While the kindness of strangers when flying long-haul with babies and toddlers is enough to make any sleep-deprived parent shed a tear of gratitude, one businesswoman wants to connect families and helpers in the air in a more formal fashion.
Nanny in the Clouds founder Julie Melnick started her website after a flight from the east to the west coast of the US with her energetic two-year-old surrounded by other friendly passengers.
Melnick says while the service allows people to search for nannies by city, finding a nanny going to the same place is a challenge, with only a handful of matches so far.
"With over 30,000 flights each day in the US alone, it's very hard to match people on the same itinerary," Melnick says. "We are focused now on partnering with an airline that can let its passengers know that we are available to help them match with an extra set of hands."
She says duties include help with clearing security, carrying gear and taking care of children during the flight and while luggage is collected.
"We have had a lot of requests for help [from the US] to England, Australia and other countries, since long-haul flights are the most stressful of all. We are a service created by a mum, for other mums, so that flying doesn't have to be so stressful any more."
Registration is $US10 ($10.12) plus an hourly rate for the nanny. See nannyintheclouds.com.
That's the spirit
The Aboriginal ceremony of corroboree, interpreted with music, story, song and fire, will be performed lakeside at Malkgulumbu (Beswick Falls) in the Northern Territory.
The remote site on Jawoyn country is sacred and not normally open to the public. On July 27, a maximum of 300 people will be permitted to enter the site for the Walking with Spirits performance, hosted by the Beswick-Wugularr community.
Beswick is 107 kilometres south-east of Katherine. While the road from Katherine to Beswick is sealed, four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended as the 20-kilometre track to the falls is prone to sand and bulldust bogs. Campers will need to be self-sufficient and bring drinking water, food, and camping and fishing gear.
The Australian Shakespeare Company produces the event with the Djilpin Arts Aboriginal Corporation. Tickets cost $145 (adults), $110 (concession) and $60 (children aged between five and 15 years). See shakespeareaustralia.com.au.
Going your way
Passengers can now take private onshore excursions during Crystal Cruises in Europe.
Private Services includes a private car and driver with an English-speaking local guide for up to eight people.
The service is available in 50 European ports on Crystal Serenity Mediterranean cruises and Crystal Symphony northern European cruises, with plans to extend later in the year.
The private car and driver services cost from $US270 ($273) a person. See crystalcruises.com.
ABC Television's Gardening Australia presenter Jane Edmanson will be at the helm of a tour and cruise to Myanmar in early 2014.
The 19-day tour takes in Mandalay and the World Heritage-listed temples of Bagan and the lakeside Indein Pagoda complex, which contains more than 1000 stupa.
Local horticulture will be one of many topics discussed, while highlights will include a visit to the floating tomato garden on Inle Lake. Edmanson is a seasoned traveller and tour leader who has hosted trips for more than 20 years.
The 19-day trip costs from $7750 a person, twin share, and departs Australia on January 2.
Safari by sea
A new safari in the Maldives caters for the fishers, surfers and divers among us, while also providing luxury relaxation.
The activities are made possible while cruising on the Ocean Divine.
Fourteen guests are tended by 10 crew, including a chef, a bartender, a masseuse and an accredited PADI diving instructor.
The 34-metre vessel has mahogany floors, a wine cellar, a day spa and day beds aplenty for on-board relaxation.
Seven staterooms each have a queen bed, en suite and plasma television.
The adventurous, meanwhile, can take to the Male Atolls with the help of two supporting boats - a 15-metre-long tender and a Zodiac dinghy. Australian-born professional surfer and head coach of the British national surf team, Micah Lester, will be on board until July 21.
A seven-night cruise costs from $2478 a person and departs Male. See worldsurfaris.com.
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