Category Archives: Travel

Fall 2014 travel bucket list

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It’s creeping on us: the season of cool air, crisp sea breezes, warm blankets, and colorful leaves. We’re not ready for summer to end, but at the very least we can look on the bright side and set the wheels turning down the path of fall adventures.

We’ll split our bucket list into a few varieties: local, not-so-local, and international.  Away we go!

Local (a lot of these adventures will mark the return of the Sunday drivers):

  • New England Aquarium. We’re members, it’s by the water, it’s an excuse to take the T into town. Why not?
  • Legal Seafoods for a cup of chowdah. Make that a bowl.
  • Russell Orchards. To pick apples, take a hayride, see some animals, buy a pumpkin, pet a pig.
  • The beach with the singing sand: there is no more tranquil time of the year at the beach than a crisp, fall day. The water sparkles.
  • Appleton Farms.  Cheeeeeeeeese. And cows.  But really, cheeeeeeeeeese.
  • Hikes, so many hikes.

Not-so-local:

  • Colorado! To visit the familia, catch a Rockies game, eat some Mexican food, drink some good beer, catch up on the good old days with some good old friends.
  • Vermont: leaf peeping, duh. And camping. And friend visiting. And maple syrup eating. Oh, and hello Ben & Jerry, we like you, too.
  • The Berkshires because I (and we) have never been.

International:

  • England to visit these two crazy gals. Drink a pint, listen to the funny talkers, eat the fish and chips. Wine gums too.
  • Spain to relax by the beach, practice the Spanish, eat some tapas, enjoy the downtime. Siesta, we’re look at you!

So there we have it: a fall 2014 travel bucket list.  Sure, it’s ambitious, but it wouldn’t be us if it wasn’t ambitious.

What have we missed, near, far, or very far? What’s on your travel bucket list, near, far, or very far?

The number one reason to travel with kids

We arrived in Mexico weary, travel worn, and uncertain of our rusty Spanish. Mongolian words came to the forefront, Heads down, we made our way through the airport, collected our luggage, and ambled out to find our shuttle. We hardly embodied curious travelers eager to learn about our home for the week.

But James?

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He greeted our new world with a smile. Curiosity radiated from him as he eyed the tropical flowers, inhaled the scents, explored his new environment.

It continued throughout the week.

We relaxed, of course, and found our Spanish-speaking feet once again. But James just radiated curiosity, openness, innocence.

Hotel staff offered a kind snuggle, an extra bit of fruit, a bowl of yogurt, genuine warmth. Walking down the street, James earned smiles, good mornings, waves from one stranger after the next. The further we traveled from the comfort of the hotel, the greater the curiosity grew. The joy. The innocence.

It was everywhere. A tiny little soul, innocent to the world, ready to soak it in piece by piece by piece.

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Often we hear expressions of shock when we announce the next adventure. With a baby?! they say. I can’t think of anything worse!

But the world changes when you have a wee lad in tow. It softens. Opens itself to the tiny innocence and – incredibly – to the big folk traveling along with the small boy.

Children make the world approachable. Their curiosity is contagious, and it offers adults the freedom to indulge a curiosity of their own.

So the number one reason to travel with kids?

Pure innocence.

Innocence for the world, about the world, towards the world.

It is, perhaps, the only contagious thing worth catching while traveling.

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Adventuring close to home

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Adventuring close to home does not always trigger the same exhilaration as a big adventure. At first thought, it feels small, simple, too familiar. And in some ways it is (until you stumble upon a pirate ship, also known as the Mayflower).

It’s also those familiar ways that make it accessible, available, realistic. And doable. Which is a lot when you’re traveling with small kids, because let’s be real, getting out the door is often the biggest obstacle.

So how to do it and how to make the local adventure seem more grand than it is?

  • For starters, set some expectations. And then repeat after me: everyday is a parade if you just lower your standards. Shift your thinking to find the excitement in your neighborhood, your town, your state.
  • Add something new, something exciting, something adventurous into the day. A walk up a hill is just a walk (albeit a pleasant one), but if you finish that walk with a cup of apple cider from the local orchard or an ice cream cone from the local creamery, all of a sudden you have yourself an adventure.
  • Draw attention to the day, make it more than it is, build some anticipation. Start hyping it up on Tuesday. Are you ready for this weekend’s big adventure?! 
  • And then make it one. Your mood guides the day, parents. Find the adventure, the unique, the excitement. Be present. Share the joy. Take photos. Better yet, let the kids take photos.
  • Take the long way. Avoid interstates, linger on two-lane roads. Stop at a farm stand. Find a giant ball of twine. Do something to make an adventure.
  • Return home at dusk. A long day of adventure feels even bigger if you wind down as the sun begins to fade. It’s rebellion for tiny little folk, and sometimes rebellion feels so good.
  • And remember, you’re dealing with kids here: it doesn’t take big endeavors for them to find the joy. By nature they are ripe with joy, ready for adventure, down for what the day has in store.

As for some ideas?

  • Head to the local orchard, creamery, farm, any sort of business that offers tours, pick-your-own, animals to pet, or new treats to taste.
  • Visit a state park. Pack a lunch, take a hike. Look at leaves, throw sticks in the river, find creepy crawlies all around.
  • Stumble upon a splash park: to a kid it might as well be a giant waterpark (to a parent it’s a germ bath, but these are the lowered standards we refer to above). Better yet, don’t tell the kid where you’re headed and just happen to have a swimsuit and towel packed in the bag.
  • Is there public transportation in your area? Take it. It doesn’t matter where or why or how dirty you think the seats/handles/whatever are. Take the bus, ride the train, eat an ice cream cone, turn around and go home: adventure abounds.
  • Find a walking trail: again, we’re not talking grand, far off places right now. Find a path and walk down it. Call it a nature hike. See the shift (you’re looking for a parade in the day-to-day, remember).
  • Go on a Sunday drive.
  • Is there a crummy old amusement park nearby? GO. Just go.
  • Likewise, find a fair, a farmer’s market, a carnival. Let go of any preconceptions. Eat the corndog, try the award winning pie, win a horrid stuffed animal.
  • Is it raining? Play in the rain. Get soaked. Run through puddles. Listen to the joy, the laughter, the innocence.
  • Is it summer? Find a beach. Bring sunblock. Play.
  • Is it autumn? Rake some leaves. Jump in the leaves. Repeat.

The list could go on and on and on, but the main point? Just get out there. We adults make adventure bigger than it need be.  Just go. And remember: Everyday is a parade if you just lower your standards.

Oh, and one final other option?

Find a parade. Really. Some days you might get so lucky to stumble upon an actual parade – you don’t always have to make your own.

What are your favorite ways to find adventure in the day-to-day? How do you satisfy the travel bug in between trips?

Cross-country with a 15 month old

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Welp. We did it. We journeyed from one coast to the other and back again, all with a 15 month old little boy in tow.

What did we learn? Some good, some bad, all useful:

The bad:

  •  You’re traveling across the country with a 15 month old ball of energy, and you’ve chosen to stuff him in a flying tube for six hours.
  • Once stuffed in said flying tube, if (read: when) the kid barfs, the barf is going to wind up all over you, your spouse, the kid, the side of the plane, EVERYWHERE. And you’re going to smell it for the rest of the flight. If you’re lucky (we were), it’s an isolated incident that will cause laughter later. If you’re unlucky, drink wine, there is no other option.
  • Jet lag happens for both you and the kid. Sleep when you can, snuggle often, and just go with the flow. Routine will return in due time.

The good:

  • Direct flights!
  • Timing of the flights: we chose to fly later in the day both ways, in hopes that the little dude would sleep and we would have less wrangling to do. We were successful both ways!
  • The back row right in front of the bathroom, window and aisle: up your chances for no one in the middle (the middle seat in the back row is the LAST seat that will be chosen). This resulted in us having an entire row to ourselves for both flights. The kid sleeps sprawled out in the middle seat, and the parents revel in how brilliant a plan they concocted. Everyone wins.
  • You can buy yogurt damn near everywhere, which is great when your child is made up of about 95% yogurt. Now is not the time to test new diets. Bring on the yogurt.

The useful:

  • Car seat bags are FREE to check, and just because they hold car seats doesn’t mean they can’t hold other stuff too.  Pack it in!
  • Multi-use toys: the stacking cups (yes, you will chase them all over the floor), a car that propels itself, a beach toy.  All of them work in a whole variety of situations, and all of them are small.
  • Snacks! Pouches, goldfish, more goldfish, more goldfish (no, he’s not getting a tan; he’s just turning orange from the flavor blasted goldfish).
  • Books. Little ones with many pictures.
  • Naptime…it’s fluid on vacation and that is okay. So is bedtime. Go with it, let the kid enjoy, pay for it later. Jet lag is a whole other beast that only serves to fuel the fire of a fluid naptime. The kid’s schedule will be wacky – watch his cues and do your best.
  • Laugh. So much. Traveling with a 15 month old is not relaxing, stress-free, or even mildly simple, but it is so, SO fun. This is the age of wonder – every outing presents a whole new world to explore, to touch, to feel, to see. Use it as an excuse to do the same.
  • Oh, and you will need wine. Lots of it.

What other advice do you have to make plane journeys with wee folk not just bearable but even a bit fun?

[in the effort of full disclosure, there’s an amazon affiliate link above. It comes with two very enthusiastic Jaimecito thumbs up]

Sunday Drivers: NYC edition

About a week and a half behind in my recap, but better late than never.

So we maintained our Sunday Drivers tradition two weekends ago with an adventure to New York City…Chris and the kid picked me up from work on Friday afternoon, and away we went.  Just over two hours in, we stopped for dinner at…Taco Bell.  Really.  Gross.  But stop we did, as what better time than the present to satisfy the desire to try a Doritos Locos taco.  It was gross.  So, so gross.  But it has been on the must-try list for a while, so must-try we did.  Suffice to say, it did not make the must-try-again list.  Blech.

Onward.

We made it to NYC in pretty good time, parked the car (street parking?! Impressive.), met up with our friends, and headed to dinner.  At this point it was pretty late, and poor little man was a trooper.  Or at least a trooper until he threw up all over Chris and the booth.  And we’re not talking spit up here.  It was full-blown, he entire meal (only milk at least!), all over Christopher, my scarf, and the booth.  Poor little man.  Must have been the tacos.

Saturday morning we were up fairly bright and early, so we headed out for a walk around the city.  We wandered and wandered, from Manhattan to Brooklyn, through the streets of Brooklyn, on a ferry to midtown Manhattan, back down block by block to Lower Manhattan.  I’m not sure how many miles we covered, but our feet let us know that it was many.

Pudge Knuckles was a trooper throughout.

So was the Milk Truck.

After our long explore, we decided to further explore and headed to Rockaway Beach for the night.  We arrived after dark, and come morning were thrilled to be greeted by the sunshine and the sound of waves crashing.  Chris and I took a morning stroll along the beach, grabbed coffee, and enjoyed breakfast on the patio before our friends awoke to join us.  Before hitting the road home, we took another walk along the beach, watched some surfers, and soaked in a most beautiful late summer/early fall day.

All in all, a great weekend of exploration and adventure, tiny little man in tow.

Pudge Knuckles for life.