Posts filed under "travel tips"

Pack Your Bags: Barcelona Metro

I sometimes get lazy when traveling.

"Lazy" in the sense that I don't want to take the time

to learn the public transportation routes,

and I'd rather just walk endlessly

 to where ever it is that we are headed.

 

In Barcelona,

to reach the famous Park Guell-

you either have to pony up for a taxi

or hop on the metro.

 

(It's a haul out there!)

 

We opted for... both.

 

Taxi there (about €15 there),

and then metro back.

 

I loved the metro!

 

It was super easy,

super cheap,

and not overly chaotic.

 

Win!

________________

If you're looking for some of the big sites

in Barcelona,

here are the stops you can find them at

-and what line they are one via their color-

for quick reference:

 

PICASSO MUSEUM

ARC DE TRIOMF, LICEU, JAUME I

(all are nearby and about equidistant)

PARC GUELL

LESSEPS

(be prepared for a 20 minute walk up to the Park from here...

there's a small bus that can take you up to the top!

 

GAUDI - LA SAGRADA FAMILIA

SAGRADA FAMILIA & SAGRADA FAMILIA

(Yes, both lines have this stop.)

 

LA RAMBLA

DRASSANES (southern end), LICEU (middle), CATALUNYA & CATALUNYA (northern side)

 

LA BOUQUERIA

LICEU or CATALUNYA & CATALUNYA

 

OLYMPIC PARK

PLACA ESPANYA

 

LA PEDRERA ANTONI GAUDI

DIAGONAL

__________________

Oh, and one more Barcelona-transport fact:

 

You can't take the metro to/from the airport.

 

You'll either need to take the shuttle bus 

or a taxi...

 

If you can spare the €25 for a taxi,

it's nice to get the door to terminal dropoff!

 

(Since most cities are so much more expensive than that, 

we jumped at the chance to have a car take us.)

 

But if you want info on the airport shuttle, you can

check here

for more information on tickets & times.

 

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 5, 2014 and filed under "barcelona", "spain", "travel tips".

My Notting Hill: New Series

There are many great things about Dallas,

but let's be honest-

it's completely different from London.

While it suits many people's fancy

to have suburban convenience (hello, Costco!) 

and a calendar stuffed with sunshine,

I march to the beat of a different drum.

What can I say?

I'm a sucker for hauling my groceries endless blocks

and living in a tiny space

all for the sake of culture.

*      *     *

Starting tomorrow,

keep your eyes peeled for a fun new series

that I've created

with the help of my friend, Noah.

We've cruised my neighborhood

and picked some of my favorite spots

here in Notting Hill 

to share with you.

Part of me hates to share such "gems..."

but the other part of me just 

can't wait 

to give you some great new spots

and a peek into our life here in Notting Hill.

I'm sharing my favorites with you,

now do the same for us:

What's a favorite local find

near your home?

I'd love to hear about them!

*images by Noah Darnell

Posted on February 4, 2014 and filed under "notting hill", "travel tips".

GIVEAWAY: Ellington Handbags


I'm your normal female
when it comes to my
weakness for a pretty handbag.

I can fall in love pretty quickly...
but I never buy them.

I want to keep my collection
as edited as possible.

One because it sounds cooler to say that,
but secondly -and more importantly-
we live in 750 sq ft.

Nothing that isn't essential
can fit in our home.

So, I am pretty judicious about what I haul home.

Maybe that's why when I say
I have an Ellington bag
and *like* it,
you'll know it's actually something special.

I first bought it 
because it seemed like a great travel bag.

It won't get beat up,
it has lots of pockets,
and it goes from a fold-over
to a tote when I need to cram in
all the excess junk you do
when traveling.

Oh, and they don't cost a million dollars.




My MIA tote came to Iceland with me
and I realllllly liked it.

Come to find out,
these bags are a favorite among a lot of other people, too.

Maybe you'll be the next fan.





I'm really happy that one of you will win 
a Mia tote bag worth $179 (just like mine)
thanks to the super cool people at Ellington.

(Thanks, Ellington!)



They nice people at Ellington are also offering
all the Aspiring Kennedy crowd
with your purchase of $179 or more
when you use code
KENNEDY2014.

(I like the tan one, but there are tons of colors.)

**Update- the pouch won't show up in your cart, 
but will be added to your order. 
Indicate your preferred color in the notes at purchase.


Okay, giveaway open now.




*winner will be selected Monday

Posted on January 30, 2014 and filed under "giveaway", "shopping", "travel tips".

Ring A Ding: Cell Phones & Traveling Abroad




Most people are confused & intimidated
by traveling abroad with a cell phone.

I get it, 
it's a bit confusing 
and the cost of doing it wrong
can be extremely expensive.

Here's are you two basic options:

You can either work out an international plan 
with your US provider to use your phone in Europe,
or you can buy on here and get a local number.

I would recommend using an international plan 
for anyone traveling under 2 weeks
and who will be staying in hotels.

If you're planning on a longer stay
and having an apartment
(or place to stay without a concierge to make your reservations for you),
I'd recommend buying a cheap prepaid phone upon arrival.


_______________


PROS ON BUYING A PHONE ABROAD

You won't get a surprise phone bill of a gazillion dollars when you get home.
Roaming in Ravenna? Data-charges in Denmark?
It's the quickest way to bleed cash that I know of…
take it from me.

I had no clue I was "roaming" when I backpacked for 5 weeks in college.

A month later, a cell phone bill over $2000 appeared in my mail box.

Your incoming calls are free- even if they are international calls.
Have old mommy dear call your new phone on Skype and it's super cheap.

You can book things easier here with a local number. 
Cab companies and restaurants won't accept international (read: US) numbers for reservations.

They are cheap and easy to put credit on.
Walk into a earphone warehouse and buy one for about £5.
You can add as much credit on it as you like.
I would guess £10 a week would be plenty for local texts & calls.
You can top up at anytime from most grocery stores or newsagents.


________________


CONS ON BUYING A PHONE ABROAD

You probably won't get to have data,
since most of the "pay-as-you-go" phones are super basic.
You'll have to get email and Facebook when you get back to your laptop.

Unless they are Skype savvy or your parents,
you probably won't get a lot of calls from your friends.
People get so confused with how to dial international numbers.

Your current US plan will go unused in the meantime
and will still cost your monthly fee.

* * *

How to Dial an UK Telephone Number

Let's say that this is the number you've been given.

+44 (0)7500 806 655

Here's how you would dial it 
LOCALLY IN THE UK:

07500 806 655

Simple.
 Just drop the country code
and start with "0."

____________


Here's how your mom would dial it 
INTERNATIONALLY FROM THE US:

011 44 7500 806 655

____________

Here's how you would dial it 
ON A CELL PHONE FROM THE US
(in or out of the UK):

+44 7500 806 655

(hold down the "0" to add the + sign at the beginning)

___________


Welp, that's all I have to say on this subject.

Have a nice day.

Okay.

Bye.

(click.)




*image via

Posted on January 17, 2014 and filed under "travel tips".

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".