Top 6 lessons traveling to Australia

Bring another adult if you are traveling with a kid  

My husband and I are on a trip to Australia and New Zealand for 3 weeks with out 1 year old boy. This time we really felt a need for another adult as bed time and naps would trump going out for a nice dinner by the water.

Going on a longer trip with just your family is great, amazing and also crowded. It’s possible that you will want to have some adult time and stay up later then your kid. Anytime we tried to push bedtime to a later time we had a fussy baby at the restaurant. So if you can, definitely bribe someone to come along with you!

Don’t leave souvenir shopping for the last day

Like most tourists, I’m sure you would want to do some souvenir shopping and bring things back for yourself or for your family and friends. I find it simpler and easier to get all the shopping done before your last day on vacation. First of all, if you find something you love, just buy it, it may not be available at another spot and you won’t have to go back to get it. Second, find from the locals where the market is with all the small trinkets that’s away from the touristy spot. They will have the best prices and best bang for your buck.

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Ask Airbnb host, or your hotel, to check in early

Our family has traveled via Airbnb on 3 continents, 4 countries and so many different apartments. We’ve learned a lot from using Airbnb and I wrote about it here.

I would definitely recommend staying via Airbnb, it’s cheaper, better prices, laundry available, and often you can stay in a hotel using Airbnb with better prices (we’ve done this also). A lot of hotels and apartments won’t let you check in until 2-3 pm, and most of the time when we asked to check in early or at least leave our bags there early, they were very accommodating.

Don’t land anywhere in the middle of the night

So much to be said about this one, and unfortunately this lesson we learned the hard way. Unless you are staying next to the airport, meaning walking distance, or you have someone picking you up.

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Have a flexible plan

It’s so important to have a list of what you want to do, when you want to do it, but with a family, or small kid(s) it can change, so I find it helpful to be flexible and mentally open to change itinerary if needed. When you go into  your vacation with no expectations, everything will be amazing and better then you thought it would be.

Also, have a plan and at least 2 day itinerary booked and planned. We’ve been rained on and had to be super flexible often on this trip. We were still able to enjoy our time and have a great trip despite all the challenges and detours.

Spend more time at the beach 

The beach in Australia and in New Zealand is nothing like I’ve ever seen. It’s incredible and our regret is not staying at the beach longer while we were around Sydney.

 

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3 tips on how to switch baby’s sleep to a new timezone.

If you’re preparing to travel with a baby or a toddler, and you’re a mom, you definitely worry about sleep. You worry about loosing your own sleep and then worry that your little one won’t have enough rest to recover from all the activities you’ve planned.

With the daylight savings time and packing for our next trip, sleep time switch is what we are going through right now, so I wanted to share what worked for us to gently change our baby’s routine and move the sleep schedule. As parents know, if baby sleeps, we sleep. It’s so much more important for everyone’s immune system (not to get sick from germ infested airports) and recovery from jet leg during time zone travels.

First of all, the most important thing to remember is that you need to plan your day to make sure you know what 12 hours of the day you want your baby to sleep – creating the night hours for them.

It is completely appropriate for these hours to vary depending on where you are staying and what your activities are as a family. For example, when we were in Paris, France, 7 pm bedtime in NY would be 12 am bedtime in Paris. We decided to keep it that way and started baby’s bed routine at 10:30 pm. It worked out perfectly for us because there was no switch! (except for me to count the times of day he was napping) We had a slow morning, kept the room dark with room darkening curtains, and  would take turns going out in the morning. It was great because it allowed my husband and I to have alone time, which is very important when we travel and spend 24/7 together. We took turns running errands in the morning before noon (baby’s wake up time) and then went on with our day together once he was up. Parisians eat dinner late, so it fit into our schedule perfectly, we would take a stroll through the city one last time before coming back ‘home’ to our airbnb apartment around 10 in time for baby’s bed things. You may choose to do it differently, but make sure it works for your family! Another time – when we were in Arizona, baby’s sleep was 7 pm – 7 am, and we had to do a switch for him to get adjusted to a new schedule, it worked great for all of us!

Here are my top 3 tips:

Keep your baby up.

No matter what, no matter how tired your baby is, keep them up, distract them, tire them out even more and put them to bed at the time that you decide and establish as the NEW sleep time. For example, with daylight savings time, we gained an hour and what normally was 7 pm bedtime would become 6 pm. In my opinion it’s too early, so we started keeping baby up until 8 pm 2 days before Sunday, by 8 pm he was so tired and went to bed easily and very quickly. Once daylight savings day came (Sunday), he was half way to the switch; I do feel like it’s harder to move sleep by one hour, but you get it done! If the timezone is 3 hours difference or more, your baby may need a quick nap before the new proposed bedtime, so let them sleep for 45 minutes (a full baby sleep cycle) and then wake baby up for a couple of hours before the new bedtime. Same goes for nap time, keep your baby up until the new schedule nap time is up.

Keep your baby asleep.

I know, it’s the hardest thing to do when your baby just doesn’t want to sleep! Here is what works for us: keep curtains shut and put in extra layer of light blocking curtains to keep the hotel room as dark as possible. If you need some light, then keep it as dim as possible. If your baby wakes up too early and doesn’t know that you’re trying to switch them to sleep in for a couple more hours, take them to bed with you, while you’re laying down, cuddle, hang out, don’t let them play with toys, try to keep them laying down (I know its nearly impossible once your baby is on the move), give them a bottle of warm milk, it will make them sleepy, and in general keep voices low and the atmosphere as calm as possible. When the hour comes when you want them to wake up, turn the lights on, open up the curtains and let the sun in, letting them know it’s waking time. Their body will catch up to those signals really quickly!

Don’t give in!

No matter what, don’t give in and let your baby sleep in, or wake up early, or go to bed earlier then the NEW time YOU set for them! It’s so hard for those 3 days when you’re making them switch and adapt to a new schedule, but it’s so worth it in the end! My baby always did the full switch by day 4, as if his own biological clock was reset and he was ready to do it like nothing ever happened! Don’t get me wrong though, these 3 days to get there (can be more) will be tough! You will either wake up hours earlier then you want to, or loose sleep some other way. It’s hardest when its 1-4 hours difference, and easiest when its 6+ hours of a change.

For full disclosure, I did not sleep train my baby, I tried reading the books, but it was just not for me. My philosophy was to pay very close attention to my baby and his needs, his wake time and when he would want to go to sleep. I believe that we found a sweet spot where he sleeps 12-13 hours at night, 2 naps that usually last 1.5-2 hours each. This has been our schedule since he was 7 months and now is almost 13 months old. Of course we’ve had some really bad nights and teething sleeplessness, sick baby and tired parents times, no one is immune to those.

Would you like to hear more about our baby’s sleep schedule and how I learned from him what he needed?

Comment below your questions and comments about sleep, I’ll do my best to share our story. I am an expert in my baby’s sleep, because I have to be, and hope that it can help another mama friend!

XX

L.

Traveling via AirBnB

Heard mixed reviews? Well, let me tell you a little bit about our experience with Airbnb.com. Our little family used the services half a dozen times and we only have good things to say!

Do you have a horror story to tell with your host? Comment below, I’d love to hear your experiences weather positive or negative! If you have a really amazing property that you stayed at, link that below in the comments section, who knows, maybe we will be going there soon and will check it out! P.s. currently looking for good suggestions in Sydney, Australia, so if you have a home you loved, leave a comment with the home ID number!

Some photos from our top two apartments we rented via Airbnb.com

If you are traveling using Airbnb.com use my link to get $40 credit towards your stay!

Click on the photo to see my caption.

All the good stuff, in my own opinion after using the website and services, I think these are important items to consider when using Airbnb:

Personal profile.

Creating a profile with your current photo may help in letting the host know who you are and allowing them to pick you. With some international apartments for rent the host is often a business that rents out fully furnished apartments to business travelers and they look for ‘renters’ who will spend a month or multiple months instead of 2-5 days like typical tourists. Some hosts do not allow families with small children who could potentially ruin their furniture, or simply will wait for someone to book the home for a longer period. I found that writing a brief story about your reason for visit, what you’re looking for, will help in booking the place you want. We had this happen to us, and I was glad that I wrote to the host, she later told us that they have never had anyone stay for a few days, it was always for months at a time and usually actors or actresses who were abroad filming a movie. Another time we had booked an apartment we really wanted in Arizona and the only reason the host agreed was because our baby was not walking yet. There was a balcony at the apartment and she was worried about kids being able to walk out on their own and possibly fall, but she said our personal message request led her to understand that our baby was little and was under constant watch as he was not walking yet. Look for pictures of that balcony here below, it was one of the most beautiful apartments we’ve stayed in with the most incredible view from the balcony!

Choose a home type. 

Be very specific about your expectations and where you want to stay. Fill out all possible fields with what you want out of the type of home or room you are looking for. We have only used entire home rentals with smoke free environment, some were pet friendly, and all with location as the primary focus. You have to do what works best for your family or your travel lifestyle. You may enjoy renting a room instead of the entire place, just do what fits your budget and preferences.

Ratings are everything!

I 100% rely on rating and reviews when choosing an apartment for our family. I also leave a review in as much detail as I can after using the home in hopes to help someone else make their decision to stay there or not. So please, leave a detailed rating in the end, I will thank you for doing that because chances are, if we travel to that city I will rely on ratings of others to determine where we would like to stay.

Communication.

The way you communicate with the host is key! If they are responsive and answer all your questions well from the beginning, it will most likely mean that they will be very helpful in the entire process and make it easier to stay there.

If you have to wait a while to get a response, even though they are allowed up to 24 hours, just expect that to continue.

My must haves:

  • Safety
  • Location
  • Price, in that order.
  • Availability after our stay, in case we choose to extend our trip.
  • Laundry on site. We pack light, especially since we have to have a stroller with us and having laundry for those emergencies is key when traveling with a baby! Oh, the countless diaper blow outs where I was able to save the outfit!
  • Two bedrooms. Our preference is to have two bedrooms, but we also have found places with one bedroom that is separate from the living space so the baby can nap during the day and allow us to enjoy ourselves without whispers and waking him.
  • Smoke free and pet free. Generally these homes are cleaner!
  • Good cancelation policy.
  • Crib or pack and play. We stayed in places without a crib, and it all worked out well!  If you love the place but they don’t offer a crib, just book it! Comment below for my real life hacks in creating a safe space for a baby to sleep without having to pack extra gear into your luggage!
  • Check in and check out time. Some homes do it just like the hotels, but we like to leave in the afternoon around 1 pm, and have the flexibility for our family. Some places are extremely strict on this.

Reservation fee. 

Even though this fee is listed in the description, sometimes you just miss it and then your debit card can have a huge sum held up for this booking. Just something to look out for when you’re booking a trip! Some places have a high reservation fee that goes towards your booking total cost in the end, some have a very reasonable price to hold the booking.

Neighborhood.

When you are unsure of the neighborhood and don’t trust the photos, go to zillow.com and look at the location on the map where it shows the cost of the homes. Compare that to the other neighborhoods and make your decision that way. It’s not always reliable, but it usually helps to find out if you’re in the hood where you shouldn’t bring your family into. But then again, reviews from others who have stayed there help significantly! You can also look at the map and just google where the mall is, you can deduct from the location of the higher end stores where the best parts of that city are. It’s not always accurate, but it will help when you’re visiting a location you are not familiar with!

Rare gem.

Sometimes, and that’s rare, but sometimes a new listing will come on and you will have to take a leap of faith and stay there even though there aren’t any reviews yet. Someone has to be the first to try it out. If you know the city well and know that you can trust that building or that street, go for it! That home may have been just newly listed on the website and the initial price can be lowered until they get busy and have more visitors and reviews!

Be nice!

The host will review your stay, so be mindful and treat it like it was your home, or like it was better then your home. The host deciding to let you stay in their apartment will be able to see the reviews others left for you!

Leave a gift or flowers.

Pass on some good thoughts to the host, especially if it’s their home and not just a rental property. Buy flowers and keep them in a vase to enjoy for your stay and then add a simple thank you note so that the homeowner can enjoy the flowers too.

Ask for recommendations.

When we stayed in NYC, we had great reccoendations for food, take out places (like chinese are new tradition) and wine shops to visit. Shopping streets/locations, public transportation etc. Not all will list their recommendations, but they will usually help the most with these details to make your stay easier because they live there and do this every day!

Instant Booking

This feature is fantastic! When you are in a hurry and really need to find a place fast, we needed to use this feature to find a place to stay the next day or even the same day, it comes in super handy! You can select it in your preferences to have instant booking which means you will be instantly approved to stay there.

Cancelation Policy. 

Some policies are very strict and do not leave any breathing room for you to make changes to your trip. When choosing to travel via AirBnB you have a lot of flexibility, so it’s always good to check what you’re signing up for. We had to cancel a trip before due to a snow storm and we lost money because they needed 7 days to get only 50% of our money back. If their cancelation policy is outrageous or unreasonable we generally stay away from the home, because then I wonder if the price is just as unreasonable.

 

I hope you enjoyed my full review and some photos! Was it helpful?

Comment below and let me know if you found this info useful and if it helped you for future travels!

Don’t forget to use my code to get $40 off your trip! You can click here to claim it!

XX

L.

Stroller review: Mutsy

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Oh the choices for strollers we have! So many options and even more opinions. I figured I might as well contribute to the opinionated voices out there and share my experience with the very first stroller we purchased! 

(click on this link to check it out, its currently on sale)

I found it on Instagram (is shopping via IG the new Pinterest?), fell in love with the simple design and after reading some reviews decided to go for it! Since then we’ve taken it with us to Ireland, Paris, France, and a at least 5 states. After having the stroller for a year, I’m convinced it was the perfect choice!

The first time I took this baby out for a walk was when he was 2 days old and we walked to an appointment at the hospital in our neighborhood. I took our dog with us (she was being walked by my sister while we were at the appointment) and it reminded me about the first time that I took the stroller out while pregnant and started training my dog on how to walk with a stroller.

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We kept the pram downstairs and baby boy napped there during the day as our pup watched over him.

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Our first trip with the baby was when he was 3 weeks old. We only traveled about an hour away from our home, but I was so nervous! Probably overpacked, but we had an amazing time and we all survived!

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Last year in December when Rollo was just barely 2 months old we took our little family to San Diego, CA for a little Christmas get away. Traveling in the airport with this pram was great, he was able to nap there, it was easy to transport him around and change diapers too. It worked out so much better then a car seat since we took the pram everywhere with us and walked everywhere when in San Diego. I didn’t have time to buy a bag for the stroller, and it turned out fine, the airport and gate check people handled our stroller carefully and I found no scratches or issues after.

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Happy to say that even in the snow the stroller handled perfectly! The wheels didn’t get stuck or have issues going through areas that are not plowed.

The car seat we used came with adapters for the stroller and was very easy to install. One of my favorite features was the car seat cover, it came in so handy while driving in the car for a road trip or regular daily stuff. I was able to get baby to sleep while walking with friends and the cover was breathable and sun blocking. I actually miss the cover since the convertible car seat is all exposed to the sun rays while in the car.

 

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This was fun to go back through memories and adventures this stroller took us on.

My favorite features:

  • Fold down handle, its the easiest at restaurants and tight spaces
  • The storage space under the stroller
  • The pram attachment
  • How easy it is to fold it down and open it up
  • The sleek and sexy style, simple yet so elegant

Not so great:

  • I wish that it folded together into one piece instead of two separate pieces. It would be so much easier for travel
  • When traveling I miss having a bag to store it in. They make bags for car seats when you travel, and that’s what I would have loved to have to be able to protect it from scratches
  • It would be great to have an attachable cup holder. I bought a different one and made it work, but it would have been nice to have a cup holder that was designed for it

In case you missed the link earlier, click here to look at more details on the website, the exact one we have is on sale right now.

I hope you enjoyed the review and the pictures! If you have a Mutsy stroller, what’s your favorite part about it?

xx

L.

 

Grand Canyon Railway Tour

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If you’ve never been to Grand Canyon, you have to go!

A couple of years ago we drove past it and ever since then I regretted the fact that we did stop to see it. I would have loved to hike and explore it but that’s not very easy with a baby. So this year we had the opportunity to visit Grand Canyon with our baby boy and I wanted to share some of our favorite moments!

We had a great time and loved this package from the Railway Hotel in Williams. You can find more details here and watch their video here. The video preview is really what sold us on it and got us very excited about doing it with our baby!

We chose to take the grand canyon tour via bus, and it was perfect for our family! They drove us around and stopped at each location to see the view, talked about history and details that otherwise we wouldn’t have known, and best of all, it was super easy with a baby! He slept on the bus ride, then woke up in time for us to walk around the canyon views and take some photos! It was very hot outside so having a bus that’s air-conditioned was the best!

What no one tells you is that the Grand Canyon is at 8000 feet elevation, its very dry and feels hotter outside then it actually is. At night it gets cold, but not by much. It was uncomfortably hot even though it was technically only 80 degrees out. So research the weather for the season in which you plan on going.

The train entertainment was very fun! There were musicians singing (lots of country music), robbers who go on the train from chasing it on horses, a sherif who was then chasing after them, just over all very family friendly.

 

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We brought a sign home as a souvenir too. 
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Our train. The dome observing deck was really cool, but they don’t allow kids under 2 years old up there, if you look at the pictures from their website, it’s really cool views! 

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His teeth crack me up! Just the night before his third tooth broke thru even though you couldn’t see it yet.
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Part of the entertainment on the train. The robbers got on the train from horses and were robbing the people on the train. You could leave out cash and things if you wanted them to rob you. They loved the baby of course.
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How cute are they!?

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Everyone loved the baby on the train, even the conductor came by for a photo!
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Just hanging out on the bus!
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Someone was very good and took a nice nap on the train and on the bus waking up right in time for us to walk the rim of the Canyon.
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What it was really like taking photos with this kiddo! After about 100 takes we had a good one. If you have kids, you know the struggle.

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XX

L.

 

30 Tips for traveling with a baby

Traveling with a baby soon?

That’s awesome!

We have taken our baby on more weekend trips then I can count and we love having him with us wherever we go! I am certainly no expert, but I do feel like I’ve collected some tips that works for us and maybe they will be helpful to you!

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This is focusing on traveling via car, short distance that takes less then a day and hotel life vs. apartment renting.

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Hotel 

Use a map when booking. I always check expedia.com first for the locations of nearby hotels; all the options show up and you can view the map with the little pin drops for hotels to pick your location. Sometimes looking at it on a map makes all the difference because you can stay at a hotel next to the water, or on the water, next to a golf course or a museum; it all depends on what you like to do at your destination.

Book via the hotel’s website. Like I mentioned earlier, I always check expedia.com first to compare prices and find the location on the map where we want to stay. After having to pay for a room and not being able to cancel our reservation I learned to always book the hotel using their website. The price is usually the same on the website as it is on sites like Expedia, if there is a difference I would recommend calling the hotel directly (call front desk not the reservations number if they give you a hard time) 99% of the time they will match the price you see online if its a different then what their website is. Domestically we prefer to use Holiday Inn vs Hilton because of better accommodations and Holiday Inn always had breakfast included where we have stayed so far, so its a bonus and a cost saver!

Walking distance. If I can find it, I will always try to book a hotel or Homeaway or Air BnB with walking distance to sites and venues we plan to visit. It doesn’t always work out, but when it’s a city big enough it’s worth paying the extra $50-100 a night to be able to walk to dinner, shopping, diaper run, pharmacy (I needed it one time when we were in a different state), and groceries (especially if you have a kitchen where you are staying). Having accommodations with the ability to walk almost anywhere is how we booked all of our stays since having the baby. We take the car if we are not flying or the trip is shorter distance, but even then, it’s just easier to get essentials and be able to transport a stroller at all times. This comes in handy when your baby is still small and naps several times a day.

Hotel room cancelations. If you book with the hotel directly, they may offer a generous cancelation policy, but when you book via expedia.com, trivago.com or priceline.com you will most likely have to pay extra for “flexibility.” Flexibility is the state of mind for parents of infants and toddlers. Because you just never know!!! What if you have to cancel your entire trip, which has happened to us, and what if you make a reservation for the wrong day by accident? (also happened to us). Being able to call the hotel directly to sort it out is much easier to make changes than dealing with Expedia, trust me!

Upgrade to a bigger room for free. Yes, for FREE! What I learned from staying at many different hotels, is that each hotel has 2-3 (or depending on the size of the hotel sometimes more) handicap-accessible rooms. These rooms have extra space, bigger bathrooms, and often a walk in closet, and a couch or a separate seating area. It’s so much easier to have space for a crib and not sit in the dark after the baby is tucked in for the night, because the room is so small that you cannot turn any lights on!  Rather than booking these rooms with all the others, hotels keep some of them reserved in case someone comes in who needs those accommodations. These will typically be the last rooms they assign on a given night. My tip is: when you check in (not when you book) ask for a handicap accessible room. They will decide if they can let you have the room or if they should keep it for individuals who will actually need it. What do you have to lose?

Ask for a crib. Every hotel domestically and internationally will provide portable cribs, aka pack and play. Even Airbnb places where we stayed, not all of them, but most will have a crib they can provide. Some will list it as an option on their page so you can know if it’s an option before you make the reservation.

Or bring a crib. If you absolutely love your pack and play or another version of a baby bed at home and invested good money in it, AND if you have space for it in your travels I would say bring it with you! I had to request a different crib once because the first one was so wobbly and I could tell my baby wasn’t comfortable there.

Travel insurance. When applicable, buy it! We had an issue once and sometimes the airline or the hotel will not even talk to you about the issue you have if you don’t have travel insurance, or insurance for your flights. With a baby, again, you just don’t know what to expect and it’s worth it to be prepared to cancel or reschedule the trip if you needed to.

Bring a toy box. What’s amazing to me is how our baby loves to take toys out of a box! If you’re traveling light, bring a folding box and put the toys that you choose to bring with you in it so your baby can take them out and spread out on the floor playing. If you don’t have a box, you can use a plastic shopping bag, like the reusable kind they offer for $1 at most grocery stores, the bag makes crinkly noise and the handles will add extra fun to play with. When you have a crawling or just a very busy baby it helps to entertain them and keep them out of your arms while in the hotel room. When we travel via car I will often bring a reusable shopping bag from Wegmans and keep the toys in there, the bag is easy to clean with baby wipes too!

Save money. When ever possible, stay with friends or family. We found out that if we make a goal to spend only a certain amount the entire weekend and do not go out to shop for anything other then groceries, our trips are much cheaper and we eat healthier because we cook our own food. This is especially the case if you are like us and have to travel to visit family and old friends. Every time we go back to visit we stay with parents or in-laws and that’s a great way to save on lodging alone!

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AirBnB

Booking tips. Similar to when looking for a hotel, use a map to decide where exactly you wish to stay, neighborhood, street, corner. If you are in a big city, you will have a lot of options to choose from! We used airbnb.com in NYC, Dublin, Ireland, Paris, France, and have a couple more places booked where we plan to travel in the next few months.

I will be talking about our experience with Airbnb on the blog tomorrow, so make sure to subscribe and get an email notification when it goes live! I will have full details on what we did well and where we learned from mistakes. I will include pictures from the fabulous apartments we rented in Europe, so make sure to check back in tomorrow!

Traveling by car

Walking naps. Health goals do not need to change when you travel. We started taking our Bob Jogging stroller on short trips that we take by car. It allows us to take a walk together as a family when baby needs a nap. As he got older he was so much more alert of everything (after 7/8 months) it became very difficult to get him down for a nap. Walking or even running while he naps once a day is a great way we are able to stick to our health goals.

Stroller accessories. When you are short on space or simply don’t have the space in your trunk, consider this guy! Scout is a great accessory to keep around when you are traveling and need to have your space in the trunk for luggage. This is an attachment to the back of your car that will allow you to safely and efficiently transport your jogging stroller without taking the extra space inside the vehicle. This carrier works on jogging strollers only.

Sleeping in the car and timing. After more weekend road trips that we can count in the last 9 months with our baby one thing we make sure to do that makes our life SO much easier while on the road! When we choose the time to leave, either to get on the road to our destination or to come back home, we always plan it around baby’s sleep schedule. If the drive is 5 hours or less, we plan our leave at 6:30-7 pm, which is baby’s bed time. It allows us to drive straight to the destination without stopping to take breaks. If it is unavoidable to drive during his night sleep, we still plan it around nap time and usually he will sleep the entire way or at least most of it in the car seat. We’ve had some trips when poor baby was not happy in the car ride, had 2 blow outs in a row and cried for an hour before falling asleep. I recommend a routine for baby to make sure that they sleep well – more on that below.

Car music. Every time we are in the car and expect baby to sleep we play the same lullaby melody on a cd, there are also apps available and a couple options on Pandora to create a play list that works for your baby. I sometimes play the same music at home at bedtime so my baby knows it as sleep time. He is usually asleep before the end of the first lullaby in the car. After he is sound asleep we change the music to our liking with of course considering a sleeping baby in the car. Use your own discretion, you know how your baby sleeps best.

Tucking in. A sleeping baby while you are driving is the absolute best!! Even as I am writing this blog, we are coming back home from a weekend trip and baby boy is sound asleep. At home you probably have a very specific routine that you follow exactly in the same steps every night, I think it’s similar that your baby needs a tucking in routine when you travel by car and you are signaling to them that this is night night time. Make sure that it’s the same every time you expect baby to sleep in the car for a long time, and make sure that awake time in the car seat is different so they know what they are expected to do. My baby likes to have his face half covered as he is falling asleep. I usually use a swaddle blanket because its so breathable. I cover half his face so he has some light but also has that comfort like when his face is shoved into my arm; he would usually pull up the blanket to cover his face completely if he is comforting himself as he’s falling asleep on his own in the crib or in the stroller. So I do the same thing for him in the car seat. I tuck him in, with the blanket on one side of his so he can hold on to it or just lean his face into it and sleep. It works every time!

Car seat cover. I wish there was a car seat cover like the ones they make for infant car seats! It would come in so handy while traveling when you need your baby to sleep but the sun is too bright. I use an old black scarf of mine, tie it around the arm holder (the one above the window of the car, I don’t know the official name of it), and then I drape it around the car seat to block out the sun and create a cocoon type of environment with light that’s not too bright for sleep. I’ve tried a few different window coverings to block out the sun and none of them work for us! If you find a better way to have a car seat cover for a regular car seat, please let me know!!!

Car seat Canopy. This thing is genius! Maxi Cosi car seat canopy (obviously only works with Maxi cosi car seats) If you are still in search of a car seat for your growing baby, this is a good one to consider! It’s so convenient to have a canopy to shade from the sun, it’s my favorite feature of this car seat!

Nursing while driving. If you traveled by car with an infant and you are exclusively breastfeeding, you’ve done it! I know every mom thinks that their baby is super particular to what they like and don’t like, and it’s true, no one know your baby like you do! Mine hate bottles. Since birth he still has not taken to a bottle, so when we drive on a longer trip and he’s fussy due to hunger I’ve done the most uncomfortable thing you can do in a car – hunch over and breastfeed while he’s in the car seat. Sometimes you have to. (if you’ve done it you know the pain in my lower back and the tingling in the leg after being in the most awkward set up) Thank God for tinted windows in our car!

Sleep accessories. I always bring the sound machine and the baby monitor with us. Especially on weekend trips where we would stay in a place with more then 1 bedroom, it allows us to have time to ourselves and have the baby monitor to keep an eye on the sleeping baby. The sound machine is always with us at home and during travels. I turn it on when we start our night routine and it tells him to start relaxing and prepare for night sleeps. If your baby is a light sleeper it may be a good idea to have the sound machine on in the car as well. I often use it in the stroller when we are in public because then he’s less likely to be startled by random bursts of noises. If you can have a hotel room with a separate sleeping bedroom you’re going to love having the baby monitor and enjoy an evening to yourself without worrying about waking the baby with noises or lights.

Travel Gear

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Stroller. Picking the right stroller for your travel is so important! Is there anyone else like me who has an obsession with strollers? I want them all! Ok, it’s bad, and I will be doing a review on a couple of strollers in the next few weeks as I am still testing out one I got recently. P.s. some of my recommendations I have not personally tried, but I have heard amazing reviews and some of these are on my wish list. (feel free to send it to me for my honest opinion)

It depends on where you are going.

Outdoors like beach, hiking, hills, fields, and running trails – BOB All terrain Stroller

Disney, amusement parks, water parks, zoo and state fairs – Austlen Stroller  : the most compact stroller with the absolute most storage space for all the stuff your family will need for all day outings.

City life and short distance travels – Quinny x Rachel Zoe Moodd Jet Stroller: perfect for kids who need to be occupied and feel like they’re running the show! I love the front handle bar for babies to hold on to!

City life, subways, lots of walking and exploring – Musty NEXO: Compact, easy to fold and carry but allows decent amount of storage.

The smallest stroller, for the family with very little storage in the car and a need for a stroller that’s better then a cheap umbrella stroller – GB Pockit.

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I know that there are crazy long lists of strollers to pick from, these are just some of the options that work great for travel. For every day life we use Mutsy Evo, it also comes with us very often on vacations and trips because its compact compared to others I looked at, it offers good storage space and it reclines fully.

Car Seat. There are so many options for car seats! I know you moms do your research on what fits best for safety, style, price and functionality of a car seat, so this is just my opinion on what we use. When I researched for an infant car seat to me it was important that it was gender neutral and lightweight. This Maxi Cosi car seat is only 9 pounds and worked for us amazingly! I have a big baby boy and we transitioned into a Forever Graco car seat when he was 7 months old, even though he still fit into it weight and height per recommendation of the company, he would get really hot and sweat a lot because it’s super breathable (great for winter since he was born in October it was perfect) and my baby is a heat machine!

Activities in the car

Scavenger hunt. This is a print out game that’s perfect for the bigger kids and will be a lot of fun!

Printable road games. I am a very creative person and I love making art, but I also believe that you shouldn’t recreate the wheel. This blog post has 25 printable road games that are fantastic and I am sure your kids will love them!

Coloring travel game. For bigger kids this is perfect to create a competition, I am saving it for the future when I will need for our trips! Click here to print this License Plate Coloring Map. 

Lego Tic-tac-toe to go. Seriously, mamas, you are so creative! I am so inspired and can’t wait to try these games with our family in the future! This lego game is super when you have more then one kid to keep up with in the back seat.

Do me a huge favor, when you try these games with your family, let me know what you think of them and most importantly, let me know what your kids think of them! Check out my Pinterest wall to get more ideas for traveling with kids, games and other ideas.

And then some

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Packing light. Our first trip to visit family after the baby was born we packed the entire car, and the trunk, then realized that our dog was supposed to come with us and had to take a second car to fit all of us. (We have a great dane) We learned how to pack light. My tip for you is to pick out an outfit for yourself that you will wear each day you will be out of town. Then bring an extra shirt just in case you get spit on, or worse – a diaper situation.

For baby clothes I recommend packing:

  • 2 outfits per day, if you have a situation of blow outs or food spills, you have options. Perhaps bring 1 sweater if you are worried about weather changes, depending on the climate of course.
  • 1 pair of shoes for the baby, which you will probably not even put on them unless its winter time or if you have a toddler.
  • Enough diapers for 2 days, if you are staying longer then that, you can always buy more.
  • 2 blankets and 2 swaddle blankets, a black out curtain because it helps baby sleep better in a blackout place when everything is so exciting in the new environment.
  • We always end up shopping for baby clothes or for ourselves when we travel and it’s great when we plan properly and have enough space in our luggage to come back home with new stuff.

Usually between my husband, myself and our baby we have 1 carry on luggage, 1 diaper bag (I use this one) and my purse, if I expect us to go out without a baby I will sometimes bring a clutch. If we are traveling and staying with family/friends/ or airbnb we will often bring a “kitchen” bag with our french press, some ground coffee, some food for us when we get in and snacks for the road.

I talked about traveling with an infant by car in a different post you can read here.

Chinese food. After a couple of trips that made our arrival very stressful (mostly because we were too hungry and tired to decide on food choices) we decided to make a new family tradition. When we arrive at our destination we order Chinese takeout. When it’s daytime, which is rare because of how we schedule our drive time, we go to our favorite coffee shops for lattes and pastry. Chinese take out in Danbury, CT is still our favorite out of all we’ve had. We ended up eating Chinese take out 3 times that weekend.

 

Do you have any family traditions when you travel? Perhaps a special take out or hang out spot or a favorite movie to watch? Comment below, I’d love to hear what you do!

Falling in love with Dublin

Ireland is the first country we traveled to as a family. My husband recently found out that he is 10% Irish  and another couple % from Europe, so this trip to Dublin was rather spontaneous. (we were originally planning to go to London until about 2 weeks before we left)

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We traveled via Aer Lingus and had a great time! It seems like Europeans are very family and baby friendly, which we just loved! We had a problem with our original tickets, so we purchased our ticket to Dublin from JFK a couple hours from departure, even so, we were seated first row (hello leg room!) next to another family. They also had a bassinet that attached to the wall so the baby can sleep in there. The family next to us used it, and we didn’t ask for one this time.

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Once we arrived, I was so tired! Of course the long weekend traveling prior to this flight, the packing and the over night flight, add the hunger and a baby to take care of.. and then we were picked up (we basically had a driver take us to our airbnb apartment).

and that’s when I fell in love with Dublin.

Just driving the streets towards where we were staying, the architecture, the buildings and the sun, it all made me so excited to be there!

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The thing is, since my husband is the Irish one, this trip was for him. What I looked forward to on this vacation was Paris – that was a gift for my birthday. (I talked about my birthday fails and crazies in an earlier post here) I was waiting until Paris and did not expect to have a good time in Dublin.

Then I fell in love.

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Let’s start with the apartment!

It just spoke to me. From the pictures online until we walked into the building, I was just mesmerized! It was a million dollar apartment, (probably worth more actually), in the best of neighborhoods, fully furnished, and the 25 foot high ceiling made me feel like I was in a museum.

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Opening the door into the apartment for the first time. And yes, he’s a great husband who carries my pink diaper bag.

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The photos do not do it justice. We later found out that this apartment is usually rented out to movie stars/producers when they come to film and stay for a few months at a time. It really feels like home.

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These incredibly large windows allowed for only the best light for a selfie!

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We’re standing in front of the door into our building. I miss saying “our building” because it really felt like a dream living there for a few days.
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The best was a french press and a fully loaded kitchen ready for us to use!

I’ll talk about our experience with airbnb in the next few days, but seriously, aren’t you convinced? (subscribed, or be sure to check in the next week or so to get a list of our top tips and must haves when looking at airbnb apartments to stay wherever your travels take you)

Then there was food.

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We found the cutest coffee station at the public market. It was across the street from our apartment every Thursday. This truck was an old ambulance car from the 50s in the south of France. They even showed us the pieces they left in the truck that showed its history. The espresso was as good as the story of their truck!

I love beef and Ireland is a beef country! We enjoyed some great food! (it is entirely possibly that on this trip I liked food better in Dublin then in Paris, and we had amazing food in Paris)

Restaurants we would recommend:

FX Buckley’s amazing meats! I had the best steak I’ve ever had, like ever in my entire life! They had an incredible selection of meat that was locally grown, or within the region. Rollo was so tired he ate some food and passed out for a nap, I laid him down on the seat/bench next to me for a long nap and enjoyed my meal.

Matt the Thresher  – this restaurant had amazing food and drinks selection and they were the most baby friendly. They were accommodating and had good space, especially for a big city restaurant; we were able to come in and have the stroller and a high chair next to our table, where in other places we couldn’t even bring the stroller inside because of lack of room. Our favorites here were french fries with truffle cheese and the beef stew pie.

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We left this beautiful city with nothing but good memories and a strong desire to go back.

Traveling with a baby certainly limits some places where you can go, but it didn’t stop us from having a great time. It rained on us, so we bought a rain cover for the stroller and went on with what we planned. The sun was out and we were so excited to enjoy this beautiful city and walked around for hours looking at buildings to see if there was anyone famous who used to live there.

Thank you for being so charming and lovely. I miss you Dublin.

Until next time.

L.

 

Picnic at the Eiffel Tower

Our recent trip to Paris was so fun!

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Naturally, you can’t go to Paris and not visit the Eiffel tower!

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Fun fact: my husband speaks french and has been to the country 13 times and not been even close to the tower. When we went together for the first time, and his 14th time in the country, I found a hotel with the view of the tower from our bedroom window, and made him go to visit! We climbed all the stars and took the elevator to the very top! He doesn’t think the tower is as ugly as he used to, but he’s still not a fan, which makes him the only human being I know who isn’t wowed by the Eiffel tower.

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We didn’t have a photographer following us around, so the photos may be a little blurry taken with my iPhone. In the end, we decided to leave the camera back in the States (it wasn’t a good idea because of what happened to the camera, long story), yet the memories we made mean just so much!

Back at home we have a bread guy. He lives on our street and sells bread at the public market. On Saturdays my husband walks over to his house to pick up french baguettes and pain au chocolat, they taste just like they do in Paris, which is basically the impossible right?!

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I love Rollo’s hair here! It’s so wild! 

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Fact: we ate bread every day. During this picnic we had a full loaf my husband and I ate and it was the perfect lunch! Because when on vacation calories don’t count right?

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The only pair of heels I brought with me. This trip I was so good at packing!!

There were soldiers walking around Champ de Mars and only days later it made sense since there was an incident at Notre Dame. With so many people out walking and hanging out near the Eiffel tower it was definitely noticeable that the security was increased significantly.

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What we brought with us to the picnic:

(stroller comes in super handy in this case)

  • Baguette
  • Foie gras
  • Camembert (one of my favorite cheeses)
  • Saucisson (my husbands favorite meat to eat in France)
  • White wine, my husband even chilled it so it was perfect!
  • Cups/dishes, thankfully our airbnb host had plates we could use.
  • A sheet. Yup, we couldn’t find a blanket so we ended up using a plain white sheet. It worked just fine and it was to be able to spread out on it.
  • Water – super important when it’s so hot out!

It was simple, but definitely enough food, especially since it’s our favorite snack/ hour d’oeuvres kind of food.

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I think I need to write another post with a list of places where I nursed my baby. It would be basically everywhere. So he was hungry here too.

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I hope you enjoyed some snapshots of our picnic and a glimpse into a Paris afternoon.

Whats your favorite food to take on a picnic? Does it change depending on what country you are visiting?