5 Must-Know Things Batman Can Teach You About Family Travel

1. Choose a Sidekick – something or someone to back you up in tough times

Batman has Robin to back him up in tough times.

Batman and his sidekick Robin (image: comicsalliance)

Batman and his sidekick Robin (image: comicsalliance)

Here are Access Riviera’s tips for getting the best from your back-up plan:

Travel tech

Use a private window when booking flights online so airfare search engines don’t remember you and bump up prices.

If you forget your USB plug, charge devices through the USB on a television.

Try sites such as www.free-hotspot.com to locate hotspots, and services such as Tunnelbear, ComfortWay or Tep Wireless when travelling.

Apps

GateGuru is an awesome app that gives information on airport facilities, security line wait lines and flight delays.

(image: Gate Guru)

(image: Gate Guru)

Use TripIt or TripCase to consolidate your itineraries..  I still take hard copes of my itineraries with me (I know!), but these apps are helpful so you can still access all your itinerary information when you are without internet.

TrailWallet for expense tracking and budgeting help with your travel costs.

I’d be lying if I said translation apps are a waste of time. I highly recommend TripLingo – it has basic survival phrases, flash card lessons for language learning, a slang tool, a tip calculator, currency convertor and cultural tips.

(image: TripLingo)

(image: TripLingo)

Another one of my favourites – Word Lens – for translating signs, has transitioned over to Google Translate. There’s still a few hiccups with the voice recognition translation, and also some formats (it doesn’t recognise handwritten text) but it’s still handy to have.

Offline tips

Turn your phone to airplane mode and turn off data to use GPS without internet. Load up your Google map before leaving your accommodation and you can use it to navigate at your destination. To use Google maps offline, type ‘OK Maps’ and the visible area will save for future reference.

Sometimes if you’re at a location (e.g a cafeteria) with free Wifi, they can be annoyed if you don’t purchase something. I usually buy a coffee at a minimum out of courtesy, but if you’re really on a budget sometimes a location’s Wifi password may be on FourSquare.

2.  Source advice – research all the information you need, or have someone available who knows already

Batman has Alfred Pennyworth for advice.

There are many options you can use yourself to source advice prior to a trip with your family:

  • Forums such as Virtual Tourist, Lonely Planet, Frommers and Fodors are helpful for destination advice
  • Internet reviews for specific companies using Trustpilot for reviews
  • Social media channels showcase cool new products and keep you updated with travel blogs
  • TripAdvisor is user-friendly for destination-specific reviews. I like TripAdvisor because you get a broad spectrum of reviewers from across the globe
  • Travel agents and tourist boards

Reference websites such as:

Wanderant is an easy-to-use trip planner for help creating custom itineraries and suggestions on things to do at each destination

(image: Wanderant)

(image: Wanderant)

excuseme-whereis.com is super useful if you’re travelling to Paris, south-eastern France or major cities in Italy. It gives good information about location of public toilets, supermarkets, post offices etc

WikiVoyage for directions and destination information

PlanMy.Travel and LocalFu use local experts and travellers who have ‘been there done that’ for customised itineraries (pay option)

Komoot is an Android app for cycling/hiking in Europe

www.travelbydrone.com is a fun (and addictive!) website with drone-videos at global locations so you can check out your destination before you get there

A few other mentions: Detour for audio guides around the Bay area (eastern USA), TravelSmart for handy information about making the most of Metropolitan Vancouver via cycle, carpooling, public transport

3. Being anonymous is OK too

We all know Batman’s true identity is Bruce Wayne, his comfort zone for anonymity.

Don’t feel the need to put yourself on show to family and friends with constant photo posts to Instagram, or status updates and tweets about every moment of your trip.

Go offline from Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/Twitter/emails/Skype/technology and enjoy the experience of your destination.

4.  Be prepared for sticky situations

Batman’s ready for signs of trouble, and he gets prompted from the Bat signal when there’s a sticky situation.

The Bat signal lets Batman know when there's signs of trouble (image: comicsalliance)

The Bat signal lets Batman know when there’s signs of trouble (image: comicsalliance)

Unfortunately, I don’t have a patent for a global Bat signal but I have more tips to prepare for sticky situations you may encounter:

Copy important travel documents

Make photocopies of your passport, itinerary, and any other important documents and store them in a different location than the originals in case the originals are stolen.   I have an extra hard copy in my luggage, and also a scanned copy of everything on a USB memory stick.

(image: notonthehighstreet.com)

(image: notonthehighstreet.com)

Medical

Research a country’s prohibited items rules prior to travel, and take a copy of your doctor’s prescription if you travel with medications (I’m asthmatic and while preventative inhalers are usually permitted as a drug at most airports, don’t assume your own medication will be accepted as legal in another country).

If you have any food allergies or intolerances, print out translations of foods to give to local restaurants or research companies that sell dining cards online. If you have a dairy intolerance and are visiting France, print out this handy translation in French https://www.brokerfish.com/food-allergy-translation-cards/dairy-French

Triumph Dining has dining cards for gluten-free travellers that cover ten languages.

Travel insurance

Always buy travel insurance. Look at benefits, and policy inclusions and exclusions, not just the initial cost.

Working in the travel industry for over 10 years, I have heard good and bad stories of choosing to buy travel insurance or not. Good = A colleague purchased travel insurance and ended up with altitude sickness in Kathmandu, medical costs were well over $100K. Bad = A family went on an island holiday to Fiji, one of the children received a nasty coral cut which resulted in infection and eventuated in surgery and a lengthy hospital stay costing them thousands of dollars in medical treatment. Cost of a policy that would have prevented this: $120

Change of clothes and basic essentials

Ever since I lost a large suitcase after an international flight, I now carry a spare change of clothes and basic essentials (toothbrush & paste, deodorant, moisturiser) in my carry-on bag so at least I can feel human until my stuff is found (P.S. my suitcase was returned to me within 3 hours, thank you Air France).

A backpack is handy for hands-free travelling (image: Amazon)

A backpack is handy for hands-free travelling (image: Amazon)

If you’re traveling with kids, carry extra food and diapers to allow for delays and a change of clothes for your kids and yourself – I’ll never forget the poor man who half an hour into a 13-hour flight was covered in his baby’s vomit….the smell lingered that’s for sure. I usually travel with my carry-on as a backpack if I travel with my son so I have my hands free.

Extra food

Taking extra snacks or food can counteract the limited variety in train station vending machines, or overpriced airport food. I’ve fallen into the ‘no food’ trap before and paid the princely sum of €90 for 2 lunches and snacks at Singapore Airport.

I have beaten off my son’s hunger many times by taking extra food on my travels – snacks such as dried fruits, nuts, pretzels, cereal bars. Parents need to be aware there may not be any options to heat food or baby bottles on delays.

Cereal bars are great for snacks on flights

Cereal bars are great for snacks on flights

Also, be aware of customs regulations for food when entering different countries – France doesn’t permit you taking any meat from wild animals on-board so leave that deer carpaccio at home. Every country has different rules – Did you know you can’t take fresh fruit or raw unroasted nuts into Australia (without an Import Permit)?

Variety of payment methods

It pays (excuse the pun) to have a variety of options to pay for items when you travel. Credit and debit cards, cash, travellers cheques, money cards.

In France, I have found many tourists have had problems with ticket machines not reading their foreign-issued credit cards so take coins for ticket machines. Most towns (and certainly the main cities) all have banks and ATM’s, though currency exchange providers are usually only found in more populated areas.

Don’t wear a visible money belt (fanny pack) when you travel – that is a sure-fire advertisement for theft ‘Hey look at my bag containing money, passport and other valuables!’.

Local delays

If you are travelling in France, check out Bisonfute for traffic delays, www.easytravelreport.com for transport strikes, and ViaMichelin for traffic conditions and toll costs.

Learn a few phrases in the local language

It’s not essential, but it’s helpful to learn a few polite greetings or relevant phrases to your situation (car hire, child-related terms, transport and accommodation queries).

bonjour

5.  Use what you have to your best advantage

Batman is well versed in utilising the Batmobile and his bat tools to best advantage.

Family travel is no different – there are ways you can use what you already have to maximise your holiday experience.

Family discounts

Take advantage of group or family discounts on entry admissions for attractions, restaurant deals (buy one adult meal, get one kids meal free) and transport tickets. A useful one to know for the French Riviera is the ‘Pass Isabelle Famille’ that costs €35 for one days unlimited train travel along the French Riviera for 2 adults and 2 children under 16 years of age; you purchase them at the train station counters or online via TER SNCF website under ‘offres’ and ‘cartes/abonnements’.

Flying with kids

Make use of night-flights to capitalise on usual bedtimes, and burn off all their extra energy at airport playgrounds. Parenting.com has a great list of family-friendly information at lots of global airports,  read more in their link here http://www.parenting.com/article/fun-things-to-do-at-the-major-airports and you can read all about Nice Airport here 

Not keen on paying for expensive Wifi at airports? Get free Wifi at airports but adding /?.jpg or &.jpg to the end of any URL (for networks that allow images to download without redirecting).

Whoever thought of fast-track queues for families for airport processing is a genius. G-E-N-I-U-S. The last thing you want is to queue behind 500 people at security/immigration with an over- tired toddler who’s barely slept on a 12-hour long-haul flight. Didn’t happen to me, honest 🙂

Nice Airport is a 'Famille Plus' airport with dedicated family security lines (image: Nice Airport)

Nice Airport is a ‘Famille Plus’ airport with dedicated family security lines (image: Nice Airport)

What are your own ‘super-hero’ tips for family travel? Comment below, drop me a line via facebook.com/accessriviera or tweet your tips to me @accessriviera

 

 

Advertisements

Flashback Friday! Radio LL Juan les Pins

Did you know that Juan les Pins had a (short-lived) radio station in the 1920’s?

An antenna was erected at the Municipal Casino, and nightly between 9.30pm-11.30pm in 1927 the radio station transmitted the concerts from the orchestra at the Casino including symphonies, dance and jazz.

1928 - The casino in Juan les Pins with the radio antenna for Radio LL Juan les Pins (image: 100ansderadio.free.fr)

1928 – The casino in Juan les Pins with the radio antenna for Radio LL Juan les Pins (image: 100ansderadio.free.fr)

A law change in the same year of their first broadcast rejected their operation to transmit, but with support from radio clubs and a few politicians they erected a stronger antenna in the gardens of Villa Bagatelle.

In 1928, broadcasts were introduced with ‘Ici Poste Radio LL Juan les Pins’ followed by the Marsellaise.  The programme extended to include news, weather forecasts, comedy, and medical bulletins.

The name changed from ‘Radio LL Juan les Pins’ to ‘Radio Côte d’Azur’ and ‘Radio Mediterranée’.

A look back in history!

Source:  100ansderadio.free.fr

Théâtre shows for Under 3’s in Nice

There are plenty of playgrounds and outdoor activities on the French Riviera, but what do parents do if the weather is adverse or you fancy introducing your little one to the world of theatre shows?

Théâtre de la Cité in Nice runs regular shows for all ages including theatre, music, comedy, mime and dance.

Here are some suggestions below for upcoming shows at Théâtre de la Cité suitable for children under the age of 3 years.

I find this is a tricky age for entertainment in this region as little ones are often not in the school system, or old enough to subscribe to pre-arranged classes.

Tikitêt

Saturday 24 January – 2 shows – one at 10.30am and one at 4pm.

Duration: 25 minutes.

Recommended for age from birth upwards.

Show includes songs (French nursery rhymes) such as ‘Mes petite mains’ and ‘Maman regarde’.  Violin interludes.

Tikitêt - a concert for little heads

Tikitêt – a concert for little heads

Magie à la ferme

Monday 23 February at 10.30am and Tuesday 24 February at 10.30am.

Duration: Between 25-45 minutes.

Recommended for ages up to 3 years.

It is 8am when the farmer wakes up to a disaster. The rooster did not sing this morning and he is now missing!  The farmer and the animals have to investigate to find out what happened to him.

Magie à la ferme - comedy and magic  show

Magie à la ferme – comedy and magic show

C’est la vie

Saturday 11 April – 2 shows – one at 10.30am and one at 4pm.

Duration: 30 minutes.

Recommended for ages from 2 years upwards.

A theatre and marionette show about discovering the world through the four elements.

C'est la vie - theatre and marionette show

C’est la vie – theatre and marionette show

Une journée au zoo

Monday 27 April at 10.30am, and Tuesday 28 April at 10.30am.

Duration: 30 minutes

Recommended for age from 3 years upwards.

It’s a mad adventure! Sebastian is looking for work and finds himself the next day as the zoo keeper with no experience of working with animals.  The show has him share his experiences of meeting the animals at the zoo and the adventures begin – the sea lion is hungry, the crocodile has a toothache and so on!

Une journée au zoo - comedy and magic show

Une journée au zoo – comedy and magic show

Where:  Théâtre de la Cité, 3 rue Paganini, 06600 Nice

How to get there:-

By bus within Nice:  Lignes 12, 30, 64, 71, 75, 99 : Station Gare SNCF
Lignes 1, 2, 4, 17, 18, 22 : Station J. Médecin-Pastorelli
See bus timetables at www.lignesdazur.com

By train:  The nearest train station is the main Nice station (Nice-Ville) and the theatre is an easy 5-minute walk from the station.

By tram: Get off at stop Jean-Médecin, the theatre is a few minutes walk.

By car:  You will find carparking locations at:

Mozart – 11 avenue Auber
Le Louvre – 20 boulevard Victor Hugo (Angle Rossini/Karr)
Nicetoile Shopping Centre – 30 avenue Jean Médecin
Notre Dame – 28 Avenue Notre Dame

Price per person:  €6 per show (or €5 with special deals). There is also a pass you can buy from the theatre for 4 shows called ‘Pass Enfants/Parents 4 Spectacles’ which costs €22 per person for 4 ‘tout petits’ shows.

 

Théâtre de la Cité, Nice

Théâtre de la Cité, Nice

 

Smartphone apps for history & monuments in Antibes

If you visit the town of Antibes, there are a few smartphone applications that you can download that can help you to find and learn about local historical monuments in the Antibes area.

1.   Antibes offered by the Mairie of Antibes Juan les Pins, is a free Android app (you must have version 4.4 and up) where you can learn about local statues and historical places via text, video and images.

It is available in English language, and runs from Bluetooth so you’ll receive a notification when you are close to a monument so you can decide whether you want to receive the information (you can disable notifications too).

Notable monuments included in the app are Fort Carré, Jaume Plensa’s ‘Nomade’ statue at the Antibes port, and the War Memorial Soldier at Fort Carré (Le Poilu).

Antibes Android app (image: Googleplay)

Antibes Android app (image: Googleplay)

2.  Antibes Monument Tracker is available in French, English, German, Spanish and Italian on both iPhone or Android.

With the help of geo-locating and maps you can learn about the history of over 100 monuments and sites of cultural interest in Antibes.  There is the ability to share your discoveries on social media (Twitter, Facebook) via the app.

iPhone:  Download on the iTunes store for €0,99 (Requires version 6.0)

Android: Download on Google Play for €0,99 (Requires version 2.2 of Android and up).

Monument Tracker also offer other French Riviera destinations via their apps including Cannes, Grasse, Côte d’Azur.  Other UK/European destinations include Paris, London, Dublin, Berlin, Rome, Florence, Madrid, and Barcelona. Global cities include New York, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul and Peking.

Antibes Monument Tracker - Android app (image: Monument Tracker)

Antibes Monument Tracker – Android app (image: Monument Tracker)

I hope these smartphone apps allow you to explore and learn about Antibes.

French bank holidays in 2015

If you live in France, or are travelling here on a day that coincides with a bank holiday (jour férié) you will notice that many retail shops close on these dates, and public transport will operate at reduced schedules.

The French also commonly practise an oddity called ‘faire le pont’ whereby if a bank holiday falls on a Thursday, they will often shut up shop or extend the ‘holiday’ to include the Friday and often the following Monday.

So, be aware that while a bank holiday may be recognised on a certain date, that shops, services and companies may be closed a few days either side of that date.

Here are the dates of French bank holidays (public holidays) for 2015:

January – 1st

April – 6th

May – 1st, 8th, 14th, 25th

July – 14th

August – 15th

November – 1st, 11th

December – 25th

Eating the Cake of Kings : Galette des Rois

Today in France, it is Epiphany, which is celebrated since the fourteenth century by eating a ‘Galette des Rois’ or the ‘Cake of Kings’.

The small tart is divided up into as many parts as dinner guests, plus one extra for the poor.

In south-east France, the Galette is made of a crusty pastry with a frangipane filling (or sometimes apple, chocolate or chestnuts) and a small santon (fève) is hidden inside the dough.

The Galette usually looks like an apple pie, but sometimes it is a ring-shaped tart topped with candied fruit.

Galette des Rois a la frangipane

Galette des Rois a la frangipane

The person who ‘finds’ the santon is symbolically crowned king or queen, often today a Galette will include a cardboard crown for this purpose.

The santons hidden today are made of porcelain or plastic – usually depicting religious figures such as baby Jesus or Virgin Mary – but traditionally they were beans.  To keep up with the modern world, bakers are incorporating santons based outside of religious icons – politicians, sports stars, superheroes, cartoon characters.

Galette des Rois santons (image: danslacuisinedemlleragueneau)

Galette des Rois santons (image: danslacuisinedemlleragueneau)

In south-west France, a Galette is usually a bun-shaped crown coated with granulated sugar.

Note: Frangipane is almond cream made of ground almonds, sugar, eggs and butter.

Bon appetit!

Accessible seaside walk – Villeneuve Loubet

If you are looking for an accessible gentle walk, try the boardwalk at Plage de la Batterie in Villeneuve Loubet that leads from the marina to the River Loup near Cagnes-sur-Mer.

Marina Baie des Anges

Marina Baie des Anges

The boardwalk is constructed of flat decking from the Marina Baie des Anges, changing to flat gravel path towards Cagnes-sur-Mer.

plage de la Batterie, gentle walk in Villeneuve Loubet

plage de la Batterie, gentle walk in Villeneuve Loubet

The entire pathway is accessible for baby buggies/strollers, and wheelchairs.

access to the boardwalk is from avenue Eric Tabarly either along 'Allee du Centre Nautique' beside the Yacht Club, or the main carpark on ave Eric Tabarly

access to the boardwalk is from avenue Eric Tabarly either along ‘Allee du Centre Nautique’ beside the Yacht Club, or the main carpark on ave Eric Tabarly

Carparking is found at:

– Marina Baie des Anges – there are carpark spaces at the portside shops

– Or on avenue Eric Tabarly.  When you get to the large Géant Casino supermarket on the main road, avenue Eric Tabarly is directly opposite the supermarket.  Note: It becomes a one-way road after the first bend by the Yacht Club, and the main parking is another 100 metres on the left-hand side.  There are a few designated disabled spaces in this parking too.

Look for this sign by the carpark to indicate the boardwalk, Villeneuve Loubet

Look for this sign by the carpark to indicate the boardwalk, Villeneuve Loubet

Facilities at this beach:

– A few beach restaurants (open in summer season).  The beach is pebbles.

– There are retail shops including small supermarket, tabac, clothing stores and restaurants within the Marina Baie des Anges complex.

– Wheelchair-accessible toilets are at ground level next to the beach carpark on avenue Eric Tabarly.

– Beach volleyball court next to the beach carpark.

The walk is gentle and pleasant with views across to Nice and the airport, and you can walk from the Marina Baie des Anges all the way to Cagnes-sur-Mer.