Holidays with kids, transatlantic style

A native New Yorker now living in London, I often say that I have two homes.  London is my now home.  And although I’ve now lived in the UK for 13 years, I hail from New York so always consider that my home too.

Having family and close friends on both sides of the Atlantic can be emotionally tough but it also means that we have ‘the inside track’ and a base in both places.  We’ll always be fiercely committed to visiting the home where we are not, so C and M are growing up with travel and exposure to two different cultures from this fact alone (before you even consider our general wanderlust).

We’re fresh off a lovely long holiday to Boston, Maine, Long Island and NYC.  It was just what I needed to refresh and reset.  A break from the office and daily slog of running a home.  Quality chats and a laughs with family and friends, new babies to meet, extra pairs of hands, lots fit in but time to relax.  Just the type of vacation I love, and an adventure before school starting for C this week.

Here are some of our highlights, and learnings from the road with C (5 years) and M (3 years):

  • Plane travel is infinitely easier once your children are old enough to wear headphones and watch television.  Sticker books, snacks and mommy’s games only last for so long!
  • When you travel ‘back in time’ your children will wake up at 2am.  Get them back to sleep until 4am and then be prepared to rise and shine.  Ours fortunately only took a couple of days to recalibrate time wise.
  • Bar Harbor, Maine.  Acadia National Park.  Ocean meets mountain.  Beauty meets bustle.  We hiked ourselves, with the kids, explored the cultural delights of the local Acadia Repertory theatre and most amazing pirate themed mini golf course.  We all loved it.  Oh, and our adult only night at Improv Acadia was outstanding.
  • Boogie boards are our new lightweight travel essentials – my dad picked them up for the kids and they helped enormously during an 8 hour car journey.  They’re basically e-pads without any other Internet / gaming functions.
  • In the UK it’s rarely warm enough to be in open water.  So if you go to a peaceful clear lake with your indoor pool raised children, be prepared for them to take an acute interest in the fish.  Or to completely freak out like C did.  I forgot to prepare her that the fish are our friends…
  • Central Park in Manhattan is fantastic for kids.  There’s enough space to let them run, plenty of cute playgrounds with water (so pack the bathing suits in summer) and this year we took them boating on the on the lake, which at $15 was a steel…we had music, turtle families and the entertainment of watching some couples try to row their boats backwards!
  • An adult highlight was our night out at horse themed whiskey bar Maysville and fresh, ethical ‘it’ restaurant ABC Kitchen – both lived up to their reputations.
  • All you need is a pool.  If the weather is ever consistently hot and you have the space, invest in or find someone with a big paddling pool and your children will be happy.
  • Adventureland, playground of my childhood and still going strong.  If you are on Long Island the kids will love it if you go.
  • Screw the ‘red eye’ overnight flights with kids, at least from NY back to London.  It’s not long enough to sleep and the children will fall asleep soon before you need to wake the and drag them through Heathrow for 20 minutes to reach customs.  I think we’ve finally learned!

And now it’s back to school!  How were your summer holidays?



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