I’m in Paris this week and I only like to travel with a carry-on. I did a post last summer on how to pack for Paris in the summer but the winter is a whole other beast so I thought I would do a post on it. The first thing I think about when packing for the winter is being warm. When you are a tourist you have to dress warmer than the average Parisian who is usually just going from home to work. A tourist spends most of the time outside going from location to location so you have to dress for the elements. Paris rarely gets snow but gets a decent amount of rain. I’ve found a good pair of leather boots repel the water just fine. It’s not worth bringing a whole other set of rain shoes. If you are going somewhere in Europe with a lot of snow it might be a different story. I usually buy an umbrella for 5 Euros from a street vendor if I need it, same with cheap black gloves. I don’t pack that kind of thing with me because they usually get lost quickly and I don’t want to worry about lugging my good stuff across the pond with me. Below I’ve listed what I brought with me with an explanation of how I use it. The main thing to think about when you are traveling in the winter is that every single outfit is basically going to look the same because of your winter coat. So pick your warm coat first and then plan all the outfits around that. I bring enough underwear so I only need to do laundry once (if I’m staying for 10 days I bring 5 pairs!) I do a load midweek (it’s usually underwear and tshirt layers) to save space.
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I love that San Francisco has so many awesome small shops. One of my favorites is Little Paper Planes – they curate the best stuff at the spot on Valencia Street. I love supporting local businesses so one of my favorite shopping days is Small Business Saturday. It happens each year between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and is a great way to give a little boost to your neighborhood economy. This year, small businesses are encouraged to partner up with local Etsy sellers by hosting trunk shows on 11/29. This partnership will give local artisans and designers the chance to share their products in a retail setting and can also provide the shops with more foot traffic and the chance to showcase more diverse products. Every small business who participates will receive a Trunk Show Kit* to assist with the cost of supplies. Little Paper Planes is participating and I can’t wait to see the designers they’ll be featuring! If you’re interested in getting involved, get more information here!
*Merchandise is only available to eligible small businesses through 11:59 P.M. ET on 10/24/2014 or while supplies last. Limit one order per business. Subject to Merchandise Terms. See Merchandise Terms at etsy.me/
I’ve been meaning to post pictures from our family trip to China and am just now getting around to organizing my photos. It was one of the best family trips we have ever been on. It was affordable, there was so much to see, and it was so easy to do with kids. Before I went I was a little nervous about getting around but I don’t think it was that much harder than navigating a European country with a foreign language. We felt safe and everyone was very helpful when we asked. We had been wanting to visit Paul’s brother and family who are living in China and when I was hunting for airfare for a Spring Break trip I happened upon some really cheap direct flights to Shanghai. They were less than $600. We jumped on them and are really happy we did.
The Flight/ I read the flight information wrong at first and had thought the flight was going to be 15 hours long. Luckily it only ended up to be about 12 hours. It really wasn’t bad. We came prepared with ipads and headphones and snacks and the kids did great. When we arrived we were tired but went directly to the train station and took a train to Nanjing, just a few hours out of Shanghai. We stayed with Paul’s brother and family. It was a great transition to stay with family for the first few days because there was no pressure to sight-see and we could get over jet lag. They took us to markets that aren’t in any guide books. They also taught us a few tricks to get around. Honestly, the most helpful thing was watching my sister-in-law bargain with the vendors in limited Chinese. It came in handy later on in the trip when I had to do it on my own.
Nanjing/ We probably wouldn’t have stopped in Nanjing on our short trip if we didn’t have family there. It is a great city but not as famous as some of the others in China. Besides the markets and seeing family we also went to Confuscious’ Temple and Yellow Mountain which we really liked. After a few days we jumped on a train and began our trip to Beijing.
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I love using Airbnb when I travel for so many reasons but this is especially true in Paris. The hotel rooms in Paris tend to be teeny-tiny so getting an apartment is a way better value. If you haven’t traveled much in Europe the idea of staying in a flat vs. a hotel can seem strange (I had to talk my sister into it recently) but it’s how most people travel in Europe. I lived in Paris for a year and a half and my friends are always asking me to help them choose an Airbnb so I thought I would do a post on how to choose an Airbnb Flat in Paris. I actually just returned from a trip to Paris and we stayed in the most beautiful Airbnb flat. (Of course there are lots of great neighborhoods but for the sake of this post I’m going to narrow it down to my three favorites.)
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I’m so excited… for the first time since we moved back 2 years ago, I’m headed back to France in a few weeks! I’ll be spending some time in Dijon, Reims & Poitiers and then ending the trip in Paris (with a quick sidetrip to Morocco!) I can’t wait to visit all my favorite places and go say hi to our old apartment. If you have any recommendations of new places that have popped up since we lived there, I’d love to hear them!
And just in case you want a few of my Paris recommendations, here are a few of my favorite posts from when we lived there: