Tag Archives: travel

It’s been a while…

It’s been just over five months since I’ve been on a plane (and since I’ve written something on here…). I can’t leave the country because the United Kingdom Borders Agency has my passport. I haven’t done anything wrong, I’m just in the midst of applying for my Indefinite Leave to Remain, UK’s version of being a permanent resident. A few people have pointed me to the David Sedaris article in the New Yorker from April about when he lost his passport with his ILR stamp in it. And yes, it is precious to get and a pain if you lose it.
So that means I’m not getting on a plane any time soon. It’s been ok, though, because I’m deep into my next stage in life – the Working Mom stage. So the last five and a half months have been more involved with settling back into work (with a promotion!) and Little Man into nursery and still making time for my family and friends too.
I am loving my new job, my husband is amazing, Little Man is a happy and blossoming little boy and summer has now come and gone here in London.
But seriously, back to the name of this blog. We can’t join my husband any time soon, and it’s annoying because he’s been to Tokyo, Singapore, back to the US, Malaysia, Dubai, India…places I’d love to take Little Man to…and some places I’d love to see too!
I’m not sure how many people actually read this, but thank you to all of you who do. It’s not going away, but it won’t have lots of far flung distance travel experiences in it for a while. At least, until I get my passport…but we’ve taken some day trips and also road trips around the island of England, Scotland and Wales. So I’ll hopefully be able to provide some tips and tricks for travelling with a now-18-month old in a car for more than an hour.
And if any of you have some great tips, please send them my way. We thought Little Man loved his new car seat and while he likes it better than his bucket, he still has a shout if the stars aren’t aligned perfectly. And 14/15/16/17/18-month-old lungs are louder than his 6-month or even 12-month old ones. Maybe it’s because they’re facing forward now…
So hopefully I’ll be back soon with some great road trips for you. But in the meantime, I’d love to hear how you entertain/distract your little toddlers while driving long distances (and they don’t want to sleep).

One week…

In one week our little boy is going to be one. He’s grown from a tiny little lump into a big, energetic little toddler. We settled him into nursery this past week as my maternity leave ends soon and I head back to work. I look at the videos we made of him laying on the floor looking at the dolls hanging off his little mat gym and wonder how he could have ever just swatted at them when now, he’s grabbing the bars and pulling the dolls off. Interacting with them instead of just watching them swing.
Little Man has seen a lot of the world and he’s not finished. If we can keep travelling with him during his childhood I’ll be an excited mama. My parents showed me the world, and as an adult, I kept going and now I’ve seen even more with my husband. And we haven’t stopped exploring. I want to do the same for Little Man. He’s off to see the world and no one’s going to stop him.
Yesterday, we flew to the US (his fifth transatlantic flight this year!), and are going to Texas and Florida. Texas for my husband’s work, Florida for some well-deserved sun and warmth and sand!
We’re celebrating Little Man’s first birthday in San Antonio and I’m on a quest to get him a birthday cake. It’s proving extremely hard to find a bakery that makes completely sugar free cakes – no sugar, Splenda, molasses, honey, or agave syrup. Nothing. At home, we can make banana cakes sweetened with super ripe bananas and dates and applesauce, but bakeries just don’t do that sort of thing. I almost packed up all the measurements of the dry ingredients – a Ziplock bag of flour, baking soda and cinnamon – and cake tin and then get the bananas and applesauce, but figured the security wouldn’t appreciate an unmarked bag of white powder. By hook or by crook, though, he’s gonna get his own cake to smash and enjoy and get thoroughly messy for his first birthday.
This is my last trip as a full time mum before I go back to work and I’m really excited about it. In Houston and San Antonio, it’ll be me and Little Man exploring – this time we’ll head to the zoo and maybe a museum and probably a Gymboree class and then in Florida (we’re still deciding between Miami and the Keys), it will be the three of us exploring and, more importantly, relaxing as much as Little Man will allow.
I am also looking forward to using Little Man’s shiny, new, bright red lightweight stroller. It’s a Micralite Superlite. This trip, we experimented with taking it straight through to the gate at the airports too (results coming later…). We decided to get him a lightweight, collapsible stroller for the nursery runs when we’re not slinging him and also for travel. I’ve absolutely loved our other two strollers (Bugaboo and Mountain Buggy) this year travelling, but we’re at the stage where I think we needed a lightweight stroller and we’ll have less of a need for his bigger ones. Plus, the compactness and lightness of this new one is amazing (6.5kg/13 lbs). It folds with one hand, has adapters for the Maxi Cosi car seats, it’s got a great mesh seat, has big back wheels (unlike most lightweight umbrella strollers) and just looks cool. Little Man seems to like it too – he can swing his feet until his heart’s content and he sleeps really well in it. Here’s a pic of Little Man enjoying a nap in it on an amazingly sunny and warm day in London last week.

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Any suggestions of things to do with a one-year-old in Houston, San Antonio or southern Florida?

What do babies eat when you’re on the go and want to stay clean?

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When I’m out for the day and I know I’m going to be feeding Little Man, I look for the “clean” foods. Mind you, a lot of these travel well and live in our nappy bag and I’ll replenish or freshen up as needed.
Carrots – raw or cooked
Green beans – steamed
Broccoli
(Any kind of steamed green veg, mostly)
Grapes (juicy, but clear juice if going for green grapes)
Biscuits
Plain pasta
Peas
Rice (can be mixed with veg)
Cereal (shredded wheat or puffed rice are current favourites)
Homemade banana and oatmeal cookies
Dried fruits – prunes, apricots, raisins
Sliced chicken or turkey
Omelet – I take one egg, beat it and put it in a pan with a little oil until cooked through then cool it and slice in strips. Little Man loves this
Rice cakes
Pieces of chicken, turkey or salmon without sauce or gravy
Bread roll (or any kind of toast, baguette, etc)
Tomatoes (surprisingly, but if they’re deseeded, they don’t leave too much of a mess)
Freeze dried fruit (strawberries and blueberries are currently a favourite)
Crèpes or pancakes – pick a country’s version (homemade ones without salt or sugar in them)
Dried fruits (Little Man’s loving prunes and apricots) – we get the organic ones without potassium sulfate
Any puréed baby food in one of those brilliant Tetra packs – Ella’s, Plum Organics, Organix, HIPP Organic…I don’t even bother with those screw-on spoons, Little Man sucks straight from the pouch.

What are your favourite snacks or lunch foods when you’re on the go and you don’t want to leave a mess?

To carseat or not to carseat? That is the question

Taxis…they sometimes feel like a necessary evil as a city dweller, even without your precious cargo of a little baby. When travelling, one of the questions we always ask is “Do we travel with the carseat or not?” It’s a bigger question than you think because you’ll be dealing with transportation to and from the airport (or train station, or ferry, or…) and also inter-city travel.

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There are many car services that now provide car seats if that’s all you need it for, so a Google search for just that (airport taxi car seat, car service airport baby, etc) seems to work for the bigger cities. A language barrier also may be an issue. How do you say carseat in Turkish, for example? (Ok, I can Google that too…but still…).
The other thing to consider is what you’re going to do with your carseat at the airport and your final destination – be it a restaurant, museum, or park. I don’t particularly want to be toting around a carseat when Little Man is much more comfortable sitting in his specific stroller seat or if you prefer to sling, like we do a lot when we’re out and about. There are travel system strollers that provide attachments to clip your infant carseat right onto the stroller but once your little one is bigger than his seat or you don’t want to travel with your big, often bulky stroller, you’re back to carrying around the car seat separately.
And if he hates his carseat? We can tolerate it and deal with that when we are just the thereof us in a car, but to subject a very unhappy baby to another person just seems cruel.
Most cities don’t require carseats in licensed taxis. The UK law, where we live, states just that.
In November, I went to Philadelphia from New York on the train to visit Little Man’s Grandma, aka my mom, and she had a car service pick us up. I was very specific with her to find out if they had a car seat, which they said they did, but when we turned up, I found out the seat was a toddler seat, not something that was appropriate for an 8 month old. So fortunately, the trip was maybe five minutes long and just 15 blocks away. (Moral of story – always be specific with the age of your child when requesting a car seat).
There has only one place so far that my husband was adamant about us using a carseat or public transportation because of the safety records of the taxis – Moscow. We actually took public transportation everywhere, including to and from the airport, and it was brilliant. In fact, every time my husband had travelled to Moscow before this past trip, he always took cars to and from meetings and hated every minute (hour) because of the traffic and lousy driving. This time, we took the metro and he had nothing but wonderful things to say about it. Maybe except for the number of stairs and carrying Little Man up and down in his stroller. I’m sorry if I’ve offended any of you who are either from or are living in Moscow with a different view, but this is my husband’s view of the taxi situation there.
But…back to carseats and taxis…we take the risk. I know there will be many of you readers shaking your heads at our decision, but we rarely take taxis in London and when we do it is usually after a day out and we don’t have Little Man’s carseat in our back pocket. When we travel, we typically take public transportation to and from the airport, and so we are having to deal with the car seat as a separate unwieldy beast on the train, along with our suitcases and stroller bag.
It’s a constant debate. I know I should be saying that, no matter what, always buckle up your precious cargo in a car seat, whether it is in a taxi or your own car, but there are times when it you don’t have enough hands for everything.
There always is another option – hiring a car seat at your destination. I’ve found a few services in the US and the UK (some also servicing some of Continental Europe) where you can hire anything and everything about baby, including car seats. That looks like a good alternative if you know you’re going to be hiring a car (all car rental places offer infant and toddler seats too) or getting lots of rides with people and you need the car seat for those journeys.
How do you deal with travelling and car seats?

Last minute is possible with a 10 month old…

Around 2pm, we decided to go to Geneva. As in Geneva, Switzerland.
Sunday started like most other Sundays – relaxing and planning where to go out for the day. My husband knew he needed to be in Geneva tonight and while we were out, Little Man and I decided to join him on the trip.
So…we had to be quick. We had about 90 minutes at home to get packed and ready to go. Fortunately, travelling and air flight isn’t new for us so we already had a mental list ready and we split tasks. I was responsible for calling the airline to buy the tickets and also sort out iPods for music as well as get the wet bag ready. Once I sorted out the tickets and music, I’d help finish up the packing. My husband was in charge of packing the buggy (it’s supposed to be warm and sunny on Tuesday so I’m hoping to take a run along the lake with Little Man) and clothes.
The way we pack is probably a tightly choreographed dance, with the two of us reminding each other things – “Passports!” I’d call out, “Onesies!” he’d reply. “Pjs!” I’d say, “Chargers!” He’d call back. And so on.
Pretty soon, we called for a taxi – and off we went!
I think there were two things that we could have brought but aren’t crucial – the rain cover for the stroller and our cool new travel high chair. Well, a seat that clamps onto tables. It’s brilliant and Little Man loves it. He feels like he’s a part of the meal. We just have to make sure that anything we don’t want him to touch is within reach. But most places have high chairs or he can sit on our laps, so it wasn’t something that would ruin the trip.
Anyway, ninety minutes later and we were on our way to the airport. Fortunately, the airport we flew out of is 10 minutes away (we definitely wouldn’t have made it if we decided to fly from Heathrow). Two carry on bags, a nappy bag and a stroller bag. Not bad, I think, for a two day, three night trip. Including baby!
A note about the flight…there are a lot more things that a 10 month old is interested in on a plane than an 8 month old. Little Man had a great investigation on the magazines in the seat back compartment, the cup of water given to us (a little hand bath) and an empty plastic bottle. It’s amazing what you can find as distraction for a baby on a plane.
Now it’s way too late, we finally got Little Man to sleep and now it’s time for me to sleep.
Tomorrow…we’ll explore Geneva a bit with Daddy before relaxing the rest of the afternoon.
I’m leaving you with a photo of a very cool bag a little boy we saw had. Most kids have Trunkis, but not this one…

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Have you ever decided to travel last minute? For some people, it completely stresses them out, for us, it’s fun. What about you?

New York, New York…a helluva town…

Three words: Bring A Sling
I love New York. It’s busy, lively, flashy (in the eyes of an 8 month old) and noisy, all mixed up into one big, wonderful city. I have found, though, that the city really is not very baby friendly. Or at least, stroller friendly.
In a city of over 8 million people, with 22 million in the metro area, there are loads of babies. What you very rarely see, though, is a baby in a stroller on public transport. The public transportation is the most baby unfriendly I’ve seen yet. No strollers allowed on buses that don’t fold up, there are very few subway stations that have elevators, even fewer that have escalators, and forget it if you’re on your own. So, that’s why I say to bring a sling.
if you forgot one or are in the market for a new one, get yourself (and your baby) over to Metro Minis to buy one. I found this shop my first time in New York over the summer (that update to come later…) and bought one sling. And I found myself with Little Man at the shop again, this time to get a new one…we love our Beco Gemini but the snap on one of the legs has started to come loose so I wanted to get a new kind of sling that was a mix between the Beco Gemini and the Ergo Baby (we found one called the Action Sling that seems to be the perfect mix). This shop is fabulous. It’s got loads of different slings to try (there are many selections that are much more comfortable and supportive than the Baby Bjorn – those are considered the evil slings to the die-hard baby wearing world) and the women who work in the shop are very happy to spend as much time with you as you need to help find the perfect sling. The shop is extra perfect as they have a comfy back room in case you need to feed your little one, and even a lovely changing table to change him/her too. I believe the changing table is a model they sell – a really cool wall mounted unit that folds up and looks like a big apple when not in use.
But…as I say, try to avoid your stroller if you want to go out of a walkable radius from your hotel and not have to deal with the cabbies, which will add up in $$ if you want to go around the city. Of course, you can always plot your travels around the stations that have elevators, but you’ll find that you will be walking a lot to get places.
We are staying in Chelsea and the neighbourhood there is great to explore. It’s also close enough to the West Village and Times Square so you can walk down or up to those neighbourhoods. Penn Station, 10 blocks away, is very elevator-tastic and you can find yourself either in Times Square or around Union Square if you want to use the subway and some elevators without looking around for someone to help you carry your stroller up the stairs.
This time around, I have been looking for play rooms for Little Man while Daddy works. We take Gymboree classes back home and I found out that you can do a make up class at any Gymboree if you are travelling, so we hope to make one during our trip. New York seems to have many indoor play areas you can become a member of, or drop in for a one-off visit. We are aiming for one of them this trip, so I’ll let you know the choices and which one we end up going to.
If any of you out there live in New York and have suggestions on things to do, please let me know. I think I will start putting up links to places to visit with little ones in different cities.
Where have you found to be so stroller unfriendly?

Moscow, Russia – getting there

The city with Seven Sisters. The Kremlin. St Basil’s Cathedral. GUM. Wow…this city is truly beautiful. But how good was it with Little Man? Let me start off by saying I don’t know any Russian, I’ve never been to Russia before and only looked briefly at a map before picking our hotel and sorting out how to get there from the airport. We did get a guidebook, though.

So, the details:
Travel to airport – car
Airline – BA
Bulkhead – yes
Travelling solo – no
How Little Man got to gate – sling
Age of Little Man – 5 months 3 weeks
Length of trip – 8 days

We arrived early evening into Domodedovo (http://www.domodedovo.ru/en/) airport and through some really bad signage for a taxi rank, we ended up taking the Aeroexpress, the express train straight into Moscow. It was excellent – fast, clean and smoke free and took about 45 minutes to get to the circle line of the Moscow metro system. On arrival into Moscow, we deciphered the metro map to find whlinerrain that would take us close to our hotel and after an accidental wrong train, we made to the hotel without any major incident.

Modes of transportation on that first evening – Aeroexpress and Metro

My one complaint of the metro system was that it is not very friendly for anything requiring wheels. No elevators that we saw at all and only some stations had escalators. Of all the stations we went to, only a very few of them were completely step-free. What was really impressive, though, was that anyone who saw me (or my husband) go up or down stairs with the stroller, they would immediately pick up the other end and help carry it up or down the steps. The strange part of it was they would do it without any eye contact, not saying a word and most often even without a smile. They would just help as it it was a part of their being. A whole lot better than the London Underground…I learned the word “thank you” very quickly.

We arrived on the Sunday with Monday allowing for the three of us to see the sights before my husband had to work the rest of the week and I go solo.

My first impressions – fairly easy to manoeuvre around in the metro system and lots of possibilities of exploring solo.

Next up – a day of sightseeing with the whole family and then the rest of the time solo with Little Man…