Thailand with Kids Aged 5, 7 & 9: Our February 2019 Adventure

I first travelled to Thailand in 2002 and spent ten weeks treading the well trodden path many a backpacker had before me. SangSom buckets featured heavily, as did sore heads, new friends and chilling in hammocks. The land of smiles stole my heart and further visits followed in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Needless to say, lots of appropriate fun for my early twenties self was had. We’ve just returned from a two and a half week holiday as a family of five, with children aged 5, 7 and 9. As you can imagine, Thailand with kids was a vastly different experience. Sharing our highlights and insights, for those who are thinking of planning their own adventure. Be warned, it’s a long piece. So grab a cuppa and put your feet up before starting to read.       

Thailand with kids

Bangkok: allow yourselves the jet lag and plan an easy first day

We took a night flight out of the UK, which departed at midday and arrived in Bangkok at 6am Thai time. The reason we chose this option was because it meant having a full first day on holiday, even if we were going to be super tired. This was still preferable for us to landing in the evening and (probably) being up all night with jet lag.

Our hotel had a pool, and although more expensive than others we could have booked, it meant we had options. In the planning stages, we knew if all else failed, the kids would love to swim, it really was a godsend that first day. I might have had a teeny tiny nap on one of the sun loungers while we were waiting for our room. 

Although we had drawn up a massive list of potential activities to do in Bangkok, we decided on the path of least resistance. By avoiding over crowded tourist attractions, we made staying awake (rather than sightseeing) our main priority. Running around the lovely nearby park, which had a couple of kids playground areas, kept things similar to home, so it wasn’t too overwhelming. Street food was had for lunch, and it was as gentle an introduction as possible to being the furthest from home the children had ever been. 

TOP TIP: If you sleep loads on the flight and the whole family are full of beans, you’ll probably want energetic things to do. If you end up in a similar situation to us, chances are you’ll need more low key ideas. Make sure you do your research in advance, so you have activity options for both eventualities. That way you won’t be stressed at the time trying to figure out what to do.  

Thailand with kids

By 4pm everyone was really struggling, so we took the sky train one stop to Terminal 21, a huge air conditioned shopping mall. We weren’t interested in buying stuff, but we’d heard the food court on the top floor had great eats at reasonable prices and weren’t disappointed.

Terminal 21 is much less high end and designer than the other shopping malls in the area, which it needed to be with our grubby, exhausted kids. Each floor resembles a different city from around the world, and the escalators are massive too, which pleased our little crew greatly. T21 turned out to be absolutely perfect for our needs that evening. Everyone managed to find something to eat and by the time we were back at the hotel, it was just about okay to crawl into bed. 

TOP TIP:
 book a hotel with local amenities suitable for your kids ages. There are tons of gorgeous parks dotted around Bangkok, so it isn’t too difficult. Keeping jet lagged children awake, when all they want to do is sleep, is ridiculously hard. Ensuring ours were entertained enough, but not worn out to the point of exhaustion, really helped get us through those first 24 hours.

Thailand with kids

Bangkok: a birthday at the Damnoen Saduak floating market

We only had two days in the capital, and the second day was Clara’s 7th birthday. Wanting it to be special we decided to head to the famous floating market in Damnoen Saduak. Stall holders sell their wares on the banks of narrow canals, while small long tail boats guide tourists. Entrance was 4000 baht (approx. £100), which covers the boat ride around the market.

Produce ranges from locally grown fruit to hand crafted wooden animals. Clothes, accessories, jewellery, artwork, toys, trinkets. Even a man holding a massive snake (see below). Everything was exceptionally over priced, even by UK standards. You’ll see the exact same goods being sold for much less elsewhere, especially if you venture up north. Definitely something to be aware of if this is your first time in Thailand, or if the market happens to be your first shopping excursion after arriving. 

thailand with kids

However, all three children are saying it was one of their main highlights of the entire trip and you really can’t put a price on that. We managed to keep costs down by being sensible and not buying too much. I’ll be writing a separate piece about getting the most from the market, because there’s so much to say. 

TOP TIP: don’t feel obliged to buy anything, but barter, barter, barter if you do! Our purchases ended up being between 30-60% cheaper than the first prices we were given. 

thailand with kids

Chaing Mai: this contains most of my best memories from going to Thailand with kids

Next up we flew to Chiang Mai, and from the very first day absolutely adored it. Truth be told, this was one of my biggest surprises. I’d only been once before, on my very first trip in 2002. I spent about a week there, doing a jungle trek in the mountains and shopping. My memories of it made it feel like it was a transit stop, where people only stayed for a few days before heading somewhere else. Nowadays it’s a vibrant, chilled out city. Full of content locals, laid back travellers and interesting things to see and do. Perhaps it was always this way, I just didn’t feel a huge connection back then? Either way, I’m so glad we ventured back. 

The food was incredible, there was an abundance of great coffee and locally brewed kombucha, in a variety of flavours, available in many restaurants. Being such a huge advocate of good gut health, this made me very happy indeed. Almost every place we went to was family friendly, and there didn’t seem to be much of a crazy party scene. (Although we obviously didn’t go looking for it.) Overall Chiang Mai provided the perfect antidote to Bangkok.

Thailand with kids

Chiang Mai Highlights

We stayed in the centre of the Old City, which is around 1.5km square, making it perfect for getting around mostly on foot. When the kids were too tired for walking, we caught tuk tuks. There were always plenty to choose from and were very reasonable, with a standard short hop fare being 100 baht (around £2.50).

Our centrally located guest house was on Ratchadamnoen Road, providing easy access to get about. We had quite a big hotel room in Bangkok, and were a little concerned when we first saw where we’d be sleeping for five nights. It was a basic triple room with three kingsized beds, a tiny bathroom, refrigerator and not much else. You know what though? No-one minded at all. The beds were comfortable, the air con worked perfectly and we didn’t need anything bigger. On our next adventure, we’ll definitely be staying in lower key guest houses and making do, rather than booking bigger accommodation. Which will save a small fortune! 

TOP TIP: walk everywhere within reason, to get a good feel for this beautiful city.  

Thai Cooking

We arrived on the Sunday and booked ourselves straight onto a half day cookery course for the Monday, with Asia Scenic. The 800 baht fee (approx. £20) included transportation, and all the food. We were collected at 8:30am, and started with a guided tour of a local market. A look around their kitchen-garden was next, as well as a masterclass in herbs and spices. Everyone was given a menu and we each chose several dishes to cook: spring rolls, noodles, a curry (including making the paste) and a soup.

I went for pad see ew, a traditional flat rice noodle dish, flavoured with soy and oyster sauce. Followed by massaman curry, an aromatic classic which starts by dry frying spices. Then my all time favourite flavour of soup, tom yum. It was incredible to learn how simple these recipes are to recreate, and we were given a cookbook to take home so we can continue making them. We’ve already had three different curries since being back.

Asia Scenic said if the kids could reach the stove, and were sensible around knives, they could join in. This ruled out 5yo Freddy, who hates food and wasn’t interested anyway. 7yo Clara started off cooking, but lost interest after the second dish. 9yo food-mad Polly absolutely loved the class, and I consider it to be one of my main highlights from the whole trip.

TOP TIP: take lots of activities for younger children, so they are entertained while the chefs do their cooking. There won’t be much for them to do otherwise, and they may get bored. Be prepared to ensure you can fully enjoy your class.

Art in Paradise  

Tuesday we took life very easy, wandering around locally and checked out a few of the beautiful temples. On the Wednesday, we took a Tuk Tuk across town to Art in paradise, which is an interactive museum. Housed in a wonderfully cool building, full of 3D optical paintings which you climb inside so it looks like you’re part of the picture. So much fun! 

We have photos escaping from a crocodile; petting a panda bear and trapped inside a giant bottle; to name but a few. Well worth checking out if you’re in town, and they also have other galleries throughout Thailand. We stayed for about two and a half hours, making it well worth the 1200 baht (approx. £30) combined entrance fee.  

TOP TIP: everyone around you will be getting into the spirit and jumping into the artwork to take photos and videos. Just embrace it and try not to be embarrassed, even if you do feel a bit silly. You’ll kick yourself afterwards if you don’t take the opportunity to get great footage.   

Thailand with kids

Elephant Sanctuary

Sadly, elephant abuse is rife in Thailand. These poor creatures are often subjected to horrendous lives, where they are ridden on by tourists; put to work in the circus; dragged around the streets begging; and other horrors too sad for words. The fortunate ones end up in a sanctuary like the one we visited on Freddy’s 5th birthday.

Elephants here are free to do what they naturally love doing: eating and playing, whilst being cared for beautifully. Being in such close proximity to these giants was nothing short of awe inspiring.

However, if you’re thinking about doing something similar, please take note. Our minivan collected us at 8am, and dropped us back around 5pm, so it was a long day for the children. With lots of walking around in the blazing hot sun. In fairness, I think they could have happily called it a day after lunch, but there was another two hours left of the tour. 

TOP TIP: if you are taking small children, consider bringing a stroller or sling for them. There will be lots of walking, much of which in the exposed sunshine, which might be too much for them to cope with. But don’t let that put you off, it’s an incredible experience and so worth doing regardless.      

Ao Nang Highlights

From Chiang Mai we flew to Krabi, which is a two hour flight. We had booked a villa with a small private pool, on site of a little apartment complex in Ao Nang. It was about ten minutes drive to the beach, which we opted for because we knew it would be quieter than being among the main thoroughfare. Not to mention around half the price. Our guest house, and many of the others, offered a free drop off and collection to and from the beach. 

Being able to fly into Krabi makes this a fabulous, and very family friendly holiday destination. There isn’t much of a party scene, and it provides a great base for going to islands such as Koh Phi Phi, Koh Hong and Koh Lanta. There were lots of lovely restaurants and amenities for children, without it being as expensive as some of the other southern islands. 

Our eight night stay set us back approx. £1500, but in hindsight our villa was too big and we could have easily have managed in a two bedroom apartment. Once we were down south, everything was a lot more expensive, which we expected, but it’s worth taking into consideration if you’re on a budget. To save a bit of money, we made breakfast at the villa. There are many 7Eleven’s and mini marts dotted around Ao Nang, as well as a medium sized, well stocked Tesco.  

TOP TIP: coming into Ao Nang beach from the main road, you can turn left or right. The left hand side has accommodation and restaurants just back from the beach (there’s nothing actually on the beach). This is where most people go to sunbathe, and it was quite crowded. Walking down on the right you’ll find lots of fab restaurants on the road opposite the beach. The beach itself was also a lot less busy.

thailand with kids

4 Island Tour

We arrived on a Sunday evening and booked ourselves straight on a full day trip to see the 4 islands for the Monday. Guest houses and hotels will be able to organise tours for you, and they’re all pretty consistent in terms of pricing. It set us back 1200 baht per adult and 800 each for the children (approx £120 in total, and everything was included in the price). We were collected from our guest house and taken to Ao Nang pier where we picked up our speedboat. Which we were on for about fifteen minutes before arriving at our first stop.

Phra Nang Beach was first and exceptionally beautiful, if rather crowded. Princess Cave (photo above) is at the end of the beach, although we were in for a bit of a surprise. The cave is full of dildos, offerings to the princess from locals, apparently, which we were not forewarned about. I consider myself to be an open minded person, who doesn’t get too easily offended. However, we had young eyes with us, so it would have been nice to have known in advance. Luckily none of the kids noticed. We were given enough time to leisurely walk from one end of the beach to the other and take lots of lovely photos before the second stop.

Thailand with kids

Tup Island was next, where those who were snorkelling explored the sealife. We stopped here for enough time to see beautiful vibrant fish swimming around in shoals while we were paddling. Apparently when the tide is low, you can walk along the causeway to the neighbouring island.

Next up was Koh Gai, although we did not leave the boat. We stopped for long enough to take photos of this curious island which slightly resembles a chicken.

Last stop was Koh Poda, which is considered to be a jewel of the Andaman Sea. With its powdery white sand and turquoise water, it’s quite simply picture perfect. I can imagine many an Instagram selfie was taken here. This is where we spent most of our time – swimming, paddling and eating the delicious lunch which was provided.

TOP TIP: no amount of sunblock will be enough, which we learnt the hardest way with everyone getting burnt. Our kids hate the sensation of suncream being applied and we were far too laid back about reapplying it. It’s my only true regret from the entire holiday. 

thailand with kids

Stunning Railay 

Our tenth wedding anniversary was the following day, so we headed to Railay Beach. In 2004 I spent a week there with one of my best friends, and it felt fitting to go back. The beach is still beautiful, but it’s quite built up these days. Well worth doing as a day trip though, and we travelled for ten minutes in a traditional long tail boat, which is an experience in itself. We happened upon a lovely restaurant in Ao Nang, where we had dinner on the way home. Watching the sun set on the beach was a super special ending to this momentous day.

TOP TIP: even if everyone is resisting the idea, factor at least one sunset on the beach into your itinerary. Such a magical experience. 

Rock Climbing

Two days later Hubby and the girls went back to Railay and did some rock climbing. They say it was one of their main highlights, and they were all buzzing afterwards. Freddy and I stayed back and had a chilled day mooching around, mostly indoors. Little man desperately needed some time out of the sun. A bit of love bombing did him the world of good. 

As tempting as it would have been to pack every day as solidly as we could, we had to make some judgement calls depending on how the kids were feeling. Travelling is incredibly enriching, but you still have to be a parent. When said kids have sensory issues, like ours do, chances are they will be exacerbated on holiday.

TOP TIP: just like at home, sometimes splitting the family up means everyone will have a nicer day. 

Thailand with kids

The not so great bits about going to Thailand with kids

With Polly’s autism to consider, and Freddy’s eating and sensory sensitivities, we knew the trip wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Polly had a good handful of overwhelmed moments, but on the whole, she did remarkably well. We took great care to ensure we were entertained enough so no one got bored, but wasn’t overdoing it so the kids felt exhausted. Clara coped amazingly well, and considering she likes her food fairly plain, she was adventurous and tried eating lots of new things.

Freddy struggled quite a bit. He only ate plain rice, pancakes and juices, and had meltdowns like we’d never seen from him. Every day we were by the sea he asked when we were going home. I’m not going to lie, there were times where it was super tricky to manage his needs, as well as keeping the rest of the family content. Hopefully he’ll fare up better on our next adventure.

thailand with kids

Bangkok was as noisy, smelly and all out crazy as I remembered, but I didn’t enjoy it the way I used to. It’s difficult to articulate, as nothing happened, but I felt a bit uneasy the whole time we were there. Also, because of pollution, the air quality is appalling. The sky was so grey and sad, it kind of reminded me of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax.

Considering I used to view this city as one of my favourites in the whole world, I was taken back by how much I disliked being there. We also spent an insane amount of money, even though our hotel was middle of the road, we didn’t eat extravagantly and hardly picked up any shopping. Next time we go to Thailand I’ll be voting to skip it altogether.

Apart from Chiang Mai, a good cup of coffee was hard to come by. Being such coffee addicts, and snobs, we were very disappointed. Most restaurants and cafes served up cheap instant, and the only decent coffee shop we found in Ao Nang was extortionate (around £8 for two black Americanos).

On our second day by the sea we all got sunburnt (Polly and Clara worst) which put a dampener on the rest of the week. The freedom the kids had been enjoying, playing on the beach or by the pool, was replaced with having to carefully monitor their sun exposure. We applied cream before leaving the villa, and throughout the day, but this has taught us that you really can’t apply enough sunblock. Especially when the kids are in and out of the sea or pool. It’s worth taking into consideration that the sun is at its strongest between 2-4pm. 

Sterling is pretty shocking right now and we were only getting between 36 and 40 baht to the pound. Compared with the 70 we used to get ‘back in the day’ it did hurt somewhat, but obviously we knew things were going to cost a lot more than they used to.

Thailand with kids

Was it easy? No! Was it worth it? Hell yeah!

Overall our Thailand with kids adventure was absolutely epic. The jet lag, sunburn, hideous sleep (nothing new there!), dodgy belly, etc etc, are almost already forgotten. Give it another few weeks and all I’ll remember will be the best bits.

This trip has ignited a desire to travel more, and now the kids have successfully done their first long haul, the world is our oyster.

The only question is: where to next?

 

Spring Seasonal Food: What’s Best Right Now and 5 Super Easy Recipes (GF, DF)

March is one of my favourite months because Spring is officially in the air. The sun is shining, it’s getting a little warmer and the seasonal food is just wonderful. Eating seasonably couldn’t be easier in Spring time, here in the UK. Between our fabulous farmers markets, and special offers in the supermarkets, eating the seasons is great value too. Plus there’s no guilt attached to excessive food miles.

Spring Seasonal FoodVeggies at their best right now include leeks, kale, cauliflower, savoy cabbage and spring greens. So much potential for awesome dishes packed full of flavour, not to mention nutritional goodness. 

Five super easy ways to eat seasonal food in Spring

– fry a finely chopped leek over a med-high heat in a little butter or olive oil until soft. Season to taste and add a handful each of finely shredded cabbage and spring greens. Turn the heat down low and cook with the lid on for about ten mins. Delicious side for any meat, fish or veggie dish.

– don’t discard cauliflower leaves. Thoroughly wash, then chop them up and use in stir fries, curries, stews. You might also like this recipe.

Eat Seasonably in Spring– instead of potatoes, try cauliflower mash. Chop up a whole head of cauliflower into florets, place in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 mins until tender then drain, return to the pan and mash as you would potatoes. Season and add extras to your taste.

– when roasting up a tray of veg, add a handful of kale at the end for amazing kale chips. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and season to taste, then roast for the last 5 mins with the other veg. Make sure you set a timer though, as much longer than 5 mins and they will burn.

– sauerkraut is a great way to preserve cabbage when it’s at its very best, and contains friendly gut bacteria which is oh so good for us. Thoroughly wash (and sterilise if you wish) a large glass jar, then fill it layer by layer with finely shredded cabbage. Sprinkle each layer with a tsp of sea salt. Pack the cabbage tightly in the jar and cover with cold filtered water. Leave to ferment in a warm place for at least a week, and store in the fridge once opened. You can read my full recipe here.  

Shortlist for the #BAPSAwards (I’m a Finalist in the Wellbeing Category)

Over the last few years I’ve watched in awe as blogging friends and acquaintances got dolled up and painted the town red at the BAPS Awards. These awards are to acknowledge those who are blogging about SEND (special education needs and disabilities). BAPS stands for bloody awesome parents, which makes these awards very special indeed.

Parents who are up for these awards aren’t just anyone. They are mama’s, dada’s and all out warriors, advocating for their children to have a brighter future. Stories behind these families range from the everyday to the inspirational to the truly exceptional. Which is why I am humbled and honoured to have made the shortlist in the Wellbeing category (click here to vote).

The wellness award is to celebrate bloggers who write about the health and wellbeing of their child or themselves. These bloggers share tips, advice and stories to help others, and has been sponsored by The Goldsmith Centre.

BAPS Awards

Where and when are the BAPS Awards?

If you would like to attend the ceremony, you can purchase your ticket from My Family Our Needs. The event will be held from 6:30pm on Thursday 16th May at the Windmill Village Golf Club & Spa in Coventry. Tickets are priced between £50-60 and will include a drinks reception, three course meal, entertainment and a chance to meet the host Carrie Grant. Click here for Ts & Cs, and here for the full list of judges.

Special rate rooms at The Windmill Village Golf Club & Spa have been secured at discounted rates (£85 single/£95 double). Should you wish to book accommodation, please contact the hotel directly on 024 7640 4040, explaining you are attending the awards.

BAPS Awards

Full list of BAPS Awards finalists. Click on the highlighted text to learn more

A Curious Journey (Best newcomer)
Autism Aware Bears (Best newcomer)
Feeling Upside Down (Best newcomer)
PDA Bubble (Best newcomer)
Stories about Autism (Best use of media and Truth about SEND)
I Am River (Best use of media and Truth about SEND)
Frankie Says Relax about T21 (Best use of media, blogger making a difference and )
Little Blue Cup (Best use of media)
Emma 4 FACS (Blogger making a difference)
Brody, Me and GDD (Blogger making a difference)
Our Altered Life (Blogger making a difference)
Faith Mummy “Reasons I don’t like people, thoughts from a 9yo autistic girl” (Blog post that made the biggest impact)
MS Parent Advocate “Inclusion” (Blog post that made the biggest impact)
Learning Curve PDA “Principles of a no demand or low demand approach, and how it worked for us” (Blog post that made the biggest impact)
Downright Joy “If the cap fits” (Blog post that made the biggest impact) 
Jeremy – Bethany’s Dad (Non-Blogger Bloody Awesome Parent of the Year)
Sarah Collins – First Touch (Non-Blogger Bloody Awesome Parent of the Year)
Paula McGowan (Non-Blogger Bloody Awesome Parent of the Year)
Jennifer Peters – Me Too & Co (Non-Blogger Bloody Awesome Parent of the Year)
A Wheelie Great Adventure (Travel & Accessibility)
The Inclusive Home (Travel & Accessibility)
Me, the Man & the Kids (Travel & Accessibility)
Autism Kids on Tour (Travel & Accessibility)   
Isla’s Voice (Truth about SEND)
Joseph and his Amazing Spectrum Coat (Truth about SEND)
Coraline & Us (Wellbeing) 
It’s a Tink Thing (Wellbeing)
Peace with PDA (Wellbeing)
…and little old me 🙂

Voting closes at midday on the 18th March. Click here to vote. Best of luck to all the finalists!

Flying Long Haul with Kids? Read These Tips First!

It’s not an exaggeration to say this time last month, the prospect of flying long haul with kids felt terrifying. Now that our wonderful trip to Thailand is starting to fade to delicious memories, those anxieties are already becoming distant. In all honesty, once we had conquered the outbound flight, the other four within our holiday got easier and easier. The flight home went so smoothly, the kids mostly slept.

flying long haul with kids

Flying long haul with kids: advance preparation (especially for additional needs)

As I wrote about in this post, we had a very stressful start to our trip, having completely overlooked the need to pre-book seats. One week before flying we were in the very dire position of all five of us sitting separately. Including our autistic daughter, Polly, who was tying herself in knots of worry already. Of course we didn’t tell the kids about our dilemma, it would have only sent their fragile nerves sky rocketing. Thankfully the lovely crew at Thai Airways took care of us, and the children will never know the anguish we felt when imagining how much harder that first long haul flight might have looked like.

My husband and I learnt a very humbling lesson in not making enough noise about our family’s additional needs. Going forward we shall always let the airline know about Polly’s autism as soon as we book our flights. They are geared up to help, and want to help, but have to know who they need to help in order to help. (And yes, I’ve written the word help four times in one sentence on purpose.) 

Miriam who writes at Faith Mummy advises this: “watch YouTube videos with the kids before you go! I flew with my two (birth autistic, son non verbal with severe learning difficulties) and we all watched videos of people going through security, what the airport looked like and sounded like and what the plane would be like. Prepare them for as much and more as you can think (bearing in mind they forget quickly).

My biggest tip is to create a plan your child adores. For example, my son loves lifts so when things were hard I could happily say ‘first walk here with mummy, then lift’ as I knew where the lifts were and he felt confident I was in control. Using his obsession helped so much. I also visited the car park, the airport and other places beforehand and took pictures to show the kids. It was all well worth doing.”

flying long haul with kids

Special assistance at the airport

All UK airports have provisions for special assistance. Be it lanyards or stickers to highlight hidden disabilities, quiet spaces or help from ground staff. It’s best to check the airport website, as things vary depending on where you are flying from.

Daisy who writes at InspireCreateDo says: “we have the sunflower lanyard which we got from special assistance in the airport. It’s been so great, the staff are discreet and friendly and make sure we are moved though the airport quickly and with no waiting. They have quiet lounges as well.”

Kristie who writes at Mamma Prada has this advice: “my 3 year old daughter has Type 1 Diabetes and has a device inserted into her arm which can’t go through the x-ray machines at the airport. Cabin pressure makes my daughter’s blood sugar levels plummet so it’s very common for us to have to manage a hypo mid-flight.

My advice is to take a GP letter with you (if you can) for any airport staff discussions. To let the air stewards know when you get on the plane so they know what to expect. I make sure I very openly discuss what I’m doing with my daughter (such as injections) and with anyone staring. That way their unvoiced questions are answered. I hate having to explain myself, but the more people understand conditions, hopefully the less negative their reactions will be.”

flying long haul with kids

Flying long haul with kids: entertainment and snacks

My family spent weeks discussing what the children would pack in their carry on bags. They each had a tablet, crammed full of their downloaded favourite shows and films from iPlayer, Amazon and Netflix. Each of them had their bedtime teddies to cuddle and some squishy toys to fiddle with. They also took activity books, books to read and colouring books. New felt tip pens were purchased ahead of the trip, because I didn’t want to risk taking pens that wouldn’t last the journey. We also bought them magazines at the airport, which I’m not the biggest fan of as a rule, but they paid for themselves a hundred times over. Not only were they super useful on the flights, they came in handy throughout the holiday. As did travel sized chess and connect four.

Freddy (5) is a very fussy eater, so it was important to pack enough food for him. Even though the list of special meals you can request on a long haul flight these days covers just about any dietary restrictions you could imagine. If you do need one, you absolutely have to organise it in advance on the airline website. The photo above is of one of our meals: Pad Ka Prow with rice and a fried egg, cheese and crackers, bread roll, banoffee pie. For each meal there was a spicy and non spicy option. I found the main meals very tasty, and avoided the bread products or puddings.

Anna who writes at Popitha has this advice for travelling with twin toddlers: “buy some new pound shop toys, maybe wrap them up to keep them amused just that little longer. Also, fill a small lunch box/bag full of snacks. When they say they are hungry, hand it over and let them choose. It will save you diving into your bag every 2 minutes.”

Emma Reed says: “we wrap up activities to do or new toys. Each time our child was getting agitated we brought out a ‘gift’ to unwrap and investigate. We took things like snap, colouring books, magic trick set, maze game. Similar toys that you’d get in a party bag, so they were easy to play with on the tray.” 

Great advice from Anna and Emma. I’d also say check out your local charity shops ahead of your trip, as you might find some great quality old toys in their 20p/50p basket.

Flying long haul with kids with additional needs 

Geraldine Renton has many useful pieces of advice for parents travelling with children who have additional needs. “We created a step by step book to explain what was going to happen in advance. We showed our son what an airplane was like (online), and contacted the airline and airport in advance. Packing everything that he loved also helped. He still had a meltdown but the second, third and fourth time he had less meltdowns and became somewhat of an entertainer. Each time the plane took off he’d roar: ‘up up away, I’m superman’ and when landing he’d roar: ‘no crash’ – like a man who had experience in such an accident.

Regardless of how prepared we are, the first time flying will always be that much more difficult. I found it difficult my first time on a plane and I have no extra needs. My son is no longer able to go on a plane, so I now look back at that time of flying with him fondly. I wish I hadn’t been so anxious and laughed with him when he was roaring out while taking off and landing.”

flying long haul with kidsMy conclusions after our first long haul with kids

I’m pretty sure flying long haul, for the very first time, will be super hard for any family. All children, especially those with additional needs, will have worries that can only be fully put to rest through the experience of flying itself.

Short flights just aren’t the same. The planes are smaller, there’s much less leg room and there is often a rocky take off or bumpy landing to factor in. My kids had flown a handful of times on budget airlines, which meant they thought the almost twelve hour flight to Thailand was going to be the same.

Thankfully, they couldn’t have been more different to our previous experiences of flying. Both our long haul flights were great, and I can’t wait to book our next adventure!

**Thanks so much to the bloggers who contributed to this piece.

Paleo Hidden Veg Pancakes: 3 Ingredients, Super Healthy and No Sugar!

paleo hidden veg pancakes

The idea of these paleo hidden veg pancakes might sound strange, but bear with me! 

We adore eggs in my family. They make for a wonderful start to the day, and provide a great source of energy and nutrition. If I could give a person feeling the mid morning slump one piece of advice, it would be to switch to eggs for brekkie. As I wrote about in this post, a mostly protein based breakfast helps our bodies to start burning fat instead of sugar. Which is optimum for our health.

My paleo hidden veg pancakes have just three ingredients, which speaks volumes before we even begin to discuss their merits. They are enjoyed by all my family, and friends are usually shocked when I tell them what they are eating. Perhaps the very best part, is my 5yo son Freddy, who is a very fussy eater, will happily scoff them down along with everyone else. If I’m honest, adding anything to his limited menu is a massive win.

Paleo hidden veg pancakes

This recipe is quite literally bursting with goodness. First off we have tons of protein, good fat and vitamin D from the eggs. If this isn’t enough, my favourite nut the cashew brings the happy factor to the party. Did you know cashews have been compared with prozac for helping to boost serotonin? Then there is potassium and anti-oxidants to be had from the courgette.

I sometimes add a dash of vanilla and honey to the mixture, or a handful of berries for added colour and flavour. These pancakes are perfect to have with my coconut oil based chocolate sauce (recipe below) drizzled over the top. You’ll need a blender or food processor to make this recipe.

Paleo hidden veg pancakes: free from all grains (including gluten), dairy and sugar

Ingredients for 10-12 small pancakes:
6 free range eggs
2 small courgettes, top and tailed (if organic keep the skin on as that’s where lots of the nutrients sre)
100g cashew nuts

paleo hidden veg pancakes

Chocolate Sauce
6 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Method: 
– whiz together the eggs, courgettes and nuts until they form a batter

– heat the oil of your choice in a non stick pan, over a med-high heat

– cook in the exact same way you would regular pancakes

– for the sauce: mix all three ingredients in a small bowl until well combined, serve immediately

Paleo Hidden Veg Pancakes

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