When researching for our trip to Italy I came across this AirBnB listing….and I knew I HAD to go there! It was 30 minutes outside of Florence, an organic grain farm in a traditional land house in Calenzano. This picture was taken out the front door!! View of a lifetime!! Going to this particular place though meant taking the train from Vicenza wouldn’t be easy (the house is 3km away from the local station through windy dirt roads, and taxi’s are almost unheard of there). So we looked into renting a car from Florence, but for the weekend it was nearly $800 since we needed a van…normal European cars wouldn’t cut it with 3 adults and 2 carseats. Luckily our friend offered to drive us in her SUV from Vicenza, a 2.5 hour drive, if we paid for tolls and gas, easy enough for us! And yay we got to spend more time with them!!
The flight there was easy-peasy, the flight home we came out with battle wounds and illness. We flew Air France and cannot speak any higher of them. The crew went above and beyond to make our journeys as easy and comfortable as possible!
We were lucky enough to find a "flash sale" for $400 round trip tickets to Venice (it was $931 total, for the three of us including insurance, you have to pay taxes for a lap-child even though they fly for "Free), When we started second guessing having Bram be a lap-child I called Air France about two weeks later to see how much an extra ticket would be, they said it would $1,200 a ticket!!!!
We had the opportunity to visit Italy for a week for our 10 year wedding anniversary. Yes we took our 19 month old son. Some people may think we’re crazy, but we couldn’t imagine not taking him. We haven’t spent a night away from him yet, he’s our life….parenting after infertility will do that to you! Also he’s been an amazing traveler (we’ve taken many road trips, flights to visit family in Florida, and a cruise when he was 13 months old) so we didn’t hesitate bringing him! We knew it wouldn't be the most "romantic" anniversary trip, but we were excited to see the awe of Italy through a child's eyes.
This weekend we drove from Maryland to Michigan and back with our 18 month old son. We did this same trip last year when he was 6 months old.. but a toddler is a whole different (cute) monster! Here's how we not only survived but actually had a great trip. In all of the 18 hours in the car we only had 1 meltdown, which in the life of a toddler is nothing short of a miracle!
We took a cruise in October 2016 with our then 13 month old. Many people have asked about our experience so I figured I should blog about it, even if I'm 7 months late in doing so!
I'm a planner, and when it comes to traveling with little ones you really should do your research before booking. Especially with cruising because not all ships are "Baby Friendly." From my research only 2 cruise lines offer amenities for those under 3 years old, Disney and a select few Royal Caribbean ships. While we would have LOVED to take a Disney cruise it was out of our price range (think double the cost of an RCCL cruise). We found the list of RCCL ships (RCCL website) and then narrowed down our time frame, we had 2 options. We chose Liberty of the Seas sailing from Galveston. This would be our EIGHTH cruise, second on RCCL, but FIRST as parents. While we knew this cruise would be vastly different from our previous sailings we were confident it would be a relaxing and fun adventure.
A new interest of mine is travel hacking which is "the art of collecting frequent flier points and miles to get free flights, hotels, tours, and more." And a major part of that is getting into the Credit Card Rewards/Point game. For many years it intimidated me. I struggled with credit card debt in my early twenties, and before we were able to save up enough for our surrogacy journey we worked hard to pay off everything and I never wanted to get into that situation again. Travel hacking is only recommended for those that have their credit under control and pay off balances each month. And those with excellent credit will have access to much better cards.
Eventually we did get the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card which offers 6% back at Supermarkets, 3% at gas stations and big chain stores, and 1% on all other purchases. There is a $95 annual fee, but I've found the benefits and cashback far outweigh that fee. We personally got over $700 in cash back last year. This was the only credit card we had for many years...
I've had several different diaper bags over the past year and a half. Nothing ever seems to be *the* bag. I've have backpack, both diaper bag specific, and a general one, a messenger bag, a regular purse, etc. and I get so frustrated, there haaaaas to be an ultimate bag. So I took to facebook mom groups and google this week to find it.
Yesterday we had our interviews to get "Global Entry" cards to make international travel easier-- easier is is a must when traveling with a toddler. It's TSA precheck (shorter security lines at US airports) PLUS expedited customs when you return from international travel. We each had to apply ($100, good for 5 years) back in late December and luckily I was able to schedule us for the final interviews all on the same day at the same time at our local airport. I had taken the day off and we spent it doing fun and exciting things (going ice skating, eating breakfast out). Going to the airport and not actually traveling is strange... but in a way felt like a mini vacay since the day was so exciting!
We waited for maybe 15 minutes, and then spent maybe another 15 minutes with the agent doing our finger prints and pictures for our IDs. He explained what the benefits were and the only "question" was "can you be trusted?" which i think he asked jokingly, but with a straight face.
I was wearing Bram in our Tula and the agent didn't make me take him out at all, even for the pictures. Bram got a finger print exemption, and as we left i got an email ping saying his application was already approved, we should get ours within 2 days. Hopefully it will be worth it for our future adventures!
Now that our triangle family is complete, follow along as we live our "life after infertility." Our travels, our joys, our laughter & our sorrows of parenting.
Chrissy is a...
full time corporate world working somewhat crunchy mom, a loving wife, an MRKH Warrior, Infertility Advocate, support group leader & a bad ass breastfeeder. In her fleeting spare time she enjoys hiking, traveling, walking her pooch, sewing and watching funny or sappy TV shows.