#nikolikes traveling

We took our circus on the road yet again last month. And I must say – traveling with kids really does get easier when they get older. I thought older = smarter = more curious and = more difficult to corral, but no! The sweet promise of ipads once the plane took off the ground kept them at their model behavior!

Rather than turning this into a long series of posts, let me briefly tell you all the things I have to share.

We would be renting a car for part of our trip, so I wanted to bring our carseats (since I have yet to encounter an airline that wouldn’t let you check them in for free!). We purchased two of these:
The picture that they have is definitely photoshopped. =) A suitcase with 2 wheels would work better for this.
We have the 4 wheel kind so – our car seats were dragging on the floor a little bit, but – everything was great!
They’re pretty easy to strap-up and take off.
I would definitely recommend! Especially since the only other alternative is the little car seat dolly, and those are around 70$ each!!!!
Luka got a kick out of rolling in his car seat through the airport, and all the other passengers got a kick out of him =)

(PS – I don’t know why more people don’t use boxes for luggage. We had a bunch of presents, so I didn’t want to take up suitcase room. And it was cheaper to just get another piece of luggage than to pay for all the “overweight”. A diapers box is EXCELLENT – sturdy, nearly waterproof. Easy to fit in a trunk.. Just make a little handle out of packing tape – and you’re good to go!)

2. We flew with WOW airlines.

Some people make the argument that flying budget isn’t worth it once you add on all the luggage, etc etc. Well, let me tell you! for a family of 4, this was less than half the price. And we were looking in advance, on all the right days of the week, etc etc. Of course our first choice would have been KLM, and I was really tempted to fork over the extra $$$ for the non stop flight. But – just a few hours in the airport gave me the impression that Iceland is AWESOME! The layover didn’t make our flights that much shorter, SFO to Amsterdam directly is a little over 10 hours, and SFO to Iceland is 8.5, plus another 3 to Amsterdam. But it wasn’t brutal, and we all had a great time. There is a very nice dining area in the Keflavik airport. And if you have more time (like, lots more time) – there are bus tours you can book from the airport that will take you to the Blue Lagoon, hot springs, and even places where they filmed the Game of Thrones! The carry on luggage restrictions (you have to pay for anything besides a “personal item”) helped us not bring more than we need. We each had a back pack – the boys had their tablet, head phones, changes of clothes, blankets, snacks and small toys in theirs. And it was just right! Now – heads up. Because they are a “budget airline” – you have to pay even for drinks. So – unless you want to dish out 3$ for an airplane tea (which apparently you’re not even supposed to drink!) – get your fluids at the terminal! They also have some food options that you can purchase. But – the lack of standard airplane food – I would consider that a plus too.

On the website – it says that a stroller OR car seat is free per traveling child. We had two carseats and a stroller – and it was no problem, nobody made us pay anything extra.

Oh, and the seats do recline – but not with a button – there’s a little lever under the seat! There are also plugs between the seats!!! But not usb ports – so make sure you have the actual cube-plug part if you plan to use/charge your electronics.

3. We finally stayed at some airbnbs!!! Don’t know why it took us so long. If you are traveling to the Netherlands and need some recommendations – let me know! I’ll tell you the places where we stayed! All things Netherlands deserves it’s own post, so stay tuned!

4. The one thing I, as a parent, would recommend to buy in Europe (or ask someone to bring to you) is the medicine – Nurofen. This exact one  is our favorite one and we always make sure to have some in stock. It’s safe for babies from 3 months of age. And while it’s basically ibuprofen, it somehow seems to work better than Motrin, and our kids seem to think the orange flavor is delicious.

Oh. And – another thing you must check out – is the lip balm by Belweder – also don’t have it in the states. A friend turned me onto it a couple years ago and – I have not found anything better. The original one is by far the best. All the flavored ones and the new cleared one – meh. But the original. Oh MAN! It’s so light, not heavy, not sticky. Smells amazing. Usually you can find it at a pharmacy. They don’t ship to the US from their website so – if you do see it – get several!

5. After Netherlands we visited Moscow. And oh my gosh! I didn’t even realize it at first but – they have changed things SO MUCH! It is so clean now, they’re working on accessibility… And after the Netherlands – such a stark contrast – so many places to eat and shop that are open 24 hours. So much stuff in English. Honestly, I used to be a bit… not embarrassed but – giving people a heads up about stuff if they were thinking of visiting. Like – there’s definitely stuff worth seeing but be prepared to deal with x, y and z. And now – its.. WOW! They’re preparing for the big soccer championships and – I think it’s going to be great! Traffic though – ridiculous! My husband was saying he was glad we did not get a rental car there because – the way people drive… yeah… There are parts of highways where there is no lane markings on the road, and all the exits and on ramps and merges and no left/right turn rules are – I think, very complicated. But the subway system, let me tell ya – the Bart that we have going on here in the Bay Area… it’s just a joke compared to what I was expecting having grown up in Moscow. I set up android pay and just used my phone everywhere. Never needed my wallet… Do be prepared – if you want to buy alcohol at a restaurant or a store, or enter a club or something – you will need your PASSPORT, not your driver’s license or id or whatever we’ve become so accustomed to. Has to be your passport.

Getting a visa to Russia is a whole other ordeal. That’s something I’m not proud of being associated with, and – am still dealing with after having to get one for Luka since I did not bother getting his Russian citizenship. But – if you don’t mind spending a couple hundred – there are agencies that will do all the work for you. Just be prepared – the spirit of bureaucracy is strong!

6. Both our boys had a GREAT time!!! Luka – the moody one – was a bit difficult and rather “clingy”. I noticed a great change to his demeanor as soon as we got home. After two weeks I forgot how cheery he normally is. But even his moods weren’t so hard to deal with. Although – dad might have a different perspective since – both boys wanted dad THE ENTIRE time. And I felt NO guilt in truly cherishing all the meals I got to enjoy with no one in my lap, the airplane rides with no one crawling all over me, the strolls through the city with no one crying for me to pick them up or carrying kids and strollers up and down stairs… So thanks papa! I definitely would not have had as awesome of a time as I did if you hadn’t been so hard at work. And of course – if you ask Niko what he enjoyed most about the trip – getting to stay for one night at the Schipol airport hotel on our way back… kids!

 

Papa! You’re the best!

 

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