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Emergencies while traveling abroad

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Let me take a moment in this challenge to be serious.

We don’t like to think about it, but it happens. Emergencies arise while on vacation. The best thing you can do is prepare. Here are some tips on things you can do before you leave, and resources for you to bookmark.

If you have more tips, please leave them in the comments.

Purchase Travel Insurance 

I can’t recommend a specific policy because ours is via my husband’s company. I am familiar with CSA Travel Insurance and World Nomads, though I haven’t used either personally. (These are not affiliate links, just links to the products for your convenience.)

Do your research for your destination

At the minimum make sure you have the 911 equivalent number for the destinations you’re traveling to. This list provided by the U.S. State Department should help.

Write down the number your country’s nearest consulate or embassy for each city you will be visiting. Note most U.S. embassy websites include contact information for English-speaking doctors in the vicinity. It will be under the section for American Citizen Services.

Read up on any necessary vaccinations, familiarize yourself with the medical process, and general safety tips via the U.S. State Department site.

If anyone in your group has allergies, keep a list of the allergies translated into the language of the country you are visiting. Even if people guarantee that all doctors will speak English where you are visiting, you never know. Trust me. I have 50/50 luck with English speaking doctors in Germany – and I’m in a big city.

Keep a copy with you

To help with this I’ve created a free downloadable pdf to keep track of this information for up to four countries. Print it out for each trip and put it in a safe place.

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Now that we’re done being serious, I’d love it if you go and check out my friend Jenny’s blog A Taste of Travel. She’s also participating in the A to Z Challenge, focusing on places off the beaten path. True travel inspiration on her blog. Her selections so far have me wanting to purchase plane tickets, buy insurance, do a little research and fill out the form you hopefully just downloaded.sous vetements feminins sexy

Airplanes with small children

Thanks to my friend DJ at Dream Euro Trip, I have decided to participate in this year’s A to Z challenge.

Today is brought to you by the letter A.

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Airplanes and small children

As a mom who not only loves to travel with her clan, but also actively encourages others to do the same, the topic of flying with kids is one that is close to my heart. 

Many parents dread flying. We typically have no experience bringing our kids into an enclosed space with a bunch of strangers, limited in what we can bring to satisfy our kids, while depending on variables out of our control.

Sounds like fun a situation. Add the grief of knowing that most people around you have already decided that your children will ruin their flight, and I can see why more parents simply don’t want to do it.

If you are a parent traveling with a small child, ignore anyone around you who is not smiling. They’re either ignoring you or rolling their eyes at your decision to show your kid the world and you don’t need to pay them any mind. Know that your one job during this flight is to keep your child comfortable. It’s exhausting at times, but this is your responsibility. In the end, it will be ok. The flight will not last forever.

If you are traveling in the vicinity of a small child, think of it like turbulence. It can get bumpy, it can get uncomfortable. The person in charge is doing everything they can to fix the situation. It may be hard, you may need to wear your seatbelt (or headphones), but you will get to your destination.  

P.S. 24 Great Tips for Flying with Young Children

Focus: A new perspective

Here we are, 10 days in 2014, and I finally decided to share my word for this year.

FOCUS

This word came to me one night in December as I thought of what I wanted my word to be. In the past I’ve forced a word just to have one, and my success rate with sticking to that word wasn’t really that good. But this one just appeared and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

My kids are growing fast. It’s absolutely crazy. My oldest is three, my youngest is a just over one.

The first year of each of their lives was utter chaos to me. Adjusting to a new normal, then readjusting, while living abroad, and trying to figure out exactly how “I” actually fit into this all was, and continues to be, a challenge. Coming out of this haze in late 2013 means really focusing on thriving in 2014.

So in the spirit of some blogging friends who have made their intentions public, here are some areas I’m going to focus on more and how I’m going to do it.

Focus on Travel…

… focus on Germany: Even before starting this blog I’ve loved traveling to new places, new countries, and other countries. But, this year I want to embrace Germany. There’s a reason we live here. I studied both the language and history in college and I feel like it’s always been an important part of my life. We will still travel outside of this country (it’s just too easy) in 2014, but I want to see a lot more within the ‘schland.

…focus on microadventures: I had the idea before I knew what it was called, so I’m glad I read about it today. For our family this is all about exploration. I want to get more in tune with nature, something we tend to do when on vacation, but don’t do enough when we’re closer to home.

… focus on nature: Whether in or out of Germany, close to home or far away, I want to spend less of our vacation time in big cities and crowded destinations. Yes, we’ll probably take in some big cities because I love them and they exhilarate me, but I’m going to actively seek a slower pace.

… focus on UNESCO: This is something I just thought of before our recent trip to Amsterdam. Before any trip, I want to research the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the area. I’ll learn more about the area and, possibly, add some sites to our list. I’ve always been interested in these things, but I rarely seek it out. While I don’t plan to go out of my way just to check a place off our list, I am more than willing to make a detour for a place that simply interests me.

… focus on transportation: Two things I’m really looking forward to this year involves the journey. I’ve always believed in “the journey is the destination,” but with two little kids the journey is not always fun. This year, though, we have a longer road trip in the works and a long distance train ride. Wish us luck!

… focus on family: All of these ideas, actually, stem from family and connecting. One of the biggest reasons I absolutely love traveling with my family is that I feel like we learn so much about each other. It’s addicting. Kids grow fast – too fast. By shifting our focus in the types of travel we will have this year, I think I can really focus on the family experience. This is what it is all about.

Focus on the website’s three E’s…

… focus on ENCOURAGEMENT: I’m very excited to get to the meat of why I started this blog. Families I know who don’t travel are often discouraged by the logistics of it all. It can be overwhelming to think about. As a former travel agent, I get it. I feel like helping with logistics clears one the biggest hurdles for those families, so you will start to see more practical information and tips around these parts. Also, I really love logistics.

… focus on EXPLORATION: This is something leftover from my travel agent days, too and something I feel can be an obstacle for families. Exploration, when I think about it in terms of microadventures, can happen anywhere. I think microadventures can easily be adjusted to fit anyone’s locale. Along with the anywhere microadventures, I plan to offer specific destination tips for things to consider from the family travel perspective.

… focus on ENGAGEMENT: There’s a lot going on with this word. My favorite travel stories have always been when the traveler connected with other people on their journeys. There are so many interesting people out there, and there is something magical about meeting someone while on a trip who offers insight when needed. I am very shy, so this is hard for me to do, but I try. Additionally, as a mom, I cherish the moments when my kids are engaged in the places we travel to. Whether it’s the people, the sites, the paintings, the scenery, the food, whatever. That’s what makes travel so important. Breaking out of shells and engaging with the place.

… focus on MEMORIES: While not one of my three E’s, memory keeping is one of the main reasons I started this blog. One thing I tend to be really good at, have professional and personal experience in, and can talk about all day long is the logistics, methods, and experiences in travel. And I can not wait to start doing more of that on this website. We’re going to go on several trips this year, and it is so important for me to collect these memories and stories for my kids. For myself. However, memory keeping is hard for me. I’m not a great photographer or storyteller. I don’t have a lot of time. But, I want to do it. I need to do it. I want to inspire other families who travel to do something with their photos and stories, outside of a blog or email or online journal. Make something tangible for their family to hold. I’m going to get pretty crafty in 2014, and I hope you’ll join me.

Along with all those things specified above, I’m bringing more focus into other areas of my life. Here’s to 2014! Have a great weekend.
sous vetement pas cher

Hogmanay for families with young kids

As the official Edinburgh website puts it Hogmanay is, basically, a New Year’s celebration of,

THREE DAYS of spectacular events, incredible bands and amazing crowds from every corner of the globe.

Maybe not the most child-friendly sounding event, but I still think it’s worth a visit.

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Two years ago, our family was lucky to spend New Year’s in Edinburgh and it is something I want to repeat again soon. While we couldn’t (or didn’t want to, at least) attend the crowded concerts and many events, we still did a lot. We took in the city’s sites, visited their Christmas Markets, took a day trip to St. Andrews, and participated in one of the coolest events I’ve ever experienced.

Edinburgh’s Torchlight Procession

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To kick off the three days of “spectacular events”, the city hosts a torchlight procession. It starts in Old Town, winds down the streets and park until turning on to Princes Street, then marches past the shops, restaurants, hotels, and bystanders until it ends at the top of Calton Hill.

There is absolutely nothing as exhilarating as being part of this procession. Last year there were 35,000 participants. That’s a lot of people. Watching the lit torches ahead of and behind us, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, sent shivers down my spine.

My son had just recently turned one when we went. I worried that the crowds would be too much, but decided we could just step away at any moment if they were. It turned out they were never a concern. There wasn’t a mad rush to make it to the end. It was a peaceful walk.

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Once we started the climb to Calton Hill there were electronic signs letting us know event details. We made it to the top, extinguished our fires, grabbed a quick sandwich from the food truck (one of my best meals in Edinburgh), then listened to the live music, bagpipes, and watched the fireworks show over the city.

For most people reading this, it’s probably too late to book tickets for Edinburgh for Hogmanay this year. If you can make it there, the procession is a free event. The torches are available at a low-cost, but advance sales are sold out. There’s limited supply available the day of, so check there on December 30.

I highly recommend it.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE. I’LL SEE YOU IN 2014.

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There’s no place like Berlin for the holidays.

Berlin, in December, is fantastic.

It’s magic.

Walking through the city will have you singing your favorite Bing Crosby’s holiday tune –

City Sidewalks, busy sidewalks, in the Holiday Style. In the air there’s the feeling – of Christmas.

There are many things to keep you and your family in the spirit.

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Weihnachts Zauber Gendarmenmarkt

For starters – Christmas markets. Everywhere. My favorite, one of the best I’ve been to, is at Gendarmenmarkt. For a small fee you can enter the small market and enjoy the crafts, food, and drink. All the stalls are white with greenery and twinkle lights. One of the many things that makes this market stand out is the frequent music, theater, and dance performances.

There are two foods you have to try if you go, both are desserts. Poffertjes are small pancake-like tasty treats covered in powdered sugar original. They’re Dutch, but We’ve had them at many markets in Germany and the Netherlands and nothing has compared to the ones we had at the Gendarmentmarkt. The other (pictured below) is the Baumkuchen. Unfortunately they don’t allow photos of the process at this Christmas market because it’s pretty cool. There’s a rod spinning over an open fire, and cake batter is poured on it. Slowly, the thin layer starts to cook, then another layer of batter is poured over it. This is repeated until you end up with multiple layers. Once it’s sliced it looks like the cross-section of a tree, this the name Baum (tree) kuchen (cake). In Berlin you can pick several toppings for it or go plain. It’s a must try.

Tips for Berlin Christmas Markets

  • The Gendarmenmarkt chargess a small fee for the evenings (I think we paid less than 2EUR per adult), but is free in the afternoon. The crowds are also much smaller then. It is completely worth the small fee to enter, but visiting in the daytime is nice.
  • There are Christmas markets all over Berlin. I made it to several, and missed so many that I have to save for a future trip. For more information on all the markets, see Visit Berlin.
  • I find Berlin hotels really affordable during the holiday season. Maybe people fear the chill. If you can afford it, stay as close to one of the Christmas markets as possible. I stayed at the Hilton on Gendarmenmarkt which made it hard to resist heading down to that market every evening. There are many options in the area, and it is a convenient base for site seeing with easy access to public transportation.

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O, Christmas Tree – O, History

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Checkpoint Charlie

A short walk from the Gendarmenmarkt in one direction and you are at Checkpoint Charlie – the former gateway between East and West Berlin. Take a moment to enjoy the history of this spot. Yes, there are plenty of touristy things that weren’t here 25 years ago, but see past that. This was where foreigners and Allied troops could enter East Berlin. Soviet and US troops in tanks faced off here in 1961. Any spy movie set in Berlin between the 60s and 80s most likely include this area. There are several museums in this area, but the Open Air Exhibit along Friedrichstr., Zimmermanstr., and Schützenstrasse, is an easy way to learn more. With images and information depicting the escape attempts, the symbolism, and the history of this area.

Brandenburg Gate

Walk for a little while in the other direction and you end up walking along Unter den Linden. Along the way you will find tons of shopping options, the Rittersport chocolate shop (where kids might enjoy a chance to make their own candy bar), and the hotel made famous by Michael Jackson. At the end of the street, the Brandenburg Gate.

I think the tree here is the largest in Berlin, it’s quite the sight. I bet it’s even better at night.

The Reichstag building is just around the corner. It’s free to tour, but you have to make a reservation in advance. It’s suggested to do it early so there’s space available. The audio tour is one of the best. As you walk up the building, the tour stops and starts automatically based on your location. I hear there’s also a good tour for children, but ours were asleep in the stroller for most of the visit.

 

Fun for kids

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Berlin has a lot of activities for kids, and most of those places go the extra mile during the holidays. The Legoland Discovery Center at Potzdamer Platz is one of those places. We didn’t make it during the day, but at night the surroundings had many seasonal Lego sculptures. Some interactive. The kids, mine and everyone I saw, loved it.

 

More Berlin Tips

  • U-bahn (subway) maps indicate which stops have elevators. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be operational, but it’s good to know.
  • If you wear the proper attire, Berlin’s Zoo and the Tiergarten are a good escape from the crowds in the winter. And kids will love it.
  • KaDeWe, the second largest department store in Europe, offers child care service during their operating hours. A perfect way to shop or visit their famous international food hall.
  • Be on the look out for Eltern, Spiel, Eltern-Kind, Familien or Kinder cafes . These cafes are specifically for families, with a small play area for the kids and a dining menu for the adults. (Use google translate on this page to see if there’s one in the area you’re visiting: Family Cafes in Berlin.)
  • Visit Berlin offers special packages, at reasonable prices, for families. These package include hotel stay, admission and discounts to several sites, and a map for the kids.(Also, check out their site for more tips on things for families in Berlin.)

 

This post is part of the Sunday Traveler link up hosted by Chasing the Donkey, Latitude 34, Ice Cream and Permafrost, Pack Me To, A Southern Gypsey, A Brit & A Southerner, and Frank About Croatia. Click here for more information about the link-up and read other travel related posts.how to check my google rankingtop google keyword searches