We’re Moving!

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Well there comes a time in every little blog’s life when they must spread their wings and leave the nest. That time has come, and we are now excited to announce that we are headed for bigger and better things over at www.thesweetestescape.com

The Sweetest Escape will be your online ‘time out’, a place you can come to after the kids are all tucked up in bed to take five minutes for yourself and forget the pressures of daily life. Here you will find delicious recipes, travel ideas, health and fitness tips and encouraging stories to help you achieve ultimate wellbeing.

Our writers are passionate about food, health and travel, and are keen to share their experiences with you – there will even be a regular column from seven-time world surfing champion, and legendary Australian sportswoman, Layne Beachley, who will teach you how to achieve the ideal work/life balance.

Head on over now to www.thesweetestescape.com.au to subscribe so that you never miss a post!

Thanks for your loyal following – we look forward to seeing you over at The Sweetest Escape.

Honeymooning on a Budget

Well you may not be able to put a price on true love, but that’s certainly not the case when it comes to having your dream wedding. The latest studies from Bride-to-Be magazine show that the average Australian wedding now costs a whopping $54,294! With prices like that it’s easy to understand why couples are having to tighten the purse strings when it comes to the honeymoon.

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Fortunately, there are many financial shortcuts you can take to ensure that your honeymoon is still a memorable and romantic trip, celebrating your love for each other – I mean, that’s why you got married in the first place, right? Follow our handy hints and you can have the honeymoon you’ve always dreamed of, without getting into a lifetime of debt. Plus, we’ve even got a chance for you to win a FREE HONEYMOON at your choice of 16 amazing destinations. Read on for more details …

1. Keep it Local

Honeymooning close to home, or at least domestically, eliminates the expense of an international airfare. You can save thousands of dollars just by choosing a destination that’s within easy reach. Wyndham Hotel Group offer 23 stunning resort locations around the South Pacific – click here to view them all.

2. Keep it Contained

By choosing a self-contained apartment style of accommodation, as opposed to a hotel room, you can save money by preparing meals yourself. This doesn’t make it any less romantic – in fact, it can be even more romantic than dining out! Take a trip to the local farmers market and select some fresh produce that you can prepare together. Throw in some flowers and candles, and you can have a private, dreamy, candlelit dinner for two back at your apartment. Or, you could pack yourself a hamper and head off on a picturesque picnic lunch – what a memorable honeymoon experience!

3. Ask Your Friends & Family to Wish You Well

These days, most couples have already been cohabitating for a while before they get married. This means you probably have all the pots, pans and dinnerware you need! Forgo the traditional gift registry at your wedding and instead ask your guests to make a small contribution to your wishing well and help you have your dream honeymoon.

4. Be Flexible

Don’t worry, this tip doesn’t involve yoga or pilates classes – I’m talking about being flexible with your honeymoon dates. Most resorts have a peak season, during which accommodation rates are higher than during low or shoulder seasons. If you can travel anytime outside of peak season, you can save yourself a pretty penny on accommodation.

5. Keep it Short & Sweet

Your honeymoon doesn’t have to last a whole month. After all, you have the rest of your lives to enjoy each other’s company and take many memorable trips together. Take a ‘mini-moon’ right after your wedding – five nights or even just a few days in the one location. This will cut down the cost considerably, but you will still have those first few days as newlyweds together that you will remember forever.

To find out how you can win your dream honeymoon, click here

Packing Light: How to Make Sure Your Suitcase Doesn’t Weigh a Tonne

As we head into the festive season, many of us are preparing for holidays or trips home to see our loved ones. If you’re anything like me, you find that the worst part of travelling is packing (and unpacking)! Getting it right is an art form; a skill that is acquired over many many trips, on which you can hone the art of packing light. Thankfully, as a well seasoned traveller, I am here to help you out so that you don’t have to make the mistakes (and pay the excess baggage fees!) of my past …

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  1. Mix and Match

Choose separates that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits. Staples such as jeans, denim shorts, a neutral coloured button up shirt and plain tops and t-shirts are great because they can be teamed up in a number of ways to create a wide range of outfits.

2. Plan Ahead

Aim to pack two outfits for each day you are away – one for the daytime and one for night. A week or two before you depart lay the outfits out on the floor (along with coordinating accessories and shoes), one at a time, and snap a pic using your smartphone. This serves two purposes: one is that you will know exactly what you need, and won’t overpack. The second is that you will have a ‘visual list’ of sorts so that you can easily pack your suitcase without leaving anything behind.

3. Layer Up

Choose items that can be easily packed and layered up in the event of inclement weather. Even if you’re heading off on an island getaway, you may get chilly inside air-conditioned venues and require a cardigan. Light knits, breezy dresses and a pair of tights will do the trick.

4. Accessorise to Maximise

Pack a range of accessories that can take your basics from zero to hero. A plain shirt and jeans can be jazzed up with the addition of a statement necklace, some big earrings and a great belt. Accessories don’t take up too much room, so you’re better off packing more accessories and less clothes.

5. Air Your Dirty Laundry

Literally, not figuratively! If you know you will be staying somewhere that has laundry facilities, make the most of these. Pack the bare minimum and wash and dry your mix and match separates for maximum wear.

Many of our fantastic locations offer convenient amenities including washing machines and dryers. To find out more, please visit our website.

Get Your Heart Racing in Port Douglas!

With more than 300 days of sunshine a year and a unique natural setting where the World Heritage-listed Daintree rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef, it’s easy to see why Port Douglas attracts travellers seeking serious R&R in droves. But, it’s also for these reasons that Port Douglas is fast becoming the outdoor adventure hub of Australia …

From zip lining through the rainforest canopy on a flying fox, to crocodile spotting on jetskis, there’s a whole host of adrenalin pumping adventures waiting to be had here. We highlight our favourite five for you:

1.       Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours

You’ll have a bird’s eye view of the Daintree as you zip through the trees on this giant flying fox. With stops at five platforms built high amongst the treetops, you’ll have ample opportunity to soak up the awe-inspiring view.

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2.       Jetski Crocodile Spotting Tour

Cruise the Cairns Trinity Inlet on a new-model Yamaha jetski. Choose your own pace and take it slow or speed it up a little; either way, the blood will be flowing fast when you get up close and personal with the area’s huge saltwater crocs!

3.       White Water Rafting

Opt for a full day tour which begins with a trek through the pristine Russell River rainforest before taking in the breathtaking scenery and crystal clear waters on a heart-racing white water rafting adventure.

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4.       Bungee Jumping

Set on seven acres of lush tropical rainforest, Cairns Bungee Tower offers 16 different styles of bungee jumping, to suit everyone from the novice jumper to the professional thrill seeker. Standing at 50 metres tall, this is the highest viewing platform in the area and allows for unparalleled views of the Northern Beaches and out to the Great Barrier Reef.

5.       Skydive Cairns

Jump from 14,000 feet above Cairns for the ultimate adrenalin adventure! Reaching speeds of up to 220 kilometres per hour, you will plummet back towards earth for up to 60 seconds before your parachute deploys at 5,000 feet, delivering you safely to the ground!

Your ideal base in tropical Far North Queensland is at Ramada Port Douglas. Located within driving distance to all these adventures and more, Ramada Port Douglas offers air-conditioned rooms and self-contained one and two-bedroom apartments in a beautiful rainforest setting.

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Get Back to Nature at Lakes Entrance

Although you may not have heard of this small Victorian town, situated on the edge of Ninety Mile Beach where Gippsland Lakes meets the Southern Ocean, Lakes Entrance has actually been a popular holiday destination for more than a century. As I recently discovered, this charming coastal port is the ideal place to reconnect with nature. For a truly enjoyable holiday that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, I thoroughly recommend visiting these natural attractions in Lakes Entrance:

The Lakes National Park

This tranquil bushland retreat is fringed by the waters of Lake Victoria and Lake Reeve. The park occupies 2,390 hectares of low-lying woodland and coastal heath and offers a number of picnic areas, ideal for a lazy lunch. It’s also a great place for bird watching, so be sure to pack your binoculars!

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Photographer: Holger Leue

Buchan Caves Reserve

This stunning honeycomb of caves is home to masses of spectacular limestone formations, created by rain water seeping through cracks and dissolving some of the limestone into crystal-like droplets. Guided tours are conducted daily in the Royal Cave and Fairy Cave. Both caves are lit and have concrete pathways. The reserve also has a swimming pool, playground, walking tracks and picnic ground.

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Mitchell River National Park

This magnificent national parklands is home to some of Gippsland’s best forest country and offers long walks along Mitchell River Gorge as well as canoeing or rafting through tranquil pools and turbulent rapids down to the Gippsland Lakes. If you’d prefer a less active way to soak up the surrounds, it is possible to drive to the picnic ground at the southern end of the park, at the Den of Nargun.

Your ideal base in Lakes Entrance is WorldMark Resort Lakes Entrance. Comfortable accommodation including hotel rooms or fully self-contained one and two-bedroom apartments are complemented by resort facilities including boat access, a fishing area, children’s playground and day spa, for a wonderfully relaxing stay.

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Top Tips for Travelling with Kids

The thought of travelling with kids can often strike fear in the heart of the most patient of parents. Chants of “are we there yet”, “Mummmm, I’m huuuuungry” and “Dad, we’re booooored” stick in your head like the bad lyrics to a song you can’t stand. It’s almost enough to make you want to forgo holidays until the children are grown and have left home.

The good news is that with a little forethought and advance planning, travelling with tots in tow can actually be a stress-free and enjoyable experience! We’ve put together our top tips to help you out and ensure a happy holiday for all.

shutterstock_21091451. Make a List (and Check it Twice!)

It’s a well documented fact that children thrive on routine and familiarity. To make sure your little ones aren’t thrown completely off track by the change in surroundings, make a list of things that are non-negotiable parts of their daily routine and bring them with you. This way you will make sure that no lego-man, teddy or blankie gets left behind!

2. Take Your Time

The formula for arriving on time is to double the usual travel time to your destination and add 15 minutes. Murphy ’s Law dictates that if you’re in a hurry, your children will be hungry/ thirsty/need to use the restroom/throw a tantrum/all of the above. The extra 15 minutes is for you to regain your composure :-)

3. Be Prepared

Even if you were never a Boy Scout or Girl Guide, this motto is for you. Pack a bag of child-friendly travel essentials that can be easily accessed on the plane, in the car or whilst waiting for transport. Fill it with snacks, bottled water, crayons, paper and treats that can be used as bribes in the case of an emergency! Small toys purchased from a discount store and wrapped up as gifts also work as great distractions.

4. Be a Sucker

Yes, that’s right – be a sucker! If you’re flying to your destination, you’ll almost certainly find that your tot will be freaked out by the change in air pressure during take-off and landing. Help them to adjust and reduce discomfort by offering them something to suck. If your baby is breastfed or still takes a bottle, feed them during ascent and descent. If they’re a little older, a dummy, sippy cup of diluted juice or water, or even a lollipop will do the trick.

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5. Choose a Child-Friendly Destination!

This should be obvious, but it’s surprising how many parents choose holiday destinations that don’t really cater for kids! Save the romantic resort for your next anniversary when you can send the kids off to Grandma & Grandpa’s house. Do some research and look for a fun family resort that offers facilities such as a kids’ club, games room and children’s pool. For a great getaway the whole family will enjoy, try Wyndham Resort Denarau Island in tropical Fiji.

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Cultural Rotorua

There’s nothing like immersing yourself in the culture of the country you are visiting to make for an unforgettable holiday. Rotorua, on New Zealand’s North Island, is an area rich in history that will both entertain you and enrich your knowledge. If you are lucky enough to explore this beautiful part of the world, a visit to the Mitai Maori Village is an absolute must.

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Mitai Maori Village offers a number of encounters that will give you a true insight into the fascinating Maori culture. Get a taste of traditional Maori cuisine with an authentic ‘hangi’ dinner; local lamb, chicken, potatoes (rewai) and sweet potato (kumara), cooked in a ‘hangi pit’ (earth oven). The Waka (ancient war canoe) display will leave you spellbound. See Maori warriors in traditional dress paddle down the Wai-O-Whiro Stream in their waka, hand carved by the Mitai family, just the way it was done in eras gone by.

The cultural performance show, set in a tranquil bush setting, will introduce you to ancient Maori customs through song, dance and storytelling. Learn about Rotorua’s fascinating past with tales of interaction with European settlers and displays of weaponry and combat. Coupled with the grace and beauty of the poi dance and the spine tingling haka finale, this is an interactive, and unforgettable encounter for absolutely everyone to enjoy.

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For the ultimate Maori experience, opt for the Beauty by Night meets the People of the Land package, which combines the waka display, Maori cultural performance, hangi meal, tranquil bush walk, glow worm viewing and a visit to the sacred Fairy Spring. You also get the added bonus of walking through the park at night to see local flora and fauna including kiwis in their natural habitat.

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Located just 20 minutes outside Rotorua, WorldMark Resort Rotorua is the perfect base to explore this wonderful area. The two and three-bedroom standard and deluxe apartments are equipped with a full size kitchen and laundry, making your stay feel like a home away from home, with the added luxury of facilities including swimming pool, heated spa, gym, tennis court.

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