Monthly Archives: April 2014

G is for Gas (Or..Petrol)

Hopping back on the A to Z bandwagon, even though I am several, okay more than several, letters behind. But, here we go!

G is for gas. Petrol for those of you who don’t live in the US. It may seem like an odd choice for G but for those of us who travel outside the US and rent cars in other countries it is, in fact, quite important.

See, one time I went on a trip with my parents. To Slovenia, Ljubljana to be exact. It was an amazing trip, I wasn’t gone for long, so it was a of travel for just a few days, but well worth it. I would say the entire country is still relatively untapped, although I hear more about it than ever before, so if you want to visit a country that is still charming to the core then I say get yourself there pronto.

After a few days there we were driving on to Venice for a night, on my birthday, and we happily hopped in a rental car and headed out. My dad, a very well versed traveler who should have known better, filled up the car with gas and off we went.

And here is my tip of the day – always, always check to see what you should be putting into your vehicle. Because when it is diesel and you put unleaded gasoline in nothing good comes from it. In fact the car stops pretty quickly. Which ours did.

We spent my birthday in a small town while we had the gasoline siphoned out of our car, eating lunch in a restaurant where the walls were covered in posters of naked women, and while we could have been frustrated it was one of those experiences where you look around you, in a small town in Slovenia, and count your blessings to even be able to travel. And so, on my birthday we did that.

We made it to Venice, and the rest of our trip was great, but nothing can top the story that is now part of our family legacy…and what we always think to check when we get a rental car before we put gas in it!

Check back tomorrow to see what else we will have on our A to Z Challenge!

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F is for Finn

I started this blog as a way to document the fun, and challenges, of traveling with our kids, while hopefully helping others with tips we have learned along the way. I will never be one of the big family travel bloggers (although I will keep trying!) and I realize my site has a lot of work that could be done to it, but at the end of the day I am really happy to be doing it for two reasons – F and L. Finn, and Lila, to be exact.

I have only referred to them by F and L on here for the past year, and will probably continue to do so for brevity sake, but today, with my attempt to catch up with the A to Z challenge, it is all about F, so all about Finn.

Finn was born to be a traveler. He has wanderlust in his blood and adventure in his spirit. There is never a time when he isn’t up for a road trip or a plane ride, when he doesn’t get just as excited as we do to plan our next holiday. He took his first plane ride at 8 weeks, and his first international trip at 12 weeks, to Portugal and Spain. He screamed endlessly in a square in Porto and slept peacefully on me throughout Galicia.

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His first transatlantic flight was at 4 months, in business class, where he wooed the flight crew and won over our fellow passengers, who cringed when they saw us board.

He has been to 8 countries and 20 states, with more on the horizon. He may not have traveled all of the world yet, but for a just turned 6 year old I would say he has done pretty good. He yearns to learn about other cultures, about other countries.

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Finn motivates us to continue what we are doing, to show our kids there is so much more to the world than the bubble we live in. I can’t wait to see where the years ahead of us take him, and I hope we are always along for the ride!

Check back tomorrow to see what else we will have on our A to Z Challenge!

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D&E: Dreams and Eventualities

Despite the traveling we are so fortunate to be able to do, and the traveling I have been blessed to have grown up doing, there are still so many parts of the World we have left to conquer, cities to see, cultures to explore, memories to create.

With limited vacation time, a budget that is anything but never ending, a yearly trip to the UK to see family and a huge amount of places we want to see we have to be realistic about where we want to go and where we will likely go in the future.

So, for now, this list falls into two categories, dreams and eventualities.

Dreams

The places I am dying to see the most are:

Petra, Jordan

Photo courtesy of wikimedia

Photo courtesy of wikimedia

Giraffe Manor, Kenya (although to be honest I want to do an African safari full stop)

Photo courtesy google plus

Photo courtesy google plus

South Island, New Zealand - I loved the North Island so I know I would love this as well!

Photo courtesy of genkin.com

Photo courtesy of genkin.com

Antartica – this would be my seventh and final continent!

Photo courtesy of wikipedia

Photo courtesy of wikipedia

This list is anything but complete, but if I had to list my top four choices it would be those listed above. But there are so many others we want to see, and fortunately we have some of them in the pipeline, which leads me to…

Eventualities

Japan – I first visited Japan when I was 8 years old. I remember the busy city, the people everywhere, the amazing country, and we plan on returning in 2015 to introduce our kids to the same experiences.

Croatia – After reading all of the posts from our good friend about their adventures there a year ago this is even higher on our list of eventualities. We tried hard to make it work during our upcoming trip to Europe but it isn’t happening this year – but maybe next!

The Northern Lights – There are no two ways about it, this is my husband’s dream and we will make it happen, sooner than later.

Porto – Another one of my husband’s dreams. We first visited Porto when our son, F, was 10 weeks old. We would love to return without a newborn!

Our lists will change, our dreams will expand, or narrow, our eventualities will happen or they will fade. But as long as we keep trying, keep traveling, keep showing our kids the world, and letting them create their own dreams and eventualities list, we have done our job.

What are some of your dreams and eventualities?

Check back to see what else we will have on our A to Z Challenge!

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C is for Coloring Books For Travel

You may be wondering how coloring books relate to travel, but in our world they totally relate. They may be, in my opinion, the most versatile supply you can bring for your children when you travel. They provide hours of entertainment, they are an alternative to electronics, they are a quiet activity for kids to do at a restaurant, they fit easily into most bags.

And, we’ve discovered, they are a great way to teach your kids about travel before you actually go, if you get coloring books that are geared to whatever destination you are heading to.

There are printable coloring sheets, like these:

US Coloring Pages

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Travel Games Coloring Pages:478

Traveling Kid:

69

 

Or full size coloring books, like these:

Rosie Flo’s Travel Coloring Book

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Color This Book: New York City

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You can use them to get your kids ready for a plane ride:

My Plane Trip:

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The Airport Airplane Coloring Book:

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And, in preparation for our upcoming trip, we are thinking about getting these:

 

 

London Colouring Book:

london-colouring-book

 

I Love Ireland:

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Newcastle Colouring Book:

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York Colouring Book:

51KTzggss3L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_(Check out all the All About My Town Colouring Books from the UK here!)

Our favorite crayons are the Triangular crayons, ones that don’t roll off tray tables or restaurant tables!

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Don’t get me wrong, we love our ipads, and they are definitely a lifesaver, especially on long flights. But you can’t go wrong throwing in some crayons and a coloring book and giving your kids an easy, quiet travel toy!

Check back to see what else we will have on our A to Z Challenge!

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B: Baltic off the Beaten Path

When we first got married we had racked up an impressive number of countries that we had visited, both together and separately, and knew that we wouldn’t let marriage, or children, slow that down.

Well, the children slowed it down a little, but not as much as we could have allowed it to. But having a family and wanting to show them the world meant reevaluating destinations we had already visited and deciding whether they were worthy of a revisit, only this time with little ones in tow.

A few trips kept popping to the top of the list, but one in particular always came to mind – our trip to the Baltic. Specifically Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This trip was intended as a follow up ‘honeymoon’ as our first honeymoon, to Morocco, was shorter than we would have liked, out of necessity of needing to get back to silly things like jobs and grad school. As we were planning it I realized I knew very little of the cities we were heading to, and knew even less what to expect once we got there.

12 days later we headed home to London, satiated with a love of all things Baltic, from the history to the people to the culture. And while we thoroughly enjoyed the capital cities of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius, it was some of the sites we saw off the beaten path that left the greatest impression.

The first, which I have blogged about before, was the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania, about 3 hours from Vilnius. The sheer amount of crosses was mind blowing, and the history behind it even more so. There is a distinct air of peace to the area, and even to the most non-religious there is an ethereal feeling when standing there.

Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

Hill of Crosses, LithuaniaHill of Crosses, LithuaniaHill of Crosses, Lithuania

In Estonia we made a stop in Parnu, a cute beach town less than 2 hours from the cruise port of Tallinn. This popular beach destination for locals is less touristy than the capital, but has the same distinct feel to it, and is a great way to see more of Estonia.

As we drove through Latvia we drove through smaller towns, soaking in the culture of a country that remains, relatively speaking compared to much of Europe, fairly untouched. It reminded us that some of the best trips we take are the ones where we veer off the touristy roads and onto ones that may not hold well known landmarks but can still create incredible memories.

This doesn’t mean we would go back and skip Tallinn, Riga or Vilnius, they are cities definitely worth a second exploration, to discover the very things that made us fall in love with them the first time.

Cathedral in Vilnius

Cathedral in VilniusTallinn's Main SquareTallinn’s Main SquareTown Hall area of RigaTown Hall area of Riga

Where have you been that you would love to show to your children?

Check back to see what else we will have on our A to Z Challenge!

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April A to Z: A is for Atlanta With Kids

(I am late to the party with the April challenge of posting every day (except Sunday) on A to Z, so I will be catching up over the next few days. Thanks to Ann at Travel Turtle for posting about this, so fun!)

For A it seemed like a no brainer to blog about the very city we live in, the city we call home, the place that we happily return to after our days away, despite our reluctance to end our vacations and get back to the real world.

How fortunate we are that we can do just that in a city that we happen to think is full of so much to offer for not only families but tourists of all descriptions!

So, in no particular order, find out what we love about Atlanta, and what we recommend all visitors – and residents – check out!

Showing our fair city lots of love!

Showing our fair city lots of love!

The usuals:

Georgia Aquarium,  Zoo AtlantaWorld of Coca-ColaCNN Center, High Museum of Art, The Ted (for a Braves game), The Dome (for a Falcons game), Stone MountainFernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Piedmont Park, Legoland Discovery Center, Children’s Museum of Atlanta

Slightly off the beaten path (and some a little outside the city center):

Fernbank Science Center, Skyview AtlantaSoutheastern Railway Museum, Center for Puppetry Arts, Bremen Museum, Oakland Cemetery, Carter Center, Etowah Indian Mounds, Tellus Science Museum, Dunwoody Nature Center, Chattahoochee Nature Center, Babyland General Hospital, The Southern Museum and INK Children’s Museum.

We have crazy holiday traditions like riding the pink pig, or making an appointment for Santa in July. We have festivals for every season and food trucks on every corner.

Riding the Pink Pig, an Atlanta tradition

Riding the Pink Pig, an Atlanta tradition

Atlanta has so many areas to go hiking, it has restaurants that are great for families (and lots that are great for eating without kids too), shopping  areas that extend beyond the  mall.

Want to see a game but avoid the crowds? Check out the Gwinnett Braves, the Rome Braves or the Silverbacks.

We may like our tea sweet and our pace of life slow but one thing that can’t be said about the ATL is that there isn’t anything to do here, especially for families!

Check back to see what else we will have on our A to Z Challenge!

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