How do you possibly pack for a 10 day long vacation in three foreign countries in the spring?? Much like you would pack for a Texas vacation haha. We were very careful packing as we didn’t want our suitcases to weigh a ton because we would be moving so much and we also definitely wanted room for tons of souvenirs.

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Here is a pic my mom grabbed before we went into the airport.

Clothing:

Layers, layers, layers! We also didn’t want to look too much like dumb American tourists so we were pretty careful to leave the vibrant colors and prints at home. Lenton packed lots of t-shirts and sweaters/pullovers, long sleeve button down shirts and jeans, we also bought him a pair of sketchers shoes that really resembled Sperry’s but had the memory foam insert (like these, though I’m not sure this is the exact pair) and he wore them every single day and never complained about his feet hurting. That’s saying a lot too, because I pretty much walked him to death, like he said he was never going on vacation with me again lol. We also packed him a leather jacket, a thiner rain jacket and also a kind of medium weight in between jacket, this was probably overkill he did wear all three.

Lenton’s Packing List:

2-3 short sleeve tshirts (he also wore these as undershirts)
2-3 long sleeve tshirts
2-3 button downs
3 sweaters
jackets
5 pairs of jeans
2 pairs of comfortable walking shoes (but we didn’t take tennis shoes because I read europeans don’t wear them, and we tried to fit in as much as possible)
Suit jacket (this was mainly for our photo shoot, but we also thought maybe if we went to a nice dinner, but if we went again and weren’t taking pics we wouldn’t take it)
Sweats, hoodie for the plane
Backpack for taking with us while we went walking
Sunglasses
Now for me, that was a little harder lol. I again, packed lots of layers, several long sleeve shirts that I could wear under other shirts in case it got really cold, and a couple sweaters that I could wear over things. I packed a basic black maxi dress which was way comfy and it looked good when I threw on a sweater over it. I also packed a leather jacket (which I probably shouldn’t have, I only wore it a couple times to dinners at night), a black peacoat (which I don’t think I wore once, so that was definitely not needed) and a rain jacket which I took the majority of the time because it was a good weight if it was just a little cold and it was a trench so it covered my cross body which I liked. Speaking of cross bodies, I wanted one that was big enough to hold my camera gear and whatever else I needed. I found the most perfect one at Target, it was on clearance so I’m sure they don’t have it anymore, but it was great. Big enough for my camera body and two lenses, as well as an umbrella, wallet, sunglasses/case, maps, etc.

Shay’s Packing List

2 long sleeve tshirts
maxi dress
1 tank top that could be worn under cardigans or on it’s own
white skinny jeans
3 pairs of jeans
A flannel long sleeve button down
2 sweater/cardigans
sunglasses
jackets
leggings and baggy shirt for the plane/travel days
Fedora – I packed a couple of rolled up shirts in it to keep it from getting squished
Denim Shirtdress
Dress and heels for our photos
Shoes- I packed brown Sperries, black Toms, gold sandals and I wore my pink converse on the plane.
Jewelry that matched everything or at least a lot of my outfits.
Hairspray, brush, shampoo etc.
Padlock to put on the lock bridge in Paris

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Plane!

Now we also had to plan a few other little things since we would be in a different country. We bought this plug adapter from amazon for Paris and Amsterdam (this is basically supposed to be good to use all over Europe, except for the UK), and then I bought this one for London. I liked these because they had two plugs, so we could both have our phones plugged in at the same time. We also bought some amazing neck pillows for the plane, they were memory foam and came with their own bag, these were really nice on those long plane rides. We also bought Lenton a money belt but he never used it, some people swear by them though. He felt comfortable with just a money clip kept in his front pocket. We also got a Selfie Stick, which sounds dumb but it was a great tool for when you’re going on a trip by yourself. We weren’t having to ask random people and hand over our phones or cameras and running the risk of them taking off with them, it was just really nice to have it and we got some great pictures with it!

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Celebratory Champagne upon our arrival in London.

With our phones, we checked with ATT, and a data plan was just insane, it was super expensive and came with very little data. I didn’t really care to talk or text, but it would have been very helpful to be able to look stuff up or pull up our navigation. So we put our phones on airplane mode and connected to the Wifi at the hotels. Thankfully in Europe a lot of the restaurants have wifi, and since I have an iPhone I could check messages, fb etc. Lenton has a droid so he wasn’t able to but at least one of us could be gotten a hold of if need be, as long as we were at the hotel.

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I’m just throwing in random pics, didn’t want to get too boring!

As far as my carry-on, I packed a couple of magazines, my iPad, Kindle, neck pillow, phone charger, passport, my Expedia confirmations, headphones, a few snacks (I’m a very picky eater so I was kinda worried that whatever they served on the plane I wouldn’t eat, thankfully everything was very good), gum. I used a medium size tote bag (you can see it in the first photo) to carry everything in and this worked pretty good, the only thing that took up quite a bit of space was my pillow, but I wasn’t leaving that baby! On my Kindle I downloaded several of the Lonely Planet Pocket Guides, they are all free if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, and they were very helpful. Not too much info that you were overwhelmed I kind of just scanned them on the plane and trains before we got to each city.

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Waiting in the airport.

I also pre-booked our Stonehenge tour through Premium Tours, we booked this tour which went to Windsor Castle, Bath and Stonehenge.  This was one of my favorite things that we did, I’ll get into more detail later.

That’s all for now, I hope you found it helpful!

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Josh is headed to UT Dallas in the fall, and when his Mom told me he wanted something different, specifially did not want a country setting, I may have jumped up and down! I love the country and rustic setting but it’s nice sometimes as an artist to shoot somewhere new and different to stretch my wings a bit. We started down by the Medina River and then went downtown to get the true urban vibe he was wanting. Enjoy!

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Dylan was such a good baby for me, he slept so well and was gorgeous with that full head of hair!
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Hi all!!! I hope you like the new face lift the blog has gotten…I’m totally in love with it! I wanted to start blogging about some of my travels, as I am a firm believer in experiences vs. material things. As some of you know I recently went on vacation to Europe with the hubby in April. I wanted to write a little bit about how we prepared for the trip, what we packed, and the traveling side of it. I researched a ton before we left and there was still things that came up that I had no idea how to handle, so if I help one other lost traveler, writing this will not be for nothing.
2015-06-10_0004.jpgEurope has always been on my bucket list ever since I can remember, and since we are still young and childless, we decided why not now? Originally the plan was to do London, Paris, and either Italy or Ireland. However, once we started looking at the last two it really seemed like those needed to have their own dedicated vacation, especially Italy, just way too many places to go. So we decided on London and Paris and we started planning. As we started to figure out an itinerary, the hubby suggested an Amsterdam day trip, as I am a huge history fan, and especially of the holocaust, I was all for it as long as I got to go to the Anne Frank house. We started researching and a day trip was the same if not more expensive than just taking the train there and then flying out of Amsterdam. So we decided on this itinerary finally:

April 8- Fly from San Antonio to London

Spend April 9-13 in London

Take the Eurostar to Paris

April 13-17 in Paris

Take the train to Amsterdam

Spend April 17-18 in Amsterdam

April 18-Fly from Amsterdam to San Antonio

First we booked our flights and hotel through Expedia, however they only give the option to travel to two destinations, so I booked our flights, London and Amsterdam hotels and then booked our Paris hotel through the hotel website (this was to also guarantee we got an Eiffel Tower view, as Expedia’s descriptions were a little vague.)  Our flights were through Delta, and we had absolutely no problems, we did take a smaller plane from San Antonio to Minneapolis and there wasn’t enough room for our carry-ons, which unfortunately for me had my camera bag in it, so I took that out and sent our bags and prayed they met us in London (thankfully they did).  I really believe our flight times could not have been any better, we flew out of SA around 6pm, and then flew out of Minneapolis at around 10pm, so we tried with everything we had to sleep on the flight, that was not easy, so we were pretty groggy when we landed in London at about 11am the following day.  Though after a quick power nap we felt good enough to start sightseeing so it wasn’t too bad.  Our flight coming back home left at 3pm, so we just watched movies the whole flight and I did take a short nap but we landed in SA at 10pm, drove home, and went to bed, and woke up at a normal time the next day.  Neither one of us experienced any jet lag, I woke up fairly early the next week, but I really felt like we got right back on schedule.  So I recommend trying to get a schedule somewhere close to that to help with the jet lag.

I really can’t recommend a way to find a great hotel, there are just so many options, we wanted it to be nice but didn’t need extravagant and we wanted to be close to landmarks and attractions. I basically read a lot of reviews and blogs and then ran the final list by my brother-the travel agent.

We stayed at the Millennium Bailey’s  in London, it was in South Kensington. The very best thing about this hotel was it was literally less than 100 feet from the Tube station. This was amazing as London is fairly spaced out, you pretty much have to take the tube to get most places. The hotel itself was pretty small, but this is to be expected in Europe and the air condition most definitely did not work… which really sucked. But as far as the room, cleanliness, staff, everything was exceptional and there were quite a few restaurants and cafés in the area which was nice. Would I stay here again? Probably not, I feel like the Westminster area would have suited us better as it was much closer to a lot of attractions, and is very London feeling. Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the London Eye, among numerous other places are all here, of course you pay for this convenience but it would probably be worth it.
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In Paris we stayed at the Mercure Paris Centre Eiffel Tower, this hotel was much fancier than the Millennium, but we also paid a lot more for it. The staff were all fairly friendly and everything was very clean. Our Eiffel tower view was a bit obstructed by another hotel (that ironically enough was also on our final list of hotel options) but we still saw the upper half of it and we could see the light show at night which was awesome. This was definitely the smallest hotel room I’ve ever been in, Lenton had his suitcases stacked on top of each other in a chair and mine were stacked on the luggage rack. It was crazy cramped. Looking back I think the area we stayed in was very touristy, so I don’t feel like we got the true Paris feeling, so if we went back I would probably try to stay in another area, but I’m really just guessing some place else would be better.
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Amsterdam’s hotel was aaaaaaaaaaamazing, it was huge compared to the others- a king sized bed!!! We stayed at the Room Mate Aitana. It had a huge bathroom with a soaker tub, a great view of the canals and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. It was kinda far from the Anne Frank House but there was not much else that was bad. After being in tiny cramped rooms for 8 days, I felt like doing cartwheels in this one.
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As far as purchasing our train tickets, I used the blog- Seat 61, this had some great tips about booking and also had much better train diagrams than the ones on the website, this was good because we could pick seats with outlets and windows and that were facing the direction we were traveling. From London to Paris we booked through the Eurostar website and they were around $90 each, and we booked our Paris to Amsterdam through the Thalys website and they were pricier because we waited too late, coming in at around $125 each, both of these would have been cheaper had we booked further in advance.

We also booked an airport transfer through Expedia, because we knew we would be exhausted when we landed in a completely new and foreign country, I just wanted to be able to go and not have to worry about finding the hotel.

Just by researching Pinterest I found lots of super helpful blogs. Here are some of my favorites:

Y Travel Blog

Journey Mercies

Kevin & Amanda

Nomadic Matt

Tripomatic.com was extremely helpful, you input your travel dates and your hotel and then it gives you a map with most every attraction you can imagine, this was amazing because you can plan your itineraries by area, it also gives suggested times you will spend at each place as well as visitor information like ticket prices, opening times etc.

I also downloaded the Trip Advisor app and downloaded the city guides for the cities we were visiting, we used these the most for maps and restaurant recommendations.  I also downloaded the Tripomatic app, which is much like the website, and a currency converter app as well as a basic French app.

Wow, this turned out to be much longer than I expected, I think I will save our packing recommendations for another day, so I don’t completely bore you to death. Anywho, hope you enjoyed and found this helpful.

 

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