Hi, I'm Rachel.

A few years ago I could barely boil water.

True story.

Determined to be a kick ass wife, I developed a love for football and learned to cook in my tiny Jersey City kitchen. I spend my days working in Manhattan, my nights and weekends chasing after a rambunctious toddler, and the hours in between cooking with my husband and feeding my TV habit...oh, and I blog about it all! 

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Entries in travel (24)


35 Tips for Toddler Airplane Travel



This past summer, we spent a lot of time traveling. We flew to Aruba for a week. We flew to Siesta Key for 5 days. That's a lot of time on a plane with a rambunctious, mobile toddler. In some ways, it was easier than traveling with an infant...and in some ways, more difficult. When P was 9 months old and we flew to Aruba, she cried a bit, but wasn't really antsy to go anywhere. As a toddler, she just wants to move all the time and so sitting for a nice 5 hour flight wasn't quite the ideal situation. There were times while we were traveling that I thought...why did we do this? Why didn't we just stay home? It wasn't always easy, but as I've said before, I vowed to not stop living just because I had a child, and so...airplane rides for everyone!

Because I like to keep it real, and because I feel like I've learned a thing or two, having taken 6 plane rides thus far with Penelope, for today's Baby Talk Tuesday, I'm sharing my tips for airplane travel with a toddler. 


Plan Your Trip with a Toddler in Mind:

1. Plan ahead. Where are you going? How long is the flight? How old will your child be at the time of travel?

2. Find out about seating arrangements. If your child is under 2, he or she can still be in your lap for a small fee, so take advantage of that savings. It's not the most comfortable situation, but it's a small price to pay.

3. Try to get extra leg room, or even better, bulk head seating.

4. If traveling with your spouse, book an aisle & a middle seat so that you can get up to use the bathroom or just to walk your screaming tot around at your leisure.

5. Ensure you have proper paperwork. Make sure your child is on your itinerary and has a boarding pass, even if they are sitting in your lap. If you are travelling internationally, she will need a passport! Even as an infant! Leave enough time to get photo taken and send away for the passport.


Getting to the Airport:

6. Decide whether to drive & park, take a taxi or have a family member drive you.

7. If you are driving, do your research on parking in advance. Consider having your spouse drop you and your child off at the terminal to begin checking in while he parks the car.

8. If you are taking a taxi, ensure that you are comfortable installing your car seat, quickly and efficiently. Practice beforehand.

9. Plan for transportation on the other side. Will you be renting a car? Taking a taxi? Again, make sure you know how to install your car seat. In Aruba, the taxis don't have LATCH systems, and so I had to do seatbelt installation.


Getting Through the Airport:

10. Check your carseat when you arrive at the airport.

11. Use curbside check-in if available, it rocks. For a $5 tip, there's usually no lines, friendly sky caps, and an overall pleasant experience.

12. Keep the stroller. Plan to use it through the airport, while in line at security and to wrangle your tot in the crowd.

13. At security, keep your cool. I always have anxiety about not holding up the line behind me, but with P in tow, I just try to move as quickly as I can without stressing myself out. I can only do what I can do, and usually people and TSA agents are friendly and understanding.


Packing: The Big Stuff

14. Decide if you will bring your car seat, or rent one upon arrival. We brought ours in this sturdy car seat bag, which we checked. Car seats are typically free to check.

15. Plan to gate check your stroller. We used our compact umbrella stroller and got an inexpensive gate check bag so that the stroller wouldn't get crapped up in transit (worth every penny!). We simply kept it folded in our bag, then opened it once we were boarding the plane and wrapped up the stroller.


Before Boarding:

16. Let your child run like the wind. Get out all of that energy so they will be nice and tired once settled into your seats.

17. Purchase milk and/or water for the plane ride.

18. Pick up a yummy snack for Mom and Dad. Maybe something that your little nugget will also find exciting. P loved the Doritos in my Munchie Mix (note to self: next time, pick something without orange dust)

19. Do one last diaper change so that she's nice and dry and as comfy as can be.


Packing: What to Bring on the Plane


20. Be thorough, but don't overdo it.

21. Find a really great bag. I bought this beach bag from One Step Ahead which rocked for the beach, but was also a perfect carry-on. Sturdy, not too heavy, and carried it all.

22. Bring favorite snacks - more than you think your child could possibly eat. Then bring some more.

23. Pack an extra outfit; short sleeves & long sleeves, in case it's warm or chilly on the plane.

24. Bring a lightweight blanket (or 2), to use as both diaper mat and/or in case it's chilly on the plane.

25. Pack a few select and special toys. Something you know your child will love, or a surprise new toy for the plane. P loved her travel doodler from her grandma.

26. Download apps. Peek-a-boo Barn was a lifesaver on the way to Aruba.

27. Pack 2 empty bottles and/or sippy cups. Fill with purchased water and milk once through security.

28. If your child takes a pacifier, bring a bunch. I felt comfortable with 6.

29. Don't discount video entertainment. P refused to wear headphones, but she happily watched videos on the iPad and on Direct TV on one of the flights, without sound.

30. Pack enough diapers and wipes for the worst case scenario (e.g., a change every hour).

31. Add extra wipes for sticky hands

32. Wipe down your seat arms and tray tables as soon as you sit down.


On the Flight:

33. Let the third person in your row know that you'll do what you can to keep your kiddo under control.

34. If your kid needs a diaper change, get up and take care of it asap.

35. Try to relax...in the end, you can only do what you can do! You'll probably never see these people again, anyway.


What are your tips for traveling with a toddler or baby?


also! check out tips for traveling with an infant!


Vacation in Siesta Key, FL

Earlier this week, I shared some awesome little donuts that we found in Siesta Key, but I thought it would be fun to recap the whole trip!


We traveled down to Siesta Key, FL a couple of weeks ago for a vacation with Shaun's family. Since the tiny area was located on the Gulf Coast, we flew into Tampa and it was about an hour and a half ride to Siesta Key from the airport.



We stayed at the Sarasota Surf & Racquet Club, a nice condo association right on the beach. Though our unit was a little bit of a walk from the beach, it was close enough that Penelope could walk from our condo (though I think she was probably ready for a nap by the time we reached the water!).



She acted like such a little big girl, I couldn't even handle it. We brought her puddle jumper, which has been a great floatie for her this year.

She is still skittish about floating on her own (which I'm fine with!) and in the ocean, she only went in to about knee deep, but I felt better having her protected in case she fell or dipped under somehow. As an aside, I also really love this float because it is a US Coast Guard certified life jacket as well! Though she was just under the suggested minimum weight for it (30 lbs), it fit her pretty well and I'm glad we will have it for next summer too (it goes up to 50 lbs!).

We purposely made little to no plans while in FL so that we could wake up when we felt like it (or when Penelope mandated), leisurely eat breakfast, allow Penelope to nap, and spend time lounging on the beach. 



Since August in Florida is low season, we had a lot of space on the beach. The shore line was so flat that we could easily sit near the water and let Penelope just wander around us a bit, and even walk down to the water line. 

The downside of low season? Storms!


We got caught in the rain more than a couple of times, and one day was a total wash. I really didn't mind, though. And the storms kinda came and went the rest of the time. It would be sunny and bright and then we'd suddenly see some scary clouds roll in with lightning and all. A few times we ran inside, and a few times we stuck it out. The storms were so fast and furious, that they left a few giant puddles in their wake. These also made great kiddie pools for Penelope (and Shaun) to run through.


They also spent lots of time digging holes and building sandcastles.

We went out in town a couple of evenings, which was great. We had dinner at the Daquiri Deck, and went back for post-dinner drinks one night. I had the blue, electric lemonade version...so good! I'm not usually a cocktail drinker but the heat made a glass of Malbec pretty unappealing. This was a great, refreshing (and booze-filled) beverage. We also enjoyed live music.


Late in the evening, the bar was bumpin' with a DJ to boot.

We also found live music at lots of the other local spots. This band did some fantastic Sublime covers. Shaun has always been a huge Sublime fan, and the music reminded me so much of our college days, when we were first dating. Great stuff.


The Siesta Market was a great, nearby spot for all food and alcohol things, especially in the wine and beer department. Is it me, or does it feel like I was walking into Clerks?


The area is so tiny that golf cars (in addition to cabs) actually serve as transportation for people from downtown to their hotels, resorts and condos. Shaun was pretty psyched to test one out and so we hailed a cart back to the condo one evening that we stayed out for a drink while my in-laws took Penelope back to the resort (in our rental car, safely strapped into her car seat).


On Saturday, Shaun had rented a red Mustang convertible, as a gift for his father's birthday. They had the car to tool around town for Saturday and Sunday morning. I took a few rides as well and though I'm not really a car person, it was pretttty sweet.


So fun to ride around with the top down and Bon Jovi blasting. Are we Jersey or what?


Travel-wise, Penelope did well enough. On the way there, she was super antsy and just didn't want to sit still. On the ride home, we flew at night and so she was tired, worn out, and ready to just kick back with some Frozen on the iPad. Generally, she has been a champ all 3 plane rides that we've taken her on thus far, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't glad that we have no flights on the radar for the coming months...and by the time we do fly again, P will require her own seat. Woop!


All in all, it was such a nice trip and always fun to explore some place new! I feel very lucky that we were able to do 2 big vacations this summer (the other one to Aruba!) and have one more on the horizon for next week...our annual trip to Lewes, Delaware! Though I must admit, I'm excited for that trip to be based in the car, not a plane ;)



Scenes from New Mexico

Happy Monday, friends!

I'm back from a whirlwind weekend in New Mexico! The entire side of my mom's family made the trip to Albuquerque for my cousin Chris' wedding. We had such a fun time and the wedding was absolutely beautiful! Congratulations to Chris and Katie...welcome to our crazy family!!

Since I went to sleep around 1:30 this morning and am digging through suitcases to find all of my toiletries, shoes, hair brushes and flat iron to get myself ready for work today, I thought it would be fun to give you some photo highlights! I didn't upload any wedding photos from my small camera yet, so those will be to come :) Meanwhile, here are some highlights from touring the ABQ, our day trip to Santa Fe, riding a tiny tram car up the side of a moutain and of course, some local eats!

...red chiles, a New Mexican staple

...after facing my fears, standing on Sandia Peak

...so digging the turquoise-covered version

...vintage gas pump

...green chile + cheese tamale from the Santa Fe Food Cart

...beef carnita + red chile sauce from the Santa Fe Food Cart

...the tram approaching Sandia Peak. Yup, I rode in that.

...vintage cash register

...my lumberjack + me atop Sandia Peak

...10,000+ feet high

...the fam @ 10,000+ feet

So there's a little story of my trip in photos, minus the wedding of course. I'll share some of those pics later this week! Hope you all had a great weekend and have a fantastic week!!

Questions of the Day:

What did you do this weekend?

How do you cope with early morning wake up on limited sleep? Send help!


psst...if you want to see some awesome photo booth pics of my sisters and me, head on over to The Peach & The Pit!