We Wants One

Or actually more than one. We loves it.

Of course my first tactical mistake was to view the video showing it off in all it’s glory. Up till the point I saw it in action I had been quite convinced I didn’t really neeeeeeeeeed one. By the time they got to the calendar with the pages that flip over, I was gone. Interestingly, it was the calendar that started us down the whole slippery slope of Apple gizmos. I found I preferred to use iCal over paper and then it just became inconvenient not having that with me when I was out and about and forever having to get back to people. Which lead to getting an iPod Touch. Which lead to getting and iPhone. Which may lead into getting an iPad.

The second MAJOR tactical mistake was having a 10 year old son looking over my shoulder while I watched the iPad informercial. “Oh!” he says, “I could get that instead of a laptop”. Why, so you could my dear son. In fact in the whole “will it kick Kindle’s butt” debate (of course it will, don’t be ridiculous) and the “oh my goodness it’s not really a full tablet” debate have completely overlooked a whole market segment out there. Kids and Education. Our poor iMacs which are *gasp* ten years old sadly now have less capacity than the kid’s iPods, which is a slight technical problem when it comes to syncing. It’s much more realistic for us to consider replacing those computers with iPads than whole works-burger laptops and just having one mother ship to sync them with.

And of course, I can see the wonderful possibilities with the iPad for travel with kids – it’s a DVD player without the hassles of DVD’s, it has games, it has books and wonder of wonders it has ten hour battery life (at least initially). I can see the enormous potential too for a whole new level of interactive board games. For the adult traveller it will be absolutely brilliant for maps, guidebooks and having a full sized key board has to be better than the tiny iPhone one (sorry iPhone, great for notes but not so much for writing).

If you want the full run down, check out Mashable’s post here.

Apple – iPhone for Travel

Apple – iPhone in Business – Profiles – ArtusLabs.

Well it just reinforces the point I’ve been harping on about forever (stop yawning already!) that the iphone replaces a whole bunch of other gadgets, especially while travelling. For instance, we just sold our portable GPS unit on ebay. Although we don’t have a turn-by-turn voice navigation app installed yet, we’ve found Google maps a more than adequate replacement. Two examples of the mobile navigation apps available are:



TomTom is said to be working on one for release as well.

Is this the end for Sat Nav?

Walkie Talkies: The Update

So several blue moons ago, I posted about buying walkie talkies. In fact, we didn’t end up getting new ones. We ordered from the online shop but then they didn’t have them in stock and were only offering a lower model as a replacement. The online store wasn’t that great to deal with and in the end we let the whole thing slide. Therefore, when we went to camp last term, we had to rely on our somewhat dodgy old orange and green pair of walkie talkies. We used them constantly but it was quite frustrating with the “calling” beep going off quite randomly and then not when it was needed etc.

However, now I am working my way through the list of what needs to be purchased before our big trip and we’re back to the decision about walkie talkies. Having done a bit more research, it turns out that you cannot use Australian walkie talkies in Europe. And you cannot use European walkie talkies in the USA. And you cannot use the ones from the USA in Europe or Australia and so it goes on. Therefore if you want to use walkie talkies on holiday, they need to be location specific. Here are the models we are currently considering on Amazon.co.uk


Both of these feature a larger range and a “baby monitor” option. Because there are only about 8 channels available in Europe, these models also have an additional 121 channel codes for privacy. There’s a great comparison chart for the Motorola models here:

So now the 64 million dollar question is – do we get 2 or 4? Or do we just get a couple of cheap mobile phones instead?

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Gizmo Indulgence

Digital Luggage ScalesOk, I couldn’t stand it any more. I HAD to get a gizmo. The gizmo of choice today was the balanzza digital travel travel scales. I found them for a good price at Office Works.
One of the things I get very nervous about when travelling is the weight of our bags. Keptwoman emailed me this and suggested it would be a really good thing to get. I’m afraid that kind of ruins her reputation as the anti-enabler, but here is my new toy.

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Disneyland Park iPhone app


For frazzled parents everywhere, Disneyland CA Planner is an iphone app with these great features:

  • Customizable color-coded, to-scale and zoomable map of Disneyland® Park with GPS*
  • Create your own check-offable list of attractions to visit
  • View available attraction wait times
  • Set and receive alerts when attraction wait times drop below your settings
  • View park hours, event schedules, attraction closures and passholder blockout dates
  • Calendar events, FASTPASS® return times and Disneyland® Park restaurant reservations to your calendar
  • Receive reminders for items on your personalized calendar
  • Browse attractions, dining, menus, snack carts and shopping information for more than 180 points of interest
  • Record where you parked
  • Create your own check-offable gift list
  • Record a personalized, emailable account of your Disneyland experience to share with friends and family
  • Now if only they would make one for Disneyland Paris too!

    Youj can read more about the features on the GotPlanS website.

    One Size Does Not Fit All

    Grumpy Old Women Live
    Image via Wikipedia

    Due to unforeseen circumstances – mainly Leonardo’s mouth growing so much in a week that the plate they sent out by mail didn’t fit – we had to make a repeat journey today of our epic adventure into the CBD. Apart from the fact that it was at least 42 degrees (that’s over 107 y’all) it was a much smoother and more successful trip. Yes, it had MOMENTS, but for the most part it was a much easier trip. The key reason for this was that I cashed in all my baby sitting chips and only took Leonardo. Wow, just taking only one child somewhere is a whole different ball game from taking the whole team.

    *Disclaimer* Now I must warn you that probably after reading the next bit you will think I am Queen CrankyPants but I will remind you that it was 42 degrees and I am obviously still suffering from the after effects of our last mission impossible. And my parents dog died this week – which has nothing to do with this – but I am just saying.

    Anyway, the thing is that last week sometime I read a comment a gentleman travel blogger had made about travelling with kids. He was referring to his travels with his child and said something along the lines of … “this has been a fantastic experience and our kid has coped brilliantly … kids totally do not need gameboys and other electronic rubbish when travelling.” You have to realise that isn’t the exact quote but a paraphrase. But it has completely irritated me on sooooooo many levels. I’ve been stewing on it all week and now I have to vent before I spontaneously combust.

    First up – all kids are different. If you have a lovely, quiet, compliant girl who likes to sit and read horse stories   for hours on end, you may not need a gameboy.

    Horses grazing below the flight path into Lond...
    Image via Wikipedia

    Of  course, if we had one of those types of kids, we’d probably still buy them an ipod and make them read their stories on that, but moot point, as we completely forgot to have any children like that. All kids have different learning styles, temperaments, energy levels and sensitivity levels that make them completely different as travellers.  With the same gene pool, environment and upbringing we ended up with three completely different kids who cope completely differently with travel. Leonardo was a dream baby who would happily go anywhere, anytime and sleep anyplace. CityHall was a baby who would start screaming ten minutes after leaving. She’s downgraded to “are we there yet” but it’s still sapping. I guess if it hadn’t been phrased as a blanket statement but rather “this was our experience and we found OUR child was perfectly happy without being plugged in”, I’d have been a lot less irritated. As it was, to me it came across as pretty judgemental.

    Secondly, as I was made aware today, the number of kids you take with you makes a big difference. One kid plus one kid makes it about twenty times more complex. I tell you I am in awe of anyone who makes it out of the house who has more than three kids. I am convinced that if we had ten kids, I wouldn’t even make it out to the mailbox to collect the mail. 

    Thirdly, IPODS AND GAMEBOYS ARE AWESOME, what is wrong with him?

    Image by Oliver Lavery via Flickr
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    Duty Free, Tourist Refund Schemes & Exporting Gizmos – oh my!

    I’ve done a bit of research lately on current duty free regulations for Australia. They have  changed the way things work since we last went overseas (shortly after the ice melted) – there is now a Tourist Refund Scheme which works like the VAT refund scheme in the UK.           
    Things I’ve found out:

    1. It’s possible to pre-order duty free stuff for collection on arrival back in Melbourne. 

    Duty Free is pretty much a waste of time for gizmos unless you can’t find the ones you want on Staticice (who hopefully will be working again soon). There is no duty as such on most goods imported into Australia, only GST (Goods and Services Tax). There is however a WET (Wine Equalisation Tax) on some alcohol. It must have been Friday afternoon when they came up with that acronym. Somewhere out there is a public servant whose career highlight so far was naming that tax. Actually, it’s so lame I bet they outsourced it to a marketing department *sigh*. Anyway, I have no idea what that’s on about because my eyes glazed over, but the gist of it is, alcohol may be cheaper duty free. Unless you buy it on sale in a liquor shop, or buy clean skins, or direct from the Vineyard etc
    2. The TRS is a GST refund, but the way it works is that you must buy up to 30 days before departure and carry in hand luggage. This is different from the “you must not use before hand” policy that used to be in place.
    “Bringing the goods back into Australia”
    “If the goods are to be brought back into Australia, please be aware that they may be subject to GST. Normal passenger concessions apply and include any items for which a TRS claim has been approved (excluding most personal items such as new clothing, footwear and articles for personal hygiene and grooming). If the value of those goods together with overseas purchases exceeds the passenger concession, the goods must be declared to Customs on your return to Australia. Penalties apply to undeclared taxable goods.”

    If in doubt you should declare the goods to Customs on your return.


    This is the really important bit…

    3. For stuff that you already own and are not claiming TRS on, you need to fill in a form (we will need to do this with our iphones and cameras and widgets and wodgets)


    This is the critical form to ensure that you don’t get stung with duty and GST for stuff you’ve already paid for. It means these items are not counted in your duty free allowance either. 

    Digitalk SP103AA Personal Mobile Radio

    Adelong Computers Digitalk SP103AA Personal Mobile Radio TWIN PACK With Mains Charger.

    We’ve added these to our wish list today. One of the key features of these walkie talkies is the “vox” function. This allows it to operate like a baby monitor i.e. transmission is triggered by voices or sounds. 

    We’ve had a much cheaper pair of walkie talkies which we have taken camping with us. Sadly they no longer work particularly well (one of the pair can receive but not broadcast). When they did work they were ideal for using in campgrounds, large playgrounds and also when travelling in separate vehicles. 

    These much flasher walkie talkies can be accessorized with throat mics(!) which should bring out the Spy Kids in all of us.
    Digitalk SP103AA