Helsinki Travelogue | Part 2

Helsinki Travelogue Part 2 | Sycamore Street Press

HELSINKI, FINLAND

SUOMENLINNA:

On a chilly morning at the end of last October, Kirk, Ingrid, and I waited on the edge of the Helsinki harbor for a ferry to arrive. Pregnant and tired, I decided to squeeze onto a bench in the middle of a bunch of chatty kids who were on their way to school. They must have been among the 800 or so year-round residents of Suomenlinna, the 18th century island fortress turned UNESCO World Heritage Site where we were headed.  It’s hard to imagine a more magical place to grow up.

Rugged old sailers were working to dry dock all the ships for winter. I imagined my little family spending a summer in one of these charming specimens. A dream!

As you can see, the streets and walkways were mainly paved with stones. Beautiful (just look at that herringbone pattern!) but not very stroller friendly. There is a wheelchair accessible map you can pick up to help you find the easiest route, but if you’ve got a little one, I’d recommend using a carrier instead of a stroller.

Once we left the docks, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, with the occasional cameo by another tourist or resident. We wandered through tunnels, down cobblestone lanes lined with charming homes, and over grassy bunkers.

Ending up at the edge of the island, we took in this spectacular view while the wind whipped around us. It felt like we were at the end of the earth.

Before getting back on the ferry, we stopped in at the cozy Suomenlinna Brewery Restaurant for a late lunch. Wild mushroom risotto, salmon soup (a big Finnish tradition), a sampling of local cheeses, and hot chocolate. Delicious.

Stay tuned for the Helsinki Travelogue, Part 3. (Don’t worry, I think that might be the last installment.) In the mean time, check out Helsinki Travelogue, Part 1 if you missed it.

You might also like Visiting a Swedish Food Hall, Stockholm’s Skansen, and Five Scandinavian Favorites by Brittany Watson Jeppson.

Helsinki Travelogue | Part 1

Helsinki Travelogue Part 1 by Eva Jorgensen of Sycamore Street Press

HELSINKI, FINLAND

THE BACKGROUND:

Before our trip, when we were trying to explain it to Ingrid, we’d tell her that we were going to take an airplane across the ocean to Stockholm, Helsinki, and Paris. And whenever we’d ask her where we were going, she’d shout, “Helsinki!”, having forgotten the other two. Let’s face it, “Helsinki” is the most fun to say. But it also has a lot of other great things going for it: Marimekko, Alvar Aalto, great seafood and chocolate, fewer tourists, outdoor markets, a pedestrian friendly downtown, and did I mention Marimekko?

Kirk and I used Rick Steves guide books back in ’05 when we backpacked across Europe together, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. They’re great when it comes to nailing down the nuts and bolts of a trip: transportation, museums & monuments, background info, etc…  Since we only had about 2 1/2 days in Helsinki, we decided to take the public tram route that he recommends. It passes by several of the main monuments, and is a fraction of a cost of the touristy hop on-hop off buses that take you along a similar route. Since we were with traveling with a toddler, we decided to narrow our focus and pick two places where we’d get off and spend more time looking around: the Sibelius Monument and the Temppeliaukio Kirkko (Church of the Rock).

THE MONUMENT:

The Sibelius Monument is named for a famous Finnish composer. I’ll be honest — I was not familiar with him before our trip. But the monument is a huge, striking sculpture located in a beautiful park with a view. If you take one of the tourist buses, you get dropped off right in front of it and have about 5 minutes to hop out, take a photo with all the other tourists, and get back in. (We know, because we saw about three groups come through and repeat this while we were there.) But if you take the tram, you get to walk down shaded paths through the park until you reach the monument, and then you get to have it to yourself in between bus groups. Or at least, we did. If we did it again, I’d plan for a picnic in the park at the same time, to fully take advantage of this lovely spot. And for those of you with kids, there’s a nice little playground just a few steps away from the monument.

THE CHURCH:

Next stop: the Temppeliaukio Kirkko or Church of the Rock. It’s an incredible modern building that’s carved out of solid rock with a copper roof. These photos do it no justice whatsoever, of course. I hear the acoustics are amazing, so if I were to go back, I’d plan it around a performance.

THE CRUISE:

Now, I feel like I should backtrack a little and explain how we got to Helsinki from Stockholm. We used points for all our airfare and our hotels on this trip, but Rick Steves “told us” that the overnight cruise was a great deal and experience, so who are we to argue!? And yes, when you consider you are getting a night’s lodging as well as your fare between the two cities, it is a good use of your travel budget. There are two competing lines to choose from – Silja, which is known for being a bit nicer and a bit pricier, and Viking, which has a party reputation. We decided it was worth paying a little bit more to avoid a bunch of drunken teenagers, so we chose the former.

We boarded in the early evening, and let Ingrid play in the kids’ playroom until the boat took off. (It was hard to pull her away… very fun place.) Then we headed over to the dining room for the smorgasbord. (Reservations required.) I’m normally not a big fan of all-you-can-eat buffets because I feel like the quality of food suffers. And guess what!? The same was true for this one, wah wah. But I still don’t regret the decision, because it did let us try a lot of traditional Scandinavian foods that we wouldn’t have otherwise. After dinner, we headed up to the deck to get a glimpse of the Stockholm archipelago in the last of the evening light. Beautiful, but did I mention that we were doing this in late October? We didn’t last long out on that freezing deck, but we did have it to ourselves! Next we headed downstairs for some duty-free shopping. Apparently, some people take this cruise for the sole purpose of buying alcohol and other goods tax-free. We loaded up on European candies and treats to share with family back home. (Although not much of it made it that far… whoops.) Then we headed up to our cabin, which had just enough floorspace to squeeze in Ingrid’s travel toddle tent. The following morning, we were just finishing up breakfast when the ship docked. Perfect timing.

I’ll work on getting the next installment of our time in Helsinki up by next week, if possible. In the mean time, you might like our favorite museums in Stockholm, traveling abroad with a toddler, and  10 Hip Swedish shops. – Eva

 

10 Hip Swedish Shops

hip-swedish-shops-sodermalm-stockholm-sycamore-street-press-1

I could have also called this post “A Mini-Travel Guide to the Södermalm Neighborhood in Stockholm, Sweden”. Because you can find every single one of these shops there. (As well as online.)  Kirk, Ingrid, and I stayed in this hip neighborhood when we were in Stockholm last fall. And even though we are not so hip, we loved it. So many interesting streets to explore! I came armed with recommendations from friends, acquaintances, and online sources, which was very helpful. (Thank you!) But we also just stumbled across some of these in our wanderings… there seemed to be fun little places around every corner.

Here are the ten shops that I loved best (in no particular order):

1) Paper Cut – The best selection of magazines I have ever seen in my life. Everything from Lucky Peach to Apartamento to Kinfolk. Plus plenty more that I had never heard of before but looked amazing. Krukmakargatan 24-26, Stockholm (Södermalm)

2) Grandpa – I had seen this shop buzzed about in several different places across the interwebs, and for good reason. In our fantasy world, Kirk and I would have each bought an entire wardrobe here. And the collection of vintage furniture and home goods? Perfect. Södermannagatan 21, Stockholm (Södermalm)

3) Coctail – On a grey day, this shop cheered me right up with its explosion of color. Turquoise, chartreuse, hot pink, canary yellow… it’s not for the timid. Lots of fun little gifts and tchotchkes. Bondegatan 34, Stockholm (Södermalm)

4) Pet Sounds – A legendary underground Swedish record shop named after one of the best albums ever. What’s not to love? Skånegatan 53, Stockholm (Södermalm)

5) Mini Rodini – This quirky children’s brand is all over Pinterest these days, and for good reason. Their designs walk that fine line of being playful and childlike but not cutesy. Nytorgsgatan 36, Stockholm (Södermalm)

6) Nytorget Urban Deli & Bageriet Urban Deli – These two places are just a few blocks from each other and share the same owners. The first is a small market attached to a cafe. The second is a small bakery / coffee shop. Both sell fresh, seasonal, often local food. We couldn’t get enough and stopped in several times during our week in Stockholm. Nytorget 4 and Skånegatan 76, Stockholm (Södermalm)

Not pictured:

7) Konst-Ig – Beautiful selection of art and design books. Åsögatan 124, Stockholm (Södermalm)

8) Nitty Gritty – Clean-lined, stylish clothes for men and women sold in shop done in that minimal style that the Swedes do so well. Eye candy! Krukmakargatan 26, Stockholm (Södermalm)

9) Parlans Confectioneries – I had never heard of this place, but popped in after seeing their beautiful signage while walking down the street. The interior looks like it comes straight out of another time and place. So well done. And the buttery caramels are absolutely delicious. Nytorgsgatan 38, Stockholm (Södermalm)

10) Uniforms for the Dedicated – The first brick and mortar store for this Swedish line of clothing just opened a month before we visited. I love the clothes as well as the line of chairs they make from local reclaimed wood. Krukmakargatan 24, Stockholm (Södermalm)

This list only scratches the surface of the wonderful places in this neighborhood. Feel free to leave a comment and chime in! – Eva

Photo of Mini Rodini shop courtesy of their website. 

Toddler Travel | 8 Helpful Items That You Might Forget To Pack

Toddler Travel Items You Might Forget To Pack | Sycamore Street Press

In Toddler Travel, I share what I’ve learned through my own experiences in the U.S and Europe with my daughter, as well as tips from friends and other trusted sources. – Eva

This is not a comprehensive packing list for traveling with a toddler. Instead, this is an edited list of items that Kirk and I take on trips with Ingrid to make life easier. Not the most obvious things like plenty of diapers, socks, and snacks. This is the stuff that — if you are a new, slightly scatterbrained parent like myself — might not be as obvious to bring.

Tent Bed – These are MUCH smaller and lighter weight than a pack and play. Plus, Ingrid thinks it’s a fun little fort and she can’t climb out of it. (FYI: There was a big recall of these last fall. Please research to find out if they’re right for you. Not for babies under the age of 1.)

White Noise Machine or App – Not only for the kid! You never know how noisy the hotel / apartment you’re staying in will be… this really came in handy for us.

New Toy (or two) – Get something you know they will LOVE and will keep them occupied while riding in the stroller, waiting for you to get ready in the morning, etc… Make sure that it’s small and lightweight. We gave Ingrid a Pippi Longstocking doll on the first day of the trip, and a little set of Hello Kitty figures towards the end. Lifesavers.

Kid Travel Neck Pillow – If your toddler loves sleeping with a pillow as much as ours does, this little guy might do the trick. Ingrid loved that it looked like a horse, and we loved how small and packable it was. She happily slept with it every night and often requested to take it with her in the stroller during the day.

Wrap Strap – There aren’t high chairs everywhere, so if you have a really wiggly little one (like we do) you can keep them securely in their seat with this convenient velcro strap. I actually keep this in our diaper bag at all times, and it’s surprising how often we end up using it.

Disposable Bibs – We use cloth bibs at home, but my sister gave me the idea of using disposables when traveling. We just throw a few into our bag each day, and off we go. It’s nice to be able to just use one and then toss it. Eating with a toddler while roaming around a big city can be challenging, so these help make it a little easier.

Laundry Kit – For a longer trip, you’ll probably need to do laundry if you’re trying to travel light. Laundromats can be hard to find, hotel laundry fees are crazy expensive, and washing machines in foreign countries are difficult to figure out (at least for me, ha ha). We brought this twisty clothesline and individual packets of laundry soap.

Dishwashing Kit – If you’re staying in a hotel, you’ll want this to keep your water bottles (we used this collapsable kind for traveling) and toddler cups clean. A sponge cut in half, a small bottle of dishsoap — and if your kid uses the kind of sippy cup with a straw — a tiny brush should do the trick. (Thanks for the idea, Meredith!)

Rain Gear – I don’t know about you, but this is something that I often forget to pack. And if you’ll be traveling in a place that is at all prone to rain, you’ll be very sorry if you don’t bring it. Our last trip was to Northern Europe in the fall, so rain gear was a must. For us, this meant a small travel umbrella for me, a hoodie for Kirk, a rain cover for the stroller, and a water repellent coat for Ingrid. We also ended up getting her a pair of rain pants and rain boots while we were there.

Of course, every child and situation is different, and what worked for us may not work for you. But I hope this may be of some help if you are planning a trip with a little one. If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them in the comments section. Thanks! – Eva

Some related posts:

Flying With A Toddler

+ Where to Stay With a Toddler

+ Tips on Taking Time Off For The Self-Employed

Our Favorite Museums in Stockholm

Our Favorite Museums in Stockholm | Sycamore Street Press

If you love travel (and dreaming of travel) as much as I do, this blog series is for you.  – E 

To be honest, these 6 museums are the only ones Kirk, Ingrid, and I visited in Stockholm. But we were blown away by the quality of of each and every one! (And this is coming from a family who doesn’t normally go to more than one museum per destination.)

1) Skansen |  I’ve already mentioned this one a couple of times, but it’s worth bringing up again. Reindeer, authentic Swedish farmhouses full of hand carved furniture, vintage children’s amusement park. Charming doesn’t begin to describe it.

2) The Vasa Museum | In 1628, the Swedish king poured a fortune into making the best warship the world had ever seen, the Vasa. And then it sunk within minutes of its first (and last) launch. Recovered in 1961, it is now housed in this wonderful museum. (But on a side note, watch for pickpockets. Someone stole my iPhone on our way in!)

3) The Nordic Museum | Full of Swedish folk art, I fell in love with their collection of textiles. Knowing I only had so much time until our toddler would start getting antsy, I frantically pulled open drawer after drawer — each one seemed lovelier than the next. Ingrid’s favorite exhibits were the jewelry and the dollhouses.

4) The Modern Museum | Practically empty the day we visited, we had the large, spacious galleries to ourselves. We all enjoyed the modern and contemporary art on display… especially parts of the Wolfgang Tillmans exhibit.

5) Fotografiska | Photography is one of my favorite forms of contemporary art, and there were several floors full of exhibits with many different artists represented. Very well put together.

6) Junibacken | Ingrid absolutely adored this children’s museum devoted to Scandinavian storybooks. Be forewarned, though: the storybook train ride was enchanting, but also scary for sensitive little ones. But it was worth it to end up at Pippi Longstocking’s Villa Villekulla. Pippi is a favorite around here, but even if your child isn’t familiar with the story, he’d get a kick out of climbing around Pippi’s kooky house.

If you have any museums to add to the list, please let us know in the comments! – Eva

 

Stockholm’s Skansen

Stockholm's Skansen by Sycamore Street Press

This is a series called Wanderlust. If you love travel (and dreaming of travel) as much as I do, this series is for you. (Find posts 1 , 2 & 3 in the series.) – E 

Skansen is Europe’s largest and oldest open air museum. Entire villages, homes, farms, etc… were moved from all over Sweden to a hilltop location overlooking Stockholm. Unfortunately, the charming vintage childrens’ rides and games were closed when we visited last October, as were certain buildings such as the printshop. But we still had a wonderful time. Ingrid loved the zoo and farm animals.  Kirk and I loved the architecture, gardens, and interiors. We all enjoyed our delicious lunch at the cozy Restauration Gubbhyllan, which had the best hot chocolate in the world. (And I’ve sampled a lot.) I think everyone who goes to the Swedish capital should save a day for Skansen. I would go there again in a heartbeat. – Eva

Here are a few travel-related links that I like from around the web:

+ The best brunch spots in NYC.

+ I think I need to subscribe to this.

+ A relaxing little bungalow rental in Venice Beach. (via Cup of Jo)

+ I’d like to stay here and explore the red rock gorgeousness that exists just a few hours from my doorstep.

 

 

 

Behind the Press | Tips on Taking Time Off for the Self-Employed

Vacations For The Self Employed | Sycamore Street Press Blog | Photos by Jacinta Moore

Behind The Press is a blog series by SSP’s owners: Eva and Kirk Jorgensen. In it, we share our experience with letterpress, paper goods, running a small business, and work/life balance in the form of tips, how to’s, and more. We hope you enjoy! – K&E

The other day, I posted about some of my hits and misses in taking time off since I started Sycamore Street Press. I’m interested to see how other small business owners take to the issue, so I wrote a few of my friends and family members who work for themselves, and asked for their thoughts or tips:

Kris Pollock (my dad), owner of Jupiter Electric, an electrical contracting company in Heber, UT:

So many people can just walk out the door at the end of the day and not have to worry about work until the next morning. Or at the end of their vacation. But you and I and Kirk can’t do that. It’s something that we always have to think about. I lose sleep over work. It’s always with me. Even when I went to Norway, I was on the phone bidding jobs. But I do it for my family, I love my job, and I wouldn’t change what I’m doing, that’s for sure. 

Julie & Matt Walker, owners of Tiger in a Jar, a film production company based in Salt Lake City, UT

1) Since we are pretty exhausted between our shoots we aren’t really up for running across town to hit up a major sight, so instead we try to take walks around the part of town we are in. We often stumble across really amazing bakeries, shops, or landmarks and we love that it is our own little adventure that doesn’t leave us worn out.

2) We try to make travel time like flights, train rides, taxi rides, etc. as productive as we can so that when we get to our destination we have a bit of extra time to explore.

3) Mostly we feel like it boils down to attitude. If we constantly keep our eyes open to appreciating where we are we end up having a wonderful trip, even if we do end up behind the camera most of the time.

Brittany Watson Jepsen, stylist, designer, crafter, and founder of the House That Lars Built, a design and lifestyle blog from Copenhagen (soon to be Provo, UT):

I don’t think I ever take a real “vacation” where I’m not doing at least some type of “work”, whether that be checking emails or taking pictures for the blog or thinking about a blog post. I think it’s a part of the job of a freelancer because social media is like interest: it never sleeps. There’s always something going on that you need to be aware of. That said, the beauty of being a freelancer in that I can plan my own schedule, but it’s also the downfall because there’s always something to do. I think the best advice I can offer is to plan ahead so that you can schedule your work around the specific time period. Make sure your clients know your schedule and stick with it.

Erin Austin Abbot, owner of Amelia, an brick and mortar (and online) shop in Oxford, MS:

When I decided to open up my brick and mortar, I knew I wouldn’t have anyone giving me days off anymore. It was going to be up to myself to find the balance of work and knowing when to slow down and take much needed time off. Closing means a loss of sales, but without rest, what good are you? So, from the beginning, I established that I would be closed two weeks after Christmas and two weeks in the middle of the summer. My customers know that the online store is up and running then so they can still shop and I’m able to relax and focus on my family. And maybe even get out of town for a real vacation.

Leland Rowley, owner of Rowley Press, a letterpress studio in Provo, UT:

Vacation? Huh? I think for me a lot of the time my vacation comes split up throughout the year. Sleep in one morning, go hiking while all the other suckers are at their 9-5 (of course I will be working till 11pm, but whatever…), or spend a day foraging. The flexibility of schedule on a day-to-day basis is like living everyday on vacation. Well, sort of.  When large blocks of time do arise, I most assuredly end up working. I have to focus on the fact that I may be working, but I am working from Disneyland or wherever. Sometimes I try to just turn off my phone and not check email, but that can be dangerous. Unhappy customers would make for a very unhappy vacation. 

Sarah, owner of Sarah Jane Studios, a children’s lifestyle brand based in Provo, UT:

1) Have very clear expectations with you are traveling with. Is this a family getaway?  A business trip? totally makes a difference. Here’s my 2 cents: 

FAMILY TRIP: set clear expectations with your traveling partners. Have a set time when you will work, allow for ample play time, and make sure that when you are not working, you aren’t thinking about working. My father was self employed for 10 years and he always worked at 5am every morning until 9am when every one else woke. We never knew he was working while on vacation. It meant the world to us as a family. As for me, I’ve tried to do big blitzes where I try and get as much done as I can in a big chunk, and then remain care free the rest of the time. 

2) If you can avoid working, avoid it. Plan blog posts ahead of time, clear your inbox, put a notice in your inbox about when you will return, etc. Being self employed means it’s REALLY hard to disconnect, which means it’s even more important to try and disconnect and just let it all go every once in a while. You’ll be better off for it. 

3) Get inspired. Getting away can revitalize you in ways you weren’t expecting. Be open to new ways of thinking, keep a journal, and enjoy the time you have to take a step away and get inspired. 

Margaret Haas, owner of Paper Pastries, a paper goods company and online boutique in LA, CA

1) Be prepared to go on vacation. Long gone are the days when I could pack up a bag and just take off on a whim. Now that I run a business, I make sure to wrap up all outstanding orders before I leave town. If a project is more involved, figure out a timeline that works for both the client and I.  You won’t be able to relax if you’re wondering “Did I get that rush order out on time?” Be sure!

2) Don’t check your email. I’d recommend putting your email on vacation mode. State the days you’ll be out of the office and that all outstanding orders have been shipped. 

3) Jump right back in. You might feel a bit guilty while you’re supposed to be having fun. To get rid of that feeling, I sometimes have to make a long list of things I’ll do when I get back. Just looking at that list makes me wish I was on vacation-and guess what- I am! Then I put the list away and get back to having fun.  But beware- it’s easy to get used to sleeping in and not checking your email. Pull out that list on your last night of vacation and think of how productive you’ll be when you return. The best motivation for me to get back to work? The more I work now, the faster the time will pass until my next vacation! 

4) Get a massage. If you’re the type of person who likes getting a massage, there’s no better time than while you’re on vacation. Because I work with my hands all day, my back aches and my arms get sore. Last holiday season, during all of the craziness I got a massage. All I did was feel guilty laying on that table- “I should be at work! What am I doing??” While on vacation, it’s the best. Because what else are you supposed to be doing but relaxing? 

Sarah Winward, owner of Honey of a Thousand Flowers, a floral company in Salt Lake City, UT: 

For me the hardest part about taking time off while self employed is…doing it!

I think that it is likely that anyone who works for themselves is driven, and in general, I think we all have a hard time putting the computer away each night (and weekend, and holiday). I’ve found that if I schedule my vacation time really far ahead of time that I just stress about how much work I will be missing on that time off.  I wish I could look forward to it! But for me it seems that when you and you only are in charge of how much work you take on and how much money you make, its hard to just decide to stop working.

So my advice…

Is to just bite the bullet, and give yourself time off.  I have such a hard time scheduling time off for myself, but when I do I always come back refreshed, inspired, and more productive than I was before. My job is much busier in the summer than it is in the winter, so I always have the winter to look forward to for some relaxation.  In the summer I work 19 hour days about 3 days a week, and regular 8 hour days for the other 3-4.  If I don’t take a bit of time mid-summer to escape, I begin to loose my mind, and I lose touch of the fact that I love my job. While I am taking time off I am often out in nature and I fall in love again with wild flowers and trees and all of the things that make me love my job in the first place.

This last one is a quote that I posted on the blog a couple of years back. I still think it’s interesting.

Chris Guillebeau, entrepreneurial writer, from his book the Art of Non-Conformity:

It’s always fun to go on vacation as a self-employed person, because a) you still have to work, and b) no one thinks you do any work to begin with. So then when you go on vacation, they say, oh, must be nice that you don’t have a job and can do that. Meanwhile on vacation I work six hours a day instead of ten. But it’s all good.

Do you have any tips for figuring out this catch-22 or just thoughts about it in general? I’d love to hear!

All Photos by Jacinta Moore. She took them while floating off the coast of Cinque Terra in Italy. Looks so gorgeous and relaxing, doesn’t it? You can purchase affordable prints of these photos and more in her shop Bawk Bawk.

Toddler Travel | Flying

How To Travel With A Toddler: Flying by Sycamore Street Press

Tips on Traveling With a Toddler is a new series on the blog. I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned through my own experiences in the U.S and Europe with my daughter, Ingrid, as well as tips from friends and other trusted sources. – Eva

How do you travel with a toddler? And more specifically, how do you travel to Europe with a toddler?

That’s what I started wondering about a year ago. Ingrid was a year old at the time, and I had just figured out that we had enough credit card points through Sycamore Street Press to take a trip abroad. Some suggested we wait until she was older. But I only wanted to use enough points for two plane tickets, not three. (And once a child turns two, they must have their own seat on the plane.) I also knew that we wanted to have a second child soon, which would complicate things further. I didn’t want to put off traveling abroad any longer. Europe 2012, or bust! So I came back to the question — how do you travel to Europe with a toddler?

Some of the best sources of information were my friend Meredith Prévot, who goes to France every year to visit family with her daughter, Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day, who spent a year living in France and traveling around Europe with her two young boys, and the Babyccino Kids blog. I took their advice and prepared the best I could for our two and a half week trip to Stockholm, Helsinki, and Paris. As you can imagine, it ended up being a pretty intense two and a half week crash course on traveling with a toddler. And although I learned a lot, I’m obviously not an expert — far from it! So please keep that in mind when reading this. Every child and situation is different (of course), and what worked for us may not work for you. But I hope to be of some help.

In the first post of the series, I’d like to address the most difficult part of traveling with a toddler: flying.

1) Use Your Gut To Plan Your Trip

I’ve quizzed a lot of parents who travel with their kids, and they say that each kid takes to the plane differently. Usually, though, the child’s reaction is pretty predictable. For instance, Ingrid only sleeps if she’s in her crib, unable to see or hear distraction. On our recent trip, we went from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Stockholm, Sweden, with stopovers in Paris and Frankfurt. We traveled through Ingrid’s afternoon nap, the entire night, and her afternoon nap on the second day. Normally, she would have had 16 hours of sleep during that time. But she only slept for 3 hours at the end, when she was completely overcome with exhaustion. On the other hand, I’ve seen children who will fall asleep in their car seat, on the couch, in their parents’ arms, etc… so it shouldn’t come as a surprise when these toddlers conk out for almost the entire flight. Surprises do happen, but chances are, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what will happen on the flight, even if you’ve never flown with your child before. If you’re honest with yourself, you may decide that knowing your kid, it’s not worth taking an overnight flight. Or conversely, that it may not be as bad as you’ve been led to believe. Either way, do what’s best for you and your family, and then plan accordingly.

2) Consider Timing

If possible, time your flight at the best time possible for your toddler’s schedule. If you know they will sleep, then an overnight flight or a short flight during nap time is perfect. If they won’t sleep on the plane, missing a nap is probably better than a whole night’s sleep. If you’ll be traveling as far as we did on our recent trip, however, it doesn’t really matter. It’ll be awful any way you look at it. Another thing to consider is flying in the off season. My friend Meredith took a trip to Europe in February, and there were so many open seats on the plane that they all got to stretch out. This is never a sure thing, of course. We thought flying to/from Europe in October might be the same, but our flights were completely packed.

3) Do The Paperwork

If your child is less than two years old, you don’t have to buy them a regular ticket. (Although if you can afford it, it would make your life that much easier.) They can sit on your lap for the flight, which the airlines call traveling with “an infant in arms”. However, Meredith reminded me (luckily) that you still have to let the airline know that you’re bringing a little one, and they will make you pay taxes and issue your child a paper ticket. She also informed me that if you request it enough in advance, the airline can lend you a bassinet for the flight. This will work for babies and very small toddlers, but as an almost 2 year old in the 95th percentile on the growth charts, our daughter was out of luck. One last thing — don’t forget the passports for everyone, toddler included!

4) Take Precautions When Gate Checking

Parents traveling with babies and young children are allowed to gate check car seats and strollers for free. If you will have a layover, be aware that your gate checked item might not make it onto the next flight. This happened to us, of course. When we got to our first stopover in Paris, we waited and waited at the gate for our stroller to show up, but it never did. The airline assured us that they would take care of it, but when we arrived in Stockholm, our stroller wasn’t there either. We were told by the agent at the desk that this was a common occurrence with strollers or car seats that are put into protective bags. The luggage handlers mistake it for a normal piece of luggage, and put it in the wrong place. We filed a report, and luckily they found the stroller and delivered it to our apartment the following day. But we learned our lesson. From now on we will either check it on with the rest of our baggage (instead of at the gate), or if we do really want to take it to the gate, we’ll wrap it in clear trash bags instead of a black bag, so that there’s no mistaking it for something else. This is really only something to worry about on flights with more than one leg, though. Direct flights shouldn’t be a problem.

5) Bring Lots of Supplies

Make a list of the bare necessities — plenty of diapers and wipes, kid-friendly snacks, a bottle or sippy cup, a change of clothes (or two), etc… and make sure you check it twice. You’ll also need lots to entertain and distract them: new and exciting books, toys, games, and movies. If you are counting on showing them movies on some sort of device (which I highly recommend), don’t forget to bring an extra battery or “juice pack”. I love the idea of wrapping inexpensive little toys and candies up in tissue paper to bring out and unwrap at opportune moments (read: to avoid meltdowns). Lollipops work wonders during take-offs and landings to keep kids’ ears clear and their minds occupied.

On a side note: Technically, you are allowed to bring liquids like formula and those fruit/veggie purées in squeeze bottles. Most of the time, the TSA agents won’t bat an eye. But once in a while, they might decide to single you out, do a chemical test on your baby food, and give you AND YOUR BABY a pat down as your baby cries hysterically. (Yes, it’s happened to us, which is why I will never try to bring those things on the plane again.)

6) Get Your Rest When You Can

Even if your toddler sleeps and travels like a dream, chances are you’ll feel like a zombie upon arrival. Make sure your whole family gets plenty of rest before you leave. This means scheduling your time so that you can pack in advance and get to bed at a decent hour the night before. I used to be the queen of late night packing, but not anymore. It’s not worth it. In addition, if you’re crossing many time zones, try not to plan anything (or very little) for the day or two after you arrive. It’ll be worth it if you and your toddler are able to rest and get over your jet lag that much sooner.

If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them in the comments section. Thanks! – Eva

 

 

Wanderlust | Stockholm’s Gamla Stan

Sycamore Street Press blog | Wanderlust | Stockholm's Gamla Stan

This is a new series called Wanderlust. If you love travel (and dreaming of travel) as much as I do, this series is for you. (Find posts 1 & 2 in the series.) – E 

Eva Maria Wilhelmina Lundh Hubertz. Quite the mouthful, right? Her friends shortened it to the nickname May. I called her Mormor. She was my great-grandmother, and I grew up watching her fingers work at various crafting projects while sitting on the couch in her cozy living room. She came to the US from Stockholm in the 20’s and married my great-grandfather, a handsome young Norwegian. I’ve always wanted to visit the city where she grew up, and this fall, I was lucky enough to do just that.

On our first day in Stockholm, Kirk, Ingrid, and I took a walk around the old part of the city: Gamla Stan. I’ve heard that in the summertime, it’s crowded and overrun with tourists. But on this quiet day in October, we had the streets practically to ourselves. It was magical. – Eva

Here are a few travel-related links that I like from around the web:

+ Do’s and don’t for renting an apartment in Paris.

+ I’ve been wanting to visit these seaside towns in Italy for so long!

+ Best resources for cheap, free, or paid travel. (Kirk and I did #7 and loved it!)

+ Win a week’s stay at this cozy cottage in France. (Ends Wednesday, December 5th.)

+ Looking for a stylish city getaway? You probably hadn’t thought of going here, but you should.

Wanderlust | Svenskt Tenn

Sv-Tenn_belysning

Svenskt Tenn Josef Frank Textiles Wallpaper Swedish Design

Svenskt Tenn Josef Frank Textiles Wallpaper Swedish Design

Svenskt Tenn Josef Frank Textiles Wallpaper Swedish Design

Svenskt Tenn Josef Frank Textiles Wallpaper Swedish Design

You probably have this figured out already, but I wrote a bunch of posts in advance so that the blog wouldn’t lie dormant while we’re gone. As I’m typing this, my butt is firmly planted at my desk in Heber, but my mind is already in Europe. I’m hoping that by the time this post goes live, I will have already visited the fabulous Swedish design shop Svenskt Tenn. Because look at these images… aren’t they amazing?!

Ever since I first saw one of their fabrics in Domino Magazine years ago, I’ve been in dying to see these beautiful designs in person. I’d love to plaster an entire room with one of their wallpapers, or cover a sofa with one of their fabrics. Josef Frank’s work just makes me happy. – Eva

Wanderlust | Paris here we come…

Paris_illustrated_to-do_list_Sycamore_Street_Press

 

I am over the moon about our upcoming trip!  Kirk, Ingrid, and I will be heading to Europe next week. We’ll visit Stockholm, Helsinki, and Paris. If you follow me on Pinterest, then you’ll know that I’ve been researching like crazy. (My favorite guides so far: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and this whole site.) And although I’m really looking forward to visiting Stockholm and Helsinki for the first time, my mind keeps coming back to Paris. Maybe because I spent my whole childhood listening to my mom’s stories of growing up there. Maybe because as an 18 year old study abroad student, I spent an entire month hitting every museum and crepe stand. Or maybe because everyone else on the internet seems to be obsessed with Paris, too!

Since Kirk and I have both been to the french capital before, we don’t need to hit the big monuments and museums. Plus, we’ll have a toddler in tow, so we won’t be able to cram a lot into our schedule. I decided to pare my massive wish list down to the top 5:

1) Jardin du Luxembourg – Ever since I first read Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon, I dreamed of bringing my future children to this charming park. A marionette theatre, toy sailboats, pony rides, a playground… I can’t wait to see Ingrid’s little face light up. Possible nearby stops: Poilane, Mamie Gateaux, Le Comptoir, Talc, the Bonpoint outlet, Deyrolle.

2) Merci – From everything I see and hear online, this lifestyle shop in the Marais district is one of the most beautiful and creative in the world. I’ll be like a kid in the candy shop. I don’t think my travel mates will mind. Possible nearby stops: Bonton, Breizh Café, Marché des Enfants Rouges, Chez Janou, Musée de la Chasse, Au Passage.

3) Bread and pastries – I’m not really into the whole macaron trend, but give me a pain au chocolat and I am in heaven. This won’t be a one time stop, but more of an ongoing “project”.

4) Canal Saint-Martin district – Ever since I saw Amélie skip rocks under a canopy of trees, I’ve been intrigued by this area… but I have yet to visit. I’d love to simply stroll along the banks of the canal, watch the boats go by, and wander into shops and cafes along the way. Possible nearby stops: Antoine et Lili, Le Verre Volé, Artazar, Du Pain et des Idées, La Pinata, Petit Usagi, Gallerie Philippe Chaume, Bob’s Juice Bar .

5) Les marchés – Produce, meat, cheese, shoes, birds, books, or bric a brac, I don’t care… I love it all. I’ve heard that there are hundreds of markets each week within Paris city limits. I’m planning on studying this book to narrow down my choices.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas! And if you’d like to see all my Paris pins, click here.

Illustration by Eva Jorgensen for Sycamore Street Press

California: The Golden State

California: The Golden State | Sycamore

Hello there! My parents are holding down the fort while Ingrid, Kirk, and I are off visiting family in sunny Southern California. I’ve been looking forward to lounging on the beach with our family for months!

This film still is from the original Gidget. I love that movie. Sandra Dee’s character lived my teenage dream. Seriously, I would have loved to be a teenage surfer in 50’s/60’s era California. Do you ever think about things like that? Alternative eras and scenes you’d like to experience?

Photo: The New York Times

Treehouses by Peter Nelson*

Treehouses by Peter Nelson | Sycamore

Treehouses by Peter Nelson | Sycamore
Treehouses by Peter Nelson | Sycamore
Treehouses by Peter Nelson | Sycamore

 

Treehouses by Peter Nelson | Sycamore
Treehouses by Peter Nelson | Sycamore
Treehouses by Peter Nelson | Sycamore
Treehouses by Peter Nelson | Sycamore
Treehouses by Peter Nelson | Sycamore

I don’t think I was the only kid who saw Swiss Family Robinson and wished that I, too, could shipwreck in the South Pacific just so I could live in a tree house. I still think it would be pretty amazing to live among the limbs of a big old tree. Which is why I had such a hard time editing down the images I wanted to show you from this book. It’s just full of awesomeness.

All photos: Paul Rocheleau via Treehouses by Peter Nelson

La Bastide de Moustiers

La Bastide de Moustiers | Sycamore

Tucked away in a less traveled corner of Provence is a little town called Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. It’s built into the side of a cliff, with a waterfall spilling out below. Hanging on a wire between the two peaks above the town hangs a golden star. It’s a magical place.

One summer day, over a decade ago, my mom and I were lucky enough to visit. Moustiers is known for its earthenware pottery… which was beautiful, but we had another prize in mind…

La Bastide de Moustiers | Sycamore

La Bastide de Moustiers. A beautiful little country inn with an unbelievable farm to table restaurant. We spent an evening on that terrace eating course after delicious course. The one that stands out in my memory after all these years was a truffle risotto. It was quite a splurge for us, so we only spent one night, and we only ate one meal. It was so worth it.

La Bastide de Moustiers | Sycamore

Have you ever saved up your pennies for one crazy decadent thing? What was it? Was it worth it?

Photos: 1) Jialang Gao, 2-6) David Bordes & Bernard Giani at La Bastide de Moustiers, 7) Nepomuk

The French Alps

The French Alps | Sycamore

When I was in high school, I dreamed of being an editor at a travel magazine. That obviously never happened, but I’m grateful for the wonderful places I’ve been able to visit anyway.

Travel isn’t really in the cards for me right now, but I still love being able to explore other towns and countries though books and on the internet. This lodge in Megève, France, caught my attention the other day. So cozy and pretty, traditional yet contemporary. Where would you like to visit?

The French Alps | Sycamore

The French Alps | Sycamore

The French Alps | Sycamore

Photos: Tablet & Les Fermes de Marie

The Ngong Hills, Africa

The Ngong Hills, Africa | Sycamore

Out of Africa is one of those hauntingly beautiful movies you can’t get out of your head. Ever since seeing it (and reading Beryl Markham’s West With the Night), I’ve wanted to travel to the countryside of East Africa.

The Ngong Hills, Africa | Sycamore

And I wouldn’t mind staying in this tree house hotel

The Ngong Hills, Africa | Sycamore

Photos: 1) The Movie Database, 2) The Movie Database, 3) Mango African Safaris

p.s. Design*Sponge did a “Living In: Out of Africa” post a while back. So lovely…

Vacation in Greece, 1970

My mom recently found these photos of her family’s trip to Greece in the 70’s. I love it all — the clothes, the hair, the sun drenched colors… Sign me up, please.

p.s. That’s my mom in the pink dress.

A Little Romance: France & Italy

A Little Romance: France & Italy | Sycamore

A Little Romance is a fantastic little movie I’d never heard of until recently. Diane Lane and Thelonius Bernard play a young American girl and French boy who fall in love. They’re both so smart and sweet without being cloying. In fact, both won awards for their performances (as did the musical score and the screenplay). Lawrence Olivier also stars as an older gentleman who befriends them. And the entire film takes place on beautiful locations in France and Italy! Read More…

Do Not Disturb: London, The English Countryside, & Paris

Do Not Disturb: London, The English Countryside, & Paris | Sycamore

It’s not too often that you find a romantic comedy (or any kind of movie dealing with relationships) where the two main characters are already married. I was happy to see that the Doris Day/Rod Taylor movie, Do Not Disturb, fit this description.

Read More…

Desk Set: New York City Inspiration

Desk Set: New York City Inspiration | Sycamore

Desk Set starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy is chock full of books, typing, memos, and even those old computer punch cards. I love the Mondrian inspired opening shot. Read More…