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2015 was huge! We did a lot of travel in 2015. Most of it was great. Only some of it was tough. After a full year on the road, it’s hard to remember everything we did but a few things stand. Mostly because they were slightly crazy, unusual or traumatic.

Here are the Craziest Things We Did…

 

Reuben and Bethaney, Montserrat, Spain

Reuben and Bethaney at Montserrat, Spain

 

Reuben Making Bubbles in front of Sagrada Familia, Spain

Reuben Making Bubbles in front of Sagrada Familia, Spain

 

Flashpacker Family in front of Sagrada Familia, Spain

Flashpacker Family in front of Sagrada Familia, Spain

Reuben Eating Pizza in Milan

Reuben Eating Pizza in Milan

Squeezed Eight European Countries into Five Weeks

We needed to do a visa run from the US so decided to head to Europe in the spring. When you only have a short time to travel in Europe, the temptation to stuff as many countries as possible into your time there is high. This temptation was just too much for me and I kept adding more and more countries to our itinerary. In the end we visited EIGHT countries in FIVE weeks in Europe. That includes visiting France on THREE different occasions.

I’ll go out on a limb and say that travelling in Europe was actually harder than travelling in South East Asia. Getting around was the most stressful part, see below, but the shear fact that we (I!) was so overly ambitious with our itinerary didn’t help. I just didn’t know when I’d be back in Europe and also felt the need to show my family around places I’d already been. Yes, it was crazy. And it took us about 3 weeks to recover from it.

 

 

Lee, Reuben and Hazel on train in Italy

Sometimes riding the trains looked like this….

 

Hazel Crying on train in Milan

….and sometimes if looked like this!

Travelled around Europe by Train with Two Small Kids

Take the trains in Europe, they said. It’s such an easy way to travel, they said. Wrong! Travelling around Europe by train with two little kids was HARD. I like to think of myself as quite a savvy family traveller. Heck, I’d even go far as to say I was an expert. But nothing prepared me for how difficult a train trip around Europe with kids was.

We found Europe surprisingly in accessible, particularly the trains and train station. There were very few provisions for families travelling with small children not to mention our fellow humans were decidedly unhelpful in the face of a family struggling with luggage, strollers and tantruming toddlers.

Lesson learned: Road tripping with small children is a much better way to travel!

 

 

Lee, Reuben and Hazel at Niagara Falls, Canada

The day before the accident
Lee, Reuben and Hazel at Niagara Falls, Canada.

 

Hazel's Teeth, Canada

Tiny teeth removed!

 

Hazel Drawing in Ottawa, Canada

Happy Hazel!
Do you think you’d look this happy a day after having your teeth pulled?

Had Hazel’s Teeth Pulled in Canada

Sometimes things just go wrong. This one was unavoidable. Our little girl had a nasty fall that left her with two of her newly minted teeth pushed right up into her gums. After seeing a few pediatric dentists, we made the decision that her affected teeth needed to pulled to prevent the possibility of infection damaging her growning adult tooth buds.

It was the right decision to make but a horrific experience to go to. They don’t put little kids under for dental surgery. Instead, our 15 month old baby was strapped to a board, given a local aesthetic and had two teeth pulled just like that. The procedure only took about 10 minutes but I’ll never forget those screams. The only saving grace was that this all happened in Canada and not the US. I hate to think what this would have cost in America. It ended up costs us around $1500 CAD which was fully reimbursed by our travel insurance.

 

Our Airbnb Apartment with No Furniture in New York City!

Our Airbnb Apartment with No Furniture in New York City!

 

Bethaney Using Binoculars on Top of the Rock

At the Top of the Rock in New York City

Stayed in a NYC Apartment with NO Furniture

This one sounded a little crazy, even to me, but it actually worked out great! When I was searching for an Airbnb for a week in NYC, there was next to nothing available in our price range. Even by increasing our search area from Manhattan to Brooklyn, we were still looking at $200/night for an apartment. Crazy!

I happened upon a listing for a bargain price of $1000/week for a Gramercy Park apartment. The catch? No furniture! The apartment had four dining chairs, a double mattress in the bedroom and a single airbed in the living room. That’s it! The building was really nice, the location excellent and we even had our own washer & dryer which is rare for NYC.

Staying in an empty apartment wasn’t bad at all! Nothing to worry about the kids breaking and we were out most of the time anyway. It was like camping… in Manhattan!

 

 

Hazel at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. We only ended up here because of our flexible travel plans!

Hazel at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. We only ended up here because of our flexible travel plans!

 

Reuben and Hazel in Roswell, New Mexio

Reuben and Hazel in Roswell, New Mexio

Planned Nothing… Often!

Picture this. You get off a week long Caribbean cruise, you’re sitting in the car park at the cruise port and you have no idea where you are going next! That happened to us often. We’d wake up in the morning, pack the car and have no idea where we’d be sleeping that night. Sounds crazy but it’s actually a really good way to road trip.

Flexibility is key for making long- term travel work for us. We need to be able to work at our own pace, take breaks when we need time out, rest when we need to and power through when we just don’t like somewhere. I always come up with a loose plan but it’s always 100% up for negotiation once we hit the road. Travelling this way has allowed us to uncover some great new places and stay for longer when we’ve fallen in love with a city. We only ended up in New Mexico last month before of our flexible schedule and ended up loving both Roswell and White Sands National Monument.

 

Our Car in New Mexico

Our car on the side of the road in New Mexico

 

Road Tripping with Kids in the Car

Road Tripping with Kids in the Car!

 

Reuben Jumping on Couch, Palazzo, Las Vegas

Reuben Jumping on couch at The Palazzo, Las Vegas after completing our 4500 mile drive!

Drove 10,000+ Miles Across North America

I’ve actually lost count of how many miles we’ve driving across North America now. In 2015, we did not one but two cross-country US road trips. We drove between Las Vegas and Park City a couple of times plus did a road trip around Southern Utah. We drove from Park City to Toronto, the 2500 mile long way around. We added about 1000 miles driving around Ontatio and Quebec. Another 2000 miles down the East Coast from Montreal all the way to Miami. And then a back breaking 4500 miles in 20 days from Miami to Park City.

To be honest, we’re all kind of over road tripping now! Can you blame us?

 

 

Lee, Reuben and Hazel in pool at Trump, Las Vegas

Lee, Reuben and Hazel in pool at Trump, Las Vegas

What crazy places did 2015 take you?

2015 was amazing. Travelling full time certainly is an adventure. I can’t wait to do it all over again in 2016. Tell me the craziest thing that you did on your travels in 2015!

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Showing 5 comments
  • Eva Casey
    Reply

    You guys did a ton of stuff!! I can imagine train travel being very difficult for a family in Europe. Even with just me I get really burnt out traveling around by train there. And when I was young the same thing happened to me as what happened to Hazel! Definitely a traumatic experience, more for my mom than for me!!

  • Kerwin
    Reply

    Crazy stuff, but I get it. I’ve done the I don’t know where I’m sleeping tonight many times, it’s fun.

    Will those teeth grow back for the little one? Glad you had travel insurance that’s the key.

    I’ve had a good travel year as well. Compiling now. Thanks for sharing.

  • samiya selim
    Reply

    Wow! Sounds like a packed year full of adventures, misadventures and wonderful memories for keeps 🙂 We also found it much easier to do road trips rather than trains in Europe with the kids. We did the first part from UK to France and then the rest by car and found that much easier!

  • Rosemary
    Reply

    It’s unbelievable how much you were able to pack into a 5 week stint. I’m quite impressed. Glad everything worked out with the tooth incident. Going to a doctor/dentist in a foreign country is always a little scary, but it is often okay. Love the NYC airbnb story with no furniture. With travel, we have to remain flexible and go with the flow. Looking forward to your 2016 adventures.

  • Marie
    Reply

    I was amazed with squeezing eight European countries in just 5 weeks let alone have two kids. Really a crazy 2015. Full of fun filled adventures and memories definitely worth a share.

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