Child-friendly mall features the world needs right now

Was walking around the mall yesterday and I just realized we have so many child-friendly features available to parents in New Zealand. Here are just examples we see in one mall. Have you read our Bored Panda Article? Please feel free to upvote the article if you liked it.

You’ll find it here:

  • Inside the parents room
    Inside the parents room
  • Are for babies and toddlers
    Are for babies and toddlers
  • Feeding area
    Feeding area
  • Parents Room, where dads are also welcome.
    Parents Room, where dads are also welcome.

http://www.boredpanda.com/5-kid-friendly-mall-features-in-new-zealand-that-the-world-needs-right-now/

Enjoy!

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Mini Japanese Food Sets: Popin’ Cookin’ Bento

The finished product: Popin' Cookin' Bento Box

The finished product: Popin’ Cookin’ Bento Box

This is the second in our series of mini Japanese food set English instructions. This time, we’re doing it for the Popin’ Cookin’ Bento Box. Unlike our first post on the Kracie burger set, this one is more of gummy candies shaped into food rather than tasting like the actual thing. The base is pretty easy to work with, it looks like a mix of sugar with gelatine powder. Some taste like sour gummies, others a sweet (but not too overpowering) and one actually tasted like lemon drops.

More after the jump

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Smart Parenting Features Our Extended Family Set-up

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to share the good news about Smart Parenting magazine publishing the story about our move to New Zealand and how the extended family set-up has helped along the way. In our family, we always say it takes a village to raise kids. I wrote this story after a moving scene with my nephew Connor on New Year’s Day.

photo-1

 

Hope you enjoy the read:

http://www.smartparenting.com.ph/parenting/preschooler/two-pinay-sisters-move-abroad-one-roof-a1561-20170102-lfrm

XOXO,

Mommy Jade

 

 

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Kawaii Mini Japanese Sets: Kracie Burger Set

happy-beans

Happy Jellybean with her finished work.

While this is not quite related to travel, I wanted to post about my daughter’s love for the Japanese culture and anything related to it. She really loves anything kawaii and has been obsessing about those videos of tiny Japanese candies and food that you make.

I recently found the Kracie mini Japanese food sets in Auckland and had to get a bunch of them for my daughter for Christmas. They’re so cute! The box has no English translation so I had to watch some videos in YouTube and make a guessing game out of it. We’ve done several before this and they turned out great. BTW, they’re all edible and pretty easy to make.

More after the jump

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Farmer’s Santa Parade in Auckland

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Before the day ends I wanted to share the awesome experience we had at Auckland’s Santa Day Parade. I decided to take my daughter to the parade the day before I flew to Manila for a short trip. There were two things I really wanted to share with her that day: her first public bus ride — which was quite an adventure in itself — and the annual Christmas event.

There were a lot of great floats this year which was met by a roaring crowd of several hundred people lined up along Queen Street from Aotea Square all the way to Britomart. The parade was due to start at 1pm but it was drizzling that day so even if we were 30 minutes late, we still caught a glimpse of a lot of the floats. The great thing was, when we got to the city the bus service was free. Parking was also free for those with cars.

Here are some of our best photos of that day:

Auckland Santa Parade - Trolls

Cute little kids dressed up as the Trolls.

Auckland Santa Parade - Whitcoull's Float

Whitcoull’s Storytime Float

Santa Parade in Auckland - Willy Wonka

One of my favourites, the Willy Wonka float

Santa Day Parade - Pukekohe Pipe Band

The Pukekohe Pipe Band

Auckland Santa Parade - NZ Herald Float

New Zealand Herald’s Train

Farmer's Santa Parade - ICG Kaleidoscope Float

ICG’s Kaleidoscope float

Auckland Santa Parade - Children of the World Float

ACTA’s Children of the World float

Farmer's Santa Parade - Santa's Float

Last but not the least, Santa’s Float

Jellybean and Daddy enjoying the Santa Day Parade

Daddy and Jellybean really enjoyed Farmer’s Santa Parade in Auckland CBD.

 

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Jellybean’s Japanese Themed Room

Kids Japanese Themed Rooms

It’s finally happening. My little girl is growing up and she’s now ready for her own room. We’ve been busy the past couple of days looking at inspiration pictures for her room. We’ll focus the design on two of her favourite things: Hello Kitty and Japan!

I’m so excited about this project and can’t wait to show everyone the final result. We already have some elements of the design. I recently came back from my very short solo trip to Manila and was able to take the baby kimono we purchased in Japan back to Auckland. I’ll have this framed in a shadow box. We also have a Shoji screen (that Japanese paper folding screen and a Japanese hand-painted umbrella. We already have some paper lanterns from that party we had in November.

Then, I just purchased a Sakura (cherry blossom) wall decal off TradeMe. And I couldn’t help myself from adding on that light switch decal with a sleeping cat to remind her of her visit to Nekobukuro.

Last but not the least, I plan on purchasing the Japanese prints from MossyJojo on Etsy. I think they look lovely. It’s a great way to teach Jellybean some Japanese phrases. She’s closed for the holidays, but I’m so happy that she’s based out of Australia so shipping won’t be a killer.

Will post again once the room is done. Hope you all have a festive holiday break.

Merry Christmas!

–Mommy Jade

 

 

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Saving on Travel with Groupon Coupons

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Groupon Coupons

Oh, the art of couponing! There’s so much to be said about it.

I’ve always been a coupon girl. While in the Philippines, these weren’t exactly the big saver you’d see in other countries such as the US, I have fond memories of coupons from fast food stores that they give out every Chinese New Year (hello McDonald’s and Jollibee!).

While living in the US, couponing has become of those odd habits one develops that allows you to save a ton of money if you really get into it. It can bring down the cost of everyday groceries such as toothpaste or a can of tomato sauce down to like 5 cents, the downside is you need to get them in bulk, but these non-perishables are always good to keep for years anyway.

I remember seeing the show Extreme Couponing on cable and loving every minute of it. After all, who doesn’t want to save money, right? And these people found a way to do it to the extreme! Some are saving thousands of dollars on food every month.

So why do I talk about couponing in our family travel blog? Like many things in the real world, couponing has translated to the digital arena. I first discovered it when I was getting my domain name from GoDaddy and the site asked me for coupon codes. Naturally, I became addicted to looking for coupons online.

Travel and Couponing

As most of our readers would know, I spent about a third of my life doing digital work for a travel company. It was only the most natural transition to do all my travel transactions online. This is when I found out that sites like Groupon Coupons also cover travel!

Groupon Coupons is actually a wonderful site in itself, even without the additional travel perks. They offer huge coupon discounts on many big retail brands that I already love. (Hint: Be on the lookout for their fashion items. You’ll go gaga over the selection).

For travel, they offer coupons to two sites that I usually use:

  • HomeAway Coupons – A great site for vacation rentals — they have 1 million listings all over the globe. Save even more with coupons.
  • One Travel Coupons – Cheap flights, hotels and vacation packages, made even more affordable with coupons.

If you haven’t yet, I urge you to check out Groupon Coupons. Do you use any other online couponing site for your travel deals? Let us know about it in the comments below! As always, thanks for stopping by and hope you give us some love on social media by sharing this article or our page.

XOXO.

Your travel mama,

Jade

 

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Most Interesting Thing in Travel This Week – 13 to 19 Nov 2016

How was your world of travel this week? Find out what’s happening across that globe in the world of travel. From ghostly apparitions in China to a heart-pounding zipline adventure in Canada. Join Baby, JetSet, Go as we go week by week covering the latest, coolest, weirdest and of course, most interesting travel news around.

  • Don’t be surprised if you see more car “ghosts” in China

Drivers who are fed up with high-beamers are taking action by using adding reflective scary decals on the rear windows of their vehicles. The decals were recently noticed by the traffic police in Jinan of the eastern Shandong province. They sell for about 16 yuan from the site Taobao. Looks like a great way to deter those high-beam headlights. Unfortunately, traffic police are not too happy about it and could fine users up to 100 yuan – and tougher punishments if it causes a road accident. As for those high-beam happy drivers? The Shenzhen police have announced an unusual punishment for them by having them stare into the headlights for 60 seconds plus a 300 yuan fine.

Interesting Travel: Ghost Car Decals in China

  • Love beer? How about swimming in a pool filled with one?

Austrian Brewery Starkenberger Brewery Castle actually lets guests swimin the Bierbad. The old vat room of the brewery has the first beer swimming pool in the world. The basisn are filled with 12,000 liters of water and enriched with 300 liters of beer. It is said to stimulate circulation and ensure smooth skin.  http://www.starkenberger.at/das-bierbad.html

Interesting Travel: Beer Pool in Austria

  • Another reason to move to Canada: Zipline over Niagara

Not so happy about Donald Trump’s upcoming presidency? They say there’s been a massive spike in Canada’s immigration website since the election results came out. Not a bad time to move across the border, eh? Here’s one more reason to reconsider your citizenship: a heart-pumping adventure awaits you with the first zipline attraction in Niagara Falls. http://wildplay.com/

Interesting Travel: Zipline above the Niagara Falls

 

Got some interesting travel news to share? Comment below and we’ll feature it in the next few weeks.

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Travel Secret: Groupon Things To Do

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As someone who has worked in the travel industry for a decade, I keep several travel secrets and travel hacks in my back pocket. We’ve shared some of the most essential ones in our Baby Travel Industry Secrets page. But here’s something new I learned fairly recently: use deals sites to find amazing activities for less.

I’m particularly happy with using Groupon for this purpose. The Groupon Things To Do section gives great local insight on the must-see places in Chicago, New York or any other city you plan on visiting. The best part: you get to save anywhere between 50% to 90% off on the deals.

I love how Groupon can help you save on a variety of activities. Whether it’s festival tickets, sporting events, concerts, comedy clubs, theaters and shows and more. If you’re a tourist with kids, there are a ton of great value for money deals such as discounted entrance to the local zoo and museum, guided tour passes and other attractions.

While I’ve been a Groupon fan for a while and have actually bought a lot of Christmas presents for family and friends on the site, I’ve never thought of using it for booking and planning our travel activities. I discovered it on our recent trip to Bay of Islands. We kept bumping into this couple who were also from Auckland. As I was paying for the parasailing experience with cash, he was giving the operator a voucher number. I asked how much he paid for the voucher and he tells me that he got it for half the price that I was paying for! Even worse, since he already booked his use of the voucher so they already had space on the boat for him and his wife. Meanwhile, some people from our party had to be bumped off to the next trip because we weren’t pre-booked.

That was such an eye-opening experience for me. By using a deals site like Groupon, won’t just save on the experience, I can plan it better! Plus, there is no membership or any other fees. Buy your voucher, tell the merchant/operator that you’ll use it on whatever date and you’re done.

We’d love to hear about your deals site experience for travel.

How have you used Groupon to save on travel experiences?

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Most Interesting Thing in Travel This Week – 06 to 12 Nov 2016

We’re starting a new series this week collating some of our weirdest, coolest finds about travel in our blog. Hope you like it!

  • The Next-level Selfie Sticks are Here

This is probably what the child of a drone and a selfie stick would be. The Hover Camera Passport is designed by Beijing startup Zero Zero Robotics.

 

  • Filipinos take to Google Maps to Protest Hero’s Burial for Dictator Ferdinand Marcos

The Supreme Court of the Philippines recently decided to allow the interment of Martial Law Dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the local Heroes Cemetery (Libingan ng Mga Bayani). In protest, Filipinos have used technology and have renamed the location as Libignan ng mga Bayani at Isang Magnanakaw (and one thief).

Photo Credit: Abi Valte

Marcos Burial Google Maps

 

  • Discover Poland’s Starry Glow-in-the-Dark Bike Lane

Check out the recently unveiled glow-in-the-dark bike path charged by the sun. The blue cycling strip is found in the northern part of Poland, near Lidzbark Warminski. It stays luminous for at least ten hours at a time. More from BoredPanda.

Poland's Glow in the Dark Bike Lane

 

Hope you keep following our blog for the coolest, weirdest and most interesting things happening in travel weekly. We will try to post every Friday. Cheers and happy travels!

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How to Introduce Kids to an Epic Life of Adventure

I haven’t updated this blog in a while, we were busy adventuring! So, instead of going back a couple of weeks writing about the exciting things we’ve done, I wanted to do a quick post to help families with young children get their kids started on a life of adventure.

It truly is the most exciting thing in the world to start seeing your young ones plunge into heart-pounding activities without fear. Living in New Zealand – the adventure capital of the world – it really was bound to happen sooner or later.

So far, our 3 and 4-year-olds have gone hiking in a native bush, trekked in a geothermal park, ridden a ski lift, gone sledding, “driven” a river boat and kayaked on a river towards a waterfall. These are things we would have never imagined them doing at such a young age. But that they did.

Huka Falls River Boat

Jellybean “driving” a river boat on Waikato River to Huka Falls

Mt Ruapehu - Whakapapa Ski Fields

The four-year-old sledding down a hill with daddy on Mt. Ruapehu’s Whakapapa Ski Fields.

Haruru Waterfalls Kayak Adventure

Getting ready to kayak along Waitangi River to Haruru Waterfalls in Paihia, Bay of Islands

Here’s how we introduced them to an adventure-filled life and how we plan to continue doing so:

  • Keep Safety Top of Mind – Of course when travelling with young kids, their safety is always any parent’s top concern. Before you indulge in any activity, find out if they allow kids to join. There might be height and weight restrictions for some activities, so it is best to choose those that are fun for the whole family.
  • Preparation is Key – Before you indulge in any sport or activity that may require physical movement or conquering any fear, it is best to introduce it early on. Go to the provider’s website, look at brochures and watch videos of other people doing the activity. This way, your kid would be comfortable with the safety procedures or use of any equipment as part of the adventure.
  • Get all the Essentials Out of the Way – If you want kids to be comfortable with any activity, it is important that you tick off all the essentials. Feed them well before the trip so they don’t get hungry on the way to the river or elsewhere (trips can sometimes take a while to get from one base to another). Dress them so they are comfortable, can move enough and are warm when they need to be. Make sure they go to the bathroom before you board any boat or train or any vehicle that will not give them easy access to a toilet.
  • Start Small – Develop your children’s love for the outdoors by getting them out of the house. Take a walk to the park or go to the beach so they understand that sunshine and fresh air are good for them. Give them the freedom to explore with little fun stuff like stomping on puddles, gathering leaves and flowers or making sandcastles.
  • Be Afraid for Them but Never Show It – I’ve always been a scaredy cat – that ride down ski lift had me fearing for my life. So you won’t be able to imagine the kind of panic attack I have every time my daughter wants to try something even slightly dangerous. To be honest, I never really learned to control that fear and that’s okay. It’s only natural to feel that way as a parent. But I did learn to hide it from her so she can be fearless.

Letting your children be free to enjoy a life of adventure will boost their confidence and help them learn new life skills. And to be entirely truthful, travel with children is already hard – adventure travel even more so. But, it is really worth it.

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Places to Visit near Auckland: Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

Just a 30 minute drive from North Shore is Puhoi — a lovely little area where you’ll find the amazing Puhoi Valley. There’s probaby a lot more to see in the area and the drive up is just amazing, but the reason we’ve been up there twice is really the Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store. So it’s a cheese store with a lot of amazing, delicious cheese. But is it kid-friendly? The answer is a resounding yes!

Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store

Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store

First, they have great food that kids will love. They even have meals especially for kids. We ordered a platter with 3 kinds of cheese, sliced baguette and a few sausages and the kids loved it just as much as the adults. The cheese was just remarkable — whether you go for hard cheeses, soft ones or aged ones with a strong flavour, you really can’t go wrong. Not sure what to get? You can ask them for a suggestion and they’ll give you their most popular options.

Mediterrenean Platter from Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store

Mediterrenean Platter from Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store

Second, they have a play area so keeping the little ones busy is not a problem. If they’re not into playgrounds, there’s always the pond with ducks and a lot of running space just outside the cafe.

The playground area for kids.

The playground area for kids.

Kids area at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

The kids enjoying the playground at Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store.

The outdoor area at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

The outdoor area at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

Grounds at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

The kids running around the extensive grounds at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

Third, the ice cream is just amazing — and what kid can say no to ice cream? They have award-winning flavours and selections for both ice cream and sorbet.

 The award-winning ice cream at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store

Jellybean loves the ice cream at Puhoi Valley Cafe & Cheese Store.

If you’re looking for places to visit near Auckland when you’re on your North Island trip, Puhoi Valley is a must.

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For Our Filipino Fans: Van Sulitas Travel Memes

Filipinos find humour in everything, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when our travel memes from comedian Van Sulitas became one of our most shared posts on our Facebook page. We’re sharing it here for our non-Facebook fans. Please feel free to share the laughter with others!

More after the jump.

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Auckland Events: Disney on Ice at Vector Arena

One of my favourite shows is in Auckland! I was super excited when I heard that Disney on Ice will have a four-day run at Vector Arena and just had to get front-row seats for the little girl. We’ve seen it before in the fabulous Smart Araneta Theatre in the Philippines, so this time I wanted the little girl to be really close to the stage.

It really surprised me that even with the same line up, the show was an entirely different experience. When we watched it in the Philippines, the most amazing act they had was for Tangled — the skaters were hanging in the air most of the time. Here, they also had Tangled but with different songs.

Disney on Ice Stage Set Up

Disney on Ice Stage Set Up in the Philippine

When we saw it last time, the show had Snow White, Cinderella and Rapunzel.

 

Disney on Ice Cinderella

Disney on Ice Manila: Cinderella in her coach

Disney on Ice Tangled

Disney on Ice Manila: The cast of Tangled

Disney on Ice Snow White

Disney on Ice Manila: Snow White

This year’s Auckland line up still had Tangled but with a different set of songs. It had Beauty and The Beast — which as a fantastic stage set-up by the way.

Disney on Ice Beauty and the Beast

Disney on Ice Auckland: Beauty and the Beast

 

Then there’s

Disney on Ice Little Mermaid

Disney on Ice Auckland: Little Mermaid

And of course, there’s Frozen. They had snow!

Disney on Ice Frozen

Disney on Ice Auckland: Snow for Frozen Set

Disney Frozen

Disney on Ice: Has and Ana of Frozen

Jellybean had so much fun watching Disney on Ice in Auckland. Can’t wait for the next run!

Jellybean

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Auckland Events: Aotea Square Ice Rink

Who doesn’t love ice skating? This is the perfect way to celebrate winter in the city. If you’re looking for Auckland events for winter, the ice rink is back this year. Run by Paradice Ice Skating, this yearly set-up will only be up from June 17 to July 24 so catch it before it’s gone!

Auckland Activities: Ice RInk

Inside the rink

skate frame

They have skate frames for rent and skates for kids, too

It comes with a 3-meter long double laned ice slide as well as the Penguin Kid’s Zone. Check out the different events and themed weekends happening. Aotea Square is truly a winter wonderland with life-size polar bears, penguins and seals created by Rawstrone studio.

Life-size polar bears at Aotea Square

Life-size polar bears at Aotea Square

The rink looks lovely at night

The rink looks lovely at night

This is defnitely one winter Auckland activity you shouldn’t miss!

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Travel & Adventure Subscriptions For Kids

We’ve always been fascinated by the idea of subscription boxes. While this has been around in the US for quite some time, its relatively unheard of in the Philippines and is just growing in popularity in New Zealand. We’ve decided to start exploring it just recently. Since we’re pretty fond of travelling as a family, it is only appropriate that our Jellybean’s first subscription box be travel-related. While there are only a handful actually based here in NZ, we did find some good ones in the US that even offer free shipping. Here’s our top pics for her travel and advnture subscription boxes:

1. Little PassportsThis one of the first true travel-related subscription boxes for kids. We love it so much! We’re planning to get this very soon for Jellybean. There are three subscription types: Early Explorers, World Edition and USA Edition. Pricing varies depending on your subscription but as an example, if you go with Early Explorers for 12 months, it only goes for $14.95 a month — you pay a one-time fee for all 12 months + the delivery fee to your location. It looks like the characters change depending on your subscription, for the pre-schooler version, the characters are Max, Mia and their dog Toby. The World Edition, which is recommended for ages 6 to 10, has Sam and Sofia as the characters. The welcome kit comes with a suitcase, stickers, a world map, a bag tag. The monthly package comes with an activity booklet, souveniers, trading cards, letters, photos and more.

2. Surprise Ride  – This montly subscription offers pre-planned activities to cover arts, STEM, geography and history. Boxes iinclude supplies, instructions, a snack, fun facts and more. It is designed for kids aged 6 to 11. The website also has boxes that are sold as Single Rides. They have some country boxes like Costa Rica, Italy, Paris and Australia. Then there’s packaged adventure boxes like Ancient Egypt, Amelia Earhart, A Day at the Beach and more.

Amelia Earhart

 

3. Junior Explorers  – This another cool one. It’s a mission-themed subscription. You can do a monthly subscription for $19, a 3-month subscripiton for $49, 6 monthly missions for $95 and 12 monthly missions for $185. Each month, the program sends a Mission Kit to prepare little explorers for their monthly mission. This includes activities, collectibles and cool facts about the ecosystem. There is also an online part which can be accessed with an unlock code sent with the Mission Kit. Some missions done in the past include the Arctic, Serengeti, Amazon and more. It’s great for kids aged 5 to 11.

junior-explorers-1

4. KiwiBop Postcard Pals  – I think this is the easiest and the cheapest one to start with. Monthly subscription is only $3.99 and payment can be made via PayPal to make it recurring until you decide to unsubscribe. For Jellybean, this is what we’re starting out with just to see if she can already appreciate receiving mail at this age (she’s now 4 years old). When you sign up, you will get a welcome kit, followed by 4 postscards a month. This is meant to engage their reading skills and teach them about the world. Since I’m a new member, I get to give my friends 10% off if they decide to subscribe, just use this link: http://kiwibop.refr.cc/K448XV8

how-it-works-welcome-kit

There you have it! Some great exploration/adventure/travel-themed subscription kits. We can’t wait to receive our welcome pack. If you subscribe to any of these, we’d love to know more about your experience.

 

 

 

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Dreaming of Seychelles

It’s mid-March and the beach seems to be attracting the ocean-lover in me. With the Fall season starting in Auckland comes some nights of biting cold. While I work in the Britomart area of the CBD, it really isn’t the same even if I see a portion of the sea just out the office window. I often look to Facebook with a hint of envy when I see my friends and relatives posting their beach vacay pictures. After all, Conde Nast has rated our very own Boracay and El Nido beaches among the world’s best.

So, I spent this weekend looking for the best villa getaway that would satisfy that travel itch that’s starting to creep in. Then I found a few articles online about Seychelles. This looks like a gorgeous beach destination! There are two main places to choose from when planning a visit to Seychelles: Praslin and Mahe.

sunset at seychelles

Beautiful beach sunset at Seychelles

Can’t wait to do / try the following in Seychelles:

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Kids Activities in Auckland: Snow Planet

If you’re ever in Auckland, NZ with a kid, one thing you shouldn’t miss out on is Snow Planet. We love this place. We took the snow play package thinking our 2 toddlers (both aged 3 years old) would only spend a few minutes in the snow. Coming from a tropical country, that was a pretty safe assumption. So it was really a big surprise to us that we spent 4 hours there.

snowplanet 4

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