Travel Trips – Traveling with Toddlers

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Keeping those smiles strong!

Good morning! I figured this morning I would take a minute to talk about some of the things that I’ve learned over the past month about traveling with toddlers. If you’re new, we recently moved from the US to Germany, which included a total of 53 hours of travel (by the time we checked into our hotel) and I learned a lot. Some things I had already known would be a “thing” (rather they are kind of common sense), but others kind of took me by surprise.

Tip #1: Don’t lost your boarding pass, but don’t panic if you do. The most common sense tip on my list and the one that might not even matter anymore. This tip might actually be obsolete now in the commercial travel world with technology and smart phones becoming so much more a part of everything, but if you are given a paper boarding pass try your best to hold on to it. You can read all about my fun time losing mine HERE.

Tip #2: When packing your carryon bags, pack appropriately for TSA. When we packed up our carryon bags, we packed them with the knowledge of what we would need to take out per TSA regulations. Liquids in a plastic back in the outside pocket. Electronics right on the inside flap of the carryon (we dressed accordingly as well, but this is more natural than you think). Once we arrived at the gate we repacked our carryon bags to what we wanted while we were flying. By doing this, we not only saved a bunch of time in the TSA line, but we it actually made for a much smoother transition from the line, to the screening, to the gate.

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Andrew using his favorite bear as a pillow.

Tip #3: If you have a child (and are on an overnight flight), pack the blanket and stuffed animal they reach for the most. Another common sense tip, but one of the most valuable one’s I’m offering. We did not put our children into pajamas, and I didn’t really find it necessary (although it may be for some) but having the blankets and stuffed animals helped so much. Not only does it get cold on the planes, so the blankets are good for warmth, but it’s a comfort thing. I know I like to have a little bit of comfort and I figured kids would definitely appreciate it. Plus, it’s a good extra toy to have.

Tip #4: All About Food. Ok, so here are my thoughts on food (I’ll try to keep them short, straightforward, and to the point)…I packed a couple of things, snacks for the first flight for the kids and then purchased a couple of snacks and dinner at the airport. I know that the airport is going to charge more for food and won’t have as healthy of a selection, but the portion size for my children is a lot better and it means I’m not carrying a whole bag just devoted to food. If you are doing an overnight flight (especially if it is military), make sure you purchase extra because where you are going may not have a food option within reason. We found this out the hard way when we landed in Germany. Thankful for the little USO desk!

IMG_1256Tip #5: Car seat Carrier.If you have young children, you know all about the fun that is car seats. Now, you can certainly carry the car seat on the plane and have your children strapped into it (that is the safer thing to do), but we did not do that. We gate checked our car seats and the children each had their own seat on the plane. This worked for us, but even before gate checking, we were concerned about the damage that could be done to our car seats. The last time we gate checked baby gear it was broken in transit and with us needing the car seats shortly after landing I was especially concerned that they not be damaged. Enter a car seat carrier. We purchased two and spent I think about $70-$80 total and they were more than worth that price. They had some points where the bag was dirty and the bottom of one showed a decent amount of wear & tear, but it was the bag, not the car seat itself. They both arrived completely intact with no damage. It also made it boat loads easier to transport the car seats both to the first ticket counter and from baggage claim to the second ticket counter.

Tip #5: For Military Specifically.If you are in the military, check out your USO. A lot of times they are before security, so definitely keep that in mind, but often times they will have snacks, comfy seats, and an enclosed space for kids to stretch their legs. The USO at Baltimore is especially nice, although it can get packed fast. We spent a little over an hour and a half out the USO just relaxing and letting the kids play. It definitely made a difference for us.

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This wasn’t even everything, but it made getting from claim to ticket counter much easier!

Tip #6: Another Military Move Specific Tip.If you are needing to transport all of your luggage from one place to another (and let’s be honest even if you are just unloading a vehicle or transferring flights we’ve all had to do it), do yourself a favor and pay for the luggage carousel. It may be a hassle getting all your luggage to magically balance (and they are definitely overpriced), but it is 100% worth it for the sanity of not trying to wheel all the bags, car seats, kids, pets, etc. through the airport.

Those are my tips! I know a lot of them are just common sense, but sometimes we can forget these things in the hustle of planning trips, moves, or just travel in general. I hope you enjoyed!

A Cuppa Cosy Heads International – Vacation Time

Good morning! I figured I would give you a chatty little update on how our move is going (the real how our move is going, not a fluffy sugar coated answer). I know that I have been getting a lot of advice and I want to share what I’ve found to be helpful in the hopes that it may help someone else.

First off, I want to clarify some things.

 

  1. We are moving due to my husbands job. My tidbits go between specifics relating to that and general information that is good to know.
  2. Currently in our move process we are on vacation at our In Laws. We planned about a 3-4 week vacation in between the move to see our family before heading out of the country.

Our timeline has been about a span of 8 months (ish) from the earliest time we got an inkling that we could be moving overseas until now. It started with a phone call and an email. My recommendation to anyone out there who is potentially moving out of the country is to bank on enough time. Sure, you can move at the drop of the hat and make it work, but having a good amount of time on our side has been a big help.

We started with medical. Getting checked out by doctors, verifying if we needed any shots or tests done that are specific to where we are going (there weren’t) and getting any prescriptions updated. This is always the best place to start because if there is anything that you do end up needing to do, you have plenty of time to do it.

Once our medical stuff was done and we were cleared to go (meaning we got approval through his work to move, and got their paperwork), came the process of setting up our actual work. This is the bulk of the move process and it means A LOT. There is so much to sort through, to figure out, to plan for.

I made immediate use of Social Media. Getting into contact with folks that we knew who had lived overseas, joining Facebook groups for the area we are heading, talking to people who had just recently made this type of move. In some ways it became overwhelming (as there is just so much information from so many different sources), but it was a big help. In fact, because of Social Media we know exactly what we are going into in terms of housing.

I highly recommend that you do the same when you are moving somewhere you are unfamiliar with. Social media can be very effective when you are trying to figure out what exactly you are moving to. With that being said, also be aware that what you are finding (or being told) may not apply to your specific situation. Also, people will bring their own bias into what they are saying. Just keep an open mind while you are taking advantage of this.

Among all of the things that we needed to account for, the actual moving and shipping of our house hold goods, car, and personal belongings has been the easiest part of our move (ironically enough).

**At this point I’ll further clarify that my husband is in the military and most of the shipping, plane travel, and such has been organized by them. We handle the actual company and day hours, but they do more of that portion of it. If you would like to me to do a post specifically dedicated to that and organizing all of that, please let me know. **

We slowly (over a period of 3 months or so) worked through our home; getting rid of/selling what we didn’t want or couldn’t take, determining what would stay behind in storage, what would actually go with us. In a way it is hard to do this as we don’t know what our space will look like in our new home, but we’ve just decided to take 90% of our belongings with us.

We checked the guidelines for our packed and carry on luggage and found out the standard answer- each person can have two checked baggage (more is extra cost) as well as the standard one carry on and a personal bag. For our family, we were allotted 8 bags total (plus any carry ons).

I think the hardest point of the move was the Holiday’s. We were in kind of a holding cycle where it was too far out to pack anything, but we had finished what we needed to do prior to movers coming. It was one of those times where you feel like you need to be doing something, you want to be doing something, you are ready for the move, BUT there isn’t anything you can do. This was a period of a few weeks and honestly was probably the worst few weeks of the move itself (as of now, I can’t tell you what the next few months will be like). I got really short tempered during this time and was just ready for everything to start happening. It felt like we were just waiting and waiting.

I don’t know if these types of updates really help, or provide any insight in any way, but I want to have them for my own reflection and memories. I’ll do a couple more updates as we go along as well.

Round The Kettle Ep 7 : All The Things to Share

Lord help me, I have so much to say! I have a lot I want to cover, but I don’t want to overwhelm ya’ll and say too much. It’s a balancing act…maybe. First off, as I’m typing this up I’ve got a cup of one of my favorite tea blends steeping. It’s a wonderful raspberry and rose blend that is just so velvety smooth going down your throat…incredible. When I am done with this I am going to take my cup, curl up in my comfy seat and try and finish up my current read, Labryinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

What about you? Tell me what you are doing.

Let’s start with Christmas? Or should we back it up to the week before? Ok, backing up a little further. Quick rundown of our pre Christmas adventures (as they did happen)…

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We had family visiting from out of town, so first we headed for one last trip to our favorite little antique store. They have such an eclectic selection of items and the owners kindly had sugar cookies baked for the kids. I’m going to miss visiting this place, but I know that I will find a new little antique haunt (or several) in Germany JSecond we headed to the…White House! This was our second trip up, but the only one that we got to see all the Christmas Decorations and what a sight they were! Both boys loved to see all the different trees and we definitely felt the magic of Christmas. Somehow we also ended up at the bookstore (quite the shocker there…) for a few hours and the boys got to do story time and play around in the kids section while we relaxed. The week wrapped up with a “Mom’s Day Out” at the movies seeing Bohemian Rhapsody. If you like Queen, hell if you like music, then this movie is a must see! So so good!

We also did a big move thing and shipped the car off! My car is currently on its way over to our final destination in Germany. This was the first of the big things that are happening for our move (aside from all the paperwork and appointments) and it almost hit me that we are really going.

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Christmas was a big hit (as always) in our home, even with our lack of decorations and such. The boys loved our little Christmas Eve Boxes, and they loved tearing into the couple presents they did get this year, as well as all of the sugar from cookies, cinnamon rolls, and candy! We had a lovely Christmas Dinner and I loved that it was all so easy and laid back this year (although we will be going big next year). It was nice to re focus on what the season is really about.IMG_7975.jpg

 

Finally, to round out all the excitement, I have officially ended my job!!!!!! What?!?!?!?! I am going to be able to solely focus on my family, my blog, and our travels!!! What is this??? When we got orders and everything was in process for our move out of the country, my husband and I had several long conversations about what that meant for us, what it meant for the kids, for my working, and what his job was going to entail. At the end of the day, we decided that it would be best that I didn’t continue to work and take a little time to focus on educating our children, being able to fully experience another culture, and with the added bonus of us being able to take advantage of random four day weekends that he gets with his job and travel. I am not going to lie and say that I am not excited about this, as I am incredibly excited to be able to not only have the time back with my children, but also to be able to take advantage of everything that another culture and country will offer without anything holding us back. I know that we are incredibly fortunate and blessed to be able to do this and I want to do it all “right”.

2019 is going to be THE year. I can feel it. So much good is coming our way (that goes for everyone, not just me and mine).

I hope I didn’t go on to long with the updates and blabbering! How are you? How have you been? Did you do it up for Christmas or just be laid back? Has anything excited happened lately? Tell me all the things!!

Round The Kettle Episode 6: Almost Christmas and A Special Visit!

IMG_7036.jpgI don’t want to cause any panic for anyone (see my earlier post this week about Holiday Stress if you feel panicy), but we are just about one week away from Christmas…

Have you finished your Christmas Shopping? Wrapped your gifts? Mailed any that needed mailed?

I hate to say that we got lucky this year, with our move coming so closely following Christmas, but it has certainly made this year a bit different for us. We didn’t put out any of the normal decorations we would have (because they will simply have to get packed back up ASAP for the movers to get up), we aren’t doing a normal amount of presents (because again, just for the movers to take with them), and I’ve been grateful for that.

This season of Christmas has become so centered around the decorating, the baking, the presents under the tree, but with 2 out of those 3 things essentially being removed, we are being able to focus on what is important to us. The time we get together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together. This is #1 in our books and I am grateful that this year we are being reminded and getting the chance to have that.

Not too mention that next year we will be in Germany for Christmas- and they DO NOT hold back when it comes to Christmas.

We’ve been a little frazzled when it comes to move related things. We’ve been loading up the things that are not going with us (being stored), trying to coordinate last minute appointments that have to be handled before we leave, deciding little things (like clothes, suitcases, toys that are going with us, not the movers). All of this on top of our standard jobs,  parenting, and out of town family visits. It’s all been a bit…much. Not too mention trying to keep a running tab of everything that has to be done.

I’ve been trying to take advantage of the bits of time that are not devoted to packing, working, or other standard home things, and getting us out of the house. My car will be getting shipped within a few days, so I’ve been making it a point of us going places. There will be a few weeks (while we are still here) that we will be down to one car and I want to make sure that any non important things get done now. That includes…visiting Santa!

That’s right, we went to go see the big man himself this past week. It was Andrew’s first visit and Colton’s second (we missed a year). The visit was a fun one and we got to scope out some big toys at the same time as we visited Santa at Cabela’s! The boys reactions were a bit surprising, my outgoing talk to anyone Colton did not want to sit on Santa’s lap (although he did run up and talk to him) and my shy, cling to mom Andrew gave a smile and might have actually sat on his lap! You can see the picture below and , despite Andrew’s face, they had a lot of fun seeing both Santa and all of the treats at Cabela’s.

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So, how are you? How are you feeling about it being so close to Christmas? Are you ready or are you just letting the time go and soak up the family time?

A Cuppa Cosy Heads International!

Yep, you read that title right! We are heading out of the United States and are so incredibly excited to do it! For the next few years we are going to be residing in Germany, learning about the culture, the history, exploring all over Europe, and blogging all about it!

I don’t normally speak about what my husband does, or really talk about him much at all, and that is both for privacy and security reasons. He is a relatively private person and I definitely respect (and love) that part of him, BUT I do want to say that the reason we are moving is to do with his job. He is in the military and we jumped at this opportunity when it presented itself.

We are so incredibly lucky to be able to move out of the country and explore somewhere completely new. It is not something that we are taking for granted, nor something that we are approaching lightly. We plan on truly absorbing everything that Germany (and Europe as a whole) has to offer. I can’t wait to share our experiences over the next few years and see where this journey takes us!

I will touch a little bit on our process for anyone that is wondering or is looking at a similar situation. For us (aka for military families) it’s all about timeline. The preparation stuff so far hasn’t been so bad. The biggest thing is just handling it early enough, so you don’t feel a bottleneck of stuff to do close to your move. I know that sometimes this isn’t a possibility, thankfully it is in our case, but if you can handle as much as you can as early as you can then that will really help the ease of a move. I will share once we get closer to our actual move date more tips and tricks that I have found in a single post.

We are both very excited about what the future holds for us and what this new path is going to be like!