Search Results for: travel

Updated: Ireland Travelogue

COMMENTS: 5

travel  Updated: Ireland Travelogue

Every now and then, this photo of the Trinity College Library’s Long room from our travelogue to Ireland pops up in my Pinterest feed. I’d follow the link back to the Travelogue and it would just drive me crazy to see the old post with its few, miniature images–and a whole lot of text. It was due for an update.

That trip we took to Ireland, one spring a few years back, was such a fantastic one. We chose it as a destination on a funny whim—it just happened to be the cheapest international destination to fly to from New York City in June (presumably because it’s usually rainy there then, though it wasn’t for us)—and so I hadn’t built up that sense of eager anticipation about Ireland the way one might. It completely wowed me.

If you haven’t had a look, check out our Ireland travelogue—newly updated! (Aron and I look like such babies—before having our own.)

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Travelogue: New York City (during the holidays)

COMMENTS: 20

travel new york  Travelogue: New York City (during the holidays)
travel new york  Travelogue: New York City (during the holidays)

As I mentioned (and you may have seen on Instagram), we’ve just spent a week in New York. We had a wonderful time visiting favorite old haunts and taking in all of the holiday decorations; it was so nice to spend a week in a city we know so well. It definitely made it easier for us to go at a toddler’s pace without any regrets about skipping over some things. Still, I can’t lie: it has been a rough transition home for Hudson! I’m not sure if it was the time change or the consecutive weeks of vacation, but coming off of this trip has seemed more jarring than most. So it’s nice to look back at these pictures this morning, and remember why this is all worth it!

Because the trip felt like a bit of a homecoming, and because I’ve posted about many of these places before, I’m going to be referencing a lot of previous links where you can find more details if you’re planning a trip of your own.

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Travelogue: Grand Cayman

COMMENTS: 15

travel  Travelogue: Grand Cayman
travel  Travelogue: Grand Cayman

This fall has been a great season for us, travel-wise. I suppose you could say we’re behaving as if the world is going to end when this baby arrives in a couple of months. (Is it?!) On the heels of fun weekends in Yosemite and Monterey, we spent a glorious week on Grand Cayman, a British territory in the Caribbean sea.

As goals for most beach vacations go, we aimed to spend the majority of our time relaxing and swimming in warm water. But we discovered a few things about the island that might come in handy if you’re planning a visit—owing completely to our friends Emarie and Nick, with whom we traveled there. Emarie lived on the island for a few years and knew all the best places to go.

Here are some of the highlights…

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Travelogue: Weekend in Yosemite Valley

COMMENTS: 34

travel  Travelogue: Weekend in Yosemite Valley
travel  Travelogue: Weekend in Yosemite Valley
travel  Travelogue: Weekend in Yosemite Valley
travel  Travelogue: Weekend in Yosemite Valley
travel  Travelogue: Weekend in Yosemite Valley
travel  Travelogue: Weekend in Yosemite Valley

To celebrate Aron’s birthday this year, we decided to jump in the car and drive into Yosemite Valley for a brief escape. The 3-1/2 hour drive passed quickly, and though we arrived too late Friday evening to see our surroundings, we woke up in what is easily one of the most beautiful places on earth. Even if you can only spend a day or two, it’s worth making an effort to visit. Thankfully, we’re close by.

Plenty of people (and guidebooks) can tell you far more about visiting the National Park than can I—especially about the acres to explore outside of the valley floor. The entire park is over 1,170 square miles. But here are a few notes (and a whole lot of photos) from our weekend, in case you’re lucky enough to be headed this way.

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Updated Travelogue: Croatia & Montenegro

COMMENTS: 6

travel  Updated Travelogue: Croatia & Montenegro

travel  Updated Travelogue: Croatia & Montenegro

travel  Updated Travelogue: Croatia & Montenegro

travel  Updated Travelogue: Croatia & Montenegro

travel  Updated Travelogue: Croatia & Montenegro

travel  Updated Travelogue: Croatia & Montenegro

travel  Updated Travelogue: Croatia & Montenegro

I’ve updated and added previously unpublished photos to our Croatian travelogue. I must confess, I was inspired by watching Game of Thrones over the past few weeks, which I realized was partially filmed in and around Dubrovnik! It makes so much sense, now that I look back at our photos. Of the various locations in which the cast shoots the HBO show, I think this would be the one I’d hope to have my story line set in. The Adriatic sea is so beautiful. What an incredible place!

I hope you’ll have a look at the updated Travelogue: Croatia & Montenegro.

travel  Updated Travelogue: Croatia & Montenegro

P.S. Do you watch Game of Thrones? Aron was embarrassed to admit it at first, but he’s obsessed. Hopefully obsessed enough that we can revisit Croatia and do a location-tour? Also, more travelogues.

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Travelogue: Maui, Hawaii (August 2013)

COMMENTS: 28

travel  Travelogue: Maui, Hawaii (August 2013)
travel  Travelogue: Maui, Hawaii (August 2013)

This past month, we caught a ride on one of the best direct flights you can take from Sacramento’s airport: At 9:30 am, you’re in the air. And by 11:30 Hawaiian time, you’re in Maui. Our entire week was a most-generous gift from Aron’s parents, who had chosen to fly the whole family out for a vacation together (Aron’s parents would arrive with his sister and her family a few days after us).

We flew with Hudson’s car seat once again, but it’s starting to put him awfully close to the seat in front of him (he’s a tall 2-year-old). Still, love that he falls asleep in it, and we love that we can relax knowing he’s strapped in if we do. Besides, we’d be bringing it along anyway for the car rental.

travel  Travelogue: Maui, Hawaii (August 2013)

We were booked for eight nights at the Marriott Ocean Club on Ka’anapali beach. From the airport, it’s roughly an hour’s drive.

travel  Travelogue: Maui, Hawaii (August 2013)
travel  Travelogue: Maui, Hawaii (August 2013)

There’s a wonderful (if expensive) fruit stand on the way to Lahaina and Ka’anapali—around mile marker 15 or so. I’d wager there are better deals to be had elsewhere, but I must admit we didn’t find them. Food in general is expensive on the islands.

We brought some papayas, mangoes, passion fruit, bananas, avocados, and limes back to our hotel to snack on throughout the week. Ask for help picking the ripeness for the day you wish to eat it, and be sure to take them up on the offers for samples (especially of the coconut candy, which I still regret not buying).

travel  Travelogue: Maui, Hawaii (August 2013)
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Travelogue: Paris, France (Part Two)

COMMENTS: 49

travel  Travelogue: Paris, France (Part Two)
travel  Travelogue: Paris, France (Part Two)

[Continued from Paris, Part One]

On our fourth night in Paris, we met the babysitter we had arranged months earlier. Ana came over around 6:45 in the evening—we met her outside the apartment as we were coming home from the park, in fact—and I could tell it was going to go well immediately. I think Hudson thought she was our friend, Rhiannon (“Ana” sounding a bit similar and there being a resemblance), because he immediately reached up for a hug and asked after Rhiannon’s son. So they were off to a good start, with him eager to show her his toys.

I had actually written Jordan (who I’ve been lucky to get to chat with on a few occasions at blog events), about her experience with babysitters in Paris and she sent me a suggestion. In the end, that woman wasn’t available, but she passed along Ana’s contact. Ana only had experience with small children in her own family, but she struck me as intelligent and warm and I got a good feeling about her. In the end, she came three nights (Wednesday Thursday, and Saturday) and her friend came one night (Friday). I communicated with both over email before our trip, did a little web-stalking, and sent documents with all of our rules and routines ahead of time so that we could address specifics and be more brief about such things in person.

By the time the evening came, we knew that Hudson was waking in the middle of the night but that he was falling asleep and staying asleep during the babysitter’s hours easily—a big relief—and that he felt comfortable in our new home. We also purchased a cheap mobile phone for use in France, so that the babysitters could reach us in case of emergency and asked that they text us an update at least once while we were out.

If you’re considering using a babysitter, this book and our Rick Steves’travel  Travelogue: Paris, France (Part Two) guidebook had additional babysitting resources they recommended. I would also suggest asking your hotel concierge for help, if you have one.

travel  Travelogue: Paris, France (Part Two)

As much fun as we were having as a family of three, it was such a relief to leave that evening and step out into the glowing light as a couple, to know that we would have the chance to experience the romantic side of Paris (that we had once so loved) again and linger over wine and flickering candles.

As I alluded to in Part One, I never saw children out in restaurants at dinner (save for the occasional tourist), and it really seemed a challenge to bring ones as young as Hudson. We mentioned this to our babysitter, and she—without missing a beat—agreed and said “yes, you can bring the dog but not the child.” Ha! If you’re living in France, I’d love to hear if you think this is accurate.

In any case, though it adds a significant expense to pay for babysitting (around 10euro/hour seems normal), for us it was worth it.

travel  Travelogue: Paris, France (Part Two)

That first evening out, we headed for Restaurant Le Gaigne, just around the corner from these stunning vertical gardens on rue Pecquay. The restaurant was booked (and now appears to be closed until a new location opens), and their chic wine bar across the way had a wait for tables, so we headed back up rue des Petits-Carreaux a bit and popped into L’Assiette à Carreaux just as the rain started falling; it was buzzing with people smoking cigarettes outside and drinking champagne inside. It looked promising, and we were happy we stayed.

travel  Travelogue: Paris, France (Part Two)
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Travelogue: Paris, France (Part One)

COMMENTS: 56

travel  Travelogue: Paris, France (Part One)
travel  Travelogue: Paris, France (Part One)

Aron and I had been talking about returning to Paris for years. For some reason, despite many visits as a couple living on the West Coast, we never made the trip once we lived on the East. By the time the opportunity arose, I was pregnant. And nothing sounded sadder than a trip to Paris (with its incredible wine, raw cheeses, and its laundry list of pregnancy taboos—like foie gras and steak tartare) while expecting. (You might recall that I faced similar dilemmas in Montreal, albeit the kind that that no one should really ever complain about.)

In hindsight, it might have been easier to travel to Paris while pregnant than with a toddler. Either involves some sacrifices, some compromises (to put it more glass-half-full)—the toddler perhaps more.

And here’s where I should learn to heed my own advice: Just go!

travel  Travelogue: Paris, France (Part One)

So to start…

I want to tell you the secret, magic tricks to having the perfect vacation in Paris—ah, Paris!—with a toddler. I really do. I just have to be honest: there was a night at dinner when Aron and I, albeit proud of our well-behaved son who was licking herbed butter off of escargot shells, agreed that if someone asked us whether to choose to go Paris with a two-year-old, we might say “non.”
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Found for Dad: travel/diaper bag (and some other gift ideas)

COMMENTS: 7

style  Found for Dad: travel/diaper bag (and some other gift ideas)

While in Paris, Aron and I both fell in love with this bag we were gifted from Sons of Trade. The Tactical Tote is designed for men by the same company behind the Petunia Pickle Bottom bags. And it’s big, maybe a little too large on my frame, but it makes a great gender-neutral diaper bag (it’s attractive, wipeable, durable, has tons of pockets, and converts from tote to backpack with a couple of snaps and the company sells a separate diaper pad/case to put inside), but we loved it as a travel bag, too.

The tote can be snapped shut on its own, but because the tote handles fold over and snap in place, we felt especially confident that no one was easily reaching into the sack. I loved the confidence that adds. Seriously: I felt like Vanna White when it arrived, showing Aron all of the bells and whistles.

style  Found for Dad: travel/diaper bag (and some other gift ideas)

You can order directly from the company and find accessories at Sons of Trade.

However, I also added the Tactical Tote to my Luvocracy page (sign up for an account here), where I created a Father’s Day Gift Collection. Here’s a few of the other picks you’ll find there…

style  Found for Dad: travel/diaper bag (and some other gift ideas)

Just in case you’re doing some last minute shopping.

P.S. Other gift guides for him. And him.

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Travelogue: One month in Bali (August 2012)

COMMENTS: 4

travelogue travel  Travelogue: One month in Bali (August 2012)

I’ve been wanting to share a true, extensive (over-the-top, in typical fashion) travelogue from our month in Bali for, oh, almost a year now. And I think it’s time! Here’s the plan: I have multiple posts on where we stayed, what we saw, where we shopped and ate, for each of our destinations. There was just too much to tell for me to put everything into one long post this time.

I’ll spend the next week or so sharing different aspects of our trip, give each the tag “Bali Travelogue,” and you can see them all grouped once I’m done. I’ll start with Ubud next week, and then pause for a while to finish up posts on Permuteran, the Gilis, and Seminyak (see updated list below).

Those of you who have written me asking questions about traveling to Bali, often with young children: I’m sorry it took me so long! The rest of you with no plans to go there anytime soon: Um, sorry? Indulge me? And start saving your miles for a ticket! It was amazing!

First up, the 40-hour journey and arriving at our first destination, Ubud.

Updated posts list: 
Welcome to Ubud
Central Ubud
Markets of Ubud
Cremation and Ceremony in Ubud
Excursions from Ubud
North to Permuteran
Amed & Gili Trawagnan (Lombok)
Seminyak

[photo of our first home, Harvest Moon Villa]

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Crowd-sourcing: travel questions

COMMENTS: 51

travel  Crowd sourcing: travel questions
[Walking through rice fields in Bali last August (Hudson 13 months)]

Many of you have written in the past, either in comments or directly by email, to ask for travel advice–particularly on the topic of traveling with children. I have a big favor to ask: would you mind sharing more of those questions? I would be so grateful if, in the comment section here, you’d tell me all about your biggest travel questions, your concerns or hesitations (and particularly on that topic of traveling with children). Are there topics you wish I would discuss–or that you’ve found yourself Googling lately? I would so love to hear!

Thank you in advance! I promise to share more about why I’m asking (and to try and cover these topics) soon. Of course, if you have an answer to someone’s question, by all means jump in there, too.

In the meantime, here are a couple of travel-tips posts you might have missed: Flying with a Baby or Toddler and What to pack: travel gear for a toddler.

And P.S. Any time you have something you wish you could find or see here, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks again!

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The best gifts for a traveler

COMMENTS: 9

travel  The best gifts for a traveler

Joanna and Condé Nast Traveler recently asked me about my favorite travel gifts . You can see a couple of my recommendations (and those of many others) here.

What would you add to the list? I definitely second the cashmere socks!

travel  The best gifts for a traveler

In fact, I’d put together a complete sleep-kit for a loved-one’s carry-on–something utilitarian but also a little luxurious. And what’s more luxurious than getting good rest on a red-eye? Toss an eye masktravel  The best gifts for a traveler (the kind that lets you blink during REM sleep), a double-inflating neck pillowtravel  The best gifts for a traveler (for wedging to the side or back of your neck), a pair of socks (cashmere if they’re lucky, or some classic Wigwams), and a pair of earplugs into a Baggu zipper pouch; stash it under the tree and they’ll be eternally grateful.

And, so I never have to go too long without hearing his voice, extra battery life for Aron’s phone. These charge up on your computer and remain on standby (rather than bulking up something he always keeps in his pocket).


[Photos from our 2010 trip to India: (1) Arriving in Delhi as the sun rose (2) Aron on the overnight train from Jodhpur to Delhi]

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What to pack: travel gear for a toddler

COMMENTS: 13

travel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler

I’m starting to work on our Bali travelogue, and thought I might start with some posts about packing.

We brought way more than we needed for Hudson on our month-long trip. No surprise there: it feels like it’s impossible not to overpack with a baby (and now, a toddler) in tow. We would basically just pack the entire contents of our apartment everytime we went somewhere, as if we were being air-dropped onto a deserted island.
But there are a few things we really used.
travel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler
First, the essentials:
GoGo Babyz Kidz Travelmatetravel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler (with our Combi Cocorro Car Seattravel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler ):  If you’re bringing a carseat on a trip with you, the GoGo Babyz can convert almost any carseat into a stroller. We opted to leave our stroller at home and it was so nice to still be able to wheel Hudson (or the empty carseat with our bags stacked atop) through the airport. And on a side note, our smaller- and lighter-than-average carseat is awfully nice for traveling. I’ve seen some travelers struggle to install their carseats on the plane, and it was never a problem fitting this into the row.

We were so glad we brought a Totseattravel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler  with us. (But please, totseat, start making these in more attractive, plain fabrics soon.) High Chairs were available about 50% of the time, but we never worried because he could use this with any chair.

An Ergo Baby Carrier travel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler (or any sling or carrier) is my number one travel essential. Hudson had lots of practice with being worn on the sidewalks of New York, so he would even nap in the Ergo while we crossed rice fields or walked around town. I appreciate that it has a hood for shade and that it doesn’t take up too much space.

BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light travel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler (with jury-rigged mosquito net): Many of the places we stayed were willing to furnish us a crib, but I’m so glad we had our own. We knew it was safe, and Hudson knew it as a constant and familiar bedtime spot even as the rest of his surroundings were changing. My only caveat is that I wish it were smaller. Also notable: sometimes airlines will count this as a piece of checked baggage; other times they’ll let it go since it’s for a baby. It’s worth asking ahead of time and bringing the email reply with you when you check-in if you get a “yes.”

And a few other favorite items:
“Baby Catch-all” bibs (aka Tommee Tippee bibstravel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler ): These roll up and wipe down easily (no laundering required) and catch those few precious bites that you were counting on for a few more minutes of distraction on the plane.

Dye-free Infant Acetomeniphen: You’ll likely be packing a medicine cabinet’s worth of first aid supplies (bacitracin, teething relief, ibuprofen, tylenol, etc.). Somehow they always end up staining things, which is especially annoying when you have fewer changes of clothes. Look for the oddly elusive dye-free options. (NB. Be sure you’ve tried them before using them on a trip and have checked dosage guidelines with your child’s doctor).

Headphonestravel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler  specifically for kids (with a splittertravel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler ): Hudson hasn’t had much practice watching television, so he was not too interested in watching cartoons when we really wanted him to on the plane or while up for hours and getting over jet lag in the middle of the night. But it helped that he had his own over-the-ear headphones, and that I could listen along and react. (I’ve also heard good things about thesetravel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler .)

BabyConnect App: Aron and I love this app and recommend it to all new parents for tracking sleep and feedings or anything else. We’re a little crazy for still using it, but I personally found it really nice to be able to look back over Hudson’s usual sleep patterns when deciding how to adjust him to the twelve-hour time difference. And then to track his sleep when it was completely erratic and we needed to judge whether he was sleeping too long during the day.

Baby monitortravel family  What to pack: travel gear for a toddler : If you and your partner are lucky enough to get your own room, you’ll be happy you brought along a monitor.

Leakproof thermos by Foogo: if your toddler can use a straw, this is a nice (insulated) option. And it won’t leak in your bag. (This leakproof feature doesn’t apply during ascension in the plane, however, when the pressure builds.)

And don’t forget finger snacks, a new toy or two (think 99-cent store), a change of clothes, and more diapers than you think you need for the plane.

Happy traveling!

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Passport pet peeve (and a travel tip)

COMMENTS: 15

travel  Passport pet peeve (and a travel tip)

I just added additional pages to my passport. I suppose, overall, it’s a good thing that we’ve traveled enough internationally that I think I might need extra pages. But paying whopping fees for additional pages because border control agents tend to stamp pages willy-nilly really irks me! Here’s the thing: there are grids on each page. Stamps are supposed to indicate when/where you entered a foreign territory and then when you returned to your country of residence–and they’re supposed to sit beside each other! Visas often require full pages and, more often than not, there are requirements about how many consecutive pages you must have blank to get one. For example, we need two consecutive blank pages for our entry visa when we arrive in Bali. I happen to have exactly two such pages remaining, but I also have quite a few where Homeland Security has stashed a stray re-entry stamp, multiple pages away from its partner. We’re traveling through Germany and then Thailand before we get to Bali so I’m thinking it’s too risky to expect that the agents (well, maybe not the ones in Germany if stereotypes persist) will stick to the grids and steer clear of those two remaining, consecutive pages.

Okay, slightly persnickety, and possibly dull travel rant over. But seriously! What is the deal? We have to be so careful with these documents; is it really too much to ask that they stamp them in sequential order?

Lesson learned (and passed on): pay upfront for the extra pages if you plan to travel internationally often, and check visa/page requirements early in your travel planning to avoid expedited-service fees.

[Image of very orderly EU stamps via Chris Guillebeau, The Art of the Non-Comformist's The Hidden Messages of Passport Stamps]

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New travelogue: St. Lucia

COMMENTS: 6

travel  New travelogue: St. Lucia
Finally.

We have actually just returned from a week-long trip to St. Martin, so it’s extra ridiculous how long it took to gather photos and make a travelogue from our February trip to St. Lucia. It was a wonderful trip–Hudson’s first stamp in his passport–and I’d hate to forget what it was like to take one of those first family vacations. (Somehow this one felt like the first true one, even though we had flown twice to California with him, at 10 weeks and 5 months, and had spent a week in the Berkshires at 3.)

I hope you enjoy it!

All of our travelogues are linked in the column at the right. Or you can click here to read it.
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Intrepid travelers

COMMENTS: 24

travel new york  Intrepid travelers
travel new york  Intrepid travelers
travel new york  Intrepid travelers

Last Wednesday (Leap day), Hudson and I checked into the Jane hotel for the day for an impromptu escape. There has been construction down the hall from us for the past few months (weeks and weeks of pounding, occasionally waking Hudson from his naps), but Wednesday was the day they would actually be jack-hammering and breaking through the ceiling (they’re combining two apartments, one on our floor with one above). Usually I would just have Hudson nap on the go, but it was also supposed to rain all day and maybe even snow. (These are the days when one wishes Manhattan had a mall.) It seemed like, for both our sanity, we should check into a hotel room for the day. There were some great midweek specials on Priceline, but I’ve always been curious about the Jane. It was an exciting little adventure!

travel new york  Intrepid travelers

It’s a unique hotel concept: For $79 a night, you can stay in one of their Standard Cabins– 50 square foot rooms with a twin bed and little else. (Or for $99/night, you get a bunk bed!)  The cabins were first designed to house sailors in 1908 and they are still more reminiscent of ship cabins than of hotel rooms. Still, they’re sort of amazing for such a tiny space: there’s a radio/ipod dock, a flat screen tv with a dvd player, a robe and slippers for the shared bathroom down the hall, wifi, and plenty of clever storage. And the whole place makes me feel like I’m walking into a Wes Anderson movie (especially the staff in classic bellhop uniforms).

travel new york  Intrepid travelers

travel new york  Intrepid travelers
travel new york  Intrepid travelers
travel new york  Intrepid travelers

It was actually perfect for us: we wouldn’t be there long enough to get cabin fever, and I could let Hudson play on the floor without worrying. All of our things could be stashed high above the bed and out of reach, and there wasn’t room for any mystery danger; there were no outlets along the wall, and nary a chair to be tipped!

The restaurant, Cafe Gitane, (same as the small, popular outpost in NoLita) has a roomy location in the lobby of the Jane and we started our morning there sipping coffee and munching on croissants (me), and  admiring the gold rivets on the banquets (him) before settling in. He then napped on my lap while I watched Pride & Prejudice (perfect for a dreary day) and ate avocado on toast from the restaurant.

travel new york  Intrepid travelers

travel new york  Intrepid travelers

I kept thinking that it would be perfect for young, intrepid travelers on a budget, staying just a night or two. I imagined a wedding party all getting cabins and then meeting in the gorgeous bar (below) for drinks at night, and in the cafe for breakfast the next morning. It’s in an amazing neighborhood on the Hudson river, right between the West Village and the Meatpacking, practically at the base of the High Line. They have bikes for guests’ use on a first-come, first-serve basis, which would be ideal for sunnier days. Since we didn’t stay the night, however, I can’t tell you whether all those little cabins make for a noisy night (probably), but I recommend earplugs for most light-sleepers anywhere in the city.

travel new york  Intrepid travelers

P.S. When we came back to our apartment, I was a little worried we would learn that the construction had been no big deal and we wasted our money. But it turned out that there had been such a mass of complaints throughout the building (things fell off shelves on the floor up from us) that we all got a letter clarifying the scope of the work! I think it was good we got out!

[photos in fourth collage via Jade Dressler and Gothamist; the rest are mine, blur in self-portrait contributed by Hudson]

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Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

COMMENTS: 36

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

I had been fantasizing about a trip to the island of St. Lucia for years–since just after starting a new job in New York. My managing editor (and soon-to-be best friend, Teryn) went to this place called Jalousie and when she returned, the picture she painted had me running to tell Aron that we must go there, too. At the time, there were no direct flights.

Since then, many others have no doubt added St. Lucia to their bucket lists: Season Jake of The Bachelor, anyone? And Jet Blue has started flying there directly.

And we had a baby!

But we finally made it to the beautiful island of St. Lucia! And while it was a completely different trip than the one I had first imagined—where we do such things as sail at sunset while sipping cocktails, hike to the top of one of the Pitons or walk through a rainforest, snorkel and SCUBA dive, gaze into each other’s eyes over a meal at Ladera, spend an evening at a fish-fry and jump-up party and then rub each other with mud at the sulphur springs—it was just as beautiful (maybe more so) than that vision of years ago. (In truth, we had spent one day pre-Hudson on St. Lucia, when we stopped on the island as a port-of-call on our cruise. We took a boat to Anse Chastenet—an appealing and faster alternative to the island’s windy roads—and snorkeled. It had been our favorite stop.)

All of this is to say that this is not the travelogue to read if you want first-hand accounts of exploring St. Lucia. This is the travelogue of first-time parents taking their six-month-old on his first international vacation and choosing (wisely, I think) that the best way to enjoy the island and to relax would be to stay at a beautiful resort (Jalousie) and to simply stay put.

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

The direct flight on Jet Blue went smoothly, no small feat considering that the first few minutes were spent with Hudson wailing at the top of his lungs. Aron reached over and felt ridges on Hudson’s lower gums. His first two teeth were coming in, just as we were leaving. Thank goodness we had packed what appeared to be the contents of our entire apartment because somewhere in there we had tylenol and teething remedies!

We arranged to have a driver pick us up–an attempt to keep everything as simple as possible for our first international trip as a family. By chance we got Cyril Edward (u3eddie2@hotmail.com 758-455 1900, we kept his card) and he did a great job of making a 45-minute ride on a very twisty road go by smoothly.

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

The hotel was stunning! Set on a 320-acre piece of land between the two Pitons–volcanic plugs that rise dramatically out of the sea–The Jalousie Plantation is made up of cottages and villas that descend down to “sugar beach.”

Our cab brought us straight to the room, and we were so happy to have been upgraded! We ended up in a gorgeous suite with a separate living room and bedroom (Hudson would have his own room at night!), butler service (wild), and a plunge pool! But perhaps the best part was walking out onto our patio and seeing the amazing view of the sea below.

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

Hudson had just mastered sitting up by himself, and I remember that we were amazed at how much easier it was to maneuver around him because it was the first time we could set him down on the floor and he would actually sit! He was so happy not to be stuck on his back or stomach, instead looking all around from a new vantage point.

We walked around the resort, marveling at every vista and snapping a million photos (of the Pitons and the sea, but still mostly of Hudson).

But that first day wasn’t all roses: it’s not pretty to admit because it reeks of entitlement and ingratitude, but it was a little tough letting go of that vision of how we would travel together had we been there just as a couple. Of course, given the choice to be just the two of us there or to be the three of us, there’s not even a second of hesitation to answer the latter. But that doesn’t mean that the first time you have to rush through dinner, or skip a sunset to get back to the room for baby’s bedtime is easy.

It’s been a little while since our trip, so it’s starting to get a bit fuzzy (I look back at the vacation so fondly), but that first night was rough! After eating dinner as quickly as possible, we worked on putting Hudson into his crib in his own room (while condensation gathered on the chilled champagne that was warming up in ours) and he was not having it. At home, had he fought sleep, we might have encouraged him to settle himself after some check-ins, but with a new environment and new teeth emerging, we didn’t want to let him cry at all. He’d fall asleep and then wake up a few hours later. We moved the crib into our room and tried slipping him into it after he’d fallen asleep nursing or in my arms. And eventually he just stayed in bed with us until he was wide awake at 4:45am. Not only would we not be going sailing or hiking or diving (all things we’d known we’d be skipping), but we would not be sleeping! I was worried we had made a mistake.

We made a decision then that this would be the trip on which we would work on sleep. Hudson would get onto a schedule. It was something we had been talking about with wishy-washy commitment, and which we said we wouldn’t worry about until we got back, but which suddenly seemed essential. What this meant was that I nursed Hudson to sleep for virtually every single nap, but only at the exact same times each day. Whether he slept 35 minutes or two hours, his next nap was by the clock.

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

We laughed at what the waiters on the beach must have thought–it seemed like Hudson was asleep on my chest every time they came by. Fortunately, the beach never seemed crowded and the staff is careful to be unobtrusive. We could raise a flag if we needed anything, but were otherwise left alone. And I was so happy that our plan involved his falling asleep at the beach because it meant that we spent his naps reading on the beach rather than back at the room (even though that wouldn’t have been so bad either). It actually worked out perfectly! To be honest, I’m not sure I’d seen a prettier beach-hotel setting, so I was happy to be there as much as possible.

Soon Hudson was falling asleep easily again and now he was falling asleep (and staying asleep) at predictable times. It didn’t take long. To be honest, I felt like he appreciated the routine, too. It not only was a game changer for our vacation, it was–and I know this sounds dramatic but it’s true–life changing!

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

We then found a rhythm: we’d order room service for breakfast and play at the cottage until Hudson had had first nap, then play at the beach and have some lunch brought over during his second. His third was usually very short and so occasionally Aron would wear him in a carrier and walk around for thirty minutes, looking at caterpillars and building his calf-muscles (lots of steep hills). We’d either have an early (and quick) dinner at the restaurant on the beach or have dinner back at the cottage, once Hudson was asleep.

We wished we could tried some of the other venues on the property (like the stunning cane bar lounge)–and had we used the hotel’s babysitting services we could have–but honestly we weren’t quite ready to leave him and we were content to be low-key in exchange for sleep and peace-of-mind.

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)


travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

It was Hudson’s first time at the beach and he seemed to really enjoy the water once he was in. He was a little less certain about the wave-line: he was fascinated from afar, but when Aron brought him closer he didn’t care for the shifting waves around his feet. I wonder if it looked to him as if the ground were moving.

Seeing his reaction to the water… it’s just incredible for us to imagine what it would be like to experience everything for the first time. It’s all such fun.

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

We did some snorkeling off-shore, but while we spotted some colorful fish and coral, I think the sea life at the Anse Chastenet reserve was more impressive. I hope we’ll have a chance to return and do some diving in the future.

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

The resort offered complimentary sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, archery (!), tennis, and host of other things which I’m ashamed to admit we didn’t do. Actually, before we left some friends of ours who had stayed at Jalousie suggested Aron and I go out kayaking together. I kept trying to imagine us paddling out with Hudson propped on the bow of the boat.

But one day, we did take turns going for massages at the spa! It was amazing! The spa looked like something out of Blue Lagoon or Swiss Family Robinson, with treehouse treatment rooms connected by suspension walkways. I especially liked the long thatch-covered corridor that led there and the outdoor shower looking out over the valley. I felt like such things really helped me to have some time to relax and clear my mind of sleep-schedules and such before the massage. 

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

We wised up after a couple of days and started having breakfast on the beach with the meal-plan instead of ordering a la carte room service. We could have as much of everything as we wanted and so we got down to the serious business of trying everything we could. There was a delicious omelette with platains, loads of fresh fruit,  fried local pastries with hot chocolate, and incredibly rich yogurt parfait. But our favorite item was the probably the banana french toast. By the last day we were asking for extra caramelized bananas. The staff were nice enough to pretend they weren’t shocked by our gluttony. 

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)


travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

And so it was that after a little bit of effort, we found ourselves getting accustomed to a new-to-us pace, a slower (but pretty ideal) kind of vacation: a hearty breakfast, naps in our room or on the beach (with some swimming or reading while Hudson slept), some rum punch and a lovely sunset. We ate dinner on our patio, took showers outside and listened to frogs, and looked for constellations in the star-filled sky. We had finally hit our stride… and so the day we had to leave arrived far too quickly!

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

The following morning, we did our best to hold on and set ourselves up early enough to see the fisherman come in to open their nets of flying fish to both the resturant and a few locals–like “the coconut man” who would walk along the beach yelling in a sing-song “Jell-y Co-co-nut.” And we finally got to try some “jelly coconut.” Always one of my favorites.

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)
travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

Hudson, like any sensible person, did not like being approached by a man with a two-foot machete. Smart kid, really. But when he saw the straws, I think he was won over. I mean, who knew it came with straws?!

travel family  Travelogue: St. Lucia (February 2012)

I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Flight: Jet Blue is staring daily service from New York this summer (approx. 4 hours)
Hotel: The Jalousie Plantation (Day passes available according to the NY Times article linked below)
To do: For some other ideas on what to do (you know, if you aren’t bent on staying put or figuring out sleep routines with a six-month-old), check out this nice itinerary by Jen Swetzoff for NY Magazine or the “36 Hours in St. Lucia” feature in the NY Times. 

[Also, an earlier post with a few iPhone photos from our trip]

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Your thoughts on our hypothetical travel?

COMMENTS: 78

travel  Your thoughts on our hypothetical travel?

It looks like we might have a month free (August) between the time Aron finishes his residency and the day he starts a new job–and we want to use it to go see some amazing place, just the three of us!

It might be the only time for years and years that Aron will have more than a two week vacation to travel. So here are some qualifications we’re hoping the destination might meet: Ideally, it wouldn’t be a place that you would go with only a week (i.e. the Caribbean), and really takes advantage of the fact that we have an extended amount of time by being either difficult to reach or too vast to visit on a brief trip. It should be affordable enough once we arrive that it won’t break the bank to stay 3-4 weeks (e.g. Southeast Asia would be easier on the wallet than Europe). We’ll be traveling with a one-year-old, so we’d like to avoid things like Malarial zones and would like to be able to stay in fairly comfortable accommodations and maybe rent an apartment for a while rather than move around a lot. Those of you with one-year-olds, please weigh in about considerations you would keep in mind; are we overlooking something? We’d like to go someplace warm with beach days for at least part of the time (but beach alone won’t justify a month). And our month off is August, so we need to be mindful of the heat and the possibility of things like typhoons. (On that note, do any of you have any experience traveling during the rainy/hot season in Asia?)

So I need your help–any ideas? I might put together some imaginary (possibly fantasy) itineraries for the blog if I get my act together. I can’t believe how fast it’s going to come; I think we have to buy tickets very soon!

[Photo from our April 2010 trip to India]

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