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Travel with Children to La Palma, Spain, Canary Islands

June 25, 2019

Just off northwestern Africa lies La Palma, one of Spain’s beautiful Canary Islands. This volcanic island, with its black sand beaches, forests, and natural beauty is one destination that I hope to return to soon with my family.

Our May trip to La Palma was a blend of trail racing, business, and family time. The weather in La Palma was consistently beautiful, and there was always a breeze near the ocean. The kids spent nights sleeping outside in the hammocks under the stars, my husband and daughter spent time trail racing, and I spent time scheming my future business project, reading, and enjoying quiet time.

Checking out La Palma’s coastal landscape.

How to Get to La Palma

The kids and I took a direct flight from London to Gran Canaria, the third largest island among the Canaries. It is there where we met up with my husband, who flew to meet us from the USA. We then grabbed a Binter flight and flew directly to La Palma. Binter was amazing! The hospitality was lovely. The kids received lollipops, chocolate wafers, breath mints, and fresh towelettes. Note: we also took Binter on our return trip, however, we had a brief stop and plane switch in Tenerife, and it was equally great in terms of hospitality.

Where to Stay

There are many AirBnbs and hotel options to choose from on La Palma. We preferred to have our own space, so we rented a beach house along the water south of the airport on the eastern side of the island. The rental owner was really helpful and nice, but the house itself, while remarkably beautiful and surely in the prime of its day absolutely jaw dropping, needed some TLC. The experience served as a good reminder that to improve the chances of a positive AirBnB experience to go for not only positive reviews, but recent ones.

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Blog Destinations Europe France

Visiting Southern France’s Aix-en-Provence with Children

June 25, 2019
Exploring Aix-en-Provence with Children

In the late spring, when my four children and I were staying in France’s Jura Mountains and it seemed that summer would never arrive, we jumped in the car and headed to the south of France. I desperately needed to soak up some sun.

Sun Seekers.

Our destination: Aix-en-Provence.

Aix-en-Provence, (Pronounced “EX”), is a small French city in Southern France about thirty miles north of Marseille and the Mediterranean Sea. Aix-en-Provence gets a whooping 300+ days of sunshine a year.

Where we stayed

I found a great centrally located and kid-friendly place for our three nights in Aix-en-Provence. Casa Appart, a self-catering apartment style rental is about a 2-3 minute walk from the center of the old town.

Our apartment in Casa Appart was lovely. I booked it through Booking.com, which is the site I use for most of my European travel (other than AirBnBs) because I can easily input my total guest count (me + 4 children) to find suitable room options. Our Aix-en-Provence rental featured two levels, a balcony, a small kitchen, and enough sleeping space for the five of us.

Casa Appart was super clean and cozy. While staying there, I felt like I was actually living in Aix, not just visiting the city as a hotel guest. I loved the shower and my bed was really comfy. I will note my only complaint with this location: a child unfriendly feature – an unbarred window in the lower level bedroom, which could pose a fall danger to a small child (it opens to an interior courtyard in the front of the apartment). Please keep in mind, this may not seem of concern to Europeans or anyone else traveling from other parts of the world, but to my American wired brain, this seems like an issue, though not enough to detract from this awesome rental pick.

Another plus. The staff at Casa Appart went out of their way to leave birthday balloons and treats for my child who was celebrating a birthday during our stay. Unfortunately, I think I messed up the review I left after staying there and I couldn’t figure out how to go back and change it. I intended to give it a 10/10, but think I must have skipped over a field because a lower rating was displayed. Additionally, there is a washer/dryer available for use ($) in the secured front apartment courtyard, which is always a plus when you’re traveling with kids or travel slow and light.

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Blog Destinations Europe Tour du Mont Blanc

SIM Cards, Bus Transport, and Other Tour du Mont Blanc Questions

June 24, 2019

As a follow up to my previous Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) 21 Frequently Asked Questions and Hiking the TMB with Children posts, here’s another quick Q&A reference for you to bookmark. Keep in mind, these answers are only a reflection of my own personal experience hiking the TMB solo with my four children.

Heading out of Courmayeur, Italy on the TMB route.

Q: Where do I get a SIM Card that will work in France, Italy & Switzerland?

A: I purchased the Orange Holiday SIM Card online at Amazon before I left the US. Conveniently, you can top it up online. In France, you can also buy this card at an Orange store (there isn’t one in Chamonix, at least last I knew. You may also find SIM cards at a Tabac shop in Chamonix. I found one for my teenager at the Tabac near the Aiguille du midi lift.

Q: How do you find out the weather each day while on the Tour?

A: You’ll want to get up the up-to-date local Mont Blanc/Chamonix forecast. You may see the forecast posted daily for hikers at gites/refuges/refugios. You can also checkout out Chamonix-Meteo. Whatever you do, know what to expect in terms of weather each day before you set out, but also be prepared for anything, including to seek alternate transportation during a section (e.g., bus) or to get to a lower trail when prudent.

Q. Is there a bus to get to the traditional start of the Tour (Les Houches) or Chamonix?

A: Yes, there are buses. We had a positive experience with Alpy Bus. We prebooked seats online and went right to the Alpy Bus kiosk/desk at Geneva Airport upon arrival. After only waiting a few minutes, we were escorted to the bus (big van) and we were off to Les Houches.

Q. Can you bring trekking/hiking poles as carry on luggage on the plane?

A: My recent travel experience is that airlines are cracking down on allowing poles as carry on luggage. Check with your airline, but don’t be surprised if they refuse to let them on with you, unless they are for medical reasons (and you may need to show some sort of doctor’s note to prove this). You can find inexpensive poles at sport stores in Chamonix, so if your choice is paying for an expensive checked bag or buying poles upon arrival, you might actually save cash doing the latter.

Hope this helps. Happy TMB.

Julie