Courtney Adamo is one of the three “girls” behind the much-followed blog Babyccino. To be honest, I don’t subscribe to any daily newsletter other than the one of Babyccino (and Daily Candy). That’s how much I love reading it, whether it’s craft ideas, recipes, cool new kids brands or just toughts on the joys and challenges of motherhood. Last winter, Courtney and husband Michael left it all behind for a 4 months sabbatical with their 3 children Easton (5), Quin (3) and little Ivy who was only 7 months old at the time. That included 30 days in a campervan around Australia…kudos to the parents! Here is for some inspiration:
What made you decide to go on a sabbatical with young children.
The biggest factor was that life is really so short and time with our kids is so precious. We wanted to take a break from our normal busy life — no work, no internet, no distractions. We also wanted to do it before our oldest son had to be in school. Many people asked why we would do it when the kids were so young, especially our youngest being only 7 months old!. We also chose to escape the British winter and head down to the sunny southern hemisphere…we’re happiest when it’s sunny and hot!
Your rough itinerary?
We first flew to the west coast of America to spend Christmas with our families. Then we went from LA to Auckland, NZ, which turned out to be a pretty easy flight. The time difference was only four hours (plus a day) so it wasn’t a difficult transition. We spent 12 days in New Zealand (North Island only) and it was bliss — maybe even the highlight of our trip. If we could do it over again, we would have spent more time in NZ and would have headed down to the South Island — I’ve heard it’s even more beautiful. We spent five days in Auckland (the Devonport neighbourhood) and then spent the remainder of our time further north in the Matakana region. We stayed at Riverside Matakana, which was the best place we stayed during our entire time away.
From there we flew to Sydney and stayed in Sydney (Bondi Beach House) for a week before getting in our campervan and starting our adventure up the coast. We spent a month in the campervan, driving from Sydney to Cairns up on the East coast. Our favourite stops were:
1.) The Blue Mountains — absolutely stunning, great hiking, cute little towns, nice camp sites, etc.
2.) Seal Rocks and Number One Beach — the prettiest beach we saw in Australia!
3.) Bellingen — a lovely little hippy town, inland from the coast.
4.) Byron Bay — although I must say that I had high hopes for this town and was slightly disappointed.
5.) Australia Zoo — home of the late Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter (a very impressive, hands-on zoo).
6.) Fraser Island — the world’s largest sand island and so beautiful. Swimming in Lake McKenzie was a definite highlight of the trip.
7.) Mon Repos Turtle Conservation Park — the largest population of breeding Loggerhead Turtles. We watched a mother turtle slowly crawl up the beach to lay her eggs in the sand. We also watched an entire nest of turtle eggs hatch and scurry down to the water — amazing!
8.) Mission Beach — a lovely beach town famous for its population of Cassowaries and green tree frogs.
9.) Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef — our day spent on the reef was the biggest highlight of our time in Australia. My boys were in heaven. My 4-year-old was snorkelling like a pro!
We returned the campervan in Cairns and flew back down to Sydney. We spent another week in Sydney, exploring different parts of the city. Then we drove down the coast to Kiama (2 hours south of Sydney) where we spent the next three weeks at a little boutique hotel, Bellachara. This area of Australia turned out to be great for kids with many different things to do, from beaches to rain forests, adventure parks, animal parks, hikes, walks, etc. And the hotel was really wonderful.
After two months in Australia, we flew to Thailand and spent a week in Hua Hin (2 hours outside of Bangkok). It was wonderful. The Thai people are so friendly, and they love kids! The food is amazing, the prices are affordable (especially after Australia!), and it was sunny and hot. A true holiday before returning back to London at the very end of March.
Looking back, we would have spent more time in NZ — we were so impressed and would have loved to explore the South Island. I also think we would have planned the campervan trip differently. Perhaps we wouldn’t have traveled so far (it was a LONG way to go!!), and maybe we wouldn’t have spent so much time camping (a couple weeks would have been plenty!). There were certainly challenges, especially traveling with three young kids (one of them a baby!)… but it was really a special time. And I would do it all over in a heartbeat!
A year later and looking back at your 30days in a Campervan, what would you say of the experience. the good & the bad!
Camping with small kids is definitely a challenge! The work never stops, especially if you’ve got an agenda and are trying to cover a large territory. There were times when we would set up camp only to pack it all up the next day and keep on driving. I envied our fellow campers who got to stay in one place for a long period of time and really relax. I wrote a post on the pros and cons of camping on Babyccino. You can read it here.
Thank you Courtney for recalling it all and sharing it with BozAround. It’s great inspiration especially as we’re starting a similar experience with our little tribe!