I just got back from the best holiday ever. We spent three weeks exploring a few parts of the world I’d never been: Croatia, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland and Italy. The entire trip was heavenly but my favorite stops were Lake Como and Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy. I seriously want to move there. The food, fashion, history, culture, architecture and beauty is just breathtaking. We ate lots of fresh pasta, delicious authentic pizza and gelato, and sipped lattes. In Milan, my daughters and I shopped like crazy girls, picking up skirts, tops, sundresses, and shoes. We dressed up for dinner almost every night and my eight year old daughter had fun doing my hair. My boyfriend joined us for part of the trip, and my parents for the rest. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this journey a 15.
In Italy, I felt so at peace, emotionally and physically healthy (despite fighting an awful cold), and joyful. Maybe it was the warm sun, or maybe I just needed a break from my ordinary life. Whatever it was, it worked. I feel rejuvenated.
I am passionate about travel. I’ve been to 26 countries and 39 states, and I plan to keep adding to my list. When I go somewhere new, it changes me inside my head and heart. When I was in high school, I used to dream of leaving my small town and exploring the world. When I finally had a little money and freedom, it’s one of the first things I did—hop on a plane with passport in hand.
On my travels, I’ve learned that the world is a big place, that cultures vary widely, and that I (we) don’t have all the answers. If I had enough money, home would be a pit stop before I’d be off on another adventure. Alas, my bank account isn’t endless and my children have school, soccer camps, and friends. We live in the real world. And so we are home, still recovering from jet lag and trying to get the laundry put away. As I was unpacking, I found the small notebook that my daughter, Siena, gave me. “Here, Mom, you need to write down all the fun things we are doing,” she said. I did and, actually, had a few “ah ha” learning moments:
Bribing my daughters is effective
My 14 year old daughter, Morgan, is obsessed with her iPhone. She hardly ever puts it down and it drives me crazy. One afternoon while in Bellagio, Italy we saw a very fashionable Italian girl who had an ear cartilage piercing. Morgan asked if she could get one just like that when we got home. I told her yes, but only if the phone went away and she read her entire book (Divergent) before we got home. She did it! In just five days, she managed to read the entire book, cover to cover. It was so refreshing to see my daughter’s nose buried in a book instead of her phone. She decided against the piercing but rediscovered her love of reading. She’s now onto the second book in the series, hooray! I think bribing kids is perfectly fine.
Packing wisely is priceless
I totally over packed for this trip. We were gone for three weeks and I didn’t want to do laundry but still, it was ridiculous how much stuff we took abroad. Lugging it all across five countries and nine different hotels was really un-fun. Next time, I’m packing enough panties for the duration of the trip but everything else is getting whittled down. That said, the imperatives include a few dressy outfits, really good walking shoes, and a great suitcase to put it all in. I did great on the dressy outfits but had to purchase very expensive shoes in Lugano, Switzerland for my daughter and I because what I packed for us just wasn’t working. Ok, so an excuse to buy new shoes was kind of cool but I would have rather spent the money on something else. And the luggage that I took was awful. I’m now on the hunt for a great quality suitcase.
Trying new products on a trip is a bad idea
Prior to the trip, I purchased a new organic peppermint toothpaste that I’d never tried before. I used it for the first time on the plane from New York to Venice. Over the next few days, I developed tiny little blisters on my tongue. It took me a week before I figured out that the toothpaste was the cause. Miserable. Lesson? A trip is a very bad place to test new products.
Fiats are the cutest cars on the road
Prior to our trip, I thought Fiats were cute, but now I think they are adorable and I want one!
Gaining weight is not a given
On this trip, I ate all the delicious food I wanted but we walked many miles every day. We never took an elevator. And I didn’t allow myself any before bed snacks. As a result, I came home without gaining a single pound!
Resting is great
On trips like these, I have a history of making sure we are busy every single waking moment. But this trip was different. I actually scheduled several rest days where all we did was hang out at the pool, nap and read. One afternoon when the girls were sleeping, I took a short walk and found a café where I ordered a latte and pastry and people watched. It was so relaxing. I didn’t even take my phone so I wasn’t tempted to text or Facebook anyone.
People watching is fun
It’s been a long time since I simply sat back and watched the people around me. But this time, my daughters and I loved it. What we discovered was that Italian women are some of the best dressed people on the planet. They inspired us to try and dress like them– effortless, breezy, and pretty. Can I imitate that look? I can only try. Now that we are home, I hope I can remember the joy of people watching. You know, put my phone away and actually pay attention to what’s going on around me.
Going without makeup and letting the hair go natural is a huge time-saver
On most of this trip, I didn’t put any makeup on at all. It was amazingly liberating to just go without. And, after losing all my hair to chemo 18 months ago, it grew back curly. Prior, I had very straight hair and I am utterly at a loss on what to do with the curls. So I have obsessed over straight ironing it. But on this trip, for the first time ever, I simply washed it and let it air dry. I kind of liked it. I think I’ve finally made peace with my curly locks.