Any parent who has made the bold move of travelling further than the local supermarket will know that it's an effort of mammoth proportions...
Whether it’s the inevitable airport waiting time, the long drives or the seemingly insufferable long-haul flights, travelling with children is a task for the brave.
However, Laura Natoli – founder of Very Busy Bag – has made it her mission to not only make travel bearable, but enjoyable for kids. With carefully curated activities that are age-appropriate and varied, these bags are packed full of enjoyment for kids, and hours of peace for parents.
We spoke to Laura – a new GRACE Collective Business Member – about her tips for travelling, and how she manages her growing business with the demands of a busy life.
What inspired the launch of Very Busy Bag?
As a mum and childcare educator, I saw a huge gap in the market for screen-free fun for kids. Whether travelling or heading out with my son Jasper or the children that I cared for, I was always putting together activity bags for them to keep them busy and occupied. In an ever-growing digital work, the importance of educational and re-usable activities and toys was always my priority.
When Jasper’s Dad and I separated a year ago, I needed a distraction from my days away from Jasper. I took the opportunity to delve into this idea that I’d been brewing on for a few years and really bring Very Busy Bag to life.
Where are some of the most exciting places a Very Busy Bag has travelled?
From Japan, Europe, USA, UK, Hawaii to New Zealand, Very Busy has gone global. On a recent family holiday this year, Jasper’s Very Busy Bag travelled back to my parent’s homeland to Sicily, Italy. It was our first time visiting where my parents were born and meeting family.
During our enormous Italian family meal times, the Very Busy Bag was a HUGE hit with on the kids’ table. Watching them all play snap, pick up sticks and colouring together was such a highlight.
Can you give us a sneak peak inside a bag? What are the biggest hits for girls and for boys?
Inside a Very Busy Bag you’ll find 9 age appropriate quality and reusable toys, games, activities, crafts and books to keep your kids engaged, entertained and happy.
Our Balloon Ball Buddies are a must have for both boys and girls! Reusable animal-shaped balloons that are not only a heap of fun for the kids but also will unblock your little one’s ears when on a flight.
Where are your favourite destinations to travel to?
In a past life I was a fashion buyer, so I was very lucky to travel around the world. New York was my home away from home, so it holds a special place in my heart!
I can’t go past Italy and Greece. The food, history, culture and beaches always leave me wanting to explore more of these beautiful countries.
Aside from carrying a Very Busy Bag, what are your top tips for managing a long-haul flight with kids?
Patience! Stay calm! Be Prepared!
I highly recommend Plane Pal. Making sure your little one gets enough sleep on those long-haul flights is vital. It will make or break your flight! Having a comfy spot for him/her to sleep is a life saver.
“I’m hungry!” is the one thing you’ll hear on repeat. Packing an insulated cooler bag with some of your child’s favourites is a must!
You’re a busy mum and an owner of a thriving business - how do you make the juggle work?
Some days are super tough but I’m very grateful to have a loving and supportive partner and family who are always willing to help.
Take us through a day in your life.
Every day is pretty different.
Each morning before Jasper wakes up, I check customer emails and messages, until I hear “mummy” and I run in for cuddles with my boy.
As a child care educator, I work 3 days a week with a beautiful family. Nights, weekends and my two days at home are focused on Very Busy Bag – packing orders, ordering stock, focussing on social media and marketing. I’m a one lady band!
A work, life balance is super important for me though. Making quality time for my son Jasper, my partner Neil, our puppy Theodore, my family and myself.
What helps you in business and in life?
It’s all about balance and surrounding myself with supportive and loving people.
What’s next for Very Busy Bag?
The sky is the limit! Very Busy Bag started as activity bags for kids on the go and has very quickly moved into a one-stop shop for time-poor parents who are travelling with kids.
My goal is to have everything families need, all in one place, saving them time and money and providing kids with educational, re-usable and quality activities that reduce screen time.