How Travelling Has Changed for Us Since Having Our Son

Travelling has changed for us since having our son. Before he came along, my hubby and I were keen travellers, although we were rather lazy with our adventures. I think we took it for granted that the world was there, and we could go wherever, whenever. We went on at least two package holidays a year, and had many city breaks in between. But, until our second honeymoon, we never ventured further than Europe.travelling has changed

Photo by David Lezcano on Unsplash

I was born and raised in Africa before returning to Ireland when I was nine. A year later my family spent the summer holidays in Saudi Arabia, due to my Dad’s work. So, I’ve been travelling since I was just a few months old. My husband on the other hand, went to America when he was just a few months old but never went further than Europe after that. He spent a year in Paris when he was part of the opening crew of EuroDisney, as it was called then, so he is no stranger to travelling.

When we got together, we enjoyed many sun holidays, mainly to the Canary Islands, as mentioned and we visited European cities such as Rome, Paris, Zurich and Amsterdam. We even spent a fantastic weekend in Reykjavik with friends in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights just before we got married. Alas, we had to venture to Tromso in northern Norway for that.

After our biking honeymoon in Ireland, we booked a real honeymoon to Cuba and spent two amazing weeks between Havana and the Varadero Resort area. We drank lots of Havana rum, stayed in Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner’s honeymoon suite in Hotel Nacional, swam with dolphins and had an amazing time.

But, that was as adventurous as we got. And on our return from Cuba we discovered I was expecting our son. Suddenly, the thought of travelling with our son took on a whole new meaning. I worried about how we’d cope away from home comforts and about how we’d cope on the plane. I thought we’d have to wait until he was much older before we could be adventurous and visit far flung places with him.

And at the start, we stuck to our routine of booking a week-long package holiday with him to, yep you guessed it, the Canaries. We visited Lanzarote twice, Gran Canaria once and our last visit was to Tenerife.

BattleKid on his first holiday abroad to Gran Canaria

But we were both becoming bored of these holidays. They weren’t the same as when we’d done them as a couple. Gone were the days of lounging by the pool all day with the latest release on Kindle. Gone were evening strolls into town to find a restaurant for dinner to enjoy a bottle (or two) of wine over.

And do you know what, we didn’t mind. We didn’t miss those days, probably because we gave up drinking alcohol when our son was just a few months old. We didn’t really miss the long days by the pool, as the time of year we went (to avoid the really hot summer days) meant the pool was chilly and not as inviting.

And as the boredom set in, we decided to take a leaf out of my sister-in-law’s book. We decided to stop booking the typical sun holidays and start getting more adventurous. My sister-in-law took her twins to New York several times and did Route 66 with them when they were just a few months old. Then, when their first brother came along 18 months later, she took all three of them to the States and did 66 again! Since then, two more brothers have arrived, with another on the way. Although she cannot afford to go that far, she has taken all of them to Disneyland Paris, to Lapland to see Father Christmas, and on several adventure holidays within both Ireland and the UK. Having five, soon to be six, children has never stopped her travelling or kerbed her bug for it.

And we decided we wouldn’t let having our son stop our travel bug. We vowed to get more adventurous and so, last year we took our son to New York for a few days. It was the first time we’d ever visited, having been lazy as a couple and thinking “oh New York will always be there”. It was also the first time we flew for more than four hours with our son. We survived. And we ended up loving it, even with our son in tow. Don’t get me wrong, we still had a sun holiday last year, but New York opened our eyes. And so it was that travelling changed for us, and in a big way.

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BattleKid at the World Trade Centre Memorial

Not long after we got back from New York, we researched and booked our most adventurous holiday to date. A two-week USA road trip, taking in Yellowstone National Park, Montana and Portland, Oregon. We were a little apprehensive how our three-year-old son would cope with the long days and many, many miles in the car. This August, we set off from our new home in Portugal for our longest ever journey by plane. And, it was the most amazing two weeks. From bison and geysers, to smokey mountains and chilled-out Portland, we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Our son totally surprised us by taking it all in his stride. The 11 hours by plane? No problem. The 3000 miles and 60+ hours in the car, without an electronic device in sight I might add? Easy peesy! When we told people, they thought we were mad to go all that way, and spend all that money, on a trip he most likely wouldn’t remember. Well, let me tell you, it was worth every penny and 3 months on he is still taking about the bison, our ‘cave’ (AirBnB) and the camp fire Daddy and he built with sticks. 

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Patiently awaiting S’mores from the camp fire

So, he may not remember it in the future, but do you know what? We have memories we can share with him, photos he can see, and videos we took. And, if finances allow, we intend to return to the north west of America in the future. If not, he can always return himself in years to come if he wishes.

Even better, our USA road trip has given us a bug for road trips. They weren’t something I’d really considered before we booked our last holiday. But they are a great way to see a few places in one go. Our next road trip we’re planning will take in four countries in Europe. And that is after a 7-day road trip in Ireland before we stop in Dublin to visit family next Easter.

Travelling with our son has been both scary and exciting. And the way we travel, and where we choose to visit, has changed as well, even since our first family holiday to Gran Canaria when he was eight months old. New York was a turning point for us, and we proved that we don’t need to just rely on package holidays while he is young for holidays. We can still see, and enjoy, other parts of the world.

There are some destinations we WILL wait to visit until he is old enough to remember them as they are far flung places that we want to be able to remember with him in the future. They also happen to be expensive destinations that we intend to visit just once. So, it makes sense to hold off a few years before planning them. Places like Mongolia, Argentina and Japan.

In the meantime, we plan to visit destinations that are either easy to get to, easy to return to, or places like Yellowstone that we intend to visit again if finances permit. We may be slightly selfish with some of the destinations on our family bucket list, but we do hope that by visiting many places, and cultures, we instil a travel bug in our son.

I firmly believe that travelling can only enrich a child’s life and can teach them a lot including life lessons. I admire those families who travel full time. In fact, I’m a little jealous of them. Since moving to Portugal earlier this year, travel has become much more important to me than material things. If we didn’t have our dog I think we’d be joining those families who travel full-time.

How we travel as a family has changed rapidly in just a few short years, especially since our son came along, and I think it’s for the better. We don’t let having a child dictate our travels, although we are becoming mindful that we will need to limit ourselves to school holidays soon.

We want to see as much of the world as our finances and personal situation will allow, and we want to share the adventure with our son. Having children doesn’t mean you need to put travel on hold. In fact, you should want to travel more, to explore the world with them and share those trips and experiences with them. I think it brings families together and that has to be a good thing.

Do you travel with your children? Or does the thought of it scare you to death?

Cath x

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Apartment in Astoria – New York AirBnB Review

Last September, the Battle Family finally visited New York for the first time. I had originally booked an apartment in Lower Manhattan via AirBnB but just two months before we were due to fly out, our host got in touch to say the booking was cancelled as they no longer had the apartment. Cue panic. We needed to secure somewhere and fast. I went back onto AirBnB and scoured ‘Book Now’ places to find us somewhere, and reasonably priced, and stumbled upon a fabulous apartment in Astoria.

apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnbNow, Astoria wasn’t our first choice of areas to stay in. We had ideally wanted to be on Manhattan itself but with so little time before we travelled, the available apartments were silly money. I read the reviews of this apartment in Astoria and decided they were good enough for us. We booked it immediately and, although it was a little over budget, we were at least guaranteed our booking. Lesson learned. Always go for the ‘Book Now’ option, not the ‘Contact Host’ option.

We flew to New York on September 18th and although we arrived before the check in time, our host Jada allowed us to drop our bags off. She went through the building and apartment rules before we took our keys and headed straight for Times Square. I’ve written all about our New York holiday, but thought I’d let you know what our apartment in Astoria was like.


New York CityPASS

We booked a 2-bedroom apartment, mainly so that I could sleep with BattleKid as he had only just moved into a big bed. It also let me escape my husband’s snoring!

Located in Astoria on Astoria Boulevard, this modern 2 bedroom apartment will sleep up to ten people. Initial thoughts were it was a very clean, modern apartment, well decorated and would set a New Yorker back a fair few pennies to buy it!

You enter a lovely little hallway which leads into the open-plan living room, dining room and kitchen. The living room is comfortable, although only had one sofa which would seat three people. Additional people would have to use the dining chairs, although you couldn’t be spending a lot of time in the apartment. The living room also had air conditioning and cable TV.

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The living room and kitchen – spot BattleKid

The kitchen was well equipped, with everything you’d need for a city break. There was even a kettle, which Jada said previous guests had insisted she get. We’d have been happy boiling water for our tea on the hob.

There are two bedrooms in this apartment in Astoria. The main bedroom had a queen size bed with a sofa beside it. We made this up as a bed and pushed it beside the queen bed for BattleKid. The main bedroom had a small built in wardrobe and gorgeous floor to ceiling windows which lead to a balcony. You could see the Manhattan skyline from the balcony.

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Two bedrooms and a lovely bathroom

The second bedroom had not one, not two, but three queen beds, with an additional queen air bed in the huge walk-in wardrobe. The three beds were configured in a bunk-bed type style and I’d never come across anything like it before, but was brilliant. This bedroom also had floor to ceiling windows and a balcony on which to view the Manhattan skyline.

The bathroom was modern and had a huge shower. There was also a cupboard with a washing machine and dryer, handy if staying longer than a few days. You also have access to a lovely roof terrace for viewing the Manhattan skyline!

The apartment in Astoria was also well located near an underground station with a direct line to Times Square. That ride takes less than 20 minutes. There are bars, shops and diners nearby for food and drinks, and plenty of take-aways around which will deliver to your door via apps such as Seamless or Yelp Eat 24. My personal favourite was the Starbucks on the corner of Astoria Boulevard and 21st Street.

As for our host, Jada, she was lovely. She was very welcoming and accommodating. As we’d arrived early, as mentioned, she let us drop our bags off and collect the keys before we headed to Times Square. When we got back she had kindly put our bags in a wardrobe and hung up our coats! When one fire alarm kept beeping all night (the battery was going), causing BattleKid and I to take solace in BattleDad’s room, she responded to my message very quickly and helped us sort it out. Jada was a lovely host.

Overall, the apartment in Astoria turned out to be the perfect location for us. Getting to and from JFK airport was easy via Uber, and was less than a 30-minute ride. With a terrorist attack which occurred in Jersey the day before we arrived, we were happier staying outside of Manhattan. Although not completely child-friendly in terms of some glass tables, the AirBnB apartment in Astoria was brilliant for us and I’d highly recommend it should Jada list it again as available.*

Our stay cost us £213 per night. This is quite expensive but as we were let down so close to our trip, it was the least costly option short of staying in a hotel room. And hotel rooms are not an option for us. They are a last resort for us or booked out of necessity! Here’s a tour of our apartment in Astoria.

As an area to stay when visiting New York, I’d never considered Astoria but would definitely stay there again as its location for both Manhattan and JFK airport was ideal.

Have you visited New York, and if so, are there other areas we should consider for our next visit?

And if you are planning a visit to New York with your kids, why not check out my post about 5 Things to Do in New York with a Toddler in Tow and the Manhattan Top 10 with Kids by Our Globetrotters. And if they don’t convince you to visit New York, then check out the amazing pictures in Sorry About the Mess’ Winter in New York post.

Cath x

*The listing for this apartment is no longer on AirBnB at the time of writing this review.

**I was not asked to write this review.

To remain fully transparent, this post contains two affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking through the link I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps support my blog. Thank you.

apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnb apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnb


New York CityPASS

USA Road Trip Holiday Diaries – Days 15 and 16

After getting showered and dressed, we ate breakfast in the hotel at 8.30am. BattleKid and I went back to our room to do some final packing while BattleDad visited a chemist for some throat spray and melatonin for BattleKid for the plane.

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All packed and ready to go.

We had to check out by noon, so shortly before we loaded up the car and set off to drop off the AirBnB keys before heading to Portland International Airport.

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Heading for Portland Airport
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Portland International Airport
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Leaving on a high

We got rid of our bags, made our way through security and went to some lunch. As we had some time to kill before our flight was due to board, we found the children’s play area and let BattleKid have fun. He even met another boy with the same name as him and it got quite confusing for them when we or the other parents would shout the name.

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Loving the children’s play area in Portland International Airport
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Loving the children’s play area in Portland International Airport

The play area at Portland Airport is great and both older kids and toddlers had fun in there. BattleKid’s favourite part was the soft airplane. We boarded at 4.30 for our 5.30pm flight and settled down for the night. It was an uneventful flight, with BattleKid and I managing a few hours’ sleep.

As usual BattleDad didn’t sleep much and as a result was knackered by the time we landed in London on the Sunday morning. He had to run an errand while there, so once we’d transferred from Terminal 3 to 5, he went off, leaving BattleKid and I to chill out. When he got back we checked through our bags and went through and grabbed a Wagamama’s for lunch/dinner.

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Thanks for a great flight back to the UK Delta
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Strutting his stuff in Heathrow in his pj’s, as you do when you’re 3!

BattleKid is quite fond of noodles but was fascinated by chopsticks, which I can’t figure out myself. Our flight was due to leave London shortly after 4pm but we were delayed by an hour and a half.

The plane had come from Athens and was carrying a man with a broken leg. They had gotten him into the plane using a particularly narrow wheelchair in Greece, but he became wedged in his seat and they couldn’t get him back out at Heathrow. The crew called the on-site nurse who had to call for a doctor’s assistance. They couldn’t administer any more pain relief as he was on morphine already. Eventually they freed him with gas and air. As soon as all the passengers were on the plane we took off.

Our misfortune in getting back to Portugal didn’t end with that. We were seated towards the rear of the plane and ended up beside a group of about 12 gentlemen who were clearly on a golfing holiday and who were quite drunk even before they boarded the plane. As a result, they were loud and leery and a right pain in the behind. A poor elderly couple in front of us ended up sitting in the crew’s jump seats for the flight as they couldn’t stand the noise. I take my hat off to the crew who somehow kept their cool with them.

I’ve never been gladder to get off a plane. We collected our bags and headed out to find the car. I read the parking printout and couldn’t get the ticket machine to accept payment. I found a parking office and he informed me I had done our entry to the car park wrong. Thankfully he sorted it out with no additional costs and I now knew what to do next time I booked parking at Faro Airport. We got back home after 10pm and fell straight into bed, shattered but pleased we’d had a great holiday in America. It was certainly one we would remember for a very long time.

If you’ve gotten this far, I have to thank you for reading all about our incredible USA holiday. Has it inspired you to consider a road trip with your family?

Cath x

USA Road Trip Holiday Diaries – Day 14

We woke around 7am and after showers and getting dressed, I packed some of our things up in preparation for our return to Europe. We called an Uber at 9am and got him to drop us off at a bistro that had also been recommended to us, Mother’s Bistro and Bar in Downtown Portland.

We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table as it was very busy, even though it was after 9am. And the wait was worth it. I had the Wild Salmon Hash and poached egg, while BattleDad had the same hash but with scrambled eggs. Oh my word, the food was amazing. Even BattleKid ate well. It wasn’t a cheap breakfast, but I could understand why it was so busy. Once again, thank you to those on Facebook who recommended it. Definitely a great breakfast!

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Starting our day in Mother’s Bistro and Bar with an amazing breakfast

After we were suitably fed, we walked from there to a shopping area in Downtown Portland, visiting yet another Sephora for me and a Nike shop for BattleDad. Neither of us got away with cheap purchases. I bought some more makeup and another Tom Ford perfume, while BattleDad bagged himself some very nice Nike trainers and an Oregon football jersey, which was not cheap.

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Wandering Downtown Portland with our Adventure Belt on

From there we walked to Finnegans Toy Store, where we got BattleKid a Brio Police Motorbike toy. It was a quaint toy store selling more traditional type toys and not an electronic gadget or toy in sight. BattleKid could have stayed for hours playing with the Brio Train set on display. I can highly recommend this shop as a stop in Portland if you’re with kids.

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Playing in Finnegan’s Toy Store

We had also been urged to visit Powell’s City of Books store, so from the toy shop that’s where we headed. It was amazing. Occupying a whole city block with over 1 million books, it is easily the biggest book shop I’ve ever come across. The children’s section was huge and there were areas to sit and read to kids too. We didn’t make any purchases there, but it was lovely to say we’d visited it.

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Powell’s City of Books, Portland
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Powell’s City of Books, Portland

Next on the cards was Voodoo Doughnuts but the queue was incredibly long just to get into the shop, so we called an Uber to take us to Salt’N’Straw in the Alphabet District of Portland, another Facebook recommendation. And we weren’t disappointed. We got a tasting tray of ice cream, and apart from the coffee flavour, they were amazing. The salted caramel was out of this world.

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Arriving at Salt’N’Straw
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Amazing ice cream in Salt’N’Straw

After our ice cream treat, we had a wander along the main street of the Alphabet District of Portland, and it was here we got a taste of the Portland we had been hoping for. Cool little cafes beside hip and trendy shops, and buildings that were right out of Grimm, this was the Portland we’d come to see. If we get the chance to return to Portland, this is the area we’ll probably spend more time at.

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Lovely streets in the Alphabet District of Portland
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Buildings right out of Grimm!

We got another Uber back to our hotel at 2pm, and spent the afternoon chilling and packing. BattleDad and I also got a proper chance to read our Kindles. At 5pm we went across to Red Robin for our last dinner before getting BattleKid into bed for 7pm. By 9pm I couldn’t keep my eyes open so followed him in after a great day discovering Portland city itself. I could easily see us returning to Portland for another visit in the future.

Cath x

USA Road Trip Holiday Diaries – Day 13

I had set my alarm for 7am, so I could try and catch the school in Portugal before it got too late. However, there was no answer. I left a message hoping someone might call me back. I was worried about securing a place for BattleKid. Both he and we needed routine back in our lives.

The boys woke a short time later. After showers, we had breakfast in the hotel before heading to Washington Park for a day dedicated to the boy. It took us just 30 minutes to drive to Oregon Zoo in Washington Park.

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Tickets to Oregon Zoo

We had been kindly invited to review the zoo and were given complimentary entry. I collected our tickets from reception and we went inside, starting at the Great Northwest section. The zoo was amazing. You can read about our visit in more detail in my blog post, but suffice to say we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. From bears and elephants, to mountain lions and cheetahs, there is a large variety of animals to see in the largest zoo in North America west of the Mississippi. 

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The Great Northwest area of Oregon Zoo was just incredible
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Having fun in the meerkat enclosure
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Playful seals

We left at 1.30pm and went into The Portland Children’s Museum next door to the zoo. Founded in 1946, this is the sixth oldest children’s museum in the world and receives over a quarter of a million visits each year.

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Portland Children’s Museum

This museum had lots of different play areas and we had a great time exploring them. There was a water section, which BattleKid loved, a creativity room with crafts and nails and hammers (I was supervising very closely here), and of course a room with cars in it. It was great to let BattleKid enjoy something all for him after the many hours and miles we’d done in the car. I’ll be reviewing this in great detail on the blog at a later stage, so please stay tuned.

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Water fun, again!
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Making stuff with hammers and nails

Both the zoo and museum had been recommended to us on Facebook and I’m so glad we added them to our itinerary. My mum had been worried we wouldn’t get any down time during our holiday, but this was the perfect things to do for just that.

We headed back towards our hotel at 3.30 and stopped at the retail park. I wanted to visit a Michael’s I had spotted for BattleDad’s aunt in Portugal. It was an amazing store, completely dedicated to arts, crafts and decorations. If I lived in America, I’d be in it all the time! We went across to Red Robin for dinner and had another great meal. I cannot fault this restaurant at all.

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Getting ready for Halloween with Michael’s
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Getting ready for Autumn with Michael’s
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Enjoying onion rings in Red Robin
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Amazing burgers at Red Robin

We got back to our room by 6pm, so BattleKid enjoyed a bubble bath which is a treat for him. We don’t have a bath in our home in Portugal, so it was a nice way for him to relax after a busy day. We got into our pj’s and watched a Tom and Jerry film, which BattleKid broke his heart laughing at. At 8pm he got into bed, leaving us adults to carry on with Ozark Have you seen it?

Cath x