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Although it has been less than a year since our last holiday to Australia, Ashley has been asking us when would we be able to bring her for another holiday to Australia. I must be honest that I would not be that enthusiastic in planning yet another holiday to Australia that soon upon considering the long 8 hour flight with a baby and a child in tow. However, such thoughts do not taunt us for long as Colin and I quickly got down to plan a week long holiday to Brisbane and Gold Coast as the thought of spending quality time with the little ones outweighs all hesitation and uncertainty. From our past experiences travelling with Ashley, we noticed that red eye flights were the best for the little ones as the timing would coincide with their bedtime and hopefully, they would be able to sleep through the bulk of the flight time. This holiday was no exception as we selected the 8.45pm outbound flight and boy were we glad that Kingsley slept through at least half of the journey in the bassinet or in our arms.
As I was planning the itinerary for the trip, I decided against accommodation hopping given that (1) the holiday was only going to be 7 days and (2) majority of the attractions being nested within an hour’s ride from Gold Coast. Next question that might pop up in one’s mind is, “Where is the best place to stay in Gold Coast then?” I believe Surfers Paradise is no stranger to many and some may reply, “Where better to stay in Gold Coast other than Surfers Paradise?” I would definitely agree to that statement as F&B outlets are aplenty in that area. However, budget wise, accommodation in Surfers Paradise are generally pricier given the prime location and since I needed a 2-bedroom apartment with proper laundry and kitchen facilities, it made sense for me to source outside of Surfers Paradise. If you have chanced upon our earlier post on our holiday to Sydney 2 years ago, you might have heard the name Meriton Suites. Given our good experience staying with them, it was no hesitation for us to return to another Meriton Suites for our holiday. There are 2 Meriton Suites located along the Indian Ocean in Gold Coast, of which they are situated at Broadbeach and Southport. As we were planning to drive around as usual, we decided on the Meriton Suites Southport for our week long stay for the following reasons; (1) there is a Woolsworth located in the same building which makes it convenient for marketing and (2) competitive pricing as compared to Meriton Suites Broadbeach while still offering a beautiful view of the Indian Ocean. Even if you do not rent a car in Gold Coast, it is relatively easy to commute around the Gold Coast city street scape with the G:link Gold Coast Light Rail network.
Here are some photos of our 2 bedroom ocean suite at Meriton Suites Southport.
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It is time of the year for us to escape the hot weather in Singapore and this year, we have decided to venture to Perth (somewhere I have not been in decades). As usual, planning a road trip with a little one is never easy especially with the need to have toilet breaks and leg stretches (for a 6 month preggie mum and a 4 yo girl off diapers) at appropriate intervals.
Given Ashley’s traveling habits, it always seemed wise to take the night flight out in which she can sleep through the journey. Bearing in mind that Colin is the only licensed driver of the family, I planned for a weekend stayover in Fremantle so that little driving is required on arrival. Fremantle can be a little tad boring for the adventurous individual but for families with young kids, it can be leisurely to just travel around town on the free CAT bus and visit the Fremantle Market, Round House, WA Shipwreck Museum and Fremantle Prison. Alternatively, one can choose to travel down an hour to John Forrest National Park to visit the National Park Falls and Hovea Falls for a nice breezy walk.
Our second accommodation of the trip was Ferguson Farmstay which was about 2 hours drive away from Fremantle. Ferguson Farmstay is a working farm managed by a friendly family. We stayed two nights in Chalet 1 (double room can be a little squeezy if your little one is bunking in with you). At 8.30am every morning, farm activities commence which includes animal feeding (goats, kangaroo, emu, Lenny the sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens), a pony ride for the kids (Fred is a real gentle pony) and a tractor ride to the cows for feeding. Ashley repeated the farm activities over both mornings and she enjoyed every moment of it. However, there are little attractions around Ferguson Valley on weekdays (wineries are closed between Mon-Wed) except Gnomesville, Wellington Dam and St. Aidan Winery.
After 2 nights at Ferguson Farmstay, we headed south towards Margaret River to our third accommodation, Ramada Resort Dunsborough located right next to the sea. Given the short 1 hour plus drive, you will have ample time to visit the wineries, farm gates and providores in the vincinity such as Bettany Wines and Margaret River Nougat Co (not to be missed, the nougats and sparkling non-alcoholic and alcoholic wines are just yummy), Margaret River Chocolate Co, Margaret River Nuts and Cereal, Margaret River Dairy Company and Gabriel’s Chocolates (for a hot chocolate drink) on the same day.
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Planning for a road trip with a toddler is never easy and requires many thoughts and considerations. This year, we planned yet another 2 weeks long road trip around Sydney to escape the 365-day long summer in Singapore.
Upon arriving in Sydney Airport on the first day, we drove on to our first pit stop of the trip, Martys at Little Beach located at Nelson Bay which took around 2 hours 45 minutes. This was not a very wise choice as we realized that (1) there is nothing much at Nelson Bay for a toddler to do and (2) accommodations around Port Stephens and Newcastle have strict regulations that children between 2-12 of age are required to have a bed of their own (most other hotels/motels typically allow children of the same age to stay for free if they are sharing the existing bedding). Fortunately, we only had to spend one night before we proceed on to Port Macquarie the next morning.
Port Macquarie is a beautiful place to visit for families with young children with its local attractions such as Koala Hospital and Roto House. There is a big grass area around Roto House that the little one can run around freely. Another place in Port Macquarie that shouldn’t be missed by young children is the Pancake Place. There is a nice corner set up for children with stuffed toys and story books during their time there.
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It has been slightly past two months since we came back from our 3-week vacation in the U.S.A. I finally found time to write this post and share on our experience for this road trip with our little princess, Ashley, who is now 2 and a half years old. Although this was not the first road trip that we have had with Ashley, this was by far the longest road trip as we made a round trip from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls in just one week. Many considerations were put in place when we planned this road trip such as deciding the stop-overs for Ashley’s meal and leg stretches wherein she would be able to run free and not be stuck in the car for 3 to 4 long hours continuously.
Our road trip started with the arrival at Philadelphia International Airport in the morning at approximately 9 a.m. Some may ask, “Why not JFK or NEW airport if you are going to the Niagara Falls?”. Well, my answer is simple. “Sesame Place” is in Philadelphia and since the distance from the New York airports to Niagara Falls does not differ much from Philadelphia, it seems like the most logical choice for us especially given the thought that Ashley would be ecstatic to see Elmo and friends.
For the first stop-over of the 1 week road trip, we stopped by Lehigh Valley Mall in Allentown for lunch and quick shopping as we were stumped by the cold temperatures in Philadelphia as opposed to the sunny Orlando which we were at earlier. Next, we drove on to the town of Corning, sadly to coincide with the closing time of Corning Museum as we had stayed longer in Lehigh than originally planned. We settled for a quick dinner at a Chinese restaurant before heading to our first pit stop of the trip, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Bath. It is a pleasant and simple inn for an overnight stay (generally clean room except for the mouldy showerhead in the toilet) with nearby eateries around such as Dunkin Donuts, Burger King and Pizza Hut. There is also a Walgreens within walking distance should you need to do some simple grocery shopping. Furthermore, Microtel Inn provides complimentary breakfast of coffee, tea, cereals and bread rolls that you can enjoy before you hit the roads.
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