Must See Destinations in France

When it comes to France, there is just so much to see and do for international travelers that it can be a bit overwhelming. In between sipping wine, tasting some traditional delicacies, and getting that perfect shot for your family back home, you don’t want to have to worry about planning to see it all. That’s why I’ve made this list of some of my favorite cities in France for you to tick off your list.

ParisParis

Photo Credit: Pixabay

You simply can’t go to France without visiting Paris, one of the most stunning cities in this country. Here you have to tick off a few of the main tourist attractions; the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the cathedral of Notre Dame. Immerse yourself among the French culture, purchase some local bread, cheese and wine and enjoy an afternoon picnicking underneath the cities most monumental landmark!

NiceNice

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The beautiful beachside town of Nice is incredibly desirable to both local and international travellers. This area is somewhat of a magnet for sun lovers and high rollers, will close proximity to Monte Carlo. With outstanding historical architecture, a load of awesome restaurants all within walking distance from the beach, this is the perfect summer destination! If you can’t get here in the warmer months, don’t fret because Nice gets a bucketload of sunshine all year round.

ChambordChambord

Photo Credit: Pixabay

If you are after a glamorous experience with a chateau fit for a queen then you should make your way to Chambord. Located in the fabulous Loire Valley, the Chateau de Chambord is not to be missed. Hosting an enormous 400 rooms, you will get a look into the classic French countryside. Be sure to pack your camera because you’ll want a pic of this on your Instagram.

LyonLyon

Photo Credit: Pixabay

With a reputation that claims Lyon is the gourmet capital of France, this destination is a must for all foodies. You don’t have to head to the Michelin star restaurants to find quality, traditional meals here in Lyon, there are plenty of local eateries that offer great meals and affordable prices. Located only four hours from Paris, Lyon is really easy to get to via public transport so make your way to Lyon on your next trip to France.

MarseilleMarseille

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Maybe not as well known, however the utterly beautiful Marseille should be on the top of every traveller’s bucket list. One of Europe’s oldest cities, Marseille is a major Mediterranean seaport located on the south coast of France, the town is boasting with Roman ruins, medieval architecture and a bunch of cultural history! A must for all those history buffs that love a little time in the sun!

France is a beautiful country, with plenty to explore. Sometimes it can all seem a bit much so it is often best to book yourself a cheap Europe tour. There are some great tours offering some of the places I mentioned above and more so it’s worth doing your research and finding something that works for you!

 

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Florence in Photos

From the architecture to shopping (hello leather goods!) to the small town feel, Florence was by far the city I loved the most during my summer tour of Italy. Although I only spent a short three days in the city, I came home with many, many photos. Here are some of my favorites. 

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How Your Family Can Get The Most Out Of Its All-Inclusive Vacation

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When you go on an all-inclusive family vacation, you could be missing out on some benefits. The all-inclusive” part doesn’t just mean food, drinks, and beach towels. Such resorts have much more to offer. Since you already paid, why not take advantage of the services to their fullest extent? Many families don’t even bother to read the list of offerings the all-inclusive resorts provide. As a result, they are overpaying for the vacation. The food and the pools are not worth the money you are paying for the all-inclusive resort. There is much more to take advantage of. All you have to do is a little research. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your vacation.

Choose the Right Resort

Before buying a package, you have to ask yourself what type of a vacation you want to have. Are you the kind who likes to hang by the pool all day sipping tasty cocktails? Then you can save money by booking a resort that doesn’t offer too many sports activities. If you love being entertained all day and all night, look for a resort that has a variety of shows planned. Does your family like sports and outdoor activities? Make sure to find a place large enough to offer tennis courts, a golf course, football fields, or whatever else.  Also take note that some resorts are geared toward families and some all-inclusives are adults-only. Just keep this in mind as you search. It should be fairly obvious in the marketing materials and websites. You and your partner don’t want to split the honeymoon suite with your kids. Just be careful. Many of these family resorts offer plenty of activities for young kids. Most resorts will list all inclusions and you can get a general vibe from the websites.  

Try New Food

No matter how many days you spend at the all-inclusive resort, be it 3 or 14, you’ll have enough time to try at least half of the munchies they offer. The variety of dishes is usually mind-boggling. There is absolutely no reason to stick with your old stand-bys. An all-inclusive resort is your opportunity to try new food, especially of the local variety. If you don’t take advantage of all the new dishes, you are not just missing out on a wonderful experience, you are overpaying for your vacation. 
Try not to overeat if you’re worried about gaining weight, but at least vary what you eat. 

Take Classes 

Many resorts offer a variety of classes you can take. The day you arrive, go to the front desk and ask for a class and activity schedule for the week. Remember, most likely, no one will be going around offering you these classes. The instructors don’t get paid for the number of students they teach so they don’t care how many actually come. You have to take the initiative and find out about the classes yourself.

Don’t Go To Sleep Early

Most all-inclusive resorts have some type of evening entertainment available for the vacationers. Usually, the evening shows are the most exciting. You can enjoy the fireworks shows, circus performances, belly dancers, and much more. Every evening, the resorts try to offer something new. So for the money you pay for the package, you get a new show every night. Take advantage of it.

Explore The Territory 

Resorts usually try their best to create a stunning landscape. Beautiful exotic trees and plants, pure white sand, sculptures, and other works of art create an amazing background for taking pictures. Explore the territory of the resort to find these beautiful places. Only a small percentage of the tourists actually see every corner of the large resort facility. Meanwhile, you can find wonderful places for photos, resting, and meditating.

Go Outside The Resort

Even though an all-inclusive vacation means that you have all you need in one place, venturing outside the resort can help you enjoy a brand new experience. 
If you are the kind who likes to take in the local flavor, consider this when choosing the resort. In most cases, such resorts are located in an area filled with similar retreats and reaching a local town requires a long ride. If you want to go outside, find a resort closest to the town.

Take Children For Free

Some all-inclusive resorts allow the children to stay for free as long as mom and dad are paying full price. If you have a large family, such a resort can be a real money saver. Find out about this option before booking the vacation. When you go with children, check out all the activities available for them. For example, many resorts have a children’s club where you can leave your kids under the supervision and enjoy a relaxing drink at the bar without worrying about your child. 

Ask For More

All-inclusive resorts try their best to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. That’s why in most cases, you can get some extra freebies just by asking. Do you want to feel like a real VIP? Ask the bartender to bring you a cocktail to the beach. Do you want a romantic bath with bubbles? Ask the staff to bring you some bath salt and accessories. Need to get the towels changed twice a day? Don’t hesitate to ask. Want a tastier beer or cola? Ask for a can or a bottle.  As long as you are polite, you can get many extras others don’t even think to ask about. 
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New Hotels to Visit this Fall

From Los Angeles to New York, a lot of luxury hotels have opened in recent months. These new hotels are the perfect excuse to plan a fall getaway!

Four Seasons at the Surf Club Four Seasons FloridaI’m a big fan of the Four Seasons brand, so I get really excited when I hear they opened a new property. Those looking for a South Florida getaway that avoids the craziness of South Beach can look no further than this recently opened location in Surfside. This idyllic setting on the Atlantic will bring you back to the 1930 with its old-school Florida vibes.

Kimpton Hotel BornCourtesy of KimptonThis one is right in my backyard, so I’m excited to check out Denver’s Hotel Born. The area cannot be beat, next to Union Station and near all that the LoDo neighborhood has to offer.

Mondrian Park AvenueCourtesy of MondrianI’ve spent many fun nights in LA at the Mondrian, so I’m excited to hear about its recently-opened New York location. Its spot on lower Park Avenue is a good option for those looking for a centrally located hotel in Manhattan.

Waldorf Astoria Beverly HillsCourtesy of Waldorf AstoriaIt’s got the sophistication and elegance you would expect from a Waldorf Astoria hotel, plus a rooftop pool and lounge for amazing views of the city. A prime location in the heart of Beverly Hills means great shopping and restaurants are within walking distance, but if you’d rather not walk, a Rolls Royce is on hand to shuttle guests around.

 

 

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Santa Fe’s Charms

Santa Fe architectureSince moving to Denver from the Midwest almost 2 years ago, I’ve been eager the explore the Western side of the States. I’m fortunate to have a few mountain towns under my belt, like Vail and Aspen (you can read about my recent trip to Vail here), but like any travel blogger, the list of places I’d like to explore is quite long. With my new home base, places like the Southwest are more convenient to visit than ever. Thanks to a surprise weekend getaway planned by my husband, I got to cross Santa Fe off my list too. Since hearing about it from a friend, Santa Fe has long been on my radar. It’s just a five hour drive from Denver, so one weekend I took off for a road trip south. Santa Fe Plaza

You’ve probably heard New Mexico referred to as the “Land of Enchantment.” That’s a great word to describe Santa Fe. The first thing I noticed after arriving was the architecture. Southwest-style buildings and Spanish colonial plazas are everywhere you turn. The town’s main plaza is abound with markets, stores and restaurants. The city has a reputation as an art lover’s town, and rightfully so. Numerous galleries line the plaza, and the Georgia O’Keeffe museum is not to be missed. Local wares like southwestern jewelry, often featuring turquoise, and crafts from New Mexican artisans are also aplenty. The foodie in me loved exploring shops like Santa Fe Culinaria and Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe for spices and chili peppers, and chocolatier Cacao Santa Fe is the place for a high-end chocolate fix. By far my favorite shop was the popular Doodlet’s. This eclectic store sells everything from children’s toys to candy to stationary. I could have spent hours (and way too much money) in this place. Needless to say, Santa Fe has great shopping, and it was even voted the #1 city in the U.S. for shopping.

And another top reason that I was happy to visit Santa Fe? The food! Personally, I’ll never get sick of Mexican food, so I was in heaven. Whether red or green chilis are your thing, it’s all delicious and authentic. Tia Sophia’s and Cafe Pasqual were standouts. History lovers will enjoy Santa Fe Mission, the oldest church in the country, and the spas alone are also worth a visit, from what I hear. The Spa at Loretto is on my list of places to go on my next trip.

Santa Fe is so unique and like no where else I’ve ever been. It’s a small town, and a weekend was definitely sufficient. Interested in a trip of your own? You can find more info and plan your trip hereplaza Santa Fe downtownSanta fe architecture

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5 Things To Do In Rome With Little Ones

The Eternal City is large, noisy and full of history. But for all the ancient sites and big-city attractions, there’s also a side of Rome that’s great for its littlest residents and visitors. Don’t miss these 5 kid-friendly activities.

Villa Borghese: Kids of all ages can burn off energy in Borghese Gardens, one of Rome’s largest parks. There are galleries, a zoo and even a replica of the Globe Theater. Families can also rent a boat and paddle around the lake, or just spend a few relaxing hours strolling the gardens.Borghese Gardens

Trevi Fountain: Everyone has to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain when visiting Rome, and kids will love this tradition. Go early in the morning or late at night to avoid the crowds.Trevi fountain at night Trevi

Family Friendly Tours: A tour? With kids? Yep, as long as you pick the right one. Tours can be long, with lots of walking and hot temperatures (if you go in the summer like we did!). A food or wine tour wouldn’t be the best choice for our toddler, so we chose outdoor itineraries like Walks of Italy’s Colosseum Tour. It covered the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, and most importantly, included open space for a restless toddler to walk around. Palatine Hill Palatine Hill Colosseum

Piazzas: For a true snapshot of Roman life, there’s no better place than the city’s many piazzas. My personal favorite is Piazza Navona, but there’s also Piazza Barberini, Piazza del Pantheon and Piazza del Popolo, to name a few. Each are beautiful in their own way and full of locals and tourists relaxing at cafes, catching up with friends or just taking in the scenery. Piazza Navona

Food: From pizza to gelato, a lot of the foods you’ll find in Italy are kid-approved. There’s no shortage of pasta and other Italian favorites at every turn, and taking a gelato break every day is OK when you’re on vacation, right?Italian Food

 

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Hotel Review: The Palazzo Las Vegas

PalazzoOh, Las Vegas. Love it or hate it. I, like most people I know, have their fill after 3 days. But nonetheless its bright lights, warm weather and slot machines always call my name every so often. So when the husband and I were looking for a quick break, we settled on the sunshine, pools and good restaurants of Las Vegas. Plus, it’s only an hour plane ride away from where I live, so off for a 3 day weekend we went.

I always find myself back at the Venetian when in Vegas. The all suite hotel has some of the nicest and most spacious rooms on the Strip. But this time we decided to expand our horizons and hop over to the Palazzo. Since it’s a sister property and connected to the Venetian, we knew we couldn’t go wrong. And as part of the IHG parent company, my Intercontinental aspire Elite status would be honored too – bonus!

Upon check-in, our room was upgraded and we were offered late checkout, two perks of my Spire Elite status. The room was as spacious as I expected, with a separate living area complete with a sectional sofa. The bathrooms are large too, with a tub and shower – something that is hard to find in most hotel rooms. The view overlooking the pool complex wasn’t too shabby either. Palazzo Las Vegas Living Room

One of the best things about Vegas is that there is so much to do right outside your hotel room. The Venetian shops are conveniently located in the hotel and are perfect for when you need to stay indoors on those hot 110 degree afternoons. Various restaurant options, shops and luxury boutiques can keep me occupied for hours. Some of my favorites this trip were Yardbird Southern Table for lunch, Canaletto for Italian, Mario Batali’s Otto for pizza and Carlo’s Bakery (of Cake Boss fame) for desserts.

Another reason why I love the Palazzo – the pools. There are 10 pools and 5 hot tubs to choose from between the Venetian and Palazzo. Each one has its own vibe, from relaxing to kid-friendly to the party scene at Tao Beach.Palazzo Pool

From the amenities to the great customer service, I was definitely not disappointed with my first stay at the Palazzo. It may just become my go-to Las Vegas hotel going forward.

Interested in staying here? I was able to find a great price for under $200 a night when booking directly through Palazzo.com.

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My 1st Airbnb Experience

I’m admittedly a little behind the curve on the whole Airbnb thing. As a travel blogger, I’m a little surprised myself that I’ve never rented via the popular site. What can I say? I tend to lean toward hotels (ideally luxury ones at that) for their services, safety and amenities. After rave reviews from my friends, who have used Airbnb rentals everywhere from Hawaii to Paris, I decided to give it a shot.

It was about 6 months ago that I started planning a trip to Italy. My husband and I would be doing the classic first timer’s Italy itinerary of Rome, Florence and Venice. The clincher? Our toddler was coming along for the ride. I know what you’re thinking. Who would want to bring their baby to such a romantic destination? Where we go, she goes, and I wasn’t about to skip a trip to Europe just because we have a baby! I knew that having a little one in tow meant naps, lots of dirty laundry and nightly bath time. The convenience of a private apartment with a kitchen and extra space was tempting, so to Airbnb’s website I went.

Since we had hotels in Rome and Venice locked in with points and hotel loyalty programs, we opted to rent a one bedroom apartment in Florence. While researching, I was really impressed with the search criteria options and being able to filter results for everything from family friendly facilities to amenities like internet and a pool.airbnb viewI was able to find a centrally located apartment from a super host, and it even included a crib. After reading the reviews, we decided to pull the trigger. Upon arriving in Florence, our hosts were gracious enough to meet us at the train station. The apartment was clean, spacious and perfect for our family of three. As every traveler knows, it’s nice to have a kitchen to eat a few meals in, and a laundry room to wash clothes. The location could not have been better – it was located on a quiet street within walking distance of restaurant, shops and Florence’s famous Doumo. The Mercato Centrale around the corner was super convenient and a go-to lunch spot. We were more than pleased with our choice of accommodations and I can gladly say my 1st Airbnb experience was wonderful!

If you’re ever in Florence, check out our new friend Alessio’s apartment. You won’t be disappointed!airbnb

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Hotel Review: Intercontinental New York Barclay

Intercontinental Barclay

I always love being back in New York, so when the opportunity came for a quick weekend trip to see old friends, I jumped at the chance.

Manhattan has so many amazing hotels.For this trip I was looking for a good central Manhattan location that could easily get me to my favorite neighborhoods. With Intercontinental points to burn in my account from my new IHG credit card, I quickly found the Intercontinental Barclay. There were quite a few Intercontinental properties in Manhattan, but I chose the Barclay because of its Midtown location. Located less than 5 blocks from Grand Central, it was a convenient home base to get around the city.

Grand Central
The hotel is withing walking distance to Grand Central

The hotel has an old New York vibe, with a grand lobby and gilded ceilings. As an IHG card holder, I gained Elite Spire status, which meant a room upgrade and complimentary wifi. My room was comfortable, updated and very large by Manhattan standards. I loved the black and white floors, which are classic New York. I even had them in my very first NYC apartment. The bathroom was spacious, clean and modern. Simple amenities like a Keurig machine and nice toiletries were a nice bonus and really make a difference in my book.

From check-in to check-out, the service was great, with helpful staff that even remembered my name. Overall the hotel was comfortable, clean and safe. Have I stayed at nicer Intercontinentals? Yes. (Hello Willard Intercontinental!) But this hotel is definitely nice, and a great Midtown option. For the location, interior and price, this hotel is definitely worth a visit. IHG Barclay bathroombathroomIHG barclayIntercontinental Barclay

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Why We Should Love our National Parks

Muir woodsDid you know that 2017 marks the 100 year anniversary of the US national Parks? There are 59 official parks across the country, which means that there is likely one that’s close to you! Whatever your activity of choice is – hiking, camping or just sightseeing – there’s a National Park for it. We’re so lucky to have these amazing, preserved pieces of nature at our fingertips to help inspire new adventures. If you’ve been itching to visit your closest park, the US National Park Service is offering complimentary admission to all parks on April 15. Mark your calendars!

As a new Coloradan, as we’re called, I recently visited Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive in early fall made for breathtaking views, especially of the Aspen trees, and we actually crossed the Continental Divide! The park’s nearest town, Estes Park, has quickly solidified itself as one of my favorite little towns in Colorado.

During a recent trip to San Francisco, I was also lucky enough to make it to Muir Woods. It’s less than an hour from the hustle and bustle of of the Bay Area, but feels a world away. Added bonus, it’s also not too far from wine country, if you want to make a day out of it. 

Did you know that one of our parks is a rainforest? El Yunque in Puerto Rico is the only rainforest on US soil, and it’s definitely unlike any other National Park you’ve seen. While in Puerto Rico for my wedding in 2012, a short drive from San Juan transported us to a rainforest complete with waterfalls, beautiful plant life and tropical birds. 

I’ve come to learn how necessary the right equipment is for camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. I recently discovered Cotopaxi, and it’s become one of my go to outdoor brands not only because of their products, but because of their support of well being worldwide. They donate a portion of every sale to various charities that assist with global health initiatives, and these backpacks help provide the most aid. So great, right? They are supporting the 100th anniversary of our parks with the hashtag #ParkPride. Share your park photos!

Cotopaxi National ParksI would love to take a road trip to Yellowstone or explore the Everglades during my next trip to South Florida. What National Parks are your favorite, and which ones are you hoping to visit one day?

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Exploring Vail, Colorado

Since moving to Denver last year, I’ve been eagerly exploring my new surroundings. Not only is Denver an exciting city, but the mountains are just a few hours away! I grew up hearing about the natural beauty that Colorado has to offer, and heard stories of friends and family taking ski holidays to towns like Aspen, Vail and Breckenridge. With the mountains a short drive from my new home base, I was eager to get out and explore! So when a few friends came to visit from New York, it was the perfect time to head west to Vail.

We departed early Saturday morning for a short weekend getaway. After arriving around 10am, we headed to our hotel. After a lot of research, I chose the Four Seasons for its location near the entrance to Vail Village. Plus, you can’t go wrong at a Four Seasons property, right? We were greeted warmly and were able to check in early. After settling in, we were eager to start our day and ventured out to a nearby hiking trail. The walk took us through the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens  and on to more remote trails that gave amazing views of the snow-capped Rockies.vailVailrockiesHiking worked up an appetite so we made it back into town for lunch. We chose Mountain Standard, which overlooks a scenic creek and has since become one of my favorite restaurants in Vail. Good drinks, a nice atmosphere and one of the best octopus dishes I’ve ever had – what more could you ask for?
vail villageMountain Standard VailMountain StandardVail Village is a quaint town filled with ski shops, bakeries and restaurants. On any given afternoon it will be filled with local families, vacationers in their best fur coats, skiers and people just generally enjoying the outdoors. The alpine architecture really makes Vail unique and gives the town such charm. A little shopping on the way back to the hotel capped off our afternoon. It was then time for a few hours at the Four Seasons’ spa. One of the best things about the hotel was the complimentary spa amenities available to guests. Not to mention the pool with its gorgeous views! Four Seasons vail Post pool, it was a quick walk back into town to grab a bite to eat. After dinner and drinks at Sweet Basil, one of the most popular restaurants in Vail, we headed back to our hotel. It transforms at night, with lit up balconies complete with fire pits lining the central area of the hotel. It’s the perfect spot for a late night cocktail, and we capped off the night with s’mores on the patio – how fun is that? Four Seasons Vail at night

Although it’s known for its winter activities, Vail is amazing year round. Although I have yet to be back this Winter, I hope to return soon to enjoy the snow and scenery.

 

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2016: My Year in Travel

Like most travel bloggers, I am always looking forward to my next trip. The year ahead means an open calendar of new cities to see and more passport stamps to collect. The last few years I have been so lucky to be able to travel to beautiful, amazing places, and 2016 was no different. With the past year came an exciting cross country move, along with the adventure that is traveling with a baby. From South America to mountain towns in my new home state of Colorado, here are my 2016 highlights.

CHILE: I’ve been to Chile many times since I have family there, but this trip marked an important milestone – my daughter’s first international trip. Traveling with a baby is never easy, but thankfully the ride went off without a hitch! I also ventured to Pucon for the first time, a town in the southern Lake District that is an adventure lover’s dream destination. A visit to the Santa Rita winery in the popular Maipo Valley rounded out the trip. flying with a babypucon chile santa rita chile santa rita winery

SAN FRANCISCO: Believe it or not, I’d never been to San Francisco. When friends moved to the Bay Area, it was the perfect excuse to plan a trip! Although the fog ruined a chance at any clear photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, I still loved my first San Fran experience.  Muir woods

VAIL: Since transplanting to Colorado in early 2016, I was eager to explore my new state. I was spoiled to stay not once, but twice, at the town’s lux Four Seasons during the year. The mix of small town charm and alpine architecture has earned Vail the title of #1 mountain town in my book.
Vail Four Seasons

LAS VEGAS: I always love a quick trip to Vegas. This year’s visits were a little different…because our baby came too! We made the most of the pools, great restaurants and of course, gambling. I also stayed at one of my favorite Vegas properties, the Venetian, which is always a wonderful experience.   Venetian pool

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Baby on Board

Air travel is stressful. There are crowds to deal with at the airport, cramped quarters on the plane and rude passengers. Try adding a baby to the mix! But it doesn’t have to be as bad as you think. We took my daughter on her first flight at 2 months old. I was on maternity leave and felt like a hermit…why not go to Florida to see family, right? Since then she’s flown on over 20 flights. (We’re really taking advantage of the “kids under 2 fly for free” rule)! Some have been as easy as pie and some have been nightmares, but I always make sure I’m prepared and take it in stride. Here is what I’ve learned so far. baby on board
CHOOSE YOUR SEAT WISELY 
One of the worst things in the world is being stuck in a middle seat with a lap child. I learned this the hard way. As bad as that was, I’ve also been lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me, which you better believe I took full advantage of! When my child was younger and unable to sit on her own, I always inquired if there were open seats on the flight. A few friendly employees have rearranged my seating assignment and allowed me to place a carrier in an empty seat. You would not believe how nice it is to not have to hold a baby for 3 hours straight! If your flight has slim pickings, it may be worth it to upgrade to a premium seat or business class for added space. When in doubt, head to the back of the plane, where there’s most likely to be open seats.

COME PREPARED My pre-baby packing checklist looked much different than it does today, and certainly did not include diapers and formula. Don’t leave home without an adequate supply of snacks, diapers and clothes. Now that my little one is a toddler, I have learned that the iPad is my best friend on a long flight, so I make sure it’s loaded with Sesame Street episodes. I also take the Baby Bjorn as a carrier option.

flying with a baby

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FAMILY BOARDING Most airlines allow passengers traveling with small children early boarding, usually after first class boards. This allows you to not only check your stroller at the gate without a line of anxious people breathing down your neck, but also the chance to get situated in your seat and unload your necessities with ease. Family boarding is especially important on Southwest, where being the last group to board almost guarantees a middle seat.

PREPARE FOR TAKEOFF Have you ever changed a baby in an airplane bathroom? Trust me, it’s not fun. My pre-boarding ritual includes a diaper change and a fresh bottle. Making sure your baby is changed and fed will hopefully prevent an emergency trip to the lavatory. And since changes in pressure can affect children’s ears, a bottle or pacifier can help ease the transition as you ascend.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP My husband and I often fly together, but I’ve also flown alone with child in tow. As you can guess, it’s MUCH easier to have that extra set of hands. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I’ve asked TSA agents to assist with pushing my bag through the conveyor belt and opening my stroller. It’s worth asking for help if it makes getting through security a little easier.

EXPLORE AIRPORT FACILITIES Thankfully many airports are becoming more family friendly, with designated play areas and women’s lounges. A recent long layover in Dallas went smoothly thanks to their Junior Flyers play area. SFO and O’Hare have great playgrounds, the latter designed by the Children’s Museum of Chicago. Beyond the obvious amenities, we love the AA Admirals Club lounges for the play areas we’ve come across in the Miami and LAX locations. Check online to learn more about your airport’s facilities.

bbay DFW kids club

Flying alone with my little one has shown me that there are nice people out there. Without fail, people have offered help every time, whether it’s to carry my bag or grab something from the overhead bin for me.  A flight attendant once said she’d hold my baby if I needed to use the restroom. And during an uncharacteristically fussy period, a nice woman seated behind me told me to hand over my little one. She was a pediatrician and must have noticed that I needed a break! Yes, you may get a few eye rolls when you’re heading down the aisle, but I’ve never encountered a rude fellow flyer. Try not to worry to much, flying with kids isn’t as hard as it seems.

 

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My Favorite Travel Beauty Kits

Unlike my husband who travels light and is fine using the complimentary soap provided by the hotels, I have to have my luxuries when I’m staying away from home. It’s not always easy packing the necessities, and no one wants to lug around their full size shampoo and body wash. Thankfully a few of my favorite brands offer convenient travel sets for girls on the go. Here are the products I make sure to include in my luggage.Molton Brown

Molton Brown Jetsetter KitMolton Brown is an iconic English brand that has the most luxurious scents (I’m obsessed with Japanese Orange!). I take this toiletry kit with me when I want to feel pampered on the road. The glam pink bag doubles as a makeup bag too!

Malin + Goetz Essential Kit: One of my favorite Miami hotels, the Mondrian, stocks their bathrooms with this brand. The Essentials Kit full of 1 ounce necessities is usually in my bag during overnight flights for the face wash and moisturizers. Bonus points because they are paraben free and contain no dyes or perfumes.

Bliss Sinkside Six Pack: I first discovered Bliss after staying at a W hotel, and I’ve been in love ever since. This travel kit includes their best products – Lemon + Sage Body Butter, Soapy Suds, face wash, shampoo and conditioner. The best part is that they’re small enough to fit in a carry on bag for quick weekend getaways.

Coola Mineral Suncare Travel SetCoola Suncare is my must have for  beach vacations. I love that they offer organic and mineral based products, plus their travel sets are TSA friendly. I usually pick up their sunscreen at Sephora before taking off to a tropical destination.coola suncare

 

 

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Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson

Whenever I hear that someone is visiting England for the first time, I always recommend afternoon tea. So when my friend and I took a much needed girls trip to London, I knew we had to schedule tea time. It was my friend Lindsay’s first trip to the UK and I wanted to show her a quintessentially British experience. I’ve had tea before at Fortnum & Mason and at the Marriott Park Lane (you can read about that visit here), and both were wonderful. But since this was a girls trip, we decided to go all out. Champagne afternoon tea for two, please!

I had heard about the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel. It sounded exactly like the fun experience we were looking for, so I made a reservation and was pumped to see what it was all about.

The Sanderson is located in the West End and was a short walk after our afternoon of browsing on Bond Street. The hotel itself is chic and modern and was designed by Philippe Starck. Afternoon tea takes place in the hotel’s courtyard, which made for beautiful surroundings. Once seated, we could really see the Alice in Wonderland theme come to life with whimsical dishes, teapots adorned with Kings and Queens and vintage books. sanderson tea

We of course started with cocktails, and then came the tea. The tea options were displayed in beautiful glass jars and the names were true to theme . I opted for the “Queen of Hearts,”, while my friend chose “White Rabbit.” The spread had the traditional fare like finger sandwiches and scones, but also included beautifully crafted Mad Hatter-themed sweets like marshmallow mushrooms and sponge cake in the shape of a clock.
COCKTAILSsugar tea timetea

We stayed for a little over an hour and left on a caffeine high from all the tea. The staff was wonderful and overall it was such a fun, unique experience! lindsay tea time

Prices start at £48 a person. Reservations are recommended and can be made on the Sanderson’s website

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