Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy 3rd Birthday, Little Arrow!

A bit of blogging housekeeping: I'll resume my Postcards from the Lake District and How I Plan Trips series of posts next week. But as you may know, I like to write posts to the boys on their birthdays, and it is Little Arrow's third birthday. (You can read his 1st and 2nd posts, or Big Arrow's 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th posts.)

Happy 3rd birthday, Little Arrow! There was a time I didn’t think this day would come. Not because I didn’t think you’d live to see 3 (although your flying leaps off furniture and daredevil moves on the playground would suggest otherwise). But because for about a year and a half, you were sort of in a toddler rut.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Postcards from the Lake District: Wray Castle

In my post earlier this week, I explained that one of the ways I organize plans for our trips is by weather. Meaning I keep a list of outdoor activities and a list for rainy or cold days. I knew both from looking at the forecast and from what I've learned about English weather that I better be prepared for rain when we visited the Lake District.

At the top of my rainy day list was a visit to Wray Castle. It looked really unique... a medieval-style castle built in the mid-1800s. Because its somewhat strange history, the castle was given to the National Trust completely empty. Meaning no paintings, sculptures, furniture or other relics that typically fill these types of properties. Much to our delight, the National Trust has instead packed the castle with incredibly family-friendly activities.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How I Plan Trips: Finding and Organizing Fun Family Activities

Last week I shared my initial steps for planning a family trip. While I felt it was a necessary post to write, it’s not the part I really enjoy and look forward to. I’m much more interested in the “how we’ll spend our time once we’re there” part of travel planning.

Instead of steps, I’ll break this down into the various “stages” I find myself working through as I prepare for a trip. I should note that these stages work best if you have a couple of months until your trip starts. On those occasions where a trip gets booked with short notice, I identify one or two key resources (perhaps a blog that covers the region, or a guidebook that has excellent family resources) and just jump right ahead to the Finalizing phase.
You can spend as much or as little time on this as you want. I spent only a few hours preparing for our Ireland trip. But I spent two months planning our Scandinavia trip last summer. Hopefully this will help you use whatever amount of time you have wisely.

My travel planning happy place.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Postcards from the Lake District: Hawkshead

Many a famous writer has hailed from the Lake District in northwest England (like William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter). One visit there and you'll realize how creativity could be sparked into greatness by the amazing beauty that surrounds you there.

Alas, I'll fall far short of their ability to describe this place with the written word. Instead, I'm relying on my trusty Canon Rebel camera to do that for me over the next few weeks in a series of photo essays about our long weekend there in October.

Hiking Around Hawkshead

When I rented our adorable cottage in the Lake District, I selected it completely at random. I liked its size, the fact that it had a small playroom, and that it had some character and plenty of outdoor space. But I knew absolutely nothing about its location. I figured as long as it was in this beautiful area of England, it would probably be fine.

Monday, November 10, 2014

How I Plan Trips: Initial Steps

I recently asked on the Arrows Sent Forth facebook page if any readers were interested in hearing more about how I organize our travels and plan our trips. I (happily) answer lots of questions from family members and friends about this, but haven't written much about it.

Some of you experienced travelers may read this series of posts and roll your eyes. What I do is pretty basic stuff. And certainly, there may be better ways. This is simply what works for me and my family. For those of you just starting out in family travel, I hope this is a helpful starting point.

Step 1: Choose a Location

Sometimes this is the hardest part! Prior to moving abroad, we often based trips around things we had going on. Maybe we tagged along on my husband's business trip. Or road tripped it for a wedding. Other times we were craving sun and warmth, and just looked up where the cheapest direct flight to Florida was.

One of our favorite family trips was to Iowa for a big family wedding! (Look at that cute ring bearer!)