Planning Big Trips

Untitled Design 5Today I am going to talking about something that we have done and will be doing in the next month and that is planning big trips. We have taken summer vacations for three years in a row now with our little family to all different destinations (Maine, Canada/New York, United Kingdom) and are planning a Christmas/Winter getaway over the next few years too. There is a definite difference in planning between planning these bigger travel events than with planning Weekend Getaways. Not only are these usually further distances away, but they are usually intended to be to see more and do more. I have talked about long weekends (HERE) so today, I’m going to talk just a little bit about how we plan our longer trips.

I’m going to be using our Summer Holiday as an example as I work through this post which you can read about in these posts: Calais and Dover, London, Edinburgh, Inverness, Bastogne, Luxembourg, and Heading Home.

The first step is determining where we want to go. This is actually one of the most overwhelming bits as there are a lot of travel options. We have a very large list of places we want to go while we are over here in Germany, and are adding more to that list every day, and we split that into two categories. These two categories are places that we want more than a day or two and places that we don’t need much time in. So, we knew that we wanted to have a decent amount of time to explore London and Scotland, and since those are neighboring countries and it made sense to take one longer trip to visit both, than two or three “shorter” trips. The same will be for our future trip to Italy. Italy is a country that we want to spend a longer amount of time in to see more to the country, rather than taking a few 4-day weekend trips to. If we can combine spots, we will combine spots, but more on that later.

So, we know where we want to go. The next step is deciding how to get there. Here in Europe there are a couple different options: driving, flying, or train. There are pros and cons to each option, and we tend to weigh kids, luggage, timeframe, and cost into our decision. Flying is something that we will probably be doing more in the winter months as it starts to snow, and the roads get a little more treacherous. Trains are something that we are having to hold off until the boys get a smidge older, Andrew is just a little bit too young to really understand. Driving usually seems to be a…”dull” and longer option (although we like it), but you also can control your timeline a little bit more as well as your luggage situation. The other benefit of driving or taking a train is the ability to add more stops to your itinerary which may change your mode of transportation.

Perfect Segway into our third step, which is mapping a route. This goes hand in hand in some ways with how to get there. This also happens to be one of my favorite parts of the planning process. There are two ways to do this, depending on what you prefer: electronically or physically. What you will want to do is map out your trip. We start with our main points. For our Summer Holiday we knew we wanted to go to London, Edinburgh and Inverness. Those were our main spots. We also leaned towards driving due to cost, ability to control our schedule a little more, and the ability to see a little more. So, we pulled out a map and started to look at different options. You are actually able to do this electronically on Google Maps (plan a trip) which we have done, but you can also do this on a physical map, which I prefer. Looking at a map we kind of eye balled our distances and eye balled what countries we would be traveling through or bordering up against in this travel. We knew that we would probably have to stay a night in Calais and potentially somewhere between Inverness and Dover and then again Calais and home. We also tried to look if there was anywhere that we wanted to stop on our route, which was how we managed to visit the American Cemetery at Luxembourg and the War Museum in Bastogne (also Dover, but that would have been too obvious not to miss). Look at your destinations and if you are driving or taking a plane is there anywhere on your route that you want to stop? How much time do you want to spend in this location? How feasible is this?

So, we know where we are going, how we are getting there, and what stops we want to make roundtrip, it’s time to find a place to stay. This is more my husband’s forte than mine and he typically handles all of our accommodation. I’ll give you an idea though from what we’ve talked about and the little bit that I have seen/tried to do. Depending on where we go we will either book a hotel or an Airbnb. We prefer Airbnb’s as we can typically get a little more bang for our book, a little more space to stretch out, and some version of a kitchen for us to put all of our snacks and such. The only time we really stay in hotels is in bigger cities where it just makes more sense (London and Berlin). We filter our searches on Airbnb based on location and just map where the locations are to where the things are that we want to see. We like to use Public Transportation as much as we can when we travel to new spots, so somewhere nearby either a station OR walking distance to what we want to see is perfect. I wish I had more to say on this one, but I really don’t. We just hunt through Airbnb, our Credit Card company, and then Trivago and sites like that.

Finally, the optional fifth step: planning activities while you are there. This is completely dependent on what kind of traveler you are. When it comes to big trips I have a little bit of an itinerary problem in that I like to have at least one or two ideas for each day. I don’t plan to the last minute, but I do like to have a bit of a plan going into these longer trips. For London, we had planned on one day of just walking London seeing all the sights, one day at The Tower, and one day at the Globe and any last-minute idea’s that we had. This allowed us to have a little structure, a list of things we wanted to do, but still have a little flexibility with the kids. At the very least I would suggest just looking into and maybe making a list of different things to do, you don’t have to come up with any schedules or anything like that, but at least an idea of what to do and when is best to do it ahead of time will be a help.

And that is it! That’s how we plan our longer trips. Do you have any tips for planning long holidays? Let me know down below 🙂

Morning Routine 2019

Morning’s are my golden time. The house is quiet, clean, and so tranquil. I use my mornings to soak in that quiet peace, warm my body and mind up to the day and prepare myself for another productive day. I find that if I have a good fresh start to my day, then my day goes much smoother than if I am feel a bit frazzled.

I’ve done a morning routine before, and while the basics are the same, there are some differences and I now have two very active children, one who is most definitely a morning bird (I get excited when he sleeps to 7:30am).

6AM
My alarm goes off at 6 AM every weekday morning and I try to sit up as soon as I turn it off. At some point I would like to put my phone (which also serves as my alarm clock) across the room so it gets me all the way up, but for now this is what works for me. Also, I find that if I sit up right after I shut my alarm off, I am more likely to actually get up and get on with my morning than if I stay laying down.

Once I’m up, I’ll go handle all my bathroom stuff, brush my teeth, wash off my face with some water and then I’ll change into my workout clothes.

6:15AM

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This is typically about the time that I will start my Yoga Flow. I do yoga almost everyday (weekends are always up in the air with what I do and don’t do) and I find that it is a key part of my morning routine. I feel better throughout the day, feel clearer, and it just really shakes off any feelings I have had from the day before or overnight. It is also the one time that my mind is completely clear and empty. It’s just my soul pushing my body and my breathe.

On occasion Andrew will wake up around 6:15-6:30AM. If this is the case, I’ll stop what I’m doing, grab him some water and then he will either join me and do some yoga (which is interesting) or he will play nearby with his toys. He’s fairly easygoing and quiet first thing in the morning, so I’m usually able to get a decent yoga flow done before he starts chatting and wanting me to get more involved with his play.

6:45-7:00AM

Yoga is usually anywhere from 20-50 minutes depending on what I do/how I am feeling and when the kids wake up. Once I’m done I’ll usually jump in for a quick shower and then get ready for the day.

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For me, getting ready usually takes a total of about an hour – from after I get out of the shower until I am ready to walk out of our room onto the next task. It entails hair, makeup, and getting dressed. I don’t do anything super fancy for day to day, but I still like to put myself together in some form. I’ve talked about it before, but when I feel good about myself and I feel like I’ve made an effort, then I am more likely to be productive throughout the day.

8:00AM

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This is usually the time that I am kind of pushing my limits of what I can do vs. when the kids will need me. This is also normally the time that I go back and forth about getting up even earlier so I can just get a few more minutes haha. I try and take the last bit of time before I need to do breakfast and get on with the day to do a little journaling. Once I finish yoga, I try to keep the playlist of music I use going throughout the rest of the morning- it keeps my head clear. Then once I sit down to do a little journal, I will let my mind come back and I will write out whatever I’m feeling, thinking, needing to get out. I try to just write until I can’t write anymore. I find that gives me a completely clear mind to truly start the day with.

8:30AM

Time for breakfast on the table, boys up and dressed, and get on with the day!

And that’s my morning routine! Not super exciting or different, but I find that it really sets me up for a successful day. If I had to pull one thing from my morning routine that I find really just is key, it would be Yoga. What is one thing from your morning that is key for you?

Hotel Living With Two Toddlers

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about something that I’ve referenced before, but felt deserved it’s own blog post and that is living in a hotel with two {very active} toddlers.

One of the things that we knew ahead of our move was that we were going to be in a hotel for quite some time. This wasn’t a breaker for us, just something that we tried to prepare for ahead of time as best we can. Knowledge is power and preparation is key for this type of situation. We weren’t really able to prepare the boys though and honestly we didn’t know what we were actually walking into with our room set up.

I’ll start by saying that we are lucky. At this point we actually have a little one bedroom/one bath apartment style set up, with separate living room and bedroom areas. This allows us to have our own “space” separate from everything else when we need a little breather (which does happen). I don’t want to trivialize what this has been like at this point, but I do feel like it is important to acknowledge that we have had a better option than some of the other families.

We have two very active, very loud little boys. They love to run, wrestle, and create as much noise as possible. We’ve never had a problem with this and have generally let them explore and create and play as they want to (realistically, within reason so no one gets hurt or anything). They thrive on being able to have the room to run in circles or sing a song or heck, even just play with their own toys.

We packed several of their toys in their luggage and have purchased a couple of items, but the vast majority of their toys are still in transit with the rest of our household goods and we wont get any of them until we get a house. So they get a little bored playing with the same games and toys (which I realize may make them sound incredibly spoiled which they are not, but boredom is a factor at times here).

I think the hardest thing for the boys has been that they can’t just play as they please. We are trying very hard to keep our noise level down as best we can (considering we are at the top floor of our little building) and while I know that at times kids will just kids and others will be understanding, I also want to be understanding towards them. I know that not everyone wants to hear the pitter patter (or elephant thuds) of feet across their ceiling during the day. When they will, I encourage the boys to sit and draw/color, read a book (sort of), or watch a movie/tv show that they like to watch. They do get to wander around and be active, just in a quieter way.

The biggest help has been getting out as much as we can. We try to leave the apartment 3-4 weekdays in the mornings, whether its just going to a café or shops or going to a play group, and then we are out and about on the weekends. I try to leave one day to have a cosy day at home just to break up all the out and about stuff and to give them a bit of a break. I find that by doing this, they aren’t as “hyped up” on the days that we are in the hotel apartment and are more likely to take it easy.

Our boys are quite resilient and aside from a few rough days here and there have been doing remarkably well, but it’s not all sunshine and daisies. They do fight (A LOT), we do run into issues of noise (although most of that is just us being extra aware that we share walls) and sleep and there have been a couple of moments that we have just needed a little 10 minute break. I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t just wanted to scream at moments. It hasn’t been “easy”, but with everything that we are experiencing, the memories that we are making, and this opportunity that we’ve been given has made it all worthwhile.

Hallo from Germany!

Hallo aus Deutschland. Wie geht es dir?

If you have not been following me on Social Media (ACuppaCosy on FB & IG), then you will have missed that we made it safely and {somewhat} soundly to our new area in Germany. You’ll notice I did not say home, but rather area and that is because we are not in a home just yet. More on that in a minute…

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted, so I figured I would make this just a chatty/Round the Kettle/Life Update type of post. Where to begin, where to begin…

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We had a total travel time of 53 hours from the time that we took off on our first plane till the time that we checked into the hotel that will be our home for a little while. Two flights, one overnight (in a really cute hotel) and one {loooonnnnnggggg} bus ride with two active toddlers and a total of 11 baggage items. We survived it though and looking back at it, it was not that bad at all. I will do a post on some travel tips that I’ve picked up with this move in the hopes that if you are ever in this type of situation, you can take something away from ours.

Our first flight was a quick commuter flight (an hour and a half) and the boys just played with some random toys, looked out the windows and had a little snack. We had a long layover before our second flight, and after checking in for that flight we went and took a little breather in the USO. The boys got to play with some new toys, we got to put our feet up for a minute before we headed back through security and to our next flight. We did have a little blip in the road during this time (look forward to that short story coming later in the week 😉 ), but overall this was a really nice breather.

IMG_1369Second flight was an overnight flight, which I honestly think saved us. The boys slept for about 80% of the flight and we tried to sleep as best we could. Once we landed it was time to go through paperwork. They were fairly well organized where we flew in and once we were through the initial passport and customs section, we were taken to a hotel to stay the night in. This was our first night in Germany.

 

 

IMG_1641Early (ish) the next morning we were up and ready to get a bus ride to our final area. I think out of all of them, the bus ride was the hardest part of the entire journey. It wasn’t long (~5 hrs), but it felt much much longer, but we made it, checked into our hotel and just took a minute to breathe. It was such a relief to finally make it to our hotel and be able to not have to worry about being up at a certain time, what the next round of travel is, or even how we were going to manage all the suitcases.

Over the past couple weeks we’ve just been trying to settle into a routine and get the boys adjusted to being in a little apartment for the next few months… yes, you read that correctly. We are going to be in our little apartment or hotel for quite a period of time while we work through all of the housing. We are fully prepared for that and while the boys are struggling a little bit, I am sure that once we have two vehicles it won’t be too much of a problem.

We’ve been eating out quite a bit and I will say, the food here is incredible. I’m looking forward to finding more gems of food here, because they are not only fantastic with German food, but the international options are great as well. I may do a separate post on our food adventures some point soon, so stay tuned for that.

So, that’s what we’ve been up to lately! I’ve missed writing and blogging, but I have to say that it’s been so good to have a little break while we worked through this move. Not only because we moved to a whole new country, but also because I needed to step back for a minute and just re align my goals, my plans, and my posting. Now I’m back and ready to get down to it! Posting will not change; the blog posts will continue to just be posts all across the board of lifestyle and the schedule will stay the same as well. I’m happy to be back!

What have you been up to over the past couple weeks???

The Busy Gal’s Guide to Meal Prep : Guest Post Featuring Kelsey from AdventuringKelsey!

Entrepreneurs, diligent moms, and workforce women alike all have one thing in common. We want to be efficient with the time we have. We want to spend the least amount of time on chores, errands, and those annoying work tasks that always end up following us home, and the most amount of time with friends, family, and a glass of red wine (give or take on your preferences).

I am a teacher, and from the day I began my career I knew that meal prepping was what I needed in my life to ensure that extra time to spend on the things that I enjoy. Being a person who purses a healthy lifestyle, meal prepping has become very beneficial to my way of living. I can hear you now, “You’re telling me to take 3-4 hours out of my sweet weekend to plan and cook food?” Heck yeah I am. I totally get it. I know the feeling of the weekend being too short. But don’t you feel like week nights are even shorter?! Why not have an extra hour of time each night to spend playing with your kids, cuddling your fur baby, or catching up on your Netflix shows while still having a delicious dinner prepped and ready to go? I know that hour provides me with endless possibilities and it feels FABULOUS.

Let me provide you with a few tips to get you started on this journey. Trust me. You won’t regret a minute of it.

  1. Planning

It all starts with a plan. There are two different directions you can go with this. If you are a person who is trying to lose weight or watch what you eat, I suggest doing your planning on the app, MyFitnessPal. This is what I personally use because I can plan out each meal, log it in, and see how much I am consuming in a day. It helps to make sure I’m not eating too much, but that I’m also not eating too little. If watching what you eat does not matter to you, I’d suggest either writing your plan down on a notepad, or downloading a meal planner printable. There are so many free ones out there! After you have everything planned out, make your grocery list. I even go to the lengths of making sure I write down how much of each item I need. That way it won’t be necessary to make extra trips to the store throughout the week.

  1. The Cooking Process

Start by thinking through what you are prepping. What’s going to take the longest amount of time? Can you multitask by baking your chicken while you chop up the veggies? This one takes some working through, practice, and simply just experience. I won’t lie to you, when I first started prepping it would take me anywhere from 4-5 hours. I’ve gotten it down to a science now where food is cooked up, packed up, and the kitchen is cleaned up within 2 hours. But that’s because I figured out what works for me and the meals I typically prepare (I’m not one to expand my horizons with meals often). If something can bake while I work on preparing another item, that’s the first thing I pop in the oven. If prepping my lunch is going to be quicker than my breakfast, I start with the lunch. Think your meals through, and just know it’s going to take some time to get used to.

  1. 0553CED0-1C9C-4401-B5D1-76D6F7C9F213.JPGPrep it ALL!

It may sound tedious. But seriously, prep it all. The granola you’re going to put on your yogurt? Portion it out and put it in a baggie or small Tupperware. The spinach, banana, and berries you’re putting in your smoothie? Put them in a Ziploc and toss that in the freezer. You won’t regret it when your workout ran longer than expected in the morning and you don’t have time to measure out and toss every ingredient in the blender. You especially won’t regret it when you’re packing your lunch for the next day and can barely see straight from exhaustion. It’s SO convenient to just be able to grab things and go! It’s really nice when you know it’s healthy and that YOU prepared it. It’ll make you feel a lot better than that Egg McMuffin you picked up at the drive thru because you were out of time. Trust me on this one.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetI get it. I know it sounds like a lot. And I’m not going to lie to you, at first it will be. But once you get in a routine you will never regret spending a couple hours of your weekend preparing your meals for the week. Heck you don’t even have to prep all of them at first, or ever. If you enjoy cooking dinner for your family each night, don’t give that up. Just prep your lunch instead so you have something you can grab quick before heading off to work. Or maybe mornings are just really hard for you and you don’t want to have to think about your breakfast in the morning. Spend 30 minutes on Sunday getting those breakfasts ready, and grabbing them will be like second nature.

Happy Prepping!

Kelsey

The Gal behind Adventuring Kelsey

www.adventuringkelsey.com

@adventuringkelsey

Loves collaborating with other exciting women!

 

A Cuppa Books Update! 

Oh hello there! My name is Mia, I like books, tea, mugs and handbags (in that order) and I have failed this blog. Sometimes life becomes a whirlwind of…well…life and it can be overwhelming at times. The past few months have been busy and at times, rough. I will explain, but I want to say that things are looking up now and should start heading back to a more regular schedule. 
I am excited to say that soon I will be joining the two under two club! We are expecting our second child and while things got off to a rough start, I am now feeling great! I had such severe sickness throughout the entire first trimester that just being able to enjoy a small bit of the food that I am eating has been nice! I had days where I couldn’t bare to be upright and some days that it was all I could do to simply “be”. All of that has passed for the most part, although I am still dealing with a severe loss of appetite. I’ll take that over all of the vomiting though. 
Other than that, now that the nausea has started to wear off, most days I honestly don’t even think about it. I haven’t had any other symptoms or cravings or anything like that. Colton tends to keep me on my toes and he doesn’t allow for much time to relax, let alone think! 
Speaking of Colton…he has been a busy boy! Since he started walking it has been a completely different ballgame. He loves to explore and find new spaces and places within our house. We spent some time with family and he loved to be around his grandparents and cousins. He ran around with them from sun up to sun down. He also had a fun time on Christmas between his own gifts and watching everyone else open their gifts. 
I can’t believe that he is a year old! This year has really flown by and while I’m not feeling “weepy” over this particular milestone, but I am a little taken aback by him already being one. We didn’t do anything major to celebrate his birthday, just a simple little immediate family night. He had some cake and presents and we just enjoyed the evening together. 
That is my short little update for now, but look for some more posts in the coming weeks! I can’t wait to get back into the blogging and being able to feel well enough to be posting more.