10 tips for family travel
10 tips for family travel
Top 5 Reasons why you should visit Croatia
1. The cleanest Mediterranean sea
Nowhere in Europe have I seen the sea so clear and and alive as in Croatia. Especially when traveling with kids you can´t beat the awesomeness of being able to snorkel right off the beach and feel like you´re in a fish bowl ;-)
The view from the AMAZING Radisson Blu hotel in Dubrovnik (by far the best one we´ve stayed at so far!)
3. Island hopping
Croatia has around 400 islands scattered around the coastline. Most of them are easily accessible by catamarans and car ferries running daily between most islands.
Jadrolinija is the main operator and if you´re traveling during the high seasons I recommend you book in advance.
You can´t beat a "private" beach. Kids loved swimming out to the "pirate" ships ;-)
4. The magnificent medieval cities
As soon as you walk through the gates of the amazing city of Dubrovnik it feels as if you´ve entered a time machine and gone back 500 years.
5. The People
Croatians are extremely friendly, relaxed and proud. They will gladly tell you about their countries history, trials and tribulations.
(And guess what? - They´re pretty handsome too ;-)
If you´ve been to Croatia I´d love to hear about it!
I know that from my tweets it may sound like traveling with kids is all just unicorns and rainbows. But I admit, it´s NOT always like that.
Because, you see, traveling with 5 kids sometimes means that you´re seeminly traveling with half of the belongings you´ve acquired in your 30+ years on this earth. I can´t count the occasions on which I´ve wished I could just pack it all into one big Mary Poppins bag!
On our trip to Copenhagen 3 years ago we looked like this:
Since we had a car we needed the car seats for 3 kids and since it was more expensive to rent them than to buy new ones, and still too expensive to buy new ones, we took ours with us. The youngest two were still using their strollers and we decided it would come in handy to have the baby carriage for the 8 week old to sleep in when we visited our friends at their summer house.
I´m telling you, this is NOT how we travel usually!
You see, we lived in Denmark for 6 years between ´99-´05 and for the first 4 years we didn´t have a car, although we had 3 kids. This meant that most of our trips were taken by train, with backpacks on our shoulders and kids strapped in strollers or in baby carriers against our chests! One of the best part about those trips was that it taught us to travel light!
What does that mean for a family of 7?
It means that we can usually fit all our stuff for a 3 week trip in warmer climate into 3 medium sized sports bags.
How do we do it?
1. Everyone is allowed 1 bag of clothes (think grocery bag) and shoes. Swimming gear and towels are kept seperately though.
2. We pack outfits that are easy to mix and match. No fun to have a whiny diva in the morning because she can´t use the only pair of clean pants she has left with any of the t-shirts in the bag (and yes! this can be a serious issue, especially when you have 3 girls).
3. Take clothes that dry quickly. That way it´s easy to rinse them in the bathroom sink in the evening and allow them to dry over night. Sometimes they´re just laid our to try in the sun while we´re taking a swim.
4. Multicolored shirts and sun dresses work wonders ;-)Noone will tell the difference between a hot pink ice cream stain and the pink and purple flowers on the dress!
5. Shawls are great, at least for the girls. They cover you up when you want to enter churches or other spiritual places that don´t allow bare shoulders and they keep you warm in the breeze late at night. For guys long sleeved cotton shirts can do the same. Roll up those sleeves in the day time and wear the shirt open w. a t-shirt underneath and roll down and button up at night. This will also work well for most restaurants ;-)
6. Make sure that band aids and pain meds are in hand luggage and taken along each day to whatever adventures you have planned. You never know when you might step full force onto a killer sea urchin and have 40+ needles stuck in your foot!
Who would have thought that this picturesque bay was full of sea urchins that would leave their needles in your foot and not release them all until 60 days later?
7. Bring sun screen with you. The first few rays you encounter when you step out of the airport might be strong enough to burn your sun deprived skin and ruin your beach/pool fun for the next few days. (Yes, I have spent 2 days in my room in Spain, lathered in joghurt wishing for a quick death)
Everyone takes their own personal small backpack for the flight/ride and day trips. I tend to stay out of what they put in there. Through experience they have learned that it´s fun to have something that can be used over and over again:
A deck of playing cards for a quick game when lounging out in the shade and a favorite teddy to help you sleep in a new bed and new surroundings.
I´d love to hear what other families take along?
Oh, how to describe the Danish word "Hygge" (hu-gah)? No other language has a single word that incorporates everything it means.
The closest I can come to describing it is to say that it´s a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary things extraordinary; the art of creating an atmosphere that nourishes the soul. Words like cosiness and comfort are often used to describe the idea of "Hygge", however they fail to capture the essence of this wonderful Danish word.
Christmas is the perfect time to experience true, authentic Danish "Hygge".
Tivoli Christmas market - The perfect place for "hygge"
One of our favorite places in Copenhagen at Christmas time is "Tivoli", the world´s oldest theme park, in the heart of Copenhagen. Each year before Christmas it is transformed into a winter wonderland full of "hygge". Whether you want to see the city from the Ferris wheel or enjoy a quiet moment on a bench with your loved one, you will not be disappointed by this charming park, lit up with millions of Christmas lights.
Does it get any more charming than this?
This year the Christmas Market had a Russian theme. Amazingly beautiful!
Of course, we lived in Copenhagen for 6 years, so we might be just a teeny, tiny bit biased. But honestly, you have to be Grinch if you don´t get into a festive spirit here:
Have you been to Copenhagen at Christmas time? What did you think?
Yes, it's been a year since we got that phone call. After waiting almost 4 weeks from the end of the competition til they finally announced the real winner of the 365 hotel nights at the Radisson Blu - anywhere in the world.
We want to thank you all who supported us, voted for us and shared our story. It is thanks to you that we won this fantastic price! And we have made good use of it too!
The beautiful old town in Riga. And they've got fantastic chocolate as well! Well worth visiting :)
We started out by going just the two us (yes, without our 5 little elves) to Riga in Latvia, a beautiful medieval city in the Baltics. Inga went with a few colleagues to Copenhagen - and of course they stayed at the legendary Royal Hotel Copenhagen, designed by Arne Jacobsen, and to Dusseldorf in Germany where she met old friends from her years in Germany.
Here in Iceland we have a Radisson Blu as well, and the girls have made good use of that, celebrating their birthdays with sleepovers at a nice hotel downtown. It was a big moment when the oldest daughter went on the bus with her friends girlfriends with their little bags to stay at the Radisson Blu 1919 hotel in down town Reykjavik. And it inspired our 9 year old to do the same on her birthday a couple of months later. Looks like we might be starting a trend here ;)
We have been looking throught photos and brouchures to find the most interesting Radisson Blu hotels we would like to try out, and one of the must dos is Radisson Blu Berlin with the world's largest aquarium - 6 stories high! There we met with good friends from Copenhagen who spent the weekend with us.
Our 5 little elves exploring the Adriatic ocean.
Our big trip was then this summer, an Adriatic roundtrip. We stayed at three different Radisson Blu resorts, the geothermal spa resort in Galzignano di Terme, near Venice in Italy, in Split and our favorite, the Radisson Blu Sun Gardens in Dubrovnik. We got Inga's sister and her family to join us as we were exploring the Adriatic coast, four adults and seven children.
Fantastic view at the resort in Dubrovnik.
In total we have visited 8 different Radisson Blu hotels in 6 different countries in this one year, invited over 20 of our friends and family to stay with us and spent almost a third of our nights. We look forward to our future visits to the Radisson Blu hotels. Some very exciting new hotels have been opened additional to the fascinating selection they have already. We haven't decided were to go next though. Any ideas?
With regards from the elves in Iceland
Hjörtur and Inga
Apart from our daytrip to Andorra last July, it's been a while since we traveled to a new country. By that, I mean a country that we haven't visited before. Italy, doesn't qualify 100% as a new country, since Hjörtur went there as a kid, but to the rest of us it´s new. It's quite funny actually that we've never been to Italy considering that we've traveled to all countries around.
Since we'll be leaving pretty soon, we're busy planning away. First and foremost, we need to decide where to stay for the first 4 nights, when we´re in Rome before leaving for Croatia (after Croatia we´ll come back to Italy). Believe it or not, we´re looking into camping grounds. Yes, you read that correctly. We won 365 free hotel nights and we´re looking into camping grounds, lol. We´re torn between Plus Camping Roma (in two 3 person tents) or Plus Camping Fabulous (mobile home w. 6 beds). If you´ve stayed at either one of them or know your way around Rome, we´d love to hear your thoughts!
So far our itinerary covers most of the must-see classics such as the Colosseum, Pantheon, Vatican, Spanish Steps and Trevi fountain.
But, hey, who cares about ancient Roman sites and artifacts when you're surrounded by the world´s best gelato (or so I'm told). Since Jökull doesn´t talk about much else than the fact that he´s going to Italy to eat pink ice cream, we can't wait to find out where the best "gelaterias" are ;-)
They look a bit scary, seeing them for the first time dressed in Ku Klux Klan like clothing in different colours. It has nothing to do with Ku Klux Klan or racism. This is an old Spanish tradition but in Semana Santa, the holy week which is the week leading up to Easter, religious "brotherhoods" have their "procesiones" where they march through the city towards the Cathedral with their "pasos", statues and images of saints. Those "pasos" are true pieces of art and some as old as from the 16th century.
The processions can be interrupted by rain. The number of days a year it rains in Sevilla can be counted on the fingers of one hand. We did however get rain while were there during Semana Santa in 2004, giving us a perfect excuse to come again ;)
Semana Santa is high season in Sevilla. This is outside a crowded bodega in Barrio de Santa Cruz in Sevilla. Notice the purple rope the boy is wearing in the middle of the picture.
Giralda, built as a mosque in the 12th century but now a part of the Cathedral in Sevilla, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and one of three places claiming to have the remains of Christopher Columbus.
You can find all information about accommodation and program during Semana Santa on Sol.com.
After being asked on Twitter today what travel means to me I replied immediately: "Life. Freedom. Adventure. Making memories!" I´ve thought long and hard about that reply since then, but my opinion hasn´t changed.
I can not imagine my life without travel. I never feel as free as when lost somewhere in a new city. Every turn around a bend I haven´t driven around before offers the possibility for a new adventure. Every.Single.Day. creates new memories. Making those memories with the kids and/or Hjörtur = Priceless (well, sort of. If you deduct the insane flight prices from Iceland, lol).
Last year in Spain we visited the awesome Dali museum in Figueres (which our kids of all ages loved btw.)
On our way back we were kind of looking forward to just relax back at our condo, splash in the pool and get our tired, dehydrated kids out of the car. We usually try to convince people that we´re slow travelers, who enjoy the unbeaten path. But this day? - We were so ready to simply hit the highway!
And so we did. Or we thought!
Turns out that we took a wrong turn and ended on a road that wasn´t just not a highway, but actually didn´t look much like a road at all. At some point I even think we were driving on some kind of bicycle path ;o)
And then we saw a sign which read: Villa Joan.
It was a tiny sign, for a tiny town, with tiny streets.
And perfect benches.
And sour grapes.
And a charm that will stay with us forever.
I´m so glad we never found the highway!