Category Archives: questions

Expat to Expat Q&A: Travel

This is the third installment of Expat to Expat Q&A: T r a v e l 
Check out the first and second installment in the series

1. Which airport would you like to never see again?
To be honest from all the flying that I have ever done since I was born, I have not really any horrific flying stories. As third culture kids, we say we feel more at home in an airport than we do in a certain location. If I was to choose an airport I would never like to see again, it would have to be tied to the location for my reasoning. The airport in St. Louis would then be a winner. It is the closest airport to my in laws. Actually on that note I would never like to see the bus station near their town again. The last time I left the states to come to England I again left my sons with my in laws, for them to return shortly once either Ryan or I had found a job. This was in October of last year during a transitional period where my husband had just finished his masters programme and we planning to move for his job. History with my in laws aside, having to leave the country without your kids is the most gut wrenching thing I have had to do. This would be the third time and no it does not get easier. I got on the bus and my eldest just cried so hard and tried to get on the bus and go with me. It really kicked you where it hurts. When the bus drove away the bus driver was crying her eyes out too. She told me later in the journey, after I was able to control my emotions enough to speak, that in all her years of driving that was the saddest goodbye she has ever witnessed. So yeah…I would never want to see that bus station again either.   

Side note: Yes I took this photo of my self crying with my phone while the bus made its way to Chicago.  I take photographs all the time to help me remember people, places, and moments.  I captured this memory to remember how much I never want to leave my kids with family members again.  I have friends who have yet to have their children even spend a night away from them still.  My kids have spent months at a time away from me and if you want to know how much it hurts look at that photo.

2. What is your travel nightmare?
Honestly unless it has happened while I was with my parents and they just did not let on that something was wrong I have not experienced a real travel nightmare. *knock on wood* There was the time that I was flying back from my return trip ‘home’ to Italy after my senior year and I got stuck in Zurich, Switzerland. I was flying alone and was a little concerned at first until the airlines let me know they would be putting me up in a hotel and paying for my food costs. It ended up being an extra day of gifted vacation. I called my parents from the hotel and then I went out to explore the town, had dinner, saw a movie, and returned to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep. It could have been a nightmare to be stuck inside an airport for hours, but it ended becoming a dream. 

3. Would your rather stay in a fancy hotel and do less activities or stay in a hostel and do more activities?
I will say that if someone else was paying for it and I got to stay at a super lush hotel and just be pampered that I do not think I would say no. However when I plan my trips and go places I am not really concerned about the hotel. I would not want to pay more money to have less to experience the country or culture with when I got there. I can see a hotel room in any country. Maybe I do not stay in a hostel though, maybe I find a friend to stay with, or a great deal with AirB&B. I stayed on the floor on a mat in a church in Thailand with only cold showers, in stead of a hotel with a bed and hot water. I also do not have the urge to go on a cruise or to travel in a tour group. I’m more about organic traveling and trying to blend in with the locals. 

Does it have wifi? Then I am all set!  On a vacation with my sister (pictured here),
she gets connected with her laptop in the hotel room. 

4. Do you have any pre-travel rituals?
Almost always wait till the day before to pack and then pack hours before we need to leave for the airport. I say I will be more prepared a head of time, but to be fair that never happens. Usually the things I am bringing with me I use normally anyways so I just wait until the last possible moment to do it. With that said, I hardly ever forget to pack something for a trip. If anything I may have stuff I should have left home, but have ‘just in case’. Luckily I am pretty stellar with packing a suitcase or a car to get everything to fit. It is like excelling at traveler’s Tetris. I have actually repacked a car after my father in law attempted to do it on several occasions.  When you have traveled and moved as much as my family has it becomes a much needed skill.  If I am going to be going to a different time zone I like to start preparing myself a few days before by slowly changing my sleep schedule and eating a lot of small meals through out the day. 

5. What is your favorite airline to fly with?
Before we moved back to England, British Airways was always my favourite because it meant I was coming back to Europe. Right now I’m certain I have a favourite airline per se. Which ever one is getting me to my destination for the best price. I am pretty stoked to have such great budget airline options in Europe. I just know to prepare by having my tickets pre printed and making sure my luggage and carry on fit their regulations. They are ready to charge anyone at any time for not following the guidelines.  British Airways were passing out cute ginger bread men biscuits over Christmas. So when I picked my boys and my mum up from the Airport last year we made sure to take a few of these guys (pictured below) home with us. 

6. If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
There are so many places and honestly I could write blog posts for weeks about all the places I want to go to and why. However I am really hoping that the next plane I get on is going to be taking my family and I to southern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. That whole bavaria area hold so much of my heart and memories from growing up. It reminds me of my dad and I know there will be tears shed while there, thinking of him and wishing he was alive to be there with us. I could easily go in the summer for camping and hiking, in the fall for Oktoberfests, or in the winter for snowboarding and germknödel. I just want to go and show this area with my family.

7. How do survive long haul flights?
It depends am I traveling with kids? Honestly if I am not traveling with kids on theses then it feels a lot more relaxed and I have to bring a lot less with me to be prepared. I love flying. I have done long flights between California and Japan on my way to Australia, Thailand and Cambodia several times, the flight between the US and England several times, and even the flight between California and Hawaii. It depends on when we are arriving but I try to my best to time it so that I can attempt sleep as soon as we take off. There is something about closing your eyes as you are rushing into the sky that helps me sleep. So eye mask on and maybe some soothing tunes and I will talk to you in a few hours. When I wake up its time for the first huge meal and thats when I start watching films. I will also have my laptop ready to work on editing photographs in lightroom and photoshop for work. There will be a book and a magazine in my bag depending on how focused I am to reading. Maybe some paper to write out ideas that come to my head. I am not going to be bored. The other tricks are trying to get up often to move my legs, drinking plenty of water, and keeping my face and lips moisturized. If I am traveling with my kids I make sure they are equally prepared because if anyone is going to be saying ‘I’m bored’ it is going to be kids. I usually hijack their nintendo DS weeks before the trip so its something exciting to have back and pack surprises for them. I make sure they are eating something during take off and landing to help their ears pop. Other than that we just sit back and relaxed.

8. What is your favorite stamp in your passport and why?
I honestly do not have one stamp in my current passport. I have several old passports from the one I had as a baby that are filled with stamps. I keep going through airports where they dont stamp my passport. Or because I am flying between countries for which I have passports. I have to fly into America and out of America on my American passport and I have to fly into England and out of England on my EU British passport. However on my older passport I would have to say my whole visa and stamps from Cambodia are probably my favourite. It was the most nervous and excited I have been in an airport. I had been in Thailand twice already at this point and was flying to Cambodia to meet my mum, dad, and sister who had been backpacking around South East Asia together. I remember how beautiful Cambodia looked from the airplane. When I got off the airplane they had us walk into this room where there was a u shaped table of tons of officials and your passport went around to each one as they all looked at it. When I finally got the all clear to go in I remember letting out a deep breath and rushing with excitement to see my family. It was a great trip and I would love to return.

Questions from Lisa at Meanderings, Adventures & Crafty Inspirations

1. What are your top 3 necessary items for travel?

A DSLR Camera with lenses.  If I want to travel light I like to bring my favourite prime lens, a 50mm, for portraits and then choose a zoom lens to bring as well.  The 17-35 has been a fun one to travel with and I found more useful then say a 70-300 lens. 

My phone for taking quick shots and getting online to stay connected. 

A camera bag perfect for traveling that I can keep it all in for my trip.

2. What is your off the beaten track trip in your current home?

I currently live in Bath, England and I say do not get car. Come ready to use the trains, buses, and do walking. Sometimes for us if we want to go to a nearby town and then walk home, it is cheaper to take a taxi for my family of four, then to take the bus/train to the town first. So research what works best in your options. Go and explore. We go on country walks nearly every weekend and sometimes twice a weekend to just roam the countrysides. We love to find new towns and new trails to take. These are public footpaths in England that are hundreds of years old and you can walk anywhere. Back your walking shoes or wellies and get ready to really see England after or before doing the normal touristy things in the area.
Do check out my other posts for the Expat to Expat Q&A
Found Love.  Now What?
If you are a past, current or future expat this linkup is for you! 
Linking with Bailie and Belinda…because girls with ‘B’ names rock. 
Not that I am biased or anything. 😉

Observation & Quiz

Today was a nice change of pace.  Instead of my usual home-work locations, I had two other locations to head to today.  This morning I got to go to my son’s school to observe him in the classroom setting.  It was really fun to see him in class and to get some great ideas for when we homeschool.  This evening  Ryan sent me out of the house to hang out with his friends for a Pub Quiz night.  This was my very first pub quiz and I was quite excited to take part.  Tried the Bulmer’s pear cider for the first time too.  Though the quiz questions were not all that easy for me I did fairly good at picking out the celebrities in the photo portion. 
Maddox and his classmates at playtime.  
Quiz Night

With Ryan’s friend Krista from Uni
Quiz night at the pub in Brighton tonight with Ryan’s Uni friends.

Just finished observation day with Maddox in class. Really helpful in planning his new curriculum. Oh to four years old again.

‎”As much as death takes from us, it also gives. It teaches us what is truley important.” #DesperateHousewives