Rome has been on my bucket list for a very long time now. I’ve always dreamed about visiting the Colosseum and exploring every nook and cranny that the ancient city has to offer.
This summer, I’m going to stop dreaming and make this trip happen. After all, life is too short for regrets. I’m enjoying the research so I thought you might too. Keep scrolling to explore Rome in all its glory. 🙂
Top 10 Places To Explore
“A heady mix of haunting ruins, awe-inspiring art and vibrant street life, Italy’s hot-blooded capital is one of the world’s most romantic and charismatic cities.”
1. The Colosseum
No trip to Rome could ever be complete without a visit to the gladiatorial arena.
A striking 2000-year-old temple, now a church, the Pantheon is the best preserved of Rome’s ancient monuments and one of the most influential buildings in the Western world.
3. Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain is the most beautiful and largest fountain in the city. If you do visit the fountain, don’t forget to toss your coin or coins in…depending on what wish you would like to come true 🙂 :
If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome.
If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian.
If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you met.
On average about €3000 is thrown in every day.
4. Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums boast one of the world’s greatest art collections. Exhibits are displayed along about 7km of halls and corridors and include Egyptian mummies. The Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze di Raffaello decorated by Raphael, are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums.
5. St Peter’s Basilica
In a city of outstanding churches, none are quite as spectacular as St Peter’s Basilica – Italy’s largest, richest and most spectacular basilica. It took Roman’s 120 years to build and it‘s lavish interior contains many spectacular works of art, including three of Italy’s most celebrated masterpieces: Michelangelo’s Pietà, his soaring dome, and Bernini’s 29m-high baldachin over the papal altar.
According to Lonely Planet, you should expect queues and note that strict dress codes are enforced.
6. Roman Forum
This incredibly impressive sprawl of ruins was ancient Rome’s showpiece centre, a district of temples, basilicas and vibrant public spaces. The site, originally a marshy burial ground, was first developed in the 7th century BC, growing over time to become the social, political and commercial hub of the Roman empire.
7. Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is one of the largest and most beautiful piazza squares in Rome with three impressive fountains: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro and Fontana del Nettuno. The square is surrounded by restaurants and terraces so it’s the perfect place to spend the day just watching the world go by!
8. Ruins of Pompeii & Mt Vesuvius Day Trip from Rome
The tour of Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius starts with a pick-up in central Rome. When you arrive at Mt. Vesuvius, your guide will take you on a hike to the top of the old volcano, where you can catch sight of the Bay of Naples, and sights inside the crater. You can find out more about this day trip here.
9. Piazza di Spagna & The Spanish Steps
The Piazza di Spagna is one of Rome’s most famous squares and is located in one of the most popular neighborhoods of Rome. The Spanish Steps staircase is a favourite spot among tourists to sit, relax and enjoy the views of Piazza di Spagna.
10. Villa Borghese & Janiculum Hill
The Villa Borghese is a quiet place where you can enjoy a bit of time away from the otherwise busy streets of Rome. You can rent bikes, sail on the small lakes, admire the many fountains or even just chill with a book for the day. While you’re there, make your way to Janiculum Hill, called Gianicolo in Italian, to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city and enjoy the landmarks from a different angle.
Top 10 Places To Stay
TripAdvisor is a great reference point when booking accommodation. Here’s a list of their top 10 recommended places to stay. Outside of this list, there are so many places to choose from but make sure to do your research before booking:
Let me start by saying, travelling with kids is no mean feat, I am by no means a pro but we’ve managed to get away a couple of times and have lived to tell the tale so I thought I would share some of my top survival tips, plus ideas on what you should pack. I have a blog post all about travelling with a toddler HERE. I wrote this some time ago (before I was a mum to two) but all the same tips apply. (You may find this old post useful too)
Travelling with Two….
I thought it was time to do a brand new post, whilst most of the same advice applies, travelling with TWO kids is a whole new ball. And to think I was stressed flying with one.. Lol!! It’s divide and conquer! Strap in, stay cal, deep breaths and have a good old giant glass of wine when you arrive safely at your destination! 😉
With only Anabelle we flew maybe 3 or 4 times. We’ve travelled twice now with the two girls; the first time Luna May was just turning 5 months and Anabelle had just turned 3 and then just recently (January) when Luna May was 7.5 months. Observation number 1? The younger the better, it is SO much easier to fly when they are tiny, it starts to get a whole lot tricker as they grow. So, if you are thinking about it, go for it, before they start on solids is an especially good time (so newborn to 6 months) because it’s one less concern or thing to have to worry about or pick for.
The first holiday we went on was to Lanzarote and the second holiday was Gran Canaria, both have similar flight times of around 4 hours 30 minutes.
What to Pack
Sleep/ Bed time
Light/ low tog grobag – Both my girls use Grobags. For holidays I bring 1.5 tog grobags
Anabelle sleeps in a shorts pj’s / light weight jammies
Luna May, at home she sleeps in vest and babygro, for holidays she only slept in her babygro
Any sleep associations you may use – For us that is certain bedtime stories, both the girls have ‘Bunnies’ which are their comforters and they only get these at bedtime, as well as Ewan the Sheep – again we use this at every single bed time at home.
Any special blankets they sleep with – We brought these on the flight, any sleep, or smell associations for bed time are really helpful to maintain good sleep and routine on holidays
Sleeveless vests x 4 (you may end up not suing vests at all but handy for cooler days or nights), sleeveless is best
Babygros x 4 or 5 (Bring some non bio washing powder with you in a small zip locked bag and you can always wash some of the baby bits)
Cardigans x 2, the key is layering so its great to pop on a cardi if the sun is hiding behind the clouds
Dresses or rompers x 3 ( Casual baby clothes)
Evening clothes – By this I mean more dressy dresses for Luna May, depends on the resort you are in and if it’s very casual or if you want to dress them up at night at all (some evenings I put Luna in a nice dress while others I just put on her babygro so she was ready for bed)
Swimsuits x 2 (I like the ones that cover their legs and arms, particularly for very small babies. You can get some great ones on Boots online, Mothercare or Next)
Sunhats x 2 – Always good to have a few !
Bibs (feeding bibs and dribbelers) x 6
Muslin clothes x 3 (Carry 2 bibs and 1 muslin clothes in your carry on luggage)
Extra dodies (and the little boxes or caps to keep them sterile – again more relevant for younger babies)
Calgel/ teetha gel or any teething related relief you use
Chewing/ hand held toys – I out all these in a freezer bag and carried within my hand luggage on the flight. Keep in mind Luna is 7.5 months so she is bang in the middle of the phase of wanting to always be chewing on something!
Nappies – I ALWAYS bring enough nappies to get me through at least 3 or 4 days, I just don’t want to have that panic of arriving and having to go to the shop straight away. You will off course get nappies out there so this is just my preference
Bum cream for nappy rash
Water wipes (I brought 3 packs on this holiday!!) The only ones you could buy in the Canaries were strong scented ones and I hate using scented wipes on the girls)
Calpol and Nurofen (always good to have in case needed while away)
Snufflebabes – it’s basically baby Vicks, its great if they are blocked up or get runny rose etc
Baby carrier – We have a the Ergo Baby 360 and find it very handy
Light weight stroller. We have the Babylon YOYO. It is so so light weight and folds so small. See it here
Swim nappies – These are readily available in most holiday destinations in the local shops, however, like the nappies, I am a control freak (lol) and always feel happier packing a few to get us through the first few days)
Feeding – If you are breastfeeding this is not applicable. If you are bottle feeding, which I was on this trip, we rented a steriliser (the hotel arranged), as well as a microwave and a floor baby seat which all came in very handy!! If you google where you are going you will most likely find a nearby company that will rent out any of this kind of baby equipment
Following on from the bottle feeding, bring plenty of bottles – We brought 6 (Luna is on 4 feeds a day). We brought 3 on the flight – only 2 were needed in both cases but better to have more than less
Also bring PLENTY of formula, it’s heavy but a necessity. Luna May is on a specialised formula so we knew it was not available out there
A bottle brush for cleaning your bottles
A little mini tube of fairy liquid. I just put some into one of those mini travel containers you buy in Boots, if you arrive in late and bottles have to be washed and sterilised you will need this!
Monitors – If baby or toddler sleeping in a separate room (i.e. like a suite or interconnecting room) you may want to bring monitors for your peace of mind.
Baby Food – Luna May was at a tricky stage for this holiday; I only began weaning her on to solids when she was 6 months so it is still early days PLUS she has reflux so weaning her is NOT straight forward. I brought a cooler bag and stocked up on Pip ~& Pear baby food – This is fresh baby food and my number 1 pick for baby foods if you are travelling etc (Normally I cook everything she eats and try to avoid jars / pouches of baby food)
I also brought some Ella’s Kitchen pouches. Well, boy am I glad I did! The selection of baby food in the shops out there was limited, very limited and almost all fruit based so it was a challenge. Plus a lot of the food in the buffet in the hotel had added salt, or cream etc so was not suitable. The staff in the hotel were so helpful and gave me plain mashed potatoes several times (I added some pouch mixes to this). I also brought Ready Brek with me and again, I could add some of the baby pouches food to this too. I was able to get the likes of bananas, avocados but it was a struggle. When she is older it will be much easier, and when she is eating more, right now was just a tricky stage as she is so early on in weaning. I will definitely be bringing even more Pip & Pear on our next holiday
Any additional specific medical products you may use on your baby when he/ she is unwell. Always best to have your own with you as you may not get the same out there
Suncream – Factor 50
3 Year Old/ Toddler
Now this is WAY EASIER. in fact, travelling with Anabelle the last two times has been easy! Honestly! It was much, much harder when she was around the 15 month mark (I still remember that flight!!!)
In terms of clothes;
Sundresses x 5 or more – I bought and have lots of these over the last year. I love the t-shirt cotton dresses from Next, easy to take on and off. She was always in such a rush to take it of and get into her togs every morn and that little dresses are just tech easiest, and perfect for the beach too.
She didn’t wear shorts once as she said ‘I don’t have time I am busy mammy!!”
Cardigan x 2 for evenings or cooler days
Leggings x 1
Vests x 3 (although on this trip she didn’t wear a vest at all)
Sun hat x 2 (one always gets wet)
Crocs for day time. Sandals for evening (make sure they are well worn in before holidays, deffo don’t want ‘duchies’ on holders)
Swimsuits x 3 – She would be in and out of the pool non stop so its always good to have a dry one in your beach bag. I got most of her swimwear from Next too
Hooded towel – SO handy!
Dresses for evenings – My little lady loves her style and so a ‘party dress’ for the the kids disco was a must !!! I brought maybe 4.
Snacks – Anabelle is ALWAYS hungry and on every holiday I’ve been on with her the local shops never have good snacks like we get here at home (Like the Organic range or rice cakes or any of those handy ones you get in the supermarket!
Small toys – She brought some ‘My Little pony’s’ and one barbie
Books – AB is a bookworm so she insisted on a few books which is good for bedtime routines in the evenings too
iPAD – so so so handy for flying, we had a few movies downloaded and this entertained her for the flight. I also have some fun apps she likes to play. There is a great Peppa Pig one that she loves and really helps pass the time
Earphones – for the flight. She was happy out wit her snacks and her iPad and not a moments bother did she give
Pull ups – She is potty trained but not over night yet so she still wears her pull up at night. I also put a pull up on her for the flight as she can be a bit scared going to the loo in unknown places so I knew the toilet on the plane might scare her. plus in case of turbulence etc and you can’t make the toilet on time.
It is never as bad as you think it is going to be
Be prepared. Be over prepared. If you think you have been through your hand luggage / changing bag enough – then do it at least once more!!!
Do NOT worry about other passengers, focus on yourselves
Try, if or at all possible to book ‘reasonable’ flight times, sometimes it is not an option but crazy early morning flights or very late at night flights are hard on kids. It will mess them up for the first day or so over there or on the way home
Mammy carry one bag and daddy have a rucksack. Each know what you have in each. We had a bag each and a third hand luggage bag which carried the ‘overflow’ items like blankets for flight or extra beds that didn’t need to be in the main bag.
What to pack in your hand luggage
For baby – IF you are bottle feeding, bring about 3 bottles, have the boiled back water in your bottles from your home and the powder separately in a powder dispeser. (if you use the ready made stuff thats great even easier, Luna’s formula is only available in powder form). Oh and bring a fork or a spoon for mixing on the flight, it gets messy
For baby – bibs, muslin clothes, change of babygro and vest, nappies, wipes, mini hand sanitiser, changing mat, bum cream, poo bags, dodies (have lots), hand held toys for chewing (only if baby around Luna’s age) and a blanket for sleeping.
I feed while flight is taking off to make sure she is sucking and to avoid her ears popping.
Another tip is to pop some teething gel or a chamomile syrup on a dodge if you are struggling to get them to suck and are worried about their ears
Luna May was due a solids feed on the flight, plus it helped pass by some time for her, so I had a Pip & Pear pot with me and a spoon. I keep everything in separate little freezer bags so it is easy to access everything, as space is so tight on the flight.
For toddler – ALL the snacks, as many as you can fit!!! iPad or portable DVD player, headphones, pull ups and/ or spare underwear. Plus her social ‘bunny’ which has dodies attached – she only gets this at night time usually but we obviously let her have it on the flight and it always ensures she is sucking. If your toddler doesn’t take a soother, dare I say maybe a lolly pop?
some small, new toys, don’t sepdm much, go to the pend shop and pick up a few small bites. Sticker books, mini play doh, colouring books or anything like that will help.
Anabelle didn’t asleep on any of the flights we have been with her, neither this time, nor when she was much younger, she just never sleeps outside her normal comforts but that’s ok and she was absolutely fine
Luna May slept about an hour on the way out (out of a 4.5 hour flight) and only a half hour on the way home. The flight on the way home was hard with her, she was over tired and it was tough going. but sure look, we lived to tell the tale didn’t we? And it was SO worth it
With regards to security and baby food or baby formulas, I only had boiled back water in the bottles and the powder formula separate – they will take the bottles away briefly to test them but it is no problem at all. And we have never had issues carrying any foods that were for baby.
I remember when Anabelle was very small and I truly thought there was no way I would ever fly with her, I was absolutely terrified on her first flight but she has always surprised me. They always do. Luna May too. I still get nervous before a flight with them, but I know now we can handle it and always keep in mind if its going awful ‘This too will pass’. No ‘normal’ passenger will be irritated if a baby is crying.
Wow, that was probably the longest blog post I have ever written. I am quite sure it is riddled in typos but I am falling asleep now as I type and I still have all the holiday washing to catch up on, but I knew if I didn’t write this post while all of this was still fresh in my mind, then I wouldn’t have probably done it at all.
I hope you find it helpful and if I have forgotten anything (and I am fairly sure I have), please leave a comment below and I will add it to the blog post
This is probably my most requested blog post in a long time!!!! 🙂 After Christmas we headed abroad on holiday to Gloria Palace Amadores in Gran Canaria.
During the holiday and afterwards I have been inundated with emails, snaps and messages asking where I was, would I recommend it, was it family friendly etc. So here goes…..
As some background, this hotel has massive sentimental value to me, I am very attached to Gloria Palace Amadores because I have been going there since I was maybe 10 or 11 years old, every year, same week with my family.
Location, Weather and Flight
We love going to Gran Canaria in January as you are guaranteed the sunshine! Not scorching heat, but it is normally around 25 or 26 degrees, every year without fail, we always have good weather in January. Gran Canaria as an island varies massively in temperatures, for example Amadores, Mogan and Puerto Rico will be significantly hotter than the likes of San Agustin (in Winter) so be careful with that.
We always book the hotel directly and then the flights separately. Both Ryanair and Aer Lingus fly direct to Las Palmas Airport, the flight time is approx 4 and a half hours. Flight times are tricky, the way out is always great but the way home it is a late night time flight so not ideal for babies and kids, but we survived! If it’s suitable for you, it is always worth checking flights from Belfast to Las Palmas, often cheaper and better times.
On arrival we had booked car (and a car seat) and a driver was waiting at the airport to pick us up, it was fantastic and takes away any hassle of getting to and from the hotel. The drive from airport to hotel is approx 40 minutes.
The hotel is very family friendly, any time we have been there is always packed with families. There is one main baby pool, along with a kids club, a small playground and for older kids there is tennis courts.
There is a jam packed schedule every day of activities, if you or older kids want to get involved….From aqua aerobics, to spinning to bingo to tennis to bowls to cocktail making.
The kids club is small but good, Anabelle Ivy is only 2 so she didn’t go in alone any time, but I imagine for children from 3 or 4 years upwards it is great as there is always staff there to draw and do activities with the kids. They have a little itinerary every day.
To be honest we spent ALL morning in the baby pool, it is just a really nice, small safe area, after her nap then in the afternoons we usually went to the playground area with her,
For adults there is a fabulous big infinity pool, (beside the outdoor bar), and also a second pool on a totally different level where there are less kids (and noise)… Suffice to say I wasn’t up there at all!!
Every night there is a kids disco at 7.30pm followed then by a movie, the disco was the highlight of Anabelle’s night ! Each night there is also a show for the adults; some are really awful, some are entertaining! Most nights we were in bed by time the show started as Anabelle was always exhausted by 9pm/ 9.30pm every night.
The rooms in general in Gloria Palace are very big and spacious. My mum and dad were with us this year also and they were staying in a standard room, it was huge; really fab. This year and last year we stayed in one of the family suites and it really gorgeous, So spacious, double balcony, insane views, really beautiful and ideal for us as it was two interconnecting rooms. Always request a sea view room or a pool side room as the views are what make Gloria Palace. The most breath taking views I’ve seen.
We went all inclusive and I feel it is worthwhile, especially with kids. And also if you and your partner drink alcohol, if you are not on all inclusive the price of drinks at the hotel are very dear so for drinks alone the all inclusive is worth it 😉 Not that I was drinking this time around, but we still like to go all inclusive.
The food is buffet style! The first day you will pig out and honestly by the end I was sick of the sight of it!!! LOL. I love their breakfasts; so much gorgeous variety; tonnes of pastries, any kind of eggs you want, breads, juices, smoothies, fruit and lots of cereals.
Lunch again great variety; soup, salads (huge salad selection), meat, fish, pasta, pizza. I struggled sometimes to get appropriate food for Anabelle at lunch time though; but she is a very very fussy eater, mostly she ate the rice or soup and occasionally pizza. Oh and chips, there is always chips!!
Dinner is varied with good selection and choice, I think though with any buffet, after a week of it you would be sick of it. Each night there was a country themed night so one area would have foods of that country; so Mexican night, Italian night and so on…. Otherwise dinner was meat options (usually 3 or 4 options), fish options, pasta, salads, rice. soups and massive dessert selection!
Although we were all inclusive we still went out for dinner around 4 times; Puerto Rico is within walking distance and you can take the panoramic lift to the pedestrian walk was (along the cliff edge) to puerto Rico, it takes maybe 5 minutes and there is a strip of restaurants there; the absolute BEST one in my opinion is: La Cantina.
Other restaurants we love (but you would need to get a taxi to) are;
Los Canarios 1 (Arguineguin)
El Gaitero, Puerto Rico
Amadores Beach Club
Beach / Where to visit
Amadores beach is within waking distance, again take the hotels panoramic lift to the cliff edge where there is a pedestrian walkway along the cliff, this brings you down to the beach. Definitely worth a visit!
A day trip to Mogan is also a great idea, we took the boat. Mogan is a really stunning town.
There is a magnificent spa in the hotel, it really is WOW! Unfortunately because I am pregnant I wasn’t able to avail of it this time but I have been many times in the past few years and it’s really gorgeous. It’s called a Thalasso, which means the entire spa uses sea water; there is a massive sea water pool with dozens of jets, a sauna, steam room, jacuzzi etc, plus a stunning area to relax/ chill out after using the facilities. Plus there are the usual spa facilities available; massages, beauty treatments and so on.
Tips for holidays with a toddler
I’ve written a couple fo blog posts over the last year or two about travelling abroad with Annabelle, you can have a read in the travel section of my blog HERE.
Last week, we were in Mallorca on holidays as you might have seen on my social media 🙂 We had a blast, it was just so much fun, a total last minute holiday (we booked a week before!!!) but it was just brilliant.
I have had so many questions on Snapchat and Facebook about where we were and where we stayed and would I recommend it so I thought a blog post was the best way to answer everyones questions.
We stayed in a resort called Insotel Cala Mandía Resort and Spa (visit their website here). I heard about this resort from my brother and his wife, they have 3 kids (11, 9 and 4) and have been going there for years and always love it.
We booked flights and hotel separately. We flew from Belfast airport; the main reason being the flight times from Dublin to Mallorca were really awful in terms of the times; crazy early morning flights or silly late night time flights and with a toddler that is just not ideal, it would mess her up totally so we always try find day time flights.
We flew with Easy Jet and they were just fantastic! We had a car booked to collect us from Palma airport in Mallorca to bring us straight to the hotel. It is such a good idea to have this pre arranged. Another reason we picked to go to Mallorca is that is flight time is only 2 hours 40 mins so it is nice and short, ideal for Anabelle!
The hotel is fab, it is a complete family focused resort, to the point that if you don’t have kids I really wouldn’t advise going to be honest. There is an over 16’s area, restaurant and pool etc (which is quiet and calm) BUT to be really honest it is aimed at families and kids. There are (I think) 6 pools, and a selection of restaurants (I think 5)…
We went all inclusive for the week which worked out great, although we ate and drank WAY too much all week, but sure isn’t that what holidays are all about!! I find all inclusive brilliant for Anabelle too, she can be quite fussy at times so it is great to have the variety and if she doesn’t finish or like something we can just get something else for her. Plus it’s great not to have to carry cash around and just be able to go up and get a drink, a coffee, an ice cream at any time.
There is a massive indoor and outdoor buffet for breakfast lunch and dinner, we went there mostly, massive variety and really good food, with a special kiddies corner too. There is also a 50’s style dinner you can go for dinner which is very fun and the food is lovely too.l
Overall, I found the food to be good, you do get a little bored of buffet after a few nights but at the same tine with kids it is just so easy and handy!
When the main buffet restaurants are closed there are a few places that have food available all day long (if the kids or you get hungry) so you can just walk in and grab what you like there was always; fruit, pastries, yoghurts, bread, chips, pizza, chicken nuggets etc etc.
There is a sectioned off baby pool in each one of the pools and we mainly spent the entire day there, Anabelle just LOVED playing in the water and it was so safe and secure. There is also a dedicated baby/ toddler pool with lots of mini slides which she loved too.
On top of that there is a water park within the resort, ideal for say 4 years and upwards (Cormac and I both did the slides so there is no age limit!!! lol)
There are also a few playgrounds around the resort, as well as tennis courts. In terms of entertainment, there is a mini club (think for 2 – 3year olds) a junior club and a teen club which do activity all day with the kids (painting, dancing and all sorts of fun activities to keep them amused)
Aside from the pool the highlight for Anabelle was the nightly kids disco at 8pm – she loved it!
There is adult entertainment every night too but it doesn’t start til 9.30pm and we found that too late, after the kids disco, Anabelle was always exhausted so we all had early nights.
We stayed in a family suite and it was lovely; Be sure to ask to stay in BLOCK A. There resort is huge and split into 3 blocks, A, B and C. We flew A was definitely the nicest place to be.
Overall, yes I would highly recommend it if you have kids and looking for something really fun and entertaining for them. It is a lovely hotel, good food and fab pools. It is very noisy all day, as you can imagine and outside the restaurants at night there was like a buggy car park – Let’s just say the kids RULE at Insotel Cala Mandia.
Travelling with a Toddler
I get asked lots for tips for travelling with a toddler and I have some blog posts on this you might find useful. See HERE and HERE
If you’ve any questions or anything I didn’t cover, just leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you 🙂
A post wouldn’t be complete without at least some fashion 😉 So here’s a round up of some of the looks I wore on holidays.
Flying: It’s so important to be comfy when flying. The key is not to dress too heavy, instead wear layers so you can peel off as needs be!
So we were on our holiers last week in the beautiful Portugal. I have written a blog post separately all about traveling with a toddler – my top tips for surviving the flight, and how we got over there with our 20 month old little madame. You can read all about that HERE. As well as that I teamed up with Littlewoods Ireland (#ad) while I away and I’ve written a blog post all about my top ‘Holiday Essentials’ from Littlewoods Ireland – You can read that postHERE.
This one is just a big overview of all my outfits over the course of the holiers. Mostly my stuff was from Littlewoods Ireland, River Island, Penneys, ASOS, Dunnes, H&M and Onjenu 🙂
Links to everything in the captions 😉
If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know I adore the brand Onjenu – they do incredible maxi dresses and wrap dresses ad jumpsuits – all in stunning vibrant colours. So comfy and easy to wear.
** This yellow dress I wore is still available in ASOS maternity – Any pregnant ladies, have a look HEREand in ASOS Curve see HERE.
By far the most requested blog post lately is tips for flying and holidaying abroad with a toddler. I wrote a blog post after our very first holiday abroad with Anabelle (you can read that HERE). She wasn’t walking back then and in ways I think that was probably easier! I was absolutely terrified before our first holiday with her and she really surprised us!
I wasn’t quite as nervous this time around and overall she was great (still lots of hairy moments and a few toddler melt downs!!!!)
The most common message/ email/ snap I get is “I’m flying with my xxx month old and I am terrified, please share your tips”. I think we all are nervous to fly with our wee ones (maybe not so much you well seasoned mammies but us newbies are) My main worries are/were things like; the flight – What if her ears pop? (I have heard nightmare stories of burst ear drums and the likes 🙁 ) What if she screams the whole time on the flight? What if the person next us is horrible and not patient? Then on holidays you worry about things like; Will she eat the food? Will she sleep? Should we keep her routine? How much supplies should I bring? We all have the same worries and concerns and I know I have spoken with countless mammies on Snapchat about this.
I’ve written this blog post just to share our experience and tricks I learnt along the way 🙂 I am by no means a pro, and my god there was plenty of stress at times too, but just a few things that worked for us.
So we were in Portugal for this holiday. We were staying in a family owned place so hence I didn’t share too much of it on Snapchat or social media. But the area we were in was very near Praia de Luz and about ten minutes drive to Lagos. We have been to this area a couple of times before (never with a baby) and it’s really a stunning part of Portugal.
Luz is a sleepy, rustic, traditional Portuguese village, totally different to the likes of Villamoura for example. More old style Portugal. The beach in Luz is STUNNING – really gorgeous.
We flew (with Aer Lingus) to Faro Airport and where we were staying was about a 50 minute drive. We had a car booked (with a car seat) so it was great to have no stress when we arrived in Faro airport. It is so handy to pre book a car and request a car seat, almost all car rental companies will facilitate this. For the remainder of our trip we rented a car, again we had use of the car seat all week. It was really handy. We used a rental company called Lago Rent.
Most days we ate breakfast in our own apartment. Then headed to the beach in Luz, then it was lunch, and time for Annabelle’s nap and then in the afternoons we usually went to the playground or the pool. And headed our for dinner at around 6pm/ 6.30pm each evening. Mostly we were home by 8.30pm/9pm (but more on restaurants later)
The Flight – My Top Tips
When booking your flights I do advise to try and pick flights times that coincide with nap times (where and if possible). We flew around 11.30am/12pm so it meant getting Anabelle up a little earlier that morning and by the time of the flight she was well ready for a nap.
We booked seats in advance but they messed them up, anyway long story short the staff were great and got us seated together (I had a mini panic attack that Cormac and I were gonna be separated!!).
My top tips for surviving the flight are:
Try fly as close to nap time as possible
Offer a bottle or two. Anabelle doesn’t take a bottle during the day anymore but she took one on the flight and it really helped calm her and get her off to sleep. So if your baby still takes a bottle in the day time I advise bringing at least two.
I brought the powder formula in little containers (already counted out) and just bought bottled water for the bottles once we were though security
Bring as many snacks as you possible can. Snacks and food are the best possible distraction. I packed raisins, rice cakes, bread roll, cream crackers and anything from Organix is really handy like the sweet corn rings, carrot puffs, the flat jack style bars, fruit bars, oh and mini custards – they are SO handy and Anabelle loves them.
Security can vary – some let you bring small yogurts and custards and formula, while other don’t. We were allowed the custards. And then I bought bottled water after security.
I packed lots of snacks and I was so glad I did. There was not great snack variety available in the local supermarkets.
Bring a change of clothes on the flight (and a spare vest!!!) You know yourself, poop explosions are always a possibility
Changing bag – I brought a few nappies, wipes, hand santizer and a mini bum cream (Bepanthen)
Extra/ spare doddies
iPad – an absolute MUST. She loves Frozen so we have that downloaded plus Tangled, The Lion King and some of her favourites
New (and small) toys. You don’t need to go to expense, but a couple of small toys that they haven’t seen before are a great distraction. I bought a small book, stickers (she LOVES stickers), some mini play dough and other small bits and pieces. Whatever your child is into.
Sleepytot comforter. Ye must be sick of me talking about the Sleepytot! But Anabelle has a special ‘Bunny’ and she only gets him at nap time and bed time – When she sees him she gets so excited and for her it means it’s sleep time. I brought this on flight with us and took him out just as we were about to take off. I wanted to make sure she was sucking on the way up (to avoid her ears popping). it worked a treat.
I also brought Camomile syrup on board, I am always so worried about her ears, so the camomile is great to dip the soother into to make sure she sucks – it tastes great, she loves it, it is supposed to have a calming effect and most importantly it means she kept sucking her dody!
Other than that, just try yourself to be as calm as you can, they can sense it of us if we are stressed for sure.
Dress yourself comfortably and same for your wee one, something that is easy to get on and off (those toilets are tiny so it’s hard to manoeuvre)
On the flight out Anabelle was great, she slept about one hour. The flight to Faro is 2 hours 20 so it was brill. (Love the shorter flight!). On the way home we were an hour delayed and she was soon over tired by the time we boarded, she was a total grump, the poor pet and very irritable, lucky for us there was no one in the third seat next to us so it was great to have the extra space. She didn’t sleep on the way home (even though she was exhausted) and she did cry a bit on and off but we survived to tell the tale 🙂
Most people are very kind and understanding when you are travelling with babies and toddlers and if you are unlucky enough to get sitting beside someone who isn’t very nice? Well, feck them, you will never see them again, kids are kids, and if they don’t understand that, well more fool them!
We live by routine in this house. And I think it is so so important, it gives Anabelle comfort knowing her routine and by bedtime (most of the time) she runs to the stairs to go to bed once she has her teeth brushed as she just knows her routine so well by now. (It’s not always that perfect but it’s getting there)
But, with that being said, holidays are different, and I think you have to be more flexible. Within reason though I think it is only fair to keep as close as you can to your home routine. So Anabelle still takes one nap, usually two hours from 1pm – 3pm, because we wanted to keep her up later at night on holidays we tried to stretch the naps as late as we could and it worked quite well (most days) So mostly she was going for a nap around 2pm and waking up around 4pm.
Before I continue I probably should mention – we had the most amazing 4/5 days on holidays at the start but then we all got very, very sick and ended up delaying our flights as we are unable to fly home so the latter half of our holiday was not so pleasant. PLUS our dog Oscar was missing on the early part of our holiday, so all in all, although there were brilliant moments to this holiday there were some pretty awful ones too! But we are all home, well and happy now (including Oscar) so it’s all good.
I got asked a lot while we were away and since I got home on how did we entertain Anabelle during meals out.
And the truth is…. it was VERY difficult. Unlike our last holiday when we were staying in a resort and there was buffet to head to in the evenings and she could run riot, this was more going out for meals in local restaurants and it was hard for her. She has a span of approx 45 mins and if we are lucky, one hour.
We brought the iPad and we also have a portable DVD player so we brought one or other of those out with us at night. I would normally give her a small dinner in the apartment at around 5.30pm and then she would usually snack/eat again while we were in the restaurant, I always just asked for a tiny portion of either rice, pasta with butter or chips – This really helps to keep her occupied.
But it depends on her mood, some days she was happy to sit and watch Peppa on the DVD and we could eat in peace, other evenings she had no patience and we had to speed eat our way out of the place, But hey, that’s toddlers for you!
As I said we had brekkie in the apartment each day. Lunch we usually had out, just at a casual beach side place, I then made Anabelle proper dinners in the apartment and then we all went out for dinner at night. In Praia De Luz, I would recommend;
Fortaleze Da Luz – this place is AMAZING. a complete must visit. It is an old Castle with the most stunning views. Ask to eat outside!!! It’s so worth it.
2. Paraiso. This beach side restaurant is our other favouite. The views are AMAZING too and the food is divine. It has major Miami beach vibes going on – Fab interiors! V child friendly too.
3. Fabrica. Fab menu, lovely staff, close to the beach.
4. Italia. This is in Lagos town but is such a yummy Italian, well worth a visit.
There are lots more great restaurants but these would be my top 4.
Stroller/ Baby Equipment
I have the Babyzen YOYO stroller and love it, it is so neat, folds so easily ad can be brought on board if you wish. We choose to bring it as far as the air craft and then let them take it.
There was a cot in our family’s place where we were staying and in any hotel or resort you are heading they will provide a cot, just make sure to request in advance. Same with highchair, any hotels or resorts will have these.
We did pack our monitors, just for peace of mind as Anabelle was staying in a room on her own.
Bring enough nappies, wipes, swimming nappies etc to get you through say 3 days or so and then you can head to the local supermarket. I like to have enough to get us through the initial days (just in case) but everywhere now has shops that will sell the Pampers equivalent (Think in Portugal they were called Dodot). Same goes with swimmimg nappies.
The only thing now, having been on two foreign holidays with Anabelle, they don’t tend to have the baby snacks I like to give her (Like the organic ones etc) So I do advice bringing some snacks.
I also packed a one tog gro bag – I got it from Mothercare online and it’s perfect for warmer weather. As well as that I brought a little hooded towel for her.
I also brought Ewan the Sheep, and some of the teddies from her bed – To remind her of home! I know i know, I am probably mad, but I do think it helps her! I also brought her bedtime book (Goodnight, Moon) which we read every single night before sleep. So I tried to keep things as normal as I could.
Clothes & Swimwear
Most of Anabelle’s holiday clothes I got in Dunnes Stores, Penneys and Next, with a few pieces from Jojo Maman Bébé.
Jojo Maman is fab for swimwear, swimming hats and swim shoes and I just ADORE the dresses they do for little girls – Really cute.
I picked up two swimsuits ( coverall all swim suits) from Dunnes for Annabelle, she wore those to the beach and pool at all times. There is great comfort in having her more or less totally covered up. They are very handy and I highly recommend.
She has swim shoes/ beach shoes (which can be worn pool side or in the water) from Jojo Maman and a tie on swim hat from Jojo also. Everywhere has great swimwear in at the mo – Penneys, Heatons, Dunnes, H&M, Zara, Next etc etc
I picked up fabulous denim shorts and cover ups for her in Penenys. In the evenings she mostly wore dresses with a little cardigans. They need very little so try not to over pack (easer said than done as kids stuff so soooooooo cute and hard to resist not bringing it all!)
I think that’s about it, if I have missed anything or if you have any questions, please just leave a comment below and I’ll get straight back to you.
Well if you have been following me over the past you’ll know myself and my family were off in Portugal on our holidays (I’ll be doing a full blog post separately on our holidays and my experience and advise for travelling with a toddler) but the focus of this blog post is all about my top fashion ‘Holiday Essentials’ in collaboration with Littlewoods Ireland. You may know I have worked with Littlewoods Ireland before and I am huge fan of their collections, particulaly their own V by Very range.
Before I headed on holidays I got to choose my favourite pieces from the V by Very range to bring along with me (I know – heaven!!) Here’s what I picked. In addition, I’ve also included some other top ‘Holiday Essentials’ from Littlewoods Ireland. If you are planning your summer holidays, it’s definitely worth checking out their Holiday Shop– So much choice and the price s are so reasonable considering how high quality the pieces are. Just gorgeous!
They have an amazing array of swimwear options, I instantly fell in love with this 70’s inspired high waisted two piece. I just love how high waisted it is, it is so flattering on plus it really holds in that jiggly part of the tummy 😉 One of my fav pieces.
I love a great big floppy sun hat for my holiers – great to protect your hair too while in the sun. This one from Littlewoods Ireland I pretty much wore every single day on my holidays – folds up small too do it doesn’t take up much room in your case. See mine HERE
Some more options:
Sunnies & Sandals
No holiday wardrobe is complete without the perfect sunnies and a blinging pair of sandals. Tick! These sandals are even more gorgeous in person, plus what’s great is they just go with absolutely everything! Shop mine HERE
Comfy (but chic) maxi dresses are the perfect day time look for holidays, and ideal for throwing on over your swimsuit. These are my top picks:
This picture doesn’t even begin to do this black maxi dress justice – The embroidery detail on this is so FAB, it is really comfy to wear plus the straps are detachable. There is a gorgeous low back on this finished with a tie bow. Probably my favourite item from my holidays.
This palm print maxi was another winner for me, it is a more fitted style so I wore it out for dinner one night (with the flat sandals) and then wore it to the pool over my bikini a few days later, such a versatile wearable piece for your holidays and I adore this print!
So, we went on out first family holiday abroad with Anabelle Ivy at the end of December, I have had so many requests for a blog post on how we got on, any tips or tricks I learnt along the way so here you go 🙂 If you want to have a read about where we stayed etc, you can check out my other holiday blog post here.
I’ll start by saying, I was SO nervous about travelling with her, I had no idea what to expect. Anabelle is now 15 months and at the time she hadn’t started walking (although she took her first steps on our last night of holidays). But she is a VERY active, busy little girl, she doesn’t stop for a second. I guess like any normal 15 month old, but she doesn’t tend to sit on my lap for longer than a few seconds, so I was particularly scared about how the flight would go (it’s about a 4 and a half hour flight). Secondly, I guess my other main concern was trying to keep her in somewhat of a ‘routine’ but whilst also allowing to us to stay out longer in the evenings, go for meals etc.
I got lots of tips from my Snapchat followers before I left, all of which were brilliant help. Thank you ladies 🙂
So, first up, one of my big fears (and I know silly) was being seated next to a person who wouldn’t be tolerant of Anabelle and would be ‘tutting’ at us, I know, I know, I shouldnt have been worrying about that but I was. That’s just me. Anyway, the gentleman beside us, as soon as we were seated asked the air hostess if there was any free seats on the plane and if he could be moved to one, and he was. He was happy, as were we!! We had the whole 3 seats to ourselves – it was perfect. So I really advise just asking the air hostess when you are boarding, and I’m sure the person next to you would be more than happy with that arrangement too.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks! Genuinely, bring so many snacks, honestly this is the best tip we got and it worked. It preoccupied her and kept her happy – we brought lots of carrot sticks from Ella’s Kitchen (they are like crisps but healthy and she loves munching on them). In fact we brought mostly snacks from Ella’s Kitchen, as they are so handy. The other little snacks she loves are like mini flapjacks and they take a while to chew so they kept her going oh and raisins! Raisins are brilliant, she loves picking them out of the little box plus they take a while to chew. It’s the novelty of them I think!
Both mammy and daddy bring a bag on board – I had the changing bag, with plenty of nappies, wipes, a change of clothes, plus a mini hand sanitiser, your mini changing mat and mini anti bacterial wipes (got in Boots), nappy bags – You know yourself, general changing bag stuff.
Cormac (aka Daddy) had a bag with snacks, food, formula and bottles and toys. So what we did was, I bought her a few small, cheap toys that she didn’t see until the plane, we only gave her one a a time and there is always great novelty with something new, so we had a little book, a small bear that played music and a few small trinket toys. I mainly got them in Smyths Toystore and I also picked up some interesting stacking toys in Early Learning Centre. We also brought a sticker book and wow she loved that – we got great value from it, and must have killed at least a half hour – Even if Daddy’s face was covered in stickers by the end!
She slept for over an hour on the way out and back so that was great, she doesn’t normally take a bottle anymore during the day but giving her the bottle helped calm and comfort her and nod off to sleep.
I was really worried about her little ears popping. Tales of burst ear drums and screaming babies had me terrified!! So I made sure she was sucking her dody on the way up and down, she has a special little bunny (with a soother attached) that we only give her at nap time and bed time so when we brought that out as the fight was taking off she was only delighted! I also had Calgel (which I find BRILLIANT for teething) so I put a tiny amount on the soother to ensure she sucked on it, as I know she loves the taste so much. It worked a treat.
Clothes for Holidays
I mainly got her summer clothes from Next, Heatons, Sports Direct, Gymboree, Jojo Maman Bebe and Dunnes. I got sunhats and little pool shoes (which were a life saver) in Jojo Maman Bebe (online). The little all in one swimsuits I bought (which were brilliant) I got from Zoggs.ie – It’s a brand you can get in lots of places but their sun protection suits are great. I bought some things which she didn’t wear – for example, I wasn’t comfortable with her in criss cross or low back stuff as I was so terrified of her getting too much sun, it was a rookie mistake on my behalf, but I’ll know for next time that I am happier with sun clothes with a small cap sleeve…
I brought 3 little cardigans with me for her and they were great as they went with everything and kept her warm in the evenings – one from Hetaons and the others from H&M.
Sun cream we got a kids Ambre Solaire one which was I think Factor 50 and it was a spray so that worked well, even if she hated when we were applying it!
The float we got for the pool was one we bought over there and it was brilliant, she could stand right into it and walk around the baby pool – She was thrilled with herself!!
Supplies for Holidays
I did bring a supply of nappies, but just enough to get us through the first few days, so don’t over pack as they take up so much room. I also brought some swimming nappies, but again don’t over do it as you can buy all out there. I also packed formula, just a few bottles and I picked up these sterilising bags on Boots (got them online) and they were really handy. I know, most wouldn’t normally be sterilising bottles at her age, but I still like to, that’s just me! Moral of the story, do bring enough to last you at least maybe 3 days and everything else you can get out there. I have to say I did bring a few Ella’s Kitchen dinners (perfect when we went out and there was nothing suitable on the menu). And I also brought LOADS of snacks and I am so glad I as we could find nothing similar in the shops over there.
The stroller I have is the Babyzen YOYO, I got it from Bella Baby (you can see it here). I absolutely love it, it’s incredibly lightweight and folds up so neat, and even has a strap for carrying across your shoulder.
Trying to keep your routine
Anabelle Ivy is a fairly structured routine now (at long last!!) and sleeps very well. God I never actually thought the day would come when I would be writing that, but there you go. She takes a two hour nap during the day. I wanted to maintain some level of routine but also for us to stay out later in the evenings. Saying that we were still in bed/ up in the room every night by 9.30pm. My little lady DOES NOT sleep in the buggy, no way, she just won’t do it. If your little one does, the great, you can let them sleep in the evenings in the buggy but it just isn’t a runner for us. So I knew before I left I wasn’t going to stress myself out by trying to get her to do so over there. We had interconnecting rooms, which was ideal, so her room had the cot and it meant we could go into our room and watch TV and not be afraid of waking her. Plus we had the balcony off our room so we were able to sit out on balcony, have a few drinkies and chill out.
So, what we did was just each day we tried to extend her nap as late as we could. At home she goes for her nap from 1pm – 3pm, where as over there and because there was so much happening we were able to keep her up til 2pm or 2.30pm and that then gave us the chance to keep her up later in the evening. She also slept on later in the mornings over there which was great, so we let her at it, and mostly she woke around 9.30am/ 10am! Bliss!!!
So many people say they do grow up so much on holidays and I really agree. Every day she amazed me, she became more vocal, smiling and waving at strangers. It was a different holiday in so many ways, but I have to say it was far and above the best holiday we have had. She just made every day so much more fun! The flight home was a little tricky, she was overtired to begin with and by time we got on the flight she was so cranky, but we survived and I lived to tell the tale, so I won’t be as scared on our next flight!
Well I’m back to reality after a blissful 10 days in Gran Canaria, it was so nice to get away and we had an absolute ball. If you follow me on Snapchat you probably saw most of this already (username: thestylefairy) It was our first family holiday with Anabelle Ivy and I was quite nervous about how she would be. I was especially nervous about the flight (it’s 4 and a half hours!) To put it mildly, Anabelle is a very active little girl, she doesn’t sit still for more than a minute (I guess like any 15 month old!!) so I had no idea how she would react to being confined on the plane, but she totally surprised us. I plan to do a full blog post all about travelling with a toddler and about our overall experience and my tips on what worked well for us so stay tuned for that. I’ll do it as a seperate blog 🙂
This first blog post is just more a general overview of our trip and the links to my outfits 🙂 We stayed in the Gloria Palace Hotel in Amadores, I have been going there for about 10 years with my family so we know it really well and just love it there.
It is a really family friendly hotel, there is an excellent kids club and lots of organised activities for kids (more suited for kids from maybe 4 years and up) like tennis, ping pong, colouring, arts & crafts … all sorts! For Anabelle’s age there is a great play room full of toys we could nip in and out of when the sun was too much. Speaking of activities, the adults don’t get left out either – there’s yoga on every morning, step aerobics, tennis, water aerobics, bingo plus lots more activities you can get involved in if you get bored by the pool!! Every night at 8pm there is a kids “disco” run by the staff from the kids club so that was always great fun and oh my god Anabelle LOVED it!
We decided to go all inclusive on this trip and it was definitely worthwhile for us. It means you can nip up and down to the bar for refreshments at any time, as much bottled water as you want, snacks and so on. I really think all inclusive is a great option, especially for kids at meal times, if they don’t like something, it’s no problem you can just get up and get something else. The restaurant in the hotel is buffet style; the breakfasts are my favourite – so much choice; omelettes, scrambled eggs, loads of breads, cheeses, cereals, fruit, yogurts, pastries, the full works. Lunch again, always has a great variety; soups, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, pasta, meats, plus lots go fresh fish cooked in front of you. (There is a second restaurant on the rooftop you can eat in during the day either – They do yummy salads and sambos) Dinners are much the same as lunch, with the difference that there is a themed corner which changes every night so one night it could be Mexican food, then Greek and so on. The buffets do get a bit monotonous after a few days, on previous years I would have eaten out most nights but with Anabelle Ivy it was just handier for us to eat in the hotel mainly, although we did venture out a few nights.
My Fav Restaurants near by include:
Los Canarios 1 (in Arguineguin)
La Cantina (in Puerto Rico – walking distance)
Oscars (Puerto Rico – Walking distance)
Restaurante Guantanamo (3 mins in taxi)
Amadores Beach Club
The hotel also has a fabulous spa (not that I got to go this year) and if you love the beach, then the stunning Amadores Beach is a 10 minute walk away. The weather at this time of year is always really pleasant, not scorching hot, but still nice and warm and perfect for Anabelle Ivy. It was around 25 or 26 degrees during the day and around 17 or 18 at night.
A fav hang out place of mine (before I had Anabelle Ivy) was the Amadores Beach Club, very cool chill out place with great pools, great tunes and a gorgeous sunbathing area – very fancy but nice for a day!
All items are linked in the captions 🙂
Hope you enjoyed my outfit round up. I’ll be back soon with the second holiday post – all about travelling with Anabelle Ivy
Lots of you have asked me for an outfit post from my recent trip to Tuscany. So here goes…;-)
I had a spray tan done the day before I left and was delighted with how it turned out, it was a Vita Liberata spray tan and the lovely Joanne from JC Makeup did it. Blow dry, as always, from the lovely Serena in Tibo Hair Salon in Cavan.
Wow, firstly I have to say it was the most amazing few days, I had been a bag of anxiety on the lead up to it at the thoughts of leaving my little lady at home, but she was with my mum and by all accounts she had a ball in our absence!
We were in Tuscany, (Pienza to be specific) to celebrate our good friends wedding. It was the most breathtaking place – I was blown away.
We flew to Rome and then it was a 3 hour drive to our destination, we were staying in a villa called L’olmo near the beautiful town of Bagno Vignoni. Just spectacular, if you follow me on Snapchat (username: thestylefairy) you will have seen it. We arrived at 2am on the Wednesday night so I had no idea what I was waking up to on Thursday and the moment I walked outside our villa, I was speechless!
Thursday we had a chilled out day by the pool, as well as exploring the area and visiting the nearby town of Bagno Vignoni.
Thursday night all the wedding guests got together and we had a fab night of amazing food, fun and ALOT of wine!
Friday was the wedding day – and all I can say is wow; from start to finish it was just AMAZING. The most perfect, romantic setting I have ever seen.
Saturday we were all a little worse for wear (to put it mildly), but a good brekkie and a dip in the pool and we were ready to explore some more.
Saturday we visited the beautiful town of Monticchiello, ate probably the nicest pasta I have ever tasted and soaked in the surroundings.
Saturday night was rounded of with another visit to Bagno Vignoni to celebrate the newlyweds with even more fabulous food and wine!
We left at 6am Sunday morning and was home late afternoon with my little angel back in my arms! An action packed few days, but truly a trip to remember. Just beautiful!