Oh la la! The smell of potential in the air. I LOVE it. Always been a fan of fresh starts. A time to hit pause, reflect, recharge, and begin again. And I don’t mean a time to fill your calendar with adult obligations and fake resolutions. I mean a time to drop your kid at grandma’s and send hubby to watch NFL with da’ boys so you can sit down and have a moment of for yo’ self. It’s called forced intentional introspection. And it’s mandatory.
So as eager as I am to tell you all that I have in store for 2019, I’m gonna kick things off with a proper Hasta La Vista Baby ceremony of how things went in 2018:
Here I go.
Partnered with Undercover to make a unicorn. And it’s SO FLUFFY!!! Search the hashtag #JuicyFernando for more.
Joined forces once again with my biz partner April Bowles to recruit another class of supers for Operation World Domination. Double the fun. Double the trouble. I truly believe, we bring out the best in each other, and we bring out the best in our clients.
OMG! We co-hosted a special LIVE call with Marie Forleo. OH YEAH!!! The beautiful haired goddess who created the world-renowned B-School program. Felt so cool.
Spent the first trimester of the year traveling the world. Partied in Bogota + road-tripped the Basque Country + ate our way through Paris + slid on every park slide in San Francisco + survived a 15-hour plane ride to Australia with a toddler. Probably let Oli eat one too many gummy bears so we could drink more wine, in peace. But it was worth it.
Landed at the ER for the first time in my life. Discovered that there is such a thing as vertigo. Apparently there’s no quick fix and you’re stuck with feeling like the world is spinning for daaaays straight. It ain’t pretty.
Completely relaunched + revamped my signature course Life is Messy Bootcamp®– a “let’s get sh*t done together” kinda training playground, but really more like a slumber party for girl bosses. I over simplified the core lessons to make learning easy and fun. Added Weekly Decluttering Prompts. Included, at no extra charge, Monthly Challenges + LIVE Quarterly Planning Workshops. And of course, recycled people’s favorite hangout, our LIVE Monthly Messy Hours.
Re-released The End of Boring®for a second year in a row. On my birthday. Despite everyone telling me I’m nuts. But seriously, launching on my birth anniversary has become my favorist thing to do. And my proudest promo stunt that doesn’t involve any fancy bells n’ whistles or HUGE marketing budget. I made half of what I made last year, thou, which was a bit of a bummer, but I know why it happened and I’ve got a plan to fix it. More on that shortly.
Built a cardboard castle for Olivia’s 3rd birthday. Surely one of my proudest crafty accomplishments.
Took on A LOT more client work. Made a ton of logos for small businesses I believed in. Designed the cutest custom portraits for my peeps. I enjoyed it, but…
Struggled this year with staying on top of my personal passion projects. I’m not sure why I let this happened, but I recognized that I lost myself somewhere in the messy middle. Got so caught up with helping people pursue their bucket lists, that I forgot to reach my own.
Spent waaaay too much time on Instagram trying to get more followers instead of spending my creative energy growing my mailing list. No bueno, especially since my list (time and time again) has proven to be the wisest, most effective way to bring a healthy n’ steady flow of income. This is one of the reasons I didn’t make as much money as projected this year. I’m 100% sure.
My videographer got a full time job and I stopped making videos since June. And then, for no reason at all I also started blogging intermittently. Not proud of it.
Life Blends got a major upgrade. After 13-years of making cold-pressed juices daily, the company I helped co-found with my dad went greener – introducing it’s new ECO bottle – 100% recyclable and 100% biodegradable (pinch me). Cause after a while, it becomes more than just a family business, ya know? It’s starts to be about legacy, about doing the right thing, about leaving our mark. We want to be known not just for making freaking amazing juices that are good for you, but for doing it in a way that also cares, respects and honors the planet. Cause there’s no Planet B you guys! So we better do what we can to build a better world for our kids, and their grandkids, and for the puppies and pandas… everybody.
Withdrew participation from a bundle flash sale-type event (who’s name I’m gonna reserve for damage control purposes), after its founder made some last minute call to change our agreement. I signed up to donate my planners for a hot deal pack, and in return I would get a cut of every sale that came from my link. You know the drill – there’s an irresistible offer on the table, but the clock is ticking and people have a limited time to BUY NOW! That’s all good, EXCEPT I was supposed to tell my people the doors closed on a certain date, knowing ahead of time that cart would reopen days later for a “Oh look surprise… the cart was magically reopen, this time for realzzz though”. What the F…. (beeeeeep). Are you kidding me? Of course, I left a chunk of money on the table. Money I was gonna use to pay our San Francisco boutique hotels. But at least I kept my integrity, thank you very much.
Ended the year on a super high note, designing the set design for third consecutive year for my dance alma mater, Steps. It was the greatest show I’ve since on Panamanian soil, pinky swear. I mean, I still get goosebumps thinking typing about it. I seriously doubted my ability (and talent quite frankly) to pull it off, but somehow… we did. I worked all nighters for 3.5 months straight. I camped at the theater for the entire production week. Crazy paint stained pants 20 hours shifts n’all. It was AWESOME!!! Swear every time, it’s my last time… and yet I return. I guess it’s calls me, like Moana would say.
Learned some valuable lessons in 2018:
When I stop taking care of my people. People stop caring about me. When I stopped emailing + creating content + making people laugh, people stopped engaging and a lost traction… and money. I can’t let that happen again. EVER. Take things for granted like that.
Trust takes yeeeeeears to build, seconds to break and forever to repair. Your door will be knocked multiple times to go bigger, to make more, to cut corners, to take short cuts, to add X to extend shelf life by Y. You name it. You’ll hear it all. It’s seductive, but none of it helps you sleep at night. Say NO. Every. Single. Time. It’s not worth it.
Traveling expands your tolerance for change and discomfort. You know, growing up, I did’t like traveling as much. Actually, not at all. I used to think it was a brutality, to be honest. Anything that wasn’t Disney World or the Disney Cruise sounded really scary to me. I couldn’t bare loosing sight of everything that was familiar. But then I married David. And we had the most beautiful baby girl. And everything changed. All the sudden, I want to put my “Out of Office” auto-responder and go everywhere. Places where I’m ignorant of almost everything. Where I dunno what time it is ever. Where I only have a rudimentary sense of how things work. Where you can’t even reliably cross the street without endangering your life. Where ordering from the menu feels like a wild guessing game. It’s not always pretty. It certainly isn’t always comfortable. But that’s okay, as long as we’re together. And I bring my pillow. Bonus if there’s a mini bar and 24-hour room service.
It’s not a marathon, it’s a steady personal race. Sometimes I’m ahead. Sometimes I’m behind. The race is long, but at the end the competition is only with myself.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed + stressed + victimized by an insane schedule. But who said “yes” to those commitments in the first place? So why am I complaining? I am an tiny Panamanian artist with a T-Rex heart. I embrace the crazy career path I’ve chosen for myself. So no more whining for me.
Can’t please em’ all.
I didn’t know you could use cauliflower could be rice + tortillas + pizza + potatoes. Why didn’t anyone tell me? It’s UNBELIEVABLE!!!
All in all, I’m thankful for the closed doors + the detours + the roadblocks. They protected me from paths and places that are not meant for me.
And to close with a gran finale, let me share with you a sneak bit of what’s coming ahead:
The people have been heard: I’m swapping the Monthly Challenges for Monthly Feedback Sessions – a chance to have YOUR idea/site/page constructively critiqued by me.
I’m only gonna open registration twice a year, in the beginning of the year, and half way through to create class flows, and also take the pressure off promoting all year long.
I’ve already decided I’m gonna do less client work to do more personal projects. Hold me accountable please.
Collab adventure with Maria Calle (you might know her as @healthygreengenie of Instagram) to do another foodie related book. Psst… será en Español para variar y salirme de mi zona de comfort. Stay tuned!
I’ve signed a contract to make myself film 44 videos this year. Yeap! FOURTY freaking FOUR. I’m betting BIG on video this year. Trusting it’s my zone of genius and going ALL IN. Get on my mailing list so you never miss an episode, alright?
I’m trying intermittent fasting and I feel great. I will continue to use myself as guinea pig to try n’ test different ways to make my body perform at it’s best.
Been giving some serious thought to hosting a vacation retreat for girl bosses in some exotic destination. I’m tired of the conferences and the networking events. I want some darn margaritas by the pool with my boss ladies, know what I mean? Of course I wouldn’t do this alone. Can you guess who I would “drag” along with?
Life is Messy Mastermind® is my newest, most private, secret-society-like offering to plan and play + gather and conquer. For the first time EVER, I’m opening the doors of my beautiful home to host an intimate planning ritual. A petite bosshood of women who mean business and want to kick some mayor 2019 ass. KA-POW!
It’s all happening. Absolutely certain nothing will be according to plan. It’ll be BETTER. Or I’ll learn some mayor life lesson from it, for sure.
I appreciate you tuning in.
What projects, big or small have your heart racing right now? What do you feel super inspired to create this year? Tell me, in the comments below!
Earlier this year, I took (what feels like) a 2 month vacation – Bogota + Basque Country + Paris + San Francisco + Sydney. It was epic.
And I did it right. I set auto-responders for the first time in my life. Fully disconnected from all my to-dos. Drank lots of wine. Had the most delicious feasts. Totally indulged. No regrets.
Coming back has been a little hard thou.
The week I returned I ended at the ER. Diagnosis: Vertigo. And that’s not all. Doctors had to run some blood tests. Results: My colesterol is 291 what the hell? And to top things off the scale is 10 pounds off (wink, wink).
Needless to say, I’ve had my wake up calls.
I had a totally different post planned for you this week, but in light of recent events + brought upon myself circumstances, I’m decided to share with you the ONE ritual that never fails me. This habit alone always helps boost my productivity + confidence + happiness + kickstart my road to feeling better about myself.
The routine I’m talking about is: Sitting down to write a weekly meal plan.
By plan, I mean planned meals. Planned meals are weekly breakfasts + weekly lunches + weekly dinners that don’t feel rushed + that are put together with love + leave you feeling satisfied and happy. I’m talking about dinner parties with special friends + Mexican nights with the in-laws + Iron Chef Saturdays + romantic dates with my man serving homemade Black Bean Burgers with Roasted Sweet Potato Fries. I’m talking about meals worth sharing on Instagram.
When I don’t meal plan, things get tricky. One day spontaneity rewards you with your new favorite chili recipe. “Oh look! Adding mushrooms instead of ground beef tasted so good. WOW! But most times, you’re left with cupcakes that never rise in the oven + a grumpy stomach + having to play menu roulette once more + feeling like crap seconds later.
Planned meals mean never again wondering what’s for lunch. Never again wondering with the fridge door wide open. Never again rushing to the supermarket for last minute groceries without a grocery list. Been there? Done that? Me too.
Planned meals mean less rotten food in your fridge + less garbage inside your temple. Less excuses, more love in your belly.
When you have a system in place, you’re happy + you save money + you fit inside the clothes you wanna wear. Minus the tantrums. You feel centered + grounded + in harmony + empowered, most of the time.
I want to challenge myself, and I want to challenge YOU to steal my step-by-step Meal Planning ritual. Try it. Tweak it. Paint over the parts that don’t work for you.
Step 1: Pick the recipes
I start most Sunday mornings (emphasis on “most”) with (a) a Greek Yogurt Parfait with fresh strawberries + homemade granola + honey; (b) a stack of cookbooks; (c) a pad of Post-It Page Markers. I’ve pretty much ritualized flipping through cookbooks + flagging the recipes I want to sample next. Hubby thumbs up or thumbs down my picks while playing FIFA. Team work. Aha!
The goal is to pick recipes that match your diet + taste buds + lifestyle. What’s the point of adding “Cherry Rhubarb Country-Style Pie” to the mix if:
You hate making pie crusts;
You have a crazy launch week ahead;
It’s not cherry season;
Out-of-season cherries are freaking expensive
You’re saving for a new DSL camera, remember?
Don’t have any inspiring cookbooks in your collection? Crap excuse. There’s Amazon. Meet Google. Buy my cookbook. Visit YouTube. Cruise Pinterest. Hop on foodie blogs. They are your friends. Use these resources to find what you need. Type: “Healthy Salads” + “Clean Cupcakes” + “Green Smoothies.” My go-to Meatless Ragu recipe was born out of searching “Meatless Ragu.” Mind blowing.
In recap, pick one day of the week you’ll sit down + handpick the recipes you want to eat in the week ahead.
Step 2: Pick the menu
After selecting my recipes, I grab my Weekly Meal Planner. I print many ahead of time. First, I put an “X” on the meals that I know will be eaten out of the house for family birthdays, showers, or extraordinary occasions. Then, I match up recipes I’ve picked with openings on the planner.
I’ll even lock down my snacks, so instead of reaching for Dulce de Leche, I go for the carrot sticks with turmeric hummus. Know what I mean?
Sounds easy? Cuz it is!
Step 3: Scan the recipes
When filling my Weekly Meal Planner with my dishes, I scan the recipes + ingredient list + special appliances + directions. Then, I check my pantry/fridge stock. Do I have what I need? What do I need to get? I write it down on a grocery list.
This easy step helps me plan out what I need from the store or my local farmer’s market, so I can skip what’s already in my fridge or cupboard.
Sometimes, I’ll even make two grocery lists: One big one for the month + another one for mini-runs to get fresh produce.
Marrying my Weekly Meal Planner with my grocery list is not only ridiculously helpful for stocking up the kitchen, but also to group + organize meals smartly on the schedule, knowing that some things need to be eaten before others + some make sense to make ’em in batches. Think ahead. Visualize the flow.
Step 4: Go shopping
My dad goes to the supermarket every other day. His juice factory is right behind a local supermarket chain, so he’s found a rhythm that works for him.
Hubby + I do one big ass supermarket shopping spree a month to get napkins + toilet paper + dried beans, things like that. And we do mini weekly runs to buy fresh produce + fresh flowers, typically late Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.
Look at your calendar. When’s convenient for you to habitualize grocery shopping?
Step 5: Meal prep
Around 4pm-ish, when my attention span crashes, instead of scrolling my social media feeds, you’ll find me in the kitchen whipping out treats or prepping sauces with my ninja chopping skills. Yeah, I bring my OCD wherever I go.
Maybe you need to soak nuts ahead of time. Maybe your crust needs to chill out in the freezer before pouring in the filler. Breads need yeast + time to rise. Pasta needs boiling water. Marina sauce tastes twice as good when it cooks on low heat for 3 hours. Can you Tupperware that + freeze it for next week?
When you’re a step ahead, you’re unstoppable.
Step 6: Bon appetit
When it’s time to eat, sit down for a mindful meal. Light candles. Turn off the TV. Cellphones go in the basket. Play a little Bossa Nova in the background. Use the fun cloth napkins. Fresh flowers make everything taste twice as good. I’m serious. I want you to fully experience the joy of eating. Look at your plate + smell it’s aromas. Party with it’s textures + let your palate run loose. Give thanks for all the good things that entered your life that day.
That is it my friend!
A Few Tips + Tricks
Allllllright alright. I know meal planning takes a little time, especially the finding your groove part, but ultimately it saves you time + stress during the week. You also may find that a meal plan helps you to eat better + cut down junk food from your diet. Pow!
Here are a few suggestions to take your system to a whole new level of awesome:
Double check. Make sure you examine your fridge + pantry before heading to the store with your grocery list. You can easily blow way your budget buying a third jar of cinnamon. I bet you’ve got a lot of goodies in there. So check.
Stock up on the essentials during sales. Only two phrases can change a woman’s mood: (1) I love you; (2) 50% OFF. If you arrive at the supermarket + there’s a big sale on organic berries, snag those babies! They may not have been on your initial meal plan, but, hey, you can freeze them + throw them into your smoothies or make soft serve ice cream. The same goes for dry staples, like grains + beans that aren’t going to go bad in your pantry. When on sale… improvise + think on your feet.
But in bulk. While cruising the supermarket, head straight to the bulk bins + stock up, especially items that don’t perish too quickly! As your bulk food staples grow, you’ll have shorter shopping lists + an arsenal of inspiration for your home-cooked meals. Added bonus: Display your beautiful beans + grains + spices in mason jars throughout your kitchen.
Cut back on restaurants. Holy guacamole, do those restaurant bills pile up! Make your dinner table the new hot spot. Mouth watering backyard BBQs + romantic pizza nights + potlucks with girlfriends + family get-togethers over finger food can revolutionize your culinary senses. No need for Zagat stars. I’m not saying that you should never step foot in a restaurant again; just try to limit your visits. They suddenly become more special + more of a fun affair when they do happen.
Eat with the seasons + shop local. Farmers markets are a great place to buy organic foods on the cheap. In-season produce is almost always going to cost less, so try to be flexible + cook with the harvest.
Grow your own garden. This year David + I started a mini herb garden (I’m so excited!). It’s exponentially more economical to grow your own food. Whether you live in a studio or a mansion, there’s always room for a few pots of greens. A two-dollar packet of basil seeds will support your salad + pesto-making habits for months.
Get creative with the leftovers. Place your fresh herbs in water pots. Wash + store your produce in Debbie Meyer Green Bags to extend their life expectancy. When your produce looks like it’s about to go south, resuscitate it in a delicious stew or casserole. Have you ever tried leftover lasagna? Is even better than on the day you made the lasagna. I’m serious. With a little TV Food Network action, leftovers can be transformed into Pinterest worthy meals.
Batch. Batch cooking is another way to save time + money. Double or triple your favorite recipe + freeze the leftovers for a quick + healthy meal when you’re in a pinch. We do this all the time with my signature marinara sauce. We make it in advance + transfer it to airtight container + freeze + thaw for pizza parties or whatnot.
Play detective. If you’re like me, you definitely have budget leaks (aka knee-jerk spending at Amazon + Pottery Barn + Etsy + Anthropologie). Look at your bank statements. Identify where you need a little bit more self control. I noticed I was going a little overboard with nut butters, so I started making my own at home. Problem solved!
Pay attention. When my food expenses start creeping up, it’s usually because I’m being a bit of a slacker, not a culinary diva. Check for symptoms. Is your apron accumulating dust? Are the takeout menus getting more action than your ukulele? Do you have Dominos on speed dial? The signs are right in front of you, if you’re brave enough to open your eyes.
Start your personal/family recipe vault. After a while, you will start to notice patterns – recipes you naturally gravitate towards + others that you don’t fancy that much. Take note. Archive your favorites in cute recipe cards. This trick alone will make your menu picking ceremony significantly more efficient + guarantee you always have safety, comfort dishes on da menu.
My request is simple: Just follow the steps + share your insights in the comments below – What are you putting on your Weekly Meal Planner?
You know what would be even cooler? To see pictures of your meal planning in action. Snap + share ’em on social media. I want to see how it’s going. How you’re feeling. How you’re making it happen. Imagine how much fun it would be to see everybody’s interpretation + system? So inspiring!
And as for me, I hope to (at the very least) get my colesterol down. Bonus if I can fit into my clothes again.I can’t wear these sweat pants forevz.
PS: Would you like to be a part of a planning club for girl bosses who are all getting together to get our sh*t together? Click here to learn more!
I only get psyched for ONE sporting event and ONE sporting event only every four years. I can’t handle the emotional roller coaster of being a super fan any more often than that. But during the World Cup… WATCH OUT! I’ve been known to throw plastic cups at TV screens + eat tacos with my bare hands Viking-style + yell at people during games. It ain’t pretty.
There are also the infamous all-girl WhatApp groups where we discuss extremely technical + statistically accurate matters ONLY, like uniform colors + hairstyles + anatomy.
Wait, there’s more!
And this is the first time Panama classifies (#SomosLaSele #SoyMareaRoja) so it’s gonna get IN-TENSE.com around here.
Gotta love this time of every-four-years!!!
If you’re a super fan, and can’t seem to find a cute bracket (seriously they ones I’ve spotted are hideous), I’ve made one for me really, but you are totally welcome to use it too!
It’s no secret that I’m a hermit at heart, but when I do leave the house/office, I LOVE to explore the world + go on adventures with my family.
Recently I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how I survive bringing Olivia on board. It’s funny you ask because I’m still pleasantly surprise I’ve pulled it off without casualties.
Still, let me be the first to confess that I definitely don’t have all the answers when it comes to traveling smoothly with a 2 year old toddler. What I can provide is a little insight as to how we do it wing it, in case you’re curious + feel inspired to go on your own family outings.
I’ve rounded up a lot of answers to some of your most frequently asked questions below. Let’s call it A Messy Guide to Traveling with Kids, and living to tell the tale.
Is traveling with kids really worth it?
I know some people feel strongly that taking kids around the world when they won’t be able to remember it all perfectly is a total waste. I see your point. You might actually be right.
But! David + I truly believe exposing Olivia at a very young age to different cultures + smells + tastes + languages + people, really helps her grow – turn her into a less high maintenance little dictador and more into a mini warrior capable of adapting to any given situation or environment (except when not feed).
I always joke that our goal is to raise a wash n’ wear kid. Not a dry clean one. Can you imagine? It would make parenting so much harder than it already is.
I’ve also found that not many things top the memories our family has created while traveling, Of course, once you get over that first panic attack of “are we crazy, can we really do this?” It’s ALL worth it – the good (discovering an amazing gelato parlor) + the not so good (getting lost in an airport).
If anything, traveling together has helped build a special bond between us I am thankful for.
At home + the office everything is such a GO GO GO – emails + launches + live calls (and making sure the nanny distracts Olivia so she doesn’t interrupt the webinar) + to-do lists + groceries + client projects + passion projects + house chores, that we rarely have sacred time as a family of three, know what I mean?
Time stops the moment you’re on vacation. You forget the time. You don’t know if it’s Sunday or Monday. It’s pretty neat.
Additionally, as you can probably tell, I’m obsessed with documenting the journey with photos + videos + Insta Stories. Oli often asks me to watch our travel clips over and over again or look at pictures from past vacations.
Maybe she won’t remember any of it. But we sure will.
How do you manage sleeping during your trips?
We like to book a hotel with a king size bed so Olivia can sleep in the middle, just like we do at home. Yes, we co-sleep.
Some hotels, especially in Europe don’t offer this option (even if they say so in their website), so we have to settle for joined-twin beds. I let it slide, but not before whining to hubby + having a lil’ diva moment. Then I remember I’m on vacation, and I calm myself before I wreck myself. Whenever we get a joined bed arrangement, I grab the extra comforter in the room closet, lay it in the middle of the bed, and voila!
Olivia has never been the crib-lover type so she’s grown accustomed to sleeping anywhere as long as mom + dad are on the bed. I guess this has it’s pro’s + cons, doesn’t it? But during travels it’s definitively an advantage.
Oh! And I travel with my pillow, cause not all pillows are created equal. Makes anywhere feel like home.
Tip: Exhaust all your resources to tire out your child before arriving to your room, so when they land on that bed they pass out immediately. Those precious moments of utter silence to scroll your phone + edit photos + post Insta Stories are priceless.
It’s also worth noting that we go for hotels over airbnbs. We like the convenience of having our beds made + fresh towels everyday.
Another biggie is choosing a centric home base in case you have to catch your breath in the middle of the day. We don’t mind splurging a bit more on a hotel to make sure we’re close to everything, and we can easily go back, if needed.
How do you handle meals while traveling?
The biggest thing is to hit a grocery store as soon as we arrive to stock up on healthy snacks (fresh fruit + yogurt + granola + muesli + water), cause no one wants to pay for overcharged water at the hotel mini bar or deal with anyone that’s hangry, including mama when traveling. Game changer.
We do a couple of these market runs during the trip. Personally, I really enjoy seeing all the foreign/local food offered. You can tell so much about a place from what they eat, can’t you? And I love to bring home some staples, like a really nice truffle oil or decadent chocolates.
When it comes to dinning out we typically don’t make restaurant reservations. We either ask the concierge at the hotel + friends who’ve been there recently or clients who live there for recommendations. As much as we love an amazing foodie experience (have your seen Chef’s Table? Our fave show EVER!), we rarely go for the trendy Michelin-star rated spots. We opt for the local laid back favorites.
If I was traveling alone with David, we wouldn’t mind the pretentiousness + the dressing up for the occasion + the long lines + the doll-size food + the bill. We would actually dig the theatricality, and talk about it for ages. But with a kid, heck to the no. Simple, is better.
Also, let me say, we’ve been surprised to find out that eating out with Olivia (and my nice + nephew on our most recently trip) is far more enjoyable than expected. Watching the kids eat an authentic paella or ask to dip their fries in a special aioli sure warms our hearts.
A few more tips when it comes to eating out:
Ask for a booth or corner table.
Order right when you sit down.
Ask for the check when your food comes.
Wine always makes you a more tolerant parent.
Let your kid sprinkle gummy bears on top of her croissant if she so desperately wants to.
Bring a bag of small toys + sticker books for entertainment (I’m an absolute tyrant when it comes to allowing iPads/phones at the table. Don’t like it. Won’t tolerate it in my regime. Any other time yes, but not here!)
Order something safe from the menu.
Order something audacious to try something new.
Always order dessert. No one wants to be related to that person who’s counting calories on vacay.
Do a restroom run first thing, and last before leaving the restaurant.
Do you travel with a stroller?
I bring our stroller along all the time. We rarely use it at home, but we swear by it when traveling abroad.
We enjoy wandering by foot. We like to get to know a place by walking, several miles if we need to. Having the stroller to rely on is wonderful.
Also, it truly helps in the airport! We don’t even check ours with our luggage. We use it throughout the airport + check it at the plane doors or fit it into the overhead compartment (one of the nice perks of the model we purchased).
In case you’re interested we have the BabyZen YOYO+. What we love about this particular stroller is that it folds and unfolds + can be carried like a bag + can be driven with one hand (the suspension is SICK) + fits just about anywhere + it’s easily stored + can be taken as cabin luggage. Sure makes life easier when you want to grab a bite + catch an Uber + hop on the subway or fly to the other end of the world. After doing my research, it seems like the best fit for our family.
What I love about bringing a stroller along is that it serves as a home base during our days of exploring, where Oli can sit + relax or nap when needed. Oh! And if mama ever feels like shopping, guess what carries all the bags? Wink wink.
I think we’re blessed thou with a child that has no problem taking stroller naps, since her earliest days. And we don’t take that for granted.
How to you survive airports + lengthy flights with kids?
Here are my top tricks to surviving airports + long flights:
Wear comfy matching outfits. Bonus if you look like an Olympic ping pong team.
If you’re traveling with a stroller, don’t check it with your bags. Once you get to the gate, be sure to go up + check in straight away. They will give you a tag for your stroller + also help you board the plane first, which is nice so you can get situated before all hell breaks loose (just kidding). But seriously, probably the best perk to flying with kids is getting to board early!
If you’re traveling with a baby, nurse or give them a pacifier during take-off + landing. That constant sucking + swallowing motion can help with the plane changing pressure considerably. For toddlers, you can give them something to eat during this time so they are also chewing.
The iPad is my best friend during long flights. Something I never thought I’d say a few years ago. We didn’t expose Olivia to a screen until she turned 1, and we allow minimal screen time at home, so Oli is always elated to get a free pass to watch all the movies she wants on the plane, and we happily oblige. Her all-time-favorite is The Sound of Music + her current obsession is a tie between Ferdinand + Coco.
Get on-ear headphones. Airplane ones suck. We got some pretty cheap ones for $17 that were comfortably padded, but you can go nuts if you can and get fancy noise-blocking ones.
Pack a carry on full of surprises! A new coloring book + little animals + reusable stickers + play dough + a toy doctor kit + gel markers.
Also, pack snacks in your carry on that are easy to eat + keep their blood sugar up. We take grapes + blueberries (careful, they stain) + pretzels with chocolate hazelnut butter + empanadas + raisins + granola bars. I also bring her favorite treats – chocolate covered goji berries + gummies, for manipulation purposes only.
When the seatbelt sign is turned off and it’s okay to move around, take a walk up + down the aisles. It’s hard enough for me as an adult to sit still for an hour or two, so I can’t imagine forcing a child to. Plus! It helps to break up the trip, especially if it’s hours upon hours to let them get a bit of exercise.
Be nice to the people around you. I remember I made homemade granola favors for Olivia’s first trip (she was 6-months old and we we’re flying to a wedding in Vieques, Puerto Rico) to apologize in advance to my fellow passengers for what they were about to experience. I was always that person who hated seating close to a crying baby, and now I was about to become that mom. Oh God! Oli was still breastfeeding at the time + she ended up sleeping the entire plane ride, but the point is: be a nice and considerate human being. Doesn’t hurt to say hello when you sit down + apologize up front for any crying + spilling or chaos that may break loose at some point during the flight. And let them know you will do your best to keep it to a minimum.
Not gonna lie. So far, we’ve been really really lucky in our flights. Great people around us, as well as great flight attendants. And when we travel with other family members, everyone help us + we take sleeping shifts. It makes such a big difference.
Very occasionally you may see an eye roll, but for the most part, people are awesome, which makes me regain my faith in humanity. Several folks have actually offered help when they see you could use a hand. They understand you’re just trying to get somewhere too.
How do you decide what activities to do + where to go to keep both the adults + kid(s) happy?
Everyone does as I say. Period.
What happens is Oli is still small. It’s kind of a breeze, because she just cruises in her little stroller vehicle as we wander around museums or shops.
I know my days are counted thou. Soon enough, Olivia will have a say in the activity planning. And my life will be over.
Obviously we enjoy wine tours + majestic cathedral strolls + shopping sprees, but nothing beats a stop at a carrusel + bookshop + outdoor playground + pasticceria or children’s section at any department store, and seeing Olivia’s eye light up. And so do ours.
We love seeing her so happy, and I think that’s what ends up happening to all us parents. We soften up in our knees. It’s pretty pathetic. And beautiful.
You know what else? Something we have found to work really well is to show Olivia pictures + maps + YouTube videos + books of the places we are headed, and talk about our trip far in advance. The anticipation of a trip can be as exciting as the trip itself.
If I missed anything you are curious about, feel free to ask in the comments and I will do my best to respond!
And if you have any tips of your own that you don’t mind sharing, I would really appreciate it. We have a big trip coming up – the farthest destination yet, and we’re a bit nervous, and could use a hand.
If you only remember one thing from this article please let it be this: Don’t stress yourself out too much about traveling with little ones. You got this! You are a super mom! You were showered with invisible mom superpower confetti capable of achieving the impossible in extraordinary circumstances.
I promise it’s much easier than it looks. Let me even dare say it’s much more straightforward + intuitive + simple than parenting from home. I swear! Or else I wouldn’t keep doing it, do you think I’m a masochist?