccu, white water rafted down the Urumamba River and hand glided over the Andes mountains: a super fun adventure for sure and I’d love to go back with my husband and kids.

Q: Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?

Both my husband and I have a real love for Sri Lanka and go there annually so, when Rumi (my eldest) was born, we didn’t see why things should change. So, when she was 3 months old I strapped her to my chest and off we all went. It was our first plane ride with a baby, of course, and a long one at that (10 hours); we definitely made some amateur mistakes. I remember the biggest one was not bringing any formula as she was still so young and I was breastfeeding exclusively at the time. For some reason she fed twice as much during the flight, really non-stop it felt like, and so my milk was not able to keep up with the speed at which she needed it! Needless to say, you can imagine the chaos that ensued as she was crying out for food, poor thing, and there I was desperately trying to get her to suckle just to get her to stop crying, even though there was no milk coming out. We laugh about it now at how ignorant we were, but it was such a tense plane ride I’ll never forget.

Q: How do you find the experience of travelling with children generally? 

I would liken it to a set of waves when you are surfing. A big set comes at you and tries to take you out and you fight to keep your wits about you and stay on your board. Then they pass and you are sitting floating peacefully, chill out, happy and at one with a calm, beautiful sea. To me travelling with young kids is a bit like that. There are moments of extreme stress, chaos and thinking “I will never do this again” and then there are also super sweet moments that balance it out, like when they are sleeping, resting their little heads on my lap or excited with fits of giggles and excitement as the plane is taking off. I love seeing their wid-eyed joy at the adventure of it all and it makes me happy seeing them so happy.

Do you ever travel with your children for work?

Yes, quite a bit, as I run yoga and surf holidays a few times a year in far off places and always bring them. I also teach at various yoga conferences and festival around the globe so I like to bring them too if I am going to be away for more than a few days.

Q: Where was your best holiday with your child?

I’d say Bali is my favorite with the kids. The people, hotels, beaches, restaurants (even the trendy “cool” ones) are all really child-friendly and make travelling around with them so easy. I remember going there two summers ago when my youngest was just 5 weeks old and my eldest about 18 months. That initial period right after birth can be so stressful and taxing physically and emotionally (breastfeeding, hormones shifting, body aching from carrying baby all the time etc…) but I had such an opposite experience to my first time after giving birth. It was so healing having the warmth and sunshine every day, going for long walks on beautiful beaches with the baby on my chest, and my eldest holding my hand and toddling along and getting loads of nurturing Balinese massages. The Balinese people, in general, love children and have that “it takes a village” mentality. We had support from these wonderful Balinese women who had been taking care of our friend’s kids for years and they helped us out with ours, which gave me a little ‘down time’ to have a sleep, do some postnatal yoga and give my husband and I some space to get out for some nice meals together. It was definitely a great way to enjoy some of my maternity leave.

Q: And your worst?

Oh goodness, it was when I was about 10 weeks pregnant with my second child, Indra, and we went to Morocco for a holiday over the New Year. Rumi was only about 13 months and I had just been treated for tonsillitis. Even though I was feeling better before we left, we arrived and it came back with a vengeance. I was also at the tail end of my first trimester so I was still really nauseous and then, to top it off, we all came down with a nasty cold; Rumi was up most the nights crying with a fever and snotty nose. We still talk about what a miracle it was we made it back through the plane ride home as we could barely keep our heads up!

Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
Must haves now are loads of markers, paper, pens, puzzles, crayons, books and my iPad with their favorite games, painting apps and cartoons on them.

Q: And top tips for travel with kids?

Most of our travel is long haul so I definitely recommend getting an overnight flight if possible for lengthier flights. The kids tend to sleep a lot of it and it helps pass the time a bit quicker. Lots of changes of clothes for both myself and the kids and, if there is an item you know they can’t be without to sleep and soothe themselves (my little one likes a bottle with water to suckle on and the other has to have a comfort blanket), then I always take a spare to have on hand. For jet lag, we try to eat according to the time zone we’re heading to instead of where we have just left. I find this really helps to get into the swing of things once we land. I also recommend lots of deep breaths, inhale to the count of 4, hold for 4 and then exhale for 4, just to keep calm, relaxed and less stressed through the chaos of travelling with little ones. Also just accepting it as short lived helps too, because they grow up so fast and I always remind myself in the moments of chaos that it won’t last forever!