Me-time for moms

Being a mom is no easy task, but nurturing yourself while raising your family needs encouragement
By Marina Zietsman

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Cruise the seas
 
Taking a cruise on a luxury ocean liner is as close to an all-in-one holiday as you can get. Combine sunbathing and activities from a holiday resort, the spa options from a wellness retreat, the nightlife and restaurants from a casino and beautiful and interesting destinations, and you get a moving holiday of a lifetime. Or if you just need a recharge weekend or midweek break with your girlfriends, choose a short cruise option. MSC Cruises has shorter trips from Durban to Cape Town, and trips leaving Cape Town and returning to the Mother City or a long cruise from Durban to the Portuguese Islands near Mozambique. And if you cannot leave the family at home, there are options where children cruise free of charge. Opt for a cruise that has activities for children where they are kept busy, while you indulge in luxury. Even teenagers are catered for. Canyon Ranch offers the Spa Club @ Sea packages on the Queen Mary II, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Celebrity Cruises – luxury getaways all over the world. For more info: msccruises.co.za, canyonranchdestinations.com or for more international variety fodors.com
 
Glamping
 
Glamorous camping is an excellent way to enjoy the great outdoors without having to endure the great outdoors. Glamping is not such a new concept though. Google reports that the key word started being searched for on their site around 2007. But way back the Bedouins and Turkish Ottomans set up glamorous tents, and in the early 1900s Europeans on safari in Africa refused to rough it, and well-equipped tents were erected for them. Today, glamping means any kind of semi-permanent structure in the outdoors with features far beyond that of a simple tent. In South Africa you can opt for luxury safari tents such as Gorah Elephant Camp in the Addo Elephant National Park, where each luxury tent has its own deck offering panoramic views of the plains. In the Knysna region there are several treehouse and treetop settings to choose from, as the lush forests in the area offer a fairy-tale setting for privacy and adventure. International destinations to consider include White Pine Ancient Forest outside Toronto in Canada, secluded tented lodges in France, beach glamping in Australia, ocean huts in Mexico, tented cabins in Uganda, lush tents in Thailand… the list is endless. For destinations around the globe: glampinghub.com
 
Down the track with a 4x4
 
It gives us a sense of safety manoeuvring our sturdy 4x4s through city traffic, or rolling over traffic humps in mall parking lots, but why not learn more about your all-in-one vehicle and take it on a genuine safari? You can book an introductory course, where you learn more about your vehicle and what it can do for you on a 4x4 trail. When you’ve mastered the basics, you can do an accredited training course or an advance-training course. Then pack up your girlfriends, or family, and show them how it’s done on a 4x4 trip. Go to 4x4track.co.za for options in all our provinces.
 
Dress-up casino night
 
Don an outfit fit for the red carpet, and treat yourself to a night at a casino. Try your luck at roulette, blackjack or a “one-arm bandit” (budget for this; use only a specified amount to gamble with, what you win you take home and what you lose must not hurt your pocket), then enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants, ending the evening with a world-class show. Visit the websites of these casinos to track upcoming shows: Montecasino in Fourways, Grand West in Cape Town, Suncoast Casino in Durban or Morula Sun Casino near Pretoria (tsogosun.com or suninternational.com)
 
Cook like a local
 
Whether you want to visit a foreign market and haggle over the price of veggies and spices, or pick your own fresh ingredients to cook al fresco, travelling the world to learn different cuisines is a cultural experience that’s hard to beat. Book a tour that offers visits to organic farms, while you travel around Israel, and cook vegetarian dishes with outstanding chefs. You can learn more about China on a tea tour where real tea masters are your guides. You can even book a Taste of Iceland culinary tour. Provence is always a popular choice with culinary tours ranging from organic vegan cooking, truffle hunting holidays, and wine and culinary tours. Italy, another gastronomic destination, offers olive harvesting working holidays, Under the Tuscan Sun cooking holidays, Sicily cooking adventures and much more. Locally there are plenty of city-based cooking schools for short courses and cooking getaways in the Winelands and the Karoo. Visit bookculinaryvacations.com
 
Spa heaven
 
A trip to the spa is not an extravagance. Health spas are incredibly relaxing places, making them a great destination for de-stressing and relaxing. Spa treatments are also beneficial for your skin, muscles and joints, and aid better sleep. Depending on your spa wish list, you can choose from an extensive selection of spas. Resort and hotel spas usually offer a wide variety of recreational facilities, while destination spas offer a full-immersion spa experience in which all guests participate. If you’re going for opulence, opt for the crème de la crème of spas, the connoisseur spa. These usually have extraordinary ambience, luxury accommodation, high staff-to-guest ratio, exceptional service and superb cuisine. Day and salon spas offer a simple, flexible way to incorporate treatments into your everyday life, while medical or cosmetic spas operate under the full-time supervision of a licenced healthcare practitioner. For a bit of luxury research, visit luxuryhotelawards.com for local and overseas options.
 
Pack a yoga mat
 
You’ve been diligently packing your yoga mat in the car boot, driving to the gym or the local yoga studio, just to be back in the bustle of the city driving home… for chores and to prepare dinner or take the youngest to the ENT. Would you like to unpack your mat and stay a while longer in yoga bliss? Then a yoga retreat is the answer. Usually these retreats are hidden from civilisation with stunning settings and blissful peace. On a retreat, away from the usual distractions of your daily life, you will be able to focus solely on your practice. You will also detox digitally, as you’ll be away from the city, your laptop, cellphone, television and other connected devices. And because you are in a “dome of wellness” most of the time, you’ll also eat healthy. Combine this serenity with a bit of adventure, and book a yoga retreat in another country where you can make global yoga friends and see a new world. For inspiration go to bookyogaretreats.com where you can book yoga-style retreats from Egypt or Finland, to Estonia or Ireland.
 
Explore a world city on foot
 
If you are self-sufficient, healthy-minded and environmentally conscious, then discovering a world city on foot would be a likeable option. While walking around a new city, you can explore historical sites and architecture at leisure, find beautiful, non-touristy spaces and meet local residents. Here are a few suggestions to make your feet itchy. In Rome, lovers of history will find countless attractions on every street and lane, no matter how insignificant it may seem. From the Roman Forum and the Pantheon, to the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum, the city has many unexpected wonders. In New Orleans you can circle your way through the French Quarter where you’ll find stunning architecture, and see street painters and musicians through hidden gateways and in front of local cafes – a vibrant experience at best. Or try Budapest, where the Danube River splits the city in two, and you can marvel at the museums in both parts, Buda and Pest. For inspiration, invest in the book Walkable City by Jeff Speck (Macmillan Publishers) or visit freecitytour.com.
 
Shopping the world
 
Shopping makes you feel good. Research has proven how shopping activates key areas of the brain, boosting our mood and making us feel better. Keep in mind you don’t want to overspend, but if you have the budget, why not shop “big”. Fifth Avenue in New York is known as one of the best shopping streets in the world with expensive department stores and designer boutiques, and spectacular window displays during Christmas. Bond Street in London’s West End is one of Europe’s busiest boulevards. Or opt for luxurious stores in Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. You might run into one of Hollywood’s rich and famous at Chanel. Avenue Montaigne in Paris is where you’ll find the home of designers such as Louis Vuitton. If a new Gucci bag is not priority, why not explore a busy street market in another country. La Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain has been around since the 13th century and you can even take a Catalan cooking course at the market. If you want to experience the Indian sub-continent at its best, brave Chandni Chowk in Delhi, India where you can buy anything… literally anything. In northern Africa, Marrakech is home to some of the best, and most authentic shopping options in Morocco. Visit condenast.com or tripadvisor.com and type “best shopping” in their search engines. You’ll leave tomorrow.

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