My Favorite Travel Items

Monday, December 5, 2016



J, Baby ISO, and I travel a fair amount. With all of this traveling, I've certainly had my fair share of mishaps -- luggage wheels breaking, packing incidents, lost luggage, and electric outlet sparks. However, these troubles have been becoming less and less frequent because I've found my favorite travel items, or shall we say my new travel essentials.

I also realize it is Christmas list and shopping time, but I didn't feel like doing a traditional shopping list as everyone is so different to buy for. I thought that this list of my essentials could act in the stead of the Christmas list and hopefully help you to avoid packing mishaps.

Le Sportsac Luggage*: I've taken my Le Sportsac luggage to nearly 30 countries now, and it is still in perfect condition. I'd highly recommend their luggage for durability and ease to find on the luggage conveyor.

Eagle Creek Pack It Cube Set*: Eagle Creek packing cubes and envelopes are awesome! The packing envelope keeps all of your nicer looking clothes carefully folded, while the cubes are great for keeping smaller items like baby clothes. I'm currently thinking about buying two additional medium sized cubes are currently on my shopping list. I think they would be great to keep Baby ISO's clothes organized and separate from my own.

Stroller: If you have a young child, I'm sure that strollers are also a travel essential for you. We have a Baby Trend stroller, but I wouldn't say I recommend it, because pieces broke off shortly after we purchased it; however, it is great in the snow and on cobblestones. What stroller do you have?

BOB Weather Shield for Strollers: Though I wouldn't necessarily recommend our stroller, I would recommend the weather shield we use. It is slightly too short for our huge Baby Trend, but it does fit, and is excellent at keeping Baby ISO dry during even the worst weather. Though Bob products are really expensive, being able to be outside in bad weather is pretty essential for us since we mostly get around on foot (and it rains/snows a lot in the Baltics). I'd like to also note that we did try a cheaper weather shield (it was only 5 euros), but it wasn't secure and it broke soon after we purchased it. All in all, I'd say that spending the extra money on the Bob Weather Shield was really worth it.

Car Seat: The thing I do love about our Baby Trend stroller is that the car seat attached to the stroller, which made it great for traveling. Now that Baby ISO is too big for the infant car seat, we use one by Diono, but it is very heavy and bulky (and also the safest on the market), making it difficult to travel with. I'm actually still trying to figure the car seat + traveling situation out.

Skip Hop Portable Changing Station*: Clearly, this didn't become an essential until having a baby. I've found that the vast majority of restaurants and cafes don't have changing tables and instead of putting Baby ISO on the gross bathroom floor, I just open up this changing pad. I honestly don't go anywhere without it.

Travel Adapter, Worldwide*: Don't be caught with drained batteries because you forgot to pack an adapter -- or even worse -- pack a not universal adapter and travel to somewhere it doesn't work! This universal travel adapter (I have it in white) is seriously awesome. Mine is always connected to my laptop plug.

Headlamp*: This one might sound funny, but stay with me here. Head lamps make my list of favorites because they are essential for adventure travel, but also really helpful when moving around a dark accommodation while trying not to wake up Baby ISO. They are also small and easy to pack. I use one of J's head lamps.

Umbrella: During my time spent living in China, I got in the habit of carrying an umbrella everywhere. This was a good habit since it rains and snows a lot in Vilnius. Now, I just throw an umbrella in my bag or luggage every time we travel, just in case.


If you want to read more about my travel favorites, check out this post from 2014, which I wrote while preparing for a honeymoon in China. What are your travel essentials and favorite items to pack?


Travel Month: November 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016


Travel

 

November has been quite a busy month, so much so that I didn't really take out my camera! This month was mostly spent hunkered down inside cafes, the library, or at my desk at home, so I didn't get out to enjoy Vilnius all that much.

As a little escape from Vilnius, I took a few day getaway to Tallinn, Estonia to enjoy the Christmas market, which I'll be writing about soon. Tallinn is such a cute city, so it is nice to be so nearby to be able to take a three day trip. In December, I'll write more about Tallinn and its Christmas festivities.


 

Personal

 

Lately, I've been very into podcasts. I find them great to listen to while I'm playing with my son and they help me to stimulate my brain, which I find one of the biggest challenges being a stay at home mom and freelancer. I'm currently loving the Glamour Magazine podcast, the AMNH podcast, and the Problogger podcast. Are there any podcasts that you recommend?

I'm also stuck in a major cooking rut, which at the moment is making me want to eat out all the time. While that isn't feasible, there are several new (to me) restaurant in Vilnius that I hope to eat at over the winter. I'm also looking forward to being in Connecticut next month and hope to try out a restaurant or two while I'm back. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments :)

Work

 

From now until Chinese New Year is always a busy time for me with freelance editing. I love that I can expect this uptick in work in the winter.

In addition to editing, I've sought out several freelance travel writing opportunities to make a few extra dollars. It has been really fun reading different sources about travel writing and perusing articles in so many different styles. I've found that the Writer's Market book (I have the 2015 edition) has unexpectedly good information about writing pitches and possible places to submit work. If you freelance write, what other sources do you suggest?

This month, I've had my travel writing published on a Inside Himalayas and Trip101:

8 Tibetan Foods You Must Try
Fenix Food Factory: A Unique Taste of Rotterdam
A Cool Hotel In A Great Location: Wellton Centrum, Riga
An Artistic Tour of Amsterdam with BonAppetour
Your Guide to Biking the Xi'an City Wall 
Day Trip from Vilnius: Rumsiskes, the Open Air Museum of Lithuania

 

Thanks, J for the great photo!

 

Coming Next Month

 

Coming on In Search Of, I have a couple of big articles planned. First up will be a big article about Amsterdam. I'm also planning on writing about the Christmas market in Tallinn, so stay tuned for those. If there is anything you want to read about in specific, do let me know!

Regarding travel next month, we are headed back to Connecticut for two weeks of family time. I'm really looking forward to hanging out with family, eating delicious food, and taking some time to rest. I'm also really looking forward to pie -- got that, mom? ;)

Recent Posts

 

My favorite post from this month has to be the interview I did with Yan about his street art project #1guerilla. It was really kind of him to share his photos, writing, and time! I'm also really pleased with how this giant post about Rotterdam turned out. I'm hoping that all of the tips and information will be helpful if you go to Rotterdam either as a family, couple,  or solo.

This Time Last Year

 

Can you believe that I've published almost 500 articles on In Search Of? That seems like a huge amount of articles to me! Because my archives are extensive, I decided to start sharing my favorite posts from this time last year.

In November 2016, I wrote a cultural post about experiencing All Saint's Day in Lithuania, a creative post about Little Free Libraries, and a travel post about Klaipeda, Lithuania. Feel free to check my sidebar and have a rummage around in my archives to find what you are looking for :)


What are your plans for December? Are you getting excited for the holidays? Where are you spending Christmas?

Travel Guide For Young Families Visiting Rotterdam, NL

Monday, November 21, 2016



We spent an absolutely wonderful 9ish days in The Netherlands. I was impressed by the beauty of the country, the diversity of people, and how nice everyone was! We started our trip with 5 days in Rotterdam, not because there was more we wanted to see in Rotterdam, but because accommodations were much more affordable. Nonetheless, Rotterdam is an enjoyable city with impressive architecture and really had some fun things to do and see. A family taking a leisurely trip could easily see the sites below over a two-day city break.

What to Do and See:


Rotterdam Zoo: I can't say that I'm the hugest fan of zoos, but the Rotterdam Zoo gets great ratings, so I thought it would be a nice way to spend the day with Baby ISO. Many of the animals were now in their indoor enclosures, which certainly weren't as nice as the outdoor environments. Most of the park, however, wasn't too bad and Baby ISO seemed pretty amazed to see the different animals. Keep in mind that the Rotterdam Zoo is HUGE and you could easily spend all day, especially if you bring lunch along with you.




Museum Park: Though we didn't actually visit any of the museums in Rotterdam, we enjoyed a walk in Museum Park. We didn't find many parks in Rotterdam, so it was nice to get to a green space and let Baby ISO run around.





Het Park: Het Park is a giant park located slightly outside of the central city area. It is easy to walk to and is absolutely gorgeous. It was a great place to run around and play in the grass. There was also a really nice looking cafe in the park and an interesting wooden church.



Cool Architecture: Everywhere I looked in Rotterdam I was just amazed by the architecture. From the stunning Markthal Rotterdam, which was like a giant middle finger to a potential EU regulation, to the Cube Houses, Erasmusbrug, Rotterdam Central Station, and De Rotterdam, everything was shiny, new, and unique. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a giant, beautiful mosque among the skyscrapers If you love architecture, I bet that you'd love wandering Rotterdam.








Street Art: At first, I didn't notice much street art in Rotterdam, but as we wandered different parts of the city, I saw more and more awesome works. Many of my favorite pieces were on or near Witte de Withstraat, which also boasted numerous cool stores, cafes, and restaurants.















Floating Forest: Okay, this is pretty cool! After eating some snacks at the hip Fenix Food Factory (see below), we wandered along the water to the Floating Forest. The Floating Forest was inspired by a piece by the artist Jorge Bakker and consists of about twenty trees happily growing while floating in the water. I love the idea that cities can be greener with just a bit of innovation and creativity!




Where to Eat and Drink:


Fenix Food Factory: Fenix Food Factory is an indoor food market featuring restaurant stalls and cafes. Vendors also sold locally grown, fresh vegetables, Dutch cheeses, meat, and spices. I have to recommend getting a cheese plate from Booij Kaasmakers and a coffee from Stielman Coffee Roasters. The cheese plate featured five AMAZING cheeses and the coffee was necessary for the chilly day. I've written an article about what else you can find at Fenix Food Factory for Trip101, so feel free to check it out for additional tips and information!






Markthal Rotterdam: I mentioned the Markthal above, but in my opinion it deserves its own description. The Markthal is awesome. It is full to bursting with incredible prepared food options, cafes, bakeries, fresh fruit and veggies, and so much more. The food highlights for me were the Asian grocery store and Madam Cocos' coconut macaroons (get the original flavor). As expected, food was a bit pricey, so if you are on a budget, it may be best to only get snacks at the market.

Before visiting the Markthal, I honestly thought that all of the photos of the colorful ceiling were photoshopped to look brighter, but that wasn't the case. The ceiling is so vibrant that you can even clearly see the fruits, vegetables, and buildings from outside!









The Tea Lab: Things in Rotterdam didn't open until pretty late, but we luckily found The Tea Lab open earlier than most places. Located on Westewagenstraat 80, The Tea Lab had delicious cakes, teas, and coffees in a bright space that I bet would be great for working.




Bas Bakt: Located on Hartmanstraat 22a, Bas Bakt was my favorite cafe/breakfast spot that we tried in Rotterdam. The staff were incredibly friendly and one of the women had an adorable puppy hanging out while she worked. I found the prices to be reasonable here as well -- we spent 10 euros on two coffees, a ham and cheese croissant, macaroon, and a loaf of Dutch breakfast bread.




Lokaal: We visited Lokaal because it was on the hipster/design city map called Rotterday. Although the coffee was good and the carrot cake was delicious, the staff were clearly annoyed to have to stop their conversation to take our order. At this point in my life, I'd rather drink average coffee and talk to nice people than drink excellent coffee staffed by someone rude. If you'd like to try Lokaal for yourself, you can find it on Raampoortstraat 34b.




Little V: When people asked what I ate in Rotterdam, I answered Vietnamese food. Whenever traveling outside of the Baltics, I'm always looking for delicious flavors that we can't get here. In Rotterdam, we found Little V, which was such a cool restaurant with amazing pho and bun. They also had a reasonably large kid's play area, which is great for kids before or after the meal. You can find Little V on Grotekerkplein.




de Pelgrim: Instead of taking a day trip to The Hague, we decided to walk to Delftshavn on the outskirts of Rotterdam. In Delftshavn, try lunch at Pelgrim, which is Rotterdam's brewery. By the time they opened (everything really does open late!), we were starving and ordered pretty giant meals for ourselves and a separate meal for Baby ISO (he was hungry, too!). J went for a burger, but I wanted something a bit different and opted for the brouwerslunch, which was kind of like a cold, spicy meatloaf on a bread with cheese soup. It was really good! You can find Pelgrim on Aelbrechtskolk 12.





Where To Shop:


Although we didn't do a ton of shopping in Rotterdam, we did find a few places that I have to share.

Sweet Rebels: Sweet Rebels is the coolest vintage store ever. They had a wonderful selection of clothes and accessories for women and the prices were reasonable. I'm pretty sure my sister will be loving her Christmas gift from here!



Klein Beginnen & Grooot: If you are pregnant or have young kids of your own (or kids you like to shop for), you must visit Klein Beginnen & Grooot. They have a huge selection of actually nice looking clothes for pregnant women, cool toys, and baby accessories like cribs, strollers, and more. J and I both loved this store. You can find Klein Beginnen & Grooot on Hartmansstraat 24-26.



Getting To Rotterdam:


It is simple to get to Rotterdam from Amsterdam Schipol Airport as there are numerous trains connecting Schipol to Rotterdam Central. Tickets cost approximately 12.20 euros per person (for adults) and trains leave frequently.

Other Tips:


Public transportation: Enter trams at the very last entrance for space for a stroller. Trams are reasonably pricey (3 euro per ride per adult), so we walked a lot to save money.

Where to stay: We stayed in an Airbnb outside of the city center, but I wished we had stayed a bit closer. J and I decided that our ideal location would have been by the Maritime Museum or around Museum Square.

Places open late, so if you wake up early like we do, plan ahead and have coffee and breakfast available at your accommodation. Expect most cafes, restaurants, and activities to open around 12. There are some exceptions, but this seemed to be the norm.



What other tips do you have for Rotterdam? Have you visited Rotterdam before? Did you like this shiny city?

I'm linking up with Mummy Travels for #CityTripping. I'm linking up with Faraway Files.