A big thanks to Ali from What Ali Sees for nominating me for the Liebster Award. Her website, What Ali Sees, is a great resource for parents who are traveling with their children (or those just trying to get the nerve to). She provides tips for traveling with children as well as some amazing reviews of places to take your little people to. My favorite pieces of Ali’s to read are those that inspire and encourage parents to travel like her recent post “9 Persuasive Reasons to Travel When Your Kids Are Young” and “Tips for Raising Kids Who Love to Travel”. She has a knack for making the difficult task of traveling with children seem entirely doable. Her site is a great place for inspiration, both to get yourself motivated to plan to plan and to do the hard work of actually making a plan. You can also connect with her on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
What is the Liebster Award?
The Liebster Award was started back in 2011 as an online-only award given to bloggers by bloggers. “Liebster” in German means “dearest.” Not only is this such a kind sentiment, it’s also my husband’s last name (well, Lieber), so I feel especially excited to receive this award. The award is a way for newer blogs to be discovered and also to connect with and support the blogging community. It works a bit like a chain letter, but the result is you get wonderfully connected to other bloggers who are fighting the good fight with you.
Liebster Award Rules
- If you decide to accept the nomination, thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog onto your blog post.
- Display the Liebster Award photo on your blog post and/or display it using a “widget” or a “gadget” on your home page.
- Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
- Nominate 5-11 bloggers/blogs who you think deserve the Liebster Award
- Create 11 questions of your own for the nominees to answer on their blogs.
- Notify your nominees and provide a link to your post so that they will know what to do.
- List these rules in your blog post.
Alright, now on to the questions. And then, on to the new nominees!!!
The Questions (and Answers)
- What made you choose the name of your blog website? My husband made me do it. I think he’s full left brain, but for some reason, when it comes to titles, he is the most intense right brain I’ve ever met. It’s pure brilliance. In fact, it may be the reason we’re still managing this crazy life: good titles are important so I keep him around!
- Why did you become a travel blogger? I, by no means, consider myself an expert. In fact, I think it’s basically impossible to be an expert to be at something that’s so fluid. There are no little people who travel the same way or respond the same way to new situations. But it does take a certain ability to abandon the rigidity of every day life. We’ve done that. And we’ve found a lot of people are scared to, so we just want to inspire people to not be afraid. Whether it’s a four hour road trip or a twenty-two hour flight, it can be done. And it is worth it.
- Who inspires you most? And why? At first I would say my inspiration to travel came from the places I traveled and the people I met there. Everything and every one was new and overwhelmingly welcoming. I remember spending one night in the streets of Dubrovnik drinking and learning the language with some locals we met that evening. I can remember the way the air felt, the smells of the streets, dusk in the tiny alley-like streets. The laugh of the people we were sitting with: they were so delightful and proud of their country. Things have changed since then though. Now it’s so much more than just the countries and their peoples.
Now I have littles at home to inspire me too. My daughter brings me ideas every day. She wants Singapore, a cave, a new hotel, a tour of castles that real princesses lived in. This wanderlust she has is now has added to my inspiration. She wants the world. And as much as I’m capable, I want her to have it. Everything is new and beautiful to her, and in a world that can get jaded, that is a comfort and hope I don’t expect to get elsewhere.
- What is your first travel memory? The first memory I have of traveling is being with my father. He was always different when we traveled–more excited, more talkative. Traveling brought a vibrancy to him that was contagious. My travel memories don’t start with the place we were but with the man my father was.
- What’s your biggest travel regret? The biggest travel regret I have occurred when my husband and I took our four year old and 1.5 year old to Japan while I was five months pregnant. We had been meaning to get to Japan for years, and we finally found the opportunity to. We weren’t worried about traveling there with little people as we’d heard that it was an amazingly easy place to travel with littles. But for some reason, that didn’t work for us. While there and since we’ve been back, we’ve been able to reflect on what went wrong for us, and I think it comes down to a few different things. First, we didn’t do enough research. We narrowed it down to where we’d like to spend our days, but not how we’d like to spend them. We had a general idea of where we wanted to wander, but not specifics on what we wanted to do or see in those areas. As a result, we were a bit lost when it came down to it (largely because of a little thing called monsoon season). Next, the weather conspired against us. We were prepared for heat, but we were not prepared for days upon days of torrential rain. This made our plan of wandering through areas nearly impossible.
Our littles were crammed inside of their strollers with foggy rain covers over them, unable to see anything. They were restless, and we were struggling to keep them happy. The next place we went wrong? We went against one of the fundamental aspects of traveling that we’ve determined works for us: we went to an international city. Coming from New York City, traveling to other international cities can be less than exciting. They are interesting for about two days, but then we need to get away from these cities to go to smaller areas. In this trip we stayed in Tokyo for too long, and it was our first stop. The slump we hit because of that was hard to pull out of. Finally, the food was good, but being pregnant with a husband allergic to shellfish, our options for authentic Japanese food were limited. So we found ourselves eating Indian food, Italian food. All great places, but places we could find in NYC. This was a real issue for my husband who is a huge foodie. And when we asked for recommendations we were told, oddly more than once, to try the Denny’s because it was great food and the kids would love it. Now, I’m all for checking out an American chain restaurant to see what changes in the menu exist, but still…Denny’s? Like Moons Over My Hammy Denny’s? To sum it all up, I wouldn’t say the trip to Japan was a regret. I would say going when we had such young children confined to strollers was. The timing was off for us, and we struggled to find the Japan we had heard about.
- What would you include in a two-day itinerary for someone visiting your hometown? I live about an hour outside of NYC, which means I should say that my two-day itinerary would be centered around taking the train into the city every day, but that seems too easy. I live in an area north of the city made of small hamlets and towns, each of them history-filled and quaint. I’m lucky in that I get the culture of the city permeating the town, but I also get the calm quietness of a small village. I’d first suggest a day going from town to town, avoiding the bigger cities of the area. The small family-owned businesses are always friendly and the collection of local goods is always interesting. The food is delicious no matter where you go, making finding a perfect lunch spot easy. Oh, and dinner. There are definitely some amazing restaurants, many of which pull their ingredients fresh from the local farms. Depending on the time of year, the next day I’d suggest going to one of the local festivals, whether it’s a food and wine festival, a nature festival, harvest festival, music festival, or heritage festival. The area is loaded with great events and places to spend the day. My favorite time of year to get out is the fall. Apple orchards and pumpkin patches surround us, so getting out and picking apples and pumpkins is one of our favorite activities. If there are no festivals going on, then my go to suggestion is hiking. Wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and the Hudson River, my hometown has trails throughout this beautiful wooded area.
- What place did you experience your biggest culture shock? When I was in Vietnam, my husband and I did a trip to Halong Bay. We stayed on a junk for two days and then Cat Ba Island for two days. It was an amazing trip (despite the sunburn you’ll read about later).
We were with a small group of six people (including ourselves) from all over the world, so it was nice to kayak through the waters, meet new people, and eat new food. This part, though, was not the culture shock. What was the culture shock occurred on the boat back from Cat Ba island to the mainland. Instead of taking a junk back, we were taking a faster speed boat. Unfortunately, the waters were choppy and the boat couldn’t get to the island, so we had to take the regular public transportation boat. No big deal we figured, but our guide kept apologizing to us. And we really didn’t understand why. The boat pulled up, and within minutes it was packed. We were put in the windowless belly of the boat, the only actual place to put people. Because the water was so rough, all the doors were shut tight and it got hot…sweat dripped from my shins. And then it started. And the reason for the apology became a bit more evident. Every person on the boat (literally all except our four other travel companions and ourselves) started getting sick. Literally, every single person was violently ill; even our guide was sick. And it was loud. The oddest part was, other than the moans and wretches, no one reacted. It appeared to be quite normal and expected. It was nothing more than the consequence of going to a resort on this beautiful island.
- What is the tastiest food you have tried on your travels? Greece by far had the tastiest food I have ever had. I’d like to zero in on a specific city, area, or island, but I there is just no way to do it.
I don’t think I ever had or ever will again find such pure ingredients. I’m not much of a tomato-lover, but in Greece the tomatoes were unlike anything and the freshness just oozed out of them. They were bright red and firm but soft at the same time. And the gemista, Greek stuffed peppers, still make fairly regular appearances in my dreams. I could go on and on, but it’s really just distracting me from the task at hand…(stares wistfully out of window…)
- What has been your worst travel “mishap”? The biggest travel mishap I’ve had occurred when my husband and I went to Cambodia and Vietnam. I took a cheaper version of anti-malaria medicine than my husband. It was known to make you more susceptible to sunburn. But I wear sunscreen, a lot of it, so I wasn’t worried. (You can already see where this is going, right?) At first, in Cambodia, I thought my skin was reacting badly to the water. It hurt when I swam or showered, but it wasn’t something that impacted my day to day activities. Unfortunately, after a day kayaking around Halong Bay in Vietnam, my sunburn had gotten so bad, even my fingernails had blisters under them. As a result of this, I stood out a bit when we returned back to Hanoi. I walked through the old town there with ice piled on my arms and was given reed fans by the Vietnamese women who were filled with pity. We had no shared language, but their kindness was clear. Even when visiting Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum I was told by the guards to take my bags with me (they had extra bags of ice in them) after I sat them down and they saw the condition of my skin (you’re required to leave all bags behind when in the mausoleum). While I regret going the cheap route, it did allow me to see a soft side of Vietnam I don’t know if I would have had the opportunity to see otherwise.
- Which place would you most like to go back to? For quite obvious reasons stated above, I think I’d be most likely to return to Japan. When my little people allow me a bit more freedom from being their source of entertainment and they can appreciate the world around them a bit more (really I just need to go when they can see it without the fog of a rain cover) I’d like to take them back to Japan so we can give it a fair shake. We need the gardens, the philosopher’s path. We need Mt. Fuji (we were there, at the highest point a car can get, but we had no idea as we couldn’t see it through the dense fog).
- Where are you traveling to next? The next trip is back to Walt Disney World. But the next new place to visit rather than return visit is to the Dominican Republic. But stay tuned, we’ve got a lot more planned.
My Liebester Award Nominees
I look forward to hearing all of your responses and to seeing all the great pieces your publish on your sites!
My Questions to My Liebster Award Nominees
When you travel, where do you prefer: beach, mountains, city, other?
What travel destination/experience exceeded your expectations?
What travel destination/experience failed to meet your expectations?
How do you plan your next destination(s)?
What inspired you to blog in the first place?
What’s the greatest tip you could give someone regarding traveling?
Somewhere you’ve always wanted to go?
Worst part of traveling?
What famous person would you travel with and why?
What is one thing you would never travel without?
Narrate your most meaningful travel moment/adventure.