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How to survive travelling with a baby

(Article written by Wade O'Leary, NRMA, 2 June 2015)

It was 4am, we were three hours out of Singapore and our infant daughter was screaming. My wife Dianne glared at me and hissed: "This is your fault. I will never forgive you."

We had wanted to travel to Italy for years and had heard it was 'easy' to travel with a baby, so we decided to go for it.

Ana Maria at NRMA Travel found an amazing early-bird fare with Singapore Airlines - $3920 including taxes for two adults carrying an infant - which we had to lock in six months before departure.

A lunchtime take-off meant Scarlett had her mid-morning sleep at home. The airline's service also helped: the attendants prioritised our food service and fussed over our girl whenever she wasn't feeding or napping.

The stopover, including free transfers to and from the airport, worked out at only $100 per night: I say 'per night' because we booked two nights' accommodation both ways, and this is recommended if you're travelling with a bub.

Even though we only stopped for about 30 hours each time, having access to a hotel room from the minute you arrive until the minute you depart is worth it. The flight to Rome leaves Singapore at 1am, so checking out at 10pm instead of 10am made a huge difference.

It meant we boarded with a sleeping baby, who we managed to place in the bassinet. We ate our supper in peace … then the screaming began. But we managed to get Scarlett back to sleep and soon realised that travelling with a baby speeds up the perception of time because you're always busy. It also gives you first dibs on bulkhead seats, which come with extra legroom and a good chance of a spare seat.

Landing in Rome on a drizzly morning, we got to appreciate another good piece of advice we had received while planning our trip: arranging in advance for a driver to pick us up at the airport.

As we loaded our bags into the car, I shuddered at the thought of catching the train with two 30kg suitcases and a baby after a 12-hour flight. If you're a parent, the transfer is worth the money.

Another great tip we got was to stay in apartments. Our flat had a kitchen, a washing machine and separate bedrooms - must-haves when travelling with a baby.

It meant we could live regular lives and do things at our own pace. Our daughter slept like an angel and we ended up seeing more of Rome than we originally thought possible. But then we set out to catch our train to Florence to find the office shut.

A man emerged and explained that a strike meant it had been cancelled. But then he looked at Scarlett sleeping on my chest, smiled and said: "You can get on the next one. It leaves half an hour later. No problem."

Travelling with a baby in Italy is like wearing a VIP pass around your neck. Police let us take shortcuts in the Vatican and escorted us through the crowds at the Colosseum. Restauranteurs rushed to get us a baby seat or would call out to us to stop so they could come say ciao piccolo bambina!

But baby or not, an awful truth about Italy outside of Rome is there is next to no signage and hardly anybody knows where anything is. We eventually found the hire car office in Florence - and got an upgrade on an already great deal through NRMA Travel's wholesaler - but I strongly recommend printing out a map with directions before you go.

And you need a car in Tuscany. Our villa was well located between Florence and Siena but both cities were over half an hour away. You have to plan ahead to make sure you get the most out of this region, because there's lots to see.

After a flying visit to London, we took our flights home. The prospect of jetlag was daunting, but we were now a well-oiled machine and the days passed without drama. As we flew into Sydney, I asked Dianne if she forgave me. She laughed and told me it had been the best holiday of her life.

NRMA Travel International SIM card - Press Release (3 / 7 / 15)

The number of Australians visiting New Zealand has soared to almost one million annually, prompting savage competition between travel sim providers in that market.

Special offer rates released by NRMA Mobile - launched in Australia this year - offer calls, text and data at up to 96 per cent below its competitors.

More than 930,000 Australians visited New Zealand in 2012 - an increase of 12 per cent on 2011 and 165 per cent on 2002 - according to the New Zealand Department of Tourism, many of those travellers returned to face hefty global roaming charges that total thousands of dollars.

The NRMA International Travel SIM offers calls to Australia from New Zealand for 28 cents per minute and texts for only 29 cents - up to 80 per cent cheaper than others in the market.

But NRMA Mobile's data usage rates of just 30 cents per MB in New Zealand are up to 96 per cent cheaper than data rates for other cards (up to $11.50 per MB) - a critical difference, said NRMA Mobile director Bruce Hansen.

"Many people accept that huge phone bills as a result of savage data roaming fees from major Telco's are just a necessary part of overseas travel but this doesn't have to be the case," Mr Hansen said.

The pay-as-you-go NRMA Mobile Sim can be used for low-cost global roaming in more than 200 countries, saving Australians from dreaded post-trip bill shock."

NRMA Mobile also offers customers the ability to make direct calls from their mobiles in several countries.

"New Zealand is growing in popularity as a destination for Australians so our low-cost, pre-paid sim card offers travellers there the chance to slash global roaming charges on their mobile phones," Mr Hansen said.

The NRMA Mobile sim is available via www.nrmamobile.com from $50, which will allow you to have 120MB, 3G data for email, google maps, surfing web and social media or 120 min calls back to Australia or 200 text messages.

Visit www.nrmamobile.com or call 1300 792 231.

How can you avoid the dollar drop?

Planning an overseas trip and watching the dollar fluctuate might make you nervous but you're not alone. Even staff members travelling soon are keeping an eye on the dollar's movements. However, is the opera of the falling dollar enough to raise your concerns?

There's been much publicity around Australia's dollar in comparison to the US but it's not all bad news. The Euro, British Pound and abroad spectrum of Asian currencies have not received catastrophic impacts when compared to last year's dollar value. The Euro, Pound and many Asian currencies only differ slightly from last year.

But how can you save money? Here are some tips regarding how NRMA Travel can help you.
  • All inclusive travel - check what your holiday package includes. Meals can be expensive however, if you're holiday package includes meals, for example cruising, you can save every day
  • Pre-purchase travel arrangements - pre-purchasing your travel arrangements can help you avoid impacts of further drops to the dollar. If you lock in your arrangements now you can worry about how to enjoy them later
  • International Roaming SIM card - Uploading those selfies to social media and roaming charges and can be a costly experience however, if you've pre-purchased an NRMA Travel international SIM card you can save bucket loads on data and international call costs
  • Specials, discounts and value adds - NRMA Travel consultants are trained and kept up to update with regards to saving you money straight away and adding bonus inclusions to your holiday plans.
NRMA Travel consultants pride themselves on servicing Members and are an excellent choice to ask for expert advice. (Written: 5 Feb 2015)

Health and Safety

At NRMA TRAVEL, the safety, health and security of our Members is our top priority. We strongly recommend that you refer to smarttraveller.gov.au for Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade travel advice as part of your travel preparations.

All information was correct at the time of writing but may change without notice.

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