Gratitude for Our Home After Vacation

There really is no place like home.

Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado

After returning from vacation I always feel so much gratitude for our own home. We are just back from a nine day retreat in the Colorado mountains, and my appreciation for home is high. When we travel as a family my husband takes great care to find accommodations through Airbnb or VRBO. The homes we rent are beautiful, often larger and grander than our home in Minneapolis. Yet nothing beats coming home to our own beds, a kitchen stocked and organized just the way I like it, and living spaces designed with our family's needs in mind. I even see this appreciation through the eyes of our 4 year old as he is reunited with the toys and stuffies that didn't make the packing cut. 

We make gratitude a daily part of our family life, each sharing something we are grateful for at the dinner table. After a vacation I am always grateful for the experiences we shared as a family on the trip. But most of all, I feel grateful that we have a home and a life that that we look forward to stepping back into after time away. 

We did a little shopping in town while on vacation and came across a sign with a quote from The Wizard of Oz,  one of my favorite childhood movies. The storyline piqued our son's interest as soon as I mentioned the Wizard. As I retold the tale many times, as one does with kids this age, I couldn't help but think that Dorothy had it right. There really is no place like home. 

Five Secrets to (Almost) Stress-Free Travel with Kids

Traveling with children may not be as easy as traveling solo, but with some planning, there are ways to make your "trip" feel less stressful and more like a "vacation."

Do you think there is a difference between a vacation and a trip? I've heard parents describe a vacation as an occasion where you can relax, take a break from daily responsibilities, and maybe even read a book(!). On the other hand, a trip is a journey to a destination with your children - it may be a beautiful destination - but there is still an element of effort and work involved. As much as we love our children they do require some tending to! 

To make break up the cold Minnesota winters our family loves to get out of town. With a three year old and a 6 month old this can be tricky, but we do it frequently enough that we've found a way to travel with kids and have it go smoothly. Below are my top five tips for traveling with children (almost) stress-free.

5 Secrets to Stress Free Travel with Kids

1. Rent a house or condo
Hotels are expensive and quarters are tight. By staying at a vacation rental you'll be able to cook at home for some or all of your meals. This is less expensive, healthier, and much less stressful than dining out with young children. You'll also have a place to hang out after the kids go to sleep. No tip-toeing around and you will be able enjoy an uninterrupted conversation over a glass of wine. Lastly - this is my favorite - you'll have access to laundry. Once you have children there is no such thing as "traveling light." The ability to do laundry means there is less clothing to pack and less to suitcases to haul through the airport. I recommend Airbnb or Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) for booking vacation rentals.

2. Sign up for express or rewards programs
As you know, waiting in long lines with children is no fun.  Most airlines and rental car companies have their own rewards programs. Check out your preferred companies and see what they can offer.  After waiting in an exceptionally long rental car line (with a very busy toddler) my husband discovered that Dollar-Rent-A-Car has a free express program that has saved us some serious time and frustration. 

3. Have a plan
Get specific here. Consider things like who is taking what luggage, who is responsible for what children, etc. In the middle of airport chaos, while one child is running off, is not a good time to figure these things out. Here is an example of our airplane boarding. I always board the plane first while my husband waits with the kids at the gate. I have time to gate-check the stroller and set up snacks and games in our seats so we are organized and ready to go. When it's near the end of boarding, my husband brings the kids on. Our three year old has had fun watching the planes and hasn't had to sit still in his seat for longer than necessary (there is only so long they can contain their wiggles!). 

4. Centralize the details of the trip
Send yourself one email or create a document in Evernote that contains all of the information you will need once you arrive (rental car confirmation numbers, the address where you are staying, etc). When everyone is tired and needs a snack you won't have to waste time scrolling through dozens of emails to find the information you need. 

5. Set expectations
This is a family trip but it doesn't mean you can't carve out a little "me time" while you are there. Before the trip talk to your significant other about expectations or priorities you both have for the trip and strategize how you can meet those wishes. For example, on our last trip I wanted to take a daily exercise walk outside. By being upfront about this priority we could deliberately plan for that time instead of me just hoping it might fit into the day. 

Traveling with children is certainly not as easy as traveling solo but there can be so much joy in the unstructured time away from your daily routines. It takes some planning, but there are ways to make your "trip" feel less stressful and more like a "vacation."

I hope you and your families will have the opportunity to see a little sunshine, spend quality time, and explore new areas together this winter. I'd love to hear where you are headed!

Palm Springs Getaway

Palm Springs Offers Warmth, Unique Landscapes, and Mid-Century Modern Design

The past two years our family has traveled to Palm Springs, CA to get catch some sunshine (while wearing loads of sunscreen) and get away from the cold Minnesota winter. Aside from the warmth the area provides, I've really enjoyed exploring the area. The desert scenery is so different from what we are used to seeing back in the Midwest. I loved taking neighborhood strolls to see the variety of landscape designs, many of which incorporate Xeriscaping, a landscaping and gardening approach that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation. Below are photos from some of my outings.

Palm Spring Travel Uptown Design District

And then there is also the abundance of Mid-Century Modern homes. To take a piece of Mid-Century Modern style home, check out the plethora of retailers, consignment boutiques, and antique shops in the Uptown Design District, located in Downtown Palm Springs. Both Instyle and Dwell magazines feature travel guides on their websites highlighting the best of Palm Springs. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the area.

Have you been to Palm Springs, CA? What are your must see or must do items?