How I Make Kid-Free Travel Easier for Everyone

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It’s no secret that I love to travel or that I love my girls. It is also not a secret that I strongly believe parents should take kid-free vacations. You can read all my reasons why I am so pro kid-free vacations here. However, I realized that while I have told my readers the importance of heading away with their spouse and leaving the kids behind that I haven’t explained what I do to make it easier.

Mom friends, I am here today to make it easier for you to leave the kids at home. Whether you are worried about the logistics or the guilt, there are a few things you can do that will instantly make you and your kids feel better about your upcoming kid-free vacay.

I Leave Them with People I Trust

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First things first – I always leave my girls with people that I trust. Who these people are is going to be different for everyone, but here are some things that I think make it easier.

  1. Choose people your kids know. It is even better if you choose people your kids love.

  2. These people should know your kids. They should know your kids’ routine and their quirks.

  3. Pick people who will keep them safe but will also help them cope with you being away by filling their days with fun and happiness.

I Prepare Them in Advance

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My girls are old enough now that I can prepare them in advance for an upcoming trip. For example, I put it on the family calendar so they can countdown. I tell them where they will be staying and who they will be staying with. I also tell them the basics of where I am going and how they can reach me if they need me.

I Keep in Touch

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Today’s technology makes it so easy to stay in touch while you are away. You can even keep in touch while you are in the middle of the sea on a cruise! I know some parents worry that if their kids talk to them while they are away, then they will get more upset. This hasn’t been the case for our family. We call them and use video chat to stay in touch. We also send and receive pictures from their caregivers the entire time we are gone.

PS. A good cell phone call makes all the difference –, especially for international travel!

I Leave Them Notes

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I also like to leave my daughters little notes in their luggage for the days while I am away. Just like how I will leave a note in their lunchboxes, these little notes are sweet reminders that mommy is thinking of them even while I am away.

I Buy Them Souvenirs

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Like most moms, when I am away from my girls, I spend countless minutes of my time away thinking of them, looking at pictures on my phone of them, and shopping for them! How can I not, right?! It makes my heart happy to find gifts I know my girls will love while I am away and helps me when I am missing them.

What tricks do you have making travel without kids easier? Let me know in the comments!

Why Kids Should Travel the World

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It’s no secret that we love to travel, but what you may not realize is that we are deliberate about traveling the world with our girls. I believe wholeheartedly that traveling is important. My travels have taught me so much about the world and myself. I want my girls to have those same kinds of eye-opening experiences.

Someone asked me why I think it is important for kids to travel the world rather than just taking vacations nearby. I hadn’t been asked my reasons before, but once I thought about it, I came to realize I have good reasons for choosing to expose my girls to places beyond the USA.

Traveling is fun.

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First of all, traveling is fun! As a family, traveling is a great way to have fun and bond. Nothing says family bonding like having to patiently wait to board a long flight and successfully making it to your destination with everyone still loving each other. Ha! But, seriously, when we travel, we get to do fun things we don’t get to do at home.

Travel teaches kids about languages, history, and geography.

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My girls are lucky enough to receive a great education at the hands of their teachers in their classrooms. However, I believe learning extends far beyond the classroom walls. If you want hands-on learning, traveling the world is a great way to do it. Without even meaning to, your kids will learn about new languages, history, and geography.

Travel allows kids to experience other cultures.

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All children need to learn about cultures other than their own. While we can attend cultural festivals in NYC, it is something entirely different to expose your children to another culture by being immersed in that culture.

Travel helps kids put down the toys and gadgets.

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I am not anti-toys or anti-electronics – they are lifesavers for most days! But, there is something pretty magical about your kids having fun simply by experiencing a new world. When we visited other countries, my girls get to do activities that are so much more enjoyable than playing on a device. They are having real-world fun in real-time.

Travel breeds compassion and understanding.

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When we travel, I try my hardest to teach my daughters to respect the people and the culture. Traveling is a great opportunity for kids to learn about differences, but it is more important for kids to learn the similarities they have with the kids they encounter in other places. By exposing them to a world that is bigger than our NYC home, my daughters are learning to think about others more. They learn that the world is a big place and that we need to respect one another.

Travel inspires curiosity.

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Watching my daughter’s eyes open wide in amazement as we tour new places fills me with joy. Each new place gets stored away in their little brains and inspires their curiosity. As they grow older, I hope their curiosity about other countries inspires them to travel the whole world.

Why I’m Choosing Choice Vacation Rentals This Spring Break

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It’s cold right now, but before you know it, it’s going to be Spring! Like every other family living up north, we look forward to spring break all winter long. And, now that it is March, it is time to start planning my family’s spring break trip. All I know at this point is I want to go somewhere warm and sunny. I want to put all the new sunny vacation goodies I recently splurged on at T.J. Maxx to good use!

Why a Vacation Rental Over a Hotel

Because this ^^^ (PHOTO:  Choice Vacation Rental in Destin, FL )

Because this ^^^ (PHOTO: Choice Vacation Rental in Destin, FL)

Another thing I already know is that this spring break we will opt for a vacation rental over a hotel. Don’t get my wrong – I love a nice hotel! I love resort vacations! But, every now and then, I want to escape to a new locale and still have as much space as I would at home. I want bedrooms and kitchens of my own. With a vacation rental, I get to magically pretend someone else’s home is mine for just a week. It’s a nice change of pace.

Choosing Between Vacation Rental Companies

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Clearly I am not the only one who feels this way as vacation rentals are more popular than ever! Not only are people choosing to book a vacation rental rather than a hotel for their trips, but people are also making a second income by renting out their homes through AirBnB, VRBO and Homestay. The vacation rental industry is booming!

Given that sudden popularity, there are many people jumping on the bandwagon and renting out their homes. While this sometimes works out well for both the homeowners and the vacationers, there are also tons of horror stories. Imagine thinking you are renting an extravagant vacation home and arrive to discover a dump.

Choice Vacation Rentals Gets My Vote

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Honestly, this is the biggest reason why I start my vacation rental hunt with Choice Vacation Rentals. Choice Vacation Rentals offers beautiful homes, private residences, townhomes, and cabins as a part of the trusted Choice Hotels Brand. Instead of dealing with individual homeowners, Choice Vacation Rentals are professionally managed ensuring your rental is of clean, well-maintained, and fully furnished.

Plus, Choice Vacation Rentals offer stunning vacation homes in the most popular destinations in the US. No matter where you plan to book your family’s spring break trip, you will find a vacation home rental you love on their website, which is super easy to navigate.

Finally, Choice Vacation Rentals gets my vote because you can earn Choice Privileges Points for every hotel or vacation home stay. Since my family loves to travel, I look for any opportunity to save money. As your points add up, they can be redeemed for free nights, free hotel stays, digital gift cards to popular restaurants and retailers, and exchange points for airline miles and cruises.

Now, it’s time to decide which spring break vacation destination my family will visit this year!

I’m Dreaming of a WARM Winter and an Escape from NYC

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Alright, Santa, you want to know what I really want this Christmas under the tree? Plane tickets. I want plane tickets to someplace warm and sunny so that I can escape the cold of New York City this time of year. Please, Santa, I’ve been good this year.

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But, for real, Christmas break is an awesome time to travel to sunnier climates. While traveling takes planning, if you already have the days off work, why not be spontaneous and choose to celebrate the holidays on white sandy beaches instead of a snow-covered city? If you can’t make it happen this year, there’s always next year. It’s never too early to plan!

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Here are a few warm weather destinations for your family vacation during the holiday season:

Disney World in Orlando, Florida

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Disney World at Christmastime is even more magical. Everything is dripping in festive lights and colors. With an average high of 73 degrees, it is a safe bet you will enjoy much warmer weather in Orlando than back home in New York.

Hawaii

Hawaii is a hugely popular Christmas vacation destination. Not only is it warm, but it is also stunningly beautiful. Plus, celebrating Christmas at a beach luau sounds marvelous! No wonder so many people head that way during the winter season.

San Antonio, Texas

Head South to San Antonio, Texas for warmer weather and friendly people. San Antonio also turns its historic Riverwalk into an amazing light spectacle that will amaze everyone in your entire family. Plus, the city offers fun holiday events.

The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida

The average December temperature is 77 degrees in Palm Beach, Florida making it a great place for some warm weather celebrations in the sun. The Breakers Resort is my pick for a family-friendly vacation over Christmas break. It offers tons of activities for both kids and adults.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan has unique Christmas traditions and festivals that make it a fun place for families to visit over the holiday break. In addition to the festive holiday stuff in the city, there are also beautiful beaches offering just the right amount of sun, warmth, and relaxation.

Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau is home to the mega Atlantic resort which will have your kids mesmerized. Even if you don’t stay at Atlantis, Nassau has several family-friendly resorts and tons of attractions the whole family will love.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Want to celebrate Christmas with a fiesta and a siesta? Then, head to Mexico for the holidays! Puerto Vallarta is a popular tourist destination because of its beaches, attractions, and numerous all-inclusive resorts which cater to families.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana is another fantastic place to visit over the holiday break. Offering beautiful beaches and scenery, Punta Cana is an all-inclusive playground. Families have their pick of resorts with excellent dining and entertainment options.

A Cruise to Anywhere Warm

Feeling super spontaneous? Look for last-minute cruise options! Cruises are great for families, but they also do a great job of making being on a boat at sea for a holiday an exciting adventure.

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While you’re dreaming of a warm Christmas this year, go ahead and start planning a trip to Australia for next year’s Christmas vacation.

9 Fall Break Ideas for NYC Families

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Fall in New York City is a special time of year. The weather starts to chill – and sometimes gets downright cold. It also starts the busy holiday season. Now that Halloween is over, the big rush towards the holidays begins.

During a season full of hustle and bustle, I like finding the time to take a nice break. That’s why I love fall break trips! Whether your family plans to travel over the long Thanksgiving break or you can only squeeze in a weekend trip, fall break trips are a must! You need that time to put away the work stuff and the holiday planning to enjoy some quality time with the ones you love.

I’ve come up with a list of 9 fall break ideas for busy NYC families that cover lots of different budgets. Even better, most only require a tank of gas!

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The Catskills, New York

If you want beautiful scenery, head to The Catskills. You will find plenty of places to take Insta-worthy shots, and your kids will be able to use up some of their energy on one of your family hikes.

Portland, Maine

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Kids love Portland for its ferry boats rides, and parents love Portland for the ambiance of the bay. You can visit the lighthouse, explore the children’s museum, and eat loads of lobster.

Washington, DC

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Many families hesitate to take their little ones to DC, but they really shouldn’t. DC is great for kids! In addition to tons of free national monuments to view, there are also several free museums. Dc also has a great food scene, so mom and dad will be happy, too.

Poconos, Pennsylvania

If you are looking for relaxation, a visit to the Poconos may be just what you need. From beautiful mountain scenery to beautiful lake views, the Poconos offer a quiet escape from the city.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is a fun city to visit. In addition to the mass amounts of history you can learn on a tour of the city, you will also love the culture. Bostonians are proud, and you can feel it in the air. Plus, Boston has a lot of fun things for kids to enjoy such as the duck tours.

Hudson Valley, New York

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If you plan a trip to Hudson Valley in the near future, you are likely to surrounded by all the breathtaking colors of fall. You will be able to capture beautiful family photographs as you explore the area and wander through the quaint villages.

The Adirondacks, New York

Looking for an early winter escape? Look no further than the Adirondacks. This is the ideal skiing location for winter getaways. Even better – the Adirondacks are home to several breweries and wineries.

Hershey, Pennsylvania

Do I even have to sell you on this one? This whole town celebrates chocolate! The big appeal for families is clearly the HersheyPark, and why not? It’s a theme park that is focused on candy. What’s not to love?

Enjoy a Staycation!

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Sometimes the best kinds of breaks are the ones that don’t take us anyway. Those of us who call NYC home can easily enjoy a staycation and still manage to visit places we have never been. Explore new parts of the city that appeal to your whole family or spend your vacation visiting all your favorite spots. The point is to rest.

What plans does your family have for fall break? Let me know in the comments!

Why You Should Take a Vacation Without Your Kids At Least Once a Year

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I’m here today to give you permission to do something that might feel a little crazy. Moms, you need to take a vacation. And not just any vacation. You need to take a kid-free vacation at least once a year.

I’ve heard the excuses. You are too busy. It just isn’t possible to find childcare. You would feel guilty. Enough with the excuses! I’m not saying you have to go somewhere for an entire week or spend a ton of money. But hey, if you can pull that off, go right ahead and don’t feel guilty.

Your kids will survive without you for a couple of days. Plus, you will come back refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to do all the mom stuff without complaint. Think about it. Don’t you always feel a little bit better when you get some downtime? Now just imagine if that downtime was more than fifteen minutes of privacy in your bathroom. You’d be the best mom ever!

Now that we’ve got the whole guilt issue out of the way, let’s talk about all the reasons you should take a vacation without your kids.

To Remember Who You Are

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Being a mom is the best job in the world. But, once upon a time, you were more than “just mom.” Do you remember that lady? While being a mom is going to be your main priority when you are with your kids, something magical happens when you step out of that role for a couple of days. The women you were slowly starts to reemerge!

To Reconnect with Others

For those of you who are married with kids, you no doubt understand the importance of having alone time with your spouse. It is so important to spend time with your spouse without kids to reconnect. While date nights are wonderful, you should also try to sneak away together for a weekend. After 14 years together, I appreciate time away with my man even more.

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Along these same lines, if there is any way possible you can pull off taking a girls trip each year – do it! Getting away with your girlfriends kid-free is good for the soul – and even better for your sanity. Like they say, sometimes talking with our girlfriends is all the therapy we need.

To Have Some Real Rest

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Even though my girls are well past the stage of waking up throughout the night, I still feel like I don’t get as much sleep as I would like. It’s probably because like most moms, my senses are always on alert when my girls are nearby. But, when I travel without my kids, my brain gets a little break, and I can rest easy.

To Have Someone Take Care of You for a Change

Moms are always taking care of others and putting someone else’s needs above their own. I cook, I clean, I work, I tuck my babies in each night, and on and on. It is so nice to stay at a luxury hotel where I don’t have to lift a finger unless I want to. Room service? Maid service? Turn down service? Yes, please!

You Deserve It!

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Being a mom is a tiring, demanding job. You deserve a break! While working moms get vacation days and sick days, your mom job does not come with those off days. That’s why it is so important for you to create those days yourself without feeling guilty about it. We all need time to ourselves to refresh. Without a vacation, employees know their workers will burn out and lose productivity. The same thing goes for parents. Invest in yourself and avoid mom burn out.

Remember, Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Your kids are not going to forget about you while you are away. Instead, it is likely they will miss you and be overjoyed when you are reunited. And, you know what? You will appreciate all their little idiosyncrasies even more.

A Nickelodeon All-Inclusive Luxury Vacation Perfect for Kids and Their Parents

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My family recently had the opportunity to vacation at the Nick Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Punta Cana, itself, is a beautiful beach destination. When I learned that there is now a Nickelodeon-themed all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, I knew it was a perfect vacation destination for my family. And, I wasn’t wrong.

You may hear the words “Nickelodeon” and “all-inclusive” and think you’ve heard incorrectly. You didn’t. The combination of Nickelodeon fun and all-inclusive go together better than you can dream. I’m here today to tell you all the ways Nickelodeon has discovered the secret to family vacations.

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The Resort Itself

Since the Nick Resort is family-friendly and Nickelodeon-themed, you will instantly be taken back to childhood with its playful accommodations. It has all the standards of regular all-inclusive resorts, but the colors are brighter, the decorations are sillier, and the activities are wilder. For instance, the high rollers can stay in a replica of Spongebob’s pineapple under the sea.

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Now, keep in mind, the resort is designed for luxury travelers. In other words, while the décor may bring out the kid in you that does not mean you will not receive the finest accommodations. The rooms are lovely, and the resort has everything you could possibly need to make you comfortable. Plus, it is located on the white sandy beach of Punta Cana offer endless scenic views. We loved having the combination of playfulness and luxury in the same setting – it was perfect for our family.

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Yummy Food and Delicious Drinks

My family loves all-inclusive vacations because all the food and drinks are included. At Nick Resort, the all-inclusive dining options were fantastic. There were plenty of kid-friendly options for my girls, but the resort also had gourmet restaurants that kept our adult bellies happy. They even have an adult-only restaurant!

We also loved all the free drinks. As soon as we arrived, our girls were treated to a slime smoothie while my husband and I were given a glass of sparkling champagne. Yes, please. The all-inclusive food and alcohol options were a major plus for parents. After a busy day at the beach and the pool, it was wonderful to know we could enjoy fine dining and a glass (or two) of wine each evening.

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Play Like a Nick Kid

We spent most of our time at Aqua Nick. Aqua Nick is a huge waterpark with water slides, splash pads, spray grounds, and a lazy river. Our girls had the time of their lives! They splashed and played for hours. Plus, the pool area had the cutest little sun loungers just for kids.

My girls also loved seeing their favorite Nickelodeon characters in real life. Seeing Dora and the dogs from Paw Patrol at the resort was enough to leave smiles on their faces all day long. But, what really gave them the giggles was seeing people get slimed. Do you remember Nickelodeon slimings? The Nick Resort does mass slimings every day at Aqua Nick.

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Act Like an Adult

While the Nick Resort certainly caters to kids, it does not stop with them. Adults are treated like esteemed guests as well. In addition to the adult-only restaurant and adult beverages, they also offer the Just Kidding Kids Club. The all-inclusive kids club includes supervised daily activities for kids 4-12 years old. This means you can drop your kids off to have some fun while you sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful views – or head to the gorgeous Vassa Spa or scenic infinity pool.

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My family loved our vacation to the Nick Resort in the Dominican Republic. Nick Resort has learned the secret of combining family fun and luxury.

Amalfi Coast

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. No matter how hectic life gets, my husband and I always try to squeeze in at least two vacations a year.  I think it's healthy for marriage and every married couple should do it, even if it's just for a weekend.  Not only do we get some alone time to enjoy ourselves (and get some sleep!), but I think it's also good for kids to learn a bit of independence.  We decided to take a trip to Amalfi coast this year and these are some of our photos and tips we've learned.

 

Here are some tips how we plan our trip:

Air fares - google flight (put in the dates that you desire) save it and track the price, you will get notification when the price changes.  I book hotels using booking.com (they will price match if you find anything cheaper also).

I suggest flying to Naples International Airport.  From there you can get to Amalfi Coast in a couple of ways.  We took the cab from the airport. That's the fastest (about an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Positano) and we were too exhausted from the flight to do any connecting boat/bus rides.  The cost was 130 euros (but it's cheaper if you book a ride before going there online).  You can also take the boat from Naples to Sorrento or Salerno then from Sorrento or Salerno to Positano (by bus or ferry)

Hotel recommendations:

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We stayed at the Eden Roc Suites.  Highly recommended:  Great service and convenient location (10 minute walk down to the beach and bus stops are practically a few steps away).  They also offer free breakfast and lots of their rooms are newly renovated with a breath taking view out of the balcony.

IMAGE courtesy of oyster.com

IMAGE courtesy of oyster.com

Le sireuse:  Another amazing hotel that has an awesome view bar (always lines out the door around Sunset time!)  They also have a Michelin Star restaurant for some fancy dining and unforgettable sunsets.

IMAGE courtesy of booking.com

IMAGE courtesy of booking.com

San Pietro Di Positano.  Stunning resort with the only private beach in Positano!  It's away from all the crowded areas and is located down by the water with easy access to their boats.  

 

Restaurants to try:

I love to eat and I try to go to as many different restaurants as I can.  Every restaurant we went to was amazing and highly recommended!  

Chez black (lunch or dinner) - this is the 'must eat' restaurant in Positano.  It's the people watching/celebrity spotting restaurant that's right by the beach.  The food was amzing, the atmosphere was lively and everybody was having a really good time.  The Spaghetti with Sea Urchin was delicious and came in it's own Sea Urchin bowl!

Da Adolfo (lunch only) - the 'IMPOSSIBLE TO GET RESERVATION' restaurant is worth all the hype with delicious dishes such as the octopus appetizers and grilled whole fish.  There's a boat that takes people from the beach to their restaurant in another destination only if you score a reservation.

Mammà in Capri (lunch or dinner) Michelin star restaurant with delicious raw seafood and beautiful plating!  Their view of Capri is breathtaking and if you get a chance try to watch the sunset there.  

Ristorante da Costantino Request a table by the window and order their house wine, you won't be disappointed!  Their whole fish was delicious and they were not very expensive for very authentic Italian.  They're located a little far away but they have pick up and drop off service.  We learned the hard way by walking there (45 minute of walking up lots and lots of stairs!) but it was definitely a memorable walk and it's the best way to get the sweeping views of Positano!

One great thing about Amalfi coast is how easy it is to travel from one part to another.  You can easily take ferry (or private boat) rides between Amalfi, Capri, Ravello, Positano, Sorrento, and Salerno.  Prices range from $12-$15 euro for a one way trip and you get to see the beautiful coast of Amalfi from the water.  We were able to visit Capri and Amalfi in the short time we were on vacation!

Bermuda family trip!

I had the pleasure of visiting Bermuda for the first time with the family and it was a wonderful experience.  Stayed at the Fairmont Southampton for a few days and everybody was very friendly and accommodating.  The weather was the same as NYC so let that be a fair warning to anybody who wants to travel to Bermuda in the winter - it can get cold there!  

Most of the time we ate at the resort (we loved Jasmine Lounge because kids under 5 eat for free!) but we did go out twice and ate at Lobster Pot (great appetizers...get the Escargot!)  and Barracuda Grill in Hamilton.  Both served delicious seafood locally and the kids loved the pasta.  We were lucky to have Horseshoe Bay Beach practically in our backyard and the kids loved playing in the beautiful serene beach!  

Up, up, and away in Chiang Mai, Thailand!

I traveled to Chiang Mai to experience a city that is unlike the busy streets of Bangkok.  Set in Northern Thailand, this city feels more relaxed and even though 1.6  million people live here it doesn't really feel it.  However, part of that peace and quiet came from the fact that we stayed at the beautiful Four Seasons Chiang Mai in 502 Moo 1, Mae Rim-Samoeng Old Road.  We stayed at the pool villa where we could've just hung out there the whole time.  But the rest of the resort was just so amazing, which includes it's own public infinity pool looking out to the lush greens of the resort.  We wanted to get a higher  look of Chiang Mai and went on a hot air balloon from Balloon Adventures Thailand.  It was an incredible (albeit cloudy) view of what Chiang Mai looks like.  Chiang Mai's 'famous' noodle is the Khao Soi and eating that intense bowl of crispy noodles in curry broth really makes me feel I am far from home.  You can have that noodle dish practically everywhere so you do not have to worry about where to get it.  Was Chiang Mai worth the 20 hour flight (stop-over in HK, of course!) to get to?  Most definitely.  It gave us the time for us to just relax away from the hectic life of living in New York City.  Can't wait to return!

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