Category Archives: travel and adventure

tulum mexico travel guide - via the sweetest digs

off to mexico: tulum travel guide

16th April 2015

This is the year I turned 30. Some of my very best girlfriends also hit this same milestone this year, so we decided that rather than sending each other gifts back and forth across the country, we would organize a 30th birthday trip. One big present to ourselves and each other. We debated on where to go, but when one of my friends mentioned that she had had a pretty magical time the year before in Tulum, Mexico it didn’t take long to convince the rest of us that it was the perfect spot to spend a week all together. And you guys, it did not disappoint.

tulum mexico travel guide - via the sweetest digs

We sent out the invite to a big group of friends, and in the end it was 6 of us + Dan (the only hubby who was able to join!). Don’t feel too sorry for him – he was getting major props from everyone. “Buddy, tell me your secrets. You + 6 beautiful women? Daaaamn.”

We had a pretty fabulous week. Tulum is this amazing, hip little spot in the world. You fly into Cancun, drive about 1.5 hours, past the Mayan Riviera area where you see entrances to all kinds of big all inclusive style resorts, you go over a bridge and then are welcomed to this little strip of boutique hotels, restaurants, yoga studios and shops.

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Note that this is different from the main town/city of Tulum, which is about a 10 minute drive away. This little piece of paradise is along the beach – roughly a 10km stretch.

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FOOD

Tulum is a foodie paradise. There are SO many amazing restaurants to enjoy. Keep in mind that you won’t be eating cheaply as you might elsewhere in Mexico. It’s sort of like eating at the fanciest restaurants at home, but at “family restaurant” prices. You could expect to spend $15-$20 for a pretty spectacular dinner entree.

Honestly, there wasn’t one restaurant that we didn’t like.

tulum mexico food guide - via the sweetest digs

Breakfast consisted of eggs for Dan and a “caribbean cup” for me (granola + yoghurt + fresh fruit) from Ahau.

Lunches varied, but would almost always be from one of the restaurants on the beach, so that we could sit and enjoy the view. We found that if you ate at a restaurant, they didn’t mind you using their beach lounge chairs. If you’re staying at a hotel that is on the other side of the road (ie. not beachfront), you want to be strategic about where you buy food from so you can use their chairs/loungers for the day.

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We had dinners along the various restaurants on the strip – some right on the beach, and others on the “jungle side” (across the road from the beach).

Posada Margherita > Probably my favourite of the group in terms of atmosphere. It has the look of an old Italian villa and everywhere you turn there is something beautiful and rustic to look at. Honestly, I could have happily stayed there the whole week. Since I actually spent my 30th birthday during the week we were there, this is where we celebrated that evening with dinner and drinks. The pasta is made fresh and to order, the menus are these huge blocks of wood, and the whole ambiance was just unreal. It’s a must, for sure.

tulum mexico travel guide - via the sweetest digs

Just some snapshots from around Posada during the day… 20150403_131702

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Hartwood > This is the major buzzed about restaurant in Tulum. It was named by NY Times as a restaurant to travel for, and was featured in Bon Appetit magazine. It is a bit of a pain to get into – you need to hit it at just the right time in the afternoon (2ish) to wait in line to get on the dinner list. There was a lineup everyday, and most of the people in the line didn’t get on the list. After not arriving at the right time for a few days in a row, we almost gave up, but one of my girlfriends was super adamant that we have dinner there and stuck it out.

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Lucky for us, she got us in, and I have to admit, it was totally worth it. Some of the best food I have ever had. My steak was unbelievable, Dan’s pork was delish, and apparently the octopus one of my girlfriend’s got was the most amazing she’s ever had. Oh and the vegetables were hilarious — probably the biggest beet you’ve ever seen, served whole. I ordered two different veggie sides – a sweet potato and plantain – and they were both served whole as well, and ridiculously delicious.

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Coco Tulum > The pizza at this joint is so, so good. We had to wait a while for ours as they all go into one wood burning oven, but it was worth it.

Gitano’s > AMAZING atmosphere – live music, twinkly lights, just stunning. We all had yummy taco’s but the real winner were the drinks. Really fabulous cocktails.

Secret Garden > Just had drinks there in the loungy section at the back, but it had a low key, sweet vibe. Drinks were delish and the menu looked good from what we could tell.

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Shiva > Indian resto under a huge thatched roof with these massive couches to lounge on and have your dinner at. Again, amazing atmosphere and the food was great, too. Dan and I waddled home after eating far too much (as you do with Indian…).

Others to check out > Playa Papaya, Amansala (especially healthy menu – good for lunches), Amansala’s taco booth that is located across from their hotel, Hemingway’s, El Posada, and the list goes on. You really can’t go wrong anywhere, pretty much.

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ACCOMMODATION

In order to save some money, we all stayed at YogaShala. It is a small place – about 12 rooms – that is on the jungle side, so not directly on the beach. The rooms were good (nothing super special, but clean and well looked after), and the money we saved by staying there meant we could splurge on dinners and activities (we were all on a budget). If I went back though, I would probably save up a little more and splash out at one of the beachfront spots. Just nice to have the view + a dedicated beach lounge chair waiting just for you. I won’t list out places to stay as we haven’t tried them out, but there are tons along the beach – a quick look on TripAdvisor would bring them up. Oh, my girlfriend who had been there before stayed at Coco Tulum and said that the beach front huts were amazing and beautiful, but the one downside is that it’s a shared washroom (she would still stay there again though – she loved it).

One thing I will say about YogaShala if you stay there, is that we didn’t like the bed in the mezzanine room. It was floating, which sounds all romantic, but is actually incredible uncomfortable. Major bed swaying anytime someone rolls over at night. We were propping suitcases and towels underneath to try to stabilize that bad boy. Oh and it was really “in the jungle” with big screened-in windows… which again sounds lovely in theory, but actually means that you hear the birds really loudly first thing in the morning and can hear the music and other goings-on from the nearby restaurants and hotels late at night. My girlfriends in the rooms on the main floor had beds with legs and not as many windows – better sleeping conditions, in my opinion!

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The level of place you stay can really vary from more low key spots like ours to like $500 a night super chic hotels. It’s just a matter of how much you are able to spend, really. None of them are all inclusive type places though with big pools and rooms with air conditioning and TVs. Just know that Tulum is this earthy place with a zen vibe and all of the hotels are more like “eco-boutiques”. Beautiful, but not with a ton of western amenities. For instance, this whole area of Tulum doesn’t have a water system yet – all the water is delivered in big trucks to the area everyday, and each hotel has their own waste system. So if you want an all inclusive type vacay, this probably isn’t the spot for you. I will say though, that electricity wasn’t an issue for us and you could easily get wi-fi just about anywhere.

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In terms of travelling to Tulum as a family, I think it would depend on how much you had to spend and how old your kids were. I’m not sure that I would go there with young kids, as I would probably prefer somewhere with a pool and more kid-friendly activities to do during the day. Going to yoga classes and fancy restaurants isn’t all that fun with a toddler, you know? Of course there is the beach, which is endlessly fun for kids, but not too much else. Just something to keep in mind. What I would potentially do is stay at one of the larger resorts just outside of Tulum, and come for a daytrip!

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THINGS TO DO

YOGA >> If you’re into yoga, then this is the spot to indulge. There are various places that offer classes – YogaShala, Ahau, Amansala, etc – and it’s fun to go to different places to experience the different styles and teachers. Admittedly Dan and I planned on doing way more yoga than we actually ended up doing (whoops), but my girlfriends went to at least one class on the daily. Expect to pay $12-$15 per class, as you likely would at home.

KITE SURFING >> We didn’t do any, but there were tons of folks kite surfing along the beach. Lessons and rentals were available, and it did look like lots of fun!

SPA >> Want to really pamper yourself? Go hit up Coqui Coqui spa. WOAH. I had a 3-hour package with body wrap, scrub, massage, and essential oils bath on my birthday, and it was out of this world. Just check out the pic below of my treatment room (that was the bath all prepped for me at the end of my treatments). Not cheap, but worth every penny in my opinion. The massage especially was excellent.

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Even if you don’t indulge in the spa services. go check out Coqui Coqui. It’s an AMAZING old stone building – so, so gorgeous. They even have a perfumerie so you can make your own scent.

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TULUM RUINS >> The Tulum ruins are only about 10 minutes away by taxi (or you could bike) and are absolutely worth checking out. Beautiful history and great views. Plus there was a popsicle vendor there when we finished our walk through and it might have been the best coconut popsicle I have ever had.

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CHICHEN ITZA >> If you have a full day to dedicate, I have heard that the Chichen Itza ruins are amazing. We didn’t make it all the way there, but if we had’ve had a day or two more, I definitely would’ve made the trek.

CENOTES >> We took a half day and went to the Gran Cenote, which is only about 10 minutes from Tulum. It was smaller and more out in the open than I expected, but it was still neat to throw on some snorkel gear and swim around. You swim under the caves – the water is incredibly blue, there are bats lining the top of the caves, and you can see some interesting stuff under water (but no fish really – too many people I think). We did a few turtles though, which was cool. I wouldn’t say that you *need* to go to the Gran Cenote – probably any of them would be just as fun to check out.

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RELAX >> Most of our time in Tulum was just spent relaxing on the beach with a drink in hand. Oh and lots of girl chat for me (the best, right?). Bring a few books with you, leave the computer at home, and just zone out. It’s so good to do that every now and then.

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Oh and bring flash tats. My girlfriend brought a whole stack of these, and I’m telling you, they are the bomb. We had them on our feet, arms, legs, everywhere.

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SHOP >> When you are first coming into that beach stretch of Tulum, there are a bunch of little shops right away selling largely Mexican souvenirs like blankets, hammocks, bags, clothes, etc. Definitely worth checking them out as the selection is great and they are really cute. If you want slightly lower prices though, then I would recommend taking a taxi into the actual town of Tulum as you can find the same stuff about 20% cheaper. I bought several blankets, a bag, and a table runner. I would have loved to bring home a whack of the embroidered pillows and poufs, but they were actually quite pricey, so had to restrain myself. Beautiful though, right?

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There are also quite a few little boutiques dotted along the main Tulum road, amongst the hotels and restaurants. Rather than selling Mexican souvenir type things, these were more specialty goods. And definitely a lot more expensive (like what you’d expect to pay at a boutique shop at home). Beautiful places to browse!

20150402_104933The decor of so many of these places just blew me away. There was so much thought put into the small details, and I was just loving every single nook and cranny. Each spot had its’ own character.

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I have a feeling that this little spot is going to change drastically over the next 10 years. It has become suddenly so incredibly hip and popular, and I think that special vibe it has going on will morph into something different over time as it gets more and more developed. Even during the one week we were there, we saw a new store pop up. They literally took it from a basic wood box to a whole store with inventory in a matter of days.

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All in all, we had one lovely week. We were sorely missing our little lady (who had stayed home with my parents at our place) and couldn’t wait to get back to her by the end of it. We have left her for nights here and there, but this was the longest stretch that we had ever been away together. I definitely had some tears at the airport, but once we were away and I was getting regular (2x a day!) updates from my Mum with photos, I relaxed and really took advantage of the quiet, no-responsibility time with Dan. We have enjoyed travelling with her in the past (have taken her to Puerto Rico, Florida, and England), but it’s also nice to get some adults-only time, you know? A little taste of what life used to be like pre-baby, and a reminder that we are still us.

If you’re thinking of going to Tulum, here are some more reviews/guides worth checking out:
Design Love Fest
100 Layer Cake
A House in the Hills
TurnTable Kitchen
A Week at the Beach
36 Hours in Tulum, NY Times

Have you guys ever been to Tulum? Or elsewhere in Mexico? Been travelling lately? Got a favourite travel spot to share? Tell me about it. I’d love to add it to my bucket list!

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my weekend according to instagram

5th August 2014

If you guys follow me on instagram, you will have noticed that there was a wedding, girlfriends, and anniversary celebration all packed in there this past weekend.

When I was at Queen’s University for my undergrad, I lived with five girlfriends. It was way, way too much fun, and I love them all dearly. Can you believe that it took us seven years to have a full reunion? There have been times that all but one have been together (two weddings and some birthday celebrations), but it took until my girlfriend Renita’s wedding in Toronto this past weekend to get all six of us. We had about 24 hours together and we made it count.

First – the gorgeous bride and handsome groom. You can tell it was a fun wedding, hey?

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A selfie, of course. I have some serious crazy eyes going on (how does one eye look SO much bigger than the other?!), but I still love the photo. There is a lot of happiness going on here.

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Here were five of us waiting pre-wedding. It was raining reaaaally heavily outside, where the wedding was supposed to take place, so just after this photo we kicked things into high gear and helped transform the hallway into a wedding alter. #lastminuteweddingplanners

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Luckily the rain let up after the ceremony though and we walked over a simply gorgeous reception. The first dance was lovely, but you should’ve seen the dancing going on on this floor into the wee hours of the morning. There were live Caribbean drummers and just a whole lot of shaking.

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We were slightly obsessed with documenting our reunion. #360. (We lived at 360 Brock Street in Kingston back in the day).

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Oh and this guy was a total star. The other fellas weren’t able to make it, so Danny was at a table with all of us ladies. Luckily though, he is pretty used to our constant chatter and giggles – he was around back in the Queen’s days and just gets it. Ha!

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The next day, we got our tired butts out of bed and strolled around Yorkville in Toronto. Besides getting coffee, our priority was getting ourselves to anthropologie. So much love for that store.

This fixture was hanging from the second floor. You could totally DIY a smaller version of this by dipping some paint sticks or shims into a few different colours of paint and hanging them from something like a piece of driftwood.

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I always get such inspiration from the patterns and colours in anthro. All of this dishware and the painted chairs had me at hello.

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And of course getting into the change room and trying things on is way more fun with girlfriends around. None of us walked out empty handed.

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After enjoying the rest of the day together, we sadly had to part ways. Most of the girls were headed back home to Vancouver. I was feeling pretty blue, but luckily Dan and I had some more celebrating to do over the weekend – our 3rd wedding anniversary! Our actual anniversary isn’t until tomorrow, but since Maya was staying with my parents, we decided to tack on the extra night and celebrate.

We stayed at a boutique Inn in Picton – which was on the way home from Toronto – called The Manse. It’s an old stone building that has been totally renovated and has the most gorgeous landscaping.

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Dan was a super clever husband and called ahead to have flowers in our room for me. Well played, honey.

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We didn’t really leave the Inn – it was just too nice! The chef is AMAZING and so we had dinner there in the dining room. It was 3 courses of heaven. And then the next morning, after another delish meal for breakfast, we just lounged around by the pool and hot tub. Pretty blissful.

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After 3 nights of being away from Maya (longest ever!), we were pretty giddy to come home to her. I don’t think she really missed us one bit – she was having way too much fun with Nana and Grandpa – but we gave her some extra squeezes and snuggles last night anyway.

Do you guys have any little roadtrips planned for this summer? Did you do anything special this past weekend? Any weddings to go to? Oh and if you want a glimpse into what I’m up to, follow me here on instagram!

 

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our trip to england with baby: a recap

23rd May 2014

You guys! We’re back! Sorry for the radio silence for the last 3 weeks. Woah it has been busy.

So I packed Maya and myself up, and jetted off to England with my parents. Dan sadly had to stay home for work – and we missed him! – but it was a lovely trip. Maya was great on both plane rides (one red eye, and one daytime). We used our trick of booking the two aisle seats (leaving the middle one free) at the back of the plane, and went up to the gate as soon as it opened to try to get that middle seat free. And guess what? Worked like a charm both times. This meant Maya could snooze laying down on the middle seat between my Mum and I – though we had to be ready to grab her when she tried to roll off the seat in her sleep! (Oh and to get her to sleep I would bounce her at the back of the plane in my arms, then carefully put her down in the seat).

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One thing was so funny was when we landed – The plane had been quiet the whole time, Maya in her little bubble between my Mum and I, and then as soon as we were down and the seatbelt sign turned off, EVERYONE stood up, as they do. Maya’s eyes just about bugged out of her head as she looked all around, thinking “where did you all come from?!”. Oh my goodness, my Mum and I were killing ourselves laughing. The look on her face was priceless.

We spent a week with my 93-year-old grandmother, who got to meet Maya for the first time. It was really something. And you know what? The kid did exactly what she should, and gave my grandma more smiles than anyone! Seriously, all she had to do was look her way and Maya would be beaming and chatting.

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Maya and Great Grandma Cynthia

We did little daytrips from my grandmother’s place in Somerset, went for lots of walks, had lunches with family and friends, and enjoyed life in her quiet little village. Totally lovely.

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Then for our last 4 days we packed up and drove east to Chichester. We hadn’t been there before, and it was so nice to get to explore the city. It is very attractive, with all kinds of old buildings and architecture, great shops, and tons of beautiful spots within a short drive.

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There were a few challenging parts to the trip. Maya picked up a cold bug on both flights (going and coming back), which is never super fun. Luckily they didn’t plague her for too long, but still. The worst though? My little lovebug seems to have inheritted her mummy’s carsickness gene. Driving on the winding, narrow, English roads were seriously unpleasant. I would be sitting in the back, feeling a bit queasy myself, and then she would be in her carseat next to me, upchucking as I held up a plastic bag to catch the puke. Definitely not my favourite moment of motherhood so far. Needless to say we tried to limit the long car rides. Driving up to Heathrow in crazy traffic on the day we left was brutal. However – we survived! Anyone have any tips for babies with carsickness? We haven’t had an issue since being back in Canada, so I’m hoping that our more wide and straight roads here aren’t a problem (plus we have a bigger car, too).

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Not a happy girl as we drove by Stonehenge (you can sort of see it through the window!)20140508_112323

Mummy was very grateful for these moments.

The time change going over actually didn’t end up being an issue – Maya just went to bed later than usual for the first few days (and woke up later), and over a few nights adjusted. But coming back to Canada? Woah Nelly there have been some early mornings. 3am and missy was up and ready for playing and breakfast. Luckily that has past and she is back to her 6:30am (ish) wakeup time – good for mum and dad.

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In her UK punk rock outfit (a gift!), with frilly white socks of course.038

You do what you gotta do when you’re travelling with a baby. Maya’s first time getting her diaper changed in the trunk! Got some funny looks from passerbys… 

Life is still a bit crazy and we hope to have some good news updates to share on the renovation front soon (I feel like those permits *must* be coming soon…!). Keep your fingers crossed for us. Thanks for sticking around with me during this busy time. I’ll be back to more my more regular blogging soon! Hope you guys are enjoying the start to summer – hello, cottage season! xo.

On Exmoor (National Park)

up, up, and away!

1st May 2014

Maya and I are heading off tonight with my parents to jolly old England. I haven’t been back since Dan and I moved home from London in 2011, and there is one special grandmother that is pretty darn excited to meet Maya! It’s going to be so nice to introduce her to a bunch of different family members and family friends over there. We will be over for about two weeks and staying mostly in the south west – where my grandmother lives.

On Exmoor (National Park)

On Exmoor (National Park)

Dan is going to be holding down the fort over here. He has taken a fair bit of time already for holidays (Florida, Puerto Rico, etc) and so we want to save the rest of his available holiday time for this summer. We will miss him for sure!

Wish me luck with the time change. I’m a little worried that an overnight flight + 5 hour time change + teething (3 new teeth in the past couple of weeks, and 1 still breaking through) will mean disaster. Hopefully not…!

Cheerio, daahlings!

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travelling with baby (part 2): what we brought

3rd April 2014

So in follow-up to the post I wrote the other week with tips on flying with a baby, I thought I would give you guys the scoop on what we packed. Like I said before, we are by no means experts, but having done two trips with the bambino now, us newbie parents have learned a couple of things.

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>> For Sleeping

A surprising number of hotels or apartment rentals actually have pack and plays available, so it’s definitely worth asking ahead of time as you might not have to figure out what to bring for sleeping. Even if wherever you are staying doesn’t have one available, it is also worth checking around to see if you can rent one from somewhere nearby. A girlfriend of mine did this in Florida and it only cost about $20 for a month long rental (and often you can rent things like exersaucers and high chairs too!).

Ultimately though, you are likely going to need a pack and play at some stage for travelling around – even if it’s just to grandparents. There are some great affordable options (Graco, etc), but we decided to pay a little extra for one that is really meant for travel. Light, easy to carry, easy to setup, etc. I looked at the Bjorn travel crib, the Phil & Ted’s Traveller, the JourneyBee, and others. In the end, I ordered the Guava Lotus travel crib, which had all of the features we wanted and was a good price. We haven’t gotten it yet, but we’ll be using it for our trip to England this summer so I’ll keep you posted on how we like it!

We have a fairly portable sound machine (it’s this one from First Years), so we brought it with us and also brought the lovey (small blanket) that Maya sleeps with. This helped us create a similar sleeping atmosphere in the new place, and I think it helped her feel comfortable. She didn’t seem to have any issues with sleeping in the new spaces.

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>> For Walking + Driving

For our trips we have brought both the carrier (we have a Manduca) and a stroller, and have used them both a bunch. The carrier is great for the plane and to walk along the beach, but Dan and I both find that our backs get sore after wearing Maya for too long on regular walks — enter the stroller! We purchased the UPPAbaby 2013 G-Luxe Stroller, which is one of the higher end “umbrella” strollers. The price point is high, but oh my god I love it. It is crazy light, folds up like a dream, can be carried over your shoulder (there is a strap), has a good basket underneath, a cup holder, and the seat reclines – making it good for naps. We use it for travel, but it’s also the stroller that I keep in the back of our car for when we go on outings (mall, etc). Oh and it even comes with a travel bag that you can pack the stroller into when gate-checking it at the airport. If any damage happens during travel and it is in the bag, UppaBaby provides a full warranty!

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One extra thing that we purchased was a sun shade for the stroller. Although the G-luxe has one of the best sun shades going, we found that it didn’t provide enough protection in the hot sun. Since we were in tropical locations with such crazy sun, I was super paranoid about Maya’s skin being exposed. We bought this Diono sun canopy and it worked like a treat. It attaches easily to any stroller (you secure it to the bars), and gives a much wider shaded area. And when Maya would fall asleep on a longer walk, we would pull the shade down to cover the whole front of the stroller. It packs up lightly too, which is great.

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As for driving, we have always brought our carseat with us. You can rent them from car rental agencies, but the per day rate can be high if you are staying somewhere for quite a while. I actually didn’t know this, but a friend told me before our first trip that a lot of the “bucket” style carseats can be fixed into cars using a seatbelt – meaning you don’t need to bring along the base. We have a Graco seat, and luckily this was the case. Yay for one less thing to have to bring! Once your kiddo has graduated to the bigger carseats though, I think you need to lug the whole thing with you. One good thing is that the carseat will be checked along with your suitcase(s), so you don’t need to carry it around the airport or anything. We used a large duffle bag to zip our carseat into, to help minimize any possible damage.

>> For Play

We don’t have too many toys for Maya to begin with, but we have brought her favourite 2-3 toys with us on our trips to help create a play space wherever we are. At home we have those rubber tiles and blankets on the floor where she plays, but of course you don’t have that stuff when you travel. What we would do instead was to grab a few of the towels that were provided where we were staying, and then lay them out onto the floor to create a Maya-space. That way she wasn’t roaming around on the floor (dirty, etc) and if she spat up or whatever, we could easily clean the towels (no staining a rug!).

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Because our girl loves to jump around, we also picked up a jolly jumper (got ours for $10 off Kijiji) that you attach to a doorway, as they are relatively easy to put into a suitcase. Just remember though, that you need to make sure that there will be a doorway with crown molding where you are headed — that was a boo boo on our part! We got to our apartment in Puerto Rico and there was nowhere to attach it. Wop wop. Luckily they had an exersaucer that we were able to borrow, so our girl got had plenty of places to play!

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>> For Eating

In terms of formula and baby food when travelling, how much you bring sort of depends on where you’re going. If you’re not sure, best to bring everything you might need. We use a specific formula and don’t like changing it, so have always brought enough to keep us going for our whole trip. In Puerto Rico, when Maya was starting to eat some pureed foods, we brought about 6 jars with us, and then were able to buy the rest when we got there (just make sure to read that ingredient list if the brands are different!). At home I make my own baby food, but when you’re travelling, it is really convenient to go with the jars.

Like with pack and plays, ask around for high chairs. We were lucky in Puerto Rico and the place we were staying was able to provide one. We do, however, have this travel “my little seat” that is fabric and packs up to be really small. We haven’t had to put it to use yet though, so I can’t really vouch for it.

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>> Other

For diapers and wipes, we brought enough to last us through our air travel and a first day, but then always made a trip to the local drug store to buy some packs when we got there. It’s just not worth taking up all that room in your suitcase for something that you can buy everywhere. I have never brought our cloth diapers with us — too much to pack and having to rely on good laundry facilities made it too tricky for us.

On our first trip I way over-packed the amount of clothes I would need for Maya. This was partly because I was so excited to use her summer clothes, and also because I just had no idea how much I would need. If you know there is going to be laundry available where you are staying, you really don’t need to go overboard – just a few of every type of item (short sleeve onesie, long sleeve onesie, sleepers, pants/shorts, sweatshirt, etc). Like with adults, having layers is handy.

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Well, I think that’s about it! Hopefully that will be at least a little bit helpful to any of you families out there? Do you guys have any great travelling-with-baby tips and tricks? Man, when Dan and I went away for a weekend by ourselves recently and we only had to bring one tiny little bag for the two of us, it was such a dream. It seems that the smaller the person, the more you have to pack! 

*Affiliate links were used in this post.

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travelling with a baby: some tips for flying

20th March 2014

So now that we have done our trip to Florida over Christmas when Maya was 3 months, and our recent trip to Puerto Rico for my girlfriend’s wedding when Maya was 6 months (we got lucky with hot vacay’s this winter!), I feel like I can pass on some tips and tricks for flying with a baby. I’m definitely no expert, but both were long enough travel days and used different airlines, so I feel like we had a bit of variety in our experience. Some were nighttime flights, some were daytime ones, and all had connections.

I was definitely nervous before going, but in the end found it not to be too bad. Here was some of the stuff that worked for us.

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>> Seats. When we booked our tickets, we chose a window and aisle seat fairly close to the back of the plane. We did this because the middle seat is always the last one selected, so we figured if there were by chance some empty seats on the flight, a middle one (especially near the back) is the most likely to be left open. On all the flights we went on we asked when we were checking in if the flight was full – and the answer was always yes. So we assumed that we would have someone sitting in between us and would just ask them if they wanted the window instead (and we would take the middle and aisle). Who’s going to *want* a middle seat over a window anyway, right? But just as a double check measure, when we got to the gate, we would go up and ask again if the flight was full. And you know what? For about half of our flights, it turned out it wasn’t entirely full, and they were able to do a little switcharoos and give us that empty middle seat. The extra room makes such a nice difference to give the baby somewhere to sit and move around. We even got Maya to fall asleep lying down in the seat on a few flights! So lesson learned? Always check again at the gate. Those folks seem to be able to have more control over the seat selection.

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>> Boarding. This might seem obvious, but board the plane early to ensure that you get enough space in the overhead bins. All flights give priority boarding to first class travelers, but most will also allow families, elderly, and others who require assistance to board early. Take advantage of it. You really don’t want one of your bags in the overhead bin 10 rows behind you or something.

 

>> Sleep. We tried to get Maya to sleep anytime we were waiting around in the airport — connections, waiting for flight, etc. She is usually able to fall asleep in the stroller or the carrier if you walk around for long enough, so we took that time to just walk walk walk, until she had nodded off. We knew that sleeping on the plane would be more difficult, so it was important to catch as many zzz’s for her in the airport. Any schedule you might have at home for naptime sort of goes out the window when you’re flying, so for us we just tried to get her to sleep whenever we could. The more sleep, the happier the babe.

Once on the plane, we ended up getting her to sleep a few different ways. When we had the empty middle seat we would lie her down with some cozy blankets all around, and then give her a bottle and sing quietly until she nodded off. You obviously need to stay alert when they are sleeping like this though, as you can’t let them roll around! We also used the carrier and had her fall asleep in it, but we found it to be a bit uncomfortable to sit in after a while. Because of that, we would instead hold her facing outwards or inwards (whichever she preferred) and went to the back of the plane to bounce a little. I would just go and stand behind the bathrooms where the hosts/hostesses are. They were always super friendly. This usually made her sleepy and then we would go back to our seats, sit down carefully, and she would stay asleep. It’s not the best because then your arms aren’t really free to do anything else, but if you just want to put your head back and try to doze a little yourself, it’s not bad.

One of the things I totally would’ve used if we had the opportunity are those attachable bassinets that some airlines have. None of our flights had them, but if you are flying with a baby then I would definitely call the airline ahead of time and see if you can swing one of those. You sit up in the first row and the bassinet attaches to the wall in front of the seats. I think the weight limit is pretty limited (15 pounds rings a bell?), but it’s definitely worth checking into.

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>> Take off/Landing. So funnily enough I was told by the stewardesses that I couldn’t wear the carrier during take-off, and then that wearing the carrier is a great position, and then getting absolutely no instruction – all depending on which airline I flew with. There clearly aren’t any hard and fast rules on this. For the most part, I think that holding the baby in an upright position (like a burping position) is the way to go – so wearing the carrier is actually perfect for this. Only once was I asked to take off the carrier — so I just undid the arm straps, but kept the middle all done up. Then during take off and landing I would just sing quietly to Maya in her ear. This seemed to distract her enough and she was happy as a clam. If your baby is a soother baby, I would pop one in as a distraction, and in case it helped with the ear popping. I also had a bottle at the ready, and wouldn’t have hesitated to adjust my holding position with her a bit to be able to pop it in, had she started to fuss. If you are breastfeeding, I would be ready to quickly get out a boob! The flight staff are going to be sitting down themselves during take off and landing and won’t actually be able to see you. I would do whatever works to calm your baby, as long as you are holding them securely in case of turbulence.

 

>> What to pack. In terms of what to have in your diaper bag, we kept it pretty simple: diapers + wipes with a portable changing pad, 1 big muslin blanket, 2 changes of clothes (layers so it was easy to put on/remove if the plane was hot or cold, or if things got messy), a couple of favourite toys, a soother, a couple of bibs, and several bottles (however many were required for the length of travel). We always put Maya in a clean diaper before boarding each flight, to try to minimize having to change her on the plane. Changing on the flight is do-able, but not the easiest in those small bathrooms.

We had the diaper bag with most of those things in it, plus the things that I wanted for myself on the plane (it doubled as my purse), so it was all at-the-ready. Then we had a small suitcase as the other carry-on with other things that we didn’t think we would need on the flight: one of the change of clothes, all of my pumping gear, extra formula, extra diapers, etc. That way you can have the diaper bag on the floor where you are sitting, and the other in the overhead bin, and don’t need to mess about on the flight trying to get things.

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>> Bottle Feeding and Baby Food. Breastfeeding is obviously a lot easier if you’re travelling, but if that isn’t an option for you like it wasn’t for me, you’ll be happy to hear that with a bit of planning it really wasn’t a big deal to bottle feed during our travel. It wasn’t a problem in any airport we went through to have bottles that were already full with water, or to bring liquid formula. For when we did water, we just measured out the right amount of water in each bottle and sealed it. Don’t do bottles that are too huge, because you need to throw out what the baby doesn’t drink — no fridge to put it in and save for next time. Then we had pre-measured amounts of powdered formula in a plastic container (like this one) that were ready to mix in and shake. We didn’t want to have to rely on getting water from the hostesses during flights just in case we were in a pinch. If it were a long flight though, we could’ve done that. Since the water had been sitting out, it was at room temperature, which is how Maya drinks her bottles. If you needed to warm them up, I’m sure you could ask the hostess for some warm water to dunk the bottle into.

We also had some jars of baby food with us, and again this wasn’t a problem to take through security. Just get it out when you are going through the conveyor and the guards will run in through a test thing. No biggie. We tried to feed Maya actual food before boarding – we would just hit up an airport restaurant with a high chair. We figured it would just be too messy on the plane.

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One of my best tips? Travel with grandparents. Man those two can seriously help a girl out. I even got to read a gossip magazine or two like the BB (“before baby”) travel days. The best!

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So I think that’s about it for tips and tricks on flying with a baby. I’ll do a part 2 travel post with our “go to” packing list, and other lessons learned. Stay tuned for that one!

Have you guys done any flying with a baby? Any advice or tips you want to share? Any horrible stories? One of my girlfriends who flew with her baby who had colic brought little gift bags for the travelers next to her with things like earplugs, gum, and a little note “from the baby” that said something like “Hi! It’s my first time traveling. Sorry if I get scared and cry a bit. Please be patient!”. I thought that was a cute idea! 

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the florida recap

10th January 2014

The weather here in Ottawa has been ridiculously cold (colder than I can remember for a long while!) and it has me seriously missing warm, sunny Florida. We had such a great time there in December. Here is a little recap – also known as, photos of maya everywhere we went.

Maya and I headed down with my parents, and spent two weeks just the four of us. It was lovely. We took it easy – going into town for little adventures, swimming at the pool, reading, eating, and playing (and daily sleeping in for mama … amazing!). Man it is nice having grandparents around, isn’t it?

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And then in mid-December, my parents headed back home and Dan and his family headed down. I was sad to see my parents go, but boy was it fun to have Daddy Dan back! Maya was pretty pumped! Have I mentioned the girl is obsessed with her Dad? OBSESSED. So many smiles and laughs for that guy.

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We had fun walking down to the beach – though often had to keep it short to keep miss M out of the sun. (Just in case there are questions about it – this is the Manduca baby carrier. It’s amazing! This is our improvised 1-arm version of wearing it when M is super awake and wants to look around. Usually we wear it with both straps over the shoulders though, which almost always results in a pretty sleepy babe.)DSC_0834

She loved the sand and dipping her toes in the water. Her first time in the ocean! DSC_0739

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And on Christmas Day, she was totally spoiled (and actually kinda got the hang of opening presents!). Our niece and nephew and some other cousins were there, which was so much fun. Christmas with young kids is just magic, isn’t it? I can’t wait for that when Maya is a little older.DSC_0824

DSC_0847It was a fabulous holiday. Family, great food, and super weather — I call that a good time! Now back to regular life. Hello, snowsuits! Have a great weekend, you guys!

babymoon: the recap

23rd April 2013

Okay, so time for the full scoop on our trip to NYC!!

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We stayed with Dan’s aunt and boyfriend who live in the Upper West Side (uptown Manhattan neighbourhood that is just west of Central Park).  It was so nice to stay with family – not only to get all caught up and do lots of visiting, but it was so comfortable, fun, in a great location, and good on our pocket books!

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We had great weather while we were there. It was beautiful spring – warm and tons of sunshine. Perfect for a lot of strolling around.

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On this particular day, we spent a bunch of time in the Park – including lunch at the Boathouse (the restaurant in Central Park) – so yummy and scenic!

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The blossoms were out in full swing and was just so pretty. I love the soft pink colour, don’t you?

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We did a bit of shopping — some shoes for both of us from Designer Shoe Warehouse (that place has great deals!), a couple of finds from anthropologie, and a maternity top from Rosie Pope. Have you guys seen her TV show (called ‘Pregnant in Heels’?). I was mildly obsessed with the show, and therefore with Rosie! Her shop in the Upper East Side was small but gorgeous, and had the nicest sales girls, They even offered Dan a beer while I tried things on. Way to win over the dudes, Rosie.

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Our week was kinda summed up by strolling and eating. A lot of eating. Here we are at Le Pain Quotidien (we don’t have one in Ottawa and LOVED them when we were living in London, England). Such yummy coffee and treats.
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Brunch at Sarabeth’s. The lemon + ricotta pancakes were out of this world.

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And bagels from Zabar’s. It looks like it was just Dan that did a lot of eating…. I promise I was very much involved in these activities! :) DSC_0783

We did a few evenings out on the town. One was to see tony-award winning musical ‘Once’ (fabulous music!!!), and to see a documentary at the Lincoln Centre called ‘No Place on Earth’ (highly recommended).DSC_0744

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We spent another day visiting with Dan’s cousin and checking out the Chelsea Market, Highline, and the Chelsea neighbourhood.

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The Chelsea market has this awesome industrial vibe, with some great touches that I fell in love with. How neat are these big orb pendants with paper butterflies?

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Or this huge vintage clock? Love, love, love.

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Highline is an area of old rain tracks that have been converted into long stretches of garden and walkway. Such a neat way to use the unused space.DSC_0768

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Another day was spent out in Brooklyn – walking along the water, checking out the architecture of the Brooklyn streets (I think we were in the ‘Brooklyn Heights’ neighbourhood), popping into the shops, and sitting at cafes.

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For $3 at a Brooklyn thrift store, I found these hilarious flash cards. They are all slang words – words that Dan and I embarrassingly use far too often (ex – bling, cheddar, tight, etc) – with the definition and photo with quote on the other side. We had such a good chuckle going through them. I see an art project in their future!DSC_0821

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On one of our last days we popped over to 5th Avenue and down to the Plaza Hotel for tea.

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The ‘Eloise’ shop in the Plaza is hilarious (remember the Eloise books + movies?). The tea party room was a total pink dream! DSC_0851

There are few things I love more than a good afternoon tea, and the Plaza didn’t disappoint. Yummy scones, sweet desserts, and great ambiance (though the devonshire cream for the scones was way too meagre for this English clotted cream loving gal!).

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All in all, an absolutely fabulous babymoon! So nice for Dan and I to unwind, take a bit of time out for each other, and plan and dream about this little baby girl of ours.

Have you guys had any really memorable NYC trips? Ever go on a babymoon? Got any trips planned for this summer?

babymoon time

14th April 2013

Hubby and I are off this week for our babymoon! Heading to New York City for a week of visiting with family, eating, strolling around the city, and relaxing.

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I’ve been to New York a couple of times but it’s like London or Paris – there is a never ending list of things to do and see. I can’t wait to do some more exploring! If you have any favourite spots in the city (restaurants, shops, neighbourhoods, sites, etc), let me know. My parents are house-sitting for us, so our little pad will be looked after while we’re away.

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For a totally relaxing week, I am officially unplugging from the blog. I’ll see y’all back here next Monday! Have a great week!! xo.

a long weekend in Boston

4th September 2012

Surprise! We just got back from a fabulous extra long-weekend in Boston. It was great. Full of sight-seeing, eating, walking around, and just enjoying the city (and some of the small towns outside of the city too). It was my Mum’s birthday, so this was a ma + pa + daniel + gemma getaway.

I’ll get to the details of what we did, what we saw, favourite spots, and tons of photos in the next week or so, but in the meantime I couldn’t help but snap some photos of the houses around Boston. These Colonial beauties with shutters and colourful doors had me totally swooning. This first one actually happens to belong to some family members of Dan’s, who we stayed with for a night. Gorgeous, right?

These others were from me snapping away like a paparazzi as we walked through various neighbourhoods.

These classic black shutters have kicked me into gear to get some onto our pad (I realize that one set of shutters on a little brick bungalow isn’t going to have quite the same effect… but a girl can try!).

The houses came in various colours – Lots of butter yellow, white, and different greys. I was ga-ga over the putty grey ones with a bright door (no surprise there!!). Do you have a favourite colour?

So pretty, right? Are you digging these classic pads like I am? I was pretty tempted to pick up and move to Boston right then and there.

Do you have any favourite house or door colours? Are you into this style of house, or do you prefer Craftsman, Georgian, Ranch, Tudor, or other styles better?  I’m a sucker for anything with a healthy dose of character and charm.