Our Family Friendly Adventure near Cancun.Fun activities & Things We Did With Our Toddler

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One country or city that I have been returning every year for a vacation is Cancun, Mexico. Of course, the proximity and cheap flights from Houston is a huge advantage! The place is a haven for the conventional beach goer looking to lounge by the turquoise water or the emerald green waters in Playa Del Carmen, but the unique and remarkable experiences Cancun has to offer is amazing. The three times I have been to Cancun earlier I not only relaxed at the beaches but got the opportunity to truly experience the nature, history and ecotourism of the place.

The last family vacation the three of us took outside of US was to Portugal in Sept 2017. Although I travel a lot for work and recently got back from India on a 2-week vacation with my son, me and my husband and my son needed to go on a full family trip together. I had been craving this family getaway a lot and so just 3 days prior to our travel, I went and booked everything for my birthday weekend in April.

Yes just 3 days ahead of booking and planning is not very efficient as I like it to be, but I have realized spontaneous plans have their own fulfillment and excitement even after having a toddler. Having been to Cancun before I knew what to expect in terms of logistics and so it was tad bit easier to plan a 4-day itinerary.  Our focus of the vacation was to relax and enjoy the simple moments. So, it simply meant avoiding any huge water parks, historic sites, or long drives with our son unlike our previous trips.

You can catch a snapshot of our travel on my Instagram Highlights .

Accommodation

We simply choose to relax at our favorite All Inclusive hotel Sandos Caracol that has been our top choice for staying in Cancun and also in Los Cabo. You can read my previous post on our Cabo getaway here.  We loved the Cancun resort too when we stayed there 4 years back when our son wasn’t born and were truly impressed by the amount of activities it had for children. It was a no brainier that we wanted to stay at this property with our son this year too. I love it so much that my review for the property got selected in the online Trivago magazine. Also, when travelling with kids it is easier to go for all inclusive restaurants as there is no worry about meals and meal prep and we being vegetarians always check the cuisines available at any resort and see their menu too before booking. Sandos Caracol was rated by Expedia as the first place in the world to spend an eco-friendly vacation.

Flights

We booked our flights from Kayak.com it gives you excellent pricing comparisons with several airlines and is extremely easy to navigate. I often put price alerts on it for destinations I plan to travel in future and get a great deal. Cheapoair and Google flights are also other sites where I like to compare and explore pricing.  Google flights has a fantastic map capability that shows you where all you can travel for the filters you put in at the time of your search.

Local Transport

For local travel within the city I recommend booking cabs at the hotel or at the airport itself. They are legit and give you best pricing. Our hotel pick up and drop off 1 way costed $100. It depends where you are staying. We stayed in Playa Del Carmen which is 45 mins away from the airport.  Also we have always traveled locally in a cab or in the tourist buses for any activity or excursions we signed for. They pick and drop you at the hotel, are safe and you also become friends with other travelers.

Important Things to carry

 While travelling with children you end up carrying a lot of gear. However, minimizing it has become key if you travel a lot. This time I chose not to carry any stroller. It really depends what stage your child is in and what you prefer, and are comfortable with. As Vir is growing I have got him the habit of using the Micro Scooter more often to travel in parks and on sidewalks at a controlled speed. One of us is constantly jogging with him or navigating him as he is still learning the sense of direction. The scooter was very useful in the resort, especially for exploring new sites and we also used it as an activity in the evening. The resorts are very big, and kids tend to get tired. Umbrella strollers help a lot in such cases too.

I also ensured we had only one suitcase with all our stuff in it and 1 backpack for each one of us without any carry on luggage. I only carried Horizon milk packs for my son as I wanted Vir to drink the same milk he has at home. They are convenient  to carry everywhere. We also packed some snacks for the flight but apart from that we didn’t worry about his food. At our resort there were 4 restaurants that had a full buffet every day with a kid’s section too and of course a huge spread of desserts.

Things we did

Honestly this family vacation was all about less hassle more fun. And from our previous trips I have realized planning long itineraries and things to do takes away all the fun. So, we relaxed for 4 full days in our resort and didn’t step out at all! One of the reasons was also because of the weather , we couldn’t make it to the swimming with the dolphin activity on the last day as it started to rain. Yet we don’t think we missed anything.

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Beach and the Swimming Pools

Seriously Sandos Caracol has so much to do!! From heading to the beach every day and to lounging in the different pools in the afternoon, we made sure we spent the most time outside. Vir is at an age where he is not yet ready to go in the water and preferred playing in the sand. So while he got to play in sand, I also got to catch up on beach Zumba and sports throughout our trip and my husband got to read.

 

Animal Farm

One of our top things from the hotel was the little animal farm. We went there at least 5 times a day as Vir is such an animal lover. They have donkeys, pigs, sheep, ducks, deer and even peacocks and peahens. The birds were free to roam around and were not in any cages and were very friendly as well. Vir fed the ducks and even the peacock. Also, there were monkeys iguana, raccoons and herds of coati that roamed freely in the resort and didn’t bother anyone.

 

Cycling to Mayan Sites

There were free bikes for adults and kids and with toddler seats too. We biked twice around the biking trails in the resort and stopped at 2 historic Mayan ruin sites.

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Cenotes and Eco tours

I love how Cancun have so many Eco tours and excursions to offer and there is a huge list if you look here. But with a toddler we were limited to some activities only. I am glad I did soo much in my earlier trips with excursions, but I also got to a take a dip and experience the cenote in the resort and spot turtles and fishes while snorkeling. The gear was provided for free and was open to adults and kids of a certain age.

Daily Shows

If you followed my IG stories we landed on my birthday at the resort and I was so glad they had a Dream Girls show that night and it was perfect way to end the night with some dance and music. The resorts literally have its own theater where every evening there was a new show. For kids they had a superheroes show which I found hilarious! My son had a blast. However, our favorite is the elaborate Mayan show with elaborate costumes, music and great performances in a great atmosphere outdoor with an open buffet.

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SPA

No trip end without a good spa break. Me and my husband did an alternate day of getting some deep tissue massage therapy during our son’s naptime in afternoon. It was reasonably priced. They also had some specials every day, and I also got a body scrub for free!

I feel like there was soo much to do already at resort we didn’t even think of venturing outside. However, we plan to go back soon and hopefully by then Vir will be able to join us in some excursions and fun activities and sports. Next thing on my list to do in Cancun is to swim with the Whale Sharks. They are gentle creatures and are, for the most part, solitary by nature. In contrast, during the summer months from June through September, the area just north of Isla Mujeres attracts a huge number of whale sharks gathering together to enjoy the plankton-rich waters.

 

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Where are you planning to go this summer with your kids?

XOXO

Arushi (2)

 

 

 

 

Tips and Tricks on Flying with Babies and Toddlers

Texas Hill Country with family

The first time I traveled to India or outside US with my son was, when he was almost 8 months old. My husband also accompanied me on that trip as we were nervous first-time parents flying with a tiny human ocean apart. During that visit we only stayed in Delhi and avoided any local travels within the country. You can read my experience on taking the long-haul flight with a baby here. There are some tips, tricks and details that might help you plan your flight experiences with an infant.

This trip was planned almost 2 weeks before I booked my tickets, as I found the perfect travel window and dates to take leave from my work. My family was very excited to see Vir as they hadn’t met him since our last visit and was so eager to see him all grown up. With all the excitement also came a lot of planning.

I wanted to make sure we visited Mumbai, Kota and Delhi on these two and a half weeks visit, so my son can meet my immediate and extended family as well my in-laws. I wasn’t sure when I will go next, so I did my best to cover as much I could on this vacation.

The thought of travelling to India can often make parents filled with dread or awe or possibly with a combination of both. The last time I traveled my son got sick and lost a lot of weight, he even stopped breast feeding and it turned out to be an emotional experience to see my baby in that position. Yet I knew this is the perfect age to take him, as now his immunity was way better from going to the school and that now I had better control of his diet and hygiene. I followed the recommendations and tips from a Pediatrician on this post .

Booking flights for smooth travel 

This is one of the most important steps to a stress-free trip. I booked our flights with Turkish Airlines from Houston since I wanted a red eye flight where Vir can sleep in most of the commute. I categorically stuck to this airline, because it was a 13-hour journey one way. I wanted to break the journey with a short 3-hour layover before we hop on the second flight which was another 7 hours to give us a break from flying while also not spending too much time at the airport. Also, since I had planned my journey within India to major cities Mumbai and Delhi, I booked my return tickets from Delhi. This fit perfectly in plan and dint have a huge difference in fare.

My Top Kid’s Travel Gear recommendations 

For details on how I kept my son busy in flight, at the airports and on my Top items for travelling with kids read here

Preparing your toddler for the travel

Once I booked the tickets I started preparing Vir that he will be travelling with only mummy and going in a very big airplane to visit Nani, Mama and Mami. Every night I would talk to him about the fun he is going to have there from sitting in a train, to seeing some animals to visiting new places.

Repeating this daily helped him be mentally ready to travel without daddy, meet new faces and most of all be excited about the long-haul flight. This worked wonders as he didn’t shed a tear while my husband dropped us off. He was in a good mood at the airport spotting airplanes and enjoying the in flight experience on the way to India and this really helped me stay stress free.

My In Flight & Layover Experience during arrival and departure.

46 hours of flight travel is way too much especially if you are doing it alone. I was nervous and was really praying everything goes well. I packed extremely light and kept a small backpack for myself for all the necessities, a busy bag for Vir and a JetKids Bed Box for converting Vir’s seat into a bed and ditched the umbrella stroller. Read my full review here on the JetKids Bed box and Top items to travel with here

As we sat in our 1st 23-hour flight to India, Vir deleted the you tube app which had all downloaded videos!! Awesome I said to myself while fearing the start already but hey I had a plan B – The Busy Bag rescued me.

Vir hardly saw the Tv in flight although he enjoyed pressing all the buttons. He slept most of the way to Istanbul and then to Mumbai. I packed lots of snacks that kept him entertained and full. I got to use the restroom once in flight and asked an attendant to watch over Vir and changed his diaper on the seat only when he was asleep to avoid all the hassle.  (I did the same while coming back too)

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BUSY BAG Ideas

Both the times are layover was in Istanbul and although it was tiring to be out of the plane and go through another round of security. We stopped at Starbucks to have some snacks and at the duty free to buy him a car. The new car was a reward for good behavior and hope for keeping him occupied in the 2nd flight to our destination. This tactic worked on our return journey to Houston too.

Although on our way back Vir was more grumpy than usual, it seemed like his excitement for being in an airplane had faded away. However, I made sure we have ample number of videos and games on iPad to keep him busy. At one-point Vir was frustrated with the iPad and so I bought the WiFi in flight and allowed him to see some new cartoons. The person sitting next to me was kind enough to entertain him for an hour, so I could get a break from all the whining and it did help a lot!

How to overcome Jet lag with toddler

My only worry on this travel was jet lag and so I made sure we stayed longer in Mumbai for our first stop in the country to be well rested. It took Vir 5 days to recover and be back to a normal schedule. He would sleep at 6 pm and wake at 3am for the first 2 days. From the third day I started to push his sleeping time to 7pm, following by 8pm and 9pm and within 5 days he was started getting 10 hours of sleep at a stretch. His afternoon naps started off with 4 hours and slowly brought it down to 2 hours from day 3 of arrival. We tried staying in the sun most of the day. My brother’s society had an amazing open space, pool and play area for kids. In evenings we took short Auto rickshaw rides that my son was obsessed with. Staying active, eating sufficiently and really waiting it out with my son helped us overcome jet lag.

Honestly the first week I must have slept for an average of 5 hours daily.

Best way to travel within the country

Cars/ Uber/Taxis – I didn’t carry a car seat. And I don’t advice on not taking one. Please choose as per your comfort and discretion. We mostly took Uber within the country or auto rickshaws, carrying a car seat didn’t seem practical as we dint have our own car. My son sat in my lap and honestly it wasn’t as easy as I thought since we two weren’t used to it and he would try to stand up most of the time. I only traveled in cars when it was needed, but we stayed at home most of the time. If you are planning to travel to India for a long time and have your own transportation, pl do carry a car seat or buy one there.

 

Trains I love the Indian railways and I was so excited for Vir to experience it again. Vir has been lucky to experience the Swiss Golden Pass when he was one year old and now the Indian Railways. He just loved being in a train and watching the train tracks and engines pass by.  We traveled by AC first as it was most convenient and safe from Mumbai to Kota. We took special care of sanitizing hands and avoided eating in train.

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Adjusting to Co sleeping while traveling 

My son slept on his crib since he was 3-month-old and we rarely co slept as that was the arrangement I wanted, due to my monthly work travels. This was the first time I traveled somewhere without worrying about having a crib or pack and play for my son to sleep in. I knew we were going to co-sleep and was looking forward to seeing how it went. Being a light sleeper, I woke up several times in the night when Vir moved, but within a few days we both were loving the cuddles and the idea of sharing the same bed. However, I can’t remember the amount of time I was punched and kicked while sleeping by a toddler!

Getting the kids back to original sleeping schedule at home

Once we were back, I made sure my son had the same routine. I sent him to school the next day and picked him up within 5 hours. It really helped get him back to sleeping at night for longer hours. I also kept the same bedtime routine of having a bubble bath right before he sleeps, our favorite story time and a body massage. All this prepared my son, that he will be sleeping back in his crib. Staying in his room and assuring him I am there helped him sleep in his crib from the very first day we came back. I stayed there for at least thirty minutes. He did wake up in the night and came to our room for the first few days, but I remained consistent and put him back in his bed. The key is staying consistent. Within five days Vir was back to the same sleep schedule of sleeping at 9pm and waking up at 8am.

Hope this post helps all parents travelling with their kids .

Please use the comment thread to share, ask or recommend anything related to the topic.

Have a fabulous trip !!

arushi

Top 10 Products For Kids That Can Make Traveling Easier For Parents.

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Vir at the Delhi International Airport all set for the long flight

After travelling to over 6 countries and taking several long haul flights with my son when he was baby to now when he is a toddler, I have come across several brands and products that I have loved and hated. We parents on our travel come across so many hiccups like a frantic airport terminal, rogue luggage carts, judgmental passengers and thousands other possible hiccups that can make daily parenting battles a bit more strenuous? So being prepared with the right travel gear and travelling light has become my mantra for traveling!

The key to successfully flying with kids boils down to three things:getting to the airport early, planning, and packing light and the right gear. And extra snacks always help.

Below is a list of items I recommend for travelling with toddlers.

1.) JetKids BedBox

I highly recommend this JetKids Bedbox to all parents who are traveling with their kids in flights especially on long haul flights. We got this for our 23 hour journey to India and I knew that it would simplify traveling for me and my son. This suitcase comes with adjustable strap,two sheets of decorative stickers and a mattress with seat extension.

Although Vir is young to have his feet on the floor to roll the bedbox, he comfortably sat on it while I pulled the jet-box around the airport. The mattress is convenient to extend the seat in the flight and turn it into a bed. It is great for keeping little children’s feet up and also gives space to stretch especially on long flights.

 

 

While sleeping my son’s legs were curled up and although it helped a lot as now there was more space to sleep, the area between the seats is still limited for growing kids to stretch comfortably. It will be perfect for infants! Also I recommend getting an economy plus or the front row seats for more leg room if your are traveling coach. The jetbox also had ample of storage space to hold some snacks,books, iPad and headphones . When my son didn’t feel like sitting on it while we were waking around the airport, he enjoyed pulling it . Since he is still young to understand proper directions , I had to assist him while walking . But older kids will be able to navigate the bedbox very conveniently. We also used the JetKids Bedbox in a train chair car from Kota to Delhi which was a 7 hours journey! And I seriously felt I hit the jackpot as my son slept comfortably on it. Also there was way more leg space than in a flight.

2. A Busy Bag

In my previous post I shared a lot of ideas for toys and activities you need to have ready in case your in flight entertainment is not going as you preferred. I added below items on my list. With growing kids, we need activities that keeps them interested and occupied.

water wow book

Water Wow color book – If you don’t already know about it, the Water Wow! is pretty much the greatest coloring book ever invented. I love that there is no hassle of taking markers, paints, or crayons. I bought 2 new books for Vir to keep him busy!

Play dough with new shapes and cutters.

New books -We love reading and so I got some new Pete the Cat books for my son. For older kids I recommend some cultural books that can educate them more about the destination. Please send me recommendations if you have any for India.

3. Foldable earphones

earphones JL BuddyWe have the J Buddies folding headphones that are east to pack in a bag and not bulky. Also they aren’t too expensive so I am not worried about misplacing them.

 

 

4.Tablet

We can’t leave without one anywhere. And the tablet or ipad is absolutely a must when locked in an aircraft. I took it out only when Vir was done with everything else or when I needed to catch a nap for atleast 1 hour. We took the youtube subscription where you can download the videos in offline mode. I also downloaded his favorite Nat Geo animal documentary series and many games.  I highly recommend having a variety of age appropriate games to keep them busy. And one tip, definitely download some new games and videos that you think the kids will enjoy.

5. Fold-able potty seat

potty seatWe are still working on potty training so I made sure we had a convenient potty seat that I can carry with me anywhere. Thanks to my cousin I was introduced to this easy to carry potty seat that came with liners and a carry bag. And yes it was so convenient than buying a potty seat in India and carrying it within the cities I was going too.

 

 

6.Hand sanitizer and wipes

We cant do without wipes, but we carried a big and small pack for lots of cleaning. The hand sanitizer is very important on travels. I didn’t want Vir to be sick for any reason and was almost sanitizing hands almost every few hours in flight and outdoors.

7.Blanket and sleeping toy

I definitely recommend carrying your child’s favorite blanket and plush toy. Its is especially helpful in a long flight and also when you are sleeping in new places and  beds. My son slept comfortably with his Pooh everywhere and I carried it with me on flight and in train too.

8. Collapsible bottle 

BOTTLEOne of my favorite gift items and must have item for people on the go. This collapsible bottle from Hydaway is truly the best. It is ultra portable, easy to pack , non toxic and leak proof. This is one of the portable bottles that have a spout , so my son was able to sip easily. I carry it with me everywhere, and the best part is that there is no need to carry any plastic bottles that take space in a backpack or bag.

 

 

9.Insulated food jar

Thermos jarThis jar has saved us so many times. If your baby or toddler is eating solids but is picky, likes warm snacks, or is just not into eating restaurant food yet (and you aren’t too keen on always giving them jars of pre-packaged food), I would bring along one of these Thermos insulated jars.

 

10. Tegu Blocks

We love the Tegu Blocks  as they are so easy to carry and stick to each other. I love the convenience of having a simple and compact toy that is so versatile. Definitely get a new one for a long flight so it keeps them interested.tegu blocks

I hope you find these recommendations helpful . Also you can read some more information on travelling with kids/ babies below on my previous blog posts.

 

 

Airplane Busy Bag Must Haves + Tips on Flying Internationally with a Baby or Toddler

A Pediatrician’s advice on caring for your child’s health while travelling to a new country

Tips for Traveling with a baby. (Our short trip to New York)

How I Survived a Long Haul Flight With a Lap Baby

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Girl Room (1)

Arushi (2)

Our Holiday Getaway to Texas Hill Country

 

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Happy Holidays Friends! I love this time of the year as it is so bright and cheerful everywhere. This year my in-laws decided to visit us from India, making it an even more cheerful holiday season. I love it when our family visits us from back home. We miss them so much. These visits are even more joyful now because we get to see our son make lovely memories with his grandparents and learn couple of new words and sentences in our native language, Hindi.

Since the schools were closed and we were able to take few days off from work, me and my husband planned to take our family for a mini getaway out of Houston. We skipped hopping into flights and avoided the holiday airport madness for a 3 and half hour road trip to Texas Hill Country. The Upscale Horseshoe Bay Resort resting on the shores of lake LBJ was our home away from home for 2 days.

We had already been to this hill country retreat last year in summer with our friends and so it seemed perfect to also enjoy the hospitality in the winter months with our family. We are obviously big fans of this place and in this post I wanted to share with you all, a glimpse to our fun getaway.

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Stay: We stayed in the 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom Palm Villas. It is perfect for families and groups looking for more space. The villas have  contemporary decor and comfortable living, sleeping and dining areas. A full kitchen is always crucial for our trips especially because most of us our vegetarian and prefer to cook few meals and breakfast. Me and my mom in law were very pleased with the huge kitchen .Throughout our stay we also got to enjoy the resort’s amenities and concierge services, as well as the restaurants, lounges, finesses centers , pools and more.

Activities: The most important reason why we chose this stay cation was for the number of things to do within and around the resort. Apart from enjoying the heated pools, tennis courts, golf course and dock fishing, I love that they had so many activities for kids and families. Our favorite this time of the year was the 18 hole Whitewater Putting Course. Vir enjoyed the experience and so did my in laws. The scenery is beautiful and I highly recommend this activity. The resort also has beautiful trails one can’t miss, we loved walking around the resort on a crisp sunny day and spotting some turtles, ducks and birds on our way.

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The resort also has large fire pits where they host camping with s’mores events , I saw it was huge hit with kids especially after pool time. Make sure to look at their events calendar before booking. We missed out on sampling some of the amenities like the Spa and water sports due to weather and time. Definitely on my list to do for next time.

RESTAURANTS. The restaurants at the resort are fantastic. There are upscale restaurants like the Yacht Club with gorgeous lake views and outdoor seating. You need to make reservations here and also note there is a dress code. The other Family friendly restaurants like Lantana and Cafe Del Sol have large tables and patio seating. There are gigantic TV’s scaling the walls and outdoor seating to which helped our son relax and enjoy lunch/dinner without a fuss. Also they had heaters everywhere to keep it warm and cozy. You can explore more restaurants and sports bars here.

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The Jungle Kids Club

This place was one of the new additions from our last visit and an excellent one ! The Jungle Kids Club is a two-story jungle gym featuring a tunnel slide and is included as one of the room amenities. Vir loved it and spent more than an hour playing here. He also tried the rock climbing wall finally. I saw some older kids enjoying the art, craft and block activities with the staff. BTW you can also reserve a kids night out here !

Special Events

RING IN THE NEW YEAR AT HORSESHOE BAY RESORT. On 31st Dec at 9:30 pm, the ballroom at the resort will open and The Argyles will keep the dance floor packed all night with an incredible live music performance to ring in 2019!! Find more information here . Highly recommend it for families as you can drop off your kids at the Kid’s club for their own party while you enjoy yours! I really hoped we could stay for this one, but my in-laws fly out on 1st Jan and so we had to head back home to finish a few things.

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Local Must See :
Sunset Cruises- 
Definitely recommend the Sunset Cruise on the beautiful Lake LBJ. You can also get your own wine and some snacks.

Explore the Vineyards-Take a tour of wineries, taste world class vintages, and discover the rich wine making traditions of the Texas Hill Country. Best is to drive up to the local vineyards.

Head to Fredricksburg-On our way back home we took a short detour to Fredricksburg. An hour long drive from the resort we visited the Main Street in Fredericksburg. I love the window shopping here and the German vibe. There are some great wine tasting shops where you have to stop. It was beautifully decorated for Christmas and also had 30 ft Christmas tree and ice rink this time of the year

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Have a fantastic 2019 everyone!

Arushi (2)

 

Our Memorable Fall Family Getaway: Apple picking & day trip to Martha’s Vineyard

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I learned on this trip, there’s no better reminder to live in the moment during those too-short childhood years than a special vacation just for you and your son.

My son and I hopped on a flight and traveled to Boston, Massachusetts recently. Diwali was just the perfect time to introduce him to his cousins and make some lifelong memories. He is now two and half, and is very aware of all the festivities around him. So I thought it was apt to make this trip, as kids at this age start remembering names, faces and start building relationships with people around them. I was very excited to travel here during the fall months and was looking forward to experiencing the fall colors, overcast foggy crisp days and some peaceful walks with my toddler.

Apart from reuniting with my cousin sisters and their families, I was lucky enough to finally get to celebrate Diwali out of Houston after 8 years and get a four-day break from my regular life. My official travels have been keeping my schedule booked for the entire year and it has been very hard to find a suitable month and time to plan any family travels. I finally found the perfect window and opportunity and was able to book our tickets almost a week prior. Although, I have been to Boston thrice before, this was the first time we explored places outside the city.

This trip felt like a mini vacation. I needed this time to enjoy and bond with my family. Watching our kids play, dance, fight and enjoy themselves brought back fond memories of our childhood days back in Kota, Rajasthan, where me and my cousin sisters grew up. This also made me realize how old we are getting, and time does fly! Being away from our families in India has not been easy, I miss the support system, the festivities, the love, the food and so much more. But every year me and my cousins try to visit each other when we can. Last time they visited us in Houston and so this time it was my turn to pay them a visit.

The first 2 days we stayed in and let the kids bond. I was pampered by my sisters and brother in laws with great hospitality and food. We chatted for hours, face timed with our families in India and prepared for Diwali celebrations at home. Here are a few pictures from the Diwali celebrations.

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With my cousin sisters in Boston

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2nd generation of cousins

                                                       Apple Picking and Farm activities

If you have been following me for a while on my Instagram, you might know I love to explore any place I visit, and we made sure we were able to do some fall activities in this short trip. So, we packed up our kids and headed for Apple Picking at Honey Pot Hill Orchards, an hour’s drive from my sister’s house.

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Guess Moms had more fun

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His dream came true that day !

This was one of the most exciting activity of our trip. It was our first-time apple picking and we all had the best time. Even though it was very cold and windy that day, the beautiful fall colors, the excitement of exploring the orchard and getting to feed the farm animals kept us all charged up, especially Vir. He had 2 full apples at the orchard, sang “Old Mc Donald” to the sheep, goats and rabbits, sat on the tractor and harvester at the farm and guided everyone which way the maze would lead to exit. I was so proud of him all the time and it brought me so much joy to see my mini me enjoy the little things. It felt like I was reliving my childhood with him.

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Feeding the goats at the farm

Martha’s Vineyards

The next day we left for Martha’s Vineyards at 6:30am, it was a 2-hour drive and then a 45 min ferry ride to the island. The kids did very well in the car, they snacked all the way and even watched some cartoons towards the end of the drive. (the ipad always saves the day)

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The ferry ride is a fun experience on the way to Martha’s Vineyard

End of October is not the best time to visit the island as it is very cold, and the island is usually a summer getaway, but hey! We had to go because I wanted to 😊 and it had been on my list for a while. Even though most of the tourist places and restaurants were closed, we got to explore the beaches, lighthouses and the ginger bread houses, one of the main highlights of Martha’s Vineyards. Thankfully we had a lot of sunlight the entire day even though it was cold and windy, the sun was very soothing.

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My favorite ginger bread house , the kids spend 30 minutes playing here

So happy !

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Ginger Bread House at Martha’s Vineyard

We spent most of our time exploring the Ginger Bread House at Oak Bluff camp ground and I highly recommend going here. A tour through the Wesleyan Grove National Historic District known locally as the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association can make you feel like you have stepped into a fairy tale, or even a game of Candy Land. In this district are some of the most photographed and admired homes in all the nation, and with good reason. Loved how whimsical the place was. The bright, painted colors of the tiny houses, reminiscent of the vivid hues of a candy aisle, popped against the gorgeous fall backdrop. There are around 300 gingerbread houses at this camp site and BTW you can also rent them and stay in a few.

There is no surer way of connecting with the Island’s maritime heritage than by taking time to pay a visit to one or all the Island’s five lighthouses. After spending couple of hours at the ginger bread houses and taking hundreds of pictures we headed to the Edgartown Light House. We spent an hour around the light house and the beach. Vir and his cousins kept themselves entertained by throwing pebbles in the sea.

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Edgartown Light House.

After the visit to lighthouse we grabbed some cheese pizza for the kids and had lunch at a Thai restaurant called Bangkok Cuisine. Props for the place for being open in off season. The kids caught a 1-hour nap in the car and we had a few more hours left before we could take the ferry back. We quickly searched our phones for a closer place to visit and came across Island Alpaca. At first, I couldn’t believe it as these animals are present only in South America, but then soon I realized they are also present on an island in Massachusetts.  We dropped our plan to see another Lighthouse and used our time to head to the Alpaca farm. Vir was so happy to see the alpacas and kept going to each one of them and saying “Hi Paca! How are you”.  Some of the alpacas had hairstyles from afro puffs to spiked punk attitude after their shearing. I also got to touch a few who had maximum fluffiness and then we did see them spit on each other. For few minutes I was transported back to my trip to Machu Picchu where I saw the lamas and alpacas on my hike. There is also a small gift shop where you can buy the softest alpaca blend hats, scarves, scarfs etc. Oh BTW you can also buy an alpaca here.

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Vir: “Hey Paca”

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Mama and Babe

In the end all I can say is life with kids is busy, As I learned on that first trip, there’s no better reminder to live in the moment during those too-short childhood years than a special vacation just for you and your son.this trip was the perfect bonding experience for me and my son. Spending time with my son out in nature helped increase my emotional health and our physical well-being. I believe family travel doesn’t have to be all about finding the most amazing places to visit but instead focusing on your FAMILY and what each one of you loves to do.  Kids love to have special time with their parents, it doesn’t need to be a getaway only. Scheduling an outing that is just for the two of you. Whether you run out to get milkshakes or just go walk around the mall, being together and having one-on-one time brings you closer.

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Happy Holidays !

Arushi (2)

Cafes and Experiences, You Don’t Want to Miss in London!

 

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On my travels I always like to experience the café culture of a city. If you follow my Instagram stories you will know how much I love a good cup of Java and appreciate latte art. So on my recent work trip to London I made sure to go and experience the tea and cake shops of the city and I realized within a day whether you’re after caffeine, cake, or just a spot to plug in your laptop – London’s cafés and coffee shops are little havens

The British are known for their love of tea, scones and cake, so as the tea room capital of the world, and yes London lived up to some high expectations I had.  Alongside its grand, sophisticated afternoon tea establishments, the capital has a range of smaller, quainter and infinitely more charming tea rooms – perfect spots for sitting with a book and a homemade treat on a good bright day, or for indulging in a little luxury with a group of friends.

In this post I am sharing my top 4 Instagrammable cafes and cake shops in London I visited and an experience I missed but definitely recommend to all my readers in London or travelling anytime soon.

 

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Peggy Porschen Cakes, Address: 116 Ebury St, Belgravia, London SW1W 9QQ
For those of you on Instagram, you’re 98% likely to have seen a picture of this Belgravia cake shop. It’s become the place to throw on the Gram, thanks to its pastel pink exterior, floral wreath and cutesy flowers lining the windowsill. In fact, if you didn’t know better, you’d probably just assume that this place was made especially FOR Instagram… Just look at it! Be prepared to wait for some time to sit at the café and enjoy some cake. There are long lines all day I believe, we had to wait for almost 25 minutes

 

 

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With my bestie Richa !! 

Saint Aymes, 59 Connaught Village Hyde Park London, W2 2BB

My favorite cafe from the trip. Just order a unicorn latte or a cappuccino with 23 carat leaf and grab a seat by the flower wall! From the outside you know it’s going to be something special, as the window is framed by gorgeous wisteria, and once you step inside, the flower theme continues. It’s a girlie dream. But of course, it’s not just all show and no substance. Saint Aymes is a luxury chocolatier which is stocked in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, and this cafe is their first venture out on their own. There’s all sorts of cute and perfectly presented sweet treats available, you should be aware, it is all sweet treats so just make sure you don’t come expecting a sandwich.

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Biscuiteers Icing Cafes , Notting Hill Icing Cafe, 194 Kensington Park Road, W11 2E

I was in a rush when I visited Notting Hill and although it offers a lot of things to get excited about, but a cafe filled with delicious biscuits, cakes and chocolates caught my attention. This place has that Sunday-afternoon-London-in-winter kind of vibe. It’s cozy and intimate, in a beautiful setting surrounded by incredible biscuit masterpieces! Everything is provided for you, and at the end you’ll walk out with a tin of your own beautifully iced apres-ski biscuits to take home… SOLD!

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Dominique Ansel Bakery, 17-21 Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W 9RP. 

Behold for the What-a-Melon Soft Serve, one of my favorite treats I had on this trip !! It’s a ripe slice of watermelon filled with watermelon flavored soft-serve ice cream and topped with miniature hand-cut chocolate ‘seeds’ to finish. Refreshing and cute me and my friend couldn’t wait to dig in. The bakery has something for everyone. From crust less cucumber sandwiches and dry Victoria sponges to cronuts and delicious savory items, this bakery had the best menu. You definitely want a table near the flower wall!

 

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BB BAKERY AFTERNOON TEA BUS TOUR

7ed1f03d-6cfa-4863-90d2-bb2818a1428eI was so disappointed I didn’t book the tickets in advance for this tour. This is a must do experience in London. Taking in the sights as your sip your brew on board an antique bus. Yep a unique experience! This 1960s double-decker (nab a seat on top if you can) passes by all the major attractions, including the London Eye, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. It’s a great way to multitask your tourist-ing. The bus is a fusion of London meets Paris! I was able to get a glimpse of the bus only as the tickets were sold out and I was travelling back home next day.

Special thanks to my sweet friends Richa and Jasbir who traveled with me to these gorgeous cafes and took me to all the fun spots, bars and Indian restaurants in the city!!

Arushi (2)

 

 

 

 

 

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Tips for Travelling and Working Moms. Handling the emotional logistics while on a business trip.

Tips for Travelling and Working Moms. Handling the emotional logistics while on a business trip

Let’s face it, being a working mom can be extremely challenging. It takes a lot of planning and support to manage a household. Add business trips and travel into the equation and things get exponentially more difficult.

I always get emails and messages from my Instagram followers on how fun and glamorous my work travels are. And yes honestly, being able to visit new places and try new things is fun, but every month being on the road, another hotel, another restaurant eating alone, the glamour fades, especially when you miss your child a day or two into a five-day trip.

I have come to think of it as a necessary sacrifice that I am making to ensure I continue to build my career and not give up on my aspirations, while also providing for my family. I love my job and everything I do, but I won’t sit here and say I love it every single day. Days get long, sometimes I don’t get to FaceTime with my son before bedtime, I miss my own bed, and I feel guilty for being away and probably miss on some new words too that my son started to speak.

In the last year, I’ve realized that even though it is necessary, there is a way to handle it in a way that I don’t feel horrible for the decision I made and to not get frustrated or burnt out from my work travels. You may wonder – How can we be a good mother while also traveling for extended periods of time? Contrary to what society may tell you, there are plenty of ways to make the situation work for you and your family. Here are few tips I recommend for travel savvy moms-

  • Take it as a Break – Being a parent to a toddler can be Pickups, drop offs, swim days, play dates, other activities and your day to day chores at home while working full time can be tiring and monotonous. And so, I’ve started to look at my trips as a “break” from the job of parent at home. It’s a little break from the busy lifestyle of having to work full-time and then be on again at home as a mom
  • Make a calendar and set reminders – I usually have a calendar in front of me of my upcoming travels and start to work on putting up a plan for the family on what to do while I am away. List out all activities at daycare that needs special attention like soccer practice timings, splash day packing, events or special celebrations that week etc. Also, it lets me also confirm with my caregiver on her availability.
  • Maintain your child’s routine. While it’s important to have something fun planned for while you’re gone, don’t abandon routines. Bedtime, naptime, meals, school and playtime should remain the same. Kids rely on their schedules and if they are interrupted, it can be confusing and upsetting.
  • Leave a Meal Plan– To ensure my home is running smoothly in my absence I make a meal plan for my family and mail it to my husband and my caregiver, while also placing a print out on our refrigerator. You can also freeze meals or use local services of cooked meals that deliver at home for the days you are away. Also, I make sure to do groceries before I leave so that we are not short of the important items like Bananas, Milk, Eggs, Bread and snacks that are needed on a daily basis.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for support when and where you need it- Without my family and my in laws here in the US to check in or help out when I am gone, I rely on the support of my close friends, neighbors and my son’s teachers. I ask them for extra help when needed. Lately I have been looking to share a nanny with a close friend on the days when my husband gets late at work. It is very important to have several backups and foresee few situations that you might need help with, when you are away.
  • Create Fun Rituals – Baking cupcakes or banana bread or pudding for days when I am gone is a sweet way literally to treat my son. He is very young to understand the association, but I am sure it makes him happy especially if he is moody or cranky. Also, I try to leave a new book to read every night in my absence and come back with a small gift from my travels for my son to open. He is 2 and he thoroughly enjoys it.
  • Ditch the guilt.I know it’s tough, but you should not feel guilty about this choice. I never let others negative opinion affect how I think about myself. It may not be an ideal situation in your mind, but if you love what you do, never feel guilty about that and the fact you are providing for your family. Remind yourself that you aren’t a bad mom for traveling and don’t compare yourself to other moms on the block. If you communicate with your child before, during and after travel, they’ll be prepared for your departure and be fine while you’re gone.
  • Let your significant other rest and have a day/night to themselves.
    Even though I come back tired from traveling, I always make sure to give my partner a break, it could be some time away at the weekend with friends or a short getaway. It is very important to tell your partner you appreciate them and that it’s okay to go out and take a break and let me take on everything you’ve been doing the past few days.

In the end I will like to say that to have a family’s ability to function well with a travelling mother is also linked to the attitudes of its members. We need to make sure our partner is happy to contribute and is appreciated, and that the kids adapt well to the changes in routine, so that all goes smoothly. In our house we have learnt to treat Travel as just another facet of life that needs to be managed. I always say it’s all about Teamwork! And so, me and my husband try our best to treat travel with resourcefulness and optimism. It is hard to leave on a monthly basis, but I look forward to coming home to see my son’s face and get a hug and kiss from him (as there will come an age when he won’t  want them from mommy). His smiles make it all worth it.

Please do share your opinions and thoughts on how you are trying to balance travel and home duties.

If you are a breast feeding mom and travel for work, check my previous post –How I Prepared to Leave My Breastfed Baby for a Work Trip

Love

Arushi (2)