Airbnb Host Tips: Making A Good Airbnb Listing Amazing

Have an Airbnb listing but need some tips for how to be a consistently great host? We all know that Airbnb is one of the most popular platforms for booking and renting out property. So many people are doing it that, as a host, it can be hard to stand out. After 3 months of full-time travel (read our story here), we’ve noted that a few touches make a big difference. Here are 8 tips for taking your Airbnb from good to amazing.

Read More

RV Trip With Young Kids – A Day In The

This post was first published as a guest post for Canadian RV rental company CanaDream. Full disclosure: I did not receive payment for writing this post, but I did receive a discount on my RV package in exchange for my writing work. As ever though, all opinions are mine and I would never recommend anything that I don’t genuinely believe in – our RV trip with our children was awesome!

Read More

RV Trip With Young Children – 5 Reasons To Pack Up And Go

This post, on taking an RV trip with young children, was first published as a guest post for Canadian RV rental company Canadream. Full disclosure: I did not receive payment for writing this post, but I did receive a discount on my RV package in exchange for my writing work. As ever though, all opinions are mine and I would never recommend anything that I don’t genuinely believe in – our RV trip with our children was awesome!

Read More

WE DID IT – We’re Travelling The World With our Children

What? We Actually Did It!

Before this post, I started writing about the people I encountered when selling everything we owned on Facebook Marketplace. But that was stirring up all the anger and frustration I was so keen to leave behind. So instead, I’m just going to write this rather triumphant, self-indulgent and emotional post. Because, after almost a year of plotting and planning we are TRAVELLING THE WORLD WITH OUR TWO CHILDREN.

I still can’t quite believe that this is us for the next year.

We’re a week in now and it still feels like we’ll be hopping back on a plane in two weeks, back to our old lives. My emotions have ranged from YIPPEEEEE to WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING on a few occasions over the past couple of weeks but now we’re here and we have food supplies (delivered by a lady from the local grocery store in her own car, only an hour after ordering it – that is service for you folks), I feel like the adventure has really started.

The Road To Here

As I write this, every member of my family is asleep. This is one of my favourite scenarios, and I think is going to become an important bit of “me time”. I’ve never been one for daytime naps (see this post), so having the time to just write, or just sit, gives me the headspace I need for an afternoon of chaos/fun.

Today is a writing day. I won’t describe our first few days in detail here because Paul has done a fantastic job with that over on his new blog. So I’ll focus on the run-up to the trip and how the first week has gone.

House Sale Woes

This was undoubtedly the single most stressful, pressurised and intense process I have ever been through in my life. The births of both of my children were no Sunday strolls in the park, so that should give you an idea of how high emotions were running.

They say death, divorce and moving house are the three most stressful things you can go through. When the moving part entails selling your house and over 500 individual items (most to absolute b*stards on the internet), death and divorce looked to be on the cards most days. Preferably death.

When we bought our house four years ago, it was one of the most competitive markets in UK history. We searched every weekend for 18 months. We were regularly outbid by £40k+ on houses that could only be described as total shitholes, and we only got our house because I wrote a begging letter to the lady who was selling it, to try to convince her to take our offer, despite it not being the highest she’d received. It worked, and we were in.

Not so much these days. The house was on the market for close to 8 weeks, and whilst we had quite a few viewings, we had no offers. None. Nothing at all for 7 weeks straight. Week 8 was what would be described in the football community as “squeaky bum time”. If the house didn’t sell, we’d run out of money in December and would be home for Christmas. This was not ideal. To say the least. Our dreams were on the verge of collapse.

Squeaky Bum Time

Whats worse than not selling your house at all? I’ll tell you what. Selling it for less than you paid for it. We were adamant this was NOT going to happen but there’s no use being adamant when something is out of your control. So when the offers started coming in WAY under asking price, it was gutting to say the least. Luckily, the estate agents were so confident in their initial valuation, that every silly offer was rejected outright without even consulting us. People started getting the idea that we weren’t desperate, even though we were a bit (a lot) desperate. FINALLY, about 10 days before we left we received an offer from a lovely couple. It was not only acceptable but was actually worth waiting for because they’re currently renting so NO CHAIN. Hurrah!

Bye bye, sofa bed. 1st June. This feels like so long ago already.

Up until this point, I was resisting selling any of the bigger items in the house because I didn’t want potential buyers to be put off by the disarray. So I waited until we accepted the offer, at which point it was all systems go. This was where the real work began.

Selling Everything We Own

My god. Even for people who thought they didn’t own that much stuff, there was SO much stuff. I was selling up to 150 items a week, from cheese graters to beds, from toys to garden furniture. Between 15th May and 5th June (the day before we left), over 200 people visited our house to collect stuff. Some of them were lovely and made us a bit sad we were leaving the area. HUGE thanks to the lady who came to pick up a solitary garden chair 16 hours before we were due to take off from Heathrow and, through pity for our plight, ended up clearing ALL of our remaining cack from the carport.

I LOVE YOU. However, the majority were unreliable, incompetent, rude arseholes who made me want to burn the town to the ground to save them all from themselves. Bit overly dramatic I know but seriously, SOME PEOPLE.

So yeah, the selling bit was not very fun. That said though, I’d still recommend it to anyone under less stressful circumstances because the act of clearing out all the stuff we didn’t really need was a cleansing, cathartic exercise that did us all the world of good. Everything we own is currently here with us, or in a few boxes in my family’s loft, and this is a good feeling.

Planning The Trip

Amongst all the chaos, I had to find time to sit down and put some work into planning our itinerary, accommodation and transport. I have absolutely LOVED this and if anyone can think of a way I can plan people’s holidays for a living without just being a bog standard travel agent I’m all ears. It gives me such a buzz watching everything coming together and now we’re actually living the plan, even learning from my mistakes is somehow satisfying (Paul will probably use a different word for my mistakes, I’m pretty sure “satisfying” wouldn’t even make the long list).

Where To Start?

So how the hell do you go about planning a year-long round-the-world trip with two young children? I guess my best advice would be take your budget, write a list of your priorities – where you want to visit, what type of transport, accommodation and experiences you would have in an ideal world, then realise your budget doesn’t stretch that far and work out all the ways you’re willing to compromise.

My main compromise (aka gamble) so far has been with room sharing. Mainly hoping that the children are able to share a room without waking each other up every 26 minutes.

So far it’s gone OK. I say OK because we do have to go through the whole “I want a little drink, I need a cuddle, I want to lay the other way up” etc routine with William EVERY NIGHT. But to be fair to the poor little chap, we sold his bed from underneath him less than 2 weeks ago and since then he’s slept on a mattress on the floor at home, a mattress on the floor at a neighbour’s house, a plane seat, a pushchair and a bunk bed. Up until this point he’s slept in his cot, in his room, on his own, every night for the last 18 months, so a bit of bedtime cocking around can be forgiven.

Overnight has been surprisingly peaceful, though. We’ve had one 4 am wake up due to a huge rainstorm, a few middle-of-the-night squawks and shrieks and some looooooong wind-down story times, but generally I’ll take it. Speak to me again when we’ve had to sleep in a hotel room together for two nights and see how chirpy I am about it then.

Into The Groove

So how’s it feeling, a week into full-time travel? Is it all I imagined and was it worth all the hard work and buildup?

The answer, for the most part, is a resounding YES. Even though we’ve had the same meltdowns and strops (#tantrumsontour) and roughly the same routine as we had at home, everything feels easier to deal with. We’re not stuck in the same environment. Distractions and incentives are easy to come by (mainly in the form of dairy-free ice cream in two local cafes and a variety of never tried before snacks and drinks). This means we’re all more relaxed, more stimulated and more FREE to just have fun.

I’ve had a few messages from people recently along the lines of “I would LOVE to do what you’re doing. But I need to convince my wife/husband/partner it’s a good idea”. Here is my message to those who still need convincing. I’ve only got a week’s experience of this whole travel lark but I already know we’re not going to regret a second of it. If you can, do it. What’s the best that could happen?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this first post of our trip. Please drop me a comment below, or head over to Instagram and leave a comment or DM there. See you next time 🙂

Round The World With Children – FAQs

We're taking our children on a round the world trip - FAQs answered

First thing’s first. I’ve been toying with writing this for a while but, in the current circumstances, I feel a bit of a fraud. As it stands, we leave with our two children on a round the world trip in 36 days. For those of you who don’t know, this trip happening relies on our house selling before we go. And it’s not selling. We’re told there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just taking time and that it WILL happen. This and all the other reassuring stuff I’m not sure is just stock estate agent talk or the genuine truth. Either way, it’s making for a rather tense, uncertain and potentially massively disappointing build-up to our trip of a lifetime.

HOWEVER – we have to carry on as if everything is going to be fine, right? Because everything IS going to be fine, right? Right??? Here’s our announcement video if you want to have a look. NOTE: Please subscribe to our YouTube channel if you like what you see. For two reasons: We’re going to be making videos as we travel and you might like them. And we need 100 followers so I can change the link so it matches the channel name. I like everything to match. (GEEK KLAXON).

Planning a Round The World Trip With Pre-School Children – Your Questions Answered

I’m not going to pretend I’m some kind of round the world travel with children expert. After all, we’ve not even left yet. However, I’ve collected together some of the most popular questions my readers and Instagram followers have asked about taking our children on a round the world trip and I’m going to have a go at answering them.

Round The World With Children Question 1: How Do You Actually Plan A Round The World Trip With Children?

This is a big and very broad question. The answer very much depends on a number of factors. Budget, type of travel, preferred sleeping arrangements, how long you have, the list goes on. But, roughly speaking my top tips for planning round the world travel with children are as follows:

1 – Slow Down

Our children will be almost 4 and almost 2 when we set off. This is still VERY young. They get tired easily, too many busy days in a row lead to tantrums. (Hence my #tantrumsontour Instagram hashtag – tag your own photos and I’ll share my favourites).

One piece of advice someone gave me was not to move bases too often and to build in slow days. Our first couple of months is quite full on in terms of changing accommodation every 4 days to a week. BUT I’m making sure I’m planning for plenty of rest time. When travelling the world with children you can’t be on the go all day every day like you might be able to as a couple or on a shorter trip. That’s a surefire way to induce a serious case of travel burnout. So, we’ll be having plenty of days where naps at our accommodation, a supermarket trip and a swim or a short stroll are the only plans.

2 – Flexibility Balanced With Certainty

When we’re travelling, we want to make sure we’ve got some solid plans in place – key dates to hit certain places, somewhere to sleep booked far enough in advance etc. Things that mean we’re not going to be sitting in a cafe in Costa Rica at 6pm on a Thursday evening with tired kids and nowhere to stay. That said, flexibility is key too. At the moment, we’ve planned around 2 months of our trip in detail. So if someone says “you HAVE to go to X” or we decide we love somewhere any want to stay longer, we can juggle things and make it happen.

3 – Tactical Travel Times

I’ve been told that when a full day of travel with kids is in order, starting as early in the day as possible is the best bet. With this in mind, I’ve booked our first flight (London to Boston) at around 9 in the morning. In theory, this means the children will be fairly happy when we board, our youngest will nap during the flight (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and they’ll also get two meals on board which should kill an hour or so of flight time. I’ll let you know how it goes.

On the flip side, arriving by car late at night is apparently a good bet as the children will sleep for the whole journey. I’m not sure I like this idea because my kids don’t generally sleep for longer than 30 mins in the car, and also I like going to bed early. Our children are pretty good, patient car passengers so I think we’ll probably stick to daytime driving – but I’m interested to hear other people’s experiences of night driving if you want to drop them in the comments below.

Question 2: What Will Your Sleeping Arrangements Be?

Simple (for us at least). Apartments, pretty much all the way. We had decided this would be the case long before we went to stay with friends last weekend and all slept in the same room for the night. But last weekend confirmed we’ve made the right choice. It wasn’t pretty.

To be fair, both children were asleep by 7:30pm, so that wasn’t too bad. Oh and and A went to bed with a slight temperature, which usually puts her off her sleeping game a bit.

Anyway, all was well when we crept into bed at about 11. However, at 4, A woke up DEMANDING (and I mean loud whispering “I WANT TO GO DOWNSTAIRS” for FIFTEEN MINUTES with me very loud whispering back “NO! GET BACK IN BED OR I WILL GO AND GET SEAN (our friend) TO COME AND TELL YOU OFF”. This obviously eventually woke W, who, after A went back to sleep at about 4:45, lay in bed singing “B-I-N-G-O” until 5:45, when he nodded back off. I then felt the urge to have a huge coughing fit, which I then fought for AN HOUR to suppress. So yeah, not fun, and cemented in my mind that hotels would only happen in VERY specific circumstances.

Question 3: What Will You Eat?

It’s no secret that we’re vegan and whilst we find it simple, in fact no, second nature, to seek out and enjoy a huge range of vegan food here in the UK, we’re under no illusion it’s going to be easy everywhere.

This is one of the reasons we’ve decided to go for apartments/self-catering is that cooking for ourselves is going to be easier, not to mention cheaper and less stressful than finding places to eat out all the time. If all else fails, we’ll be able to get ingredients for simple curries, salads, pasta dishes and the like, as well as lots of fresh fruit of course. In fact, we’ll probably be forced into eating a little more healthily than we do at the moment, without so many processed vegan junk food and dessert options.

That doesn’t mean we won’t be trying to find the top vegan food spots everywhere we go though – I have done some serious research and have made sure there’s at least one cafe or restaurant near each place we’re staying so we can go and sample the local delights. Keep an eye on the instagram grid for regular food updates as we go.

Question 4: How Will/Do You Stay Sane?

We don’t. We absolutely don’t.

Even though I am 100% certain it will all be worth it, the build up to this trip is currently killing me. My brain is so full I forget things I’ve been told 3 seconds ago. If it’s not written down, it’s getting forgotten. The worry about the house sale, the pressures of “normal” day-to-day-life with young children, meticulous planning, packing lists, shopping, cooking, making sure we see everyone we want to see before we go. You name it, it’s in my mind. All day, all night. DROWNING IN TO-DOS.

So to answer the “how WILL you stay sane?” question, my answer is that if I can deal with the period of actual, real-life insanity, the trip itself will be a breeze. At least for the first couple of months anyway.

Question 4: Aren’t You Nervous About Them Not Being In Preschool/Any Education Plans?

We’re absolutely not nervous about them not going to preschool or nursery for a year. Their nursery/preschool is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, and it’s got a cool new garden that I’m a bit gutted they won’t get more time to play in. BUT, A was born in September, meaning we’ve got a whole extra year with her before she joins the formal education system. W will be nearly 3 when we return so he won’t miss out on any preschool time either.

This is the last chance they (and we, as a family of 4) will get to have proper, unencumbered freedom, fun and exploration for a prolonged period (ie not just school holidays) until they’re at least 16, so there’s plenty of time for a classroom in the coming years.

So instead of spending this year at their current preschool/nursery, what better way to teach them about diversity, adaptability, tolerance, culture, geography, history, language, everything, than showing them the world?

Question 4: How much does a round the world trip with two children cost?

The honest answer is I’m not exactly sure yet. After doing some research our current budget (for everything – transport, food, accommodation, entertainment) is £5,000 per month. But we start our trip in the US and Canada in the height of summer so the first few months is looking a bit higher than that. But I’m a stubborn one so I’ll be trying to find ways to claw back the deficit later in the trip. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Anything else?

If you have any more questions about how we’re planning our round the world trip with our children, please drop them in the comments below, send me an email or drop me a message on Instagram.

Easy Vegan Alternatives To Your Favourite Non-Vegan Meals

Want to eat less meat but think you’ll miss out on your favourite dishes? It doesn’t have to be like that!

When Paul first told me he was going to go vegan overnight I felt a mixture of emotions. On a positive note, I had massive admiration for his forthright determination to live according to his principles despite what anyone says or thinks of him. In fact this is probably his biggest strength in life in general, which is how we’ve ended up not conforming with what’s “expected” of us, and why we won’t just adhere to what other people’s ideas of success are. So thanks Paul xxx

More negatively, my immediate thoughts on my husband going pretty much from carnivore to rabbit overnight were “SHIT WHAT AM I GOING TO FEED HIM?” and “I WILL MISS SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE SO MUCH”.

Good news, everyone, you won’t miss out on ANYTHING by eating one, two, seven or even ALL vegan meals each week. I have spent countless hours researching plant-based meals that even meat eaters will love, and I want to share a few family favourites that are really easy to create a vegan alternative to.

Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

This was the big one for me. If I was going to successfully go vegan in the early days I NEEDED a satisfying, simple and tasty vegan spaghetti bolognese recipe. Then, my lovely Instabuddy Lucy (I interviewed her once in my Instavegan Interviews series – check it out here) sent me an AMAZING vegan lentil ragu recipe from BBC Food and I knew I was going to be OK.

Vegan lentil ragu with spaghetti and added meatless meatballs. YES.

I know this one’s a winner with current meat eaters too because I’ve sent it to loads of my non-vegan friends and it’s become a regular in almost every one of their repertoires. Please give it a try and let me know what you think!

Vegan Roast Dinner

This one is REALLY easy. Apart from the actual meat, a roast dinner is pretty much entirely plant based already. But here are a few tips to create the ultimate vegan roast dinner:

The Main Event

I tend to mix it up a bit when it comes to the meat “replacement” in a roast. For ease, I’ll stick some vegan sausages (Linda McCartney or Sainsbury’s Shroomdogs usually) or a vegan pie (Clive’s or Fry’s do good ones) in the oven. If I want something a bit more involved I LOVE the Bosh! Wellington (this is a go-to for lots of people for Christmas dinner – see my Ultimate Vegan Christmas Feast post for more on that). Alternatively, just forget the idea of the “meat”, pile on more veggies and gravy and get stuck into 10 of your 5 a day.

Vegan Yorkshire Pudding Recipe

I have to admit, I’ve never loved Yorkshire puds enough to really be bothered enough to cook them with our roasts, but if they’re a must-have for you, I’ve heard really good things about this vegan yorkshire puddings recipe from Tesco.

Photo source: freefoodphotos.com

Vegan Gravy Recipe

If you’re short on time it’s worth noting that the bog standard Bisto gravy in the red tub is accidentally vegan. I generally have some to hand in case a quick, impromptu roast is in order.

Recipe wise, I like this really simple vegan gravy recipe from Loving It Vegan. It has coconut milk in it, which sounds weird but really works.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Another British classic, traditionally made with lamb (sad face) but the cruelty-free version tastes so much better, honest!

I usually use Veganuary’s vegan shepherd’s pie recipe and it always goes down a storm, with vegans and meat eaters. It’s really easy and uses lentils as the replacement for lamb, so Larry can stay in the field (Yes, I’m looking at you, Lidl Easter campaign).

Vegan Macaroni Cheese aka Mac and Cheese Recipe

I covered this in my recent vegan pasta post (which also includes amazing vegan lasagne and carbonara recipes) but it deserves another mention here too. I used to LOVE macaroni cheese in my pre-vegan days and this vegan mac and cheese recipe from Cookie and Kate really works as an alternative.

Macaroni. Photo from freefoodphotos.com

Vegan Chilli Con Carne aka Chilli Non Carne Recipe

Now, you could opt for a meat-free mince to make a chilli that’s a vegan version of this classic recipe, in which case just take your usual recipe and switch the meat for a mince alternative of your choice. However, I much prefer this veggie chilli recipe from Jamie Oliver which is packed with veg, spices, beans and general goodness. I promise you won’t miss the meat.

What do you call cheese that belongs to a cow? NACHO CHEESE.

While you’re at it, why not have some vegan nachos as a starter too? I love nachos and this loaded vegan fajita “chicken” nachos recipe from Bethany’s Vegan Kitchen is AWESOME. https://bethanysvegankitchen.com/2019/03/13/vegan-loaded-chicken-fajita-nachos/

Vegan Bangers and Mash

Easy peasy, this one! Just find some amazing vegan sausages – as I mentioned above, we’re fans of shroomdogs in this house, but it’s worth trying a few to see what taste and texture you prefer. Then make mashed potato as you usually would but mash with vegan butter or dairy free milk. Add a generous glug of vegan gravy (see recommendations in roast dinner section above) and hey presto, cruelty-free sausage and mash without any of the wondering what parts have actually ended up in your sausages. When it’s all plants, there’s no problem!

Vegan sausages, rocket mash, asparagus and gravy. YESSSSS.

That’s it! Thanks contributors 🙂

Thanks as always to the blogs and websites I’ve tagged above for your inspiration and ideas!

Anything else?

I really hope this has given you a few ideas for how to switch out the meat and dairy, even in dishes that are seemingly tough to recreate without animal products.

Is there anything else you’d like an alternative recipe for? Or any vegan recipes you currently make that you would love others to try too?

Post your ideas in the comments below or tag Little Green Duck on Instagram and I’ll share any suggestions I receive.

Vegan Pasta Recipes Everyone Will Love

Vegan Pasta Recipes Roundup

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for over a year and I’ve not written a post dedicated to the staple essential and my absolute favourite: pasta. A week doesn’t go by that this delicious and versatile foodstuff doesn’t appear on my meal plan. So it’s about time I did a roundup of my favourite vegan pasta recipes.

Vegan Pasta Recipe Image

The Classics – Vegan Pasta Recipes To Replicate Your Pre-Vegan Favourites

One of the best pieces of advice I received when I first went vegan was to think of all my favourite meals, then find a way to veganise them. 

This was my Google search in the following minutes:

“Vegan Lasagne Recipe”

“Vegan Bolognese Recipe”

“Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe”

“Vegan Pasta Bake Recipe”

“Vegan Carbonara Recipe”

You get the idea, I just wanted to make sure I could still eat all the pasta. My luck was well and truly in. So here are my favourite vegan versions of classic pasta dishes:

Vegan Lasagne

There are so many ways to make a delicious, easy vegan lasagne, with loads of options for the “meat” and plenty of ways to recreate the creamy sauce. My absolute favourite is this vegan lasagne recipe from BBC Food – it’s complex enough to make you feel like you’re not cheating (although let’s face it, who cares about that if it tastes good?) but simple enough to make for a weeknight dinner. Also it’s full of lentily goodness and lentils are my current favourite thing to cook with.

vegan lasagne recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Pasta Bake Recipe

This is a crowd-pleaser! My children love it, I love it, I assume my husband loves it but I don’t ask because I don’t want to stop making it. May I present the Cheesy Tomato And Vegetable Pasta Bake from Bethany’s Vegan Kitchen. Bethany is basically my vegan pasta recipe queen so have a look at her site for more ideas.

vegan pasta bake recipe
Photo credit: Bethany’s Vegan Kitchen

 

 

 

Vegan Pasta “Bolognese” Recipe

Yay! Another lentil recipe, and it’s one of mine. This vegan lentil and hidden veg pasta sauce recipe aka lentil ragu aka vegan bolognese is absolutely packed full of goodness, tricks even the fussiest of eaters into eating a shed load of veg and tastes AMAZING. Tip: switch out some of the stock for red wine for an extra rich sauce.

THE Best Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe

Believe me, as a lifelong macaroni cheese (to put it the proper, English way and not the lazy American way – sorry Americans but it’s true) lover, I have searched high and low for a vegan mac and cheese recipe that hits the spot in terms of rich creaminess, comforting warmth and general cheesiness. This vegan mac and cheese recipe from Cookie & Kate definitely does the job. Cashew cream is THE BEST for this kind of thing. Try it, you’ll love it.

Vegan Carbonara To. Die. For.

Absolutely no contest here, the Bosh! Mushroom Carbonara is AMAZING (as long as you like mushrooms of course). Serve with garlic bread for ultimate taste, and carbs.

Take a Walk On The Weird Side

Now we’ve done the classics, I wanted to share a couple of slightly more, let’s say “out there” vegan pasta recipes. What do you reckon to these, would you try them or would you run a mile?

Vegan Marmite Pasta

Simple, quick and easy, and if you’re a Marmite lover, this is SURELY a winner (although my kids LOVE Marmite but hated this – they have no idea what they’re talking about, clearly). Thanks to Vegan Piece Of Cake for this vegan adaptation of a Nigella Marmite pasta recipe.

vegan marmite pasta recipe

Creamy Avocado Pasta

OK so this isn’t actually that odd, but a lot of people don’t like the idea of it because the sauce is not actually cooked. I find I have to warm it through in the pasta pan a bit to make sure it’s not cold but otherwise this creamy vegan avocado pasta recipe from Oh She Glows is delicious, super-quick and well worth a try.

What’s Your Favourite Vegan Pasta Recipe?

So there you have it, my top vegan pasta recipes. Do you have another favourite? Please share it in the comments below because I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much pasta, do you?

5 Things That Scare Me About Travelling With Young Children

First thing’s first, there are definitely WAY more than five things that scare me about selling everything and taking our two children travelling. I mean, there are about 50 things a day I worry about when I’m parenting from the comfort and security of our toy-filled, warm, familiar home in the UK. So the fear level is understandably going to shoot up a bit, mainly because we’ve never done anything like this before so it’s all unknown. But a bit of fear is healthy, right?

So what are the things I’m most scared about when it comes to full time travel with two young children?

1. Toddler On A Plane

This is a bit like the film Snakes On A Plane, except snakes are probably a little more containable, a little less wriggly and a bit more predictable than a 22 month old with legs that want to walk and a mind that can’t yet be effectively reasoned with (or bribed).

Our 3 year old will be fine, I’m sure of it. She loves snacks, can sit through a whole film, play a game and when tired, will lie down and go to sleep almost anywhere (for more on sleep please read on). She also responds really well to other people telling her she must do something so if all else fails I can just ask the cabin crew to give her their most authoritative stare.

Her little brother? Not so much. He only learned to use his little legs about 7 months ago so the mere suggestion that he may want to sit still for longer than 5 minutes is generally not well met. He responds well to snacks, but generally wants to walk around when eating them, so that won’t help. Oh and his sister has taught him this high-pitched angry shriek that I’d like to say can only be heard by the sensitive ears of dogs, but sadly it’s audible to the general human public too.

2. Sleep

The big one. Every parent knows that parenting and life in general is 543848548345 times easier if everyone is SLEEPING well. Every parent knows how rare it can be for every little piece of the sleep puzzle to be in place for every member of the family.

Generally speaking, someone is usually ill, or teething, or having a nightmare, or scared of fox sex outside (who ISN’T scared of that horrific sound?), or needs a drink, or a wee, or a multitude of other sleep-depriving issues. That’s just at home. So what happens when you throw in warmer temperatures, biting insects, unfamiliar beds and sounds and overtired travellers? Time will tell, but this is the biggest thing I’m feeling uneasy about. Anyone have any travel/sleep tips?

3. Food

Take two hungry but averagely-fussy toddlers and the need for nutritious vegan food on the road and I’m absolutely sure we’ll run into some food-related meltdowns. I’m trying to prepare for this by putting together a list of recipes using ingredients I think we can get everywhere.

Also, by staying in self-catering properties at least we don’t have the pressure (financial or otherwise) of finding restaurants with vegan options. We’ll always have access to fresh fruit and veg, and we’re also considering following in the footsteps of fellow vegan family travellers Our Venture Beyond and lugging our Nutribullet around the world for daily smoothies. I think I’ve actually talked myself out of being worried about this one. Well done me!

4. Lack Of Adult Time

Let’s face it, having children tends to be pretty all-consuming. Paul and I often find ourselves going months without going out, just the two of us. At home, we don’t have any family or close friends particularly nearby so time out has to be well-planned. But it’s not impossible, and we can at least go out with friends separately to get the headspace we need. It’s a bit daunting thinking that when we’re away, it’s just going to be the four of us, with even more limited options for getting away for a bit.

We met the lovely Lynsey of Four Go Exploring last week. They’ve just come back from 9 months of world travel with their two boys. She told us that one of the biggest challenges were the sheer intensity of being together ALL THE TIME. They booked a cruise with a kids’ club so they could regain some all-important adult time. I definitely think we’ll benefit from something similar. We’re also planning on staying with friends in a few places, and hoping that family will join us in others. So we’ll definitely be on the lookout for any opportunities to decompress and just spend some time as a couple.

5. Are We Doing The Right Thing?

This is basically a whole ball of different worries and uncertainties all bundled together. Are we doing the right thing for our children by taking them out of the only home they’ve ever known? Will they cope with messed up routines and a series of exhausting journeys? How do we protect them from any dangers in unfamiliar countries? What if they get sick? Will they get homesick? Will WE get homesick? Can you get homesick if you have no home? Will they have enough contact with other children? How will they resettle into “normal” life when we come home?

So there you have it. It’s the most exciting thing we’re ever going to do. But that doesn’t stop me waking up at 4am silently screaming “WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING?”. But I did the same both times I was pregnant and I don’t regret having children.

So it’ll be OK, won’t it?

Need family health insurance? Check out myTribe to compare plans and get expert advice.

Read More

Vegan Cake and Biscuit Recipes To Make With Your Children: Quick and Easy Baking With Kids

Looking for the best vegan cake and biscuit recipes to make with your kids? Look no further. Baking with the children is one of the sure fire ways to keep them entertained and being vegan doesn’t need to stop you from that enjoyment.

Vegan Baking With Your Children

I don’t know about you but I’m totally over the cold winter days and dark afternoons now. By the time The Little Restaurant Inspector is up from his nap each day, it’s almost time to start cooking dinner. This means we’re spending most afternoons indoors and if I hear myself saying “GET OFF THE WINDOWSILL” one more time I’m going to have a real life Falling Down moment.

So it’s about time I actually did something wholesome and fun rather than counting down the hours until bedtime. And what better activity with two very enthusiastic but completely incompetent toddlers than BAKING. Yes, you know, when they insist on stirring but flick cake mix everywhere instead then wander off and leave you to it.

With that in mind, baking with kids recipes need to be a combination of two things:

  • Easy (so no weird ingredients that require a trip to a specialist shop or online-only supplier)
  • Quick (before I lose them to another activity, such as trashing the living room or the aforementioned climbing on the effing windowsill).

With that in mind, here are some of my favourite vegan baking recipes that your children will love to help with.

Vegan Cakes and Muffins

I’m not sure if I should be ashamed or proud that my 18 month old can now say “cake please Mummy” but I figure that if I’m at least baking with him rather than just buying him cake it’s OK, right? Plus, I can sneak all kinds of added goodness into a homemade cake so at least I’m getting a little nutrition win.

Without further ado, here are my favourite vegan cakes and muffins recipes to make with kids:

  1. The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake by Veggie Desserts 

    This is actually my favourite EVER cake recipe. Forget kids, forget vegan. It’s so simple, rises perfectly every time, is moist and works as an everyday treat, birthday cake or basically any other excuse to eat cake. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.Vegan Chocolate Cake

  2. My Own Easy and Delicious Vegan Banana Bread

    Bananas for sweetness, raisins for chewy goodness. Is there any nicer smell on a winter afternoon than freshly baked banana bread? This is amazing as a dessert but equally good for breakfast. A multi-tasking cake – hurrah!

    Vegan Banana Bread

  3. Loving It Vegan’s Carrot Cake Cupcakes

    I know a few people who do not agree with the concept of vegetables in cake. But I LOVE carrot cake, so I had to include these delicious carrot cake muffins. Anything to get some extra veg into my kids too!

Vegan Cookies and Biscuits

Whether you’re into a a chewy, gooey cookie or a proper biscuit with a crunch, here are my favourite, super simple and tasty cookie and biscuit recipes to bake with your kids.

  1. The Veg Space Jammy Star Biscuits

    This is supposedly a Christmas recipe but who am I to stop anyone making delicious vegan versions of Jammie Dodgers at any time of year? These are really simple to make, my kids love thwacking jam everywhere and they look so pretty (well, if you make them without the help of a 3 and a 1 year old, they are).

  2. Wallflower Kitchen Vegan Shortbread

    As featured in my vegan bake off series, these shortbread biscuits are so tasty, hold together enough to be dipped in tea and my children love making them, especially cut into heart shapes and decorated with vegan sprinkles.

    Vegan Shortbread Biscuits

  3. Made By Luci’s Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Who doesn’t like a gooey chocolatey cookie (actually my friend Lucy doesn’t but the less said about that the better). These ones from Made By Luci are spot on and have never failed me. (Disclosure: I can’t find ANY photos of my own chocolate cookies so I’ve borrowed this photo from my lovely friend Abby. Thanks Abby!).

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

And Finally…

It’s a little bit cheaty, and not TECHNICALLY proper baking because they use ready made pastry, but if you want a really easy and quick treat (also doubles as breakfast) to make with your children try my Vegan Banana, Pear and Cinnamon Pinwheels. YUM!

And that’s that! If you want some more vegan baking and recipe ideas, have a look at the recipes section of this blog, or follow @littlegreenduck on instagram for more simple, no-nonsense family vegan meals.

More:

Copywriting

Eco Consultancy

UK Blog Awards 2019 – Shortlisted Finalist

 

Family Travel: Why We’re Selling Everything To Show Our Children The World

Last week we announced that we’re selling everything to take our two young children on a family travel adventure. Here’s our announcement video if you missed it:

https://youtu.be/vLmYc_zYsy4
We’re taking these two travelling!

Travel Was Never On My Agenda

I never wanted to travel. Whenever I went on holiday I was always a little bit relieved to come home. I definitely never had a burning desire to see the world. I was a homebody, I didn’t really like change and to be honest, I was a little bit scared.

So why the hell are we taking two children under 4 on a trip around the world?

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

The Time Is Right

I’ve gone through the same process with wanting to travel as I did with wanting to have a family. For years and years I was most definitely not ready to have children. I wanted freedom, disposable income and sleep. Then BAM, one day it hit me, I was ready. (Although is anyone ever ready for the lack of sleep?) The same thing has happened with travelling – fear, trepidation, denial, more fear, then BURNING DESIRE TO DO IT NOW.

When we started talking about it last July, I was relieved to find out we both felt the same.. I was fed up with the same old routine at home. I was struggling in the winter in particular and in desperate need of a change of scenery. He had to leave for work early in the mornings then rush back just before bedtime each night. Their “grumpy time” regularly coincided with his arrival, so he felt like he was missing out on the good bits. We felt short-changed by the time we had together as a family so we decided travel was the answer!

But why travelling (because let’s face it, travelling with children isn’t going to be plain sailing)? Why not just move somewhere different, get different jobs, redress the parenting/work balance? This was an easy one – if we were going to make a significant change, we wanted to really make it count.

Learning and Family Time

We want our daughter to be able to go into school and recognise/talk about things from her travels that she’s seen first hand. We want our son to see things he doesn’t even know exist yet. But most of all (corny line coming up) – we want to be together. What other opportunity do you get to spend so much time together as a family? We want to be free from the restraints of Monday-Friday 9-5 working, free from the nursery run, the daily commute and the constant combination of being both bored and tired ALL the time.

But What About Routine?

Everyone knows how much routine and stability plays a part in a child’s early years. Consistent nap times, bed times and meal times. Getting ready for school by going to nursery and learning all the things they need to know before starting school. A stable home, familiarity and security. That’s what makes children happy, right?

Right, in a way. All that stuff can make for a secure, happy childhood but I know that the majority of my most treasured childhood memories were from days when we were all together as a family, whether that was travel, or just having fun and seeing new things locally. Also, the days when my parents were having fun, smiling and generally enjoying life were the days we, as children, were happiest and most secure.

We want to recreate those feelings for our children, over and over again, without any breaks for mundanity. (Although I’m very aware of how much washing we’ll still have to do when we’re away – otherwise we’ll be taking much more than our baggage allowances away with us). We want to show them that life extends beyond the town and country we live in, that what we’ve been doing isn’t all there is to do. We want to open their eyes to different ways of life, make them understand different cultures, and build their confidence.

Our Family Travel Priorities:

There are a few aims we have in mind when planning our trip. I’m sure more will emerge as planning goes on but this is the stuff we want to focus on:

  1. Slow down, take things in and stop worrying about things that don’t really matter. We want to step away from the pace of life we’re used to and just spend some days doing nothing but pottering and eating (mostly eating). This doesn’t mean there won’t be action-packed days full of sightseeing, covering hundreds of miles or generally being busy, we just want to have the option to slow the pace right down when we need to.
  2. Find the best vegan food the world has to offer, in the hope we’ll help other vegans (or non vegans who are worried that travelling would be hampered by being vegan) choose their next family travel destination.
  3. Be more creative. We’ve found that doing the same things day in day out can be a real creativity block. I mainly write for a living and I absolutely love it, even in the deepest darkest depths of winter at my dining room table. I’m excited that we get to take our business with us when we travel and I’m certain that the changes of scenery and environment will make writing, photography and making videos even more enjoyable and natural. (By the way, if you’re interested in any of the services we provide have a look here for more details and here for some client testimonials).
  4. Live outside of our comfort zone. It won’t all be 5* hotels with pools (we can’t afford it, for a start!) and trying to recreate our home life somewhere else. We want to learn about different cultures, live like locals and do things we might feel a bit scared or uncomfortable to do. Apart from bungee jumping, I’m NOT going bungee jumping.
  5. Be eco conscious. Now, let’s get the whole plane travel conversation out of the way before we start. We realise that air travel is a contentious issue because of the damage it does to the environment. We will, of course, try to minimise flying when we can, but we don’t think this is the biggest thing we can do to help. We’ll also try to show our children what people are doing to the planet to make them more mindful of the choices they make in future. As well as this, we will try to stay in properties with an eco-friendly approach and seek out sustainable or planet-friendly activities in each country we visit. We also hope that by sharing our family travel journey we might open people’s eyes to changes they can make to have less of an environmental impact.
  6. See our children grow. We’re doing this at home, in a way, but I’m hoping one of the most rewarding parts of this trip will be seeing our children’s confidence and knowledge expanding. I also feel like we might be pigeonholing them a bit at the moment. We assume we know what they like, dislike and what their characters are like. I want to give them the time and the opportunity to choose what they want to see and open their eyes to new opportunities and overcome their fears.
  7. FUN. Of course, we just want to travel as a family, be together and have an amazing time.

The Adventure Starts Here

We might not be leaving for another few months, but we’ve already started making some changes. Our first flights are booked so organisation/panic mode is setting in. We’ve redecorated the house and it will soon be recarpeted in preparation for selling. We also need to shift all the stuff we have accumulated over the years. I’ve already been selling, lending and giving away things like there’s no tomorrow, and it’s really cathartic. Knowing that what we travel with will be pretty much everything we own as a family will probably feel a bit unnerving. Ultimately though, I think it will be very freeing. But that’s one for another post…

Want to follow as we plan and embark on our family travel adventure? Please subscribe to our blog and YouTube channel, and follow us on Instagram.

Have a question or would like to know about working with us on our trip? Contact us here.