Spring Inspiration

The weather is undoubtedly gorgeous this time of year. Step one foot out your front door, look around and it will hit you – spring,  that gorgeous, floral, awakening that arrives each year has fully delivered.  Longer light hours means more time to play, frolic and explore and Switzerland is the perfect place to come alive again after a long winter slumber.

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To get you motivated, we have created a quick list for a bit of inspiration.

Hike – In our humble opinion, there is no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with a good hike. Whether you are ultra ambitious or simply feel like a little stroll, Switzerland is the place to feast your eyes on incredible scenery and get your feet on the trails.  Lace up your boots and go with or without children!

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If you happen to own a TNW U-ABO, have a quick glance at the map and take advantage of the routes and destinations that ticket allows you to travel. We just enjoyed a fabulous hike through Frick and plan to explore other regions on the map in the near future.

For more hiking ideas, please see our previous spring hike series: One, Two & Three!

Day Trips – The glory of the day trip is the ability to retreat back to your space and sleep in your own bed after a full day of being away.  Plan for a trek no more than 2 hours in one direction for optimal pleasure!

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Plan the night before with train schedules, and bus connections, pack your day-pack, bring a picnic and enjoy the views.

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A few day treks we love include: Spiez, Biel, the Luzern area (Rigi, Stanserhorn, Pilatus) and Neuchatel.

The Merian Gärtens in Basel are rich with colors this time of the year, not to mention, lambs, baby chicks and bunnies.  Make your way to the gardens in early May to witness the wonder of the Iris Gardens in full bloom. You will be grateful for the experience and don’t forget to stop for a coffee at the beautiful outdoor cafe!

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The Monet Exhibit at the Beyeler Foundation – The grounds alone at the Foundation Beyeler are as impressive as the art inside, but those looking for a genuine experience from Claude Monet will thoroughly enjoy the current collection. The exhibit will take place until May 28, 2017 and is certainly worth the steep ticket cost for entry. Purchase the audio guide to gain additional insight on select paintings and to make your visit that much more informative.

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Birsköpfli – Situated along the Rhine, this area of Basel offers a true holiday feel.  With people grilling on the grass, games of soccer lurking in the background, swimmers enjoying the river, a nice playground, and the island, which is currently home to the World of Dinosaurs (think huge, life sized dinosaurs, a small play area and nice views). This location offers hours of enjoyment for the entire family.  On a nice day, pack a picnic, grab the family and enjoy this beach life atmosphere in Basel.

Enjoy!

Earth

Nature continues to show us just how small we are, even in the Swiss Alps, on peaks or no peaks, nature and the earth is greater than ourselves; we can only be considered guests.  Here is a view of the Lämmerenhütte (2501m) as viewed from Gemmipass on an early morning sunrise.  The receding Steghorngletscher reminds us of our impact.  We invite you to look here for more views and information about the trail towards Lämmerenhütte and Lämmerensee, additionally, here for an adjacent hike to the infamous Gemmipass.

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Lämmerenhütte

This post is part of the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

In the Alps #5

The “Into the Alps” photo series are snapshots from various trips we have taken in the Alps. Although the photos are primarily in black and white, they aim to show the natural beauty of the Alps in areas which may be of interest to others. We hope you enjoy this series and that you follow us to be a part of the updates.

This photo was taken above the town of Lenk, in the Simmental region of Switzerland.

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The Low Down on Family Travel

After eight years of international travel, we have made some pretty hefty rookie mistakes, I still cringe thinking about them. We have boarded flights after weeks in a dream destination only to gaze over at one another and mumble, what the hell just happened? No seriously, what – was – that???

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In an attempt to avoid frustration, save some cash and forgo a premature divorce, we have listed a few helpful tips to keep your family smiling on your next trek, wherever it may take you!

Hand Carry Luggage Whenever Possible

In our family, we all pack one backpack, which makes carrying easy and forces us to pack only those items that are necessary. By not having to stand in a line to check your bag, you not only save time on both ends, but in the event you have an accident on a plane, need a quick change of clothes, a game, or whatever, you are fortunate to have all of the necessary items on you.

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On the go…

 

I will be honest though; packing light in the winter is not always easy and might require you to pack more than just a backpack, so forgo the winter treks all together and wait for warmer weather! Just kidding, we know you love the powder.

Be Prepared – Anything and everything is possible when traveling. Be sure to have those important details on you such as: health insurance cards, emergency phone numbers, hotel/apartment contact details, rental car agreements, copies of your passport and your credit card(s), cash, foreign identity cards, medicine, and tell someone trust worthy where you are going, etc. Did I miss anything?

 

Be Strategic With Your Choice of Lodging – After moving every couple of days from hotel – to – hotel on a trip to Ireland, we realized not only did we feel unsettled, but so did our children. Soiled clothes packed into suitcases, different pillows beneath our heads each night, exhausted from packing and unpacking almost daily, we vowed to never again move from place – to – place on another vacation.

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Now we have a general rule of thumb. If we stay in a place for more than four or five days, we will rent a house or an apartment. A hotel is ideal for creating a relaxed experience where breakfast is served and dinners are readily available, however, after more than five days, we typically long for a bit of space. A house rental or apartment allows us the flexibility to cook our meals, play and linger in a yard, have more than one bedroom and simply spread out. We appreciate that on long haul journeys.

We book our house rentals through Airbnb or HomeAway.com. We have had great experiences with both websites and the homes we have rented. Be sure to see if the house if family friendly, with toys, games, safety locks and a yard available for children. Magic I tell you!

Have Snacks, Water, Plastic Bags, One Change of Clothes and Wipes Available At All Times – Through the years we have learned many things. Of that wisdom gained, was that children and adults alike get motion sick, will throw – up and ruin clothes, car seats and anything in the way in an instant.  Pack the gear below and good luck!

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Plastic Bags – Rough on the environment, so true, however amazing at containing bodily fluids! A plastic bag is ideal for containing not only vile bits, but also, dirty clothes, soiled rags, and other waste you would prefer to tie off with a knot and never have to deal with again.

Wipes – Wipes do wonders for removing smells and quickly spot cleaning dirty surfaces, including little and big bodies.  So go ahead and get yourself some wipes!

Fluid in the form of water – Water is perfect for quick cleans, and hydration. Always pack a bottle of water and be sure to keep it filled.

Grub – Snacks make cranky children that much happier and when trains, planes and other modes of transportation run late, there is nothing worse than having a hungry tummy. Pack some treats and calorie dense food (think trail mix, cheese and nuts, apples and peanut butter, etc) for the tough times and trust us, there will be tough times.

Clean Clothes – Clean clothes not only provide warmth, but they also provide dignity. There is nothing worse than being forced to walk around in soiled clothes, so always pack a clean change of clothes and keep them on you at all times. Make this change basic, a pair of pants, socks, underwear and a fresh t -shirt. This should be a staple for every member of the family…trust me on this one!

 

Entertainment  – If you are planning long train, plane or car travel, be prepared to entertain your children. If you are like our family watching movies in the car is not an option due to carsickness, but we have discovered the joy of podcasts, a playlist of our children’s favorite songs and car friendly games.

We also pack small blankets and tiny pillows, which are great for making our children comfy on long rides. Plus, sometimes when they sleep we get to enjoy quiet hours of adult chatter as we drive through incredible scenery.  What a treat!

Schedule Time Each Day For the Children to Play – Children need time to play, explore and relax, just like we do. Make time each day at a playground, a pool, a lake, the ocean and/or in a forest to allow your children to just be children. Children are less inclined to worry about seeing another cathedral, visit another museum and sit quietly in another restaurant, but they certainly want to splash in a pool, jump out and eat an ice cream. Those experiences will stay with them longer than a trinket filled museum.

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Less is More – It can be easy to feel ambitious when traveling, especially to a new destination. If you are like us, you take on the philosophy that this might be your last opportunity to visit a city, see that famous cathedral, take in that amazing museum, walk every street and soak up each and every magical moment – don’t. Seriously, do not!!!

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Duomo di Siena

The more you have on your list of items to check, the more miserable your family will become. Rather, set your sights on a couple of “must –sees” each day or for the duration of your trip and schedule in plenty of time to relax and play.

Remember you are on holiday and holidays are meant to be relaxing, not packed with travel agendas.

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First Aid Ready – Always, and I mean always, have a first aid kit available with everything from band-aids, to pain relief, to stomach medicine. On more than one occasion while traveling we have relied on our handy first aid kit. This makes your trip that much more enjoyable and safe by not having to travel to drug stores and fumble your way through asking and searching for the perfect medicine.

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Learn and Remember – If you find yourself coming off of a vacation that truly felt like a vacation, take notes. What made that trip so memorable? Did you have to fly, or were you able to drive? What time of year did you go on your trip? What was the main event each day? What did you eat, etc.?

It took us several years to realize that we as a family had outgrown sightseeing city trips. We are most happy at a beach, exploring new coves and sand all the while eating lots and lots of ice cream.

We also love anything that involves spending time in nature. We have found that our children thrive in the great outdoors, where they are free to roam, explore and collect things and we can watch without having to worry about them “behaving” in a museum, in a store, cathedral etc. Whew!

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Say Yes! – Holidays are meant to be fun. If your little ones want to visit an Ostrich farm, splash one more hour in a pool, skip a bath, or eat yet another piece of cake, just say yes. We all need time away from our regular routines where we allow the rules and the confines of our everyday lives to slip away.

Let the days linger and the nights light up with a starry sky.

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Have a great trip!