We’ve been in Taipei just over 24 hours now. We stayed up for the first 14 hours straight and then finally slept. Ah, glorious sleep. When we planned this trip, we were hoping to set up a Taipei with Kids writing opportunity. There’s not a lot out there on the subject. Is 1 day really enough to say anything? Well, within 10 hours, we accumulated quite a few funny and “educational” experiences plus a few “rules” for enjoying Taipei with kids.
1. First stop was breakfast at a little hole in the wall restaurant. They took one look at us and handed us some sticky, laminated menus. One had American food. The other listed Chinese breakfast items. Rule #1: Stick to the local specialties. We ordered breakfast crepes with egg and bacon, egg and pork, and egg and corn. All were delicious! And the milk tea for the kids arrived in a sealed cup that we Read more
We’re going back! Eighteen years ago, I promised friends that I would be back in two years. Easier said than done. There was a wedding and then a baby and then another baby. Somewhere in there we gained car payments, a mortgage, and two full-time jobs to go with it all. Plane tickets aren’t cheap and vacation time is priceless. What seemed so simple, never happened. I thought about my friends; I sent cards; and even experimented with Internet calls in their first incarnations. But I never got back.
Then, a few years ago, we were outrageously lucky enough to spend six months in Vienna, Austria. As we made new friends and began to feel at home, there was a strange underlying sadness for me. How could I commit to this new culture, to the German language and its torturous grammar, and to our new friends when I had never made it back to Thailand? Read more
We recently attended our fifth timeshare sales pitch. They’ve all been interesting in their own way – the product itself, the style of the sales pitch, the interaction with the salesman. The first event we attended was near our Seattle home and probably just months after we were married. The man running the slideshow asked folks to raise their hand and tell the group what they got for their sixth birthday. No one had an answer. Their 10th birthday? Christmas when they turned 16? There were a few timid answers but not much. Then he asked “OK, then, tell me about a vacation your family took when you were a kid.” Hands shot up in the air and everybody started talking. I know, I know. It’s unfair because he didn’t ask for a vacation the year we were some specific age and we were all there for a travel pitch because we liked travel, but it was powerful! Maybe that timeshare sales pitch even changed our lives? Since then we’ve Read more
Cost U Less travel, Cost-U-Less Travel, or CostULess Travel is a “travel program” pitched like a timeshare condominium. We received multiple offers in the mail advertising an “opportunity” to receive two free airplane tickets and two nights in a hotel in exchange for hearing their pitch. We love traveling and though we’re not really interested in timeshares, curiosity finally made us cave and we called to learn more.
The woman on the phone was friendly but mysterious. She would tell me nothing about the free gift (those free plane tickets and hotel rooms that sucked us in) and seemed to know very little about CostULess except that (1) it’s spelled with a “U” instead of a “You”; (2) it is NOT a timeshare; and (3) it’s a discount travel club. I imagined something like a travel Tupperware party and decided that, at worst case, it was only 90-minutes and we could blog about it. How bad could it be right? Read more
We traveled a lot when our kids were young and entertaining them in planes, buses, cars, and restaurants was a challenge. I recently cleaned out our travel box and found some of my old favorite, mostly homemade, old fashioned, travel tricks. These cheap and easy finds helped me not just endure our adventures but truly enjoy traveling with my kids.
My Travel Book: I took an old 3-ring binder, a light, plastic 1” binder, and I converted it into a travel activity book. It only came out when we were “on the loose” so it was new and exciting every time. Inside were several cheap, plastic, transparent pencil holders. One held small toys. At the time of this photograph, it was a collection of linking monkeys from an old-fashioned “Barrel of Monkeys” game. Read more
We’d love to visit Cuba. Given the obstacles, it’s not in the cards for us at the moment but we’re working on experiencing Cuba anyway. We’ve made Cuban found, explored Cuban artists, and hosted a Cuban dinner for close friends who recently took their kids to Cuba. We followed it all up with a Cuban family movie. Cuba, Cuba, Cuba!
Experiencing Cuban food was a fabulous success. We found recipes at www.tasteofcuba.com and assembled three into a special dinner. The most essential element of the meal was Cuban Black Beans or Moros y Cristianos. Black beans sound boring but these are not; they are complex and delicious. They also sound vegetarian. They are not. The recipe calls for a pound of smoked ham hocks and a lot of chicken stock. The beans take a long time to cook and they smell delicious all along the way. They were too steamy to photograph well but perhaps the steam captures something of the essence of these delicious beans. While the beans were cooking, I prepared an avocado mousse. This recipe brought Read more
I’ll start this week’s chapter chat with a joke my kids told me:
What do you call a person who speaks two languages?
What do you call a person who speaks three languages?
All right then. What do you call a person who speaks only one language?
And, just to be clear. That’s “American” with a derogatory tone. I’m so proud that my kids think this joke is funny! When I was in college, I took a seminar in which we had to describe the three things we really wanted to give our children. I don’t even remember the first two things I listed. Most likely something like “a roof” and “love”. But I remember the somewhat desperate feeling I had about the third thing – “a second language.” I knew even then that my horizons were limited by my monolingualism and it seemed daunting to dream of doing better for my own kids. As you can imagine, when Multicultural Kid Blogs offered up a book club on Bilingual is Better by Ana Flores and Roxana Soto, I jumped at the chance. I picked Chapter Two: Why Bilingual is Better. The discussion of Chapter 1 was sparked by a great post hosted by Spanish Playground. Read more
What’s your best family travel tip? What saved your last trip? What makes your kids really have a good time on a family vacation? What awesome kid-centric European destinations have you been to? What fun kid-friendly European activities have you discovered?
OK, OK, OK – we’re adding a destination to our new book. Everybody wants a travel destination with their travel tips so we’re going European this time – art museums, mountains, cultural icons, rural villages, bread and cheese, many languages, castles, history, beaches, music, famous rivers, East meets West, and more politics.
Share your suggestions for a great, educational, and fun European adventure with kids in the comments below! We’ll try to include it in our new book “100 Tips for Traveling with Kids in Europe.” If we do, we’ll include your first name and location so please tell us that information with your tip. You can also click “Read more” for a nifty giveaway!