spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Europalooza Trip Report Part 5: woke up in England, went to sleep in France

For someone who travels a good amount, the title of this blog post doesn’t seem like that big a deal.  But I was reminded of the huge impact of travel 2 days ago- DD’s school band will be heading to an important performance on the mainland in March, and there was a parent meeting to finalize the details.  I listened to some of the more inexperienced parents and students ask very basic questions about whether you need a passport to travel entirely within the United States (no, and 3 weeks before we leave is way too late to be asking that question anyway!) and what will happen if it snows (life/the performance will go on).  For many of the kids, it’s their first time to the East Coast, though they may have gone to California or Las Vegas.  For some, it’s their 1st time away from Hawaii.  Wow!  Talk about a whole new world.  Anyway, after getting this 1st taste of travel, maybe one day maybe they’ll take the Eurostar and be able to write a blog post like this one…let’s get started! Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 4: back on track with traveling fun

Having gotten let through into the part of Hyde Park where we were going to be ice skating, we piled our backpacks and the rolling bag onto poor DH and the kids & I dashed into the tent.  It was a nice, heated room where we could exchange our shoes for skates and check our personal belongings (purses/cameras were not allowed on the ice).  Everyone out on the ice looked rosy-cheeked and happy!  We were soon to join them 🙂 Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 3: in which my optimistic nature is tested in 2 different countries

Part 2 left off with me and my family heading to Raleigh Airport (RDU) on Christmas Day to catch our nonstop flight to London on American Airlines (AA).  BTW, I updated that post.  Can’t believe I forgot to mention The Nutcracker and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences!  Go read it, I’ll wait.

Ok, now that you’re back…the European adventure was about to begin!  First, though, we had to drop off the rental car.  This is where some of my troubles began… Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 2: Family Time in North Carolina (updated)

When we last left off, DH and I had figured out the keyless rental and arrived at my sister’s place in North Carolina.  After much hugging and kissing and settling in, we set about making plans for the next several days.  It had snowed the week before our arrival, but the weather was clear for our whole stay, much to DS’s disappointment.  Ah, a small child’s dreams of snow…little did we know that heavy snow would make an appearance in our trip, later on and thousands of miles away…but we’ll get to that. Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 1: Escape from Hawaii

You may have noticed that I changed the name of this trip for purposes of simplicity.  Easier to type Europalooza than Spain and France in 2018 or So Help Me, which is a name I still love because of the Monsters, Inc. reference.   Anyway, Europalooza it is, for the duration of this Trip Report.

Departure day dawned…sunny? cloudy? rainy?…actually I didn’t pay attention to the weather at all, haha.  It just dawned, and it meant that I was up early due to have a pesky all-day work training to attend.  The packing lists had been printed and posted a few days prior, with almost all of the packing already done.  Just a few housechores left to do: Read the rest of this entry »

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Weeeeee’re back, baby!

OMG what an awesome trip we had!  Didn’t miss any of our 10 flights, stayed UNDER BUDGET at Disneyland Paris, and packed just the right amount of travel-sized toothpaste.  Does it get any better than that?  I think not.

I’ll be doing a full day-by-day Trip Report, but here are some pics to whet your appetite…

nc chaos

“Mami, pick me up!  Tía, me too!” -North Carolina

platform 934

Platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross- London

dlp entrance

Disneyland Resort- Paris

puente de triana

Puente de Triana- Sevilla

la boqueria

Mercat de la Boqueria- Barcelona

bronx zoo

Bronx Zoo- NYC

Going to try to start posting the Report within the next week 🙂

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Global Entry for families- a Trusted Traveler Program

I wrote about the different Trusted Traveler Programs offered by the US Department of Homeland Security before, when discussing my Adventures in Passport Control.  A small correction to the end of that blog post: Global Entry (GE) privileges no longer extend to children traveling with the GE parent- everyone needs their own.  GE Membership still includes TSA PreCheck, which is helpful for the airport security line.  So you have an advantage at takeoff with a smoother security process, and at landing with a smoother Passport Control process.  Nice!

I felt it would be helpful for me especially, given my previous encounters at Customs & Border Protection (CBP), to have had a thorough background check and obtain a “Known Traveler Number,” another term for the GE PASSID #.  For us, that meant that we would need to spend $400 for the privilege of faster passage through immigration/passport control, since we would all need to apply and be approved for the Program individually.  Or did we???

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Leggings, Linking, London, and Lauderdale

Pre-trip prep time!  It’s down to the details now that all the big stuff has been settled.

—First thing I’ve been thinking about lately is WARM clothing.  We’re typically wimpy re: winter weather after living in Hawaii for so long.  I started an inventory of cold-weather gear and quickly realized…

im-gonna-need-cold-weather-meme

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Yay! The Paris-Seville ticket saga is OVER!

This particular ticket purchase was a true roller coaster of emotions: from the high of getting a budget-appropriate late afternoon flight booked with Transavia in May, to the low of “unbooking” after they changed our departure time to 7am (ugh), to the 4 months of uncertainty since then as I tracked prices and they kept going up, and up, and up.  Well, I finally slayed this particular travel dragon thanks to a small amount of date flexibility, a museum request visit from my husband, and a shiny new credit card sign-up bonus. Read the rest of this entry »

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Disneyland Paris Planning

So, I mentioned that we would only spend 1 day at the Disneyland Paris Resort on our upcoming European tour.  You all know how much I love Disney, but Paris has so much to offer that 1 theme park day was all I was willing to spare.  It follows then, that I had to plan an epic day, trying to hit all the Paris-exclusive rides and experiences available.  Yes, we are planning to open and close the Parks.  Here’s how I hope it will go… Read the rest of this entry »

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