Travel Planning

Florence in February

There are many good reasons to visit Italy, but if you’re not doing it with a Top 10 list, you might as well not be doing it at all.  I only have 5 reasons, but I’m going to do it anyway. At any point of the year, I can figure out at least a few great reasons to go to Italy, but since my daughter was born we’ve been planning our trips in February.  It’s about that time to plan for next year, so check your mileage balances, mark your calendars, prepare to gain ten pounds and let’s get going. 1.  The Kids Are Off for President’s Day Anyway What else were you doing on February 15 anyway?  The kids are home.  You’re home, probably burning a vacation day because [...]

Trenitalia Frecciarossa

Trenitalia has introduced a direct train line from Rome’s Fiumicino airport to Venice, and that is great news for travelers entering Italy through its busiest airport.  If you’re from the United States, just about all direct routes to Italy serve FCO – other than the very competitive JFK-MXP route – and many are headed to other cities within Italy.  This news brings what I find to be the most convenient option to the mix. While Rome has perennially huge tourist numbers, Venice and Florence are right up there as well.  Previously, the way to get to those places was to generally fly direct to Rome or Milan and either connect to another flight or board a minimum of two trains to either destination.  At Rome, this would involve taking the [...]

School Bus

My daughter’s at that age where she’s insisting on doing things by herself.  Truthfully, she was born that way, then developed the words for it, then the kind of physical coordination it requires, in that order.  But right now we’re hitting a pretty big bus and train phase.  I mean, there is a yellow school bus sitting in my living room that she “drives” her stuffed animals around in. Indeed, demand for public transportation from the under 3 demographic in my household is at an all time high.  Truthfully, my wife and I are happy to do it – we’re city people at heart, and for the decade before Maine, public transportation and cabs were just how we did things. As a result, we’re starting to plan more of the [...]


Seattle has been high on our list of places to visit for a long time now.  My wife grew up on the west coast and spent summers traveling from San Diego and, later, Phoenix to the Pacific Northwest for family vacations.  She hasn’t been back in a while, and in the meantime, the farthest north I’ve traveled on the west coast is San Francisco.  Being from the Northeast, it seemed obvious to me that we “had” to take advantage of the Cathay Pacific flight to Vancouver, so we’ll be starting our trip there and migrating down to Seattle in time for the 4th of July. IntroductionOutbound FlightsVancouver HotelSeattle HotelReturn FlightsActivities  Seattle hotels are extremely well covered by other bloggers.  Others’ coverage made our choices much easier than they should have [...]


Plans for Vancouver and Seattle over the 4th of July next year are starting to take shape.  We have our outbound flights, and based on availability, have opted to fly into Vancouver.  The plan for this trip is to primarily “spend” miles and points, as our balances are probably a bit higher than we would ordinarily burn over the next 12 months and we don’t have big plans to travel for long stretches any time soon.  In this installment, my research is primarily focused on finding hotels in the area, preferably available using a points currency that I already have, and selecting what I hope will be the best option.  As I’ve not actually been to Seattle, let alone stayed in these hotels, a corresponding trip report will be in order [...]


Let me get this out of the way – I love trip reports.  Reading them, that is.  It’s kind of exciting to see what other people experienced on their vacations, whether it’s somewhere I’ve been (bah, they should have eaten at xyz, that abc is a tourist trap!); somewhere I want to go (we’ll do that one NEXT!); or even somewhere I have no desire to visit (I’m not sleeping in that!).  And I’ll often think, wow, imagine how much trip planning probably went into that nice clean report!  I know, it’s a completely boring thought, but it’s where my mind goes. While I am horrible about writing trip reports – I’ve deleted more drafts than I care to admit – I am at least diligent about writing as I [...]

Boston Skyline Staycation

Good morning.  I’m writing this post as I’m sitting at home with a sick toddler.  Well, sick might be the wrong word – she’s getting over something from the weekend, woke up a bit grumpy still, and we decided to keep her home.  If you’re a parent, chances are, you’ve been in the same situation before.  The end result is burning a day of time off from work, and for may of us, that comes out of the same pool of days that we can allocate to fun things.  I certainly consider myself fortunate to have paid time off, especially the amount that I get, but it’s always a bit of a bummer for everyone when it’s one day less that we can spend on vacation. I’ve been giving it [...]

Portland International Jetport

By now you’re probably sore from all that packing.  Odds are decent that you even acquired some new luggage now known as “The Baby’s Suitcase.”  Not Billy’s suitcase.  Not Jill’s suitcase.  Just The Baby’s Suitcase, bursting at the zippers with fear and resentment, and it probably weighs 49.9999 pounds – just under that $100 weight limit.  You look at it and immediately feel secure, though, as it contains every conceivable item in order to tackle a problem on the road. Tomorrow you head to the airport!  That’s right, I’m going to assume you’re better than me and not packing the morning of the trip.  Please, do yourself a huge favor and be better than me. Up to this point, you’ve done your best to plan the itinerary and grab the right [...]

Oh the things you will be packing.

Packing You’ve chosen your test run.  The flights are booked, you even scored the bulkhead on a US Airways E-175 for a short 90 minute jaunt.  Now let’s pack. The most advanced of travelers and certain kinds of wizards can manage to pack for a baby into a carry on.  I am neither, and to this day, we check bags.  Plural.  The first trip, though, is a particular spectacle.  I won’t spend any time here telling you what not to bring, because as responsible, caring parents, you’re going to blow off that advice and pack according to your concerns.  You’re right to do that.  However, you will be packing up about half the house in order to feel prepared.  That’s ok!  By all means, do it.  You need to reduce [...]

Infant formula and you

One lesson that we learned the hard way when first setting out to travel as a family is that the more conveniently packed your infant formula is for you, the less convenient it is to bring it through airport security.  Officially, the TSA must let you carry through a “reasonable” quantity of formula, water or any other liquid that your child may need.  Unofficially, it has been my experience that it will be made inconvenient for you at the security checkpoint unless you do it a certain way. Pre-mixed formula is your friend When packing for a trip with a baby, I absolutely recommend being conservative with your  carry on.  That means packing enough food, water, diapers and other necessities to last the duration of the flight, airport waiting time, [...]