Day 8:43 am

  • #ShelinaTravels: Bali and Lombok here I come!

    Bali and LombokThe suitcases are out, which can only mean one thing: twenty four hours to go before the big journey to Indonesia. 

    It’s a ten day trip, covering work, adventure and fun. And just to make things more exciting, but also complicated, I’m a working mum on this trip. The two children and my husband are coming with me.

    When mums are asked to be part of meetings and conferences around the world, I always say go for it! It’s hard work if you take your kids but the rewards are high. My are girls and I love the fact that they see their mother on stage, and know that we all support the women in our lives. (Big up to Mr Shelina!)

    First stop: work

    The first stop is Bali to speak at the incredible AdAsia conference. I’ll be one of the keynote speakers alongside such heavyweights as Kofi Annan, Guy Kawasaki, David Coultlhard, Martin Lindstrom and Charles Adler.

    You can even see my little video for the conference here.

    I think there are over a thousand people attending the conference from right across Asia, so I can’t wait to hear the other speakers and see who I can meet. More on that later in the week as I’ll be live tweeting from the event so you can follow what’s happening.

    Then the holiday begins!

    I’m always super-stressed when planning holidays, especially ones which involve kids. I used to be the adventurer type. I’d book some flights, buy a travel guide and figure it out on the way. There was no such thing as booking hotels. We’d wander in to town, and pop our heads into some hotels to check the rooms and then decide.

    Now, with everything seemingly booked out in advance, and so much choice on the internet, it feels like the only safe choice in order to make sure of getting decent accommodation is to book in advance. I’ve done that thing where you sit the night before with your smartphone checking out hotels. It’s a waste of precious holiday time. So now I try to sort it out in advance.

    But this is stressful. Because it means also sorting out an itinerary. Which means endless research to find the best things to do in the best places. Which sometimes is just much easier when you’re out there.

    I confess that I have always had serious FOMO and YOLO.  If there’s an adventure to be had, especially an unexpected one, I’m the one to take it. If there are people to chat to, I’m the one my friends always complain that is left behind in conversation (but which also lead to good freebies and surprising discoveries).

    But now that I have children, and daily life is bursting at the seams at home with school runs, hectic work schedules and seemingly endless amounts of glitter and playdoh to scrub off the floor, I also want relaxation from my holiday.  If you’d told me ten years ago to book a beach holiday I would have laughed in your face! Mountains, volcanoes, art galleries and great late night food were more my thing. But with a six year old and a two year old, and several months of sleep and stillness to catch up on, I’ve begun to see the attraction of comfortable hotels, sandy beaches and sitting still in one place while someone brings us food and then clears it away again.

    I’ve spent far too much time and stress planning holidays, to the point that I need the holiday itself to recover. There’s so many reviews to read, websites to trawl through for the best deals and so much choice that it actually hurts.

    And then I came across Serendipity Tailormade, a travel boutique that curates premium holidays. It is aimed at Muslim travellers so also factors in halal food and sites of interest to Muslim audiences. The rise of the Muslim traveller is a huge marketplace, I’ll talk about that later during my trip.

    The CEO Nabeel Shariff was a soothing balm onto my stressed working mother’s travelling woes. We had a conversation about what kind of thing we like (adventure, intrigue, comfort, ease, beauty, bearing in mind children’s constraints) and what we didn’t want (too much time spent travelling between destinations, the touristy stuff). And what we really really wanted (a private pool villa!). But most of all, that actually we didn’t know.

    Confession: I went to Bali nearly ten years ago and didn’t enjoy the experience at all. We felt it was overrated and underperformed. Our standout moment was the visit to the ricefields and lunch at a restaurant surrounded by greenery.  So could Serendipity offer us a different perspective?

    A few emails and a couple of phone calls later, I had an itinerary. It looks the perfect balance of adventure, relaxation and child-friendliness. Can travel really be this easy and pleasurable?

    We’ve been given curated choice every step of the way, but just the right amount.  I’m now curious to see if curated travel can live up to this glorious feeling of ease, excitement and anticipation.

    I’ll be posting here, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over the coming days, so make sure you follow along to see what unfolds. If you’ve got tips for what we should see, where to eat and interesting people to meet please let us know. I’ll be using the hashtag #ShelinaTravels.

    Let the journey begin!

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