April 24, 2013 in Wordless Wednesday
April 23, 2013 in Travel Advice
For the first two years of my son’s life, we relied solely on public transport to get from one place to another. We learned a lot using the trains both locally and nationally. Here are 5 cost-savings and/or sanity-savings tips for conquering the trains in Germany.
1. Kids under 6 travel free. So do their strollers. The German Rail website sells a pass for 4-11 year olds, but if the child is under 6, they are free when traveling with an adult.
2. Some trains allow reservations. On those trains, try to book a “Kinderabteil”. This is a kid room. Instead of the typical 6-seat configuration, there are 4 regular seats and two-fold down seats. Strollers go where the seats fold down. On some trains and in first class the Kinderabteil is even larger than the regular 6-seat configuration areas, giving kids some space to move around without bothering others. If the Kinderabteil is not available for reservation, then it is first-come, first-served.
3. Many tips for flying with kids are applicable for riding the train with kids. There are three things to consider about train travel that differs from plane travel: train seats don’t have seat belts, there are no liquid restrictions, and the train often stops. For children who are easily distracted, try to schedule train trips to avoid their nap times. I know anytime I thought my son was going to fall asleep, the upcoming stop was announced. If that didn’t wake him up the group of people exiting and entering the train sure did.
4. Kids love to snack. Unlike airports, train stations sell food and drinks for prices similar to what they are at regular stores. No need to shop at the grocery store to save prices before going to the train station! Snacks are also available on a lot of trains. They are sold by an employee walking the aisle and/or at the restaurant car. These snacks are a little pricier, but still reasonable.
5. In almost all cities in Germany shops are closed on Sundays and holidays . Main train stations (Hauptbahnhof) and airports are the exception. If diapers are running low on a Sunday, head to the Hauptbahnhof to replenish stock.
This post is part of Travel Tip Tuesday. Click the link to read more great tips.
April 22, 2013 in Memory Keeping Tips
Memory Keeping Monday
When I travel, I often have at least three cameras with me: phone, point and shoot, and dSLR. It’s easy to take a lot of photos. How do I handle these when I get home?
I’m a strong believer in living with our photos. By that I mean, take them off of the computer or memory stick, and find a way that the whole family can enjoy them easily.
This three-part series is going to offer tips on how to choose from the hundreds (or thousands) of pictures taken on a single trip and turn them into a beautiful souvenir that your family will enjoy for years.
For this three-part series, I’m going to join in and tackle a large group of pictures I have sitting in my hard drive. In 2011 we went to Paris for 6 days for my sons first birthday. I haven’t done anything with those photos and will use this opportunity to create something(s) for our family.
Keep in mind, these tips are mostly focused on the photos. Future posts for Memory Keeping Monday will look at ways to organize journaling, ticket stubs and other odds and ends we collect while we travel.
Part 1: Organizing Photos
There are many reasons people take pictures when they travel. It’s not always just to remember what we did. Some people want to take pictures to practice their photography techniques. Others use photography as a creative outlet. Still others use it as a way to connect with people. As family travelers, we often photograph our subjects in front of sites as proof that they were there. More often than not, we do a combination of all of these photos. I know I do.
Because we have so many reasons we take photos, it can be overwhelming when it comes time to sort through these photos. However, we have to sort through these photos. Unless we are good at taking exactly the perfect photo and only keeping the perfect photos, and never taking too many photos, there are a lot of photos on a single trip that we just don’t need. Let’s say, for example, we come back from a week’s vacation with 600 photos. That’s a lot. It’s not even 100 a day. If we were to make a slide show, allotting 1 second per photos, that would be a TEN minute slide show! If we were to make a book allowing 4 pictures per page, that would be 125 PAGES! Filling that space with photos that don’t contribute to the story of our trip is a waste. That’s why we have to curate our travel photo collection.
Before looking through the photos, take a few minutes to think of the final product you want to create. Do you want to spotlight your best photographs? Do you want an album of the things you did ranging from the smallest details to the biggest moments? Do you want to tell a story, or several stories, of the best parts of your trips? Will you possibly want to do a few of these things?
While going through your photos and reliving your memories, you may change your mind and want to go in a different direction than what you originally planned. That’s ok.
What I’m doing: We went to Paris for my son’s first birthday, which is close to Halloween. Since Halloween isn’t celebrated in Paris (except for some nightclubs which aren’t really appropriate for a one-year old) we spent his first Halloween at Disney. So, I want to create some kind of memory piece using a lot of the photos, but I know I will also want to use some of my favorite photos for other things (to put in frames, his birthday album…)
Now that we have an idea of what we want to do, let’s look at our photos. (If you haven’t already, upload all of your photos from all of your cameras into one folder on your computer.)
1. Delete bad photos. The first round of deletes will be to delete all the blurry photos, too dark photos, accidental picture photo, or any you just know you don’t want. If this is too hard, save all the photos in a separate folder that you can access later if you want to. You probably won’t access them.
What I’m doing: I started with around 400 photos. I only deleted about 15 photos.
2. Group the remaining photos by a theme into folders. If you have more than 100 photos, you will want to break them down into smaller sections. Look through the photos to see if any natural stories can be told from this. Some trips lend themselves more to a day by day story. Some stories are told better by themes. Figure out what works best for you and your trip. Keep each folder group to around 50-100 photos (unless it’s day by day then each folder will just have the day’s photos). Every photo should belong to a group. If you have a few stray photos either make them their own folder, put them in with another folder, or delete them altogether if you discover that there isn’t really any value to them.
What I’m doing: I have them categorized chronologically in sections. There are three folders: regular Paris photos, Halloween and Disneyland, and Birthday.
3. Work through individual folders to delete multiples. Now’s the time to fine-tune your individual folders. Delete any multiples that don’t tell a story. Don’t feel that you have to delete all multiples, though. If a grouping of photos tell a great story, keep them! But you don’t need 10 photos of front the Taj Mahal to know you were at the Taj Mahal. (My rule of thumb is to limit a grouping or series of photos to 3 photos.)
Added tip: Take notes to why you are keeping the ones you are keeping.
At this point, I always like to make sure that at least each person in my family has one photo from the day, so even if I don’t have a great picture of myself, I will keep one in.
What I’m doing: Since I know I want to end up with some kind of album, I am still going to keep a lot of photos. For the Halloween/Disney part I started out with about 80 photos. That’s really a lot for 1 day, even a Halloween/Disney/Paris day. Looking at these 80 photos I know that I want to have pictures of the theme park, signs of Halloween, signs that we are in France (and not Orlando or California), and my son meeting some Disney characters. After deleting a large group, I was left with about 60 photos. For me, that is still too much for one day. I realized that a large chunk of photos I was keeping were from a 5 minute interaction my son had with Goofy during lunch. After deleting more photos, I was left was around 43 photos that I feel give a good representation of the day with not too many theme repeats.
If you feel like you aren’t deleting enough, it’s ok. I know this is hard to do and we will have plenty of time to narrow down the pictures again. But for now, delete the ones you know you do not need.
4. Now pick out your favorites. Within your theme/individual photos create a folder called “favorites”. Put copies of your top 5-10 photos (or less!) into that folder. There doesn’t have to be a rhyme or reason to this. It’s just your favorite photos.
What I’m doing: I kept a picture from the beginning of the day, the end of the day, a picture of my son in his costume and one with him and pluto, and a photo of all 5 of us.
5. Repeat with each theme/individual folder until you have gone through all of your folders.
NOTE: While going through this process, it’s a good time to copy into their own folders any photos that you may use for other purposes completely. For example:
- A folder for blog photos, facebook photos, or tripadvisor reviews.
- Any photo projects you may have that are not trip-specific. For example, I keep track of “where we sleep“. If I have a photo in a hotel room, I put it aside so that I at least one photo from each hotel we’ve stayed at separately. I also put aside one picture of each of my children from each trip we take. I also want to have a separate record for his first birthday, so I’m keeping copies of those in a separate folder to sort through later.
What I’m doing: I went through all of my separate photos for my Paris 2011 trip. My kids were sleeping when I went through the “Halloween/Disney folder” and I was able to concentrate on the photos. They woke up by the time I was going through my other two folders, so I didn’t delete as much as I wanted to because I didn’t want to accidentally delete something. This is our reality. This is why organizing photos is so difficult. That’s ok, just do what you can do.
Also, while I was going through my regular Paris folder, I discovered so many pictures of my son that just show his one-year old personality so strongly. I didn’t want to delete all of these, even though there are repetitions. Not sure what I’m going to keep, but I want to have the choices there for later. I also made sure that I had at least one photo of the sites we saw, usually the photo was of one of us in front of the place (or inside), but if I liked a picture I took of the building, I kept it.
I started with roughly 400 photos and I was able to get to around 200 photos, 35-40 a day.
Now that we have the first step towards creating a souvenir of our trip, having the photos organized, come back next Monday to see what we have to do next.
April 20, 2013 in Local Fun
I don’t normally post over the weekend, but I wanted to share a picture of the cherry blossoms we have in town.
I lived in Okinawa a few years growing up. One of my favorite memories was the annual cherry blossom festival. Cherry blossom in Japanese is SAKURA. It’s one of those things, since I was so young when I lived there, that’s just part of my vocabulary. When I was older I learned of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. These trees in D.C. were a gift from the Japanese and a sign of the friendship between the US and Japan.
I always equated “cherry blossom” with Japan. Imagine my surprise when I moved to Germany and saw these pink trees one spring day. Even then I was in denial that these were cherry blossoms. I think I even told my husband that these are really similar to the cherry blossoms we saw in Okinawa’s Sakura festivals. I eventually learned that cherry blossom trees exist both outside of Japan and outside of Washington D.C. Japan often gifts cherry blossom trees to other countries and cities.
I wonder now, what brought these cherry blossoms to this small section of my town in Germany. Was it also a gift? Dusseldorf Germany has the largest Japanese expat population in Germany and is a bit south of where I live. Did someone from Dusseldorf transport them over here? I like to think that my closest cherry blossom street was also a gift from a passing Japanese business person. Perhaps they knew that these trees would bring someone right back to their childhood and the Sakura festivals. Whatever or whoever brought them here, domo arrigato.
April 17, 2013 in Wordless Wednesday
Last week I shared my son’s first flight. Here’s my daughter in the bassinet on the flight shortly before we were going to land on her first international flight at just under 2 months.
April 15, 2013 in Memory Keeping Tips
Memory Keeping Monday
Here’s a great travel journal idea.
A few years ago there was an end-of-the-year internet meme about the cities we slept in the previous year. I liked the idea and that has become part of my end year-end tradition.
When my son was born, I wanted to get a bit more specific. On my pre-baby trips I kept trip journals and sometimes a separate notebook to attach tickets, receipts and such. After a few trips with him, I realized my travel recording was going to change. I no longer had the time to lounge at a cafe and write about my thoughts and feelings while on vacation. Still, I wanted to do something.
In place of something more detailed, I stuck to the basics and have a journal where I write where we sleep. After a trip, I just write the name of the hotel, room number and dates. If we are on a plane overnight, then I write the flight information. When I feel up to it, I add day trips we took. This will help jog our memories when we stay at one place for an extended period of time.
If the kids are ever interested in our travels before their memories start, they have it to look at. I plan to do some other things with this information and will share it here when I do.
So this is one of the simpler ways to document trips. Starting next Monday, Travel Turtle’s Memory Keeping Monday will take a closer look at what to do for more detailed record keeping using the hundreds and thousands of pictures taken on single trips. It’s part of a three part series.
Have you found memory keeping on trips difficult since having kids?
April 12, 2013 in Photo Friday
Two years ago this month we packed up our stroller with enough goods for a family of three for two nights, and headed to Cochem, Germany. Our son was five months old at the time. Our plans were to relax, so we did. We spent the weekend strolling along the Mosel River, checking out the Easter Market, climbing up to the castle, buying wine from local vineyards, and taking a short cruise just to past the time.
The unexpected highlight: there was a wedding at the castle. No, we weren’t invited to the wedding and no, we didn’t crash the wedding. (We wanted to, but we were severely underdressed.) We did get to see the guests arrive and then see the couple’s wedding car driving around town several times throughout the day. Whenever the car would appear, people left shops or stopped on the street to watch, take photos, and give well-wishes.
The blue skies and this blue car definitely made for a memorable trip.
This photo is part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.
April 10, 2013 in Wordless Wednesday
My son’s first flight, at just under three months. The first picture is him sleeping peacefully in his car seat. The second is him after we were told we have to take him out of his car seat for his safety. Yes, he’s awake now!
April 8, 2013 in Memory Keeping Tips
Memory Keeping Monday
Over at Gone With Family, Lisa and her daughter have an amazing collection of their Starbucks visits around the world. What a wonderful and personal souvenir of their travels.
This reminds me of pictures that have shown up repeatedly in my photo folder.
Letting our kids fly while staying in a hotel room.
When my son was 3 months old, we went on a weekend trip to Salzburg, Austria. We took a ton of photos of our new son on his first real trip. This was one of my favorites:
Last December we spent a few nights in Berlin. This time, it was my daughter who was 3 months. What a great time to recreate one of my favorite photos of my son, while also in a hotel.
I was so excited to recreate the Salzburg image, that I didn’t even notice until I developed the photos that we had this pretty view of Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt in the background. Love it.
So in February when we spent a few days in Amsterdam, I knew what I had to do when I saw our hotel view.
What started out as a fun, one-time thing has possibly turned into a new travel tradition. I can’t wait to see this collection grow.
Side note: Since I have our daughter over Amsterdam and Berlin, it seems only natural to do a alphabet capitals photo series. Should we go to Copenhagen next?