Navigating European Airports

My family has lived abroad and traveled often in Europe, but after this last trip—with connections in various European airports—I thought how stressful and embarrassing navigating security and airports would be for rookie families.

In short, domestic airports offer no preparation for European airports.

Parents, here’s what you need to know so that you and the kids survive without a break-down. Who wants tears, tantrums, and running mascara, anyway?

Don’t Sweat It: Getting Through Security 

Don’t be me. I once felt hundreds of eyes on me at the Edinburgh Airport security check-point. I was forced to rifle through all my liquids (sunscreen, mascara, hand sanitizer, etc.) in my carry-on tote and roller suitcase. In front of the world, or so it seemed, I had to shove them into one teeny zip-lock bag. The fact is, European airports mean what they say when they allocate one zip-lock bag per traveler for liquids. Better to corral all the family’s liquids from their various pockets, cosmetic and toiletry bags before you reach the security line to confirm everything will fit. You’ve possibly never had to perform this exercise while traveling within the US, but honestly, the reinforcement at European airports is strict. What doesn’t fit will be pitched. Buh-bye, precious moisturizer.

Read in full at Oregon Family Magazine.

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Staying Abroad: Handy tips for a successful European Airbnb adventure

Some things may surprise you, so get in front of things. No need to let the unexpecteds put a damper on your vacay.

Read in full: Staying Abroad, Handy tips for a successful European Airbnb adventure USA Today Go Escape Summer 2019.

Staying Abroad: Handy tips for a successful European Airbnb adventure

“My family recently hopscotched our way around Europe — our seventh such vacation in eight years. Instead of choosing traditional hotel lodging, we opted to stay in Airbnbs along the way. Like many other globetrotters, we were drawn to properties in historic districts. It’s an attractive option — a terrific way to economize while simultaneously soaking up the authenticity Old World cities have to offer.”

Please read in full here: 2019 USA Today Go Escape Summer.

Caribbean Getaway

Meet the Scotts, a Houston family who visits Turks & Caicos year after year

When Amy and Matt Scott were married in the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) in 2011, they were already hooked and knew it was the perfect place for their wedding. Since then, they’ve added daughters Henley, now 5 and Sadie, 4 to their family, but that hasn’t slowed them down. They’ve continued going back to Turks and Caicos, their hands-down favorite beach holiday. Though the Houston family has visited many other famous Caribbean destinations, Matt told me, “We’ve never found anywhere better than Turks & Caicos.”

I met the Scott family on board the Sun Charter’s Sail and Snorkel Tour after everyone had returned to the boat from exploring the breathtaking Pelican Reef, part of the world’s 3rd largest Barrier Reef. It was impossible to miss the vivacious Scott girls, who had briefly snorkeled and were now wrapped in towels, chilling in the sun. With Captain Matt at the helm, our 70-foot gaff-rigged schooner was an easy ride, with staff passing around a pitcher of rum punch. We sailed along Caicos Cay until anchoring to do some first-rate beachcombing for sand-dollars at Ft. George Cay. While the girls made sand-castles, Matt accepted the task of finding sand-dollars for his daughters and returned with about a dozen, causing the girls to erupt with oohs and aahs. 

Read in full at Houston Family Magazine.

Family Travel Helped Our Kids Make Their Own Memories, Not Simply Step Into Ours

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“We lived in Germany as a young expat couple and a decade later traveled back to show our daughter and her seven-year-old brother our favorite haunts. I thought it promised to be a sweet walk down memory-lane, where our kids would enjoy stepping squarely into the footprints my husband and I had left years ago.

Instead, they insisted on pulling us in new directions, almost as if they, first-timers in Germany, were the tour-guides. A huge dancing mess of little prints resulted, sprinkled wildly around our larger ones. I should have known the kids would insist on making their own footprints, creating original memories driven by them.

They transformed our time in Germany into a nonstop quest to conquer towers.

Any signage with Schloss (castle), Feste (stronghold), or Burg (fortress) sent our car careening in that direction as if driven by the giggling youth in the backseat. Without exception, we would climb to the upmost height of the ruin, up the cramped, damp, spiral stairs to the lookout tower.

These ruins–unlike American historic sites—lacked the warning signs, the guardrails, the attendants and the guides. There were no disclaimers posted, no emergency phones available if help were needed, no brochure map to navigate the castle ruin’s maze. Kids sprinting from dungeon to teetering tower were solely under the protection of their parents.”

Read in full at Houston Family Magazine

Through the Sand: A Driving Lesson From Dubai

Image 7-10-17 at 3.54 PMRead in full at The Manifest-Station. “I posed a million-dirham ($272,260.72 into today’s US dollar) question: “Do the children of Dubai play in sandboxes?” Our family, newly transplanted from the Washington, DC area where sandboxes had provided our children with hours of fun in earlier years, mulled over this question the summer we moved temporarily to the desert metropolis of Dubai. Even with all of Dubai’s development, if one catapulted high enough above the impressive skyline, Dubai seemed not too unlike one massive sandbox with ribbons of various roads lying thickly near the coast and rapidly thinning out in numbers the further away from the sandbox’s edge of the Arabian Sea, until only interminable sand remained.

The subject of driving, however, quickly claimed our attention as it rapidly morphed to the level of top priority. This critical arena of living required quick-study because learning this new turf involved navigating Dubai’s roads, roads which often betrayed the foundation they were laid upon: sand.

Continue reading “Through the Sand: A Driving Lesson From Dubai”

Our Nomadic Lifestyle Was the Best Gift We Ever Gave Our Kids

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My husband and I were living in Germany when I became pregnant for the first time. I had no idea back then how our daughter’s birth overseas would be the beginning of a family narrative that would shape my children’s lives so distinctly.

I received my doctor’s hearty approval—Kein Problem! — to vacation in Tuscany two months before my due-date. With great expectations, we joined our old German friends, transported to Florence in their sleek black Mercedes. Perhaps my doctor would have felt regret a few days later had he witnessed my husband and me standing in the wrong queue at the spectacular Il Duomo. We believed we were in line to see the cathedral, not climb to the top of the dome.

So it was, at 7-months pregnant I found myself climbing the notoriously winding, narrow stairwell of the Il Duomo. Four-hundred sixty-three steps with baby inside. It was claustrophobic. The air was stale. The thickness of other sweaty human beings clambering to the top pressed unforgivingly into my personal space: my rounded belly. Back on solid earth, I thought of what would have happened had I gone into labor then and there, in that tight, dank, ancient stairwell. I’d taken a risk, but since everything had turned out well, I was overjoyed to have that glorious view over Florence forever printed in my mind.

The mysterious relationship between pregnant woman and her unborn child is elusive. I was going on with my unorthodox life, carting my little unborn daughter along, unmindful of injecting a spirit of adventure in her.

We grew to be a family of four and lived for a short time in Dubai. Arabic music delighted us and we acclimated to the call of worship punctuating the air throughout the day.

Read the full story on SheKnows.