There is so much planning before a trip. Since so many of my friends are heading off on Winter Break this month, I thought I’d share some tips for how to pack smart. Also, make sure you revisit my To-Do List for a Trip.
Write it all down. I have no idea how my husband packs for a trip with no lists. Me…I go overboard. I blame it on being a visual person but in reality, it’s probably because I have a small attention span. Anyway, I keep a packing list and it does not get crossed off until it’s in my bag.
What will you be doing? Will you need goggles and snorkels? Will you need jeans to go horseback riding? Will you need hiking boots? Sometimes it’s easy to forget to pack things for your activities.
Check the weather. Never underestimate how weather can affect your travels. In my planning stage, I look up the average temp of our destination and then I make sure I check it again before I put any clothes into my suitcase.
Who can think of traveling to Italy without picturing a steaming plate of pasta and a glass of chianti? Or have you ever had a faint aroma of a dish and you are suddenly transported right back to where you were on vacation when you ate it? Food has a huge impact on travel and it can help build memories, so we encourage our kids to be open to new dining experiences. I like our kids to have the mentality: “I don’t need to like it but I really should try it.” Who knows…their taste buds might thank them.
As parents, we often put our kids ahead of everything…including our relationship. We fall into a routine and don’t take the time to nurture ourselves as a couple. Well time to dust off the romance and step it up a notch. Dates don’t have to be pricy or complicated (But babes…if you’re reading this, know that my passport is always ready!) it just has to be the two of you spending some quality alone time together…ALONE…can’t stress that enough. (Sorry kiddos!) But let’s face it, who has the energy to actually plan these dates and make sure they keep happening? I’m happy to say that it does not have to be you!! Date Box is a monthly subscription box that does ALL the work for you! What? You don’t have to put any thought into it? Nope…let them do the planning and you do the fun!
What do I love about this box?
The whole idea of a date box is perfect because since it comes every month, it is a reminder that it’s time for some lovin’… (Yeah…that didn’t come out the way I meant it!) As much as my husband and I WANT to have a date, sometimes we’ll look at each other and not be able to remember the last time we actually made it happen.
New England’s Finest
I love everything about New England…covered bridges, quaint inns, changing foliage…the air even smells crisper here. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, which is why I am absolutely in love with New England’s Finest, a subscription box that is all about New England distinct flavors and charm. Every box has a theme and the items are specifically chosen for it. Take a peek…
What do I love about this box?
The theme of this box could not have come at a better time…Health and Wellness! I took my daughter to get X-rays a few days ago and there were several people wearing face masks and, I swear, it’s what has gotten me sick! OK, it’s probably just a cold, but since it’s a snowy day I may take advantage of it and lie around in PJ’s and enjoy this box.
Iceland is the new IT place, and for good reasons. Waterfalls, hot springs, glaciers, icebergs, and some of the nicest locals around make it the perfect family destination. If you’re looking for amusement parks, you may as well stop reading this. Iceland will get you up close with nature and push you to find your inner explorer. Although there are tons of tour companies, I would definitely suggest renting a car. Driving is so easy in Iceland and we stopped so many times to take pictures and go off the beaten path. Here is my itinerary for 7 adventurous days in the land of fire and ice:
Spend the day getting to know Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.
First stop is the Viking Museum. Although it is a little gory, it’s a good way to learn how the Viking culture influenced Iceland throughout the years. Your admission comes with a headset to do a self-guided tour.
Lunch: Head down to the water and have some amazing seafood while enjoying a backdrop of mountains and ocean.
Time to get out on the water. Take a Puffin Tour to see a breeding ground of these adorable little guys. (Book in advance)
Spend the rest of the afternoon wandering the streets of Reykjavik. You might want to buy an iconic Icelandic sweater.
How to Cope with the Not-On-Vacation Blues
It’s the end of January and the kids have already had five snow days. We’ve also just had back-to-back 2-hour delays because of an ice storm…gotta love winters in New England! This is the time I start getting vacation fever and daydream about sunshine and sand castles. So, what do you do when you’ve got the not-on-vacation-blues? Here are some ways I cope:
Have a quickie.
Ok…get your mind out of the gutter…I mean a quickie vacation! Plan a weekend getaway and stay in a hotel for a night or two. Pretend you are somewhere far away and swim, order room service, or do absolutely nothing. A change of environment can make all the difference.
As a born and raised New Yorker, NYC holds my heart! It is the perfect destination for families because there is something fun for everyone and you’ll never run out of things to do. I didn’t put any recommendations for dinners because I usually like to eat near whatever hotel we’re staying at so we can walk there with the kids.
Here is our itinerary for 5 full days in paradise:
Today is all about Central Park. In the morning, take a carriage ride to get a feel for the park. On your trip you are likely to pass the zoo, Wollman Rink, the Dairy, the Carousel, the Pond, and the Dakota. The drivers are knowledgeable about the park but also entertaining and my kids always liked hearing all the facts.
Location: Central Park between 5th and 6th street.
Have lunch at Alice’s Tea Cup. As soon as your children walk into the restaurant they are given a pair of fairy wings and are sprinkled with fairy dust. Seriously…what kid wouldn’t love that? Have the Mad Hatter so you get a taste of everything.
There are 3 locations: 102 West 73rd Street at Columbus Ave, 156 East 64th Street, and 220 East 81st Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenue.
Spend the afternoon at the Central Park Zoo. It is such a quaint zoo that lets you have a fun zoo experience without having to do an entire day of staring at animals. This is a great place to watch adorable animals such as penguins, snow leopards, grizzly bears, polar bears, monkeys, and sea lions. There is a beautiful rain forest section that lets you forget you are in the middle of a busy city. Don’t forget to do a 4-D movie while you’re there.
Location: 64th Street and 5th Avenue
St. Martin/ St. Maarten Itinerary
We rarely go to the same destination twice, so when we return somewhere it speaks highly of that place. St Martin is an island where we felt safe exploring, comfortable driving, and loved the variety of activities. The people are so welcoming and love to share their culture with visitors. Since the island is half Dutch and half French, you feel like you’ve traveled to two islands in one trip. Here is our itinerary for 5 full days in paradise:
I always spend the first full day enjoying my hotel and spending time in the sun and sand with my family. Enjoy the pool or the beach and soak up all the sunshine!
Lunch: Kali’s Beach Bar. This is a toes-in-the-sand restaurant. Kids can play in the sand while you enjoy a cocktail and wait for your food. Great burgers!
LATEST HUFFINGTON POST ARTICLE!
Staying in a hotel can be a really fun experience, however when traveling with kids it can also get a bit tricky. I put a lot more thought into travel when my kids are with me because I know they require some extra thought. Here are 10 tips for staying in a hotel with kids:
Take a peek….
New England General Stores
Nothing screams QUAINT more than a New England general store. They are sprinkled across New England and they share many similar features. Even if you don’t need anything specific, it’s worth stopping in for a peek.
Our favorite is the Old Country Store, in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. It has been a store since 1781…237 years! Located near Castle on the Clouds and close to Meredith, and it’s a great stopping point when you’re headed towards the White Mountains. My girls beg me to stop in every time we drive by.