2014-01-03 – Dark Room

After our survey of 40 or so hotels it is clear that very few aim to please afternoon nappers. We’ve found that it is quite essential to have the room dark if there is any chance the girls will sleep. In a couple of the rooms we have been able to achieve this but most of the time it is a bit of a process to try and block all the afternoon light. What is the point of having decorative doilies hanging from curtain rods anyway? If you are going to hang something over a window I want it industrial thick and black.

2014-03-08 – A recipe for disaster?

The idea of world travelling for 3 months with two toddlers might just be a death sentence. Really what’s the point in wasting good time and money when everything will be a lot harder to enjoy? I guess we can only answer that question through experimentation. We’ll post here our worst and best moments of dragging toddlers across the Middle East and Balkans.

2014-03-11 – Downsize After day 1

It is obvious that long term travel isn’t going to work if it means carrying 50kg of stuff everywhere. After our first day we shed a few pounds – ripping blankets in half combining stuff throwing out extras losing some clothes etc…

2014-03-13 – Games with free stuff

Again it is just not possible to do a long backpacking trip and carry a bunch of extra stuff – like kid’s activities. Instead it is highly recommended to make up creative games with free crap you can find along the way.

2014-03-16 – I Smell Something

We rented a car. The kids are not used to cars. From the back Aya keeps saying ‘I like motos and trains not cars’. The other thing she keeps saying over and over again is ‘I smell something’. Literally every time the car decelerates or turns sharply. We think this has something to do with motion sickness but not entirely sure.

2014-03-19 – Whites

Now that we’ve been on the road a couple weeks without visiting a laundromat (only sink washing) we’ve realized that it’s a terrible idea to travel with any white clothing – especially kids white clothing. All of it is quite unpresentable and has been discarded.

2014-03-20 – Bus Pee Pee

We timed our bus ride from Tiberius to Jerusalem perfectly for nap time got on the bus and all passed out (Arwen on Amie Aya on Steve). Not too long after I started feeling a warm sensation below the belt. Peeing yourself is one thing but having another pee on top of you is up a notch in travel suffering. Aya ended up sleeping so long that her pants mostly dried. She thought it was only me that peed myself. To top it off we couldn’t get into our hotel until 7PM so I wore pee pants around for the majority of the day.

2014-03-21 – Kid Food

When constantly on the move it is difficult to keep kids (healthily) fed. They eat more often and don’t like lots of the new foods we keep running into. The easiest thing to do is buy snacks and junk food along the way and they are just thrilled to fill up on that. This isn’t the greatest idea so we’ve started carrying around tupperwear. It seems common for middle-eastern hotels to always include breakfast so we’ve been saving bits from that to feed to the kids throughout the day. Aside from that they’ve been eating pickins off our plates and we have a few things like a jar of peanut butter – one smear makes whatever it goes on a little less foreign.

2014-03-23 – Laundry

It seems everyone is charging laundry service ‘per piece’. This is just ridiculous when considering kids clothes. That doesn’t change the fact that kids clothes get dirty so fast and we only have a few for each kid. So we’re stuck with hand-washing kids clothes every evening in the sink then finding some way to dry them on the fly. Last night in Jerusalem we scored a hotel with a tub – that was pretty awesome.

2014-03-25 – Kids Parks

It’s essential to find time for kids parks along the journey. Kids really don’t care about ruins temples hiking or any other tourism sites. This one park in suburban Nazareth was a good find.

2014-03-27 – No Cribs

None of the hotels we’ve stayed in so far have had cribs as was expected. Definitely we’re not planning on paying extra for one even if it was available. This is a new experience for the kids both of whom have not slept outside cribs before the trip. This night in Jerusalem we had a hotel with 3 beds so Aya got an upgrade from the floor. Unfortunately she hasn’t figured out bed sleeping etiquette nor figured out that blankets are useful in cooler countries.

2014-03-30 – Stranger Gifts

Time for a bonus of travelling with kids. The people in Jordan are quite possibly the nicest people on earth. They definitely like the girls and especially Aya. We can’t leave a store without the shopkeeper handing Aya a piece of gum or a toy. This one older guy we kept running into was completely smitten by Aya and bought her 3 chocolate bars and a mix bag of candy.

2014-04-01 – Drying Kid Clothes

It doesn’t get more bush than hanging kid clothes in the car while we visit sites but it just does not make economic sense to have kids clothes washed. One place we asked at said $1.5 per piece. I asked if this was true for a kid’s shirt and this was indeed the case.

2014-04-04 – Makeshift Kid Beds

We haven’t paid for a family room yet and haven’t yet had a cot or kids bed included with any room. Therefore every new hotel brings a new adventure in assembling kid beds. We do have a kid’s tent along but Arwen hasn’t spent a full night in it yet. She always mysteriously wakes up in our bed by morning for some reason. We’ve been pretty proud of Aya sleeping in a corner on whatever we can find. One night there were no extra blankets so I put mine on the floor for Aya and nearly froze without a cover.

2014-04-09 – Baby Bits

Kids with picky diets makes travelling difficult. Aya fits this definition having not eating a vegetable or fruit for the last year and a half. We’ve got her to try a few different things from the local cuisine. So far she’ll occasionally stick her finger in some hummus and give it a lick and sometimes she’ll eat a falafel or two. Aside from that what’s saved us has been to make sure we always hae a small jar of peanut butter and a box of cereal on hand (two things she’ll always eat). Arwen on the other hand has been a little trooper. We’ve cut up every meal no matter how exotic into little bits and she’s shovelled them all in without objection.

2014-04-11 – The Essentials

As with any backpacking adventure carrying as little as possible makes life a lot easier. This is difficult travelling with two children but I’m convinced that it is possible without any extra kids stuff (aside from clothing). Having said that there are a couple things that have been very helpful – kids cups bibs and a food container. Not essential but makes life a bit easier. We’re also lugging around a stroller and haven’t decided whether or not it’s worth it. So far it has made a nice cart to haul our backpacks around but we might ditch it soon regardless.

2014-04-13 – Taking Turns

The kids missed naps and went to sleep in the evening much sooner than normal. We’re in an idyllic location and can finally enjoy a supper alone. Of course our room is quite far from the dining area so we still have to take turns every 15 minutes making sure everything is quiet.

2014-04-16 – Eating on the Run

The kids get hungry a lot more often than us. Luckily we’ve been carrying around a few easy things that are quick to prepare. Aya’s favourite by far (she would eat every meal if possible) is cereal. At one notable lookout over a magnificent castle she was quite happy to sit on the steps and enyou a bowl or two. The location doesn’t matter so much to her as long as there is enough milk for seconds.

2014-04-19 – Cave Poo

Kids seem to always have to ‘go’ when a potty is far from available. Like today in Cappadocia exploring ancient cave ruins. Then there were these perfect depressions in one cave perfect for a kid bum. While I stood lookout for approaching tourists Aya sat down for one of her lengthy sessions. Of course I scooped it up with a leaf and tossed it off a nearby cliff… I know what you were thinking.

2014-04-21 – New Abilities

We’re travelling and it’s the fastest learning curve the kids have ever had. Mommy and daddy are around 24-7 to teach language backpacking history and a wide variety of other skills. Aya’s language has exploded Arwen is just walking now at 11 months.

2014-04-25 – Losing Stuff

We’re half done our travels and we’ve already lost or forgotten a bunch of stuff en route. In some cases it’s good forced downsizing but often it’s stuff that will need replacing along the way. Aya’s stuffed camel sunglasses earrings stroller kid’s cup two different food containers lip balm pacifier and the list continues to grow…

2014-04-28 – Helping themselves

If the kids can help each other in any way it helps a lot. Arwen is able to hold her own a bit more and will snarl back at Aya’s ruff-housing. Aya can even feed Arwen although it makes a considerable mess.

2014-04-30 – Repairs

Our stuff is getting destroyed. We have just a few clothes and possessions and everything is wearing out. Some of the stuff will be tossed soon anyway so it’s not worth replacing. I cut another chunk off the cloud blanket (it’s real small now) and sewed it into the bottom of the black kid’s carrier which had worn completely through.

2014-05-03 – Overnight Bus

Overnight buses are hell. With kids they are that and worse. Avoid them at all cost. Unfortunately when trains are not available and flying is expensive or a hassle it’s the only choice. Our bus left Cappadocia at a reasonable hour – 7:30PM. A bus attendant spritzed the aisles with a fragrant blast and then proceeded to squeeze far too much hand sanitizer into everyone’s hands before returning to other annoying tasks and unwanted jokes in Turkish that we didn’t understand anyway. It got hot and we started to sweat. The kids started crying back and forth. Aya would stop after 10 minutes and Arwen would pick up for another verse. The temperature gauge at the front of the bus said 7’C which makes me wonder why I need to be sweating. Barely out of town it seemed at 9PM we stop for a late supper. Bright lights blast on and the bus turns off. We hurriedly try to cover the kids eyes and mimic soothing engine sounds. Oh and we’re at the back of the bus where the seats don’t recline just to make completely sure we don’t sleep all night. 3:30AM – maybe caught half an hour here or there of neck craning back breaking uncomfortable sleep. Bus stops lights blare on again waking everyone and the kids up for a bathroom break. No one goes to the WC because it’s freaking 3:30AM. At the similarly ungodly hour of 4:30 we switch to a minibus for a half an hour ride to our destination of Pamukkale to be deposited on the roadside before sunup. Never again!

2014-05-05 – iPad

I don’t know how families travelled before the invention of the iPad. Anytime it is necessary to ‘turn off’ Aya for a while like when she wakes up early when the bus ride is too long or she is in a terrible mood the iPad is essential. I’m sure it’s terrible parenting but on the road 100% of the time with kids I don’t see another solution.

2014-05-08 – Overnight Train

Overnight trains win hands down over overnight buses. The train from Sofia to Belgrade was especially pleasant. Not only did no one else join us in the 6 person berth border control visited us on the train so there was no need to check our bags or visit border posts and best of all the kids slept through it.

2014-05-10 – Extra bed

We’ve been a little sneaky about booking hotel rooms in advance through the internet. We often just say it’s for 2 people and then show up at the door with 2 unexpected wild children. If you try to book online saying you have 2 kids there is usually an extra charge or you get bumped up to a larger room. Nearly every time we show up at a hotel we are met with smiles and three quarters of the time we are upgraded to a bigger room or given a cot at no extra charge. This is definitely a bonus and one that would not normally happen with more expensive accommodation or in more developed countries.

2014-05-12 – Back for Nap

One concern about travelling with small children is nap time. Actually it is pretty much all we think about since missing an afternoon nap is a death sentence for our evening sanity. We’ve done well achieving at least two thirds of our naps in hotel rooms. Most others have been in car seats or on buses or trains. A couple terrible ones happened in hiking kids carriers but only two or three were missed entirely. This definitely sets us apart from other travellers having to smartly structure every day often running at the last minute getting completely stressed out and collapsing by 8PM from exhaustion.

2014-05-14 – Makeshift Tubs

We’ve only scored 3 or 4 tubs in over two months of travelling. Kids need to bath though so luckily there are alternatives. Quite a few of the Balkans have showers with a bit of a lip around the edge – perfect for a kids bath (or laundry).

2014-05-16 – Creepy Night Knocker

It’s 12:58AM and we are of course completely asleep when Aya wakes up in a zombie howl – I want water! I don’t want water! One more song! I’m so sick! Waaaaaaaaa. Just as it’s calming down there’s a knock at our door. \”Open the door!\” a man’s voice says. Startled we don’t do anything. Oh and we’re in a creepy hostel in Kosovo where everybody has probably killed someone. This follows with more knocking – \”Sir open the door open the door!.\” Aya was still quite loud but the only thought in my mind was that there was no way on earth I was opening the door. After the guy gave up we giggled as to what the guy would have actually said. \”Um sir I’ve been up late and am just heading to bed. Did you realize that your child is crying? Please turn her off immediately!\”

2014-05-17 – Bus Barf

Aya plays a lot of iPad because we go on a lot of buses and trains. Luckily on our whole trip she only barfed once. We weren’t expecting it and didn’t have a change of clothes. We probably broke more than one cultural taboo arriving at a crowded bus station with a kid running around in only underwear.

2014-05-19 – Weird repairs

There are some things that just aren’t worth replacing late in the trip. I’ve fixed the kids carrier so many times that it is starting to look like a something a hobo would carry around.

2014-05-23 – Turning Into Bums

After travelling for a couple months you start to take on new peculiar routines that are only possible after living out of a bag for too long. There is something about moving on every other day that makes you start living increasingly more uncivilized.

2014-05-23 – Birthdays on the Run

It’s a little sad having birthdays with no friends on the run. Aya tuned 3 a couple weeks ago and we had some cake in a weird Bosnian park where our little celebration was broken up by someone begging for change. Arwen’s was free from interruption but pushed back a bit late after a long day of Macedonian sightseeing.

2014-05-24 – Travel delays

Delays are annoying even without kids. Everything went well in Skopje until we woke our sweetly sleeping babies up at 4:30 to catch a stupid 5:05 train. We arrive on time and wait. I had walked a second time to the train station the night before to triple check the time. We watch the sun come up. TV monitor says train at 5:05 then is removed entirely with nothing in the delay column. After it’s definitely not just late I go to the ticket counter again and show my 5:05 ticket. Train comes at 6:50 says the agent. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

2014-05-25 – Travel Weariness

Two months is about the time when travel weariness sets in. We’re lucky that it didn’t hit sooner travelling with two kids. Leaving lunch and the DSLR on the roof of the car before driving off could happen anywhere and anytime but things like this seem to be occurring ever more frequent.

2014-05-26 – Checkin Checkout

Checkout times were not designed with kids naps in mind. They always want you out just before nap time. Checkins are often scheduled for just after nap time. This has been a huge headache but we’ve lucked out most of the time with checkins often getting a room at 10 or 11 in the morning. Other times we are tensely waiting in the lobby for the second we can dash into the room. Then there are the days in transit when there is no room at all like today when nap time happened in a questionable Thessaloniki park just outside the train station. Luckily I only got asked for spare cigarettes.

2014-05-29 – Too Much Time

In all of our 9 years of marriage we have not spent this much time together. Trips measured in the months could easily be a recipe for divorce for some. You start to have those days where even the most insignificant things become priority. Like the series of days where nothing was more important than purchasing a new hairbrush.
2014-06-02 – Embarassing Laundry Ephisode You realize how low class you have become when housekeeping finds your laundry soaking in the sink. Luckily this one day in Athens they felt our pain and left us a washbasin along with a cup of detergent. Score!

2014-06-07 – Forget England

There is really no point in travelling England with babies unless you want to waste your money. The short answer is that it is better value to go anywhere else. The long answer is that UK health and safety says when you book a hotel room it must have enough beds to sleep every family member. That’s right if you have 2 kids you need 2 beds for them and adult size ones if there are no cribs available. Having enough beds is the law even if a kid is likely too roll off in the night. Of course this doubles the already ridiculously expensive hotel rooms for those not on the British Pound. It’s not easy to even find a hostel under $100. None of the other 15 countries we visited had any problem with letting kids sleep on the floor (where they preferred it best anyway).

2014-06-09 – Losing Stuff (pt 2)

Despite our best efforts we continue to lose stuff on our travels. It definitely has a lot to do with packing up and moving to a new destination every other day. Since the last round of lost stuff it was the iPhone cover first then a hat then aya’s sweatshirt a baby bottle camera battery then the camera itself a nice scarf mittens a hairbrush sippy cup and a tripod. Basically don’t carry anything travelling that isn’t replaceable.;