Travel Month: April 2015

Friday, April 29, 2016

Personal + Travel


After our busy month of travel in March, I was happy to have a quieter travel month. That doesn't mean that we didn't travel at all though! We spent a glorious week in Warsaw, Poland. If you've not yet been to Warsaw, I highly suggest it. The city has a surprising amount of green space and parks and the completely re-built old town is gorgeous. The Warsaw Uprising Museum was very well-done and informative and Warsaw's history is incorporated throughout the city. We've also eaten some incredible food.

In Vilnius, I've been trying to spend sunny Friday afternoons wandering different areas of the city. I've been sharing my photos under the has tag PhotoWalkFriday. So far I've found a great walking path along the Neris River and an overlook point on the other side of the Neris. I'm looking forward to finding more parts of the city. If you'd like to join in just tag your photos!


Blog + Freelance


This month I had 5 articles published on Trip101, which was really exciting for me. I don't generally have a ton of time to write, so I spent a couple of late nights and early mornings to have some extra time writing. So worth the missing hours of sleep. My favorite article is about Saltwater Farm Vineyard in southeastern Connecticut.

In May, I'll be writing a lot about Luxembourg. I'm excited to share some surprising things about this tiny city!

A photo posted by Elizabeth (@insearchofs) on

Looking Forward To


May is also a quiet travel month. My mother-in-law will be visiting for a few weeks, so I plan on taking advantage of some grandma time to work on a few projects. In May the rhododendrons and lilacs should be blooming in the Vilnius University Botanical Gardens, so I hope to make a trip out there as well. That is pretty much all I have on the books this month and I am trilled about it. A quiet month with some extra help around the house will be a perfect way to wrap up the school year and prepare for the loads of travel we have coming up in June and July.

I'm also hoping for some warm weather come May! Though I put away most of my winter clothes, the cold weather is hanging on. I'm ready to not freeze when I go out for walks and would love to wear a t-shirt one of these days!


A photo posted by Elizabeth (@insearchofs) on


How was your April? What are your plans for May?

Trip Planning For Warsaw, Poland

Monday, April 25, 2016



Poland here we come! I'm writing this post from my sofa in Vilnius less than a week before leaving for Warsaw, but as you are reading this, I'm in Warsaw (check out my Instagram @insearchofs for updates). Yeah for pre-scheduling posts so I can spend more time exploring/resting.

Before leaving for a trip, I really like spend a couple of hours pouring over websites, blog posts, and guidebooks. By writing these trip planning posts I get to do just that, and I like sharing the resources with you in case you are also planning a trip to the same destination.

Warsaw's Art District

I'm super excited about visiting Warsaw's Praga district. It sounds almost like a much larger version of Vilnius' Uzupis or up-and-coming Sto-Ho districts. In Praga, I'd like to see St. Michael's and St. Florian's Cathedral, Soho Factory, and street art (of course). This guide from Gotta Keep Movin has some great tips.

Eating and Drinking Out

Pierogies here I come! Hopefully I'll be able to sample some pierogies and other delicious foods at a milk bar. This post from That Backpacker summarizes milk bars and a ton of other cool places to eat. This student's information blog also has  information about the milk bar, Prasowy, and information about the surrounding neighborhood.

I'm also dying to eat some Ethiopian food at Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine. Thanks, the Mochilera Diaries for the tip!

For child-friendly cafes and shops, I'm going follow the tips in Babyccino blog and heading to Cafe Kolonia and Pompon Cafe.

Other Things I Want To See

I definitely want to spend some time in Lazienki Park. Thanks Sunny Side of This for the tip!

Warsaw University looks awesome. I'd love to take a tour of the campus, or at the very least, explore its gorgeous library.

Depending on how agreeable Baby ISO is, I'd also like to visit the Marie Curie Museum to learn more about this incredible woman and intelligent scientist. Gotta support women in science!

The Palace of Culture and Science also seems like an interesting and controversial structure to see from both near and afar.

I'm also thinking about a free walking tour around the city. This is another great guide with a ton about the city including suggestions for the free walking tour.


What else should we do in Warsaw? Any children's museums you can suggest?

Travel Saving: 1 Year Book Buying Ban Experiment

Friday, April 22, 2016



In general, I'm not a big spender on stuff. Travel is a priority for me, so I'm always concious of saving  for upcoming trips. Living abroad has also forced me to live with less stuff, which is another reason for not accumulating much. But, I have a weakness for buying books. Lately, every time I travel, I purchase at least one book (either used or new), and you know what? This book-buying habit is starting to add up in terms of money and accumulated stuff!

To save money for upcoming travel, to limit the amount of stuff we accumulate in Vilnius, and to make our future 2017 move (destination TBD) easier, J and I decided to do an experiment. Specifically, we decided to do a year-long book buying ban. This means that we won't be buying any books for ourselves from now until at least April 2017.

We both read a lot, so we've come up with a few strategies to read what we want, without having to buy anything. It has taken a while, but I've finally found a couple of libraries in Vilnius with a good range of books in English (why do most of the libraries in Vilnius look and feel like jails??) So, I'm dusting off my library cards and will be checking out books. I think we may also swap out some books when we are back in the US (I know I have a few novels waiting for me at home!). Borrowing books from friends is another option we are going to seek out. Any other ideas for us?

I'll be writing periodic check in posts that calculate how much we've saved for travel by not buying books as well as about the English book options in Vilnius. I'll also report back if we cheat and break the ban to purchase a book.


Do you have any shopping weaknesses or are you awesome at sticking to a budget? If you'd like to join in with this book buying ban let me know! I'd love to have an accountability partner!

Traveling Parents' Forum: Conclusions

Monday, April 18, 2016

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Traveling Parents' Forum!




As a new parent and a lover of travel, I was worried that having a baby would limit or completely stop us from traveling. Thanks to the fabulous advice of the moms who participated in this forum (and those of you who pinned other great posts), we've been enjoying traveling with a baby. We've also been sure to keep up our local explorations and now have the occasion to explore some kid-friendly venus in Vilnius.

Have you used any of the advice we share in these posts? Do you think traveling with children is possible, fun, and worth it?

If you've missed any of the posts, or are looking for advice about traveling with children, all of the posts are listed below.



My favorite posts from this series are Moving or Living Abroad with your Child and Flying with a Baby or Child. Both really had great advice from some very experienced mothers! My main takeaways from the entire series are:

1) It is possible and fun to travel and live abroad with children of any age

2) Planning ahead and being prepared are important for making travel smoother



Follow Elizabeth @ In Search Of's board Traveling Parents' Forum on Pinterest.
 

Thank you again for participating, Frankie, Angie, Roshan, Emma, Keri, Amy, Andrea, and Marianne!


What else would you like to read about in regards to traveling with a child?

Accommodation Review: Hotel Parc Plaza, Luxembourg

Friday, April 15, 2016



I'm finally getting around to sharing our recent trip to Luxembourg!

It was a bit difficult to find an affordable (for us) accommodation in Luxembourg City. Because J was traveling for a conference, we opted for a hotel rather than an Airbnb accommodation, and I'm really glad that we settled on Hotel Parc Plaza, Luxembourg*. The rooms were spacious and quiet, we were in a perfect location, and we had a nice view from our balcony.

Let's first talk about the location. Hotel Parc Plaza, Luxembourg is about a 5 minute walk with a stroller from Luxembourg's old city. It is also located across the street from a gorgeous park with ample space for children to play (or Baby ISO to nap in his stroller while I enjoyed the spring flowers).

The room was clean and bed was very comfortable. I didn't mind, but J would have preferred more pillows on the bed. The room also had an easy chair with a foot rest and a desk with a chair. The room that we stayed in had two separate bathrooms, one contained a bathtub (with a shower) and a sink, and the other contained only a toilet. I found it kind of strange to have a toilet with no sink, but that was a minor issue. The room had large windows that let in a lot of light, but the curtains were heavy enough to block out the sun, allowing Baby ISO to get to sleep early.

The Hotel Parc Plaza, Luxembourg is a great accommodation if you are staying with young children. The room is large enough to fit a stroller and a travel crib (the crib we used was provided free of charge from the hotel), yet still have room to not feel cramped. There was also ample space for Baby ISO to play on the carpeted floor. 

Other in-room amenities included free Wi-Fi, a mini fridge (stocked with snacks for an extra charge), local magazines, a large tv with channels in many different languages, a city map, and bath products. An iron and full size ironing board are available upon request. The hotel does not offer free breakfast, so rather than purchase their expensive breakfast, we opted to pick up snacks from a nearby grocery store.

The staff at Hotel Parc Plaza, Luxembourg were all very friendly. They were able to direct us to nearby attractions and grocery stores as well as schedule a taxi for our trip back to the airport. They also have parking, but I can't say whether there is a charge for parking or not.


The view from our window


The crib was already set up when we arrived




Overall, I'd suggest this hotel for their comfortable beds, large rooms, and convenient location. Room prices start from 100 USD depending on the time of year you visit. Prices also seem to be significantly cheaper on booking websites such as Booking.com. Visit the Hotel's website* to learn more about room options or for your next visit to Luxembourg!

Do you remember to take photos of your accommodation before unpacking your stuff? I finally remembered for this hotel ;P

The Evolution Of My Travel: From Solo Female To Family Travel And Beyond

Monday, April 11, 2016



Over the course of starting this blog in 2012 I moved to China, got married, moved to Vilnius, and had a baby. And with that, my travel style changed from hostels and solo female travel, to couple travel, to family travel and Airbnb accommodations. All of these forms of travel are so different and all are fun. It kind of irks me that some travel articles are all or nothing: only solo-female travel, only couple travel, budget travel, off-the-beaten-path travel, family travel, etc. There are few articles that highlight how your travel style may change over the years, as other aspects of life normally does as you 'grow up.'

So, with this evolution of my travel style I thought that I'd like to reflect upon some of my biggest, boldest, and favorite travel memories since the beginning In Search Of.


1. Hiking Yakou Shan I lived in rural China off and on from 2010-2012 while I was conducting my PhD research. It was awesome and I was pretty much fearless. When I arrived in Kunming in 2010, I was inexperienced, hadn't even booked an accommodation (though I did have the address to a hotel!), and my Mandarin sucked. Luckily, I learn most things quickly and was able to pick up spoken Mandarin, meet some friends, and get a good jump on my research.

I felt most accomplished after working with a colleague to organize an extensive botanical collecting trip to rural Nujiang Prefecture, Yunnan Province. During the trip, I hiked all day, spent my evenings toasting workers at the local forestry bureau and singing karaoke, and worked late into the night pressing plants and writing field notes. It was utterly exhausting and oh so fun.

I hiked over a snow-capped mountain (Yakou Mt) and unglamorously slid down the peak on my butt. I ate rice cooked with fatback, drank from streams, and peed in the woods. I saw an adorable pika and collected quite a lot of rhododendron. This was certainly and extreme adventure that I'll remember forever.




2. Kayaking the Mekong On a Chinese visa run I decided to visit Vientiane after a friend raved about Laos. It was a beautiful country with friendly people and great food. I only had a couple of days to explore the city, but I decided to take a day-trip out of Vientiane to kayak the Mekong. I took several tuk tuks and a truck to the river where I met with my guide. It was certainly a special way to see the country!




3. Moving to Lithuania and Europe travel J and I got married right before moving to Lithuania. Though we immediately thought that Vilnius was a gorgeous city, we struggled settling into life here as we had numerous issues with our apartment and residence permits. Eventually we moved apartments and got our permits, and our travels outside of Vilnius really helped to take away some of our stress. Over time, the struggles lessened (or at least we got used to it!) and we liked Vilnius and our European adventures so much that we signed on for a fourth year.

One thing that I love about living in Europe is the ease at which you can travel from country to country. Since moving to Vilnius we've traveled to 13 countries, with two more in the coming months. With only a couple hour flight, I'm able to taste delicious new foods, see famous works of art, ancient cities, and more.






4. Bringing J to China and his first hot pot In 2014, J and I took an epic trip to China; we visited friends in Beijing, biked around Xi'an on the city wall, and ate our way through Yunnan. It was fun to be able to introduce J to my old roommates, show him the city in which I used to live, and watch him experience incredible local cuisine. It was also funny to watch J sweat with all of the spicy hot pot! It was an awesome trip, but made me really miss my China days.





5. Motorbiking around Lugu Hu We visited my anthropologist friend, K, in the Lugu Lake area of Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces. This was probably one of my most memorable experiences while traveling with J. J also frequently talks about this part of our trip, so I know it was a great adventure for him as well. I wrote a ton about this trip here on the blog and on Travelettes.




6. Our first trips with Baby ISO Traveling with a baby is obviously very different than solo travel or couple travel, but it is just as exciting. From diapers that explode on planes, to fun yet exhausting car trips, traveling with a baby is always an adventure and is so worth it. I can't tell you how many times I've had people ask me what's the point of traveling so much with such a young baby (he won't remember it), but we are building memories as a family exploring the world. There can't be anything wrong with that!


With Baby ISO we've taken a road trip around Lithuania, traveled to the US, and visited Frankfurt, Madrid, and Luxembourg. It is fun for J and I to take this trips, and Baby ISO gets exposed to new things, even if he won't remember it at all.



Despite this evolution from solo female travel to family travel, some things have remained the same. I still look for budget travel options, memorable experiences, and cultural exchange. From eating congealed pigs blood to amazing meals with BookALokal, food is also a major factor in my travels. The takeaway message here is that no matter how you travel, one form of traveling isn't better than the other -- it will likely change throughout your lifetime anyways.

As Baby ISO gets older I'm sure my travel style will continue evolving. I'm looking forward to it!

How has your travel changed over the years?


P.S. I recently participated in a great online travel writing workshop with Pink Pangea and I just think they have a great site with excellent articles. I'd love to participate in one of their in-person writing workshops, but can't this summer. You can participate in one of their in-person courses by applying here:  http://www.pinkpangea.com/pink-pangea-retreat-application/. Just mention PinkElizabeth in your application for 50 USD off of your trip!

Let me know if you do go because I'd love to hear all about it!

Awesome Street Art + Other Fun Things In Madrid

Friday, April 8, 2016

To be honest, I've had a hard time writing about Madrid! I loved the city, yet we really didn't make any plans and took it as more of a relaxing/working trip. We did see some miscellaneous sites around the city, ate at some interesting places, and drank loads of coffee to wash down our sweets. Instead of writing about these places, because I'm really lost for words about this city (!), I thought I'd share photos instead.


Sweet Treats












Temple of Debod






Awesome Street Art












How do you feel about photo heavy posts?

Other Thoughts About Flying With A Baby

Monday, April 4, 2016



By this point I've taken two overseas flights and 6 shorter flights with Baby ISO. Not too shabby for a 7 month old ! During these flights I've noticed several other things that didn't occur to me when writing my post for the Traveling Parent's Forum on flying.

Here's what I've learned:


- Long flights go by much faster

- Because I'm so sleep deprived (sad, but true) I'm actually able to get some sleep

- People tend to be friendlier and more chatty

- Even young babies like to watch colorful cartoons on planes

- Waiting for the one bathroom on the plane that has a changing table can take quite a while. This can sometimes be disastrous and messy, so don't forget to bring a few plastic bags and a change of clothes



Do you like flying with babies? If you are a passenger flying without kids, what do you think?

Accommodation Review: Perfect AirBnB Location In Madrid, Spain

Friday, April 1, 2016





Just look at this colorful street in Madrid! The best part of our AirBnB accommodation was its location. Located near the Anton Martin metro stop, this neighborhood had tons of restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, and cool little stores. It was a perfect location for our lazy visit.

As for the AirBnB itself, it wasn't my favorite, nor was it my least favorite that we've ever stayed in. The person who greeted us (not the apartment owner, but a manager of several similar accommodations ... those are never our favorite) was really friendly. She showed us everything we needed to know about the apartment and gave us information for checking out. The apartment was small, but comfortable even when we added a travel crib.

The kitchen was well equipped, the bathroom had toiletries, and the closet (and under the bed) was stocked with extra blankets and towels. The only minor issue was the shower pressure, which really came out like a trickle (I think it would have been faster to wash my hair in the sink!).

The only major difficulty we had was lugging our stroller and carseat combo up and down the stairs every time we wanted to go out. I knew ahead of time that the apartment was a walk up, but didn't initially think this would be a problem. The stairs; however, were uneven and difficult to navigate while holding a baby and all of the necessary baby crap that you need for a day out. Also, the apartment itself was down a very narrow passageway, making it even more difficult to navigate. We managed, but I wouldn't suggest it. If you have kids, heavy luggage, or a problem walking up stairs this apartment is not for you!

If you are looking for a budget-friendly apartment in a great location of Madrid, and don't have a lot of stuff or a kid, this apartment really was a great find.



What do you think about staying in AirBnB accommodations with kids?