Mama of two, book editor & translator, a contributor of a global travel community – oh and did we mention she travelled the world with two under 5’s in tow… Hands down, we couldn’t wait to catch up with The Travelling Toddler’s Felicia da Costa.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY…
We are a small family of four: My husband Corné and I, and our children Alba (5) and George (3). We have just returned to our old canal house in Amsterdam after having travelled the world for six months and still have trouble getting used to the daily routine again… School runs, work, and obligations make us long back to our days of travel and exploring. And so we try to do that as often as possible! We just came back from a 3-week to South Africa and still have a huge wish list…
WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND YOUR LITTLE ONE’S NAMES?
Ha! One of my favourite stories… When I was pregnant with Alba, we did not want to know the gender. I proposed ‘Alba’ should it be a girl because I had once come across that name in a book and absolutely loved it. My husband wasn’t interested in that name at all! Until we went on a road trip in Italy and spent a few days in the city of Alba, Piedmont. He fell in love with the place and the region and suddenly highly approved of my suggestion. And then, right after she was born, upon telling my family her name, my Grandmother told me one of my late aunts carried the same name. Makes it even more special! Her full name is Alba Isabel Gisele, after my sister and sister in law.
Should Alba have been a boy we would have called him George, and we loved that name so much that we kept it and were able to give it to our second baby, which turned out to be a boy! Creepy as it may sound: I came up with that name while wandering the most beautiful Jewish graveyard in Curacao, a small island in the Caribbean and birthplace of my father and his family. His full name is George David Joseph, named after my two brothers.
FAVOURITE THING ABOUT MOTHERHOOD?
That’s a tough one to put down in words! It’s a feeling, mostly. But I can still tear up about the fact that motherhood taught me a whole new meaning of the word ‘love’. When I look at my kids I feel this overwhelming, intense and incredible joy- it’s unlike anything else. There’s little I love more than bringing my little boy to bed and hearing him whisper ‘I love you mama’ while holding my face in his chubby little hands.
A few days ago I took Alba to get her a new ballet outfit (those pink tutus….) and when it started snowing we got into this tiny café for a hot chocolate. She was chatting away about how much she loved this quality time together, but all I could do was stare at her- bewildered that this smart, sweet and beautiful creature is my daughter. My firstborn.
…AND HARDEST THING?
Well, I could go on and on about the hardships of parenting, the sleepless nights and the constant decision making on how to raise them well. But in the end, the thing I really find the hardest is the excruciating fear of losing them- the idea that something would happen to them scares me so much it literally takes my breath away. As my Mom used to tell me: the minute you were born, careless life as I knew it, was over. And it’s so true.
HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR COFFEE?
Early in the morning! Nowadays I prefer a latte macchiato- gives me a good kick in the face to wake up. During the morning I sometimes take a cappuccino with coconut milk.
TELL US ABOUT THE TRAVELLING TODDLER AND HOW IT ALL STARTED…
Even before we had children we used to travel a lot. I was forever asked to hand out itineraries, tips and tricks on all our destinations and suddenly realised it would save me quite some time if I assembled all my travel stories and suggestions in one place. The website went live from the hospital as I was about to give birth to George! I love writing about our travels and should give more attention to my website… As it brought me so many great opportunities – I hardly have time for it now. I am currently an editing contributor for TRVLBEES, a global community where parents share stylish, green and kid-friendly getaways, I write for a Caribbean platform (DolfijnGo) and I am editing and translating the upcoming book on motherhood ‘A Memoir Of Our First Year‘ by Dutch writer Carolijn Braeken.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PARENTING STYLE?
I’d love to think that I mix the open-minded Dutch parenting with a stricter South American one (instilled by my roots). I am really strict when it comes to manners and politeness, and teach them that family comes first. With me, ‘no’ really is a ‘no’- to me, consistency is key. However, I will always tell them why if they ask. I want our kids to be an integral part of our lives and world- I am not one for leaving them at home a lot or traveling solo with my husband.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR TRAVELLING WITH LITTLE ONES?
First of all: prepare properly. Pack their favourite toys or games, plus enough snacks. This will keep them busy, happy and prevent them from becoming hangry little menaces on long distance flights.
Make sure to download their favourite films or series on an i-Pad- yep, you heard me: an i-Pad. I am not a fan, however: they have proved to be lifesavers multiple times. As long as your kid(s) still think of it as a treat, you are doing just fine.
Secondly: try to settle down the first few days upon arrival. Take it easy, let them get used to the time difference (if there is any) and explore the area before starting your hard-core traveling. Jetlag is no joke, so you might as well tackle that first! Just stick to your normal routine (naps, bedtime rituals etc) and slowly adjust. This will be a huge advantage for the rest of your trip!
Last but not least: I take my kids to the paediatrician for a check-up right before we go; my husband always laughs at me about this but I want them to be healthy while traveling. I always take a small bag with frequently used medicines with me; I hate it when they develop a cold or flu and I have to go looking for a pharmacy in a place I don’t know. Better safe than sorry!
AND THE ITEM YOU’D NEVER EMBARK ON A TRIP WITHOUT?
Out best investment so far has been the wetsuits for the kids and we take them everywhere we travel, literally! We bought them when we had just embarked on our trip around the world and the Byron Bay waters were still quite freezing. But they came in handy in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and New Zealand, too! And just last week, at the beach in Cape Town, we agreed once again that the wetsuits are so incredibly helpful…
Next to those I would say the scooters by Micro Step. They have made all our city strolls so much easier and nicer as the kids love to use them and we don’t have to drag them along.
YOUR FAVOURITE DESTINATIONS, SO FAR?
Impossible to make a shortlist! But if I really really had to: Sydney, Santiago de Chile and Cape Town. Oh and Curacao, my personal paradise on earth, and Byron Bay. And José Ignacio in Uruguay! I just cannot choose….
We have just returned from a wonderful trip to South Africa! I am currently working on an article for TRVLBEES about how to travel there with kids and am hoping to do some further research on that amazing country in the near future- preferably on location…
We are off to the Caribbean for a few weeks in May, and Italy’s Piedmont before that.
WHAT ARE YOU LOVING RIGHT NOW?
I am loving that spring seems to be in the air- I need light and sun in my life.
I am loving that I get to write for great platforms and magazines and people- it has been my wish for so long and the hard work finally seems to pay off.
I am loving that we are able to travel as much as we do- just yesterday it struck me how easy our two children travel with us and love the adventure. It made me so proud!
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