We loved our three weeks in Australia. The entire visit here checked the boxes for us and we had a lovely holiday! Hands down one of our best trips ever.
Itinerary: 1 week in Gold Coast, 1 week in Melbourne, 1 week in Sydney
This has also been one of, if not our best travel with a kid trips so far. So first, I’ll share some of the tactics which have made this so good for us, and then some memories/highlights of our three weeks in Australia.
We stay in one place for a week at a time. To some this may sound like a lot, to others too little. For us, it’s been just right. For places that are so-so, one week is plenty of time, but rarely too much. For places that are great, it’s still a good amount of time and it makes us want to come back. It fits with our online business workflow cycle too because work ebbs and flows on a fairly predictable weekly cycle, so we’ve timed our weekly travel days with our least busy work days. This has worked really well and made work less stressful and travel way less stressful.
We chose to skip Southeast Asia travel and went to Australia instead. Maybe we’ve become soft, maybe we’re not adventurous right now, but for us, the ease of language and getting around that Australia afforded us was so valuable. Running, eating, and kid stuff was simple, fun, and abundant. Major wins. We made the decision thinking ahead about the key things we spend our time doing when we travel and it paid off nicely.
Co-sleeping is the best! Maybe this is parenting controversial here, but we share a bed with Paavo (always happy for the King bed). He sleeps in the middle of us and we all love it. We also all go to bed at the same time. He stays up until 9 or 10pm most nights, depending on time zones and how much we’ve been switching. Then, Julie and I wake up earlier than him and get to work and get our running accomplished. We also take little snoozes with him at nap time. We close our eyes for 20-30 minutes, while he sleeps for 2+ hours. We snuggle together, we are a closely bonded happy family, and we’re all well rested. It also makes booking lodging a tad easier right now given that we don’t need two bedrooms or two beds. It’s a big win for our little family.
Here are some of the highlights:
- The Sheraton on the Park – lodging in Sydney is ridiculously expensive based on what we are used to spending. We cashed in a bunch of SPG points and got 5 nights in a sweet hotel with all the perks. We were treated so well, had great food and coffee included, and we simply loved it! Daily Long blacks, and Paavo got his own Baby Chino (steamed almond milk) each morning.
- Kids stuff: aquariums, zoos (kangaroos, crocs, and koalas galore!), playgrounds, and a generally kid-friendly air about the places we visited made this key part of our travels really enjoyable.
- Paavo played for hours at the Darling Harbour water play area. He so much fun!
- Paavo got to pet kangaroos at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in Gold Coast – he’s been saying “pet roo” for weeks now!
- I didn’t get us killed driving on the other side of the road with the driver’s seat on the other side of the car. I kept it slow, had to actually think about driving again. The freedom we had that first week on the Gold Coast was well worth the risk!
- Swimming in the Pacific Ocean in Australia is way warmer than in the US! The water was so nice and comfortable. It’ll be so fun when Paavo can swim in the ocean with me; the waves are big and powerful. Maybe we can surf together someday too; it’s huge in Australia!
- We got healthy. We’d had sinus infections that kept getting passed around between the three of us for nearly a month. It led to me having a crappy run at the Hong Kong 100k and it made for lots of unpleasant travel. A week on the beach in Gold Coast cured all! Which leads to the next point:
- Summer in Australia while it’s winter up in our normal home in the Northern hemisphere is where to be. Being in the sun and warm weather can’t be beat!
- We talked to more and more travelers than before. We began by asking questions – “if we were to spend one or two weeks in “insert – the place you’re from” – where should we spend our time? People love talking about where they’re from and we learned so much. To visiting Huna in Pakistan, to touring Ireland, the Fringe Festival in Scotland, and so much more. It was great having the interaction with people and learning in the process.
- Paavo is talking so much now! In Hyde Park just outside our Sheraton in Sydney, we saw the hugest bats we’ve ever seen in our lives – the size of seagulls! Later that night while sitting in bed, Paavo says, “Blue…bats!” and busts up laughing. “Orange….bat!” and on and on with different colors. He cracked himself and us up for half an hour with this!
- He calls every place we go to “new home, week”. It’s the norm for him.
- He’s been eager for plane rides because it means he gets “M’s”. Julie does the vegan cheat with Peanut M&Ms and now Paavo does too. The moment he gets on the plane, he sits in his seat, we buckle him in and they begin eating “Ms”!
- He can play with his cars (carried around in his dinosaur backpack) for hours at a time on planes. He travels like a champ.
- Gelato Blue! It is a place in Sydney with probably 30 different flavors to choose from. We got a big sundae to share and then proceeded to get another two scoops because we were loving it so much. We followed this up with pizza and a calzone from Gigi’s!
- We ate well in Sydney, and Australia in general. We ate out most meals in Sydney and Melbourne and the food was so good. Lots of vegan options, easy to find (we use Happycow app).
- Doughnut Time vegan donuts are the bomb! We knew about them from Happy Cow but were hesitant because we knew they were pricey. After talking with some Irish women living in Sydney one evening, we were given such glowing reviews that we went for it the next day – not disappointed!! **Their hours, at least in the Galeria location, have been really spotty. We stopped by during a layover to Auckland and while we were there during normal hours, they never opened! Thankfully the smoothie place next door was open and friendly!
- We ate twice at two different places. Our first two nights we had Thai food at the Kindness Cafe – they treated us well and made us feel welcome, and there was a big open space in front that had lots of kids playing both nights. The highlight for me was watching Paavo go up to a girl, maybe 7 or 8 years old, gesturing and using his limited vocabulary, he convinced her to go play with him and his cars in the dirt. He is a budding salesman already!
- We also loved Mother Chu’s Vegetarian Restaurant. It was close to home, they had vegan ice cream for Paavo, and he crushed the soy nuggets there. He was a hearty eater here so we came back again.
- We walked a lot. Our little umbrella stroller was very effective in navigating the sidewalks of Australia’s two biggest cities.
- We ran through the Botanical Gardens, around the famous Opera House, through the Circular Quay, and over the Harbour Bridge on nearly a daily basis. Right out our front door – awesome!!
- We started doing running workouts again in Australia. We prescribe workouts all the time for the runners we coach, but we’d both been MIA from the workout scene for a long time given all the illness in the household. It was good to push ourselves again.
- I made it to Bondi Beach! I did one long run in Sydney. I made it my mission to get to this famous beach. I took lots of wrong turns but eventually made it. Totally worth it – very beautiful coastline and beach!
- We got in the habit of saying each night as we all got in bed together something that we are grateful for from that day. Good habit to have started together as a family, and one that I hope we can continue, because we have lots to be grateful for.
- We could come back here. We’re already scheming on future plans that could bring us back.