HOTEL LIFE: Tips for GlobeTOTting

Hotel life isn’t all breakfast in beds and plush terry robes when traveling with tots. With ten hotels over the last 2 months, one of which was an overnight on a junk boat in Halong Bay and one which we were evacuated from due to the monsoon in Hoi An, we are well practiced in navigating life on the road. I love staying in hotels – I love turn-down services and a cuppa brought to me in bed. But the last couple months hasn’t just been me.  There are these three little rugrats that seem to follow me everywhere. I’m not saying that I need a vacation right now (because the comments I would receive would be horrendous I know), but hotel life can be full on with all the unpacking and packing up and trying to give our kids some sense of stability even though we are nomads. The nice thing about being at home is that you have your creature comforts with you – so how have I tried to replicate our home life in our hotel globeTOTTing world? My top tips for hotel life below:

TRAVEL COT: We love the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light for hotel travel. Of course most of the hotels we stay in do provide some sort of baby cot, I’m not always happy with the mattress or the crib. Having this crib tucked away in Sadie’s suitcase gave me a sense of security that I could always just pop it up (it is super easy to open and close) and she could go down for a nap. She was also more comfortable sleeping in the bed that she knew, rather than constantly finding a new bed in every hotel we moved to.

TRAVEL HIGH CHAIR: I travel with two chairs, both the Peg-Perego Rialto and the benbat. The Peg-Perego Rialto is the dream travel chair – you can adjust the height and it comes with an eating tray – it is really the sturdiest most innovative chair I’ve seen. It is a little heavier and sturdier than the benbat, so we leave this chair as our hotel chair – leaving it permanently in the hotel room or if we’ve rented a villa, in the house we are staying in. I also keep the Benbat Yummigo Booster on hand for meals out – it is extremely lightweight and can be easily clipped onto Sadie’s Babyzen Yoyo stroller. Obviously if you are traveling to places where they will have child seats available, no need to bring high chairs with you – but safe seats aren’t widely available in Southeast Asia and so we’ve come prepared and I’m so thankful as when the kids are comfortable in their seats, they eat better and meal times are more enjoyable and less like feeding times at the zoo. (I also love having two seats with me, as if we inevitably loose one, I have another one in my back pocket).

BLUETOOTH SPEAKER: We always have music at home and so, in my attempts to create a little home in our hotel rooms, I always pack a bluetooth speaker for afternoon Raffi sing-a-longs and as Christmas is coming up, Jingle Bell dance parties. We also have fallen in love with Audible.com – so for afternoon colouring time or playdoh creation, our speaker acts as storytime as well. AND, as there are always unpredictable noises in hotel rooms (our amazing hotel room in Chiang Mai was next to a massive construction site – and drills aren’t conducive to naptime) – I pop a little White Noise Machine sound (on spotify or on youtube) while the kids are going for a nap or sleep, and it seems to help block out the background noise.

BABY LIGHT: Creating a sleep environment that is as close to what your children are familiar with is the key. Sadie (and the boys) use the TOMY First Years Starlight Dream Show to calm them to sleep (while I sneak out of the room) and so I tuck this into her travel crib so she can have it during hotel bedtime as well. Whatever your kids have during bedtime at home, try to tuck it along during your hotel travels as well.

NIGHT WATER: Our kids are forever waking us up in the night to ask for water – at home they always have a cup next to their beds so they can help themselves. On the road, we bring each child a Klean Kanteen – safe, durable, and leak-proof – and labeled with their names on a label for easy identification. Great for car journeys and of course, next to their beds so they have one less reason to wake you up in the middle of the night.

CLEAR TRAVEL BAGS: If there is only one take-away from these travel tips, it is to stock up on these essential Marks & Spencer Clear Bags – they come as a set of three and I use all three sizes for life on the road. I keep the smallest bags for carry-on travel first aid kit and the largest one for a proper full medical kit (more on travel safety in another blog). I also tuck all of my electronic chargers and wires into a bag, all of our sunscreens, repellent, and lotions and potions into another, and so on. When you are unpacking and packing up day after day, you don’t have time to properly ‘move into’ a hotel room. There are things to do, cities to see, and the last thing I want to do when I’m unpacking is organizing everything or when packing up, trying to find everything that I’ve tucked in drawers. These bags are brilliant as I can unpack the bags – line them all up on a shelf – and then I can see which bag I need and go from there. Just makes life easier when you can clearly see what you have – while everything is still tucked away for easy grab-and-go.

ELECTRONIC CHARGING: There are never enough chargers in a hotel room for all of our gadgets. 5 ipads, 4 phones, a bluetooth speaker, a laptop, a camera charger, and probably other items that I’m forgetting. I’m probably late to the game, but I just discovered universal travel adapters with dual USB ports – so you can charge your computer AND two ipads in one plug (the dream!) Maximizing charging stations is key – so these solve our port issues.

ACTIVITIES & SNACKS: Proper blog posts on both hotel room activities (for the downtimes in between beach time and tour time) and also the best travel snacks to keep on hand for early morning nibbles before you get down to breakfast… but will write those later as the kids are all waking up from a nap now and its time for me to take off my blogger hat and put on my mom hat.

Love xx

AIRPORT LIFE: Tips for traveling with tots

Flying with tots requires both navy seal training and a doctorate in patience. Neither of which I have, but I’ve made enough mistakes along the way and I’ve had enough practice that I do have a few tips when flying with tots.  Before you even get in the air, you still need to navigate the airport – and with the chaos of crowds and the joys of delays – airport life itself is an adventure. Obviously, the more time you give your family for checkin, the less stressful the entire experience is. There is nothing worse than running through an airport, dragging your screaming children behind you, trying to catch a plane. (We did this once years ago, and we won’t ever make that mistake again). The second time, is to be prepared. If you are organized, it can really be seamless. Here are my tried and tested airport tips for happy tots (AND mummies and daddies):

+ BABYZEN YOYO stroller: You need a stroller that you can fold up easily and tuck in the overhead compartment – so you won’t have to wait for your stroller on the runway or at baggage claim. There is nothing worse than being the first one off the plane – and then having to wait (while your child(ren) have a tantrum on the floor of the airport) for your stroller. I’ve tried several travel strollers over the years – and the Babyzen Yoyo is the sturdiest, the chicest, and the easiest to fold up. I only discovered it with Sadie – BUT am getting a lot of good use out of it now. I also love the clip on umbrella (has been perfect for sunny strolls) and also zip on footmuff (for chilly London mornings).

Babyzen Yoyo Stroller essential for overhead airport packing

+ LO & SONS Catalina Deluxe Tote Bag and Fjallrraven Backbacks for the kids: This is the perfect tote bag for kids. Not only does it match my grey yoyo – it is light and I just swing it over my yoyo or my arm. It is permanently connected to my yoyo hanging from the back – the bottom zip compartment holds all of Sadie’s extra nappies and change of clothes for her – and a t-shirt for the boys (should disaster strike – it inevitably does) and inside has plenty of room for all the essentials. And I love all the secret hidden pockets – for all the extras that you need along the way. For the kids, I love the Fjallraven Kanken mini backpacks. Big enough to carry their earphones and a snuggly and a snack, and small enough for them to carry on their back. I always think, the bigger the bag, the more you fill it – so I wanted smaller backpacks for the kids as otherwise inevitably they want to fill them up and then the bags are too heavy and they won’t want to carry them. So here, problem solved. Perfect size, very durable, and super cute.

Catalina Deluxe Tote Bag from Lo & Sons that I’m obsessed with – casual, chic, and has so many great hidden pocket for airport essentials.

+ AWAY Carry-on: Not only is this the most genius luggage ever (charging station within!) but also sleek and chic – which makes me feel more organized. If it looks good, I feel better and calmer – and the entire experience is nicer for everyone. AND when I know I can charge the kids’ iPads, I feel like I’ve got money in the bank. AND these carry-ons are lightweight and roomy inside, so I can pack as many travel treats and snacks as I want.

+ Ipads & Headphones: This is obvious (duh!) – I’m not the perfect mother who keeps her children entertained with wooden toys on a long-haul flight – of course we have some great inflight travel crafts and tricks BUT I always have a well-stocked iPad for each child before we travel.  I love these indestructible ipad cases and these kids headphones by lilgadgets.

+ Iphones: I also upload games and tv shows to my phones as well – JUST. IN. CASE. Always good to have extra entertainment – trust me. You might not need it, but if you do, you will be grateful.

+ Charger and Adapter: If you have your AWAY Carry-on with you, just remember to bring your cord and you are set. If you don’t have a charging carry-on (silly you and get with the program!), bring an adapter just in case.

+ Apps & TV: Our favorite apps are Hip Hop Hen (for reading and writing on the go – the boys love it and makes me feel like I’m not a useless mom sticking my kid in front of a video game) and Mickey Mouse’s Color & Play. I’m also a huge fan of Audible.com – so I download a few new stories for the munchkins to listen to.

+ Travel Treats: I always have a plastic bag (the best are the pack of 3 from Marks & Spencer – you get all 3 but I tend to use the smallest bag for packing in carryons) but any clear zip cosmetic bag will do with a few travel treats, a few small crafts (my favorite are these small foam craft kits from Baker & Ross), and a card game (Spot It and Woodland Happy Families are small enough to be tucked into a little backpack and hours of fun.) More on the best travel crafts and travel card games for kids in an upcoming post.

+ Snack Pack: Fill another M&S clear zip bag – again the small one – with snacks – more on the best travel snacks for the whole family in an upcoming post.

+ Carry-on First Aid Kit: Fill ANOTHER M&S clear zip bag – the smallest one – with all you need for your flight (bandaids, children’s tylenol, stickers, couple sticks of chewing gum (for tears), vaseline, cool pack…), again, watch this space for another blog post on travel first aid.

+ Pacifier Connector: Sadie doesn’t use a pacifier normally, but I like to keep one on hand for when we travel – for sucking during take off and landing and also just generally calming when necessary. A strap keeps it connected to her and not on the floor.

+ ADEN & ANAIS Security Blanket: When Matt and I started thinking about starting a family (a thousand years ago), we didn’t want having babies to hamper our travels – of course traveling would change, but we still wanted to explore the world – even if it meant throwing our kids on our backs. Our maternity nurse Patricia recommended these Aden & Anais security blankets as a lovie for our baby Max. Rather than a stuffed animal, these are easy to wash, you can buy and pack a few (easy to fold small), and also are GREAT for putting over tired eyes as a mini blackout on planes or in airports. I always stuff one of these for each child in the front zip of his or her backpack. Max rarely takes his out anymore, but just likes knowing it is there. Jake loves to hold his on the plane, and Sadie loves playing peek-a-boo with hers (and snuggling with it of course).

So now you have it. You have a few clear (so you can see inside) small zip bags of emergency answers – first aid, snacks, and travel treats – and a few other essentials. Oh, and remember to check that you all have your passports before you walk out the door.

I promise to do more posts – to get you out of the airport and into the air – until then, sending love from Vietnam (where we’ve just survived another flight from Hoi An to Hanoi).

Love xx

Capsule Travel Wardrobe c/o Trunk Club

I love packing for a trip like this – it requires careful planning, decisive editing, and obsessive organization, which satisfies all of my OCD tendencies perfectly. This three month trip is all about adventure – and packing for a family of five as we travel across 5 countries and 3 continents is nothing if it isn’t an adventure. Of course I had to think about packing clothing for the kids, HOW I was going to pack for hotel living, as well as snacks and activities for our journey, but more on that later… for now, how was I going to pack for myself – for a visit to London to see friends and family, with outings to Frieze, the theatre, and cocktail parties  – as well as pub afternoons, walks in Hyde park and weekends in the countryside? That in and of itself is enough – then add on 2 months in Southeast Asia, to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam – where though we weren’t backpacking around like I did post-college, I didn’t want to be carting around piles of luggage with us (we were going to have enough as it was!)

For London, I needed some key pieces that could take me for a week in October (our short layover en route to Asia) and then for a few weeks end of November – for all the activities that city life has to offer. And then, I needed a capsule of a capsule collection to take to Southeast Asia. I didn’t want our Southeast Asia trip to be a fashion show for me – quite the opposite, when traveling to foreign places, I actually want to blend in as much as possible rather than stand out. I want pieces that I can wear again and again and I don’t get tired of them – more of a traveling uniform rather than ‘look at me’ pieces. AND because we were traveling for 2 months and we planned to do laundry once a week, I also wanted pieces that I could toss in the sink for a quick rinse and hang outside our villas – so cotton is essential. The pieces needed to work for a morning walk on the beach, a cover up by the pool and a walk in the Bangkok night market.

Trunk Club to the rescue! Again, I called upon my stylist to help me figure it all out.  She did a great job building me an LA wardrobe so I thought, why not – her styling services are free after all and I only had to pay for what I kept. I explained the adventures ahead to my Trunk Club stylist – and here is what she sent me in a box – to try on at home (and I kept it all!) which you will see in all my instagram posts!

+ James Perse V-Neck Cotton Dresses – I bought these in black AND white and am wearing them ALL. THE. TIME. I wore the black one the other night to dinner and Matt said, ‘see boys? when you grow up, find a woman who puts on a simple black dress and ties her hair up and looks as beautiful as your mummy, and you will be the happiest men in the world…’ MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I wanted a dress that I could wear in the morning to breakfast, by the pool as a cover up,  and also could dress up (hair up? bit of my tinted lipgloss? and voila!) for dinner.

+ Current Elliot White Dress – I never would have thought to buy this dress had someone not suggested it to me – or rather put it in a box and sent it to me to open up and try on at home. It is the perfect cover up (but again, I also wore it to an afternoon walk in Phuket town and it looked like I had dressed for town – not just a lazy beach coverup). AND I can throw it in the sink for a quick wash and hang to dry (which is essential as throughout the course of a meal, I have at least one of the kids climbing in my lap and inevitably sticky curry hands are covering my front). (This is the dress I’m wearing below – I LOVE LOVE LOVE it – and even though I’m wearing it all the time here in Thailand, it will be great on the beach in LA too)


+ Current Elliot Grey VNeck Dress – Soft – basic – comfortable WITH POCKETS! A mothers dream come true! I wish this dress came in other colors but so far,

+ Alexander Wang Striped Shirts – I can’t get enough stripes ever – and while traveling it is really the only ‘pattern’ that I don’t get sick of if I’m wearing the same clothes for weeks on end. AND these shirts are brilliant as I’m also pairing them with my new Mom Jeans that Julianne picked out for me – for airplane rides and even my new Rag & Bone leather trousers for London pub afternoons.

+ Caslon Tshirts – I needed a few shirts just to have when I didn’t want to wear a dress – to throw with my favorite new long shorts by McGuire (see pictures below) or for traveling or around the hotel room. The most basic of the basic t-shirt in a few colors that I also wouldn’t panic if they got covered with prawn sauce or tuk tuk dirt. And voila! Julianne wrapped up a few Caslon (I ordered them in black, white, blush, navy and grey after I tried the first one) and now I’m totally addicted. They are SO soft – and unlike some of my other favorite white t-shirts that I have to remortage our house for – they are SO inexpensive! I’m wearing the black one in this picture below:

+ A striped Current/Elliot Muscle Tank (picture at the bottom) – again, this is something that I would never think of trying on – and yet it is a staple for me here – as clever Julianne tucked it inside my trunk to try on. (That is the beauty of this service, you discover things you never knew you would like, and they are all packaged up for you – for FREE!)

+ My new MOM jeans (how appropriate for the trip as these little munchkins are ALWAYS with us – and I’m a mom 24/7) and my new Equipment turtle neck sweater which again, I never would have chosen for myself but it is a staple on all our plane rides as the neck keeps me warm on flights but when we land in 90 degree Cambodia, I’m not sweating(not sure what it is made of but it is genius, as my stylist knew) for traveling.

SO, try it – click here (trust me on this one!) and try TrunkClub out for free! Happy shopping – and hey, even if you aren’t about to take an adventure around the world, try it for your next wedding or weekend trip away – or if you just need to update your closet – you can still have an adventure trying on some new clothes.

x

Routines amidst Adventure

We all look to our routines to give us a sense of consistency in our lives. While I love (and seek) adventure and the unknown, I also revel in the comforts of the known and the familiar. The next few months is a true adventure for our family – we are going back to London as a family (we haven’t been back all together since we left last December) and then we are continuing on for a Southeast Asia adventure for a couple months – and then back to London for a few weeks to say goodbye to our home.

As I started packing for this upcoming trip (and editing my luggage so I wouldn’t be taking half a closet with me), I had to think strategically about everything that I absolutely needed for both London and Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. What are my essentials? What do I need to prepare me for every day, whether we are seeing friends and family in London or saying goodbye to the home we built or on a junk boat in Halong Bay in Vietnam?

When we first moved to Los Angeles and I was trying to make this new town feel like home, a girlfriend shared some well-received advice. She told me to carve out routines and things that are familiar – we went to Farmers Market every Sunday morning in London as a family – and so we started doing this in Los Angeles, and suddenly, we felt at home. We went to dim sum in London every Sunday afternoon, and as soon as we added this into our Sunday routine, our new life suddenly felt more familiar.

I’ve always started the day the same way – wake up and put on my robe (I’ve just been sent this Parachute Robe which I LOVE!) and boil the kettle for a hot water and ginger (I love this Wakaya Perfection Organic Ginger Powder) and then a cup of my favorite English Breakfast Tea (Royal Blend by Fortnum & Mason is my favorite and comes in such a pretty tin that the kids love to play with afterwards…)
Since we moved to Los Angeles and I’ve jumped on the wellness wagon, I’ve also added another two steps to my morning routine – a glass of Green Vibrance which we call swamp water in our house (it takes pretty horrific but it is so jammed with vitamins that it has to be good for me – and the face I make when I drink it sends all the children into fits of squeals which they love…) and finally a morning shake of either The Clean Program or Nuzest Clean Lean Protein which I blend with half a frozen banana and a handful of blueberries and a spoonful of almond butter. (Depending on what I’m needing and how I’m feeling, I also play scientist in the kitchen and might chuck in a handful of spinach and half an avocado…) Both the swamp water and the shake additions to my morning routine have been incredibly helpful, giving me a dose of vitamins and also now our school days start SO early and with three kids that I’m getting ready out the door, I have no time to feed myself – so I multitask and drink my shake and tea in the car on the way to drop-off…

While I was packing, and thinking about the importance of routine admits the chaos, I’ve added Fortnum & Mason Royal Blend teabags (easier for grab & go while traveling than the tea leaves), Green Vibrance (comes in individual sachets which makes it so easy!) and my Clean Program shakes (my favorite is chocolate – and if you buy the entire cleanse it comes in little sachets which makes easier for traveling). AND because we will be in London for a few weeks upon our return from Southeast Asia (and I will likely be wanting some creature comforts after braving Thailand jungles…) I’ve also packed my favorite Parachute Robe.

My girl scout training taught me to be prepared – and my experience moving, and the importance of routines has reminded me that if we even have just one thing a day that is familiar, then I can brave the adventure. So I’m prepared for it all – robe and swamp water in hand!

What are your little routines that help you get through the day? Comment below and let me know – as I’m always looking to add more little moments to my day.

Life is either a daring adventure… (aka #HermerHoliday)

So, as I mentioned last week, one of the things that came out of our Burning Man experience was the realization that “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” We all get so much more when we push ourselves – when we are living just beyond our comfort zones. Matt and I are both inspired more – as parents, as a couple, and as entrepreneurs, when we are living just beyond the edge. This isn’t to say that we don’t love our nights in pajamas with a good boxset (Ozarks anyone?!) but we’ve learned that it is all about the mix for our family.

A couple things happened this last month in the Hermer household: 1. We signed on our first restaurant site in Los Angeles (YAY! – proper announcement to come when we get all our ducks in a row) but due to timing, this won’t open until 2018 so we have a window of time before we need to get working on it 2.: I’m working on a new EXCITING project (YAY!) but the first few months of my new startup can be done remotely. 3. As we make Los Angeles our home, we’ve decided to sell our home in London. 4. We learned that California law requires children to be formal school from the 1st grade (our eldest Max is in Kindergarten this year).

Suddenly, we realized that we have a pocket of time in our lives as a family to do whatever we want. As we are going to sell our home in London, I wanted to go back to London and say goodbye to the home we built and where we raised our family. Building the house was Matt and my first big project together – it really was a labor of love. And though the time is right to close that chapter as we live our California chapter, I also think it is important for us as a family to say goodbye to our London home.

Max and Jake have also been missing their London friends and family – in particular, Max misses the London rainy puddles, Jake misses the big red buses, and we miss our friends and family (I’m not forgetting Sadie here, but to be honest, she is pretty happy if she is on my hip). So we thought that it would be a good time to go back to London, say goodbye to our home, and visit friends and family.

And then, Matt and I thought, well, we are in London, and we have some time – lets do something else… while we still can. While we still can educate our children in the school of life – before 1st grade starts. So, we’ve gotten a bit adventurous and in the spirit of YOLO (and hatching this plan in Burning Man – uh oh!), we’ve booked tickets from London to Southeast Asia FOR 8 WEEKS. Are we crazy? YES! Are we excited? YES YES YES!

Though we are still in the process of planning the trip (which does give me some level of anxiety as we are leaving for London on October 1st – less that 2 weeks!), we’ve decided to throw Sadie on our backs with Max and Jake in our hands and head to Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Even as I write this, I’m thinking WHAT ARE WE THINKING and yet, this year has been all about adventure and Matt and I want to continue it as long as we can, while we can.

While our children are young, we want to soak them up – away from the screens and away from the daily schedule of life – and actively make memories as. SO in the next 10 days, we’ve got a lot to do. First of all, if anyone has suggestions on where to stay or what to do in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Vietnam, please comment below! AND if you have suggestions on what to bring traveling with young children – comment below! The next 10 days are going to be crazy as we try to plan this trip, pack for everything from London life to Angkor Wat for a family of 5, and wrap up the work that we’ve started in LA, so that when we come back in January, we can hit the ground running.

Wish us luck – and of course I will be figuring it out along the way – so expect more blog posts on how to get through an around the world trip with toddlers (and enjoy it).

Love xx

Below are a few pix from our attempts to get our Southeast Asia visas. For years, we’ve always said SMILE when a camera is shoved in our children’s faces – so needless to say, Max, Jake, and even Sadie are well trained to say CHEEEEESE when they see a lens. For visa pictures though, they DON’T want a smile. You are just supposed to look serious. I was crying with laughter trying to get our munchkins to be serious – it is SO hard to be serious during these moments…

Let the adventures begin!

 

Sadie is JUST starting to take a few steps. I’ve got to video her more as it is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. The CVS we went to in the Palisades also doesn’t really have a passport booth for pictures – we had to do a makeshift shopping cart situation to make her sit still for a moment.

Forget about getting Sadie to give the camera a serious face – we just had to get her to LOOK at the camera. It took our entire family – and some other shoppers – to get the shot.

This was taken before we explained that visa pictures were nonsmiling pictures. I’m not actually sure this is a smiling picture, but it is the face Max makes when we asked him to smile. Which is actually hilarious – and makes us all smile.

This is his serious face.

Jake trying not to smile. It is SO hard for a 3 year old to be serious!

We got there in the end! Perfect not-smiling picture!

 

 

 

“HOW WAS BURNING MAN?”

So for the last two weeks, I’ve been asked the same question one trillion times: “HOW WAS BURNING MAN?” Fair enough. And by now though I should have my answer, it still takes me awhile to collect my thoughts about this.* *the lag might also be due to the three nights AT Burning Man but more on that later.  The truth is, is that it IS hard to explain. It is like going to Mars. It is like having a baby. Before Matt and I went to Burning Man, a friend sent us this video and now after returning it is totally right on the money. It was EVERYTHING. (but it was also HOT!) (I’ve just watched this video again and it makes me want Pancakes…. anyone else?)

It has be said that Matt nor I would have ended up at Burning Man without some dear friends who made it all happen. We received an email from said friends in March asking if we would want to join them at Burning Man. I immediately responded to the email saying “IS THIS SPAM?” The couple who initiated the trip are not the couple that one would immediately think as burners and yet the fact that they were going (and that we would be adventuring into the playa with dear friends) made it all the more palatable. We were first timers all together and in the spirit of YOLO, Matt and I decided why not? (And we are glad we did).

After doing a bit of social media research (thank goodness for pinterest!), a few weeks prior to Burning Man, I headed to Cosmo and Natalia on Melrose (the costume mecca) to buy our Burning Man gear. From what I could glean from my googles of Burning Man, it really was all about the costumes. RIGHT? (wrong. but still sort of right). After a couple of hours, I got all the essential non-essentials (Swarovkski Miliary hat, Beyonce sparkle aviators, body jewellery, and hip belt for essential eyedrops, lip balm, and headlight) and also got VERY excited about the unknown of what was to come.

SO much of my life is planned out – I appreciate the structure of my daily life but equally the prospect of going off the grid for a few days, in Beyonce sparkle aviators, is quite appealing.

Matt and I packed up our costumes (too many to count but of course, once I was there I could have had several more), lots of LED glowlights (for night riding of bikes across the sand), goggles (for the dust storms), lots of lotion (for dry cracked skin – the air is extremely dry), and also our sense of spirit and adventure.

We flew into Reno and drove a couple hours into the desert to Black Rock City. As we neared closer the entrance, I had those butterflies in my stomach of excitement and nervousness. Burning Man has SUCH a build up – what if it didn’t live up to our expectations? What if I hated it and wanted to get out right away? How was I going to cope of 3 nights away and really mostly out of touch (we ended up having spotty wifi and luckily my Mother was staying with the children, but still I always have anxiety when I leave the kids).

We drove into the dusty entrance (see below) where we showed the welcome crew (all wearing Tutus as we arrived on Tutu Tuesday – yes, this is a THING) and then we were asked to get out of the car. The welcoming committee then explained a little about Burning Man, what we should expect, what we could get out of the experience, and then asked us to get down in the dust. Yes, literally we were asked to sit in the dust and do dust angels. The truth is, is that I found this all a little much, but actually, the whole point of this experience, which I learned, is to go for it. Dive in. Soak it up. Leave your judgements at the gate and just try it all and embrace it.

Our arrival – the Tutus were welcoming us on Tutu Tuesday (and then asking us to lay down IN the dust and submit to Burning Man.

We had a lovely ‘camp’ with friends – a few RVs with A/C and showers (thank goodness!) and a couple yurts and all the Trader Joe snacks we could eat (JOY!). We spent the next few days biking across the playa dust, meeting friends at other camps, checking out the sculptures and artwork in the early morning (when the French Cafe was giving out coffee and fresh baguettes at 8AM IN.THE. MIDDLE. OF. THE. DESERT), and late at night, when all the lights were creating the most magical city atmosphere.

Our camp’s “Possible Plan” – wouldn’t be nice if every day only had a ‘possible plan’? As a day NEVER seems to go as planned anyway!

Burning Man isn’t a festival at all – it really is like a city that pops up for a week – filled with every type of person you can imagine, wearing every type of outfit (and wearing none at all).  Our camp made a sort of schedule (see above) when friends were having parties at their camps but we found that the best way to experience Burning Man is to let the days or nights unfold as they might. Our favourite evening was when we were heading back to camp and then one of my friends heard amazing Donna Summer singing – so we redirected our tribe of bikes down a dusty bath to this incredible Donna disco diva dance party – where we boogied for an hour with new friends… before again heading home.

Matt and I on the first night – we had arrived an hour before and were en route to our first party at ZOO camp (look how CLEAN we were! look my gold boots still had a bit of gold peeking through the dust!)

During the days, we rode our bikes around, discovering little camps along the way that were making and giving away everything from bracelets to fresh vegetable juices to chai teas (they were delicious, even in the heat) to hosting group meditation classes. We didn’t join the orgy camps (but there is always next year, HA!) but we DID see a lot of wonderful incredible sights – it really just struck me the beauty and creation that is possible if you give people the opportunity.

This little house on the prairie was amazing – it rolled around on wheels (there was a blue grass band playing on the other side) and on the side you can see in the picture, they were baking fresh cookies from the little kitchen.) It was incredible!

 

This is one of the annual sculptures – The Temple. As I understand it (comment below if I’m wrong and tell me!), the artist was building a sculpture and during the process, one of his friends was killed in a motorcycle accident, so he turned the sculpture into a temple and every year since, there has been some type of temple / memorial at Burning Man. It was very emotional inside – Burners posted pictures and notes for friends and passed loved ones and it was very spiritual inside. It has to be said, I definitely had my own moment as well – and just being there in that shared space of thought and reflection has changed a relationship in my own life and I’m grateful to have had that moment to visit the temple.

At night it was more of the same, but also totally different in the dark. The desert, which is blazing hot and dusty during the day (everyone said that this year’s Burning Man was the hottest and dustiest on record – YAY!), is FREEZING at night! I was virtually naked during the day and then needed to bundle up in faux furs and long underwear at night (while still trying to stay somewhat fabulous… thank goodness for my friends at Amethyst Daze who made the most amazing outfits for me and made me feel sexy, even in the desert, and even after three kids). The playa at night is like nothing I can explain – (again, here is where that youtube video actually resonated to me after I returned) – imagine Disneyland at night for grownups married with a bit of Ibiza and Times Square. There is music in every direction and absolutely no rhyme or reason or order to it – and yet somehow even with Art Cars driving around the desert and everyone riding their bikes in every which way, there seems to be some type of organised cohesive flow. It made me think that if everyone is just in the moment, and enjoying the journey and the experience, we can get along just fine.

One night on the playa in our friends’ Art Car. (Silly selfie face after too many vodka sodas!) x

Thank goodness for my partner in crime (and life and everything) to be able to share this experience with. This is us at a friend’s disco night party – the DJ saw us boogying with each other and gave us this glow light heart to hold.

The truth is, is that I am wearing 2x layers of spandex here – BUT I felt great and it was SO fun and liberating to dress up in crazy silly costumes. And obviously I had my Beyonce glasses which made me feel like a rockstar. (I must wear these more often!)

This won for favourite costume of the trip. When I first put it on, it was sparkly and smooth – so if anyone knows of a good feather dry cleaner, please let me know! Not sure when I will wear feather suspenders again, but I feel like they are a costume box essential, right?

A huge part of Burning Man is the artwork. This Tree of Life was amazing – the lighting changed from blues and greens and yellows to pinks and purples and reds. Burners just flocked to it – it was mesmerising at all times of day.

This is a perfect example of some of the random surprising wonderful things you will discover on the playa. This box of saltines and soup can were actual structures that once you walked inside, you were welcomed with… SALTINES and TOMATO SOUP! perfect and random and lovely.

On our night art ride one evening, we went to see The Man (every year the man is different – this year he was housed in a sort of temple … you can see the man glowing inside). At the end of Burning Man, this is burned.

The days were hot but the nights were VERY cold! Matt and I were prepared with our faux fur jackets for our evening bike rides across the playa.

Our gang riding our bikes and discovering more playa art (and some shade underneath) x

Goodbye Burning Man. (Until next year, or whenever we have the courage to do it all again).

So will Matt and I go back? I think we probably will.  Because we didn’t get our Playa names this time. And also I did buy the most amazing beaded body chain which I was too chicken to wear this year… but I should at some point before I’m 80. It does take awhile to unwind from the heat and the dust and the extremeness of it all – but it was an amazing experience and because Burning Man changes every year with the different camps, different people, different artworks, it will be new every year.  This was our reconnaissance year – we would certainly do some things the same but also a lot of things differently. But in the end, the three days of totally switching off, being carefree, and just enjoying each other and the adventure of it all was priceless. OH! AND during one of our afternoon roséfuelled chats (which is when the best ideas happen), Matt and I hatched plans for another Hermer family adventure (I can’t wait to tell you guys in a couple weeks!) because as we experienced at Burning Man and as Helen Keller said so perfectly, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

The Kids (Will Be) All Right

Matt and I try to escape a few times a year without the children for a little Mummy & Daddy time and even though we’ve had practice escaping, I still have a tough time every time we say goodbye for a few sleeps. Through the trips, we’ve found a few tricks that help us all get through the time away – so we can all enjoy our time away.

Videos vs Facetime: Our youngsters are just that – young. Jake (3) and Sadie (1) don’t always understand that they can’t reach into the phone and grab us – so we’ve found when we Facetime them to check in, they sometimes get distressed which actually doesn’t help anyone. They can’t understand why we aren’t upstairs in our bedroom – even though we were just on the screen of the phone. Filming a short video and texting it to whoever is caring for our children seems to do the trick – the kids know that we are thinking about them and we feel that we’ve been able to connect with them. They then film a video back – and ta-dah – a bit of ‘communication’ without the distress.

Little Presents: On the mornings that we aren’t all around the breakfast table, I wrap up little presents for the kids to open in our absence.  This isn’t Christmas morning but rather, just a little something that the kids can look forward to so they aren’t missing Mummy or Daddy too much. I usually schedule the presents so if we are away on a weekend, the present is something arts & crafts related that the kids can do during the day, and if it is during the week, a little toy to entertain them as they get ready for school.

Here are a few of my favourite little distraction toys:

bubbles, fun crayons and little activities for fiddily fingers always go down a treat!

I LOVE these little Parkland Pencil Cases and I’ve just filled them up with brand new crayons for the kids. At some point this will change I know, but right now, a pouch of new crayons is pretty much as good as it gets.

I can’t find any wrapping paper, but no matter. I just wrapped up the presents in white paper and wrote a little note – and my Mom will put these little goodies on the breakfast table in the mornings so the kids will see them when they come down for brekkie.

How Many Sleeps Post-its: Our kids have always loved this little game. It bookends the day with another little thought of Mummy & Daddy and helps them understand how time and how much longer we will be away. We pre-write all the post-it notes depending on how many ‘sleeps’ we will be away and then tape up these little cards next to their beds. At bedtime, the kids each take down one of the post-it notes to countdown our return.

 

Our Hamptons trip is only 4 sleeps – but for our munchkins, it does seem like a long time (and the truth is, if feels like a long time for Matt and me too!) So these little tricks help us all – we know that our children know that we are hugging them and thinking of them while we are away, and also helps them understand how much time is – and also, that we are going to come home at the end of it all which gives them a sense of comfort.

Do you have any tricks that you do with your kids when you travel? I’d love to know as I’m always adding to our repertoire!

Let me know your tricks in the comments section below – and I’ll try it out on our next trip away!