It’s official, Bash is going to have a little brother and I only make boys! After Dec 2 (or some time around there😉) I will be sharing about traveling with 2 little boys! We are ready for the challenge and feel so fortunate to be blessed with our rainbow baby so soon. Say hello to Fitzwilliam!
First, I have to say flying out of Indy Airport (IND) was the best airport experience I’ve had with or without a baby. Orlando (MCO) is always a total sh*t show, so Indy airport was a nice way to start the trip off. They have a great kids play area in the terminals, great dining options, super clean, not crowded even during high travel season.
When we got to Orlando we picked up the Chrysler Pacifica (loved it, want to buy it😍) we rented and went to the hotel. We checked in, then headed to Disney Springs for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We love it there. We go even when we don’t go to Disney, so this wasn’t new to Bash and he did remember the awesome Disney toy shops. WARNING you will not be able to leave without buying something. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible. We came back here the last night of our Disney stay and ate at Morimoto. I would get reservations for this restaurant at Disney Springs as it’s delicious and a very popular choice for Iron Chef fans (like myself).
The next day we drove to our character breakfast at Grand Floridian. The breakfast quality is definitely not what it used to be, but Bash enjoyed some of the characters. It might just be our 22 month old, but he did not care for the characters that are still “people”. I’m talking about Mary Poppins, Alice, the princesses. He literally told them no not when they said I’m so and so! He realized their faces were not like the actual movie characters😂 After our breakfast we went to Epcot and toured the world. If you have a little world traveler they may recognize some of the different country markers, like the Eiffel Tower. Bash loves Little Einsteins, so he even recognized the Great Torii and was very excited. We however did not find any Tokyo bananas in the Japanese market:( After we were going to ride the ferry over to Hollywood Studios to see some Star Wars stuff, but rain was coming at 4. We just went back to our hotel to chill for a bit while it rained. Then, we ended the night with the spectacular new fireworks show at Magic Kingdom. Almost Everyone clears out after the fireworks. It is an awesome time to stay!! It’s cooler and almost no lines! We were able to get Bash on the teacups and Dumbo before he fell asleep. We waited less than 5 minutes to ride them. Then while Bash was sleeping we walked around the castle, through it with the beautiful mosaics lit up at night and checked out some shops until close.
The next morning we went back to Epcot to start the day. We went straight to the picture spot for Mickey, Goofy and Minnie because there is no wait first thing in the morning (usually). Then, we grabbed a Starbucks and hopped on the monorail to MK to ride some of the rides Sebastian would love. It’s a Small World was his favorit! He was in pure awe and it was super hot and super humid so the mostly air conditioned wait and entirely air conditioned ride was refreshing. Bash slept for a bit, so we watched a street performance and started lunch without him. After he woke up we finished eating and then watched the parade. The afternoon rain was back so we went back to shower and get ready to meet my family from Florida for dinner at Morimoto. We spent the rest of the night in Disney Springs. Bash danced with one of the kids dance entertainers, he fell asleep and we did our final shopping. The next day was the start of Disney Pride which gets a little crazy we decided we weren’t going to do another day at the parks and head to the beach early.
We hit the road in the AM, stopped to meet one of my hubby’s old professors for lunch, and then on to Saint Augustine where we spent the rest of our trip:)
The beach, splash pad, dolphin watching, old town and Salt Water Cowboys were the kind of relaxing we needed after a couple hot days at Disney. Especially, being pregnant!
One of my goals is to start traveling light. Yes, even with my toddler (Gah! I can’t believe he’s almost 2😭) in tow, I want our family to be less weighed down by stuff. Not because our backs are breaking (they are though!), but for the mental weight it also takes off of travel.
Now, I know in my baby packing post I say less is not anymore, but I’m going to try and change that! With an infant, I am not so sure it’s possible. But an older baby or toddler, I think it is!
I managed to pack our family of 3 a weeks worth of clothes for Disney World and the beach into our carry on size suitcase! We will have our dock a tot and diapers in another bag. So, we aren’t going with just a carry on suitcase, but this is a huge change from our usual two small suitcases or one large suitcase plus the dock a tot bag.
I’ve been reading more and more about traveling with less and doing more, so I decided that’s our new motto.
I realized in Paris we really didn’t need half the clothes we packed, and that trip was over 2 weeks long. Obviously, having a washing machine made that possible, but going to a laundry mat would work too. It’s also amazing how mixing and matching pieces can make so many different outfits. In Paris, I ended up wearing the same two sweaters over with different bottoms and even over a dress. And my black leather boots were really the only shoes I needed. Baby supplies are hard to cut back on, but I think with adult packing downsizing is definitely possible!
This is only the beginning of our traveling light journey, so that’s really all I have for now. Hopefully, I will have more to report in the future!
I was watching one of my favorite travel bloggers this morning talk about travel fears, and how it is a major concern for people these days. It made me realize how many of you mommas and papas probably feel that fear heightened when bringing your most prized processions (your babes!) along. So I’m going to talk a little bit about how I combat my fears/why my momma bear instincts don’t stop us from traveling.
Let’s tackle this in a question answer format for organization and because time is of the essence as my little man is not really into solo play this morning.
What if we have an emergency?
Program all local emergency numbers into your phone!!! Police, EMT, Fire Department, numbers all in your phone. I even favorite the closest hospital, police station, grocery store and pharmacy in my google maps on my phone. If you don’t have international service, you can download the local area map and use it without service.
We have utilized resort health services in Mexico after making a mistake eating fresh fruit in a market (ooops I even knew better!). Luckily, obtaining medication in Mexico is really easy and we didn’t need an actual hospital visit. I have only been to Mexico sans bebe, but I imagine the resorts marketed with children in mind would be able to assist with a child’s medical emergency as well. With children in Mexico, I would definitely go the resort route. I’m sure there are some really great non-resort areas, but when it comes to travel with baby I like to advise on making your location and accommodations as easy and baby friendly as possible. In Mexico, this means resort to me.
In Peru (no baby here either), I traveled with a tour group and our group had our own nurse traveling with us who had her own medical supplies and managed our malaria medication as well. I was fortunate to not find myself in any medical situation, but one guy in the group was bit by a snake and our local guide knew exactly what to do. Another woman had many fire ant bites and our nurse was prepared with the right tools and medication to help. Our group spent 3 days in Lima, a day in Iquitos, and 10 in the Amazon Rainforest. If you want to do an ecologically adventure and/or service trip the Amazon has a lot of great groups that go, and again for something like a rainforest I highly recommend an organization and lodge with meals, guides, activities included. The Amazon is amazing, but very dangerous in the sense it is wild and emergency assistance is not a phone call away.
While my husband has not needed any medical assistance in Japan, he said the hospitals are very modern. If he were to need help he would not have any worries about receiving care.
If you travel in the European Union have no fear. You will be given great and affordable care at any of the government hospitals. I can’t say what the price will be everywhere, and if you go to a private hospital I really have no idea. As an American traveling without purchasing international medical insurance (maybe I should post why we don’t usually purchase it? If you would like me to post on that leave a comment) in the EU we have never had a problem with baby or without. While in Paris December 2016 our son, 16 months at the time, was taken to the pediatric emergency and the care was exceptional and affordable. No insurance the visit was 62€ and his 3 medications were 2€. We have good American insurance and still can’t get away with an emergency visit that cheap.
What about terrorism and violence?!
I actually had people give us a hard time about going to Paris over Christmas because terrorists might attack due to the Christian holiday. I literally laughed at them, and replied you realize we live in Chicago, right?! Violence is every where. Not too long ago BLM ripped apart the giant Christmas tree downtown and were shoving and screaming at Black Friday shoppers on magnificent mile. I lived less than a mile from all of this. We stayed inside that day. I live in one of the most violent cities in the United States, making it really one of the most violent places in the western world. It is more likely we will be victims to violence here than really anywhere else we would travel. Most Americans wouldn’t bat an eye at a trip to Chicago as dangerous, we sensationalize the unfamiliar. Try to keep that in perspective when questioning the safety of a destination.
It’s all about doing your research and avoiding areas known for violence. When you come to Chicago, you obviously aren’t going to be wondering around the south side alone at night. The acts of destruction and violence a Black Friday ago didn’t seem to stop tourists (or locals as we were out there, gotta get my deals!😂) from shopping the mag mile this year! Why should that not apply to foreign destinations as well? Paris is a fantastic city, that has had a couple of terrible tragedies, like almost every major city in the world.
The media sensationalizes most of what we hear and see. They also love to leave out the wondeful and amazing good things that are happening. They prey on our fear. Don’t let it get to you. Find local blogs of the place you wish to go and find out from a real source what the area is like. Email the hotel or apartment you are interested in and ask if it is in a kid friendly neighborhood. If lots of families live there, it’s probably because it’s a safe neighborhood!
We don’t know the language, how will we manage?
One, you can learn some basic words and phrases. With just a little practice this is a very easy way to make your trip wayyyyyyy more enjoyable. You should always learn hi, please, thank you, have a good day/afternoon/night. You will learn this goes a long way, and is greatly appreciated. After that if you convey you don’t the language it is likely they will still try to help you. It really is disrespectful to not even make an effort, and will not get promising results.
Two, make a list of important phrases and keep it with you all the time. Numbers, how much?, where is (bathroom, the elevator, the exit, a good restaurant), I would like, we want to go (blank), we are staying (with the address of where you are staying). You can even open the list and point to it if you need to. I put these in my husband’s phone. I’ve been fortunate that everywhere I have traveled I have at least an elementary level knowledge of the language. My husband speaks only English, so this is a vital tool for him and works very well:)
Bring a small English-Language dictionary to keep your room and when you have something you struggled to convey that day that might be helpful later look it up and add it to your list.
We also always grab multiple business cards with address of where we are staying and put them in our wallets, passport holders, taped to our stroller, pockets. You can never have too many on hand. It’s also good to memorize at least the intersection. Then if you get lost and can’t find any of the cards or your list you can have some idea of what to say to get help as the location of Hotel Orange probably isn’t common knowledge.
Any travel fear I left out? Leave a comment!
P.S. We have some exciting things happening here at home! Can’t wait to fill you guys in! 😘😘
I haven’t posted in a while, sorry! I’m really quite terrible at this whole blogging regularly thing.
Anyway, I’ve been seeing/hearing a lot people have difficulty with their littles inflight. I can’t promise to work miracles, but I can tell you we have had two fantastic international round-trips with our son at 13/14 and 16/17 months. With babies under 12 months (or pre-walking) you really shouldn’t have to worry, the boob or bottle will knock them right out! But for our now curious travelers who are in the toddler stage inflight seems to be a bit more difficult.
We slew this dragon with establishing an inflight routine.
To successfully create an inflight routine we used the following items. However, you can alter these based on your own preferences.
iPad games: fisher price has great free ones, kids doodle, coloring book apps
iPad shows: we have Little Pim in French and Italian, Little Einsteins, Thomas and Friends (whatever your child likes or none of them if you don’t do screen time)
Bedtime books: if you have specific books you read only for bed or nap time bring them on the plane!!!! I can’t stress this enough!! Or if you have a lovey or something that signals bedtime to your little bring it!
Snacks: whatever your babe eats at home. Nothing new and exciting, we are going for routine and minimizing the stimulation that your little is already getting enough of from the new environment.
So you have your supplies now what? Time to get your itinerary down. Ours goes like this:
1. Board and get everything organized for ease of transition. No pulling bags down from the overhead to get the books, lovey etc. Keep all of that with you from the start. If you didn’t have time to do a diaper change before you boarded do so now.
2. Snack time. Eating and drinking during takeoff help their little ears feel better during the pressure changes.
3. Watch a show/play iPad games
4. Meal is served. Eat.
5. Depending on the lights dimming, watch shows or play iPad games. Also take a stroll to the bathroom to do a diaper change into an overnight diaper. Let your little stretch their legs and walk to the bathroom holding your hand. Changing into pajamas is also a good idea if that helps your little get in the sleepy mood.
6. If the lights are dimmed or they have announced they will do so soon, pull out the bedtime books. Read them with the overhead reading light or until the lights are dimmed.
7. Now that the cabin is darker, sleep! Your little should be pretty ready for this after a full tummy, fresh diaper, their bedtime books and the lights now low.
For domestic just alter the routine to the amount of inflight time:)
So, I haven’t posted on St. Augie yet despite our many trips because, well, it was always our little secret. The European City right here in the US my family has gone to since before I was born, but the cats finally out of the bag. The last few years the city has changed a lot and the crowds are bigger, but it’s still a fantastic vacation spot with something for everyone.
We are big history buffs. I like the beach for a day or two, but that’s all the relaxation my brain needs. Many beach vacation spots in Florida don’t have much to offer beyond the boardwalk. This is not the case in Saint Augustine. Ponce de Leon landed here in search of the fountain of youth, and with him came the Castillo de San Marcos, Spanish architecture and the charm that makes the city so wonderful. Henry Flagler saw the wonder here too and made it a popular vacation spot in the 1880s and beyond. His beautiful hotels are now part of the Flagler College campus and open for tours. When the littles need to release some energy take them to Swing Park. The park has two sections, one for little kids and one for bigger kids. It also has a great covered area with tables and benches, a nice place to stop and nurse out of the sun.
If you are more into the beaches and nature, you won’t be disappointed either. The beaches have nice white soft sand and good shells can be found by the early bird. Anastasia state park is beautiful, has some secluded beach areas and a light house you can tour. The St. John’s farmers market is held in a lovely park with beach access. Grab some local treats and have a brunch right out on the beach. About an hours drive south in the winter months and you can see manatees up close where they stay in the warmer water until spring comes.
The kids will have plenty to keep them occupied on rainy or non-beach days. The Ripley’s believe it or not museum has sites of wonder for all ages. The Alligator Farm seems to have more birds than alligators now, but it’s definitely worth visiting. They also have a zip line for older kids and adults. We have not done it, both of us don’t handle heights well. The pirate museum and wax museum are also a good choice for families.
We will hopefully be heading back down there before the springbreakers because we really can’t get enough of this Colonial Spanish city just a 2 HR flight from Chicago.
Well, given it’s Paris I figure I can save a ton of time writing this post because I don’t have to convince any of you that is beautiful and a must see. I will give it 1 additional minute to say Paris in winter is still worth visiting if you are questioning the time of year to go. Two words for winter visitors: Christmas lights. As my idol Audrey Hepburn said, “Paris is always a good idea!” And she’s right.
Now, Paris with a baby… it’s still a good idea, but it’s definitely not easy. I’m going to do a highlight of the setbacks and how we overcame them for now because you know all of the great reasons to go.
- There are no highchairs. I’m not exaggerating here. We knew of 1 restaurant with them and that is because my friend worked there and ordered them two high chairs after talking to me and constantly saying sorry to many American tourists from the hotel it was connected to requesting them. This is fairly easily solved with either keeping your child in the stroller and eating outside on the sidewalk seating (beware lots of smoking happening here) or getting an over the seat highchair cover thing. We did both, but our chair cover really caught the eyes of Parisians. Just a note as well, you won’t find any Parisian babies out at restaurants really. Saturday morning/lunch maybe, but it’s just not the culture. The heavy use of crèche, nannies and babysitters is very common. To the point of having a few long conversations explaining our parenting style with my friend’s friends and explaining why I/we take my baby places and why I/we spend so much time with him. Attachment parenting has not hit France yet. Personally, I loved proving everyone’s opinions wrong by having a happy well behaved little man while eating out. If you are a bit sensitive be prepared for a less than gracious host once they discover you plan to eat avec bèbè.
- Elevators do not mean no stairs or that you can keep baby in a stroller it is highly likely you will still encounter some stairs even if your building has an elevator. Newer buildings you’re ok, but older buildings usually have a step or two before or after the elevator. In many places you will have to fold your stroller to use the elevator (the Eiffel Tower, small elevators in residential buildings if you don’t want to wait forever) even umbrella or compact size strollers. Sometimes it’s just easier to fold and do the stairs or carry the stroller with baby in it because you will not get the courtesy of people who are capable of taking the stairs getting off and letting you on because you have a baby. Nor will you find people who will let you on before them. We had a particularly bad experience at Les Invalides with the elevator. There were quite a few young adults there that day and young children with their parents (and all I will say about the french children we encountered is the book Bringing Up Bèbè must have been inspired by some very different Parisian children that we never saw because the ones we were around were not inspiring us to follow their parenting methods.) despite not really being busy, and they all used the elevator. Even just for 1 floor. They showed no care for the fact we had to use the elevator, and they didn’t considering they spent each floor chasing after their offspring who many times while waiting for the elevator went running up and down the nearby steps trying to coerce their parents into just taking them instead. Then, when we did fit with one family on the elevator their little girl pushed every button. No punishment, no telling her to say sorry, one elevator. The Louvre was not much better once you are in the galleries, but you do get to skip the entry line if you have a stroller and that lift is nice and controlled! Yay!
- Smoking is everywhere. Our son had never really been exposed to it, we aren’t used to it either, bring allergy medicine for you, baby saline drops and a travel humidifier. Shouldn’t be as bad is summer when it doesn’t linger as much. The air pollution was also terrible while we were there, but hey, they made the metro free!
- Hardly Any Changing Stations we have this problem here in Chicago too, so I’m not afraid to do it right there in the stroller wherever I am. Don’t like it? Install facilities for babies! The museums do have some great changing areas, usually in a private family bathroom or at least a separate area for just the station with its own sink.
- Crappy Diaper Selection the diaper selection is pretty small. If you use pampers you’re in luck. I ran out of day time diapers literally 24 hrs before our flight home. Finally found a sensitive brand I had never seen before. It took 4 stores and every pharmacy along the way. Plus side of packing diapers? Lots of room in your suitcase by the end of the trip for your new purchases;)
- Just not that baby friendly like other places we have traveled. I believe this is because of the cultural differences in how babies and children should be treated and should spend their time. Like I said before, I don’t think attachment parenting is big in Paris. I wouldn’t say anyone was directly rude to us, but on a few occasions we were given a cold shoulder. We did have a welcoming experience at the children’s emergency room, but that is obviously considered an appropriate place to bring your baby. The nurses (who all spoke English!), the facility, everything was very nice and affordable! No insurance, 56€ for the hospital visit and 2€ for all three of his medications!! One stale note about the experience, our doctor stopped speaking English once he realized I spoke french and did so well enough to clearly understand everything happening to our son. My husband asked him if he would please speak English again, and he straight up ignored him continuing only to talk directly to me in French. I translated it, no big deal to me, but hubby was pretty upset. So we did have one stereotypical French snobbery experience, but that’s it.
- No Kids Menu at most places sorry if you have a picky eater, there is McDonald’s there and frites are a french norm. I don’t really believe in the “kids” menu anyway. We just share our food with Sebastian or order him a small dish of something to supplement our sharing.
And that is really all I can think of. We rented an apartment from A la carte Paris. It was in a fantastic location for us, beautiful, clean and fully equipped. We will definitely be staying there again. Apartments are definitely the way to go in Paris with or without kids. We had a good trip despite some personal obstacles and illness. We will hopefully be back in the city of light in the near future, and actually get to use our Disneyland passes and not spend that day sick in the hospital instead!
Leave me some comments with questions or your own experiences!
Buon viaggio amici!