Resorts vs. Airbnb

Location, Location, Location 

Where you stay is everything!  For the most part, I love staying in areas within walking distance to town or major sites.  For me, walking is essential and one of the best parts of traveling to explore and see the most.  I do a lot of research on the area I’m staying and really try to find places in the most popular areas.  Next, I choose between a hotel or an Airbnb,  which I chose is highly dependent on the amount of days I’m staying in one area.  Usually, if I stay more than 5 days I like Airbnb’s for several reasons.  First, you may save money by getting an airbnb if you’re splitting the cost and sharing it with friends.  In addition to better nightly rate then a fancy hotel you also save money on food and  laundry, you can pack less for your trip if you have a good plan.  Buying snacks and breakfast goodies at a local grocery store is a great way to save money especially if you have kids who are always hungry!  Additional benefit can include more space and somewhere for the kids to really chillax and for you to unwind.  Certain parts of the world scream airbnb to me while others don’t.  If you’re staying in a country that has a reputation for being safe such as Bali, Cuba or Colombia I would definitely consider getting an airbnb without a doubt. Other countries which seem less walkable and more chaotic such as Guatemala, Belize, or Vietnam not so much.  I recently traveled to Guatemala and had a friend who wanted to join me.  She figured she could just explore while I did the family thing.  While I love my country there’s a few things you don’t do in certain countries and that’s roam free without knowing where to go.  Guatemala city is one of those places that you should really know a local or stick to the touristic places.  Especially if you don’t speak the language it can get a little dicey.  There are certain areas in Guatemala that are very touristic like Antigua and actually there’s probably more Americans living there than Guatemalans, but it’s a little ways away from the city.  I would actually say that when traveling to most Central American Countries, get advice from locals or people who have lived there.  

South America, Europe and Asia for the most part are safe and all have walkable cities that love and welcome tourists.  Make sure you really research the area and reach out to people who have been there for their advice on where to stay.  The beauty of these times is there’s really options for all budgets (always less during off seasons and not holidays) and the best part is just getting out there and exploring. 

 PS. These are some of my favorite locations below: The first Intercontinental Resort in Danang, Vietnam. The second, A beautiful Villa in Capri, Italy, and lastly a beautiful villa in Ubud, Bali.

Bring a Friend and Make it a Fiesta!

Traveling with just my girls is my ultimate favorite thing to do.  However, traveling abroad with friends is also super fun and adds an extra flare to your trip. Think about the amazing memories you will make and the awesome pictures you’ll have. There will also be someone to watch the kids when you have to run to the bathroom (it happens a lot to me) and of course someone to have a cocktail or two with! If you’re traveling to a new place it will also help ease your nerves about traveling alone and makes it much safer. 

My travels with friends started 3 years ago when we met up with our NJ friends in Greece. We have kids of similar ages so it worked out perfectly. It’s was like having a couples trip and the kids just played and entertained each other. The idea is to choose friends who have similar likes and lifestyles. These Greek friends of ours enjoy having cocktails throughout the day, relaxing and are very easy going so it was a perfect match up which makes for a perfect vacation. Later that trip, I met up with one of my single gay besties. Now he doesn’t have kids, so I think initially it was an adjustment being around my three chicas but after a few drinks he was part of the crew. Traveling with friends definitely adds that extra fun factor, but beware, because the good times make days fly by!

The hardest part of traveling with friends is the planning, agreeing on dates and choosing a location, but once you get past that it’s easy! Before your departure have everyone look up sites or activities they‘re interested in seeing so everyone contributes a little. I usually don’t plan day-by-day before we get there but I have a general idea of the things we definitely want to do. If you know me I love boating pretty much anywhere and anytime -it’s almost a requirement for a great trip! So outings like boating I definitely try and book before we depart especially if it’s high season so I don’t get stuck renting the last dingy available. And remember there’s nothing wrong with just going with the flow because there’s nothing better than just exploring. 

This year I was blessed with a beautiful experience. I was able to meet up with my friend, Linda, whom I’ve known since I was a child and lived in Guatemala. She currently lives in Hong Kong and was able to meet up with us while we visited Vietnam and later Hong Kong. This was one of my favorite parts of my Asia trip because Linda and I grew up together, our parents were bestfriends and now we are introducing our daughters to each other. Talk about PRICELESS! These kids acted as if they had known each other all of there lives. They bonded immediately and in such a special way that after 9 days together they were calling each other besties! I mean seriously how can you not love that! So grab your besties and take them with you on your next trip! 

 

Let's Travel

Let’s discover and travel!  First on the to do list is to pick a place.  There’s so many destinations that are kid friendly like the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and almost anywhere in the Caribbean!  If you have really young children and haven't traveled much it's especially important to look for locations close to you.  When my girls where between 1-3 years old we traveled mainly between NJ & Miami, a few times to the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos.  To be honest, it was just easier, flights were short and because it was most familiar to us it became a routine.  Cruises are another great option for kids because everything is easily accessible and you can see a lot of countries and not have to move any luggage or baby gear.  I remember being pregnant with Luna and taking a two week cruise in Europe with my husband and two girls who were 3 & 4 yrs old at the time. We saw a lot of places and were occupied by many kid friendly activities onboard, not to mention great downtime for naps in-between ports.  If your kids are older then definitely start venturing out!  Decide if you want mostly site seeing and relaxing like Guatemala vs an adventure like Costa Rica or a little of both like Turks and Caicos.  I also find that every country has a little of both relaxation and adventure you just have to look for it and plan accordingly.  I absolutely love Europe and South America but flight times and days you have available for vacation comes into play- you don’t want to be traveling 2 full days if you only have 5 days to spare.  https://www.lonelyplanet.com/ is a great website to look around and choose your next location.  They have insights into different countries and so many great places to explore!  

Once you have picked a location, start crazy Google and Tripadvisor searching on what there is to do in that country.   I always make sure I choose activities or excursion that we can do with my 5 year old since she’s our youngest. Nothing is worse then planning an itinerary come to find out it’s not doable for all in your group.   Always plan down to your lowest age then work up vs planning for adults.  I’m dying to go to Peru and India but realistically my kids are too young for these places and we will have to wait a while.....but it will happen!

Next on the list, start your flight search-ticket prices can help dictate where you’re heading.  Generally the further you go the more expensive the flight. I usually start on Expedia and Kayak to compare the best flight deals.  Afterwards I go directly to the airline to see if their prices are less but I find that they’re usually not with the exception of Jet Blue.  I’ve also heard booking on a Tuesday night helps with prices but haven’t been able to prove it-lmk if it works for you!  Booking early is also huge on savings.  If you know when you have vacation days try looking for flights early so there’s plenty of availability or use search engines to notify you when there’s low prices. Since I know when my girls have vacation, I start planning our journeys far in advance!  I may be crazy but I already planned December and I’m starting to think about February’s break.nA lot of schools have similar days off for vacations so I've found that the longer I wait the less availability there is for hotels or houses (I’ll get into housing in a later post) and the higher ticket prices will be.

I took a trip down memory lane (sniff sniff) and included some pictures from previous vacations with my minis including Paris, the European Cruise, Turks and Caicos, Guatemala and a staycation in the Florida Keys.

Remember, any place worth getting to is never easy, so start early and happy planning!


 

Tales of the Traveling Teo Chicas - My Mini Me's

I get asked all the time, “How do I do it?  How do I travel alone with my girls for prolonged periods of time?”. Actually, I just returned from an amazing 6 week Asia and Dubai trip with my three minis Aisla (10), Soleil (8), and Luna (who is 5 but sometimes is still in her terrible 2’s).  Yes, I’m alive and no I’m not ready to give up my kids for adoption or commit myself to a mental institution!  In truth, I’m a little sad that I’m back home and not somewhere exploring this beautiful world!! 

I’ve been traveling with my three crays since they were 3 months old.  Traveling is my ultimate favorite thing to do.  According to my husband, I do it right by traveling with my best friends aka my mini me’s. 

The other day I overheard a lady saying, “I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to travel.”  She had just gotten back from Greece, loved it, but missed her 3 year old twins.  Of course I love couples only trips, but thought ummm... they are totally old enough to travel!!  My friend immediately introduced us having known about my multiple travels with my girls.  I began to tell her about my travels and how I do it and her response was, “that sounds difficult.”  Truth be told it’s a good amount of work and planning but so worth it.  Though I have had my share of “why now” moments, in the end I have never taken a trip with my girls that I regretted the “adventure”it took us to get there.   

We have traveled all over Europe, Central America, the Caribbean and most recently Asia.  Funny enough, my mother-in-law jokingly told my girls, “Your mom wants to show you the entire world before you go off to college!”  Little does she know she’s actually right on point!  Eventually my girls will grow up and there may come a time (teenage years be damned) when they may not want to travel with me, so, I’m not waiting for that time.  There is no better time then the present because tomorrow may never come.  

Although it’s not always super easy, it’s very doable and eventually they become seasoned travelers.  With this Mini and Me Travel Blog I hope to give tips and to inspire other courageous moms to travel the world with their kids. Truth is they will only be this age once so might as well live it up, make it an adventure, and create memories that will last a lifetime.  

 

 

Darling Darcy's First

Such A SWEET LITTLE GIRL, DARCY.  She celebrated her First BirthDay in Style!  The event was beautifully decorated by Angi & Co., every little detail was amazing.  The cake was by Cakes by Christine NY, of course not only beautiful but soooo delicious, I should know I stole a piece :)   The guest really had a great time and showed so much love to this little one!