Meet Manhattan based parents Nathalie Coppens and Khairi Mdnor. Together with their 3 year old daughter Milla they have explored the hilltop pagodas of Myanmar, trekked the jungles of Borneo, swam the pristine beaches of Costa Rica and wandered into sacred temples of Bali and Thailand as part of their adventure together.
With their daughter Milla as their muse and inspiration, they have collected timeless and functional clothing and items on their journeys and started Superfussy.
I am super pleased to share some of these wonderful travel tips from this couple and show you a little glimpse of their life on the road. Also don't miss an exclusive discount code to Superfussy, at the end of the interview. So with no further ado, here is my interview with Nathalie & Khairi of Superfussy.
Thank you for doing an interview with us, I loved seeing your wonderful photos from around the world. You often hear how dreadful it is to travel with children and how families stay away from certain travel destinations after they have children, but after reading the article from Daily Candy I felt so positive to how you approached it that I wanted to ask you what is your favourite part about traveling the world with your child?
Taking a break from daily routines and spending quality time as a family is probably the best thing about traveling together. I remember floating on my back in the Caribbean ocean in Tulum while pregnant with Milla and thinking to myself how much I'd love to share these experiences with her. Khairi and I met a couple who were vacationing with their 2 month old during our stay there and that reaffirmed our perspective. We've traveled quite a bit with Milla since, and have never looked back. She's barely 3 years old yet we've lost count of how many flights she's been on. Despite the additional preparation and a few limitations that come with traveling with a toddler, it's such a beautiful and rewarding experience.
We're not sure how much she'll remember the early trips, but we do believe the experiences will shape the person she grows up to be as well as her personality. Seeing Milla put her hands together and say "sawadee kha" each time she spotted a Buddha statue is beyond precious.
You seem to have so many good tips on how to travel with kids, can you share a couple of them with us?
Traveling with kids is definitely very different from traveling sans, but its been truly amazing. Perhaps we are lucky to have such a great traveler in Milla. In any case, here is a little summary of our learnings:
STAY CALM & TAKE YOUR TIME
Being relaxed is key to enjoying traveling with children, therefore having extra time is the best. We've found that the calmer we are the happier Milla is. Kiddies love to explore and don't really care for the time pressures of travel, so you're more likely to retain your cool if you have plenty of time! And no sitting down until we get on the plane. Milla walks around as much as possible before boarding the flight (and the umbrella stroller becomes our hand luggage cart haha) Our longest airplane journey so far New York > Hong Kong > Singapore > Bangkok > Yangon, Milla was 16 months at the time and was amazing. We usually book overnight flights so Milla knocks out for a good stretch while I catch up on some sleep myself and Khairi goes on his movie binge. If she's not dozing off during take-off she usually will shortly after the meal and some milk. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and child rearing techniques, but we've never thought about giving Milla any drugs to make her drowsy/fall asleep/avoid tantrums. Lucky for us Milla's drug of choice is her pacifier!
1. Sticker, stickers, stickers! You can never pack enough plus they don't take up any space. We never travel without stickers; re-useable ones, tiny ones, big ones or even cheap colored sticker dots from staples. As a matter of fact we pick them up wherever we are as they keep her occupied anywhere. We also never pack too many toys, aside from small sketch/coloring books and some crayons/washable markers as we love for her to explore her surroundings and learn to enjoy even makeshift ones.
2. Veggies packs. We really pack a boatload of these but veggies only. Most exotic places have amazing and new fruits for her to try, the packs are merely supplements in case we get stuck somewhere or she's fussy about a cuisine! Traveling in Asia has been surprisingly easy for us, Milla loves rice! Must be her Asian half :)
3. Compact cameras. I absolutely love taking pictures all the time. I used to have an SLR but traded it in for the Ricoh GRIII. It's compact & takes great film quality shots. Plus we always have our Iphones and pocket cameras as back-up. Ever since that one incident when we were on a little boat in Costa Rica and my camera slipped out of Khairi's pocket and into the Pacific Ocean, we NEVER travel with just one.
Now that she's grown out of the Ergo baby carrier, the next best thing is the umbrella stroller (our little munchkin is not the lightest toddler). Even though the handles are generally a bit low and slightly annoying, nothing beats the fact that it's compact, light and cheap. Once Milla’s asleep, we turn it around and drag it behind us so she sleeps in a reclined position, our way of making sure she's as comfortable as possible : ) It’s so important for her to be able to sneak in a nap or two when we're traveling, she's happier when she does and we can continue to be on the move. So much to see, so little time. It's definitely the New Yorker in us to try to see and experience as much as possible!
Some people may not agree, but a lot of rules go out the window when we travel. Milla sleeps on the big bed with us even though at home it's only on the weekends (maybe that's why she loves to travel!). During our trip to Myanmar and Thailand, the schedule was pretty hectic, moving around from place to place every 2 days, sometimes just for one nite. Even though every hotel had prepped a crib for her - some weirder and more decorated than others – she needed to sleep with us. With so many new environments being introduced, we felt it’s important for her to feel safe and be close to us. We know if we want to travel the itineraries we do, we need to keep Milla happy. Meaning paying attention and tending to her needs without spoiling her (fine line sometimes!). So a little fussiness sometimes is to be expected, we call it a "trade off" : )
PLAN AND GET A PRIVATE LOCAL GUIDE (and a babysitter once in a while)
Get a private guide that is flexible. Once Milla is older we might have more time to figure out which train/plane/boat/bus we have to catch but up until now it’s been wonderful to have a local guide do most of the planning (with our input) so we can enjoy spending more time taking pictures and taking it all in. We do get a babysitter every now and then, all dependent on how comfortable we are with the hotel and services.
We’ve found that the next best remedy for getting over jetlag (besides sleep) is swimming. When she can't fall asleep, we take Milla for a good swim. This often wears her out, makes her tired and help us all rest better.
Tell us a little bit about how Superfussy came about?
About 5 years ago during a random conversation with a friend about how picky some people can be about things, my husband uttered the word "superfussy" and because we loved the sound of it and the many possibilities surrounding a word that officially does not exist, we registered the domain without any clear direction. On our way to Myanmar about a year and a half ago, we picked up these little harem pants in Bangkok for our daughter Milla, and it was all she wore the entire trip. They were just the perfect travel pants. And so it all started to come together; superfussy would become an outlet of expression for our love for travel, photography and kids wear (eventually expanding into home and adult wear).
All the clothes from Superfussy have something timeless about them, how do you go about sourcing the styles for Superfussy?
The inspiration behind our collection comes from a multitude of places: our travels, childhood experiences as well as a little bit of research. Growing up in Belgium, while my friends went on ski trips, my family and I went to places like Sulawesi, Bali, Yogyakarta and Singapore. So traveling has always been in my blood from early childhood on. I had the exact same Bali tee nearly 30 years ago and it's totally amazing that they still make them. So when we found them, we knew we just had to have them. (Same story with the kurtas my husband wore as a child) All the items we sell are carefully curated, less about trends more about finding staples. We wanted to bring together a great collection of worldly things without being too hippie dippie, and yet have universal appeal.
We recently received our own Superfussy order and loved everything! I can't wait to try out our Turkish peshtemals! They seem like the perfect universal blanket, thick enough to keep you warm on a windy beach, yet cool enough to use as a summer bed cover. What is your favourite garment you have found on your travels?
All of them :) The selection we offer is very personal to us. I'm addicted/obsessed with scarves and never leave the house without one. The great thing about the adult ones is that they double as beach sarongs. I had been looking for a good (affordable) sarong with beautiful prints for a while. So we went fabric shopping in Bangkok and made our own! We love the little Thai hilltribe jackets, they add something special to the collection. While in Thailand I had hoped to find more vintage tribe jackets for kids but these seem really hard to find as they get handed down from kid to kid until they practically disintegrate. We found an amazing one in Milla's size, but unfortunately won't be putting it up for sale : ) We'll still continue to look for more vintage pieces as we travel, hope we'll get lucky and find some beautiful one of a kind pieces
You seem to have experienced so many wonderful countries on your travels, which ones stand out in your memory and why?
Myanmar was truly magical, we'd go back in a heartbeat if not for the fact that there are so many other places to see. Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon at dusk, sunset over Bagan, the floating villages and gardens of Inle Lake. Pagodas everywhere you look.. Just stunning. People compare Myanmar to Thailand 60 years ago. We feel lucky we got to see it when we did, as the country is changing rapidly.
Tulum has a special place in our heart. We've been a bunch of times, when my husband and I were dating, when we were pregnant and soon after. Love the beach and the vibe. Mostly small eco hotels, no AC which keeps the crowds away (and makes the beach so lovely). But it seems like the secret is out and more and more people are discovering it and the place is slowly changing too.
We went to Borneo right before we got pregnant. This trip was very much off the beaten path and so amazing. From the long rides on the longboats down the rivers of the rainforest (one of my all time favorite photos was taken here) to staying the night with the Iban families in the longhouses (and drinking their home brewed rice wine : ), we both decided during this trip we should never stop traveling and experience new places.
What is next on the agenda for Superfussy, any new adventures in sight?
The Philippines! We just started planning. Probably begin the trip in Manila, then up to Bontoc and check out the Banaue rice terraces, Baguio and end with a few days on the beach in Palawan. Very excited to go find some amazing stuff to bring back.
A big thanks goes out to Nathalie, Khairi and their lovely daughter Milla for sharing some of their great experiences with us, I will certainly try out a few travel tips on our next journey! To see more of their lovely photos go here.
Right now you can get 20% OFF the entire range at SUPERFUSSY with the code MINORDETALES. The offer is only valid until August 15th so be quick. We already own a few things like the harem pants, chickan kurtas, turkish peshtemals and the sarong scarf which we ordered earlier and we truly love them!
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