Travelling alone with 2 Toddlers!


Two boys and me on a long haul…

Where have I been the last 2 months? This has been one of my best summers in a long while both, in London and in Los Angeles.

I had a slew of visitors in London prior to leaving with the boys to California in July and as I got to LA, the plethora of people we met and spent time with just left a lovely, warm glow in my heart and my memories.

This was also the first time I travelled alone with the boys – aged 3+. I was slightly (just!) apprehensive a whole month prior to the flight and tried to be organized and over organized with how and what to take on board with me, and what state of mind I should be in to make it through with the two.

Here is how I survived the journey with two lovely little boys and how they survived me!

  1. Take the latest flight available to LA in my preferred airline – this time Air New Zealand
  2. Air New Zealand offers the use of a ‘sky couch’ for an additional £60/head. This means that the 3-seater by the window turns in to a ‘sofa-cum-bed’ where each seat has a section at the foot that lifts up flush to the seat in the front. Once all 3 are lifted up – you have a bed. They also provide you with a ‘mattress’ cover and 2 big pillows in addition to the typical airline pillows and blankets.
  3. Each of us had backpacks. I purchased a Kipling backpack as I knew a roller bag, a double stroller and two toddlers would be hard to manage. The boys had their own little backpacks.
  4. Their backpack – 2 toys, stickers, 3 snacks, kids’ headphones
  5. My backpack – extra clothes, pull-ups, more snacks, a backup homemade meal, 2 iPads.
  6. I called the airline in advance to know of the ‘milk’ situation. They did not have whole milk and did not serve milk as a drink, so I bought milk at Boots once we were through security. NOTE: In America (not sure about other countries) you cannot carry milk through security for children over 2. On the return, I was too organized and the milk got confiscated. Lucky for me, the airline stewardess was amazing and helped me settle the boys and brought me 2 glasses of warm milk.
  7. In-flight entertainment. This is great ‘after’ takeoff and once the ‘fasten seat belt’ light is switched off. Prior to that, the captain makes loads of announcements that ‘interrupt’ the entertainment.   This did not bode well for my boys. So I quickly switched to the iPads and went back to the entertainment system later.
  8. So the boys didn’t fall asleep as I planned, but they were not disruptive and the benefit of sleeping less on the flight helped us get through jet lag faster in LA, as they slept a long stretch at night.

We got to LA with all 3 of us happy and in good moods and were ready for the amazing holiday that was in store for us!



Top 10 ways to spend Easter/Spring break in London with kids

There are some really fun and diverse activities in London to experience with children.  Not all are exclusive to Easter, but there are some Spring launches and then there are the ever greens.  See what catches yours or your child’s fancy.

1.  Easter Egg Hunts

Covent Garden Market
Covent Garden Market

2.  The London Transport Museum has just launched ‘All Aboard’ today, the museum’s new play zone.

 3.  Just being at Southbank.  There’s a market for food lovers on April 3rd-April 6th.

Shaun in the City
Shaun in the City

4. Shaun in the City Sculpture Hunt all over London.  March 28th – May 25th

5.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory playing at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

6.  Hotel Chocolate Tasting Experience on the London-Eye.

7.  The London Duck Tour.

8.  Giant Duck Hunt at the WWT London Wetland Centre March 28th – April 12th.

Giant Duck Hunt WWT London Wetland Centre
Giant Duck Hunt WWT London Wetland Centre

9.  Discover Children’s Story Centre, Stratford.  

10.  Sensational Butterflies Exhibition at The Natural History Museum.  April 2nd – September 13th.


Sensational Butterflies
Sensational Butterflies

“English(Wo)man in New York”

So yes, I am back in London now, safe and dry but boy, what a weekend! I love the Big Apple (still haven’t worked out why it is called that – references to a Big, Sweet, Juicy Prize have been found but then I don’t believe everything I read on Wikipedia)!

They say that all the big cities of the world are the same essentially, but I disagree. New York has always had a special place in my heart; everything is bigger, almost brash like a confident child demanding “Look at ME”. On this visit, I returned to the first department store I ever visited in Manhattan, Lord & Taylor. After having legged it there from Grand Central with two minutes to opening, I ran through the front doors to find rows of folded chairs lined up (like at a school assembly) with eager shoppers’ bottoms hovering, ready in sprint position to start their deal-hunting day. The security guards were standing (mob control!) and announced “Please rise for the National Anthem” and yes, everyone did! I stood with them, feeling a little alien, in awe, with respect and with slight disbelief too. Solemn faces, even some hands on chests – no singing, it was the instrumental version. A keen yellow poncho-clad woman temporarily disturbed our moment of American meditation with “It’s 10am for crying out loud, I need the 3rd floor!” but was made to wait like all the others until the melody faded.

It seems that Lord & Taylor have found a way to remind their shoppers, every day before opening, to take a minute and be mindful that they are in the States, maybe to feel proud or grateful. It certainly allowed me to pause and take stock. But I do also wonder about making people listen to the anthem, like at school, rather than giving them the choice. This would NEVER happen in Selfridges, Lane Crawford or Galleries Lafayette. I don’t think this would be permissible anywhere except New York.

So in acceptance of our differences, here’s to enjoying the feeling of being foreign in a city that really never sleeps – I raise my glass and cheer “to my next visit over the pond!”

P.S. Intrigued, I’ve come home to find out more about this “cultural difference” – and stumbled across this article from the New York Times, 2008: