Posts filed under "Jet Setting"

Traveling with Babies- Here's What I Know.

I've been getting a lot of people asking me for advice for traveling with kids.


First of all,

I feel the need to clarify: traveling with a baby is an entirely different ballgame than traveling with a kid. Kids seem easier than traveling with a baby in a few ways such as having their own seat, carrying their own little animal-shaped suitcases, and, generally, knowing to not poop themselves. 

Though the idea of going anywhere (grocery store included) with a toddler is completely terrifying. None the less, let me help offer what I know & have learned traveling with Viola.

I'm not going to pretend to know all the answers, but the kid did clock 8 countries by 8 months old… If I'm not a professional, I'm at least not intimidated by traveling with a baby.

*     *     *


First things first: Adjust your expectations.

Even traveling across the ocean, I always think this phrase over & over during the day (and night) before we fly: "Even if it's a completely awful day, it's only one day and then I'll be in (insert destination here) and it will all be worth it."

To me it's a trade off. I will exchange one crappy/miserable day to spend a week pretty much anywhere, so that gets my eyes on the prize. True, not traveling with kids will save you from some stressful moments... but you'll also miss out on some amazing ones that, in my opinion, far outweigh the chaos.


Second: Know your allies.

Airline employees = nice. Fellow passengers = hate you.

I was pretty amazed at how sweet the airport staff & airlines treated us and welcomed us on board. They helped us board early, snag empty seats, and made our travel so much better. I was equally amazed at how many mean looks and snotty remarks we got while traveling.

On our way home last month, I walked to our row and the man who was sitting by us looked up, looked at me, and then snarled: "Ugh, really?" I gasped so loudly out of shock and then laughed in his face: "Yup. Sorry dude."

Fortunately, all the people around us overhead and went out of their way to compliment what a sweet baby Viola was after her A+ performance, but still.... wow.

Third: Manipulate the schedule.

I start planning the day before how to make Viola's schedule line up to need to feed as we take off. I'm doing everything I can to make sure she is hungry at the time our flight is scheduled to take off. This not only helps her pressurize her ears as we take off, but it makes her sleep like a champ. If she starts trying to eat or sleep in the gate, we play with her and get her right near that edge of feeling crazy so that she'll conk out once we start taxiing that runway.


Fourth: Get them to drink.

Babies can get crazy whenever they want on flights, but they cry most often during the last thirty minutes of a flight because the pilots start the descent and their poor ears aren't able to pop. They don't know all the tricks we grown ups know, so you have to be the brain for them on this. This can be a bit tricky, since it's a long period of time. I'm not sure if this is fool proof,  but it worked for me.

I think of the 20ish flights we have been on, Viola has only cried once and that was because it was such a short flight and I couldn't time her feeds up for take off & landing. Go ahead and nurse them and then- once they are finished and the world still looks a million miles away: pull out the secret weapon, the bottle of goodness.

When Viola was really little, I put a bit of sugar water in a bottle. I would drop a bit in her mouth every 30 seconds or so and she would gulp it down and pop her ears.

As she got older, I've diluted juice with water and given her just little drinks to help keep her curious until we touch down. Sometimes I've used Smart Water, Apple Juice, whatever... Heck, I'd even resort to Sprite, if I had to. Anything to keep her from hurting. The goal isn't for them to chug it down, just something to intrigue them into drinking a bit more after they have already filled their bellies.

Fifth: Get to the airport two hours early.

Flights have bulk seating reserved for the day-of travel. The sooner you get there, the better options the airlines can offer you for your seating. Even if you don't get the bulkhead, getting their early can help your family make sure they are all seated together. You can also hop to get an "infant block" seat,  if there are a few unsold seats.


Five: Shop the unpopular flight times.

We try to skip peak travel times in order to play the odds for a uncrowded flight. Uncrowded flights means empty seats. Empty seats mean that you + hubby could score a row of three and lay a baby down to sleep between you while you do fancy things like read a magazine and drink coffee! We look for midweek travel at non-commuter travel times like the early afternoon.

Six: Let the kid call the shots.

Airplanes are not the time to enforce schedules and try to hem children into new things…

Don't fight the small stuff.

If they want to roll around and lick the tray table, let them have at it. Your baby wants to eat 365 puffs? Great. What a time killer. They want to squish the vomit bag into oblivion? You go, Glen Coco. 

Those things are not your battle today. Your battle is getting to wherever you are going, with your sanity in tact and your baby happy. The rest is, just… well, it's not important.


*    *    * 


Okay, those are my favorite tips. Nothing mind-blowing, but it works for us.

I hope that this can help you… and please, if you have tricks that have  made your travels easier with kids, share them with us. What are some things that have helped you when you've traveled with kids?



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy


Posted on December 9, 2013 and filed under "Jet Setting", "babies", "travel tips".

Pack Your Bags: Barcelona

Right after my crazy semester ended in Dublin,
Tyler & I woke up the next morning
and walked (read: crawled) out of our flat
headed towards a flight to Barcelona.

Some of my best friends from high school
were headed there for a weekend.

There's a bigger/emotional back story
to our get away,
but the bottom line is:
sometimes you just need 
to hang out with your best friends
in an awesome place.

It's healing for the soul.

By 11am, we were at our hotel
and ready to take on the day.

Or at least,
find a good place for lunch.

Thanks to the amazing people of Instagram
for the great recommendations.

We had such a good time
just taking it easy
and enjoying the sun
of this welcoming city.

Affordable, delicious, kind...
as crammed as it was in our schedule,
a weekend in Spain 
was really good for Tyler & I.

Excuse the iPhone/Instagram pics...
my camera charger is broken!

Here is my "list" from our trip
to Barcelona.

We loooooved this hotel. 

It was about a 10 minute walk to La Rambla,
but we like to walk
and it was just around the corner from the MANGO outlet.

The restaurant was lovely,
the rooms were huge,
and the price- amazing: €61 a night.


*   *   *


This isn't a shop or a cafe,
but an entire area of town
in the central part.

You won't have to go far 
to find this gem of a neighborhood.

It really reminded me of Paris' Marais.

Cool shops, great eats, and a really good vibe.

You'll like it, I just know it.

Here are some of the places we loved in the Born.

*   *   *

MUNA- This tiny shop has baby clothes that make me want to cry.
Someday, when I'm a big time blogger (read: sarcasm),
I'll go back and buy the place out.

The clothes are gorgeous.

Even Viola knew it was some place really special.

HOFMANN- This is a gorgeous bakery has amazing cakes, cookies, 
and- what did you say? The Crofre? 

A croissant & belgian waffle's love child?


TANTARANTANA- This tapas place....
just perfect for your daily dose of
patatas bravas, peppers padron & jamon croquettes.

And with glasses of cava for €2.50
and most of the tapas plates from €2-4 each,
you'll walk out with some cash in your pocket 
to buy a souvenir at...

DR. BLOOM- Just down the street from Tantarantana,
this is one of the cutest boutiques I've been in
in a long, long time.

I bought a scarf.

The sweaters are dreamy, 
but I was shopping in a little lower price range
with Christmas coming up.

When I go back with my Scrooge McDuck millions
to buy out Muna,
I'll be sure to go back here
to loot the place, too.

It's great stuff.

* * *

Okay, The Born is great,
but there is life outside it, too.

Another little cluster of good spots
comes on the coast,
right off the Barceloneta metro stop.

MakaMaka Beach Burger Cafe-  This is a great burger place
right along the beach of Barcelona.

Not only does the setting have a great atmosphere
(Spanish hipsters + surfer chill),
but, whaddaya know,
the food is great, too.

I went big:
The Big Maka.

Bacon, onions, grilled peppers, cheese, BBQ sauce.

So good.

LAS FRITAS- After you've had your burger & fries
at MakaMaka,
go across the street to Las Fritas,
where you can get (more) french fries.

This stand sells only fries...

On a sunny day,
walking along the coast
with a paper cone of fries
would be, well, muy bien.

{Editor's Note: There Is also a realllly good churro stand across the street from Las Fritas.
Go getcha some (their enormous "small" is €5 + €2 chocolate sauce.)


Obviously, I didn't even mention
most of the tourist attractions
in Barcelona...

Or any actually,
so let's do a quick recap of those, too.

Those, most well-known are:
Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, La Rambla, Picasso Museum
and the lush food stalls of La Bouqueria....

you're beautiful.

See you soon, I hope.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy
Posted on December 4, 2013 and filed under "Jet Setting", "barcelona", "spain", "travel".

Pack Your Bags: Carcassonne France

We were eating dinner tonight
and in the middle of my (second) bowl of soup,
a thought appeared in my brain
out of nowhere:

I never blogged about Carcassonne!

I'd been so excited to share 
this hidden gem
tucked in the Southwest of France
with you & the rest of the blogging world...

I edited the pictures,
I put them in a folder on my desktop,
and then...

well, honestly, who knows.

But here it is today!

Better late than never, right?

With a place this special,
the answer is: absolutely.

*      *     * 

It was about 1.5 hours drive
from where we were staying
(remember the crazy-gorgeous-yet-affordable Chateau Les Carrasses?)
to Carcassonne....

On our way towards the Spanish border,
I grew increasingly allured to drive
to Barcelona for dinner.

{Tyler did not, however, or this Carcassonne adventure would have ended here.}

All I knew about Carcassonne before arriving
was that it was a medieval city...
which, to me, meant
it was a city during the medieval times
and not today.

So imagine my surprise when 
we walked through the city gates
and then realized:
it's still an active/real place!

The flavor of the city
(and yes, I believe that cities have distinct flavors)
was undoubtedly French...
with strong Spanish notes.

A crepe stand would sit next 
to a store selling handmade espadrilles...

A cafe sign would have the price
for une biere & una cerveza.

It was one of those days in traveling
when you are left totally refreshed
even after a long day out.

The four of us
(Tyler, Lauren, Viola & our dear friend, Kyla)
wandered through the cobblestone streets,
explored the gorgeously preserved castle overlooking the valley,
and, obviously, ate enormous crepes
stuffed with nutella, coconut & almonds.

I've tried to say it in previous posts,
but I'll say it again:
the southwest of France
is one of the best-kept secrets there is.

Affordable, stunning, rich with history & gorgeous.

It's waiting for you.

*   *   *

More Southwest France posts here
for your drooling pleasure!

Pack Your Bags: Lanzarote (Canary Islands)

A long, long time ago
(like the Autumn 2010)...

Tyler & I were two young bucks
freshly moved across the pond
to ye Olde England
and were making it our job
to see as many places as physically possible.

One weekend, 
I had a work break
coincide with a gap 
in his classes.

It was a Tuesday
and on Thursday
we would have 4 days off.

So I went online and found the cheapest
tickets to a place we had never been:

I had no idea where that was.

I had to google it.

It showed up on google as a tiny island
in the Canary Islands...
which sit off the side of Africa 
down below Spain & Portugal.


We booked our flights
(you can find some great cut-price tickets to Lanzarote),
found an affordable hotel
(we stayed at the Hotel Hesperia),
and, not knowing what to expect,
showed up to one of the most random
and yet fun trips we have ever taken.

After 2 days of lounging around the resort,
we decided to rent a car on our last day
and sat out on an adventure 
that we still talk about all the time.

It was magical day
cruising around the island
chasing the sun 
and just enjoying being alive and in love.

The odd terrain of the land,
the dramatic beaches, 
the vineyards growing up in lava fields,
the spontaneous camel rides that we came across
(and, duh, totally did)...

... all of it was so fun.

That's how we travel.

Taking our time to slow down,
but ready for adventure at any turn.

And, man,
it has filled up our live
 with some full hearts and magical moments.

*  *  *

I love these "polaroid" snaps I took while we were there-
I hope you will, too!

*  *  *

If travelling to Lanzarote sounds like a dream,
make sure to check out Monarch Airlines 
for great flight deals 
to amazing vacation destinations.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy
*this post was sponsored by Monarch Airlines.

Posted on September 23, 2013 and filed under "Jet Setting", "canary islands", "travel".

Fall Travel Advice- Going Once, Going Twice...

A recent travel consult in Dallas over some of Breadwinner's Coconut Pie

Hey People!

Just a quick update-
I have a few slots left for September travel consults.

These are becoming one of my favorite things,
but my time is limited...

If you have a trip approaching,
book a session now!

Whether you want to talk big picture
(where to go & how long to stay?),
need advice on how to get from country to country
(train? car? plane?),
or need help creating a tailored daily itinerary,

I got you covered.

We can either skype through the options
or meet over coffee (if you're in London).

But don't wait too long!

My time is limited 
now that the semester has started,
so I would recommend booking now 
before spaces are gone.

Your friendly travel freak,

Travel Consultations
Posted on September 10, 2013 and filed under "Jet Setting", "travel tips", "travel".