Trvlbees

At TRVLBEES, we have always been very fond of Italy. It’s a destination that simply has every ingredient necessary for a perfect family getaway. Culture, food, history, vibrant cities, and fascinating medieval villages. Not to mention the countless lakes, beaches, and superb fashion, as well as the fact that it’s an incredibly family-friendly place. That explains our rather extensive file on Italy! We wanted to take an even closer look at this fabulous country through the eyes of a true native, which is why we asked one of Italy’s proudest ambassadors to let us in on all her secrets, and show us some hidden gems off the beaten track. Introducing: the wonderful Margherita Missoni.

Margherita Missoni

Please tell us something about your life journey so far- were you born and raised in Italy? Have you lived abroad as well? And if so, what made you return to Italy? 

“Yes, I was born and raised in Italy, in Varese, as you may know, till I was 20, then I moved to New York.”

Varese

“When I first moved to New York, I had a really hard time. I was at Columbia University after transferring from the University of Milan and I was there to study philosophy even though I really wanted to be an actor. It was one of those very cold New York winters, I think the year was 2003. Even though I really wanted to be in New York, I was only doing university to please my grandmother. I was a really good student in high school and my teachers thought it would be a waste to pursue acting, which is where my heart was. One day, my mom called and asked why I hadn’t asked her to send me any clothes. To her, it was really symptomatic of my state of mind.

I look back on that time period now and I think I just wanted to understand who I was outside of my family. I grew up in the countryside, and the company [Missoni] workplace was next to our house. We’re an entangled bunch of people. I always felt like a branch on a tree, not like my own person, and going to Milan and New York symbolized breaking away.”

Margherita Missoni & her family

“I decided to study philosophy because I guess I felt it was the closest thing to acting: thinking about life and its meaning and why I’m here and what I’m doing. But I was so unhappy—here I was in the place where I wanted to be (I had been dying for city lights after growing up in the countryside) but I didn’t want to be there. I’m much lighter now on life and choices, but when I was younger it felt as if every single choice I made would have long-term consequences on my life and the smallest wrong decision could fuck everything up and there would be no way to fix it. 

I studied philosophy, went on to study acting and then left for Paris to act. Afterwards I moved to Rome for a play and while there, it hit me: Fashion is what comes out most naturally and spontaneously for me. That’s what I want to do. It’s always what I wanted. I just had to get there myself.

When I think about it now, I’m really happy that I went through all those bits before starting my own family. I have two sons now with my husband.”

You are a very outspoken ambassador of your country, and never fail to mention your place of residence: Varese. Were you raised to be a proud citizen? What is it that makes both Italy and Varese so special to you?

“My mum moved here from Gallarate when she was 13. At the end of the sixties my grandparents decided to build their own factory in a place where they loved to spend their weekends. First they built the factory, and then in 1972 they moved into the house, at a walking distance to the factory. We all have this addiction to the view of the Monte Rosa that we can see from the factory, from the office at the HQ, from my grandparents’ house, from my previous house where I was raised; and both me and my sister Teresa, have the same view from our houses.”

Varese Lake

“When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to get out. It was only when I was living in the biggest city of them all, New York, that I realized how lucky I was to have these roots and such a deep sense of belonging. When I got pregnant, we didn’t even question where we were going to settle our family—it was going to be back in #VareseThePlaceToBe.”

What are your favorite places in and around Varese to unwind and recharge with your family? Any special places we can’t miss while visiting the region?

“I like small museums off the beaten track. Villa e Collezione Panza is a real gem. Count Panza was the first collector of conceptual art in the world.”

Villa e Collezione Panza

“The permanent collection is incredible: site-specific Dan Flavin works that are even better than what’s in Marfa, Texas. It’s a very special place. I love seeing art contextualised in real places, not just against white walls. The sense of colour that Count Panza had is the only one I ever envied. 

There is another special museum in Varese, Museo Baroffio, which also used to be a collection. It’s a very special place to me. Museo MAGa in Gallarate is bigger but it’s also a must visit, on the top floor it also houses a permanent collection of Arazzis by my late grandfather Ottavio Missoni.”

Santa Caterina del Sasso

“Santa Caterina del Sasso is a must visit monastry on lake Maggiore, as is Isola Bella on lake Maggiore; Villa Taranto, with its exotic and magical gardens on lake Maggiore should be on your list, too, just like Villa della porta Bozzolo- a must see villa and garden towards Piemonte.”

Which locations/areas/properties (hotels and villas) should be on our wish list – both in your region and other areas of Italy?

“Sometimes decadence feels right, like at this old, family-run hotel. Nothing’s too square or too perfect, and our balcony jutted out over the sea, so you felt as if you could jump straight off.”

Hotel Santa Caterina

“This is one of those magical places where time stops and you feel as if you’re stepping into history. It’s classic without being pompous, ethnic but not overly so. I’m such a regular they named a vodka cocktail after me – the Angurita.”

Il Pellicano, Tuscany

“This is the best hotel in the world, hands down. I love the old-fashioned feel of it: the piano playing during aperitivo, the waiters who have been there forever, and the dock where you can leave your little boat; it was always full of beautiful old Rivas.”

Villa d’Este, Lake Como, Italy

TRVLBEES focuses on family-friendly, boutique-style, and conscious hideaways – so let’s talk.

Family-friendly: When planning your own family holiday, do you specifically focus on this feature? How and why? 

“I firstly pick some countries or areas that we want to discover, then evaluate the winner depending on how challenging the traveling bits will be and then pick the best place in the area to accomodate our needs, such as: proximity to beach or slopes, fun activities for my boys (snorkeling, skiing, riding).”

Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore

Boutique: Does this category appeal to you? 

“With kids I prefer bigger  places where we have a higher chance to meet other children.”

Consciousness: Is this important for you and your family while booking a hideaway?

 “Yes, it is, but still comes after the kids’ needs.”

Margherita Missoni

Now that we are talking consciousness: you recently made headlines by launching a new capsule collection for Missoni, entirely created using upcycled Missoni fabrics from the archives. How did you come up with this idea? 

Is sustainability something that plays a significant role within your company and family?  Do you think that this will be(come) a trend in the coming years – in your company but also nationwide?

“When I was asked to reinvent and give new purpose to the M Missoni collection, I decided that this brand would be about giving new life to the disregarded parts of Missoni’s history – whether it be re-interpreting the prints that never quite became iconic, giving new context to designs born from the 80’s licensing craze and since cast aside as cheesy, or using the stocks of yarns and textiles that filled our warehouses. I wanted to dust off the overlooked B-side of the Missoni legacy – twist it upside-down, inside-out and layer it with new perspective.”

M Missoni’s mission is to remix, re-use, and respect – both literally and conceptually: we pride ourselves with being playfully derivative and authoritatively appropriative.   We are constantly experimenting with bits and pieces that are recycled, repurposed, and upcycled – scarves turn into dresses, leftover yarns into sweaters, and upholstery fabrics from the Missoni Home collection into a capsule outerwear collection. 

Three seasons in, I’m proud to say we’ve re-purposed 26 thousand meters of Missoni stock fabric and 12 hundred kilos of stock yarn.  In this sense, sustainability is part of our aesthetic – that said, it would have been utterly inconceivable to create a new brand without taking sustainability and social responsibility into consideration.  This is why we prefer eco-sustainable materials even when not recycled and we choose to geographically dislocate some of our production in order to create jobs in other countries such as Ethiopia, Peru and Ghana.

M Missoni is not yet a fully sustainable brand although we constantly strive to improve and move forward in that direction.  I like to think that we are a brand of the 2020’s in touch with our times and needs – and as such sustainability must be a priority.  The good news is that fashion is all about the zeitgeist and soon what’s non-sustainable will be out of fashion and will no longer have a reason to exist.”

Do you still have a (family) bucket list in terms of travel or experiences? What would be your top 3 of favorite destinations within Italy? 

“Bomarzo, Cavallino Bianco and Capalbio.”

Bomarzo, a small town in northern Lazio in Italy, famous for its park of stone monsters.
Cavallino Bianco in the heart of the Dolomites
The beautiful beaches around Capalbio

What do you want to teach and show your kids during travels and in life? 

“Getting exposed to different possibilities opens up to free choices.”

Want more Italian inspiration? Take a look at our Italy Destination page!

As we are fully aware of the COVID-19 situation, we will not actively promote traveling at this moment. However, being an international travel platform, we will continue to do what we do best: inspiring you with stories about and images of beautiful destinations worldwide.

Please remember to travel and act responsibly. Stay home when possible, or consult your authorities for up-to-date information and travel advice.

Looking for a destination for your next family trip? We’re way ahead of you. Bali is rich with culture and hospitable locals who dedicate their time to making Bali a paradise for kids. As you will soon discover, Bali is about more than just white, sandy beaches, in fact, you’ll find an immense variety of things to do with the little ones. We’ve narrowed it down to a carefully-curated list, and suggested some of our favourite family boutique hotels in Bali. 

family boutique hotels in bali

Where to stay?

Here’s a list of our favorite family boutique hotels in Bali.

Sanak Retreat Bali

This eco-retreat is located in amidst the UNESCO heritage protected rice fields. Eleven spacious wooden bungalows have been designed for simple living. With a private terrace or a balcony overlooking the greenery of the rice fields – this property is a great place to recharge your batteries. Take a lesson in local village dancing or enjoy a fully organized picnic lunch surrounded by rice fields. Plenty of family fun in this child-friendly boutique hotel in Bali!

family boutique hotels in bali

Read the whole review about this boutique hotel here (you have to be a member to login => Not a member yet? Please join for free here).

Stone House

Boutique Eco Hotel Stone House is ideal for mindfulness and interior-lovers alike. With its familial feel (that is almost similar to staying at a good friend’s home), this is the perfect place for traveling families and those looking for a more intimate hotel experience. Each villa has its own soul. Antiques and treasures from the owners’ own travels in Asia are scattered across the interior. 

Read the whole review about this boutique hotel here (you have to be a member to login => Not a member yet? Please join for free here). 

Kalapa Resort & Spa

This simplistic, yet luxurious collection of villas forms Kalapa Resort & Spa. It is an ideal place to unwind and bring some harmony back to your life. The villas are modelled after traditional Balinese houses and all materials are natural & recycled. After a day at buzzing Echo Beach, enjoy a dip in the pool or take a nap in a hammock overlooked by views of a starry sky.

Read the whole review about this boutique hotel here (you have to be a member to login => Not a member yet? Please join for free here).

VYG Villas

Amid the hustle and bustle of exciting ‘hipster’ beach town Canggu, lies this collection of creative, yet tranquil boutique villas. Designed in Scandinavian, Mexican, or Moroccan fashion, the VYG villas offer you and your family a home-away-from-home with all the essentials for a stress-free vacation. Enjoy an independent holiday lifestyle, but with every luxury amenity at your disposal. After a surfing lesson or a day of market hopping, overlook the rice fields while taking a dip in your private pool or relaxing in one of your lounging areas. 

Sungai Villa Collection

Nestled between an exquisite temple and the river’s edge in the charming, traditional village of Cepaka, lies one of Bali’s finest collection of private villas. Committed to luxurious accommodation, fine cuisine, and five-star hospitality, villas Sungai and Sungai Gold are the perfect places to unwind with your family. For thrill-seekers: rice paddies, tropical forests, and ancient temples are located at walking distance, and action-packed Seminyak, Kuta, and Canggu are merely 30 – 45 minutes way. 

 

What to do?

The boutique hotels listed above offer plenty of family fun, however, there are countless kid-friendly activities available beyond the realms of your home-away-from-home. Here are our top suggestions!

Dream Museum Bali

This fun and interactive art gallery is all about optical illusions and trickery. A rich array of masterfully painted artworks all serve as interactive backdrops for illusory three-dimensional photography. A total of 120 unique artworks provide a full day of discovery and creativity!

Snorkeling

The mainland may not always be the best place to snorkel, which is why we recommend taking a day trip to the exciting Gili Islands or Nusa Penida.  Discover the marvelous marine life by spending the day spotting turtles, tropical fish, and stunning coral reef. On a clear day, sightings are pretty much guaranteed!

Bounce Bali

Bounce Bali is perfect for a rainy day (quite common during monsoon season). This facility was designed and created for one purpose – to have FUN! On-site, you’ll also find a bowling alley and a small waterpark, very well suited for families.

Balinese Cooking Class

Bali is filled with opportunities to finetune your and your children’s culinary skills. Enjoy a traditional Indonesian cooking class and educate yourself on sustainable farming, while preparing (and later feasting on) your own Balinese meal. We recommend Alila Manggis Cooking Class or the Kids Kitchen at Cubby House, a creative cooking school for 4 to 12 year-olds who love to cook and eat. 

Kemenuh Butterfly Park

Kemenuh Butterfly Park is the perfect place for an enjoyable and educational afternoon. Take a tour of the park, marvel at hundreds of butterfly species, and learn about their stages of metamorphoses. You can simply visit the park, but you can also opt for a package deal. Lunch, waterfall visits, and treks are all available here.  

Visit the Rice Paddies

Bali is home to countless stunning rice paddies, with Tegalalang Rice Terraces being the most famous one. Above the rice paddies, there are swings for kids and adults (which you will be harnessed into to ensure a safe ride). We won’t reveal too much, but the views are simply marvelous. This is the place to take your next family photo.

Soccer on the Beach

Visit the many Balinese beaches, such as Seminyak Beach and Echo Beach, and engage in a friendly soccer game with the locals, or start your own. 

Pirates Bay Bali

This activity is probably quite touristic, however, according to several parents, one that can not be missed! Pirates Bay Bali is a restaurant located on a big (artificial) pirate boat that houses plenty of kid-friendly activities. With several treehouses, a bay lookout tower, and a pirate’s kitchen, this open-air café and restaurant makes for a great day of family fun. Book your fun-filled family treasure hunt and be amazed!

Mount Agung

Up for some adventure? Visit Mount Agung, an active volcano and the highest point of the island. This is a great option for families with older kids and teenagers, or simply for the thrill-seekers amongst the family. You can find a package deal here, starting with an amazing sunrise from the top of the mountain, followed by a White Water Rafting adventure on the Ayung River near Ubud.

Rip Curl School of Surf

Bali’s beaches are all about surfing; filled with beginners, intermediates, and pro’s alike. Enjoy a fun (supervised) surf session at a reputable surf school, and familiarize the kids (and yourself) with the notorious Balinese waves. Kids under 12 can only take private lessons; kids over the age of 12 can opt for a private lesson, but can also participate in a group lesson.

family boutique hotels in bali

The Bali Sea Turtle Society

The Bali Sea Turtle Society is a Kuta-based non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of sea turtles. Volunteer and spend the day taking care of and spending time with turtles of all shapes, sizes, and ages. If you’re lucky, you may even get a chance to release recently-hatched baby turtles into the ocean (nesting season is from March to September; hatching season is from April to October). 

Get Creative

Enjoy the beauty of art-making with workshops in painting and drawing (for kids and adults) at Berawa Art House or learn how to sculpt and create stunning ceramic crafts at Sari Api Ceramics. Cultivating your kids’ (and your own) creativity is the perfect activity for a rainy day or as an escape from the hot and buzzing beach.

Splash around at Bali’s Waterparks

Although Bali is encircled with marvelous beaches, you may want to mix things up and enjoy a day at one of Bali’s exhilarating waterparks. We recommend Finns Recreation Club and Water Bomb. These hotspots are undoubtedly a paradise for children, but we must warn you, they are quite touristy, especially during the high season. For the teens and daredevils in the family who want to learn how to wakeboard or water ski, we suggest paying a visit to Bali Wake Park, a sporting venue with a cable system built on a 5-hectare lake. 

The Sacred Monkey Forest and Sanctuary

Despite being typically regarded as a mass-tourist attraction, the renowned (and recently renovated) Monkey Forest in Ubud is a must-see. Spread out over 10 hectares of luscious forest and a plethora of walkways, the sanctuary usually does not feel crowded. The daredevils in the family will undoubtedly enjoy engaging with the monkeys, but look after your sunglasses and phones, the mischievous inhabitants of the forest may take particular interest in them. 

Visit a Temple

Although Bali is rich with glamorous, Westernized sights and activities, traditional culture and heritage are an essential part of the island’s identity. Visit one of Bali’s renowned temples and marvel at its fantasy-like structure and details. We recommend Uluwatu Temple or Tanah Lot Temple, which both have fantastic ocean views, the unique Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, which is found on a lake, or Tirta Empul Temple for a holy water cleanse that is believed to bring serenity, luck, and sanctity.

Treetop Adventure Park

Unravel your inner Tarzan or Jane by climbing, swinging, jumping, crawling, and zip-lining your way around this exciting park that offers seven different obstacle courses for ages 4 and up. 

Visiting Brittany with your kids? Or do you want some inspiration for your next holiday? Please keep reading for the best family activities in Brittany.

All these activities are tipped by our travelbee Renee Koudstaal, who lives in two cities. Amsterdam, where she raises her two beautiful sons, and Paris to pick her moments of freedom.

best family activities in Brittany

Renee Koudstaal, travelbee, mum of 2 and owner of @lestyleparisien.

She is the owner of @lestyleparisien and knows everything about living the French lifestyle and where to enjoy the best family holidays in France… Yes, Brittany is one of her favorites to spend her holidays! Below she will first let you in on the best places to stay and then shares the best family activities in Brittany.

What travelbee Renee says

“To me Brittany is one of the most beautiful regions in France. An ideal mix of stunning landscapes, great food and enough space not to bump into a tourist every other second. Having children did not alter in any way my love for this region but it surely required some advice from my friends in Brittany to give a more family-proof twist to my stays there. This is the list of child friendly, but also parent satisfying, activities locals love”.

Chateau de Vitre| Photo credits by Emmanuel Berthier

Where to stay

Les Maisons de Bricourt

Visit les Maisons de Bricourt and its beautiful property: rent a gite with your family, or a room at the Chateau Richeux (without kids:).

Les Maisons de Bricourt with cozy rooms and family gites

best family activities in brittany

Sleeping like roses in one of the bedrooms

Interiors with detail

Eat at Le Coquillage (still without kids) or have your kids discover the famous Roellinger spices in the shop or the tasty patisserie at the Grain de Vanille. Take a stroll through the beautiful gardens (to digest…) before heading to the beach.

Lunch between de pine trees

best family activities in brittany

Beach views from the pool

Manoir Dalmore

Another great place to stay is the eco-hotel Manoir Dalmore. It offers family rooms for 4 persons and a wonderful restaurant which serves delicious dishes made with local produce.

Direct access to the beach

You will love the sauna and the terrace with beautiful views of the sea. The kids will love playing on the beach (just steps from the hotel) or the playground.

One of the bedrooms at Manoir Dalmore

What to do

best family activities in brittany
Château de La Bourbandais (with a zoo)
  • Learn a few Breton words, often unpronounceable, hence laughing out loud-guaranteed during your travel time to Brittany: Welcome // Degemer Mat,  Hello // Demat, bye // Kenavo, Thank you // Trugarez, How are you // Penaos ‘mañ kont , are you ok? // Mat ar jeu),…
  • A visit to Rennes and its beautiful historical center. Don’t miss out on the Parc du Thabor to visit the rose-gardens and the birds aviary and the Marché des Lices to check out all the scary looking fish and seafood (sometimes still alive)…

Fresh fish food from the ocean to your table

  • Of course a trip to Brittany means enjoying the sea. Not really by swimming (way too chilly for most of us) but a boat trip is a total must do. One of the most well-known departs from Saint Malo with a replica of the famous sailing-ship Le Renard.

Boat Trip with the Renard | Photo credits by Etoile Marine

  • Visit the Vallée des Saints in the center of Brittany (Côtes d’Armor). This beautiful valley is one of the key cultural attractions in this area with 113 huge sculptures made out of granite, still 887 to go to honour the 1000 Breton saints.
best family activities in brittany

Vallee des saints |Photo credits by Yannick Derennes

  • Put on your fisherman’s clothes, take your fishing nets and buckets and off you go to the beach at low tide. Don’t forget to jump on the sand to make the small cockles come out.Please always check the low and high tides here to be safe.
best family activities in brittany
Hunting shells on the beach | Photo credits by Gildas Raffanel
  • Make a trip to Île de Bréhat (boats leaving from L’Arcouest in Ploubazlanec). Rent a bike and stay the night to experience the island with locals only. Plan everything in advance here.
best family activities in Brittany
Island of Bréhat | Photo credits by Yannick Le Gal
  • Buy a Marinière, the typical Breton sailor shirt, from Saint James or Armor Lux. You will find these brands and others throughout Brittany. But if you have time, certainly peek into the factory at the shop in Saint James or visit the Armor Lux outlet shop in Quimper.
best family activities in brittany
Peek into the factory at the shop in Saint James | Photo credits by Renee Koudstaal
  • The Broceliande forest is a paradise for children offering all kinds of activities within a world full of historical legends, myths, like canoeing, carriage rides, theatre plays, storytellers,..
  • Brittany offers an impressive number of picturesque villages with the advantage of being small, so perfectly do-able with young children.  My favorites are Rochefort-en-Terre (with a prehistorical parc nearby at Malansac), La Gacilly (with the Maison Yves Rocher) and Carnac (slightly bigger, with an historical center but also a nice beach side with many restaurants).
best activities in Brittany
Rochefort-en-Terre | Photo credits by Emmanuel
  • Listen to local music, to get a better feel of the culture: http://www.canalbreizh.bzh/
  • Fête des remparts in Dinan, the biggest medieval festival in Europe which offers life time memories for sure. It takes place every summer. Definitely go there and definitely book in advance.
best family activities in brittany
Fête des remparts in Dinan

What to eat and drink

  • Try local food: which could be a fulltime activity in Brittany… Salted butter, all the different seafood, crêpes, galettes, pastries like the “Kouign Amann” (sugar, pastry and butter…) ,…
Best family activities in brittany
Yummy! Typical French crepes
  • Local drinks? Not for children, but what if they go to bed early thanks to all the fun they had during the day? Try the local ciders or Le Chouchen, a drink made from fermented honey and water.  Also try Le Pommeau and Le Muscadet. Brittany has several natural sources like Isabelle, Cristaline, Monts-d’Arrée, Brocéliande, Saint-Alix and Plancoët. Certainly try those!

Interested to read more travel stories from travelbees? Click here!

best family activities in brittany
Photo credits by Renee Koudstaal
Today we take you along on a trip through Colombia with your family. Travelbee Charlotte Roche and her husband Andries have lived and worked all over the world, from China to Colombia to France and back. Charlotte and her family lived in Colombia for the last 5 years and we asked her to introduce Colombia to us.

Colombia with kidsCharlotte and her family

Please tell us about your family and international life (style) journey! Your background, your many travels and adventures abroad with your husband and two small children!

We are a French-Dutch family with two young children (18 months and 4 years), both of whom were born in Colombia. As a couple, we lived and worked abroad for more than 10 years (Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Bangladesh, China, Romania, Colombia and the Netherlands). The last five years we lived in Colombia with our kids. It was our wish to live and work abroad, to experience new cultures and to take advantage of this opportunity to explore even more new countries and remote areas.

Charlotte and her daughter Noor

When planning a new trip, we always try to create a mix of nature, culture and culinary visits and experiences, even with our kids! We always try to stay in small family hotels, B&B or to rent a place. We try to maintain a homely atmosphere and routine as much possible. This means that we always search for kids-friendly places/lodging, with easy access because of the strollers and with a local touch to it.

You have just lived in Bogota, Colombia for a few years. Which locations/areas/properties should be on our wish list? And why?

  • Cartagena/ Parque Tayrona

Cartagena is a must-see for its architecture! Parque Tayrona: if possible, stay in the park- however; this is rather difficult to arrange! We stayed in a place outside once, which was fine but not child-friendly… Someone recommended Villa Yira to me and this looks rather cool as you are really experiencing the ‘back to nature’ vibe. And of course, not to miss and a must read: all TRLVBEES tips on Cartagena in this blog.

Colombia with kidsVilla Yira

  • Eje Cafetero (coffee region)

As a cousin of my husband is married to a Colombian woman, whose family originates from this region, we were fortunate to always be able to stay at their beautiful traditional finca made of guadua.

While we lived in Colombia, a friend and I created and developed a Facebook community of parents (mostly foreigners) in Bogota to exchange tips about our life in Bogota and Colombia. We often exchanged tips about places to go with kids. Some of their recommendations for hotels in this coffee region were:

Colombia with kidsHacienda Bambusa

This place is still very high up on our wish list! A friend of mine went and loved it- especially since there are very few eco-friendly options in the Amazon…

colombia with kidsBoat tour across the amazon

Barichara is a lovely town, more authentic than Cartagena, with a lot of craftsmen. Beautiful nature, walks, horse riding, trekking, canoeing, paragliding: so many things to do! It is also easier to get in contact with the local people. I would definitely advise people to go there!

Colombia with kidsThe streets of Barichara

What are your favorite places in Colombia to unwind and recharge with your family?

We lived in Bogotá which is big busy city (10million inhabitants) surrounded by mountains. Contrary to what most people think, Bogotá doesn’t have a tropical climate at all since it has a high altitude (2600m). As a result, the climate is very mild, a type of eternal spring/autumn climate, with temperatures between 10 and 24 degrees Celsius.

When we wanted to escape from the city, the easiest option was to drive downhill (1h30-2h) to get to warmer areas (‘tierra caliente’) and rent a finca (type of countryside cottage) with friends. You can find any style from traditional to very modern ones, but always with a pool and bbq!

Another option was to stay in the mountains and go to one of the national parks surrounding Bogotá or one of the nice towns (Villa de Leyva) to see the nice architecture and village markets.

If we had more time, we would fly to another region in Colombia. My favorite and in my opinion the most symbolic region is the ‘zona cafetera’. It is called the eternal spring region as it is always green and full of lush flowers. The view of the coffee fields and colorful fincas made of guadua (a type of Colombian bamboo) is beautiful and so peaceful. Definitely a must!

Colombia with kidsZona cafeteria with the beautiful bamboos

Colombia with kidsAn experiential eco boutique hotel

Kids having fun at Hotel El refugio Sasaima

Colombia with kidsHorse riding at Hotel Hacienda Baza

Let’s focus on Bogotá (Colombia) with kids: what would you advise to be the very best (secret!) spots? Do your children agree or do they have their own special place?

A place we enjoyed going for brunch/lunch is a hidden private house turned into a B&B/restaurant Monte Luna (please note: it is quite hard to find)! It really has a family vibe, with a big garden, pets, blankets to have a picnic and an amazing view of the city. The owner is also lovely. She is the mother of 12 kids so she loves to accommodate families with kids.

Another activity I found very nice and not touristic is to climb one of the mountains in Bogotá (around 45min-1hrs). If you have smaller kids, you would need a baby carrier. You can maybe ask one of the mum groups in Bogotá to lend you one! It is only open during the morning, you pass many eucalyptus trees and you have an amazing view when you arrive at the top! This is such a great family activity! The path is guarded so no worries. It is called Quebrada de la Vieja.

Colombia with kidsCharlotte’s husband Andries and their daughter Noor

Another spot, not secret at all but still very much liked by the Colombians, is to go to Andres Carne del Res in Chia (just outside Bogotá). It is a restaurant with a peculiar style, music and some animation and an “institution “ here! People go there for family events, to party, for brunch, etc. If you go to the one in Chia on weekends, there are activities for kids (cooking, painting, craft, etc.)

A nice café/restaurant/brunch place in Bogotá is Canasto (along the Parque Virrey). Perfect to go on weekends and take a stroll in the park and see Colombian families (well, often very privileged families!) but it is a nice and quiet area.

Has living there made you more aware of the whole ‘responsible travel’ movement?

I have been living abroad and traveling for many years, both in developed and developing countries. Therefore I feel I have been able to see the gap between “responsible tourism” in areas where tourism is more developed already and therefore able to provide this type of responsible/sustainable facilities (for instance China, Mexico, Argentina, etc.), and other countries that are less touristic (Mongolia or Bangladesh) or more recently welcoming tourists (Colombia!). It is very nice though to see how Colombia is developing so quickly to welcome tourists and offer a wider variety of infrastructures and activities. Nature in Colombia is a big part of what they have to offer to tourists so they are definitely trying to include that in their developments. Definitely check the documentary “Colombia Magia Salvaje”!

Colombia with kidsSchool Festival

TRVLBEES focuses on family friendly, boutique and green hideaways- so let’s talk

– Family friendly: when searching for your own family holiday, do you specifically focus on this feature? How and why?

My priority is definitely to find a family-friendly accommodation to maintain a homely atmosphere as much as possible. I also check if there are toys, play areas close by, a garden or park, some quiet spaces and that it is easy to access with strollers. When looking for a place outside a city, I definitely prefer green-hideaways with activities close by.

– Boutique: does this category appeal to you? How would you describe ‘boutique’ in terms of stays?

To me it means a small stylish hotel. We used to only stay in boutique hotels as a couple; now with kids, it very much depends on their facilities and style (safe for kids, kid-friendly, etc)

– Green: is this important for you and your family while booking a hideaway?

Yes, it is very important. When possible, we prefer places which have environmental-friendly practices and who also offer organic products. We practice a green life at home so I like to maintain that during holidays! I also believe it is a way to get to know the local culture, if you can eat locally-grown products, if the place is decorated with local artifacts and offers visits to local sites/craftsmen.

Colombia with kidsEnjoying beautiful nature

What do you want to teach or show your kids both during travels and in life?

That’s a broad question!!! 😉  For me, family trips are to share  an experience together: to discover new landscapes and show my kids the beauty of nature, to meet new people and interact with them (try to speak their language, taste their food, see how differently they live or not, etc.) and enjoy new experiences (boat trips, hiking, etc). It is about taking the time to live and share these discoveries together. It is also about being open to the world, knowing there are different way to live and see the world. My kids are still small but when they are more grown-up, I would consider including some volunteering work in our trips.

Do you still have a (family) bucket list in terms of travel or experiences?

So many! Traveling with a camper, discover Scandinavia and doing volunteer work in a natural park, social center, etc.

What is your absolute favorite part of being a mom? And if you could take your children anywhere in the world, where would that be?

My favorite part is to see how proud they are to share their new achievements, discoveries or new ideas with me. The smile on their face is priceless! At the moment, I would bring them to the panda center in China, it is so cute!

Who do you consider to be a true TRVLBEE?

I definitely relate to the aspiration and values of the TRVLBEES community, especially the exchanges of tips.

It goes without saying that we at TRVLBEES love to travel. And when we do so, we try to do that consciously. Truth be told, we ain’t no saints either. BUT we do believe that we should encourage each other to make our travels as conscious as can be. How? By choosing less polluting means of transportation, eco hideaways, and packing conscious travel products only. To help you get started, we have selected our current favorite top 5 conscious travel products for you and your family. Five items that should definitely come along on your holidays! Plus- and here comes the best bit: we have an amazing giveaway and some discount codes to share with you! So good luck and happy travels…

Bear & Mees

This Dutch sustainable shoe brand produces the coolest sneakers and sandals for kids (aged 3-9), all made of recycled PET bottles and organic cotton. Each season focuses on an animal (the current one being the shark) and all shoes are mainly sold online to prevent waste and unnecessary costs. Your kid(s) won’t be needing socks as the shoes are super soft and easily washed – the hardest task will be which ones to choose!

GIVEAWAY: Bear and Mees have offered us two pairs of their amazing sneakers to give away!! Want to win? Just follow these steps:

  1. Follow Bear & Mees and TRVLBEES on Instagram
  2. Let us know in the comment section below or via e-mail that you’d like to win a pair of these amazing shoes! *

DISCOUNT: On top of the giveaway, Bear & Mees offers a 10% discount code to all of our followers. Just use code TRVLBEES and let your kid(s) decide which shoes they love most! **

* This promotion will end on June 20, the winners can choose from the Bear & Mees summer collection.

** The discount code is valid until 30 September 2019.

Scoon

Scoon is dedicated to finding brands and products that use cruelty-free and non-toxic ingredients, apply sustainable production methods and reduce packaging and waste. This new company fits right in our profile. Founders Guusje and Marloes help people switch to clean beauty and sustainable fashion and personally hand pick their favorite brands from all over the world. We love their dedication and honesty. Scoon acknowledges that it’s hard for brands to tick all the boxes, and therefore sticks to a list of key criteria they find crucial. Bravo!

DISCOUNT: While packing your bags you should definitely head over to their beautiful site and treat yourself to one of their many conscious brands. What about an extra rich moisturizer to use during a long flight, a hand balm to protect your hands or a mask? Suncare? We cannot choose! Luckily, SCOON offers a 10% discount to all of our followers! Just use code TRVLBEES10 and start picking.

Foto credits Madara

Folpetto

We don’t know about you, but we love hot summer days at the beach or pool with our family. Nothing beats spending the entire day outside, soaking up as much rays of sunshine as we possibly can… However: protection! We figure you know all about the dangers of too much sun exposure, and so does this beautiful brand from the UK. Manufactured in Italy at a small family firm, Folpetto strives to use a sustainable techno-fabric made with Econyl (a 100% regenerated polyamide fiber from post consumer materials, eg abandoned fishnets and other plastic waste) for over 80% of their swimsuits. Safe, stylish ánd sustainable: excellent combo!

Gray Label

Amsterdam based Gray Label has been a steady favorite for years! While always keeping kids and their personalities in mind, this label produces the most beautiful and comfortable organic clothing. In order to respect the world we live in, Gray Label strives to keep their items and materials circulating, never goes on sale and stays away from making trendy pieces. All products carry the GOTS certified label, which both means and assures facts such as no chemicals and pesticides, fair price and direct payment, safe and hygienic working conditions, no child labor, and leftoverfabrics are reused. An absolute must in your kids’ holiday wardrobe!

The Bam and Boo

Did you know that more than 500 million plastic toothbrushes are produced each and every year? Imagine the disastrous effect this has on our planet… This is where brilliant The Bam and Boo comes in: toothbrushes made of 95% renewable sources, being 95% biodegradable (the remaining 5% is made up by the nylon made bristles-since this material still proves to offer the best oral care. However, they are still searching for other options). Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth, naturally antibacterial (so no need for pesticides, fertilizers or huge amounts of water) and sourced at a certified supplier, which ensures sustainability. The Bam and Boo offers a 3-monthly subscription (simply delivered by mail!), family packages and other eco friendly products such as straws and bags. Smart and sustainable: we love it!