How to Pack for a Family With One Carry-on Suitcase (and Two Backpacks)

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Yes, one. Yes, it can be done.

Now I will preface by saying we only have one kid. We also did this when Little V was 18 months old. I didn’t have to bring a breast pump, and we didn’t have to worry about bottles, so I personally found it easier to pack for an almost-toddler than a little baby. Time will tell whether we can pull this off again when V gets older, but hopefully she’ll be able to carry a little backpack of her own next year!

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5 Tips on Traveling to Europe with a Baby

VtravelI’m just as nervous as you, honey.

When Mr. Wonderful first suggested we spend the rest of his paternity leave going to Europe, I thought he was out of his mind. Little V was only 2 months old at the time, and the idea of hauling my sleep-deprived, half-crazed self with a baby in tow just seemed insane. I could barely get through the day by day, and he wanted to travel?!

“Fine,” he said. “You’re no fun.”

Sigh. Apparently giving birth to a baby also turned me into a party-pooping old grouch.

So I relented, though in the weeks and days leading up to the trip I was half-hoping that a minor catastrophe would happen. Just bad enough where Mr. Wonderful would have to admit cancelling the trip would be for the best, but of course not so bad that anybody got permanently hurt. I did end up with a foot injury, and Little V did pick up an ear infection (we went to urgent care two days before the trip), but Mr. Wonderful cheerily carried on with his packing. So off we went. And here are some things I learned:

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How to spend 1 day in Disneyland/California Adventure (with the new Diamond Anniversary events)

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I have a soft spot for Disneyland. It’s one of the few places where I feel everyone is just a little happier, a little kinder, and a little more relaxed. It’s like Christmas. You just have to pay for it.

Mr. Wonderful and I get our fix about once every 2-3 years, and with the Diamond Anniversary celebration that just started a few weeks ago (translation: brand new World of Color water show, brand new fireworks show and brand new electrical parade) we just had to go.

Many Disneyland fans will argue that trying to do Disneyland Park and California Adventure in one day is a bad idea – you feel rushed, you don’t enjoy the magic, and it’s hard to soak up the atmosphere of each “land” if you’re constantly walking from one thing to another. I get that. But I’m the type of person where if I’m visiting Paris for the first time, and I only get one day, I’m going to cram the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Louis Vuitton store and my Laduree macaroons in one day. I’m not going to sit at a café all afternoon even though, yes, that would be the local Parisian experience. In my opinion, one should check out the highlights on the first visit, and then soak up the atmosphere another time. But if that’s not you, then both Disney Tourist Blog and DIS Unplugged have a good 1-day plan for just Disneyland Park.

Otherwise, this would be my suggested 1 Day itinerary (including my favorite rides and eats!) for both parks (note this plan would not be ideal for pregnant women and young children as it does involve a lot of roller coasters): [Read more…]

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3 Days in Amsterdam

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Even when I first started my round-the-world trip, I was looking forward towards the end of my travels, when I would pay a visit to Amsterdam. As someone who appreciates art and fashion, I was long attracted to one of Europe’s most design-oriented cities. In addition, it has the highest museum density in the world! From the Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum to the Museum of Bags & Purses, I could have spent a month just hitting up museums alone.

If you love flowers, April through mid-May is the best time to visit Amsterdam as you will catch the renowned tulips in bloom. And don’t forget to be there on a Wednesday to catch a free lunchtime show at Concertgebouw concert hall, which is ranked as having one of the best acoustics in the world.

Below would be my suggested timeline for someone who wants to see the highlights of Amsterdam and its countryside, fit in a few museums and unique shopping, as well as dine at a Michelin star restaurant. This particular itinerary assumes you are visiting Monday-Wednesday during the Spring…if you are not, then adjust accordingly.

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Transitioning Back to “The Real World”

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Just a few months ago I was sitting on this ledge in Bagan, Myanmar, catching my breath after scrambling up the steep steps of Buledi temple. I remember thinking how my round-the-world trip with Mr. Wonderful had just begun. There was so much to see. The days and months seemed to stretch out before us.

All too quickly we’re back to what people call “The Real World.”

I hate that phrase. As if traveling for six-plus months was some irresponsible fantasy, and all we did was drink piña coladas on the beach. As if the world we saw doesn’t carry any permanent significance. There were family and friends who thought we were making a grand mistake we would never be able to recover from.

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Backpacking in Raja Ampat

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It was Mr. Wonderful’s wish to visit the remote area of Raja Ampat in Indonesia for our round-the-world travel. Renowned for its pristine corals and abundant marine life, it’s a dream for many divers to make a trip out there.

Remote, however, always sounds better than it is. Our Indonesian friend booked the entire 5-day trip for us, and for $600 a person ($1000 for divers), it seemed like a good deal. That is, until we were greeted with huts that only had partial walls, ripped mosquito nets, and squat toilets. Taking a “shower” meant scooping water from a garbage can and pouring it on your head while mosquitoes flew about. As one person in our group said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been so uncomfortable in my life.” [Read more…]

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The Best and Worst of Bali

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Years ago, a friend invited me to go to Bali with her. Her parents lived there, and she painted visions of tropical beaches, cheap massages and gourmet food for a fraction of the price. But getting to paradise cost more than my college student budget could afford at the time, so I never made it out to Bali. That is, until last week. [Read more…]

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Traveling to Antarctica: A Wish Fulfilled

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I have officially stepped foot on all seven continents of the world.

As odd as it may sound, going to Antarctica had been on the top of my bucket list over the last decade. It started with my senior trip in high school, when I went on an Alaskan cruise with a group of friends instead of traveling to traditional teen destinations such as Hawaii or Mexico. For a California girl who hates the cold, I became oddly captivated by the remote, icy wilderness—untainted by people but a sanctuary for animals you would never be able to find anywhere else.

I wasn’t aware that going to Antarctica was a possibility until I was in college, after hearing a friend tell me about all the exotic places his parents would travel to, including Antarctica. I secretly added it to my list of “Things to Do Before I Die” which eventually became “Things to Do Before I Have Kids.” [Read more…]

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Best Shoes for Travel (that aren’t ugly)

It used to be that I would buy travel shoes with slightly more style than comfort. I survived multiple trips to Europe and Asia this way, bringing my Tory Burch flats and Sam Edelman Trina sandals that were so popular with fashion bloggers. Sure, my feet would hurt a bit after 10 hours of sightseeing, but it was nothing unbearable.

Last year, I wasn’t so lucky. In the middle of a trip to Copenhagen, my right foot started hurting badly. It turned out I fractured tiny bones in my foot pad, which sometimes never heals. My podiatrist explained it was simply one too many cobblestone roads in shoes with thin soles, and there was a price to pay. I now have chronic sesamoiditis, so wearing high heels and flats with thin soles can cause a lot of pain for me.

Now that I’m forced to err on the side of comfort over style, my choices are more limited. I spent the summer checking out shoes in stores like The Walking Company, Aerosoles and Clarks, in addition to selections offered at Nordstrom and Zappos. Some pairs, like the Adam Tucker brand I purchased from Nordstrom, felt heavenly when I first slipped them on and then gave me cramps after a few hours of wear. The problem is that we tend to fall for the “cloud-like” feeling of soft padding, but what your feet actually needs is firm padding with some flexibility. Thank goodness for Nordstrom’s satisfaction policy! When I explained my situation, they were more than happy to take them back.

After a few months of trial and error, I finally made some purchases based on the five criteria for purchasing travel shoes from my last post. Here they are!

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Five Tips for Purchasing Travel Shoes

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Since I started traveling, some readers have asked me, “What is the most comfortable and stylish shoe for traveling?” It’s a tricky question, because everyone has their own style preferences and feet are as unique as individuals. I’m a size 6.5 with a slightly wider toe box and a high arch, so what works for me may not work for others. I did, however, literally try on over 30 shoes this summer in my personal hunt for the best pairs, so hopefully my upcoming reviews will save you some frustration and time!

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