Thursday, September 5, 2013

We're in the finals!

The phone rang around arsenic hour the other day, and I noticed it was from a blocked number.
I grimaced, thinking the call was probably from a telemarketer, but took it anyway.
Sure enough, the caller was from the marketing department of Escape Travel. Ever polite, I paused and waited to hear his spiel.
Instead I heard: "Congratulations, you're a finalist in our Escape Travel Family Reviewer competition!"
Well, that's not what I was expecting to hear.
I'd entered the competition a few weeks ago, and in typical MIA style, had forgotten all about it.
That's not to say I didn't want to win - of course I wanted to win! But I figured there would be so many entrants, I assumed we wouldn't have a chance.
Not this time.
Turns out, we are the only representatives for Queensland, and the only single parent family to make the finals.
The competition involved finding a family to represent Escape Travel. The winning family will review three holidays for them in the following year and post social media updates.
It goes without saying that it would be awesome to win. To take my children on a few holidays of their lives and then write about them for a company like Escape Travel would be a dream come true for the three of us.
I've loved travel for as long as I can remember. And I'm so proud that the kids have inherited that part of my personality.
My first experiences were as a fresh-faced young tacker, joining my own family on holidays to beaches and mountains in southeast Queensland.
Then Dad bought a four-berth caravan, which he converted into a six-berth (I was one of four kids), and we went on several memorable adventures. Including one trek from Brisbane to Cairns and back, and another across the country, taking in Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne and the ACT. Doing that in a non-air-conditioned car with four kids in the back was certainly interesting - and yes, Mum and Dad did threaten to stop the car and leave one of us on the side of the road, more than once!
On several holidays we were able to bring the family dog, always a Dacshund. (Seriously, what were Mum and Dad thinking. Four kids and a dog? In a small caravan?)
Surprisingly, these experiences didn't put me off travel. They just made me want to see more.
Then when I got older and lived and worked in Cairns, I was lucky enough to write a lot of travel stories as part of my job as a reporter and feature writer for The Cairns Post. That meant I actually got paid to travel - how awesome was that?
Diving and snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, visiting islands, hiking through the Daintree Rainforest, staying at world-class resorts, exploring lava tubes - those are some of the best memories of my life.
And of course, once I started saving money, it all went on travel.
My first trip overseas was to Asia, and what a mind-blowing experience that was. So much culture, fabulous food, shopping, and fun, right on our doorstep. Then the obligatory trip to America and Canada followed, with backpacking across Europe and more of Asia coming next.
Living and working in London was next, which gave more opportunity for travel around the world. I've lost count of the countries I've visited, and jobs got put to one side a couple of times while the globe just had to be explored.
Whilst working for magazines in London, I was generally in a different part of Great Britain for work every week. Again, I was paid to travel! It was a Sagittarean's dream.
Travel has always been part of my life, but having kids clipped my wings at first. There was the expense, the packing, and the logistics. Not to mention the constant refrain: Are we there yet?
As they got older, and I got braver, we started taking trips further afield. And I've discovered, that while taking holidays with children is different than travelling alone or with friends or partners, it's still the best thing ever.
Yes, you have to pack more gear and take it slower, but travelling with kids re-introduces adults to the world through younger eyes, and that is a gift.
We even lived and worked in New Zealand for a while, which was an unforgettable experience and an amazing way to experience another country's way of life.
Travelling with kids means slowing down, staying longer. That might mean less time for 'boring stuff' like galleries or shopping, and more time for rests, living in the moment, and play. Compromise is key.
Holidaying as a single parent family has extra challenges. There is no other adult to carry suitcases, or take up the slack if someone is sick. There's only one person to supervise at busy places like cities and theme parks. And of course, there's one person responsible for paying for all this.
But the payback is the quality family time, the bonding, and the memories you create.
And those things are priceless.
Just ask my kids.
So far we've been lucky enough to snorkel with turtles in Samoa, make a fish-house in Fiji, and feed elephants at Australia Zoo.
If we win the Escape Travel family reviewer competition, I can only guess at the adventures that await us!

When I was a younger traveller, nothing phased me ...

When you're a parent, you worry more about keeping the kids safe! On this adventure, a jet boat ride on the Sigatoka River, Fiji, I was more worried about getting sick and embarrassing the kids. Luckily, I managed not to disgrace myself! 

Chase reels in a bream in WA

Harmonie finds beauty on the beach in Fiji

Swimming with the sharks at Sea World. Having snorkeled and dived on the Great Barrier Reef, I didn't think I'd be scared. But there are so many sharks and rays and they swim so fast and close, I was terrified. I had quite enough adventure that day, thank you very much. (It was exhilarating though! I would totally do it again!)

And that's the best thing about travel. It brings families together, creates memories and makes us appreciate the wonderful world we live in!

I can't wait for our next escape.


vegemitevix said...

Thrilled for you hun. Wonderful news! Hope you win!!

Cassandra said...

Yay! Good luck xo

Ms_MotorbikeNut said...

Good on you.

(((( Hugs )))) XXXX Kisses XXXX

Unknown said...

Good Luck!! x

Janet Camilleri said...

You've done a lot more travelling than this little black duck! Fingers crossed you win, what a great prize :-)

Nikki @ Styling You said...

GO BRON! Just read that sour grapes comment on the Escape Travel FB page ... sheesh can't people be happy for other people? And she had no idea of your situation or any of the other finalists! X

Char said...

Good luck. I really hope you win because if you win we get to come with you vicariously.

Maxabella said...

Awesome! I hope you get it, Bron!!! x

Anonymous said...

Nothing like travel to broaden the mind and relax the soul. Good luck in your competition :)

Anonymous said...

OMG that's wonderful Bronnie!! And that pic of you and the tiger is fantastic-I'd be too scared!