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Hotels Vs Vacation Homes --> The Clear Winner

hotels vs vacation homes with little kids

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When I had kids I was told my longstanding relationship with hotels was over. So long lavender-scented cold towels, byeeee crisp sheets, see ya infinity pool, arrivederci lobby bar of my dreams; it was nice knowing you. Based on the advice of many parents I know, vacation homes seemed to be the only option in the "with kids" version of my life. “When you have a family, it’s just easier with a kitchen, you’ll see,” they told me.

Except, when it's just the four of us, it's not. At all. {At this point.}

Now that I've experienced both lodging types with littles, I don’t “see.” Seriously, though, why do I “need” a kitchen on vacation? So I can grocery shop? So I can cook? So I can wash dishes? So I can clean countertops? Just, NO.

While I do like the immersive local experience and neighborhoody-ness vacation homes offer, I’m not sold on them unless I’m going to stay awhile {as in, longer than a month}. Mostly because of the kitchen-factor. Even if I don’t use it, it’s there, reminding me of home...and cooking and food prep and clean-up. Isn't the point of a holiday to escape the everyday and chillax?

So, hotels. I heart them—especially with young kids in tow. Here’s why:

Because, Catered
If I’m going to pack up my life and hop on a plane, I want a hint of catered. I don’t need five stars or white-glove service, but I still enjoy a pampered experience, a fizzy welcome bev, and someone to offer me canapés at the pool. E-s-p-e-c-i-a-l-l-y if I’m traveling with kids. For this reason I choose hotels in all their plushy, non-kitcheny glory. And if I want a snack, I can always stock my mini-bar with a few of my favorite bites.
---> Hotels that inspired this: Four Seasons Resort Lanai and the Fairmont Orchid

Because, Firsts
Traveling gives us the opportunity to taste new foods and try new experiences. But here’s the ruse: Any time I’ve stayed in a vacation rental, I feel lured by the kitchen {and a pang of money-saving guilt for not cooking}, which takes away from time spent connecting with the culture at a variety of local shops and cafés. What I like about the simple, bed-and-bath nature of hotel rooms {or adjoining hotels rooms, because toddlers!} is you're forced outward in search of that elusive “first” that brings so much joy and wonder to wandering.
--> Hotel that inspired this: Terme Manzi Hotel + Spa in Ischia, Italy

Because, Vibe
If I was Beyoncé I’m sure I’d have a “vibe engineer” on my payroll to create the mood in the vacation homes I visit around the globe. However, I’m not Queen B, nor do I require my hideaway to be kitted out with a sense-of-place playlist, fancy-pantsy furniture, or personalized cooking. Due to the nature of hotels as people-centric gathering places created to meet our human need to roam, sleep, eat, and play, good hotels offer a built-in entourage, design, and staff to curate a feel that reflects the local culture and cuisine.
--> Hotel that inspired this: Grand Velas Riviera Maya

The Exception
Unique farm-to-table stays such as Puakea Ranch where there's a garden to pick fruits and veggies for your meal, animals around every corner, a rumpus room with vintage toys, and the environs is so gorgeous you decide you'll return every year {for the rest of your life}.

One day, I'll appreciate vacation rentals again. Like, when the little stylers are out of diapers. But, for now, in my two-toddler reality, unless I'm going on a long trip, hotels win. Big time.

This article hints at an original piece I penned for The Kitchn.

[Photos by @tripstyler]

3 Days in NYC {What I Packed}

What I packed for three days in New York City

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Whether I'm packing for an urban escape, spa weekend, or fam-jam beach trip, I edit and re-edit my suitcase contents as meticulously as Anna Wintour analyses the pages of Vogue before print. To me, packing is like fashion Tetris: When everything fits—in every sense of the word—it's beautiful. 

Following up on the Only Packing Tricks You Ever Need to Know hints I wrote about yesterday, my toddler is the one who inspired me to decode the details of how I packed for my three-day trip to New York. While he's more an aviation fanatic than a Tom Ford-in-training, he always wants to see photos of everything I do, see and taste when I travel. With his interest as my inspiration, I give you New York... through the eyes of my wardrobe. More NYC updates to come.

 A snippet of my suitcase style based on the weather and my NY wanderings. 

A snippet of my suitcase style based on the weather and my NY wanderings. 

 My Vancouver --> New York airplane outfit, a go-to getup that is similar every trip {other than a few tweaks based on destination and trip type}. Slip-on shoes for security, comfy jeans, a soft T to "up" the cozy-factor on my red-eye flight. I finished it off with a lightweight blazer to befit my surroundings in  Cathay Pacific's gorgeous YVR Lounge , in my Cathay Pacific business class seat, and my arrival the  Four Seasons New York Hotel Downtown . 

My Vancouver --> New York airplane outfit, a go-to getup that is similar every trip {other than a few tweaks based on destination and trip type}. Slip-on shoes for security, comfy jeans, a soft T to "up" the cozy-factor on my red-eye flight. I finished it off with a lightweight blazer to befit my surroundings in Cathay Pacific's gorgeous YVR Lounge, in my Cathay Pacific business class seat, and my arrival the Four Seasons New York Hotel Downtown

 Post-flight: Same jeans, new top. I love it when hotels offer a place to freshen up when you arrive in the AM before your room is ready. Here I'm in the Four Seasons' spa all spiffed following an early arrival.  Photo by @NomNomYVR

Post-flight: Same jeans, new top. I love it when hotels offer a place to freshen up when you arrive in the AM before your room is ready. Here I'm in the Four Seasons' spa all spiffed following an early arrival.
Photo by @NomNomYVR

 Loose and lightweight dress for a day of sightseeing starting at the Oculus transportation hub and upscale shopping space. Believe it or not: these shoes are very comfortable for the miles logged traipsing around New York's urban jungle.   Photo by @NomNomYVR

Loose and lightweight dress for a day of sightseeing starting at the Oculus transportation hub and upscale shopping space. Believe it or not: these shoes are very comfortable for the miles logged traipsing around New York's urban jungle. 
Photo by @NomNomYVR

 In denim, yet again, on floor 101 of the  One World Observatory  at the top of the One World Trade Center.  Photo by @NomNomYVR

In denim, yet again, on floor 101 of the One World Observatory at the top of the One World Trade Center.
Photo by @NomNomYVR

 What I packed into my New York carry-on: - Running shoes and workout gear - Going out/chic sightseeing shoes - Skirt - 5 dresses - Jean shorts - 4 tops - Other: toiletries, jewelry, belts, scarves, bathing suit, "crushable" hat, camera, hair straightener, clutch purse

What I packed into my New York carry-on:
- Running shoes and workout gear
- Going out/chic sightseeing shoes
- Skirt
- 5 dresses
- Jean shorts
- 4 tops
- Other: toiletries, jewelry, belts, scarves, bathing suit, "crushable" hat, camera, hair straightener, clutch purse

Other Dispatches in this Series
Next Up :: NYC
Cathay Pacific's GORGEOUS New Lounge at YVR

[Photos by @TripStyler, and @NomNomYVR's incredible photo skills where listed]

The ONLY Packing Tricks You EVER Need To Know

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Last week I met up with some travel industry friends who are on the go so much they put the jet in setter. The topic of "how we pack" for trips came up. I told them I almost always galavant with a carry-on—whether it's three days in Santa Barbara or three weeks in Stockholm

"Wait, how do you do it?", they asked. "What about your tech and toiletries?" I told them that for me, packing light comes down to one major factor: A highly edited suitcase {which includes decisions such as small toiletries and efficient camera and computer gear}.

With this, here are my rules for achieving an ultra-edited suitcase. And guess what? Even with my choosy packing, there are still outfits I don't even wear...

packing an edited suitcase

5 Rules for Packing an Edited Suitcase  
1/ Check the weather
The forecast will largely influence your travel wardrobe picks. Get a sense of the weather a few days in advance, and re-check a day before leaving since conditions can change.

2/ Review your itinerary {or major vacation to-dos} and pair outfits with each event
Last week I was in NYC. Since I had a pretty good idea of the activities I'd do each day, I chose an outfit to "suit" each Manhattan must-do, which helped guide the garments I placed in my bag.

3/ Shoes are your biggest opportunity
One of the basics of a well-packed bag is limiting large {or copious amounts} of shoes. Shoes take up too much real estate, so only bring footwear that will work with a few of your chosen garments.

4/ Select a go-to airport outfit
A go-to airport getup takes the guesswork out of getting out the door. On this topic, I tend to wear my biggest shoes and/or jacket on the plane, so these items don't add too much bulk to my bag. FYI: If you ask nicely, most flight attendants can hang up your coat for you. 

5/ The hack of all packing hacks: A portable washing bag
If your trip is longer than five days—about the amount of clothes you can fit into a carry-on—start to mix, match and repeat outfits. As things get dirty use this quick portable washing machine technique {hint hint: it's with a freezer-size Ziploc bag}.

[photos by @tripstyler] 

On Break-Ups + the Magic of Micro-Journaling

travel micro-journaling

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For most of my teenage years and early-twenties, I had an on-again, off-again relationship with my diary. Blank pages would get marked up with everything from what I wore to the Sr. Formal {a floor-length teal-green dress, BTW}, who I had a crush on at summer camp, or the eye-popping sunset I experienced atop the Eiffel Tower when I traveled to Paris solo.  

Then, one day, enough was enough. Overwhelmed by the time investment of journaling every detail of my day, I broke up with my diary. For 15 years we ignored each other. But, I missed her blank pages, providing a place where I could look at my life from an airplane {aka "bird's eye view"} perspective.  

So, we got back together, but in a win-win kinda way. "Dear diary" version 2017 is less long-form and more short-story, less time-intensive and more efficient.

Enter the micro-journal, something I'm attempting to do at home AND on the road. Otherwise, life passes me by faster than a supersonic jet. Without its simple day-by-day bullet points I would forget make-me-smile details like watching baby turtles hatch on the beach in the Great Barrier Reef with Mr. Trip Styler, or seeing Blue Styler take his first steps on a Disney Cruise.

Memories fade, but something my 96-year-old grandpa has taught me is: The joys of yesterday or yesteryear retain their clarity with a few {micro-journal} prompts. Try it. Just three bullet points a day.   

PS - If this post were micro-journal-style, I wouldn't have burnt the quinoa I was cooking while writing this :)  

[photo by @tripstyler]

Creating Home Comforts On The Road

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Over the past few months something strange has happened: On a few occasions, Blue Styler {now a toddler} has reminded us of his love for home, literally saying "go home" when we're out for awhile. This caught me off-guard for a number of reasons, namely because he's n-e-v-e-r longed for home while we're traveling. Not once. 

When we're on the road we try very hard to create the comforts of home and routine {while at the same time enjoying our destination and attempting to bring up flexible children}. I've never counted the number of different hotel rooms and cribs Blue Styler has slept in since he was 7 weeks old, but I've lost track—maybe 70? 

Routine
When he was a baby, creating the comforts of home while traveling was simple. He was so little that all he needed was milk, swaddle blankets and a crib. Now that he's a toddler, he's started to appreciate the comforts of home and routine. Whether we're in MexicoHawaii or Italy, we've learned to keep his eating, nap and bedtime schedule similar to what it is at home, and adjust to the time zone as soon as possible. Sure, it takes a few days to get his {and our} rhythms sorted, but generally he always falls back to his 7pm bedtime no matter where we are in the world. {We've done this method with Pink Styler, too, and she's adjusted well.}

Creature Comforts
In addition to routine, we also create "home" on the road by toting a few essential creature comforts for him: 
- Pillow {To save space we just bring the pillow case and stuff it with a hand towel}
- Sleep sack and sleeper
- Water bottle
- Stars- and moon-projecting nightlight
- One of his fave stuffed animals
- Two of his books du moment
- Soother {Yep, so "soo" me that he still has one}
- Small toys he's partial to, right now, his cars

How do you create comfort on the road? For me, it's my go-to toiletries and my iPhone {so I can communicate with people}, as well as my "routine" of regular exercise. After all, without these things, I long for home, too.

[Photos by @tripstyler]