A note from Maman on the Trail:
Meet Bianca, a human of the outdoors. Bianca lives in South Africa and gets outdoors with her husband, Shawn, and their son, Everest. Here is her story…
On her time outdoors…
We are pretty much outdoors all the time. Even when in the cities, we take walks and find nearby parks. We enjoy hiking on the weekends and finding beautiful places to capture on camera. My husband loves making drone videos of the places we travel to so we’re always on the hunt for something new and spectacular. Check out his YouTube channel!
When we travel, we love exploring, not only to keep active but to keep us all (including our 8-year old son) entertained. We especially enjoy being near water and are always on the hunt for a new beach, waterfall or lake. We love to connect with local families not only to give our son, Everest, kids his own age to interact with, but to find hidden gems that only locals get to discover.
Our favorite waterside activities are Stand up Paddle Boarding and Kite Surfing. We spend more time paddle boarding as it’s something we can all do together. Everest generally hitches a ride with one of us. Kitesurfing requires strong wind conditions, so if you are not participating, being on the beach is too wild, and uncomfortable.
On being inspired by “Dancing Matt”…
There are many inspirations that help us to get out and travel, but we especially love Dancing Matt from “Where the hell is Matt”. Watching his video inspires us to do what we love and travel with a happy, joyful spirit.
Matt’s video has him dancing with people from all nationalities all over the world. What I take from it is that regardless of where we live, what we believe or what language we speak, we are all the same. We smile, and laugh, and dance, and the similarities we share are greater than our differences.
On moving around South Africa…
I am originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, but moved to Cape Town 8 years ago when my son was born. We wanted to escape the city for a better way of life, with access to hiking trails and nature. The change was day and night. We first lived in a small town called Hout Bay. Having such a young baby at the time kept us close to home, so we started slowly with walking the beach every evening. Weekends were spent on the beach, hiking the small trails along the side of Chapmans Peak and enjoying lazy picnics in the nearby Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Had we stayed in the city, we would have been limited to small parks and malls.
On parenting in the outdoors…
Everest prefers to be outside. As we have always been outdoors with him, it was never something we had to introduce him to, it’s always just been the norm. He now even completes major hike with us, including Table Mountain, Lions Head and Constantia Nek – three challenging climbs in Cape Town, where each time he has led the pack with seemingly limitless energy.
Keeping Evy entertained outdoors proved to be easier than getting him to play indoors with his store-bought toys. From a young age, he loved rocks, sticks and leaves and the occasional crawling insect. Growing up in warmer environments meant water was the go-to activity. We could set up a splash pool on the beach or patio, and he’d be entertained for at least an hour at a time.
As he got older, we added string and reusable putty to his collection of stones, shells and sticks. The box of goodies travelled everywhere with us and had him playing creatively and building anything from rockets to very strange animals.
Picnics have also been a highlight. He is part of the planning, from picking out the treats to which location to enjoy them at.
On travelling the world…
1. When travelling, what works for me is to not have set expectations. It’s the small and unexpected surprises that make the most memorable events.
2. Travelling light keeps you flexible and literally does not weigh you down.
3. To prevent potentially challenging situations from escalating, it’s essential to avoid being tired or hungry, especially with a child. When landing in a new place, my first priorities are always food and internet connectivity.
On the ups and downs of the “unexpected” while travelling…
UP: We were based in Prague for 2 months and had expected to be limited by the number of things to do in a small European city. On arriving, we found the complete opposite. Prague was filled with parks that catered almost exclusively to children. Jungle gyms and rope slings were everywhere. The center of the city had a massive park with dense forest, walking trails and gems around every corner. There are also several water parks that are amazing for all ages.
Prague also has a large World Schooling community so connecting with other families with children added to the fun of the exploration. I would return in a heartbeat.
DOWN: An example of when something really didn’t work out was when we were travelling a year ago. We were leaving Bali with connecting flights to Kuala Lumpur, then Mauritius and on to South Africa, flights had been booked with tight precision and zero room for error.
We had to leave in time to catch the once-a-week flight to Mauritius. If we missed that flight, we would have lost a string of pre-booked, non-refundable tickets.
Alarm bells went off the moment we arrived at the airport where the airline’s system was down. After a 3-hour wait, we finally got through the gates only to have the flight cancelled.
We then waited in queues for several more hours while our son Evy was falling asleep on the cold airport floor. At midnight, a guardian angel (wearing the uniform of an airport attendant) whispered that she had found 3 seats on another flight that was busy boarding. We had seconds to find our luggage and run across the entire airport before boarding closed. The late flight had a ripple effect that resulted in exhaustion and chaos for the following 24 hours.
Navigating the challenges of travel, with a child, while sleep deprived, and making sure you don’t lose luggage, is the stuff of nightmares. What did we learn? 1. Laugh-crying is a great way to get rid of stress. 2. These things happen and 3. You’ll have a crazy story to tell.
A little Q & A…
Q: What is your go-to adventure snack?
A: Banana’s, bananas, bananas. To travel with bananas, you need to be pretty good at playing Tetris. We have a dedicated banana box that saves them from being smashed at the bottom of a backpack. How cool that they come pre-packed in their own skin, and they’re just the ultimate delicious, fresh fuel. (If they ever take a beating, we save them for smoothies or banana bread.) When flying, I always ensure we have a packet of bananas in my oversized carry bag which I guard against bruising. They are the perfect filler or replacement for bad airplane food. The whole family loves them so they never go to waste.
Q: What piece of gear do you never leave the house without?
A: Our iPhone. We love capturing video and photos. We also use it for navigation, so we never worry about getting lost in a new place.
Q: What is your favourite nature quote, and who said it first?
A: One of my favourite quotes is, “Some things in life only happen once, the memories of them lasting forever. They’re moments that alter you, turning you into a person you never thought you’d become, but someone you were always destined to be.” ~J.M. Darhower
Q: What one piece of advice would you share with someone who is wary of or new to the outdoors?
A: There are adventures and exciting things to discover everywhere, fear or hesitation will have you missing out. Never lose your childlike curiosity.