travel

Seattle to San Francisco by Train

Last month I had a meeting in Seattle so we decided to bring the whole family and make a trip out of it. We’ve always wanted to take the train down the coast so we decided this was the perfect opportunity. We flew up to Seattle, had a few fun days to explore the city and then boarded a train in Seattle in the morning. It was kind of an interesting adventure so I thought I would share it here in case anyone wants to try it. The airplane tickets at the time were around $100 each way and the the train tickets were $75 each way. The train from Seattle to San Francisco takes 24 hours so we decided to upgrade to the sleeper car. (I was worried about the kids being noisy at night and disturbing other people.) The sleeper car was about double what the plane tickets would have been (but it also includes meals). After a couple of hours on the train we were joking that we could have been home already. While the train was really cool, it isn’t the most time or cost efficient way to travel. Make sure you are doing it for the experience or you’ll be disappointed.

We arrived at the train station about 25 minutes before the train left. There were only a few other people in line so getting on the train was so easy. There was no taking off your shoes or putting everything through x-ray machines. It happened so fast that I can’t remember but I think we just walked through a metal detector. Within 5 minutes of arriving we were settled in our sleeper cabin. After we tucked away our bags the agent came by to offer us Champagne and Martinelli’s. It was so fun and we were all excited. The family sleeper cars felt spacious. I was worried I would feel cramped but that wasn’t the case.

 

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Seattle

After moving back from Paris this summer we realized one of the things we missed most about living in Europe was the ability to take a little 4 day trip once a month. Everything is so close together in Europe so it is easier to get from country to country. And since you aren’t going to0 far it isn’t too expensive. I decided that I wanted to try to take more trips like that in the US. To make the trips inexpensive we have to watch for airfare deals and we are making efforts to visit places where we have family and friends to save on hotels. This week we are in Seattle and are having a great time exploring the city. I haven’t been here since I was 14 years old so it all feels new. Everything is so festive for the Holidays so even the grey weather is sort of charming. I would love recommendations for  places to eat + shop if you have them.

5 Awesome Vacations with Kids

We’ve been home for about 6 weeks but I am already anxious to plan our next adventure. I’m in love with the idea of renting out our apartment for a month and then taking a long trip to somewhere. Here are some trips that I’ve been dreaming about! I want somewhere adventurous but that would still be pretty fun with little kids.

1. Rio de Janeiro in January. I would love to rent an apartment near the beach when it is cold in the US. We’ve been to Rio once but I would love to take my kids there. I love drinking all the juices and eating roasted cheese on the beach!

2. Hawaii. At one point in my life I avoided Hawaii because it seemed like somewhere that old people vacationed. If I was going to use my vacation days I wanted to go somewhere hard to get to. Then I went there and realized that I couldn’t be more wrong. It is heaven on earth. It is easy to get to from the West Coast. The remote parts of the islands feel so isolated and beautiful and the best part: my cell phone works!

3. A Cabin in Montana. I’ve only been to Montana once but it is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. I’ve been missing the Mountain West lately and would love to stay in a remote cabin (as long as it has wifi) and take roadtrips down to Jackson and Yellowstone.

4. Sailing the Mediterranean. It might be too soon for them to appreciate it but when my kids get a little bit older I really want to charter a boat and do a week long sailing trip. Last summer my friends and I chartered a sailboat (with a captain) and sailed the Greek Isles. It would be really great with kids, kind of like a cruise but without all the bad parts.

5. Swedish Archipelago in the Summer. There are lots of tiny islands outside Stockholm that make up a giant archipelago. In the summer when it stays light most of the night (they are so far north of the equator!) people go out to their summer homes and vacation. I’d love to rent a little cabin and spend a few weeks swimming and exploring.

What is your dream vacation? I usually waffle between somewhere remote and beautiful or smack dab in the middle of a big city.

Santa Cruz

We decided to go with some friends on a last minute trip to Santa Cruz over Memorial Day weekend it was so fun and wasn’t too expensive, which made for a great little getaway. We all have small kids so we rented a big house near the beach on Airbnb (with a jacuzzi!) for two nights. It was a great vacation for kids so I thought it might be useful to share our itinerary here. Day 1: We went to the Roaring Camp Railroads Steam Train. It’s an hour long ride through the redwoods on a steam train. The kids looooved it. After naps at the house we took a walk to the beach and played in the waves. That night my friend found a babysitter so the adults could go out for Sushi. Day 2: We headed over to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and went on a bunch of rides. The kids loved the rides and junk food. After they got tired we could head back to the house which was 5 minutes away. During down times we sat around and talked or hung out in the jacuzzi and took naps. For dinner we had a barbecue that night on the patio. Day 3: Was the sunniest day so after a breakfast at Gayle’s bakery we went to the beach and stayed until we were sun kissed and tired. We jumped in the car and and hour and a half later we were back home in the city. I love when things come together so easy and last minute like that. My Santa Cruz food suggestions are below. I’d love to hear yours in the comments.

Gayle’s Bakery for pastries and for sandwiches.
The Penny Ice Creamery for awesome ice cream.
Lillian’s for Italian Food
Taqueria Vallarta no frills delicious Mexican Food.
Mobo Sushi for really great sushi.

10 Favorite Travel Gear Items for Kids

We’ve become seasoned pros at traveling with kids. I am not one to buy a lot of baby gear (less is more in my book.) But here are some kid items we’ve used when we traveled that were very helpful. Of course we always adjusted what we brought based on the trip and what phase the kids were going through. Moses could fall asleep in a hotel bed even when he was a baby so we forgot about the baby crib. But Roman needed one to fall asleep so that became a priority. Here is my list of 10 favorite travel gear for kids.

1. Toddler Headphones. My kids have free reign with the ipad on these flights. Throw in a pair or two of head phones and with luck the flight will be uneventful.

2. Car Seats Travel Cart. On trips where we will be in cars a lot we don’t bring our stroller. Instead we add this cart to the car seat so we can wheel it and check it at the gate. It turns the bulky car seat into a stroller, just for getting through the airport.

3. Kid Backpacks. It’s time they started pulling their own weight, make them carry their own goldfish crackers! Fill these with snacks, stickers and activities. The kids are ready for their adventure.

4. Cute Hats. Dress your kids cute, let them make friends while they are happy. You never know when you’ll need forgiving glances later on in the flight.

5. Disposable Bibs. These don’t take up space and you thrown them away like a napkin when the meal is over. Easy peasy.

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