Planning, Logistics and Keeping it Loose…

When we tell people about extended travel (with or without kids) we get a lot of comments about how they can’t imagine the complexity of planning something like this.The truth is that these type of trips are extremely easy to plan — that is, as long as you do as little planning as possible …. or as your personality allows.
We both love the adventure of ending up where we might least expect.  When we first started dating, our favorite thing to do on the weekends was to get in the car and just drive.  No reservation.  No destination.  We would put on some good music, pick the highways and roads on a whim and end up somewhere—sometimes nowhere—in California.  When we were tired of driving we would roll into a random hotel (way before yelp and reviews) and get a room.  Sure sometimes it turned out to be crappy and sometimes we would get into a town where no hotels had rooms.  But that was part of the adventure!
This was basically our around-the-world trip.  We booked a flight out of town t…

The Things They Carried - Backpacking light

(Anyone else a Tim O’Brien fan!?)
Living and traveling with a minimalist is not always easy, but let’s just say that I knew from the start—15 years ago now—that checked luggage was a non-starter with this guy.  To put things in perspective, his weekend bag doesn’t just fit in the overhead bin, but also under the seat in front of him. “If there is a washing machine where you’re traveling…”
Over the years we have adopted a packing routine:  I pack for me and the kids within a reasonable limit (still no checked bags EVER); he rolls his eyes and then we move on with our lives.  When we first started planning this trip his ideas were much different about how much we would bring, but I think the list below represents a good compromise.  Still, I’m sure that as soon as he actually sees all of the crap that he has been forced to carry there will be hell to pay.
Clothes wise, packing for 3 months—or a year for that matter—is generally the same as packing for a single week vacation.  In Toddoo-Min…

Here we go again…with 3 kiddoes

A month ago, I randomly met an old friend of Todd’s who followed this blog in 2009/2010 when we traveled the world for 14 months.  Quite naturally she noted “aren’t you glad you took that big trip, because you can’t do that now with littles ones!”  Yet here we are, on a nearly 3 months-long trip across Europe with 3 children under the age of 6.   
When I tell people that I am taking the summer off to travel with my family the most common response I get is “wow, you are so fortunate that you can do that!”  However, I believe “fortunate” mischaracterizes our situation.  The truth is we are no more fortunate than any of our peers; but we do make a different set of choices:  primary, we choose to live and travel SIMPLY. 
And so I am restarting our blog to share our current journey in figuring out how to keep travel a major part of our lives - both financially, and with 3 little kids.  If nothing else, we hope that sharing these details both inspires people and removes the misconception that…

South Guatemala

With just one week left before our flight home we headed back into Guatemala to finish off the southern part of the country. Semana Santa (holly week) was about to start and we heard that Antigua was the place to be for Good Friday - the climax of the event. This is the most popular event of the year and on countless suggestions we headed straight to Antigua to book a room for the following weekend. Our plan was to be in and out but by the time we got into Antigua I had developed a full blown cold and could hardly open my eyes. It took 2 days of full on recuperation before I was well enough to continue. In the mean time, Todd looked high and low for an available room. Most places were charging 4x the original price and after 11 months of hard core budget travel we were just too stubborn to pay up - even for the last weekend of our trip! But luck was on our side. After searching through 20 or so places Todd came across Hotel Arizona, a tiny guesthouse run by a young Mayan family. Not o…

El Salvador

With all the hype surrounding the security of central american countries, we debated whether to visit El Salvador... for about a minute. One concrete lesson we have learned on this trip is that the best source for current info on any country is from travelers themselves. We first learned this lesson on our very first stop in 2009; we skipped Kenya on the advice of our State Department's website (and a flurry of poor press) and flew through Nairobi to begin our trip in Tanzania instead... and only to then discover there were loads of young European travelers pouring out of Kenya having had a great--and safe--visit. After that, we put a lot more effort toward seeking current travel information from travelers themselves.
The same held true for El Salvador. We were presented with numerous reasons for not attempting a visit, not least of which was the country's history of armed assault on locals and foreigners alike. Not without grounds, a reputation of this sort should give on…


Our first day in Honduras--like so many first days--was a test in patience and endurance. We woke early to catch a 5 a.m. collectivo (shared minivan) in the filthy port town of Puerto Barrios (Guatemala), where we had passed a sleepless night fending off a fleet of kamikaze mosquitoes. Tired, and a bit cranky from the start, things looked up quickly as we neared the Honduran border by way of countless thousands of acres of banana fields. I began a mental list of companies I recognized in the signs of each plantation we passed on the highway. Dole, it appeared, was by far the heavy in this region. Fun to know that the bananas we were seeing that morning would likely appear at our local grocer in the near future. We were joined in the van by a crowd of local workers being shuttled to their respective plantations. Crossing the "frontera" (border) was a cinch, as we didn't even have to get out of the van -the driver's assistant grabbed our passports and ran past t…