Budgeting for Ireland – food and travel

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Cliffs of Moher

Our 3 1/2 weeks in Irelands are coming to an end as we fly out to Munich tomorrow.  I don’t think that there has been a day that we haven’t loved.  This country and its people have blown our minds.  From its incredible beauty and history that is everywhere to the kindness that has been shown to us from every person that we have come into contact with.  In our 23 days here, travelling 3000 km, we don’t feel like we even touched sides with what there is to see but here are some of our tips and suggestions to travelling as a family on a very tight budget in Ireland and things we found were unexpected costs.

Car Hire

Get a bigger car than you think you will need

As a family, it is preferable to have your own transport to get around especially if you want to be outside of the main cities.  We underestimated our luggage to boot (trunk) space.  I had booked a petrol polo and we had to upgrade to a Golf 1.6.  Being 4 in the family and travelling for 4 months, we have packed extremely lightly.  We have 3 medium suitcases for all 4 of us and each of us have a day backpack.  In these bags are 1 terms worth of school work as well as 3 sleeping bags and then our clothes….I think that is pretty darn impressive!  We only JUST fitted our bags in and when we did the food shop it was extremely tight.  Make sure to use the wheel well as there is an amazing amount of space there.  We stored most of our groceries in that area.

Go for Diesel

I had booked a petrol car and when we upgraded the agent suggested we change to diesel.  Diesel is cheaper in Ireland and you also get more kilometres to your tank.  We managed to get just under 1000ks per 50 liter tank.  We used 3 tanks for our entire trip so our fuel cost was around 195 Euros for 3 weeks.

Travel time and Distances

We had grossly underestimated the time it takes to travel anywhere compared to the distances you are travelling.  Everything takes MUCH longer than you would expect.  We weren’t on the highways much as we were doing as much of the coastal and village areas as we could.  This means that you are on tiny lanes a lot of the time and they take a lot longer.  Therefore a general rule of thumb is that it will take an hour to do roughly 50km.  Also, there is so much to see wherever you go and being on holiday, you will stop to take a pic and appreciate, which adds even more time to the above.  So we spent a lot more time getting places than we expected and were really grateful for having over 3 weeks here.

So if you have less time, rather stick to a smaller area as it is really stressful suddenly trying to cover ground in order to tic off the big attractions.

Money spent on transport

R2,750 = 175 Euro – 3 tanks and we covered nearly 3,000kms

R6,150 = 390 Euro – 3 weeks car hire through dollar

Car insurance is an extra cost.  You will have to choose what is best.  We went for full comprehensive which added a whack on over and above our rental, but the lanes are very small and we had quite a few close calls.  It was a once off charge when we fetched the vehicle.  The other option is that they hold 1,800Euro deposit on your credit card that you get refunded but if you have an accident, scratch or dent you don’t get that back….which freaked us out.  So insurance is really your own personal call.

Food Budgeting

Money Spent on Food in 23 days

R6,400.00 = 405 Euro – Groceries bought over 22 days at supermarkets for a family of 4.

R1,660.00 = 105 Euro – Eating out twice for lunch, 1 breakfast, 1 afternoon tea and cake

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The pretty town of Kinsale

Eating out is expensive.  Due to travelling on the South African Rand, our exchange rate is terrible(Rand16 to Euro1), and also because we are travelling for so long we really have to be careful and watch our budget.  We had booked self-catering places through AirBnB, so we rather cooked at home in the evenings.  Yes, I would have loved to not have to cook, but when you are looking at a minimum of 10Euro per person for the cheapest meal option, eating out it is not viable as a family of 4 for this length of time.  So we shopped and cooked and this kept the cost down hugely!  And we ate well too and had treats etc.  Groceries and especially meat are cheaper than back home in South Africa.

So when we picked up our car we went to the supermarket on our way out of Dublin, we bought all the basics (and put them in the wheel well ;).  Also, due to not being very hot, when we moved from place to place food didn’t ever spoil and we didn’t have a cooler bag for our milk, yogurt and cheese etc.

Supermarkets for the win

img_7643We found the larger supermarkets were really great, especially Lidl and Supervalu.  If we had a choice, we would go to a Lidl as the prices were better and they had amazing specials.  Also, if you drink wine, it is very expensive in Ireland as they have a very high alcohol tax.  Lidl had the best prices for wine by far!!!!  It was nearly half the price of anywhere else.  We found that supermarkets were very accessible and we could pop past one at least somewhere along our daily route.  Thank goodness for google maps ūüôā

Picnic lunches

Out of our 23 days on the road we have picnicked for for roughly 20 of them.  Simon and I were just discussing that doing this took us to some amazing places.  Being out and about, instead of staying in the town to eat, we would drive to the local park, find a stunning forest or go to a pretty beach or eat at the walls of a ruin.  This made us see things that we probably would have missed staying to eat in town.

Every day we would just grab our picnic bag (a cheap shopping bag) and pop in our cheese, salami, mayo, tomatoes and then go past a supermarket or petrol station (a lot of them have good bakeries) and buy yummy baguettes.  This also meant that whenever the kids suddenly lost the will to live due to hunger we could literally eat before we got hangry.

If you are going to picnic, a few things we bought which makes it easier

Utensils – we went to the cheap Dollarz store and bought a set of plastic Knives and Forks set and a little sharp Knife

  • Pencil case – we used this to keep all the utensils in and the kids got them on Emirates
  • Tupperware – bought a cheap Tupperware to put boiled eggs in or cheese etc
  • Kikoi/lightweight towel – made it easier to setup/sit on and we kept one in our backpack

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I will post a few more of our experiences in Ireland.  We are in the middle of our 4 month trip around Europe, so writing is secondary to doing school with Jesse and Livi, keeping in touch with our business at home and being present in the day.

Lots of love

#familyonamissiontoseeireland

Clothing guideline for an Overland Trip

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I am not a khaki and strops and socks kinda girl, no sirree!!!!! ¬†Neither do I need to blowdry my hair and wear full make up but don’t deny me my mascara and nail polish and cute tops. ¬†Just because you have to be practical doesn’t mean you can’t do pretty.¬† My husband does not subscribe to the same.¬† As long as he is comfortable he couldn’t care less, neither could our son.¬† My daughter on the other hand as been spotted in a leotard and tutu in the desert with leather gloves and takkies!

Like any holiday or weekend away, we always tend to take way too much. ¬†The one trip I took my knee high Timberland leather boots! ¬†Yes, they are comfy but flip packing those things was a pain in my b-hind. ¬†So over the years I’m starting to get better at packing for both myself and the kids. ¬†(I do check my husbands packing and tend to shove a few extras in without his knowing. ¬†Once he went with two t-shirts and some board shorts¬†and hardly anything else! He froze his ass off)

When you don’t have the luxury of wheelie bags and a 32kg limit but rather an ammo box measuring 235(h) x 395(w) x 505(l) for 20 plus days of travel with both hot and cold weather, you get clever. ¬†Thank God for the micro down jackets which have come out in the last few years that pack away into tiny bags. ¬†They have made my life soooo much easier.¬† So we each have one crate for clothes and then there is a shared crate for shoes and toiletries and another for the families towels etc.¬† So for a family of 4 there are 6 crates that are allocated for personal and then the rest are food etc.

This is all my clothes on my list below in one crate – it can be done!!!!

So here is my do or die live by list for roughly 15 days.  You will need to hand wash whenever you have available water.  If you want a food packing guideline, click here

Clothes for The Pink Puff (Olivia)

  • 3 shorts – no cuff turnups as sand gets in them and usually comes out in the car.¬† Half of the Namib desert seemed to end up in our car due to cuffs and pockets.¬† Try to keep to darker colors as they don’t show the dirt so much.
  • 3-4 leggings – I tend to pack more as they back up as extra PJ bottoms. Track pants are bulky to pack.
  • 6-8 tshirts and vests
  • 3-4 light long sleeve tops
  • at least one skirt or dress for the pink puff is essential
  • 2 warm hoodies – no zips because if they need to sleep in them if it is cold, zips are uncomfy.
  • 1 wind breaker –¬† we use the lightweight ones from Kway
  • 2 pj’s – one short and one long.¬† I am very strict that they are not allowed out of the tent till they have changed as they then get played in and filthy.
  • enough panties and socks so that if you are not in campsites you have enough to get by till you can hand wash again
  • 1 swimming costume
  • 1 buff/head band that can be used as a scarf or head band
  • Hairbands & clips – if your daughter has long hair, plait it!¬† This keeps it so much more manageable.¬† They will stick their heads out the windows of the car and if you can’t necessarily wash it that often it becomes a nightmare to deal with.

Clothes for Jesse (Boys)

  • 4-6 shorts (he gets so much dirtier)¬† Board shorts are best as they wash and dry quickly and sand doesn’t get into them like normal fabrics
  • 2¬† tracksuit pants – can double as spare pj’s
  • 6-8 tshirts
  • 3-4 long sleeve light weight tops
  • 2 warm hoodies – again try for no zips
  • 2 pj’s – one short and one long.¬† Again, they have to change before leaving the tent.¬† I set their clothes out the night before.
  • 1 windbreaker
  • enough undies and socks¬†so that if you are not in campsites you have enough to get by till you can hand wash again
  • 1 buff/head band that can be used as a scarf or head band
  • 1 broad brimmed sunhat
  • when Jesse was little I would take waterproof lightweight rain trousers, as they kept him clean when playing (you can get them from Cape Union Mart)

Shoes for kids

  • Crocs or strops: You want something a little more covered than a slip slop but easy to put on getting in and out of the cars and that they can also shower in
  • Wellingtons/gumboots or hiking boots: shoes that cover the ankle if they are mucking about in rocks and bush where scorpions and snakes may be, so it covers the ankles.¬† My kids don’t have hiking boots so we take gumboots and takkies (trainers) but space could be minimized by just having hiking boots

Examples of some essentials for the Kids

Splash Pants from Kway               Jesse lives in his Keen strops       Lightweight Kway Jacket

If you need a basic guideline on kids and their toys/entertainment when overlanding, then please click here.

For the Hubster:

  • 3 pairs boardshorts
  • 1 pair cargo shorts
  • 1 pair long trousers/jeans
  • 5-6 tshirts
  • 1 lightweight long sleeve shirt (great for keeping the sun off)
  • 1 fleece
  • 1 light down jacket
  • 5-6 pairs underpants
  • pj’s – simon takes a long light weight pair of pants that can be layered with socks and the fleece top and then just sleeps in his jocks if hot
  • couple pairs socks – at least one warm pair and preferably dark
  • takkies/boots
  • slip slops/strops – needed for shower and in and out the car
  • beanie
  • cap/sunhat

For Me:

  • 2 pairs black leggings – I take my Nike full length ones.¬† I can then run in them if I want otherwise they are so comfy for evenings etc.
  • 2-3 pairs shorts – cutoff stretch denim is my go to as they are hardy and don’t get as dirty but they are a pain if you want to wash as take a while to dry.¬† ¬†Stay away from a turnover cuff as sand sits in it.¬† Short gym leggings are also versatile.
  • 6-8 tops
  • 1 shirt – I find they are great to keep the sun off and cool and an easy extra layer
  • 1 light weight dress – sometimes you just don’t want to wear shorts and t-shirts
  • 1 hoodie/fleece
  • 1 down jacket
  • 1 set light weight PJ’s – I layer with hoodie if cold
  • 8-10 pairs panties – on a hygiene side, panty liners are a must
  • 1 swimming costume
  • 2 sports bras – they are much more comfortable to travel in and dry quickly
  • 1 scarf or light sarong
  • 1 cloth bag to put all your underwear and socks in.¬† It helps keep the crate tidy.
  • Paez shoes – these I swear by.¬† Lightweight, they keep your feet clean and easy on and off and they don’t smell.

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    My faithful Paez.  I swear by them!!!!

  • Trainers/takkies/hiking boots – I just take my trail running shoes.¬† I can walk in them and also try get a run in where possible
  • Slip slops for the shower
  • Buff – I take a couple as they are great to keep your head warm, a scarf and then I also use them to keep my fringe flat when I am drying it ūüėČ
  • cap/sunhat

For the Trailer:

  • 2 sheets – we put them both on the bed at the same time.¬† You can then swop them round by putting the dirty one at the bottom.¬† You then don’t need to pack them into a crate.¬† Also, they are tan color so don’t get as dirty.
  • 1-2 pillowcases – can do same as the sheets or just use one and turn it inside out when needed
  • Micro fibre towels – get the biggest size as they are just nicer to use. They really pack small and dry quickly.¬† I don’t love them but its functional.K-Way Trek Towel XXL
  • Fleece blanket each – these are used in the car and also to line the sleeping bags for very cold nights.
  • Kikoi/sarong – these are great for a multiple of uses.¬† If its hot, to sleep under, and as a second towel.¬† Once when we were in the Okavango, it was stinking hot and there were flies everywhere and we couldn’t sit in the tent as it was stifling.¬† We would dip the kikois in the water and then just lie under them.
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My aunt and brother hiding under a kikoi from the heat and flies

Shopping for an offroad trip

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Packing our trailer is like a tetris game sometimes.  Writing lists of what is in each box and sticking it on the top of the ammo box lid really helps

So I was chatting to friends of mine who are heading off to Namibia for their first time doing something slightly wild and untamed. ¬†Going to these wild and rural places is amazing but so often when we don’t know where to start or what to bring it can turn into an overwhelming experience. ¬†So here are some of the things that I would recommend especially when travelling with kids.

You need to have a rough idea of distances and times to be covered each day. ¬†The one thing which has made a HUGE difference is that on the days that you are having to cover quite a large distance is to have a meal already made. ¬†This worked so well for us because as we arrived at camp my husband would setup and I would prep supper for the kids and it would be ready within 10-15 mins. ¬†You then weren’t having to set up camp and then start to prep meals on fires etc and have children who were moaning and unhappy. ¬†We took along a bolognese so only had to cook the pasta, a chicken curry so just cooked rice and just froze them before hand. ¬†Always have a few backup ‘easy meals’. ¬†I take a few pesto’s that can be put on pasta or soups that only need to be opened and heated. ¬†Again, problems can arise like wheel issues or engine problems so that you can be delayed getting to your destination. ¬†In places like Namibia and Botswana there aren’t exactly restaurants you can just pull up to en route.

It’s also good to be prepared to make some bread. ¬†If you don’t have time to knead and leave then try my¬†Beer Bread on the Fire¬†as it is quick and easy to make. ¬†Irish Soda bread in a pan¬†is also a winner. ¬†This can be used for lunches and breakfasts and doesn’t need a lot of prep time.

Don’t forget to zip loc or wrap anything in paper bags or cardboard. ¬†We opened our trailer once to find flour everywhere when the bag exploded due to driving on rough roads. ¬†An oil lid also popped off once and a Jimmy’s Braai sauce also exploded….cleaning those was no funding the residue and smell lingered for ages! ¬†We also bought milk in cardboard cartons and they started to leak due to rubbing along the bottom of the crates. ¬†The next time we put a layer of bubble wrap and paper and it was much better. Also labeling your crates with a basic list of what is inside can be a huge timesaver.

When kids have to be in the car for lengths of time they seem to snack ¬†incessantly. ¬†I would make a ‘lunch box’ each morning before setting off. ¬†Bars, biltong, a sandwich and fruit. ¬†You can’t always stop when they expect lunch so this holds them off for a while but takes a bit of planning as you have to make sure you have enough for the whole trip.

So below are some essentials I take along. ¬†It is a pretty basic list but its a good start to then build from. ¬†Let me know if there is anything you would think is an ‘essential’ that I should add as well ūüôā

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Before we modified our trailer all the food had to go into crates.  It was a permanent game of shuffle

BASIC SHOPPING LIST

Condiments: salt, pepper, olive oil, cooking oil, fresh garlic, liquid stock sachets, dried rosemary, basil and thyme, mayo, tomato sauce and butter if possible, jam, peanut butter, nutella (can be used for smores), bovril/marmite, honey, mustard, pesto.  We forgot all spices our first trip and food was pretty bland! Nothing like a pooitjie with no spices. I like to take along some smoked paprika, chilli, curry powders so that we have the option of a curry or a tagine on the fire.

Lunch aids¬†(when you can’t get bread): pre-packed wraps – we use the Woolworths ones as they last long, they can also be used for bacon and egg breakfast mornings when bread may be finished. ¬†Dry biscuits like provitas and rice cakes are good backups and snack fillers if necessary.

General Food Goods: Rice, flour (either decant into a tupperware or double wrap), couscous (can be used for salads or supper base), baking powder, baking soda, oats, marshmallows, teas & coffee, sugar, bottled beetroot, olives, sundried tomatoes, vinaigrette, tuna, tinned tomatoes, baked beans, corn, tomato paste, longlife cream, longlife milk, coconut milk, custard, marshmallows, marie biscuits (for smores), tinned apples (Desserts in the Desert), jelly (a winner with the kids but have a tupperware with an airtight lid)

General Items:¬†Rubber gloves, leather gloves (for collecting wood), dishwashing liquid, handy andy, hand washing powder, dish sponges, wire pot scrubber, kitchen cloth, dish towel (they get so dirty so pack a few extra) double thick black bags (often you have to take your rubbish along and you don’t need them breaking), smaller bags for rubbish, extra thick tinfoil, plastic wrap, kitchen towel/serviettes, wet wipes, zip loc bags various sizes (great for leftovers as they then fit in spaces in the fridge as containers can be restricting), a few tupperwares

I am a firm believer in not skimping on the good things because when you have those added ‘luxuries’ a hard day just becomes that much more palatable and good food should never be compromised on!

Shop, be adventurous and enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

Carpe Diem Dammit – why the hell not?!

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Last Thursday evening after the most amazing rain snow had fallen all along the Hex River Mountains. ¬†Yes, for you wintery Northern Continental and Hemisphere people this is a common occurrence but for us Capetonians the white cold powdery stuff is a bit of a myth. ¬†We do get some snow in South Africa, regions like the Drakensberg and Lesotho but Cape Town…not so much. ¬†The Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve, just after Ceres, is the most accessible spot for us to go for a day to experience this phenomenon but windows are short. ¬†Once the sun comes out it starts to get drippy very fast. ¬†We have been up there twice in the past nine years. ¬†The first time Jesse was 10 days old and he was definitely the warmest of us all. ¬†We just went to Klondyk Cherry Farm before Matroosberg. ¬†The second time Olivia was 3 and Jesse 5 and we went into Matroosberg. ¬†We thought we would do the 4×4 route but it was pretty hairy and ended up just going along the 2×4 track and it was more than enough for us. ¬†Olivia lasted all of 10 minutes and then sat in the car and cried about sore fingers and toes. ¬†We had come woefully under prepared!

Jesse at 10 days old on the fields by Klondyk Cherry

Olivia (3) and Jesse (5) in their first snow on Matroosberg

For the last few years since then we have been promising the kids we would take them, but after each first snow fall we would put it off saying there would be better to come. ¬†We would wait and watch and invariably there was no better snowfall and we had missed our chance! ¬†Then we would have to say to them, “Next year.” ¬†So this year we changed our tune. ¬†At the first sign of snow up in Ceres, after the first wintery storm came through, we gapped it. ¬†For the day we put work on hold, took the kids out of school and went to play in the snow. ¬†We took a moment and built a great memory. ¬†For what they missed they gained 100 fold in quality family time, rich laughter and life experience!

Okay yes, there are extenuating circumstances which enables us to take these opportunities. ¬†We work for ourselves and our kids aren’t old enough to be writing exams but so often we let things go past us for fear of stepping out of our comfort zones. ¬†Simon and I are guilty of that so often but every so often you get it right and our family snow day was one of these.

So if you get lucky and take the gap to go up to the snow, here are a few tips to prevent miserable kids:

Tammy’s top Tips for a Fun day at Matroosberg

  • Leave really early. ¬†We left at 6:30 am and were there by 9am. ¬†We then had a few hours before the sun came over the mountain. ¬†The snow started to melt around mid day.
  • The day permit for Matroosberg is reasonable. ¬†We didn’t do the 4×4 route but just went slightly higher than the first car park and went along the 2×4 route a bit and walked. ¬†Lots of snow and not too many people. ¬†Cost for the whole family was R170 (R50p/adult and R35p/child).
  • Take loads of shopping packets! ¬†If your kids are wearing gumboots (lace up boots are preferable), put their feet in a shopping packet first and then tuck it into their socks. ¬†Snow goes straight down the top of the boots and within a few minutes their toes are icy and wet = miserable child.
  • Take extra socks, shoes, and clothes. ¬†Jesse had soaking wet trousers within 20minutes from doing snow angels
  • Must have water proof gloves!!!!
  • Sunglasses and hat that covers ¬†your ears
  • Take food along. ¬†You are on top of a mountain on a farm!
  • Have fun with your kids!

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Overlanding with kids and their toys

My son Jesse has two passions which come with us everywhere. ¬†First is the infamous DoggyDogg. ¬†He has had it since birth and if you picture Calvin&Hobbes…that is Jesse and DoggyDogg! ¬†We have had near bloodshed in our house when my husband and Jess went for a walk and came back without DoggyDogg (he was found a day later sleeping with a homeless couple)! ¬†And do you think we can find a second one as backup? ¬†The internet has been searched high and low across continents. ¬†Come hell or high water, he will not be left behind either. ¬†This is because he needs to come along on adventures, according to my son, much to the chagrin and trepidation from my husband and I.IMG_8288

Secondly are his dinosaurs.  We have lost many a dinosaur which has been left hunting in a sand dune or digging in a desert.  Last weekend we had to kayak back to shore from our sail boat as Jess had suddenly realized that he had left his prize dinosaur along with 5 others on shore, even though we had told him repeatedly to pack up (or rather not take them at all).

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A dinosaur crosses the Gamkab Canyon in Namibia

I am a big one for taking responsibility for your actions and learning from the consequences, but when your child is literally ugly crying from the loss and you are able to maybe send out a rescue and retrieval then I am sure I am not alone in attempting a harmonious reconciliation. ¬†Obviously only if it is within my capabilities, hoping that he (or rather us) will learn from this and not do it again….till the next time.

So it is all very good and well to go search for the toys down the road from our house or at a friends place, but when you are moving everyday on your holiday covering vast distances the options of going back aren’t really possible. ¬†So we have tried to make our lives easier by¬†doing the following:

Tammy’s Top Tips for Toys:

  • Each child has a small bag that all their toys for the holiday have to fit into. ¬†They have to be able to carry this easily. ¬†Those fancy caricature wheelie bags are all very good and well in airports and hotels but not in sand and bush. ¬†They also aren’t easy to open and close in the car and store at their feet. ¬†Our kids have a small shoulder bag each which is light and soft and zips closed.
  • When playing, the bag goes along to the spot so that everything can be quickly put back into it when done. ¬†No carrying individual toys from A to B!
  • Only take a few items of one sort ¬†Ie: we limit Jesse’s dinosaurs to around 5 as he can count them and keep track.
  • Try to not have toys which have 5million gazillion pieces…..they will get lost. ¬†They also take forever to pack up when tipped out of the bag.
  • Beloved sleep toys remain in the trailer/tent/boat and don’t get moved from car to sleep place and back daily as it will invariably get left somewhere en route
  • Also, nothing that can get sand in it! ¬†This is because the kids will take them out in the car after playing, and it is really hard to valet your car in the middle of nowhere!
  • NO LEGO!!!!!!

Kids do not need to take a lot.  I find it amazing how many times we have taken things along but only a few ever really got played with.  They will make do with what they have where they are and imagination is a wonderful thing when left to bloom.

Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you Everywhere

—Albert Einstein

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