Travel, Travel Gear and Accessories, Uncategorized

My Favorite Healthy Travel Food for the Whole Family

Food is a VERY important part of traveling with kids (and hangry me). I spend an extremely large amount of trip planning on locating food options at our destinations to help mitigate the inevitable cries of death-by-starvation from my kids (who probably ate 10 minutes ago). I like to have a few options up my sleeves so I'm prepared and can steer them towards food (they will actually eat) at a moment's notice.

But for us, the food planning starts with our travel-day food. My kids aren't super picky eaters (not nearly as picky as me). But I'm not crazy about them chowing down on random airport food all day or, worse, airplane food. I used to roll that way, but I always felt gross. I found out pretty quickly that a little pre-planning with healthy snacks can make a world of difference. These snacks are amazing for the plane, but also get consumed by my crew after we land and everyone is starving but we still need to rent a car and all that. Always double check the TSA website here before you go to see what foods they are currently allowing.

Yes, I try to be as healthy as possible. But the following list is varying degrees of healthy. I always try to limit sugar, because that doesn't do anybody any favors while traveling.

 

Fresh Fruit and Veggies (with hummus/dip)travel food hummus.jpg

YES you can take fresh fruit and veggies through security!

These are my absolute favorite go-to snacks for plane rides. I always bring whole apples because they travel well, and the clean, crisp crunch just tastes extra good in a stuffy aircraft cabin. I also always bring baby carrots and then a mix of sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and sliced bell peppers. My kids love all of those, but they love them more with hummus or ranch dip. You can bring either of those but they count as a "liquid" for TSA and need to be in a 3oz or less container AND fit inside a quart size bag (of which you get 1 per person). Sometimes I make my own (healthier), sometimes I buy the pre-made stuff (less healthy), depending on the time I have.

The only thing to be aware of is that some destinations will not allow you to bring fresh fruit and veggies OFF the plane. It's fine to consume everything during your flight, but you will need to declare anything left over you want to bring into places like Hawaii. Hawaii also usually has "amnesty boxes" where you can dump any fruit of vegetables before leaving the airport.

Barstravel food sb bars

If the first thing that came to your mind was the airport lounge bar, then you haven't been traveling with kids long enough (or maybe too long?).

I'm talking about granola-type bars here, and they come in a HUGE range of flavors and degrees of healthiness. I've tried making my own, but so far they've been pretty disappointing. If you have a recipe you love, let me know. My kids like the Quaker Granola Bars, which are basically eating candy bars. I still usually include some of these (they also like Santa Barbara and Lara Bars) because they are just so darn convenient. I try to get some that have lots of nuts and the lowest amount of sugar I can find, that my kids will still eat. They pack well, stay fresh, and can be eaten anywhere.

Mini blueberry Muffins

travel food mini blueberry muffins blog

I know this is super specific, but this is one of my kids favorite airplane snacks. I make my own with lots of whole wheat to help giving them some staying power. They're easy to eat and a tasty treat both in the air and once we land.

Crackers

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I understand there is a crazy amount of carb loading going on here, but these are the snacks that keep my boys happy and energized for long days of travel, so we go with it. My kids would prefer graham and fishy crackers, but I try to bring healthier whole grain versions (and they're stuck in a metal tube 30,000 feet up so they can't really complain at that point). They'll eat them plain, but they're also good with the hummus we brought for the veggies.

Mama-Salad

travel food quinoa salad

This one is for me. I'm vegan, so it can be a challenge to find food while traveling. And I get HANGRY….fast. So I always bring an actual meal with me and my go-to is this quinoa salad. What I put in kind of depends on what we have around, but I usually go a little Mexican-themed and add tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, onions and some oil to my quiona base. Or I'll do beans, oranges, corn, onions, bell peppers, etc. There's a never ending list of yummy things you can put in there. I just try to make sure there's lots of protein and fat in there that keeps me full and non-hangry for a long time.

Finally, what do I carry all this yummy awesomeness in? I bring my carry-on cooler which I discovered after chatting with some flight attendants about theirs. This thing is amazing and can carry a LOT of food. I usually stuff the pockets with tea packets, and there's even a place to bring utensils and napkins (don't bring knives. TSA won't love you) and it can slip over the handle of your wheely bag! Obviously the flight attendants knew what they were talking about.

travel food cooler blog

We also bring these collapsable water bottles and then fill them up after security, and have the flight attendants add water to them during our flight. Some will fill them all the way up, but I just ask for the amount that would have been in the little cup. It's just easier with kids to have a sealable water bottle, instead of a very spill-prone tiny cup on their little trays.

travel food water bottle blog

 

I hope that helps with your next adventure! My motto is "Full Belly = Happy Travels"!

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Travel

Why Travel Is The Best Education For Kids

travwl is education blog

My kids love to travel. They love the excitement of getting up early to beat the traffic to the airport, eating the special snacks they only get on planes, getting off the plane a few hours later in a totally new place.

But it’s more than that. There are some lessons that are best taught while traveling, whether across the state or across the world.

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Learn Cultural Differences, and Similarities

My kids love to explore and they love to discover. They also understand that while we are visiting new countries and learning about new cultures and people, they are an example of what an American, or a Californian, is to every new person we meet. They understand that it might be totally normal to speak a certain way in the subway in NYC, but in Tokyo the trains are quieter. They are learning to pay attention to the cultural cues all around them, and adjust their own behavior accordingly. And above all they are learning to respect and love the differences between cultures, while realizing that ultimately we all have much more in common than we imagined.

Learn History From a New Perspective

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This is probably one of my very favorite things about traveling. I LOVE HISTORY. Like, all caps, LOVE it. If I wasn’t already married, I would for sure marry it. For this reason, most of our travels include some serious historical background before we leave, and always lots of visits to historical areas of wherever we are visiting.  Petroglyphs on the Big Island of Hawaii, Imperial War Museum in London, and the Vasa Museum in Stockholm? YES YES YES!

The challenge, of course, is getting my kids excited enough about history so they don’t mind shuffling along with me to all these places that just light up my world! I think excitement is contagious, especially with little ones that don’t really understand that things are supposed to be boring yet. But I’ve also shaped our experiences to appeal to them. I mean, I’m not a HUGE fan of swords, but I understand that my 3 boys are way more excited by a knight’s sword than the crown jewels. So when we visited the Tower of London we read stories of battles and kings before our visit and then spent extra time looking at all the knights.

Learn Languages

Or, in the case of my kids, realize that there is an actual point to your Mom forcing you to learn another language. We’re in California, so we hear Spanish a lot and my kids are generally aware that other languages exist and are used. But here, we can always fall back on English. Me forcing them to learn French had seemed like a waste of time to them. Until we landed in Paris. All of a sudden my oldest was pulling on my arm and saying he could read the signs, and he understood what the lady on the metro was saying! He was excited and it was like he could speak a secret code – which is obviously every little boy’s dream come true.

I am always telling my kids, as I drag them kicking and screaming (sometimes literally) into French class on Saturdays, that this is my gift to them. That they may not thank me now, but someday I am confident they will appreciate that they had some exposure to another language when they were young. I assumed this realization would come sometime around the time they turned 40. My youngest surprised me (keeping me guessing is like an olympic sport for him). He came up to me after French Summer Camp the other day and said “Mama, thanks for teaching me French. I really like it.” Say WHAT?! That made me smile. I mean, I was going to force them to go to French class either way, but it’s nice to know he is thankful and understands what I’m trying to do for him. At 7 years old.

Learn Confidence

When you can navigate other cultures, big cities and foreign towns, you gain a lot of confidence in your own abilities to navigate your life back home. But another thing I try to impress upon my boys when we are traveling is just how huge the world is. I want my soon to be middle schooler to realize that the world of his school and all the bullies, teachers, friends, are just a teeny tiny piece of all the people on this earth. What might seem like “the whole world” to an 11 year old boy, is actually not even close. The kids they played with in Paris don’t care what so and so said about somebody in the cafeteria in California.

Our first attempt at traveling with our kids was a complete nightmare. But I’m so happy we didn’t give up.  We make sacrifices to travel, but showing my 3 Darling Adventurers the world is totally worth it.

Travel, Uncategorized

Travel Gear That Makes Adventures With Kids Easier

Our first trip with kids was a disaster. We brought EVERYTHING. For a week in Hawaii we had so many bags we almost didn’t fit in our rental car. It was a nightmare. Carrying all that luggage was stressful, and heavy, and annoying. But I’m glad we did it. Why? Because it completely changed my world. From that point on I vowed NEVER to travel like that again. And so my obsession with packing light began.

I’ve learned so much, mostly through trial and error, and finally have a pretty good system down. There are a few pieces of travel gear that make my life a whole lot easier though.

An Awesome Carry On Bag

For 15 days in Europe, 10 days in Hawaii, 7 days in Tokyo – we take CARRY ONS ONLY. That’s right. We never check a single bag. Ever. And we don’t bring those obnoxious, eye-roll-inducing giganto bags either. We bring super small “international carry on” size wheeled bags like this.

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It’s 19 inches of awesome.

We take 3-4 of those babies for the 5 of us. Plus each person has a backpack or small shoulder bag. That’s it. Because you know what I learned after packing a million clothes for my kids? They end up wearing the same shorts, every.single.day. And cry like I’m ruining their lives if I try to get them to wear any of the 7 other pairs of shorts I brought for our weeklong excursion. At first I fought back, and then I had an epiphany. We’re on VACATION. If you want to wear the same stupid shorts every day, who the heck cares? My rule now is as long as they don’t smell, you can wear them. Yes. That is how low the bar is now. We are smell-testing our children’s clothing.

Whatever.

Now, usually we stay in condos or apartments where we have access to a washing machine so that is key. However, on our last trip to Maui and the Big Island we stayed in hotels. It still worked because in Hawaii you live in your bathing suit anyway (and a dip in the ocean counts as washing your swimsuit, right?) There is plenty of room to bring clean underwear for everyday of the trip because that stuff is super small. I’m also not above washing stuff in the hotel sink if necessary.

I did this packing-purging in baby steps and it took me a couple years to get this streamlined, but I honestly still come back from trips not having worn every single thing in my tiny suitcase. I follow a strict rule that everything I bring must be able to be worn with every other thing I pack. It’s easy peasy with little boys since their wardrobes are pretty simple. I need to think a little more about the things I bring for myself, but it’s worth it.

The other piece of travel gear I use to make this uber streamlined packing work is:

Packing Cubes

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I use these from ebags and each person in our family has their own color. These make it so easy to stay organized, squeeze things into a tiny bag, and they also keep things simple when we arrive at our destination. The kids can just grab their color bags and unpack them (or throw them all over the hotel bed looking for their swimsuits).

Kid Size Headphones

Most of our adventures start with plane rides. LONG plane rides. I used to pack a bunch of coloring books, mazes, cute little travel sized games, etc. But I realized all that stuff was still perfectly packed away when the plane landed.

The only thing my kids used? Their ipads. I am pretty anti-screen time. I don’t love seeing my kids noses buried in screens, and we have really strict rules about using electronics at home. In fact, I never even bought my kids an ipad. We can all thank Grandma for that one. But when we’re stuck in a small metal tube for 12+ hours, it’s time to reevaluate the screen rules.

I think in part because they aren’t allowed to use them much at home, my kids are VERY excited when they get onto the plane and can whip those babies out. They pre-download movies onto their devices. But I’ve learned that all those mazes, reading games, and “exciting” math games I was packing for them before, can still go with us. They’re just all contained in a single ipad. That way, when they are never used, they at least aren’t taking up any extra packing space.

But if you’re going to be watching Frozen for 12 hours, you’re gonna need some headphones that fit your head. We’ve tried a few different brands of kid-sized headphones, but these are hands down the best. I actually prefer the corded ones because you can also plug them into the airline entertainment systems (and they’re only $39.99 so if someone sits on them, or drops them in the toilet I’m not going to completely freak out).

headphones blog

 

Travel Journal

Each of my kids have a travel journal. Because sometimes paper and pencil are the best way to remember an awesome trip.

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Travel

PARIS with kids

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Yep, you heard that right…PARIS!! If you guys know me, you know Paris has been the holy grail of “with-kid” travel for me. Boston, San Francisco, Hawaii…all just warm ups to make sure my little men were ready to go to the City of Lights.  And last summer, we DID IT! Was it amazing? Yes it was. Was it perfect? No it was not, but I wouldn’t have it any other way (unless of course my mom agrees to watch all 3 kids while my hubby and I go to Paris all alone. I could have it that way and be totally OK.)

I’ve been to Paris a few times pre-kids, and was a foreign exchange student in France way back in high school (approximately 400 years ago).  I’ve always wanted to go back, but kids change things. Travel is one of them. Not only are flights from California to Paris for FIVE people a bazillion dollars, the logistics of navigating trains, planes and cobblestone streets with little humans was daunting. But totally worth it.  I just needed to change my perspective, and it ended up being so much fun seeing one of my favorite cities from the eyes of my babies.

One of the things I had to adjust was the number of things we did each day. I quickly realized the troops would happily and enthusiastically accompany me to ONE museum/tour/event/adventure each day. If I ever dared add even one more thing to their daily itinerary they turned from excited discoverers to a mutinous gang of [something that lays down in the middle of the metro station and refuses to move another inch]. True story.

Here’s what we tackled on our very first trip to PARIS (I seriously can’t type it without screaming in all caps, sorry).

French Cooking Class for Kids

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Yeah, this happened. My 3 boys spent our first morning in Paris COOKING! They made the sweet Eiffel Tower cookies above, chocolate mousse, madeline cookies and a little peach tart. It was so much fun and such a great introduction to Paris. I had actually wanted to find them a class in FRENCH because they’ve been taking French classes for a couple years now and I thought it would be fun for them to be able to use it with actual real life people who speak French (they think I’m crazy for having them learn French in California where so many people speak Spanish). But I found this great cooking school, in English, and it ended up being perfect.

cooking paris blog

The school is near Sacre Coeur too, so it’s a great jumping off point for exploring that area. My boys were in meltdown mode after cooking all morning, so we skipped any additional exploration in favor of heading back to the apartment for a little rest.

Louvre

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Ahhh Le Louvre. Beautiful museum full of miles and miles of BREAKABLE treasures.

I honestly didn’t know how this one was going to go down. We were in Paris in the summer, during the Euro Cup. I had heard nightmare stories of 45 minute lines to get in the door, and then another hour in some other line, only to be stuck behind a million people trying to see Mona Lisa’s hairline…during the off season. Honestly, going over to the Louvre I pretty much had in my head that I would show the boys the pyramid, let them look around a bit outside and then after seeing the ginormous lines we would just find ice cream or something somewhere and maybe head over to a park.

When we got around the corner and saw the line there were like 15 people in it! Wait, WHAT?! So I looked at my hubby with that “Should we check it out?” look. We wound our way through about 5 miles of empty Disneyland style lines only to realize we were about 3 feet away from the entrance. What? I was actually super suspicious at this point. It took us about 5 minutes to get inside and 30 seconds to buy tickets. Turns out all those Euro Cup fans were watching football/soccer and NOT hitting up the museums. Awesome.

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We walked right up to the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, the mummies. Everything was creepishly empty. I mean, I’m not complaining. It was just weird. But it worked out great for the kids, and gave me less of an audience when I “museum screamed” at them not to touch ANYTHING.

I had my maps, and I’d been to the Louvre before so I thought I could totally handle being “Chief Navigator”. Yeah. We got lost. It took like 45 minutes to get un-lost. That’s fine, because there was still cool stuff to see while we were looking for a way out, except I wasted a lot of kid-steps on that ordeal. My kids have a limited number of steps they can take in a day before their legs apparently completely stop working and they must be carried/wheeled/rolled from that point on. By the time we were safely out of the Louvre, I was rolling 3 kids back to the metro.

Les Invalides (Napoleons Tomb and Le Musee de l’Armee)

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There are cannons here. And cookies in the cafe. I have 3 boys. Obviously this was one of their favorite places.

They got a little tired after the 8,000th room of knights and weapons (I see this as a total win on my part. I finally found their little-boy-cannon-breaking point), but by that time we were rounding the corner into the WWII wing and they got re-excited at the sight of airplanes and bombs.

Napoleon’s Tomb wasn’t really interesting at all to them, even with me trying in vain to give them a brief history lesson to pump them up. We had just seen mummies at the Louvre the day before, so they were extremely disappointed that the “tomb” was actually just a fancy room with a giant “box” in the middle. I liked it. But I had to usher them out of there ASAP. I feel like having a tantrum in a tomb is just bad form.

The snack shop was a big hit though.

Arc de Triomphe

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The kids really liked this. More than I was expecting.  They had heard of it before and thought it was cool to see it in person, and the climb to the top was fun (and dark and a little creepy – all bonus points for little boys).

When we got to the top it was raining, but it stopped long enough for us to get a great view of the city.

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Eiffel Tower, sort of

Obviously, on a first trip to Paris one must see the Eiffel Tower.  My boys were moderately excited to see it, but not too disappointed when we got there and realized we wouldn’t be able to actually go inside. The Euro Cup was in full swing during our trip and the Eiffel Tower was ground zero for a lot of the festivities. It had been gated off and that whole area underneath the tower was a huge mass of rowdy soccer fans that I just didn’t think would be a great mix for 3 little kids.  Instead we found a little bench outside the gates and ate sandwiches in the shadow of the tower while the boys ran around.  It could have been disappointing, but my husband and I had already been to the top, and the kids didn’t seem to care at all so it turned out to be a pretty fun day.

Playgrounds and restaurants in Le Marais

We rented an apartment in Le Marais and it was the perfect area. It was quiet and the old cobblestone streets really gave us the feeling of being back in time.  There was a cute playground nearby that the boys loved, and immediately found some French friends to play with.

The area had lots of easy restaurants and markets too, so we were never hungry.  Hunger is one of the travel disasters I plan extensively for. My nightmare is to be starving (I pass right by grumpy and become an angry crazy person when I’m hungry) or have the kids melting down because they are hungry, and not know where to take them for food they will actually eat. Luckily my kids love baguettes, and in Paris there is no shortage of those yummy swords of bread (I told you, I have 3 boys, swords were the first thing that came to my mind). Unfortunately, I loved the baguettes too. So much that ZERO of my pants fit by the time we got home. But we were in PARIS so it was totally worth it.

Travel

Maui With Kids: The Ultimate List of Unique Things To Do

Maui for Blog

Yep. Maui WITH KIDS is the title. You know why? Because Maui WITHOUT kids, is a totally different ballgame.  This latest trip to Maui, I was trying to find a quicker way back to our room and actually stumbled upon the ADULT POOL.  O.M.G. that place is a paradise I have not experienced in quite some time. 10 years to be exact.  In fact, as soon as I awoke from my complete fog of awesomeness I texted my hubby “I have found paradise and I am never leaving”. He immediately texted back “You found the adult pool didn’t you?”

Yes I had. People were drinking Mai Tais, floating in the pool…with their eyes CLOSED! Were these people worried about someone drowning? Reminding their travel companions to keep their pants on and stop yelling about the time they pooped in the pool? No. No they were not. These people were on VACATION. The pre-kid kind that I only vaguely remember.

Family vacations are fun. They just aren’t the same as non-kid vacations. If I try to have a mai tai by the pool, it inevitably gets shot out my nose as I scream “WE TALKED ABOUT THIS! YOU CAN NOT FLY! GET OFF THE LEDGE!!” True story. My middle one used to think he could totally fly and I was just the annoying person cramping his super-hero style. Fun times.

But since non-kid vacays are not really in the cards for us right now, I find ways to make our family vacations as fun and interesting as possible. In Hawaii that is a bit of a challenge. Our last trip to Hawaii was my, no joke, over 40th time there.   My Dad’s “place” is Hawaii, so it’s where we went every.single.year growing up (I’m not complaining now, but at the time we begged to be dragged to the Grand Canyon or ANYWHERE else). It’s the place that speaks to his soul. Not to get all hippy on you, but seeing it in my Dad made me realize at a young age what an impact a physical location can have on a person’s whole being.

 

But what do you do on your 45th trip to Maui?  I seek out different things to do on the island. Lucky you, I made a list of extra special, unique things to do on this gorgeous island:

 

Surfing Goat Dairy 

surfing goat dairy blog

This place is so much fun! Just make sure you book ahead to reserve the “Grand Dairy Tour”. It’s $28 and only on Saturdays at 9am. It’s a full “Grass to Cheese” experience. You get to herd the goats and meet of all them, milk them (YES! The city girl milked a freaking GOAT!), learn about the cheese making process and then you get your very own cheese tasting at the end. Everyone in our family loved it! It’s on the way to Haleakala so we did this and the volcano on the same day. I loved giving my boys a chance to see a working farm and hang with these adorable animals (there were babies when we were there you guys, and I wanted to sneak them all home in my suitcase).Surfing goats blog

Haleakala Jr. Ranger Program Jr-Ranger-book-cover_ blog

If you combine this with the Surfing Goat Dairy, it makes the most of a long drive.  We also stopped at the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm and the kids did NOT enjoy it at all so I’d recommend giving that one a skip. We also don’t do the volcano (or the Dairy) every time we go, but it’s fun to see for the first time as it is completely unlike anything else. It can get extremely crowded for sunrise (which isn’t an awesome time to go with kids anyway) and the park is now requiring you to have a reservation beforehand if you want to watch the sunrise.

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Haleakala photo from Hawaii-guide.com

We’ve been late morning, afternoon, and evening (before the star gazing crowd) and enjoy the less crowded experience. You can do easy hikes and the visitor’s center has interesting information about the volcano. If your kids complete the Jr Ranger sheet they can hand it to a Park Ranger and get a little badge which my boys loved. The traffic on Honoapiilani Hwy has gotten a lot worse in recent years and it adds some time to the drive if you are staying in West Maui, so make sure you allow extra drive time and extra stops to stretch little legs.

Dragon’s Teeth and Kapalua Bay

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Kapalua is where we always stayed when I was growing up, so coming here feels like coming home. There are a lot of cool little places to discover here, and one of them is this: Dragon’s Teeth. It’s an outcropping, formed by lava that is surrounded by a wild ocean on 3 sides. You’ll also find a rock-lined walking maze out there too.

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It’s slightly tricky getting there, because you have to walk along the golf course and it seems like you’re going the wrong way. Park at the end of Office Road in Kapalua. There’s a tiny parking lot there, and a sign that shows you how to walk on the very edge of the golf course (the burial ground will be on your right, golf course on your left, Ritz Carlton to your right and behind you).

Iao Needle 

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This is my substitute for Hana with kids. I know it is not even close to the same thing, but it has all the things my kids would enjoy about Hana, without the 100 million hour drive (I’m rounding up a bit, but it’s a LONg drive). There is “jungle”, waterfalls, an easy paved walking trail (.6 miles round trip) and even a little Hawaiian village replica with taro plants and huts.

Kuka’emoku (‘Iao Needle) itself is an erosional feature that abruptly rises 1,200 feet from the valley floor. It’s really beautiful, but my boys mostly loved hearing about how it was the site of the Battle of Kepaniwai where the forces of Kamehameha I conquered the Maui army in 1790.

WHALE WATCHING

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I saved the best for last, because it took me 40 years and 44 trips to Maui to figure this one out. Every single trip I’ve ever been on to Hawaii has been when the whales aren’t there. WHY?! Because I’m a total idiot, apparently. I always heard about “whale season” in Hawaii but for some reason it didn’t click with me that it was any different tha whale watching in California (which is fun, but it’s basically looking at the back of a grey, or blue whale taking a breath). I had never seen Humpback Whales in real life.

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Humpbacks are amazing in a way I never knew possible. And Maui is THICK with them from about November to April. We went to Maui in February and went on TWO whale watches. We saw a good 30+ whales each time. No, that’s not one of my “rounding ups”. Everywhere we looked there were whales breaching, tail flapping, pectoral fins slapping. And when we snorkeled at Black Rock…WE HEARD WHALES SINGING! I died. I was tearing up in my mask at how amazingly beautiful that sound is.

I recommend going to Maui during whale season. Period. Do it once in your life. This movie is an awesome primer to learn more about these awe inspiring behemoths (I found mine on iTunes, but I think it’s on Netflix now):

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You know where we don’t go? Hana.road to hana blogWHAT?! This is sacrilege!

I know, I know. And you can give me flak for it, but I’m being truthful when I say I have zero plans to do this again anytime soon. I’m not 100% sure why it is always touted as one of the “Must Do” things on Maui. It’s basically a super long road trip on a barf-inducing winding road.

I know a lot of people love it, but I think these are mostly people without small kids that have a “let the chips fall where they may” attitude about barfing all over a car.

Yes, there are waterfalls. But most you see FROM THE ROAD. Where’s the awesome in that? There are other places you can see waterfalls (I’m looking at you ‘Iao State Park), without hours in your rental car. I’ve been to Hana a good 10 times, but I’ve never taken my kids. My oldest gets car sick driving to the bank, and none of them think sitting in the back seat for hours on end is an awesome way to spend a tropical vacay. We’d all rather be in the water checking out the sea turtles. Go if it’s something you really want to do, but just know you have permission to skip it. And if you’d rather spend your hours searching for moray eels and counting humuhumunukunukuapua’as, it’s totally OK.

Maui is a special place, and I hope your family has as much fun making memories there as we always have. ALOHA.

Travel, Uncategorized

Adventures, Not Stuff

Collect-Moments-not-things

I love to travel. I’ve always loved to travel. In fact, travel was the impetus for getting my very first job, when I was 15.  When my friends were saving up for cars, I was heading to Coco’s as a hostess on weekends and after school to save up $5,000 to be a foreign exchange student in France. $5,000 sounds like a lot of money to me even now, but at 15 years old it was like saving $50,000. Especially because I was making about $5/hour (BEFORE taxes). It took me 2 years. But when I was about to turn 17, I set off on my first international adventure…all by myself.  I was sick.  Really sick.  I had a fever of about 103 that I was trying to hide from my mom, because I knew if she found out how sick I was she wouldn’t let me go.  By the time I got to the airport in New York, where our orientation would be held, I sat down on my suitcase and quite literally almost passed out.  But I didn’t. And I turned 17 in New York, on my way to Paris, with only one boy in the elevator wishing my Happy Birthday. I didn’t care. I was off on an ADVENTURE!

I’ve loved that feeling of exploring, being uncomfortablely unsure in a new place, and discovery, ever since.  When my littles were born (3 boys in 3 1/2 years), it put a damper on my travels to say the very least.  I tried to resume my wandering with the kids in tow, but after a nightmare trip to Hawaii when my oldest was 11 months old, my husband and I decided it wasn’t worth it and we didn’t go anywhere for 7 YEARS! YES, SEVEN!! I died a little inside when I looked at photos of Paris, but I was stuck in a never ending cycle of diapers and feedings and teaching my little men how to use forks, ride bikes and not murder each other.

Then, one day, we decided to tag along on my husband’s work trip to Boston. I was nervous, traveling across the country with these unpredictable little humans, but so excited to be getting out and exploring a new place. It was a test. If we could survive this, we MIGHT be able to go on more adventures. Maybe even (GASP) back to Paris one day!

There were hiccups. I had to travel home with all 3 by myself, which may or may not have ended with the youngest refusing to wake up and me carrying him, and everyone’s carry on bags through the tiny airplane aisles which proved not quite large enough to save his head from hitting every.single.seat on the way out. But we made it. We were alive, and we had a GREAT time!

I immediately started planning more adventures.  We went back to Hawaii, drove up to San Francisco, Toronto, etc. Every time, it was pretty smooth sailing, and the kids were SO excited to explore and such troopers. They carried their own bags, were down to check out any museums, new restaurants or quirky neighborhoods I put on our itinerary.

We were ready.

So last summer, after MONTHS of creepishly detailed planning, we hopped on a plane and went to EUROPE. Stockholm, Paris and London. The boys were amazing. They got tired, only 2 of the 3 like the shawarmas in Paris, and the youngest had a couple metro-meltdowns. In fact, I have an entire album of photos of him being totally pissed off (pissed off in front of the Louvre, totally mad at the Tower of London, ridiculously upset at being dragged to Buckingham Palace). It’s awesome. I need multiple copies so I can give him one for his next birthday.

Anyway, the point is, not only did we survive, but my boys have turned in to amazing little travelers who are excited about seeing new cultures, learning the history of different places, hearing different languages and trying new things.

YES!!

So now, the world has opened up and I spend my time planning our next adventures. What makes me smile is that the boys feel the same way. When I asked them what they wanted last Christmas they unanimously decided they didn’t want any “stuff” (yes, they actually said NO to more toys), they wanted to travel. Seriously. It’s my dream come true.

I can’t wait to explore this awesome world with them.