Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Travels with kids

I recently returned from a 10 day trip from Italy with my family and thought I would reflect a bit on what I learned while it is still fresh in my  mind. Our itinerary included 3 cities: Venice, Florence, and Rome. The journey to Venice was exciting to say the least and spectacular upon arrival. We found our way around using maps and asking around easily enough, but what we were not prepared for was the weather, which was very rainy and cold. In the interest of packing light, I went against my instinct and didn't bring the kids rain gear which turned out to be a huge mistake. One by one my kids got sick and had fevers for the entire trip but it didn't hinder us from exploring and going out everyday but it was really hard on my 5 yr old who was often cranky and exhausted by the end of the day. Some tips for those who plan to travel with young children is to check the weather of your destination and do lots of research to prepare in advance what you wish to see and do and how to get from one place to the next. Also pack light, but smart with lots of layering, and weather appropriate clothes.

One item I could not have traveled without was my Ergo baby carrier, and cheap ultra light umbrella stroller. Cities are very difficult for children and having means to ease their tired feet is always a must. I wouldn't discourage families from traveling with young kids, in fact I encourage it, but you need to be prepared to go at a very slow pace. Every morning we would have breakfast and then go back to our hotel to wait for Noah's nap time, which was at 10am and then leave for the day when he woke up around 11-11:30am. For us this meant well rested, happy kids. And we would often return between 5-6 pm to allow the kids to unwind, bathe, have dinner in hotel room and go to sleep at their proper bedtimes. Even doing so we still managed to do a lot of sight seeing and museum and park visits.

Although at times it was stressful and kids did have occasional melt downs, the one piece of technology that saved us was my iPhone which I had loaded with games and cartoons. So when Ameera and Noah could take no more art or architecture or sight of busy cities in general, I would whip out my phone and they could play or watch at their leisure which bought us often hours of uninterrupted exploration time. This tactic worked like a charm every time.

Some thing's I would do differently for next trip are:

1. Look for private apt rentals instead of hotels.
- it would be more comfortable for little kids
- allows you to cook, and keep snacks and drinks handy

2. Make sure weather in my chosen destination is going to be suitable for outdoor activities and Lil one.
- although I did see chances of rain in the forecast, it rained more than predicted and was colder than predicted.
- upon researching weather in Italy I found that March is a very rainy month.

3. I bought a lot of prepaid tickets to places such as the Vatican and Colloseum to avoid hour long lines which were a BIG help. But some tickets I purchased were not necessary to buy in advance.

All in all, a memorable experience with family that I greatly enjoyed. I will add pictures soon.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Winter Blues

It's been quite a while since I posted, and I have to say that I fell into the rut of winter blues. Winter here in Luxembourg has been harsh, with constant grey clouds hanging in the sky, frigid air, and endless snow. As beautiful as it looked in the beginning, I longed for it to end. We did get a chance to do some fun things like attend the Christmas Market in Trier, Germany and build a Snowman in our backyard. But in the end I actually packed my and my kids suitcases and flew back to NJ for 1 month. It was so great to be with my family and friends again and spend the holidays with them and just reconnect. And it also gave me a great sense of emotional support, being that I had been away from home for about 6 months at the time. One important lesson I did learn from going back home is that I had to accept my new life in Europe and make a valid effort to make a life for myself here that doesn't only revolve around my kids. That aspect was always hard for me to swallow, but in the end I realized you will always need a friend wherever you may be. Getting to know people and letting them into your life is not as easy as it seems. But as soon as I returned from the USA, I made it a point to start building relationships with people, not only for me but for my children as well. Spring is now approaching, and after just a few short months I can actually say that I have met some really great moms and have formed new friendships. This experience so far really has been bittersweet, but after Winter always comes the Spring.