Loving and Leaving Los Angeles

Sunday, 24 September 2017


The story of my love affair with Southern California is an accidental one. Nine years ago I was engaged, living with my parents and working for my family's business, a small travel agency in Michigan. My then fiancé had applied for a Visa to emigrate to the US from Northern Ireland and we had plans to marry the following February. We were waiting for our paperwork to be approved so he could join me and start our married life together in the "Mitten State". After finishing my degree, I had gone to work for my mom who had been ill and it filled the gap while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my adult self, while giving me the flexibility to travel to see my boyfriend/fiance as often as possible. Things were comfortable but in retrospect I suppose I was in a bit of a quarter life limbo, something not unfamiliar to those finishing up degrees and wondering what comes next.

It was on one of those days at the office, any other day as it would seem, when my mom slapped a job advertisement on my desk. A sales manager position for a European tourist office, based in their Los Angeles Office. The first words out of my mouth were "I'm not moving to LA". My mom pressed on - "just apply" she said. Fast forward to a few weeks later, I was flying to New York City, lap top in tow, new suit, shoes "not too high" at the advice of my bestie's dad, and into a Manhattan office I marched. I gave my presentation, was left alone for quite a while and walked out with a job offer. I phoned my mom, shaking, standing outside of Grand Central Station in New York City. "Are you sitting down?" I asked, "because I got the job." The next month was a blur. Flying to LA, picking out an apartment, pet friendly of course, so I could bring my tiny chihuahua with me. I quickly found out finding an apartment in greater LA is not really that easy. As most can imagine, rentals are expensive, and having a pet limited me. I found a place however, newly renovated, pet friendly, plenty of room for myself and my fiancé.

Speaking of... My fiancé... I phoned him as well - "We're moving to LA!" I exclaimed. He wasn't so excited. He had planned to move to Michigan, close to places and people he knew. I threw him into the deep end. He had been to LA before, staying with wealthy extended family members in a mansion in Brentwood. The LA he knew was different from what I had known prior to this point, having visited my brother attending art school in Costa Mesa. We fought, but blinded by love he begrudgly agreed to make the move as well. Not that we hadn't discussed the move before my interview, but he "didn't really think I'd get the job", he later said, which was less of a dig at me and more of a misunderstanding at how someone could walk into an interview and leave with an offer as it just isn't something that happens in the UK like it does in the US.

On July 8, 2008, I packed up my car  with everything I thought I would need and began the long drive from Michigan to California. I brought along my bestie, and her then-boyfriend, someone else would could drive a manual transmission, as Flynn, try as she might, hadn't mastered the skill. We spent our first night in Memphis with the boyfriend's family, then on to Oklahoma City, lastly Flagstaff, Arizona. Four days later, we crossed into California. As we entered Orange County, Tupac's "California Love" appropriately blasted on the radio. We had made it. Looking back, I'm astounded that I wasn't more overwhelmed at the situation than I was, or maybe I was too young and too dumb to know how HUGE this was. I moved all my stuff into my brother's Costa Mesa apartment (since my newly renovated place wasn't quite ready) and there I was. The following Monday, I walked into my first "grown up" job in Manhattan Beach, California.

When my husband and I decided to get married, we chose to live in the US at the time because of the exchange rate. The British pound was worth 2 dollars, and so it made so much  more sense to move to the States rather than Northern Ireland and double his savings, rather than cut mine in half. Instead of quitting his job, he was able to take a five year "career break" in the event something didn't work out between us, he wasn't walking away from his job, but rather putting it on hold. And so in the back of my mind, I knew I was limited to five years in LA, as we had agreed to spend fie years in the US and the next five in Northern Ireland. I didn't land in LA so to speak, I landed in the South Bay, a beautiful collection of cities, just south of LAX and right on the beach. My first apartment was in North Torrance, California. Not as sexy sounding as Redondo Beach where we eventually ended up, but I was two miles from the ocean. On my drive into work I got stunning vistas not only of the Pacific but on clear days of the Hollywood Sign. For this Midwestern girl, that was pretty cool.
My closest friends were my fellow Midwesterners - my bestie, Flynn, from middle school, we met when we were 12 and continued to be friends through college, eventually found a job in Orange County and relocated the year after I did. And Laura, who oddly enough I had met while studying in Germany, and while we were both from Michigan we had never spent time together in our home state up until that point. The three of us however made a little midwest clique and had some amazing adventures over the years.

Michigan State Alumni Night at the LA Kings Vs. Detroit Red Wings Game, circa 2010

In addition to my fellow Michiganders, over the next few years I garnered a small group of friends in the South Bay, all different ages, backgrounds some native Californians others fellow transplants like myself. Together, we traveled. We ran marathons and half marathons, we wine tasted, we dressed up and went and did "LA" things like valet park our cars at restaurants and eat expensive sushi. I tried things I'd never tried before, became a bit of a foodie. I met people who expanded my horizons, I attended events at Consul General's homes, I flew business class to Europe for work, I drove to Vegas and partied all night, I spotted usual (and unusual) celebrities, went to Drag Queen Bingo. I became a bit of a LA/Midwestern Hybrid - I went home and froze at Christmas, but I refused to wear a winter coat in LA when the weather got cool (but the sun still shone!) and the locals bundled up. I'm not sure I ever really fit in either. I always felt like a bit of an outsider at parties or receptions when I was quick to spot the other midwesterners - we spoke to other people, met people, networked (something my mom and Godmother had drummed into me from a young age) and something that true Los Angelenos were always a bit standoffish at, and yet I'd  come home to Michigan and feel like I didn't fit in there either. I didn't fit the mold of living in the same town my parents grew up in and where I was raised, I felt like I needed to leave and do bigger things.

This used to be my office view!

Eventually, I knew all the short cuts through town, the fun neighborhoods to visit, and those to avoid. And four years into my time there, with the end of Peter's career break in sight, we decided to have a baby. While we were still in the States I pleaded, so my family would be near. Into our fifth year in Los Angeles, I gave birth to Miss P, our gorgeous little bundle of joy, the child that would flip my world upside down. With Miss P strapped to my chest in a baby carrier we packed our darling little house in Redondo Beach and began to get everything ready to go overseas. I thought I was ready. I thought this will be a grand new adventure and I wouldn't miss California at all. At six weeks old, when I took that very first flight with Miss P, I left a world behind. As we drove to the airport and I watched the tiny house fade into the distance, the house where we had hosted so many friends and visitors, the house where we conceived our baby girl, where we brought her home and posed on the front step, my belly still swollen and my heart filled with love. As the plane lifted up from the Tarmac for the final flight away from LAX, Miss P rested her head on my shoulder and fell asleep, I could feel the tears burning in my eyes, and wetting my face.

The crew looks a little different these days - Summer 2017

The next few months were some of the most difficult months of my life. In between LA and Northern Ireland, we stayed with my parents in Michigan and maneuvered through visas, passports, houses, leaving jobs, finding jobs all the while figuring out how to be parents. I missed California fiercely. In the back of my mind I kept thinking it will feel better. This will go away, and everything will be fine in the end. Somehow, that feeling of longing for California never went away. It was there when I was stuck inside with the Irish rain, it was there when I watched tv shows or movies and I could recognize parts of town or restaurants or beaches. A long nine years after I first moved to LA, the feeling is still there when I go back to visit. Sitting across from Flynn and Laura, juggling crying babies and grumpy four year olds those childless days when the three of us were figuring out how to "adult" so far from home, felt like a million miles away. I looked at them across the table and saw the same things I see in myself - a few grey hairs, more smile lines around our eyes than when we first set foot in California. But the memories, the experiences, the fun was still there. Driving along the coast, which used to be my regular commute to work, I felt the tears well up in my eyes and I felt that deep longing in my heart to return to California. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

Beautiful Manhattan Beach, California - Summer 2017

The BEST Afternoon Teas in Belfast

Thursday, 15 June 2017

We've started to make a tradition of Afternoon Tea when we have friends and family visiting us in Northern Ireland. It's fun for us, it's fun for the kids, and it works out to be a special treat for all of us when we have people to entertain. Belfast has a lot of options these days for Afternoon Tea, and I'm pleased to share our favorites! Traditionally, afternoon tea was meant to offer a snack between lunch and a light dinner, but from my experience, they usually offer enough food to be a meal! Typically, the tea service consists of tea or coffee, savory sandwiches or small quiches, scones with butter, jam and clotted cream, and sweets like cupcakes, tarts or chocolates, though each location serves it's own "twist" on the tradition. If you're coming to Belfast, I highly recommend taking time for an Afternoon Tea service. Here are just a few of my favorites!

Best for Kids - Afternoon Tea at Titanic Belfast

Our server table side with Yule Log and Mince Pies

Are you bringing the kids?? Thus far, my favorite Afternoon Tea service with my girls was at Titanic Belfast. It's only offered on Sundays, but watch out for special event afternoon teas around the holidays, mother's day and other special occasions when additional days may be offered. The best part of Afternoon Tea at Titanic? It's the only way you'll get a chance to see the world famous staircase recreation at Titanic Belfast - it isn't a part of the regular tour. So what made the Tea my favorite with the kids? Miss P got her own children's afternoon tea tray, with child-friendly treats. Instead of coffee she was offered hot chocolate or a milkshake. She still talks about his fantastic it was to have her own tea tray and treats! (Normally, she shares with me). We dressed up and had a lot of fun taking pictures on the staircase. There was even a coloring and craft table for the kiddos. We were able to spend several hours enjoying our time at Titanic and it's definitely my favorite for bringing the kids. Servers wear period uniforms the same as what White Star Line employees would have worn and facts about the Titanic are shown on projection screens throughout the seating. Spaces are limited so you'll want to book in advance.

Titanic's Famous Staircase
Christmas Treats at Titanic Belfast

Cost: 25GBP/adult, 10GBP/child
More Information: Titanic Belfast Afternoon Tea
Location: 1 Olympic Way, Queens Way, Titanic Quarter, Belfast

Best for Girlie Afternoon Out - the Merchant Hotel

The Merchant Hotel is Belfast's only 5 star hotel in the city center. It is a grade A listed building, and their Great Room Restaurant, which hosts the tea, was a former banking hall for the Ulster Bank which has been beautifully restored to a fantastic restaurant. Tea at the Merchant is hosted every day, but on weekends, live music is included. While you certainly can bring children to Tea at the Merchant, and I have, but I much prefer it as an adult afternoon out as the venue itself isn't as child friendly as other places in town. (And let's be real - Mama needs a break sometimes too!) The Merchant's Tea menu changes from time to time, but you'll always be sure to have fantastic scones, finger sandwiches and delicious sweets. Once tea is finished, pop over to the Cocktail Bar at the Merchant for some of the most fantastic cocktails in town. All of the drinks are made by hand, including house made cordials, and fantastic spirits and liquors. Twice a year, the Merchant Hotel hosts Fashion Teas to coincide with Belfast Fashion Week. During these, you'll get a glass of champagne to go along with your tea and take in a fashion show during the seating. It's a fantastic time out, and when my girls are bit older, I am sure they'll enjoy it just as much. Reservations for tea are recommended, and the Fashion Teas typically sell out so be sure and buy tickets in advance if you're able to attend. 

Cheers! The Fabulous Fashion Tea
a selection of the treats!

Cost: Regular Afternoon Tea 25GBP Monday - Friday, 29.50GBP Saturday & Sunday
More Information: Merchant Hotel
Location: 16 Skipper Street, Belfast

Best Country Style Afternoon Tea - the Old Post Office

If you have the opportunity to get outside of the city, I would highly recommend the Old Post Office in Lisbon for Afternoon Tea. This is a more "country" style tea, but the food is fantastic. You'll start with a glass of lemonade before enjoying a French Press coffee or Tea. The Tea pots and french presses are served in tea cozy and the buns and treats are delicious. Formerly a post office, this thatched roof cafe was transformed to a shop and tea rooms. While they don't have a dedicated children's menu, it is a nice tea to enjoy with kids. I've found the food to be plentiful and have shared with my daughters who love the little sweets and treats. It's a good idea to book in advance and they do offer a gluten free option. 

Miss P is a big fan!

Cost: 9.75GBP per person, Gluten Free 11.95GBP per person
More Information: Old Post Office Lisbane

Best Quickie Afternoon Tea - Patisserie Valerie
If you'll be busy sightseeing in Belfast and don't have time to spend the whole afternoon on your Tea experience, then Patisserie Valerie is the way to go. There are two locations in Belfast city center and you'll get the taste of afternoon tea without spending a lot of time waiting. It's great if you have kids with shorter attention spans as well. The food was good, though compared to other places it was not as plentiful, so you won't leave feeling over stuffed as you continue your sightseeing. The other nice thing about Patisserie Valerie is that you can stop in on a whim - reservations are not required. 


Cost: 25GBP for 2 people
Location: Adjacent from Belfast City Hall - 11 Donegal Square West or
31-33 Castle Lane
More Information: Patisserie Valerie

There are so many  places in Belfast to try Afternoon Tea, and these are just a few. Where is your favorite?


The Best of Northern Ireland's Causeway Coastal Route with Kids

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Recently, we have taken a few long weekends to explore Northern Ireland's Causeway Coastal Route. It's a fabulous getaway for our family with so much to do within a short drive of our home. When most folks visit the North Coast of Ireland, it is typically sold as a day trip. You can visit the Giant's Causeway from Dublin or even Belfast on a day tour, but to me it is nearly impossible to see all the sights in one day, especially if you're traveling with kids! Since relocating to Northern Ireland, my husband and I have developed our own little tour for our out of town visitors. Occasionally we do it as a day trip, but if your itinerary allows, I highly recommend an overnight! The whole route is great for visitors, but some places are more child friendly than others. Check out the amazing video below by Discover Northern Ireland for an overview of the whole route!

The Causeway Coastal Route is a scenic drive between Belfast and Derry/Londonderry with many places to stop off in between. We typically cut off the first part of the drive and leave Belfast by motorway with our first stop being at the Dark Hedges, and usually end it at Benone Beach, but there is so much to see everyone has different interests.


Our first stop, the Dark Hedges, is a road of intertwining beech trees and was made famous in the HBO show Game of Thrones as the King's Road. The first time we tried to visit the Hedges we couldn't find it! Recently however, it is home to better signage which makes visiting so much easier! Take a stroll through the hedges for a photo op.


Cost: Free
Stroller Suitable: Yes, just watch out for traffic as it is a working road.
More Info: The Dark Hedges Ballymoney

Our next stop is Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Once used by salmon fisherman to reach Carrick-a-Rede Island, it is now a permanent fixture. The bridge is 20 meters across and can be a bit daunting if you're afraid of heights, but the views on the island are so worth it! It's a bit of a walk down to the bridge so be prepared for that, and it is not stroller friendly. I would recommend carrying very young children or baby-wearing them. We carried Miss P for her first visit, and once on the island, keep a close had at the kiddos as there are steep drop offs without railing on some parts.

Cost: 7GBP/adult, 3.50GBP/child, under 5's are free
Stroller Suitable: No, plan on baby-wearing or carrying young children
More InfoCarrick a Rede

Next, we visit Ballintoy Harbor. Another Game of Thrones filming location, you might recognize this as the back drop for the Iron Islands. Stop for a photo op, but if you have time, stroll the beach path for some amazing vistas. On summer days, we have even waded into the water there. There is a cafe at the harbor with AMAZING desserts and coffees, so if you have time stop for a quick snack. You won't make this stop on a tour bus as the road down isn't suitable for larger vehicles, so while it is becoming busier with tourists, it's a well kept secret!

Thrones Fans will recognize Ballintoy Harbor!

Miss P checking out the water at Ballintoy

Cost: FREE
Stroller Suitable: You can explore the harbor with a stroller, but the path would be better done by carrying young children or babies or a stroller with hiking wheels.

From Ballintoy Harbor, visit Whitepark Bay, a National Trust Beach. Park at the lot at the top of the hill, and plan on a ten minute walk down to the beach. The path is suitable for strollers, but the very last bit of it is over a small sand dune so a bit of maneuvering is required. The views - breathtaking. Swimming is not recommended as there is no lifeguard on duty, but it'll be too cold for that most of the year any how. Enjoy a nice walk along the beach and several photo ops.

A view of Whitemark Beach on the walk down

Strolling Whitepark Beach

Cost: FREE
Stroller Suitable: Yes, with some maneuvering over sand at the bottom. Baby-wearing would be easier.
More InfoWhitepark Bay

Next up is the world-famous Giant's Causeway, and the reason for most folk's visit to the North Coast. The very first time I visited the Causeway, there was nothing more than a small shack with toilets and a tiny gift shop. These days, you'll find a state-of-the-art visitor's center, with an optional audio guide, gift shop, toilets and cafe. There are a few options for visiting the Causeway itself. It's nearly a mile downhill to see the ancient rock formations, but there is a bus available at the cost of 1GBP each way. It's one of the most instagrammed spots in the country and you'll see why! Take time to walk around the rocks, climb up the paths for better views, just be careful not to fall! I took a spill on the slippery rocks during my first visit. Many times when we visit with the kids we'll walk down and take the bus back up hill. Buses run every 10-15 minutes.

A panoramic view of the Giant's Causeway

Cost: Adult 10.50GBP, Children 5.25GBP
Stroller: Yes, though keep in mind you'll be going up and down hill unless you opt for the bus
More info: Giant's Causeway

After the Giant's Causeway, we sometimes stop at Old Bushmill's Distillery. Keep in mind if you are visiting with children under 8 years old, they are not allowed on the Distillery tour. However, they are allowed in the gift shop and tasting rooms! During our last visit we skipped the tour in favor of a whisky flight in the tasting room. Bushmill's offers a fun souvenir - their Distillery Reserve whisky is only available at the distillery itself, you will not find it anywhere else in the world! Treat yourself or someone back home to a bottle and you can have a personalized label made and/or the bottle engraved. We purchased a bottle for each of our girls during our last visit with their names and birth dates which we hope to open to toast them both on their wedding days! Whisky has been distilled here for more than 400 years.

Baby Sister checking our our tasting flight

Cost: 8GBP/adult, 4.50GBP/child 8 and up
Stroller: Yes, though children under 8 are not allowed on the tour
More Info: Bushmill's Distillery

After visiting the distillery, keep on driving until you reach Dunluce Castle. Built around 1500 the castle now stands in ruins, but they are amazing and worth the exploration. Perched right on the rocky coast, the views are outstanding! Stop for a photo op and spend some time exploring the ruins.

Cost: 5GBP/adult, 3GBP/child (ages 4-16)
Stroller: Possible, but you'll be on some uneven ground. Baby-wearing would be recommended
More Info: Dunluce Castle

As you leave Dunluce Castle, you'll arrive in the coastal town of Portrush. If you've got kids, this is a great place to stop for a bite to eat, or a stroll through the town. There are plenty of old fashioned sweet shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants as well amusements. Check out Barry's Amusement if you have time. My husband spent time there as a child, and so did his father, so it's been around a while. There are plenty of rides and games for kids to enjoy. 10GBP will buy you 24 tokens and rides and amusements cost between 2 and 4 tokens. For kids who aren't tall enough, adults are required to ride with them on certain attractions, however if it's necessary for an adult to accompany the child, the adult rides without cost, which I thought was nice. Enjoy a whippie ice cream cone, or some cotton candy and ride the bumper cars or mini roller coaster with the kiddos. Admission to Barry's is free, ride tokens are 50p each or 24 for 10GBP. More information can be found here: Barry's Amusements. The town of Portrush as well as Barry's Amusements are very stroller and family friendly.


After Portrush, stop at Downhill Demense, built in the 18th century by the Earl Bishop of Derry, today the mansion stands in ruins, but walk through it to Mussenden Temple, which was the Earl's library and is perched on the cliffside overlooking Downhill Beach. The photo ops here are awesome!

Just outside the temple - check out the view of the beach!

Cost: FREE
Stroller: Yes, but you will be on gravel paths and uneven ground
More Info: Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demense

Where to Stay:
So as you can see this is a lot to pack into one day, and some of these stops just can't be done on a tour. If you have the time, I highly recommend spending the night. We like to stay at McShane Glen Leisure Homes. They're self catering, so you have a full kitchen, beautiful ocean views, and laundry in your own private home. Their rates are super reasonable, and it's located right in the heart of all the action on the Causeway Coast. If you prefer hotels, there are a few options in Portrush, Portballintrae and Portstewart, in addition to B&B's along the way. More information on accommodation can be found here: Discover Northern Ireland Accommodation

What to Wear:
Since you'll be spending time both in and outdoors and the weather can change on a dime, plan on layering your clothes for both kids and adults. Locations on the coast can be very windy and cool, and sunshine can turn to rain in an instant so be prepared for a bit of everything. Ensure you've got shoes that are comfortable for walking on uneven surfaces and pathways. My girls very often wear their wellie boots to keep their feet dry while exploring the coast. I always wear a scarf and a waterproof windbreaker jacket is always advisable.

Where to Eat:
In Portrush, check out the Ramore. They do not accept reservations so it's best to visit during off peak times, or be prepared to wait. You'll sit down, order your meal at the counter and it will be delivered to your table. Try their Tobacco Onions - I am not a fan of onions but these are AMAZING! Even their kids meals were awesome - my girls shared the Pasta Carbonara and Mom and Dad may have finished it up for them. It was delish! Save room for to visit the dessert counter and you will not be sorry!

In Portstewart, visit Harry's Shack. The Shack is a converted beach hut located right on the beach at Portstewart Strand. It's a small restaurant and very popular so be sure and make a reservation if you plan to visit. The food is fresh and local. I had a delicious fish dish, and my kids had fish and chips which was fantastic. Save room for their desserts also! It's casual but really good quality food and was very family friendly, and you cannot beat their views right out over the beach. If you don't have time to sit down for a meal, grab a coffee and at tray bake and find a seat on their deck.

Hubby & I enjoying dinner at Harry's Shack

Looking for a sit down meal that's affordable and family friendly? Check out the Tides
 in Portrush. There are some fantastic views out over the coast and the food is hearty, good and plentiful.

All in all, we always have a fantastic time when we visit the North Coast and it's not only a fabulous getaway for us living in Northern Ireland, but it's also a can't miss attraction to family and friends who visit us.

Where are you most excited to visit?

How to Survive Jet Lag With Kids

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Two days ago, Miss P, Baby Sister and I flew from Detroit to Dublin with a connection through Amsterdam. Today, I'm powered by coffee and am feeling a bit like a zombie thanks to Baby Sister's midnight - 2am party (and getting sucked into netflix, but that's another story). When you travel with young children what is the best way to deal with Jet Lag? 


Once upon a time, B.C. as I sometimes call it (before children), when I flew transatlantic I would get on the plane, have something to eat, a glass of wine and a nyquil and try to sleep as well as possible for the rest of the flight. A lot of my transatlantic travel back then was for business and when I landed in Europe I was expected to lead a group on a tour shortly after arrival. Back then, things were a bit simpler and my advice was to sleep as much as possible on the plane and once you got there, stay awake until your normal bedtime on the new local time zone. Ahhh how things have changed! These days when I'm flying transatlantic I have a 3 year old next to me and my 14 month old on my lap. Try as I may to sleep, I haven't found a way to do it without dropping the baby off my lap! Every time I start to drift off, my arms relax, lose their grip and I wake up clutching Baby Sister as she's sliding off my knee, so I've basically given up on trying to sleep on the plane. Rather than drinking wine and nyquil, I stick to coffee and water and power through. Once I arrive, Daddy usually takes my girls and I get a quick nap in (at MOST 2 hours, otherwise, I risk really messing myself up) and then stay up as late as possible to go to bed at normal local time. Two days ago I made it until 9pm (go me!).

That's all good and well for the parents but how do you handle a time change with an infant or small child?

Here are a few tips to make the adjustment a little bit easier: 

Flying WEST to EAST

- When you're flying west to east (American to Europe) it's an overnight flight. Let the kids know that they'll be going to bed on the airplane. Put them in comfy clothes or even change them into pajamas when you're ready for them to go to bed. Sometimes the flights leave early enough that I would give them dinner on the plane. For example our last flight left at 4pm so they ate dinner on the flight. Other times, we are on later flights that don't depart until after bedtime so I feed them before boarding and try to get them asleep as soon as possible once we're onboard. In any case, once the cabin lights dim for "bedtime" help the kids get comfortable to sleep and let them sleep as long as possible. Usually, if I'm wearing a watch, I'll set it for the time at the new destination as soon as I'm on board. 

Morning Rain, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

 - Once you land it's morning time in your new destination. On Tuesday morning, we arrived in Amsterdam at 6am, which was actually midnight Michigan time. IGNORE THAT. We had a short layover so I got the kids some breakfast and changed their clothes in the airport, and carried on just like it was any other morning. Once you get to your destination, do everything on the new schedule. Lunch, naps, anything you would normally do with your kids, do it on the new time zone. Try to avoid letting them have a huge nap if you can. If you or the kiddos sleep too much during the day you run the risk of joining the wide-awake-club at 2am (not fun). 

- It's a great idea to spend as much time outside as possible. Take them to a park, let them swim in the hotel pool if it has one, go for a walk. Spending time outside is a great way to reset your internal clock (and the kiddies'). 

Playing in a Park at the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Flying EAST to WEST 

- When we fly from Europe to America, we do so during the day. I personally find this an easier direction to adjust to the time change. My kids seem to acclimate to the time change better than they do when we go the opposite direction. Since you're flying all day, you have more time to try and keep them busy but still try to get their normal naps in on the plane if you can. I usually do not reset my watch when we fly west until we land. Once we land, I take up on that time zone with the kids. If that means it's afternoon and they take an afternoon nap, I let them do that. I feed them dinner at the normal time and bathe and put them to bed at their normal bed time on the new time zone. 

Pro Tip - get to bed early yourself! I find my kiddos wake up super early when we go this direction for the first couple of days and since I'll be getting up early with them, it's good to get as much rest as possible to counteract that the first few days. 

 So, what do you do if you've tried all these things and your kids still wake up at awkward times, like Baby Sister did last night? Well, I like to let her ride it out. I get up with her, throw on some tv for myself and let her burn off some steam. Run around the living room, play toys, etc. Eventually, she's going to tire back out and get back to bed. The most she's ever been up in the night has been a couple of hours, and as she gets older it'll get easier. 

 My best advice is to follow these tips and hang in there! After a couple of nights at the new destination, your kiddos will settle right in.

The ONE Thing I Won't Leave Home Without

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


A lot of time when I fly internationally with my kids I do so without their father, my husband. Both of my daughters have two passports each - one American and one British, and they use both when we travel. This is important for us even though my husband and I are married and living together, but can be even more important if you're traveling without one parent and you're not married to the child's other parent, are divorced or have shared custody. It's essential that you carry documentation from both parents in case you are questioned by customs and immigrations personnel and you can be denied boarding when you're traveling without such documentation. If you do have sole custody of the children, bring along documentation that proves that you do.

As a travel agent, we had a situation at our agency where we were escorting a group of families to Mexico and one girl was traveling with her mother who was divorced from her father and without a letter from Dad was scrambling at 5am to get one faxed to the airport so she could leave the country. You could avoid that hassle by being prepared.

I will never fly with my girls without a letter of travel authorization from my husband stating the following:

1. That he is aware that I am traveling internationally with our daughters
2. A copy of the photo page of his passport and my passport
3. Copies of the girls' passports
4. Get the letter notarized if possible
5. My husband's contact details (residence, telephone and email)

I have been asked by customs officials before to provide documentation that my husband was aware  that I was traveling with our daughters. Oddly enough, it was when we were returning to Northern Ireland from Amsterdam, and the letter was SO helpful as it was exactly what the official asked for. I honestly am not sure what would have happened if I hadn't had that document with me.

Keep a copy of the letter with your passports and keep a copy of the letter back home. It's not necessary for domestic travel, but for international travel without one parent, it's essential.

For more tips with regards to documentation for American Citizens, always visit www.travel.state.gov prior to travel.

My travel authorization letter - It's the one thing I won't leave home without!