If you’d told me I wouldn’t enjoy travelling once I’d had kids I would have laughed. And probably told you to sod off, because I would DEFINITELY still love travelling…..the baby will fit in with my life and nothing will kill my wanderlust.
Travel is such a big part of my life, my identity, that me without it has been as big an adjustment as me without London.
The baby will fit in with my life….
And something I’ve never discussed openly is how I’ve developed an irrational fear of travel since having Anaïs, something I never expected to happen, something I feel embarrassed about and endlessly ashamed of.
I never wanted Anaïs to grow up with a parent so scared of travel our only holidays were a short drive away. I know that sounds privileged, because, well….it is. But my early years were filled with travel, if not adventure, so I wanted the same for her.
And my therapist told me I was increasingly making my world smaller and that, my friend, is not great for anxiety!
Which is why I thought it was SUCH a bloody great idea to snake in one big long-haul family trip to one of my favourite countries before Anaïs hit two and we had to start paying full price for her seat.
BIG MISTAKE NUMBER ONE
Ever made your toddler sit on your lap for 11 hours? Yes? Did you survive?!
Didn’t think so.
Error number two was trying to scrimp and save money by buying an indirect flight.
Mistakes number three – three-hundred were…..I mean, there really are too many, but let’s talk about the good stuff now shall we?
We had an amazing time. Yes, the flight was pure, unadulterated hell. But the holiday was amazing and Anaïs took it all in her stride. She napped at the same times, slept pretty well at night and overall….loved every minute.
She charmed the pants off everyone she met, from security guards to armed police and, although she might not remember picking flowers at the market or dodging rickshaws and rolling around on the beach, we will. And that is worth the HELLISH flight for sure.
So how did we survive it?
Here are my tips for flying with a toddler
For context, we flew to India on an indirect flight when Anaïs was about 21 months old. Door to door, the total travel time was about 20 hours each way. with the flights lasting between 2 (Mumbai to Goa) and 11 hours (Mumbai to London.)
The main event, as it were, the flight took up way too much of my attention. A bit like how first-time parents focus on the birth then fumble their way through the fourth trimester blind (just me?!), the flight felt like a monumental effort.
When really, it’s the smallest chunk of your entire holiday.
I thought about so many little things, over-preparing and fretting yet I still made a HEAP of errors and now feel I would do quite a few things differently.
Here are a few things to consider:
Seat or no seat? Before your toddler is two they don’t have to buy a full-price seat (but you pay taxes, which is a small amount variable by country) so we opted for this choice because cheap!!!
However, that means whether your baby is 2 month or 22 months they have to sit on your lap, at least for take-off and landing.
Which isn’t super realistic if you have an active toddler who doesn’t understand why they have to be strapped to you for what can be a big chunk of time (factor in taxi-ing to and from the runway, possible delays….turbulence etc etc)
However, paying XX dollars for a seat for your little one mightn’t be an option for you so I’d simply say; go with what you can afford and a basic rule of thumb is that pre-crawlers are easy and fine to sit on your lap but it gets far harder afterwards.
Direct vs indirect? Again, this is a matter of what you can afford as much as what is available on your particular route.
For short-haul flights it’s very likely you’ll be flying direct or, at least, it’ll be available to you for a reasonably small extra cost.
Long-haul flights are trickier, particularly when you’re travelling somewhere a bit off-the-beaten-path without an airport, or not on a route serviced by your fave airline you might plump for the indirect route option.
Some folk prefer this option because it breaks up a long flight and gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs.
But I’d strongly advise you take note of the ‘flight-to-faff’ ratio coined by my friend Elle. The basic premise is that your flight faffery shouldn’t outweigh your holiday time. So, for example, if your trip is seven days but your flight lasts three days because of the time difference and stopover time; this is a negative flight-to-faff ration and you should reconsider your route.
For me? A long, direct flight is preferable to two shorter ones where the logistical faffery is doubled and wriggly-toddler-on-lap-time increased.
Book the best you can afford
Overall, I’d say a lot of your decision making comes down to personal preference as well as your budget. My privilege allows me the luxury of booking the options I want (although, I still picked the cheapest and wrong ones) so I’d choose my favourite airline (read more about that below), a direct flight at a nice time with seats for us all.
I’m not moneybags though, so it’s all economy….but still, the little tweaks count.
And a note on timings. EVERYONE said to book a night flight so Anaïs would know it’s bedtime and sleep.
This is BULLSHIT.
Night flights don’t mimic the calm of your child’s bedroom, so what actually happens is that everyone’s asleep and cross you are keeping them awake, your kid is overtired and confused and the flight attendants aren’t around as much because everyone should be asleep.
Book a daytime flight, unless your tot can fit in the in-flight bassinet and you are confident a night-flight is the best option regardless.
Anaïs first flight was with British Airways, who I totally recommend for kids because they get a cute little high-flyers booklet with their airmiles and get to meet the pilot (after the flight.)
However lots of other airlines do a similar thing and these are my personal favourites.
Lots of airports have play areas, with varying quality (The one at Heathrow T4 is right by the smoking area….grim) so always seek these out. It gave Anaïs time to blow off some steam and was a chance for us to chill out for a bit too.
We also utilised the family-friendly security lines which are less intimidating than the usual and the queues are more chilled out too. Although we were travelling outside of school holidays so…..perhaps we got lucky!
Don’t allow too much time. We allowed WAY too much time which led to a very grumpy toddler ready to sleep with no way of doing so. It was late at night so she was already past her bedtime (see: ‘no night flights’ for this error) and, in hindsight, there was no need to
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This is a pretty easy one to be honest because almost everything people said here was uniform AND true.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks were key. I packed way too many but it didn’t feel like a waste because….well, the potential to run out was a very real and hideous possibility.
I sectioned my snacks in two, one bag in my carry-on and the other in our checked luggage and then sectioned even more. I made sure Anaïs couldn’t stumble across a giant bag, and hid everything in little pockets, mini bags as well as easy-access in my own bag.
We didn’t take loads of toys but the ones we did take were new (for the excitement factor) and not precious (the plane is not a great place to lose stuff!)
We took a few sticker books, and a water-pen colouring book because of the lack of mess, and MY WORD, what a brilliant invention they both are. Anaïs absolutely loved playing with stickers which kept her amused for the longest time of anything.
We don’t have any screen-time rules at home, but Anaïs hadn’t ever used an iPad before which was accidentally brilliant. I bought a cheap plastic case, downloaded a few games (Bing was a clear winner) and the Peter Rabbit film too.
We also bought a set of kiddy earphones in case there was something to watch on the in-flight entertainment as well as for the iPad; they are made for little ears and only go up to a safe volume too.
Lastly, don’t worry too much. At most, the flight will be a day long…….and believe me, it’s 100% worth it for the holiday!
This time around the premise is a little different. The pregnancy was unplanned-ish, the timing is crap and I’ve been looking after a toddler throughout pregnancy so…..yep, not as much time to bloom, as it were.
But this won’t be all doom and gloom, I promise. I just won’t be sharing my pregnancy as frequently as I did last time.
I’ve plumped for writing a post for each trimester, as well as the ever popular birth story too (seriously, anyone else love a birth story as much as I do?!)
So here goes. Pregnancy Part Deux: The Embryo Fights Back
Each pregnancy is different?
Pregnancy this time around is sorta same same but different; there have been both highs and lows I didn’t experience the first time around yet a confidence and calm I didn’t have either.
Overall, the symptoms have remained very similar. I had morning sickness from about 8-11 weeks then it stopped as suddenly as it began giving way to bone-tired exhaustion which, this time around has been an absolute killer.
With no family support and a husband who works long hours the tiredness of pregnancy is far tougher than I expected. Getting Anaïs to and from nursery is a joint effort, happily but bedtime tends to be my lucky treat 😉
My tips to get through the first trimester with a toddler in tow?
cBeebies, endless snacks and zero pressure to be any kind of model parent. It’s really only a few weeks where I needed to give up any semblance of caring about parenting properly so even though I felt unnecessarily guilty at the time, in the grand scheme of Anaïs’ life I’m sure she’ll forgot these lost weeks.
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Not feeling so anxious: The first time felt so monumental I allowed every horror story, every stat about how common miscarriage is and hardly told anyone, “just in case”.
This time around, I wasn’t so fussed. I already have a dreamy little dot so if it came to it and I miscarried? I’d be upset, of course, but the grief would be somewhat softened by the blessing of our healthy toddler.
I’m excited for Anaïs to be a big sister and can’t wait to see them playing together, fighting and scheming. I don’t have a relationship with my sister so, I’m sure, psychologically I’m aiming to live vicariously through my kids. That’s okay though, right?
I’m also HELLA excited to buy STUFF! Last pregnancy I was such a minimalist earth mama I refused to buy most things (although, let’s talk about the privilege of how much I got for free shall we?)
But this time I can’t wait to get a new nappy bag, buggy and baby carrier. ALSO TINY CLOTHES.
A bout of depression and struggles with my body image: Last time around my depression got a lot better in pregnancy and I only needed to go back to therapy/drugs when Anaïs was about seven months old.
This time though, I really struggled with persistent low moods from weeks eight through to about twelve. Which, I’m not gonna lie, was incredibly hard.
My changing body, so welcomed last time, felt terrifying. I put the battery back in our scales and started weighing myself daily again, cross referencing against Dr Google’s answer to my frantically typed, “How much weight should I put on at 8, 9, 10 weeks pregnant”.
I also ditched yoga and started running regularly agan (I never run in the winter, because…..grim). A weird way to do it given most people take up yoga in pregnancy…..
I was due to start my yoga teacher training pregnancy in April,and have quite an advanced practice so, for me to continue while having to adapt to my growing bump felt a bit……well, disappointing.
I did pregnancy yoga throughout my last pregnancy but haven’t felt keen to spend a heap of money to have a nap each week (I’m not much of a restorative yoga fan anymore!)
But I’m thinking about getting back into my practice and perhaps going to my usual class so….watch this space. I guess yoga feels quite snore to me at the moment as practicing reminds me of what I can’t do, what I’ve lost. The antithesis of a mindful practice.
Gas. I had to sleep in a separate room I was so windy.
Et voila. I’m currently 16.5 weeks pregnant so you have a wee while before your next installment but hopefully it’ll be a bit more cheery than this one!
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how I grew my blog. I thought it was all super simple stuff and felt a little silly even recommending stuff I thought everyone knew about already (hello imposter syndrome!) but I was SO wrong. It really seemed to resonate with people and I was overwhelmed with the positive response to it.
Needless to say, I’ve gained a few coaching clients since then and the number one thing people are keen to work on is this: PINTEREST.
Goodness, it’s one of those how I make money blogging posts…..
I never expected to write this because, quite frankly, I never expected to make a decent income when I started this blog.
So when I did, I really didn’t expect to be one of those bloggers who writes about how they made 6 figures by blogging, or scored so many free products they were crushed under the weight of them. (Okay, that last line might be made up. I’ve never read that.)
Money, Money, Money, Money
But recently, I shared I might write this on my Instagram and I had an overwhelming amount of DMs saying, “YES PLEASE WRITE THIS”, which shouldn’t surprise me because really, how often do any of us talk about money? In particular, how and how much money we make.
I’m not a huge proponent of everyone writing income reports and demanding 100% transparency 100% of the time, each to their own. But on the flipside I do think those of us who throw shade at the lack of lucidity in the industry have an obligation to put our money where our mouths are (fitting amiright?!) and share what we are asking others to.
First off, I won’t be publishing jazzy pie charts or monthly reports of how my income has flexed up or down. I won’t be sharing my outgoings or talking you through my secret pastry addiction. I will be sharing the breakdown of everything I earn right now, how I do it and my rough rates for each.
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A bit of background first.
When I first started the blog I was travelling and did the most random things to make ends meet; mostly social media management (which I’m crap at) and VERY poorly paid freelance writing gigs; mostly for other people’s blogs.
That changed when I came home to London where my living wage was significantly higher. I temped in offices doing admin work, then worked in-house for Lonely Planet Traveller Magazine.
I was still travelling a lot, so picked up work with a big travel blog doing the founders social media management, managing their Instagram as well as the agency he also managed. That was crappy money, and as I wasn’t the favourite I never got the trips he’d promised would be given on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis when I took the role, BUT it was great for networking and I was fairly quickly approached for a role with a HUGE travel blogger in NEW YORK. The role was actually remote but the first week involved training with his team in New York and I was seriously pinching myself when I was shortlisted.
HOWEVER. Said potential boss told current boss I’d applied so current boss sacked me. It was hella awks.
Luckily, I was in the right place at the right time and started working with Traverse doing anything and everything for their digital agency. Not only was the THE MOST FUN EVER I also got my teeth stuck into proper freelance life, networking, hustling (ick) and generally learning lots.
Freelance writing was always my first love though, so again, I lucked out and landed my second ever staff writer role for the Express. Total baptism by fire going from full-time freelancer to full-time tabloid journalist but it taught me everything I know. I left when I was five months pregnant with Anaïs which brings us to where we are now…..
So, deep breath, here’s everything I earn, how I do it and how I make money blogging.
Journalism has long been my bread and butter. And in the year after I left the Express I was making a decent monthly income PURELY from cold pitching newspapers and magazines.
It’s only recently I’ve understood how rare it is for freelancers to make 100% of their income from writing the sexy stuff. Honestly. Most of my journo colleagues earn a chunk here, a chunk there usually making money through things like PR consulting, writing for trade mags, copywriting….all sorts.
In truth, I was incredibly lucky.
Now, freelance writing makes up a far smaller chunk and that’s on purpose. I no longer crave those bylines, I crave ease and a decent income.
Although I have to add a disclaimer here; I’ve read a fair few times from bloggers that freelance writing isn’t where the big bucks are. That’s true when you are a blogger writing occasionally, as opposed to building relationships with editors and writing professionally.
This is such a small part of my income but it has been bigger in the past.
I use three main affiliate networks; Amazon, Skimlinks and Affilinet. In truth, I haven’t focused very hard on this for a few years but I probably make about £25-40 a month across the board.
And I utilise a few referral programs for things I use and love which gives me money off stuff, as opposed to cold, hard cash.
However, I recently closed my zero waste shop page because so much of the stuff was from unethical companies (read: Amazon) and tbh I don’t wanna be *that* influencer. So I expect this income stream to drop while I work on new, ethical affiliate streams!
In the past I’ve done lots of brand collaborations now this makes up a very small part of my job, mostly because I have a small audience.
Previously I’ve made around £150-200 per Instagram/blog post but I recently signed up for Whalar where I earn……well, sweet FA.
Overall, I don’t love working with brands……it’s really hard to find a good match and those who are often have very small budgets so, going forward this will probably remain as small a part of my income as it is now.
This is where I was able to take control of my income, and the feast to famine cycle was a little less raw. Having said that, there was still a month where I made 5k and a month where I made £200 so……such is life I guess?
I started with a very simple self-paced course hosted on Teachable and ended last year with two more, more intensive courses, taught live by me.
However I wanted scalability and less 1:1 time because…..time is precious! Especially with another on the way. So I digged into price points, teaching platforms and now have a programme of courses I’ll release throughout the year that’ll, hopefully, be less time-intensive, more affordable for students and provide a source of reliable income.
Without realising it I’ve always consulted for others. A while back, for bloggers wanting to strategise and now for business owners needing digital marketing guidance.
I thought I wanted this to be a big part of my business but I don’t, so I do this on a word of mouth basis and don’t advertise my services. I’ve done corporate podcast training, right through to SEO strategy and it’s one of the most fun parts of my job.
But I typically make £250 – £500 per consulting client depending on whether the work is a 1/2 or full day.
This is a very new income stream for me and I put it in place to fund the podcast. Last season two sponsors funded the entire season, bringing in £1,750 in total.
This season my outgoings are exactly the same but this season I wanted to find a way to fund the podcast without them so my Patreon is 100% for that.
In theory. Because I only have 8 so this doesn’t bring in a whole heap right now……but, it’s better than nowt and I’m endlessly grateful for it 🙂
Thanks to our sponsors for this season; The Blogger Course (get 20% off with the code WhatSheSaid) and SudioSweden (get 15% off with the code WhatSheSaid). Please support them the way they’re supporting me 🙂