Travel Rewind: Koh Phangan

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Another highlight from our amazing trip to Thailand last year: Koh Phangan. The powdery white sand beaches, the turquoise water, the breeze ruffling the palm branches…. it was paradise and then some. Even moreso when I think about all that luxurious time I had before having a baby. I think I read three books while in Thailand!

What are you up to this weekend? We’re headed to some of our favorite beaches in North Carolina, beginning with Corolla and making our way down to Beaufort. I can’t wait to get my hands on some Eastern Carolina barbecue and give my baby a proper toe-dippin’ in the Atlantic. For now, here are some links for your weekend:

11 cool podcasts to get you through summer travel

Are you watching the eclipse? Read this eclipse-themed essay first.

The sweetest little vacation home

American road trips for the best fall foliage

…and a road trip for the electric car driver

Ten addicting books to pack on your next trip

The best places to travel alone as a woman

Eight ways you can help Charlottesville heal

Travel Rewind: Koh Samui

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This time last year we were on what I consider one of the most memorable vacations of a lifetime–Thailand! We were already on cloud nine having received the news that we were expecting our sweet baby boy when we landed in paradise: The Intercontinental Koh Samui. This year we are somewhere a little less exotic–the United States–but so happy to be with family. I’m actually in my hometown of Bakersfield, California now (yes, the one from Bakersfield Blonde) and am headed to Monterey this weekend. What are you up to? Meanwhile, here are some fun links for your weekend (early!):

The decision that most impacts your happiness

Travels with baby

Is “French girl style” a myth? If it is, I guess I’m buying it.

The ten best apps for last-minute travel

A sparkling wine tour of California? YES please!

A mouth-watering summer sorbet

How to throw a dinner party like a Parisian

Travel rewind: Antiparos, Greece

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My post last week about how to backpack through Greece got me reminiscing about one of our favorite islands: Antiparos. Paros’ little sister island, Antiparos is a short ferry ride from the bigger, more well-known island. Antiparos offers everything Paros does, but on a quieter, more low-key scale. All of the white-washed, bougainvillea-covered Greece you want to sigh over and none of the tourists (perhaps why there is also a nudist beach there!). In a word, it is charming.

What are you up to this weekend? We’re flying to the U.S. and I’m wondering how it is going to be with a much more “talkative” baby on the flight. Wish us luck! Here are few fun links for your weekend:

These fish tacos are the kind I have dreams about

I’m earmarking these parenting tips for years to come…

this parenting note also brightened my day

The top 100 hotels of the year (we stayed at #57 on our honeymoon)

I’m a big fan of this company and now its backstory, too

I want to have summer hair year-round!

How to mentally ‘cool down’ on a hot day

Have you been to one of the most-instagrammed vacation spots?

Hopp Suisse! Hop Schweiz! Forza Svizzera!

Hopp Suisse! Today marks Swiss National Day or the anniversary of when the Federal Charter of was signed in 1291 bringing together “three Alpine cantons [who] swore the oath of confederation.” We’re celebrating by joining in the local festivities–you know, stopping by a yodeling concert and whatnot. Meanwhile, here are some of my photos of one of the world’s most beautiful countries.

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Have you ever thought about traveling to Switzerland? How about moving here? We moved to Switzerland with never having visited. I did not realize at the time what a big leap of faith I was making, but I’m happy I did. Perhaps these articles will help you make a decision:

What it’s like living in the world’s ‘best country’

On tracing my Swiss roots

Why I’ll never become a Swiss citizen

On the differences between Switzerland and the U.S.

Camping in Switzerland: The Bernese Oberland

Going to a rodeo in Switzerland

What are you drinking this summer?

Being a Californian, I thought no cocktail could take the place of a salty, lime margarita on a hot summer’s day. And then I moved to Europe and met the Aperol Spritz.

Oh, hello…

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The Italian aperitif has a bitter orange flavor that is not for kids. Not that alcohol is for kids at all… anyway, you know what I mean. This is a grown-up drink. No umbrellas please. The recipe is as follows:

  • 3 parts prosecco
  • 2 parts Aperol
  • 1 splash of soda water

This cocktail is refreshing and unpretentious–perfect with a pizza and jean shorts.  Most importantly, that punchy orange color looks great in a photo.

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Not convinced? Here are a few more links on my favorite summer drink:

Why an Aperol spritz is the most instagrammable drink

If I had a lot of time on my hands, I would make the rosé spritz

How to make Aperol Spritz for a crowd

All photos are courtesy of @aperolusa instagram. It’s a fun account to follow, but be warned–you will want to drink an Aperol Spritz every day!

Backpacking through Greece without looking like it

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Two years ago today I began one of my biggest packing challenges ever: How to fit two weeks of clothing into a backpack that I would carry through Greece. Before breaking down how I accomplished this, it should be noted that I have little-to-no upper body strength, I’m prone to complaining on long hikes and I do not like to look like I backpacked through Europe while doing said thing.

As you may have guessed, my husband talked me into this.

I’m glad he did.

Island-hopping in Greece is not for babies. It is not for strollers, car seats and heavy suitcases. We hopped on and off of ferries, boats, busses and at one point, a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle. We needed to schlep our things up and down hundreds of tiny white steps. We had an ambitious five-island itinerary that required us to be nimble.

In the end, it was one of the most relaxing vacations I have ever taken and one that has forever changed how I pack.

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Since Greece is warm in August, light clothing eased me into the world of extreme packing. I wore my only pair of pants on the flight, a long-sleeved shirt, sun hat and sarong as a scarf. Here is my summer packing formula:

  • One pair of pants: White jeans
  • Two bikinis: One athletic, one for sunbathing
  • Three pairs of shorts: White, navy blue and neon green
  • Four dresses: Two cotton “t-shirt” dresses, two light sundresses
  • Five accessories: Sun hat, sunglasses, statement necklace, watch and sarong
  • Six shirts: Four cotton t-shirts (one white, one blue, one striped, one long-sleeved), two “fun” tops (a silk halter and a cotton blouse)
  • Also: These leather sandals, pajamas, underwear, toiletries and a turkish towel

I then rolled and packaged my clothes by category in zip-lock plastic bags (I’ve since upgraded to compression bags). Although bordering on OCD, this move was especially key for easily packing and unpacking the backpack every two nights or so.

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No hairdryer, no high heels. I wore a bathing suit, sarong and sunglasses most of the time.

I often find with travel that I am happiest when things are simplest, which is why Greece was truly a vacation (not a trip). We spent most of our days on the beach with a towel and a bottle of sunscreen. I’d go for a long swim. We’d have an afternoon ice cream. We would watch the sunset and talk about the books we were reading. It was truly heaven.

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Paris with bébé: A how-to

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I hemmed and hawed for weeks over whether I’d join my husband on a business trip to Paris. Normally I would never turn down an opportunity to spend a few days in the city of lights, but I kept imagining all of my favorite sights with a side of screaming baby. Running out of Musée D’Orsay with an inconsolable baby. Getting kicked out of Les Deux Magots because my stroller tripped someone. Paying for something expensive at Galleries Lafayette because the baby vomited on it.

I let myself be so overwhelmed with anxiety and worst-case scenarios that I didn’t even entertain the idea that Paris with a baby could be doable. Enjoyable, even.

It can be and it was. Here’s why it worked:

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The baby’s age. He was 12 weeks when we were in Paris–a surprisingly great age for travel. Newborn babies are sleepy and able to sleep almost anywhere. At 12 weeks, he slept through most of Paris–either in his baby carrier or in the stroller. Babies are also super portable at this age and not so heavy that you are aching at the end of the day. If you are nursing, you don’t even need to schlep bottles and formula. As soon as I’d see his eyelids drooping, I knew I had at least an hour to enjoy a museum or shop. We visited the André Jacquemart Museum and the Chapelle Expiatoire (above).

**Bring your baby to Paris before 12 months, possibly even before six months.

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The weather. Good thing Paris is known for its stunning parks, because babies love parks. They can cry it out while you stroll them to sleep in a park. They can nurse to their heart’s content (amongst the topless sunbathers already there!). They can even enjoy a diaper change al fresco. This gadget came in very handy.

As parents, we took advantage of the late June sunsets with dinner picnics and went out for long lunches at outdoor cafes instead of dinner dates. We especially enjoyed Parc Monceau and the terrace of Mini Palais. (Here is a list of outdoor dining options.)

**Book your trip from May through October.

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The accommodations. Book a hotel or apartment that offers a crib on-site. If you are worried about the state of the crib ask the hotel to send a photo by email. We stayed in a hotel, but most of my parent friends prefer an Airbnb rental. I’ve also heard great things about Kid & Coe rentals since homes may include everything from strollers to toys.

**Check out every detail of the hotel–and double-check it has an elevator. Our hotel had a small courtyard which was perfect for walking the baby around when he was fussy.

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The baby gear. We went to Paris without a car seat. Did I just blow your mind? Once I started mapping out how we’d spend five days in the city, I realized we probably weren’t going to use a cab. We took the train into the city and then rode the metro with the baby strapped into his carrier. Our stroller was perfect for days when I wanted to do long walks. The carrier worked well for days when we wanted to hop on and off the metro. We also picked up diapers and extra wipes at a drugstore there. It was much less stressful to travel light than to bring every creature comfort from home on the train.

**Check out my list of my favorite baby travel gear.

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Where did you travel with your baby? What is your advice? I’m only four months into this motherhood thing and I am all ears. Meanwhile, a few links for today:

What does family-friendly travel really mean?

My dream Kid & Coe rental home

How to enjoy traveling with your kids

Why more families are traveling and home-schooling on the road

My favorite airplane shoes this summer (no laces, no problem)

What you should know before you board a flight with baby