I want to start off saying that I am in no way a PRO at traveling with a toddler. Hawaii was my first time with Kat and packed things I knew my child would need. Everyone knows their child best, so if there is something your toddler normally wants/needs, then make sure to pack it! Below is a list of stuff that I put together and saved me a lot of headache on this trip. I am not going to make this a "Packing List" as there is many on google. Also, every mom knows what to pack their child on a regular basis - so don't forget those! I hope this is helpful!
1. FLIGHT HOURS - This one isn't an item, but I believe its the first most important thing! My child is 2 and her sleep is VERY important to her and for me. When Kat doesn't get her nap, she becomes annoying & frustrating, as I assume does every kid. Make sure the flight times you are taking are either during his/her nap time and or evening sleeping time. Kat still naps about 3,3.5 hours a day, so on our way there, she slept for more than half the ride. Coming back was red eye, so she slept through the entire flight. Only struggle is, they are not that comfortable sleeping in their seat as they can't lay down, so I held her in my arms. Tip: put a little blanky on the handle bar and have her lay her head there so your arm doesn't get tired.
2. GAMES/MOVIES - This is going to be your life savor. As any two year old, Kat loves cartoons. I downloaded a few movies onto my phone and she entertained herself until she slept. If your child doesn't stay focused on cartoons, just take her/his favorite toys with you and take several of them! Coloring books, little toys, puzzles, etc. Oh & this goes hand in hand with toddler ear phones! It will also help with their ears possibly hurting.
3. COMFORT ITEM - Everyone knows Kat's obsession with her Bunny and her Pacifier. She will absolutely not sleep unless they are both in her possession. Make sure you take a comfort item not only on the plane but to your hotel as well, so that he/she will feel at home.
4. CAR SEAT - If you plan on going on a trip that will require you to drive around there, you have one of two options: check in your car seat, or rent a car there with a cat seat. If you plan on staying in the hotel the entire time, there is no point. You can order a car in advance that already has a car seat. Confirm before flying out.
5. STROLLER - We don't really use a stroller as much as we used to anymore. She loves walking with us and if she gets tired, we carry her. We almost didn't take it, but so glad we did! We did late night dinners at different hotels and she would just knock out in the stroller. That way, we are not rushing to get home because its Kat's nap time!
6. BLANKY - If you don't already know, the plane can get cold to freezing temperatures. Some flights have blankies, but its best to take your own. Kat has one that is super soft and wraps into a little burrito so it is easy to travel with.
7. CHANGE OF CLOTHES - This is one thing I didn't do on the way there, I made sure I did on the way back! We were ready to fly and I noticed her peepee seeped through her diaper and got all over her pants! I took it off, layed it out to dry and kept her butt naked with just a diaper and a blanky. I was so mad at my self! She hardly ever pees through her diapers now; but of course, on the plane, it was a must.
8. WIPES - As much as the plane is cleaned before you go on it... I am pretty sure it is not sanitized the way it should be, especially for your toddler! Take some wet ones with you and wipe down everything around him/her. Last thing you want is a sick baby!
9. SNACKS - If there is anything that will calm my child in public, its snacks. When I am out with her, I take every kind of snack you can think of. She doesn't love to eat, but she sure loves to snack! When flying out, make sure you take his/her favorite snacks & then some! ALSO, while descending, Kat started crying because it seemed like her ears were hurting. I gave her water sippy cup right away so she can swallow and open her ears, or give them something like gummy bears!
10. ALUMINUM BOTTLE - Depending on how long your flight is, you might want to be prepared with some cold milk/water. The flight doesn't always have cold water & may sometimes run out of milk. Be prepared! They will check inside the liquid at customs; but will let you pass with a toddler. I also took this with me on the beach! Kat had cold water at all times. :)
David and I have been out of town 5 times out of 6 months. I had to go to NY for work back in January, Italy in March (work trip we turned into a vacation and David’s FIRST Euro trip ever), Chicago also for work, New York once again and Vegas for a short little getaway. As exciting it is to travel, each time we left, my heart broke a little more. I really don’t know how parents who always have to travel for work do it. Once your child starts noticing you’re gone and misses you, it’s the worst. The last time I went to NY in June, it was only 4 days, but I cried when I left her at my moms; especially when I heard her screaming “mommmyy!” out of her crib. I thought that’s it, were coming back and taking her somewhere with us. Considering it was my Birthday, our Wedding Anniversary and a long weekend, it was perfect timing to plan a little trip with our Kitty Kat.
Although I was hesitant & scared, my husband more than me! He was set on a hard “no” until I convinced him (so did everyone else who had traveled with a Toddler) and now we’re both convinced that this trip was by far the best decision we’ve ever made! Many things go through your mind, from the fear of the flight, to her possibly screaming on the plane, to making sure she doesn’t sunburn after being in the sun for 5 days and being super cautious in the ocean. I mean, EVERYTHING crosses your mind; but I also know that that fear for your child will never go away no matter how old they are. In order to overcome your fear, build experiences, make memories and show your child a good time, you have to take the first step!
Listen, there were moments in the plane when she screamed (for no reason at all), I layered sunblock after sunblock like a psycho, if I blinked - she’d be charging towards the water and so on. But I also realized it’s NOTHING different when we’re back at home in LA. She screams in public (restaurants, malls, etc,), I never blink when we’re out and really just always try to be the utmost attentive and cautious Mom. So why do we build this doubt and distrust for ourselves and are afraid to be free and live? It’s us, it’s in our heads and we do it to ourselves. Yes, having children is a scary thing that requires a lot of responsibility, but THAT, you should be confident in; if not, then maybe you need some more time - and that’s ok!
But when ready...get ready for one of the most special times of your life. Seeing Kat so happy this entire trip just melted my heart. Was it harder to trip with her than if we were just to go as adults? Of course. Was it worth taking her on this "relaxing" getaway? Absolutely. She may not remember it a year from now, but she’ll have these photos and memories 20 years from now and that’s just priceless. I mean, the kid went on a hike through the jungle and went through a river to a beautiful waterfall! I can’t wait to tell her these stories and show her the photos years from now. I’d really love to hear your thoughts on traveling with a toddler, how was your experience and what did you learn from it?
In my next blog post, I’ll share my advise on traveling with a toddler and ALL my must-haves. You can never be prepared enough with these little munchkins
Its been exactly one week since I’ve been back & I’m finally getting over the jet lag. I write a little bit of this post and close up the laptop and knockout halfway through. So, with delay, I’ve collected all my recommendations! I visited Venice & Florence last year for a day each (which definitely is not enough) but it was my first trip to Rome. I’ll have you know, it was my husbands first time out of the country, so I was more excited for him than me! I’m SO happy he did this and even happier that we did it together. Safe to say, we are absolutely in LOVE with Italy and were already planning our next trip while we were there. If you’re reading this, you’ve either been to Italy or are planning on going. So if you’ve been, please feel free to comment and leave your recommendations. If you haven’t been, take notes! Although there is SO much to see and so many places to experience in each city, my references are based on local recommendations and personal experiences. So here we go, City by City...
Falling for Florence
There hasn’t been a person I’ve met whose visited Florence and hasn’t fell in love with the city. I don’t know what it is about it, but just simply an amazing place to be. Florence is more that casual small city vibe; beautiful river, old almost gothic looking buildings, amazing food, super friendly people and not too many tourists. We stayed here for 2 nights, 3 days and it was just perfect. You want to do all the touristy stuff (museums, site seeing) one day and just enjoy the city the next. There was actually a women sitting behind us at dinner in Venice, explaining to her 3 young kids her first experience at Florence and how the first time she was there, she was emotional and teary eyed - I totally understood her. I felt that way about Rome.
Hotel: Montebello Splendid - Extremely beautiful, walking distance from the river. I would recommend staying at a hotel facing the river - it’s gorgeous! However, not cheap. If you don’t care much about a view or fanciness, there’s MANY hotels there, just judge based on reviews. Someone there told us AirBNB does well there.
Trattoria Gargani - This cute little restaurant was a local referral. Very artsy, super friendly people and delicioussss good! I got the fresh pasta spicy tomato sauce - mm mm!
13 Gobbi - This was a friends recommendaton. Place was super packed on a Thursday night and we were lucky enough to get squeezed in. You MUST get the rigatoni and a bottle of their chianti. You’ve never had rigatoni like that.
4 Leon - I found this restaurant last year based on a local recommendation from our concierge. This restaurant is not easy to find! You have to go through several little streets and eventually, in the middle of apartments, you’ll see it. Their pear ravioli is what they’re known for (amazingly good) but this last time, I had their lasagna - I’ve never had lasagna like that in my life. Melts in your mouth!
Gusto Pizza - they’ve been there over 40 years and have a recipe from their father from Napoli. SO GOOD! A friend of mine recommended taking the pizza to go and eating it at the Piazza MichaelAngelo where you have a view of the entire city.
Don nino - You need to go in here and have a cannoli when you go to see the Duomo. They make it fresh right jn front of you. Best cannoli. I know I’m saying that to all of this - but really!
To see: Uffizi Gallery - Insane artwork! (make sure you go to the cafe and eat a prosciutto sandwhich. It’s just prosciutto and bread. We dreamt about it for weeks)
Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) - The bridge is now a walking street with shopping, cafe’s and gelato! This is also where you can buy a lock and hang it on around the metal gates.
Galleria dell Academia - It’s a nice museum but we just went to see the Statue of David specifically. You must.
Boboli gardens - We didn’t get a chance to go here because it was chilly, windy and rained a bit; but locals told us it’s a beautiful garden! If you have the time, take a stroll.
Piazzale Michaelangelo - It’s just a plaza that’s high up enough to have a view of the entire city
Piazza del Duomo - Also known as the Cathedeal Square. Iconic.
Venice is hands down the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. I’ve traveled a lot through Europe and each city will catch your heart in a different way; but Venice is MIRACULOUS! We stayed in Venice 3 nights and left for Rome on the 4th morning. You can easily do 2 nights if you’re in a rush and you’ll still see plenty. When we went it was kind of chilly so St. Marks square was a bit quieter. However, if you go in warmer weather, St. Marks square is full of people with all the restaurants setting up outdoor dining with bands and music all over the place. Pictures do absolutely no justice!
Hotel: The Gritti Palace - Dates back to 1475! A palace turned hotel. This was one of thee best hotels in Venice, facing the Grand Canal. The restaurant at this hotel is amazing as well. If you’re not staying there, go have lunch or dinner - right in front of the water on the deck.
OR Ca’ Sagredo Hotel - Stayed here last year. Again, facing the Grand canal, with a setup right in front of the water, to dine. I wouldn’t say the food was amazing though. If you’re not set on spending so much on a room, there’s many inside that don’t particularly face the water but are close in distance still.
Restaurant da Raffaele - We came across this restaurant just walking through one of the allys. It was a more local area and not on a busy shopping street. I had pasta and David had a fresh branzino which he devoured. Most importantly, you can dine right on the deck of a little canal.
Bar Longhi - Our hotel bar. It’s gorgeous at night!
Piazza San Marco - A huge square surrounded by museums, church, restaurants and shopping.
Includes: Saint Mark’s Basilica & Doge’s palace
San Lazzaro Degli Armeni - A small Armenian owned island! Whether you’re Armenian or not, the museum is so interesting with so much history! You can take a tour boat there or take a private boat. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip!
Cippriani - We didn’t get a chance to go because it was off-season; but it was highly recommended by a few people. There is a hotel (very pricey) but just go have lunch there! Oh and fun fact: George Clooney got married there!
Roaming in Rome
We stayed 3 nights in Rome and you absolutely NEED 3 nights in Rome. There’s so much to see in this city! We hired a private tour guide for 3 hours each day: one day was the Colloseum & Roman Forum and the second day was Vatican City. I HIGHLY recommend getting a tour guide, if not a private one, there’s many group ones. Your hotel can help set you up with a tour or you can search for one on Trip Advisor. Our tour guide was a historian and archeologist, so she knew every detail of the city and we learned so much! My husband is obsessed with history, so these tours were really important to him and in turn, me. But once you’re done with your tours, just Roam the City! There is so much to do! One of the most lively cities I’ve ever been in.
Hotel: Palazzo Manfredi - One of the hottest spots to stay in. Specifically because your dining spot has the most beautiful view of the Coloseum. But to say that it was one of the best hotels I stayed in, I’d be lying. Just go have lunch or dinner there and get that experience.
La Carbonara - We found this spot as we walked through the little streets and noticed a line outside the door. Place opens 12:30 and as soon as it opened, the place got packed in 15 minutes. They’re obviously known for their Carbonara and rightfully so!
Primocafe - We had pizza and pasta at this restaurant on a Sunday, which was right in front of a bazaar. True Italian experience and delicious food!
Hosteria pantheon - When you go to the Pantheon, have some food or wine and just chill here! Ambiance and Food, both A+! There are bands and solo musicians in and out.
Tartufi & Friends - An actual truffle bar! Truffle everything. Appetizers, entre, salads all with truffle. All that and their best bottle of Italian Champagne was a total of $140! What? A truffle bar in LA with that type of spread would be at least $400!
Giolitti - One of the oldest standing Gelato bars! Super old, classic looking ice cream and desert shop.
Traverna Trillusa - Another delicious local referral. Try to make reservations because it gets packed pretty quickly. Have the spaghetti in the iron pan - I don’t know what it’s called (see attached photo). Trestevere is such a cool spot - spend some time there!
Colosseaum - We had a tour guide for this, 3 hours including the Roman Forum
Vatican museum - Dedicate at least half the day here! We took a tour guide here too, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Sistine Chapel - If you’re not going to get a tour guide, read about this before you go so you can understand what you’re seeing.
St. Peter’s Basilica - The most beautiful church on the planet. I think that may be a fact. We went all the way to the top at the end of our tour. Fair warning, 300 narrow steps; in other words, if you easily have panic attacks, anxiety or claustrophobia, don’t do it lol.
Spanish Steps - Shopping in this area is endless and insane.
Altare della patria
Hi guys! I know, I have been so MIA on my blog. One of my NYE promises to myself was to be more active on social media. But let me tell you...Instagram, IG story, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Blogging...omg, it is work! lol. I am not going to lie, I have been enjoying it so much. Connecting with you all means a lot to me and I am glad I am more actively on it, getting to know you all and listening to you. I am currently in Solvang in an adorable restaurant with my little Kat. I let her have her Kat time with Peppa Pig while I have a glass of wine and write this blog. I decided to take a day off from the office because I missed my little Kitty Kat. I was in NY for 5 days which felt like 5 weeks of not seeing her!
New York was simply amazing. New York is amazing every single time. However, the last 4 times I visited, it was strictly work from the second I got there to the second I left. I was able to enjoy 30 minutes of Central Park each time and a dinner or lunch. This time, I took an additional 2 days off there and got to take it all in. My husband and I are obsessed with New York, but never get a chance to go because our schedules conflict and we can never coordinate the perfect time. This time, I dragged him with me (he wasn't complaining). We finally went to our first Broadway show, "A Bronx Tale" (SO AMAZING!), got to visit some of my favorite restaurants, visit the church and enjoy each others company for the most part.
I tried to Vlog my trip as much as possible; but I had David doing the behind the scenes work, and let me tell you...he is not cut out for this lol! He is truly horrible at taking pictures and recording anything at all. Safe to say, the Vlog was a struggle; but hey, It was my first one, hopefully it gets better over time! I have been getting a lot of questions on what it is I do in NY when I go for these meetings, so I tried to record the process of what goes on behind the scenes.
I basically meet with editors from any and every magazine that may be interested in my brand. For 2 whole days, I have a meeting with a different magazine every single hour of the day, presenting the brand. I give them a little background on Elcie, if they are unfamiliar with previous launches and present to them my upcoming launches in the year. Then, you cross your fingers and hope that they LOVE your product/brand/story/concept, in order to present it to the world. It is extremely exhausting, nerve-wrecking and exciting all in one. I actually LOVE doing these desk-sides because only I can present the passion behind each product that I create.