We had a great time in Tuscany earlier this month. As we prepare for Munich in a few weeks, I’ve been thinking about what we could have done better. Any travel lessons to apply? Things within my control anyway. Off the top of my head, I’d say “have it not rain” and “have Italian restaurants open earlier” would have been significant trip enhancements. But I digress.
Plan, plan, and plan some more
I thought the key to traveling with two young kids would be a more relaxed, go-with-the-flow attitude. I don’t think this hurts, but we should have created a tighter plan within which to go with the flow.
You see, I thought we planned. We had a place to stay. We had restaurants we wanted to try and knew their hours of operation. We had ideas of things we wanted to see.
Nope. This was not enough. We need more solid game plans. We need backup plans so that I’m not completely thrown when the restaurant that says it will be open at a certain time is not actually open. We need to think about what sights we want to see, how much time should be allotted to each sight, and how much is reasonable to try to accomplish.
Granted, these plans should be held lightly. They should not be structured in a way that there will be extreme disappointment if something changes. We need a plan, but we need to be able to PIVOT.
It’s OK to eat at home
Instead of hotels, we’ve been seeking out the strategic airbnb. This time, we stayed at a bed and breakfast type place, but we had our own kitchen. This seemed great, but once I learned breakfast was included, I stopped focusing on it. Oh, sure, three meals a day in restaurants with kids would be awful, but two meals sounded doable, why not.
I wish I had focused more. We had one night where it was rainy and everything was closed. We ended up with takeout pizza eaten way later than was ideal. This would have been a good night to have curled up at home.
I think I was hesitant because I wanted it to feel more like a vacation. You know, a vacation where someone else does the cooking. I’m also a little leery of doing this too much. If we are cooking at home, we might not venture back into town or try that one more thing.
But it is an important tool in the arsenal. You better believe, next time, I’m scouting out not just restaurant locations but grocery stores as well.
Travel with a wine opener
Siena is awesome
You may be wondering about the random pictures throughout this post. After three days in Volterra and San Gimignano, we stopped in Siena on the way back home. We took the escalator into town, wandered a little, saw the duomo, had a nice lunch, and ate ice cream on the Campo before setting off again.
I wish we had stayed longer. Maybe Siena would have been a better base of operations than Volterra. We spent three evenings wandering around Volterra; I think there would have been more to see here.
Of course, it could have been more expensive. And we may not have made it to Volterra at all that way. There will always be what ifs. I guess we’ll just have to go back.
Any travel tips? Lessons learned from vacations past?