Loire Valley: Cheverny and Chambord

It’s been a wild two months with travel, and I’ve just now replaced my luggage and done enough laundry to justify taking the time to do another blog entry. And so, my lovely travel friends, I present to you our Springtime adventure to the Loire Valley.

As always, we planned our flight around the girls. We try to book flights to coincide with bedtime when flying long-haul trips. That way, the girls boarded the plane, ate dinner and fell right asleep for the majority of the flight. At three, Isabella is already a pro at check-in, packing the right toys for the plane and enjoying the flight.  We flew Economy Plus via United Airlines direct ORD to CDG.

We arrived in the morning, ready to grab a croissant and explore the Loire Valley. Our first stop was the Chateau de Chantilly, known as the home of Henri d’Orleans and for it’s amazing whipped cream desserts. Something for everyone.

It was a beautiful introduction to France. The grand chateau, the ornate décor, everything that a toddler could care less about. Mike demonstrates the proper technique for getting a toddler into a historic site below.

Once inside, Olivia really loved the library and the beautifully appointed rooms. In her heart, she was now in a Disney princess movie. Isabella was still rather suspicious. This entire castle was filled with things she wasn’t supposed to touch and she took that as a personal challenge.

After letting the kids run in the chateau gardens and feeding them a proper lunch at the restaurant in the chateau, we wondered down the path to Chambord. Now, I was excited to visit Chambord. I knew we wouldn’t be drinking Chambord, but it looked like a beautiful chateau with gorgeous ambiance and I was just way too excited to see it.

And it was gorgeous. There is this amazing double helix staircase in the center that leads up through several floors and lets out on the castle ramparts. The girls explained that this was where the “Beast” fought Gaston on the turrets. They loved Chambord almost as much as I did.

After the kids ran all through the chateau, we headed to our home away rental home for a glass of wine, baguette and cheese. But that is a story for a different post.

Until then, Au Revoir!


The Magic of Storytelling

What’s your favorite story? As an adult, you may not have one. But if you ask any kid what their favorite story is, their eyes light up and they give you the longest, most detailed summary that you’ve ever heard. Sometimes there is singing involved. Sometimes, there are different voices for various characters. This is the magic of storytelling.

Although, hopefully, the magic of storytelling doesn’t end with childhood. Reading lets us travel through different times in history when you read Homer’s Odyssey. Reading provides different perspectives and allows us to experience life through the eyes of another person like in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Sometimes reading allows us to process the world we live in through stories that seem farfetched and unrealistic until you catch yourself quoting phrases like, “Constant vigilance!” from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling or wondering if Chicago is the next district 13 as described in The Hunger Games series. Books travel with you overseas or at school when you reach for a tattered copy of Kitchen Confidential and it’s as though an old friend suddenly appeared.


On February 4th, people around the world are celebrating the #magicofstorytelling by reading books to their children. Online, people are posting #shelfies, which are pictures of your bookshelf to promote reading at home. And the Walt Disney company has a drawing to win a library of hundreds of books for your child’s school and dozens for your home library. Please sign up here for a free entry, and show us your shelfie on twitter or Instagram by tagging @travelkids2 because I would love to see your favorite reads!


Fantasy Friday: Your 2017 dream location

If you could plan a trip anywhere in the world in 2017, where would it be?

1390It’s a brutal 5 degrees in Chicago today and I can’t help but imagine all the wonderful destinations that I could travel to this year. But if I had to narrow it down to my top 5

  1. St. Petersburg, Russia.
  2. Singapore
  3. Bogota, Columbia
  4. Monaco
  5. Nepal

St. Petersburg: I’ve never been to Russia, and they are building up to host the World Cup in 2018.  The city will be at it’s best advantage and the exchange rates are increasingly beneficial to US travelers. If you’ve never visited Peter’s castle, the Hermitage or the home of Catherine the Great, now might be your time.

Singapore: Singapore includes everything I love. Great fusion style foods heavily influenced by Chinese, Asian and Indian cuisine. A warm island climate. Plenty of big name international stores, museums and urban hot spots. I would visit for the street styles alone.

Bogota, Columbia: We had an aborted trip to Columbia booked in 2009 that remains a gaping hole in my passport. Beyond, my personal desire to visit,  Columbia is revived and ready for visitors after a long civil war. I’m interested in visiting the museums, parks and trying a new flavor of Latin cuisine. The route from Chicago requires a lay-over in Mexico which is just a plus in my book.

Monaco: I blame Grace Kelly. We recently watched “To Catch a Thief” and I fell in love with the glamour of Southern France and started reading about Kelly’s real life transition to royalty. The glittering coast is supposed to be the finest in the Mediterranean and I can’t wait to see it for myself. If I could manage to attend a glittering gala, I might actually die of happiness.

Nepal: the country is mostly recovered from the great earthquake of 2015 that wrecked Kathmandu. To my mind, no other country is as remote or awe inspiring as Nepal in literature or travel. In reality, locals are friendly and inviting to travelers and provide an authenticity to their delight in receiving your tourist dollars. Speaking of which, for budget conscious travelers, you can get by on less than $50 a day. Making Nepal as affordable as it is majestic.

And there you have it! My top 5 daydream destinations for 2017. We’ll see if I make it to any of these or if the new year has entirely different plans in store for us!


So you decided to start a blog…

There are a LOT of blogs in the universe. I get it. I read quite a few of them and depend on them like I do my morning coffee for insight and wit available at my fingertips. Blogs matter. At least they do to me.

Because we travel frequently and bring our children with us, I get many questions from my own friends regarding what to pack, rent or buy abroad. I have tips and experiences that might be valuable to you on a future trip. I have cute children who are semi-patient in front of a camera. In many cases they illustrate what NOT to do or the very specific tipping point when plans are not going, well, to plan.


What 8 hour flight?

So I hope that you enjoy the blog! Please send any questions or comments my way so I can provide the content that interests you the most!

Thanks and much love,