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Updated: Feb 19

 

We had talked about going on an all girls trip for years. And, in those years, we had moved away for school or work, we had gotten married and we had had kids. We're not sure how it finally came to fruition. Maybe the stars had aligned or maybe we were all at a point in our lives where we had done the shoulds and given due attention to our careers and families and were in need of some solid good ole girl time. This is often neglected but, I've always found how profoundly impactful it can be in both the immediate enjoyment and in the reverberations it has when I return to life. 

 

So, last May, 6 young women (a few were unable to make it) set out for Boulder, CO. The planning was impeccable and included a survey of questions that entailed where folks wanted to go, whether they wanted a girls only or family trip (overwhelming "girls only" was selected), a mountain or beach experience, 3 days or 4 and so on. We were in agreement for most of it, which was representative of our weekend as well. 

 

Most of us had not been to Boulder, had heard good things, and found it was the perfect place for an all girls trip. We were able to have all of our needs met and interests satisfied in one place.

 

We arrived from east and west coasts on a Thursday night, piled into a Turo rental (e.g. like an AirBNB for cars) and drove the hour to Louisville, CO (a small town not far from Boulder proper). We stayed at the loveliest airbnb with immaculate decor and just the right touch of hominess. It was a great space for our group.That weekend we slept very little, laughed a lot, ate a lot, had late nice dance parties or discussions, and left with our hearts full and few regrets. 

 

Whether you're considering Boulder for an all girls trip or a weekend getaway, it will not disappoint!

 

Top Things to Do

If you're not a winter sports enthusiast, the top things to do in Boulder are to eat great food, walk around Pearl Street, hike the Rocky Mountains, visit a spa, have a tea house experience, and plan to sing and dance.

 

Nightlife

Yes, the food and music scene is on point, especially if you like to eat healthy. Here are some of our top recommendations of where to to eat and where to party: 

 

Restaurants: Leaf, the Kitchen, Pizzeria Locale, Walnut Cafe, Moxie Bread Company

 

Entertainment: Outback Saloon (consistently voted Best Karaoke) and Dushnabe Tea House (this is an experience in and of itself) and The Dragontree Spa. 

 

Nature: You cannot leave without visiting the Rocky Mountains. Try the Chautauqua Trail!

Just make sure to do research and make reservations in advance as some of these trails book up.

 

How to get from the airport to Boulder

We rented a car because it's a long distance from Denver with no public transportation options, unless you're willing to take an expensive Lyft ride. Turo is a nice option.

 

Getting around 

Once you're in Boulder, you have Uber/Lyft and bicycles to choose from. You can take a Lyft to more popular spots and pretty easily walk around from there.  

 

Accommodation

Boulder is pricey so you'll find the same for hotels in the city. We rented a charming AirBnb in Louisville, which was a short 15 minute drive from Boulder. It was more affordable (though not inexpensive) and more accommodating to the experience we were looking for. 

 

Safety tips

As a group of women, we felt incredibly safe in Boulder. Given that it's a college town, you just want to exercise typical precautions if you're out late at night near bars and restaurants. It's not especially racially diverse so, if you are a person of color, you might feel uncomfortable as we first did at the karaoke bar. 

 

Final Thoughts

Boulder has it all from music and food to hiking and spas. It really has something for everything...though not at a cheap price. The folks there are also pretty laid pack so no need to dress up during the day.

 

Updated: Nov 25, 2018

 

Hawaii was on our bucket list but was a destination we had been putting off until we had kids. Challah's family had been inviting us for years but we always opted for something more adventurous and exotic. While we're glad we saved Hawaii for when we had baby SuDS, it was more interesting that we expected, which was humbling.

 

Here are our top 10 tips for venturing off the mainland:

 

1. Island Selection

Hawaii is made up of over 130 islands though only 6 are visited and each one has its own unique identity and theme. Since we were making the long and expensive trek from the east coast to Hawaii, we were determined to see more than one island while we were there. We joined our family in Maui for 5 days and then split off to enjoy Kauai for 5 days after hearing how it was rugged and untamed. If you have more than 5 days, try to check out more than 1 island. A good rule of thumb is to allot 5 days per island.

 

2. Travel

Traveling to the east coast from Hawaii takes as long as traveling from the east coast to Europe (and may be more expensive). We decided to lessen the impact a little by stopping in Los Angeles on both ends of the trip. It gave us chance to visit Challah's sister and break up the journey a little bit. Of course, this does cut into your time on the islands. Pack a bag of activities to occupy their time on the plane including some surprises. We found these decals to be great!

 

3. Time Change

The 6 hour time difference is no joke, especially when it comes to kids. You'll want to help them adjust by maintaining their routines as much as possible and keeping the first day you land somewhat light. Lack of sleep and interruption to regular meals can result in kids getting sick and no one wants to tend to a sick child on vacation.

 

4. Baby Gear

Hawaii, in general, is very baby friendly but that doesn't necessarily mean its stroller friendly everywhere you go. If you have a little one, make sure to pack a stroller and carrier. There are companies from which you rent these items and more such as a crib, highchair, beach toys, etc. Maui On the Fly is one such company.

 

5. Food

We found Hawaii to be vegetarian friendly so we did not have much trouble finding food though, obviously, fish is a big part of the diet, so something you want to check for, if you're a pure vegetarian. Fresh fruit is always an island highlight and salads are great to have when it's hot outside. You'll find some great restaurant recommendations mentioned on our YouTube channel, MonkeyPod in Maui being a highlight!

 

6. Planning

Now that we're traveling with a little one, we know to keep our expectations to a minimum because you never know if little one gets sick, is extra clingy in a new place, or there are other factors beyond your control. When we're planning and researching, we also like to make a short list of our must see's and must do's for that destination. For Hawaii, it was seeing dolphins, parasailing, learning more about Hawaiian culture, and hiking Mount Haleakala to see the sunrise. The first and last of these did not happen, unfortunately. We just couldn't make it happen having a toddler and had to add those to the regret list you have after a trip.

 

7. Lodging

We stayed in a resort in Maui and a VRBO rental in Kauai. Each has its pros and cons though we usually prefer to have our own place. The location of the Kaanapali Resort in Maui was great, the staff was nice, and the grounds were well maintained. They boast being the oldest authentically Hawaiian hotel. However, the whole resort experience does feel a bit uncomfortable. In Kauai, our rental was off a lagoon, we made some of our meals and were always able to make breakfast for baby SuDS in the home before heading out.

 

8. Culture

We were delighted to see how much of Hawaiian culture had been preserved and not appropriated though we did see that as well. Meeting native Hawaiians who still spoke their language and practiced their customs was such a neat experience! It was interesting to learn how similar Hawaiian culture was to that of Asian cultures, which makes sense since most Hawaiians are Polynesian descedants.

 

9. Language

As we mention before and will mention again, learn some words in the local language. It will enrich your life, grow baby's brain, and, most importantly, show a sign of respect to the people who call your vacation spot their home. Learning the real meaning of Aloha from natives gave so much more meaning to a word that many of us came to believe meant a simple hello or welcome.

 

10. Maximize Time

The great thing about being on an island is that there is free, built in, endless fun for kids. Lazy time on the beach is a great way to entertain kids and have some downtime for the parents. Beach time or nap time can also be an opportunity for one parent to escape to pursue an activity or passion of their choice. While baby SuDS slept one afternoon, we were able to take turns going for a bike ride and stand-up paddle boarding.

 

 

 

Updated: Feb 26

Stunning landscapes, incredible history, and safe-to-travel-to countries, add the Balkans to your must-visit list!

 

 

Naan first heard about the beauty of #Croatia in 2009 when a colleague who was going there for his honeymoon said "who knew the former Yugoslavia was so beautiful?" She googled pictures at the time and was enamored. It would definitely be on the bucket list. Since then a couple friends had visited but it was largely still a secret destination. So, when it came time to take our first trip with Baby SuDS it was one of top choices given its beauty, safety, and ease of traveling with baby. It was the perfect choice!

“Who knew the former Yugoslavia was so beautiful?!"

 

We flew into Zagreb, Croatia rented a car and drove to Slovenia. Here is our itinerary:

 

Day 1: Zagreb, Croatia

Day 2: Ljubliana, Slovenia (then stopped in Lake Bohinj)

Day 3: Lake Bled, Slovenia (then stopped in Predjama Castle and Postjana Caves)

Day 5: Rovinj, Croatia

Day 7: Lake Plitvices,Croatia

Day 8: Split, Croatia

Day 9: Hvar, Croatia

Day 11: Mostar, Bosnia

Day 13: Dubrovnik, Croatia

 

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We flew into #Zagreb and out of #Dubrovnik so you'll want to align the car rental accordingly.

 

Top 10 Tips for Traveling to the Balkans:

 

1. Pack A Carrier AND a Stroller:

You’ll find exploring in some places is easier with a carrier, as we discovered in the breattaking #Plitvices Natonal Park, and in some places a stroller is preferred like the coastal town of Split. Baby SuDS was 25 pounds so carrying her in the carrier for long periods of time was hard on our hips and back. It’s also not super comfortable for the baby (have you ever seen a toddler walking like a cowboy?). We did A LOT of walking, as is expected when you travel, so it was nice to plop her in the stroller even though our #Chicco stroller seemed ill-equipped to handle the cobble stone streets in #Mostar, #Rovinj, and #Dubrovnik. You'll definitely need one with 4 wheel drive!

 

2. Bring Some Comfort Food.

We learned in advance that the Balkans are not super vegetarian friendly. Naan can adjust to that and always manages to find something but we were not sure baby SuDS could do the same. We were primarily on a pizza and pasta diet for much of the time (yes, that too can get old) so it was nice to have some comfort food for her. Naan transferred her boxed baby cereal into ziploc bags so all we needed to do was add hot water. We would make that for her for breakfast every morning so we were also saving some money. We also packed a ziploc bag of dry rice and yellow lentils with smaller bags of salt and turmeric. Every couple of nights, Naan would make her kichadi (a Gujarati comfort food) and sometimes even pack it for a long day of travel. It was great to know she had warm, nourishing food as often as she wanted. Once her tummy was full for dinner, we could venture out in search of a good restaurant that could accommodate us and not worry about it getting too late and having her hanger rear it's ugly head.

 

3. Pack Light

When Naan & Challah went our 30 day, 8 country, 26 city honeymoon through western Europe, we each had packed only 1 carryon bag! We were so happy we did. We traveled on the Eurorail between countries and found ourselves often running to catch trains and buses. They also don’t have as many escalators as they do in America so climbing train station stairs or stairs to our lodging with a lot of luggage was not our idea of fun. Besides, Challah was carrying both of them many times anyway. With a child, packing light is more difficult given all the things they need. We still managed to do okay. We had 1 medium sized checked bag and 1 carry-on. We also had the stroller and carseat. There wasn't as much running for trains or buses but it was helpful when our lodging was four flights up in a building with no elevator.

 

4. Plan for and Expect Sickness

Most parents by now know this all too well. We had an ambitious itinerary of 9 cities in 15 days and baby SuDS was a trooper! However, she had a super sensitive stomach since she turned 1 and periodic vomiting was unfortunately a part of our life. This did not go away on vacation. She threw up a few times on the speedy catamaran to and from Split to Hvar on a day of a rough seas and on the car ride to the Positana Caves and Plitvices National Park.  She was suffering from seasickness and motion sickness. Having vomit bags to try to catch it, garbage bags to put soiled clothes in, and an extra pair of clothes was clutch. She also got a stomach bug in Mostar but some homemade mint tea from the host family cured her in a matter of a few hours! We gave her ginger juice before long rides to prevent the motion sickness. In hindsight, a homeopathic motion sickness remedy might have been helpful.

 

5.  Pack for Different Temperatures

During our early September trip, we experienced different climates and temperatures from Dubrovnik hot to Plitvices cold. Having options to layer was helpful and we definitely needed rain gear. Umbrellas can be difficult to manage with a child so a poncho would've been helpful. Otherwise, pack hoodies/ sweater, shawl for the ladies, sunblock, sunglasses, and sunhat.

 

6. Prepare for Smoking

Smoking is very much ubiquitous in the Balkans. It seemed like everyone smoked from the young to elders, men, women, various socio economic levels. this can be difficult when you're standing in line or having a picnic. You don't want to say anything since it's a cultural norm but also don't want to subject a child to so much toxicity so you might have to move around a lot.

 

7.  Learn the Language

Like most trips, we learned some words in the local language(s) to use while we were there. Our research revealed that many people spoke English, which was disappointing, as we wanted to be pushed to have to learn the language to communicate.

 

8. Airbnb

This was our first time using AirBnB internationally. We were definitely nervous about it but it was one of the best decisions of the trip. Aside from being more affordable, it allowed us to cook meals for baby SuDS, go back easily for nap time, and meet locals. At our first stop in Zagreb, my daughter was playing with the daughter of our host. They couldn't communicate but since when is language necessary to play! However, when you book, look for a place with a nice view, with a balcony or patio so that when the baby is sleeping, your fun doesn't have to end.

 

9.  Pack a Picnic or Get Takeout

While we love traveling, eating out can get old quickly. And eating out with a toddler can be tiresome. Sometimes it was nice to just get a few ingredients for sandwiches for lunch on Lake Bled or getting pizza to eat on the pier in Split instead of sitting in a restaurant expecting baby SuDS to be still for an hour.

 

10.  Adjust Expectations

Our itinerary was ambitious and baby SuDS was a trooper, given it was her first international trip, but we were not traveling like we did when it was just the two of us. There was time we had to honor for her sleeping and eating, which was necessary for us all to have an enjoyable time. Of course, it was exhausting and stressful, at times, but seeing her running the cobble stone roads of Roman Emperor, Diocletian's palace or saying "Doberdan" (thank you) on the Turkish Airlines flight home made it all worth it.