A Thanksgiving to Remember

We were first introduced to traveling with our friends over the Thanksgiving holiday. The first time (without kids but pregnant with our first) we celebrated in a 400 year old restaurant in Vienna with a delicious meal with our friends.

We definitely had the bug and traveling over Thanksgiving can be incredibly economical so we decided to do it a few more times. My favorite European Thanksgiving is the night we spent at Il Latini in Florence. One of Jeremy’s clients had told us we HAD to go there so we thought, why not make it our Thanksgiving spot to celebrate. I am so glad we did but we weren’t thinking and didn’t find it before the day of Thanksgiving nor did we make a reservation. We definitely didn’t expect a huge crowd on a Thursday night.

Luckily our friends B&L who had joined us for the last few days of their honeymoon had an unlimited data plan on their phone and were able to lead us to the restaurant using their map app. I don’t know that we would have found it otherwise. We finally saw the street – hooray! – and as we turned the corner we were shocked by the number of people in the alley way. The doors to the restaurant were still closed, we thought getting there at opening time would assure us a table, but the crowd went from one end of the alley to the other.

Jon made his way towards the front of the crowd as they began letting various groups into the restaurant – all with reservations or already on a waiting list – and the alley way slowly cleared out. There were still several groups outside with us and Jon was at the front!! We were a group of 7, so after watching all those other people in we weren’t sure there would be room and then – Jon was waving us in. We rushed to the door lest someone change their mind and were seated at the very last table available in the entire restaurant right at the front!!  They even had a child’s chair that hung from the table for Holden.

My back was to the window, our table was just inside the entrance and the front of the restaurant including the giant door was all glass, but I turned around to see why I saw wait staff going in and out of the front door – I knew there weren’t tables outside and couldn’t imagine what they were doing. Not 30 minutes into our dinner, after they practically cleared the alley, it was filled again and the waiters were serving the people wine and cheese while they waited. We were so blessed to have made it in so quickly!

The waiter came up and immediately brought us a bottle of wine and kept it coming. He didn’t bring us any menus but instead asked if we were interested in trying a few courses with food typical of the area. We were in! What an experience. We had a salad course, soup course, pasta course, meat course and dessert course. The food was incredible and we had so much fun eating, drinking and enjoying the company of our friends at this amazing restaurant celebrating all we had to be thankful for that Thanksgiving night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Owner came over to see how we were doing, spent some time chatting with us and then he verified the bill with the waiter. We never saw any pricing or menus so we weren’t sure what to expect – especially after all of the food and wine. They conferred and we received the bill, simple as that – no menu or posted pricing. For as much food and drink as we had during the three plus hour meal, we were completely flabbergasted at how affordable the dinner was per couple and how stuffed we were! After the bill came, they gave us each a drink of lemoncello, another round of desserts and two bottles of wine to go!! We even got to take a picture with the Owner.

Once we were outside we took several squishies – this was the best one that mostly got all 7 of us in, you’ll have to trust that Holden is in the stroller and we weren’t just posing around it but this long Italian dinner wore him out!!

It was one of the most amazing Thanksgiving experiences and I am so glad we were able to have it. Don’t shy away from traveling and having these experiences just because it’s tradition to stay home. I’m not saying you have to travel on a holiday but don’t rule it out, you never know what you might encounter.

Frugal Family Travel

Do I dare call family world travel frugal? Semantics police might object. If you are amongst them, read it as fancy frugal family travel from now on, and you’ll be just fine.

But as with most things, the cost of traveling with your kids is highly variable. From experience, I’d say it can range anywhere from hardly more than bumming it on your own – which is almost nothing – to infinity, I suppose.

We are on the finite end of the range. For both money and time. Yet we’ve managed to travel throughout the US, a bit of Canada, and a fair bit of Europe over the last few years. And we have a lot more planned. We have learned some things along the way.

And that’s the first lesson, family travel can be done on a budget. Pretty much anywhere you’d like to go.

Next lesson. If time is of the essence, pick and choose where to save. Save in one category or several, but realize that it can be (a bit) more work to design in maximum savings. If you get a kick out of thinking about your trips and planning, then you can save some real money. But don’t be scared – you can save money even if you are a lazy planner.

(Disclosure. I like thinking about the trip. But kinda generically. I wouldn’t do anything crazy like planning or writing stuff down. And I can still save a buck or two. H, however, is meticulous in planning. And that’s where a lot of magic happens. But sometimes being a lazy planner can save you a ton of money. Stay tuned.)

Now. There are some specific categories to consider.

- Where to go
- When to go
- Getting there
- Getting around
- Staying
- Eating
- Drinking
- Activities
- Souvenirs

Each of these is a fun discussion of it’s own, and we’ll spend some time on all of them.

The moral of the story is that if money IS an object, you STILL don’t have an excuse not to famvoyage!

An Unexpected Surprise…

There are a number of things that can surprise you when you’re traveling – not all of them good – but when my husband and I recently lost a combined 110 pounds thanks to the 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris, we were surprised at the changes we experienced while traveling. I never thought of myself as obese (though the Wii says otherwise) and I have always been strong, haven’t had any trouble climbing 160 steps to the top of a tower (or no more than anyone else did!) and I traveled “comfortably”.

Before the Weight Loss - Traveling to Ireland

Well, I thought I was comfortable… now that I’ve lost 54 pounds, turns out that it is possible to travel even more comfortably than I was before. I no longer have lap children – we have to buy their seats – but that doesn’t mean they sit in their seats the entire flight. The leaner me fits into my seat better, with room to spare on either side, can keep a child on my lap without feeling like they’re being crowded into the seat in front of us, and I just feel better.

Not only that, I can still walk up 160 stairs without getting more tired than the next person, fit in the small curving staircase a bit better AND can accomplish it while carrying or wearing a child.

Our clothes are smaller so they take up less space in the suitcase, enabling me to pack even LESS!! Which you all know, it is a goal of mine to pack less every time we travel.

What a surprise, I never thought something as small as losing some weight could make such a huge difference.