Tag Archives: travel with kids

August 7, 2012

Guatemala in Color

Guest Blogger Laura shares her experience of traveling to Guatemala with her children.

With summer at its height, many of us find ourselves heading out of town. For some, the beach beckons with its warm and lazy days. Or perhaps a trip to the mountains is the draw, with pristine vistas and fresh air. Wherever we end up, we usually return refreshed and with new memories. This summer, my husband and I chose a different break. After 5 years on American soil caring for our girls, now 2 and 4, I was ready to dust off my passport and hop a plane to somewhere new. The two of us volunteered to help take 25 teenagers to Chichicastenango, a small town in the western highlands of Guatemala. Mainly a service trip, we would be working alongside the indigenous K’iche’ Mayan people there, helping them build homes, make improvements to current structures, and hold a camp for school children. We would also have the opportunity to visit the town market.

Chichicastenango, or “Chichi” as the locals call it, has been one of the main trading centers in the Mayan region since pre-Hispanic times. The market today is the largest of it’s kind in the Western Hemisphere. Known as the most colorful market in all of the Americas, it’s not hard to see why. The traje, or traditional native costumes of Guatemala, are bursting with color and together with their patterns connect locals to specific villages or groups. The vendors dress to sell their wares, which include ceramics, wooden masks, religious items and of course the fabrics. Oh, the fabrics. In the form of clothing, blankets, and so much more, they make the market a true feast for the eyes.

There was so much to see, from the Mayan priests on the church steps burning sacrifices to the women in their traje selling flowers. I took in the sights, the smells, the feel of it all. And of course I shopped. I was tempted to bring back an entire wardrobe for my girls, from the huipils (traditional Mayan blouses) to the wrap around skirts.  I settled for dolls and headbands while they are still so small.

The market was a treat, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking teenaged girls on a shopping trip like no other. A far cry from the local mall, they tried their hand at bargaining and came away with some fabulous finds and great memories.

I could go on, but a picture is worth a thousand words. And for this experience, pictures tell it all. They tell the story of a people who showed us a glimpse of their lives through what they bring to market each week. Their stories are woven in fabrics every color of the rainbow.

 

July 6, 2012

Embarking on an African Safari

Pam Geller, a freelance marketing consultant, traveled to Nairobi, Kenya with her three kids, Kayla | 7 yrs, Drew | 6 yrs, and Jenna | 3 yrs, who just happened to be wearing Tea on their trip.

When we were planning our trip to Nairobi, Kenya, to visit by brother and sister in-law, everyone wanted to “do” an African Safari in the Masai Mara.  I was thinking, okay…I guess I am okay with sleeping in a tent in the Savannah with guards who carry guns, with somewhat “pampered” kids who have never gone camping.   But, where would we shower and clean up?  Do we have to mark our territory?  I had also heard various scary stories – for example, a friend of mine said that an elephant, who was “protecting” her baby elephant, charged their vehicle.  Hmmmm…I am okay with this…right?  You see my sister-in-law who is a very intelligent, had been putting together this amazing 2-week tour of Nairobi.  So when my sister-in-law suggested an African Safari in the Masai Mara, I said “okay, that sounds good.”

But as it turned out, what I imagined an African Safari would entail was a WHOLE LOT different than what I thought.

African Safari with Children

It took less than 60 minutes from the Nairobi Wilson Airport. The “jumper plane” made a handful of stops along the way to drop off other passengers at other landing stripes in the Savannah.

 

African Safari with Kids

The landing stripe at the Maasai Mara, meeting up with our guide having a tasty drink of tomato tree juice. Not like our tomato juice! This was more like punch.

African Safari with Kids

Accommodations – my expectation were far exceeded! The safari was more like a five star resort!

Savannah – The “prime time” to visit the African Savannah is during Migration season (July and September).  Apparently the Savannah is packed with thousands, even millions of herbivores: “some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 360,000 Thomson’s gazelle, and 191,000 zebra.”  We did not visit during the Migration, but we were still able to see a lot of wild animals!

African Safari with KidsAfrica’s “Big 5” – The “Big 5″ includes the African: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo. Why not the hippo or giraffe? Are they not large as well?  Apparently, game hunters came up with the term “Big 5″ (not safari tour operators). The African lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo are labeled as the “Big 5” not because of how large or dangerous they are; but for how difficult it is for hunters to bag them up, mostly due to their ferocity when cornered and shot at. Who knew??!!

Lions sleep 20 hours a day. That means a lion is only awake for about 3 years. Isn’t that crazy?
This was my favorite animal! They are so graceful and beautiful. “Leopards are strong tree climbers—they can even climb a tree while carrying a prey their own weight. Leopards often carry their prey up trees to prevent other animals, such as hyenas, from sharing their kill. They also store their food in trees (though sometimes they store their food on ground under leaves or brush)”. They are solitary animals (not like lions that are pack animals).
African elephants are the largest land mammals on the planet, and the females of this species undergo the longest pregnancy—22 months.
Buffalo are reported to kill more hunters in Africa than any other animal.

Personally, I find a running Giraffe much more interesting that a Cape buffalo. A giraffe is one of the few animals that use mostly its front legs when it runs.   They only sleep for a few minutes at a time (in comparison to Lions who sleep all day!). Of course, the giraffes’ biggest enemy is the lion.  Giraffe have 4 stomachs just like cows (their cud needs to travel all the way up their neck!). Watch the video below to see the giraffe we spotted during the safari.

 

June 29, 2012

The Maasai Jumping Celebration

We’re introducing guest blogger Pam Geller, a freelance marketing consultant, who traveled to Nairobi, Kenya with her three kids, Kayla | 7 yrs, Drew | 6 yrs, and Jenna | 3 yrs, who just happened to be wearing Tea on their trip.

Travel with Kids to Maasai Kraal

When we visited our tour guide Daniel’s Kraal (Maasai rural village, visible in the background of the photos above), we were invited to witness their lion dance which includes jumping.

Travel with kids Jumping Tradition with Maasai

Maasai jumping is a tradition done at celebrations like a wedding.  The highest jumper gets the most ladies (of course)! They were kind enough to invite us to try. Check out of the video of us taking part in the Maasai jumping tradition.

 


 

June 28, 2012

A Visit to the Maasai Kraal

We’re introducing guest blogger Pam Geller, a freelance marketing consultant, who traveled to Nairobi, Kenya with her three kids, Kayla | 7 yrs, Drew | 6 yrs, and Jenna | 3 yrs, who just happened to be wearing Tea on their trip.

 

Travel with kids to Maasai Village in Nairobi, Kenya

It was incredible to visit a Maasai “village” located in Nairobi, Kenya.  A “Kraal”(“Kraal” — krôl, kräl) is a rural village, where a Maasai family lives, their huts in a circular area, to protect their livestock at night. Our Safari guide, Daniel,  took us to see his family’s Kraal. Daniel’s family consists of one dad, seven moms, and 70 brothers and sisters.  WOW!  Yes- 70 brothers and sisters.  Only Daniel and Daniel’s brothers with their respective wives and children live in the village we visited.  After the brothers showed us their lion dance and how high they can jump, we were invited to go inside their village and see how they live.

Water…no aquifer; they get their water from nearby lakes and streams.

Food…no grocery stores; they crop their own food by hand, in dessert conditions…(mind you…)

Eating utensils…no forks; they gather around a large bowl of food set on the ground and scoop up the food with their fingers or with pieces of bread.

Fire…no matches; they make fire the old fashion way with sticks and elephant poo!

Homes…no brick and mortar; they build their home with mud, sticks, cow dung and cow urine!

Wealth…no money; they measure wealth in terms of cattle and children.

Medicine…no hospitals; they use the urine of animals.  It is thought that the urine of animals is holy and that if used in the right way it can cure sickness.

American Girl with Massi villager

To see how they live in comparison to us, well, was inspiring and humbling.  Amazingly our oldest daughter, Kayla, who is 7, got it.  Here is a passage from her journal that she kept on our trip, “People are poor in Africa.  Okay, when we were driving in the Maasai Mara, we stopped at a village, we saw how the Maasai people live, and their house is made of cow poop and sticks. The girls have to make their houses and it takes three months and they don’t have shoes they are barefoot. “

 

June 1, 2012

Bedtimes, Jet Lag and Time Zones

Back by popular demand is guest blogger Naomi who has a United States passport, but considers herself a global citizen and currently lives in New Delhi, India.  Along for the great adventure is her husband, one teenage traveler, two little citizens and an Indian street dog.  She blogs about their life (including an upcoming relocation to Singapore) at Delhi Bound [http://delhibound.com].

creative ways to beat jet lag with kids

Our family is very soon set to begin another relocation and pretty big move across yet another ocean.  As we start to organize our passports and boarding passes, my thoughts fall quickly to jet lag and bedtimes!

Our typical experience with the dreaded jet lag is that it takes us ONE full day of adjustment for each time zone that we’ve crossed (so from India to Nebraska, we figure on nine days).  That’s a lot of days that can end up “wasted” unless you look at it creatively!

Fill a small bag with new items (yes NEW!), including a flashlight and explain to your children that when their bodies wake them up and it’s still the middle of the night, that instead of fully getting out of bed, they can use their flashlight and read in bed, or color on the floor right near their bed.   As soon as we get UP and out of bed, we instantly tell our bodies to cease from resting.  It isn’t a perfect solution, but it can offer some extra time for mom and dad to get some shut-eye.

Creative Ways to Beat Jet Lag
Another thing to remember with jet lag is that often your kiddos have NO choice but to fall asleep in the middle of dinner a couple of days after you’ve arrived.  Heavy lids, droopy limbs and a need for sleep that is impossible to resist is so normal.  Stave it off by getting as MUCH sunlight as possible during the day and stay away from processed sugars!

Bedtimes are another struggle in our household, no matter which time zone we’re in.  Try starting the process just 30 minutes earlier than normal!  Depending on the age of your children (our two youngest are currently 5 and 8), it can make a WORLD of difference!  After just ONE week of an earlier bedtime, we notice that our children are more rested in the morning (even if they get the same amount of sleep overnight) and even eat better during the following day!

When do your little travelers go to bed?  How do you help your family adjust from jet lag?

May 2, 2012

Traveling Rome: A Child’s Perspective

Today we’re featuring guest bloggers Kristen Daniel, a teacher at San Francisco Friends School, and her two girls Lilly (10) & Clem (8), stylistas in-training and adventure enthusiasts, who just returned home from their trip to Rome. They explored the city and are excited to present all of its wonders through the lens of a little citizen. While on their trip, the girls modeled items from our Spring Bali girls clothes collection.

Looking for a walkable city rich with archeological and architectural sites and, most importantly, delicious food, we settled on a trip to Rome during our daughters’ spring break.  We rented an apartment in the cobblestoned Roman neighborhood of Trastevere and spent many hours wandering its medieval maze of backstreets.  Arriving in Rome on a dazzlingly bright Easter Sunday morning instantly transported us from the San Francisco fog.  Lily, 10, and Clementine, 8, soaked up the spring sun and slurped up the amatriciana.

Winding through the narrow streets away from the crush of vendors selling mini-Colosseums, a doll repair shop’s window display caught Lily’s eye.

traveling to Rome with kids

“This caught my eye because it was only doll heads.  No bodies and definitely no full dolls!” -Lily

Emails and texts are ok when stateside, but nothing beats getting a postcard in the mail stamped with official Italian francobollos.

Traveling with kids in Rome

“I got stamps from a little corner store and asked for them myself. ” – Clem

Traveling with Kids in Rome

“I’m mailing a letter to a friend! The mailboxes are pretty high to reach.” – Clem

Contemporary Roman graffiti decorated the backstreets of Trastevere, reminding us of the San Francisco Mission District close to home.

Traveling with Kids in Rome

“I really liked this graffiti because I couldn’t really figure out what the expression of the women was.  At the bottom of the picture you can see cobblestones, and we had to walk on them all day!” – Lily

Waving to kids on their way home from school translates easily.

Traveling with Kids in Rome

Long lines can bring out the sillies.  Clem accessorized her dress with a belt and sunglasses and worked out some energy in the courtyard at the Vatican museums.

Traveling with Kids in Rome

“It was SUPER hot dancing and prancing around!” – Clem

An attempt to step off the cobblestones for a bit needed a helping hand.

Traveling with Kids in Rome

“On the little path of stone, there were lots of big gaps so I almost fell over while taking the picture.” – Clem

Part of the fun was learning to dexterously manipulate the public drinking fountains like a real Roman.  Delicious,  fresh, and free water was available in almost every piazza.   It took some practice before we could have a sip and keep our shoes dry.

Traveling with Kids in Rome

“This was the most hard thing and the most fun thing in Rome.  I probably soaked my feet 5 million times!” – Lily

Nothing beats a gelato after hours of pounding the cobblestones.  Best gelato in Rome?  The gelateria closest to your apartment or hotel.   Stracciatella and nocciola got the best reviews from our discerning tasters more accustomed to Mitchell’s mango or grasshopper pie.

Traveling with Kids in Rome

“It’s always a little chilly in the afternoon and gelato made it colder, but at least it tasted good!”  - Clem


 

March 24, 2012

Our Family Trip to Bali

Today we’re featuring guest blogger Mandy Moise, designer for vfish, who traveled to Bali with her two girls, Ellie 2.5 yrs, Sloane 1yr who just happened to be wearing Tea on their trip.

Bali Travel with Family
Bali is one of the most beautiful places in the world—long, white sandy beaches, lush tropical foliage, amazing food, and some of the nicest people you have ever met.

Bali Travel with Kids

When my family travels, we really like to dive right into the culture of where we are. Eat the food, meet the people, walk off the beaten path. Bali is an island where you can do these things with a family (even babies – as mine are 1 and 2.5) and really feel safe, secure and relaxed.

Bali Travel with Kids

On our first day in Bali , we were introduced to Nasi Goreng- with literally translates into “fried rice”.  Balinese people eat Nasi goreng many meals of the day/week– Usually topped with a fried egg. By the end of the trip, my 2.5 yr old was asking for Nasi goreng at every meal. Our other favorite thing to eat in Bali, and all throughout Indonesia, was grilled corn.  We would walk the beach at night, eating ear after ear of grilled corn topped with butter and Balinese spices. So delicious!

Bali Travel with Kids

The people of Bali have a very rich culture, and take great pride in honoring their heritage.  We took the kids to many outdoor theater shows where performers dress in elaborate costumes and makeup, and tell old stories through song and dance.  Many of these shows would end with our kids being invited to dance with the performers on the stage. Still today, my daughter dances in the living room and tells me we “need” a stage.

Bali Travel with Kids

A huge Bali highlight for us was when we released a green sea turtle into the ocean. We donated some money to a fund that helps protect the turtles, and in return, they brought my daughter a tiny baby turtle (she named her Angelina Ballerina) and allowed her to walk it down the beach to the ocean. It’s always been a dream of mine to do that myself, so to live that moment through my daughter was just beautiful.

Bali Travel with Kids

Bali has so much to offer- and can be a great family vacation option for those who are adventurous, or those who just want to relax and take in the sunshine and the sea.

If you enjoyed learning about Mandy’s Balinese excursion, be sure to read Mandy’s tips for traveling with kids blog post.