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A Louis Vuitton Scooter & the Unpredictability of Life

DSC_1623See this scooter? This beautiful, never-been-used, Louis Vuitton-branded scooter from the turn of the century? Meaning, circa 2000. I was at working at Louis Vuitton at the time, heading the PR for North America. We were asked to create a Louis Vuitton scooter for the lead character of a little movie in the making, called Zoolander. They wanted Ben Stiller’s character to ride around in an LV scooter. So if I recall correctly, after receiving our request in the Paris office, they custom-made 5 of them. (Mr. Blue Steel did not end up using it in the film though, unfortunately.)

It was a crazy time then at Louis Vuitton, endless launches, countless events, new products newly designed by Marc Jacobs. I remember working around the clock. Six months alone were spent day and night working on a massive Classic Car Show that took place in New York’s Rockefellar Center. I lived downtown then, 40 blocks away. Days leading up to the event, we stayed in hotel rooms midtown just so we were that close to Rock Center and the work site. We had booked Aretha Franklin as the headlining entertainment act, and threw an incredible party where the skating rink sits.

Somewhere in this time frame there were also store openings on Fifth Avenue, LA, and San Francisco. And fashion shows in Paris. I had to be everywhere organizing U.S. press. I look back and can only attribute my energy to youth and passion. I loved my job, I loved fashion, and I loved to work. I also had nothing else going on in my life, but that–and a relationship with someone living in London that was quickly going sour mostly due to my A.D.D. Somehow I still found the time to entertain other potential lovers who didn’t even live in New York.

But back to the scooter.

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My boss gave me one of the extra scooters that winter as a token of gratitude for all my hard work. What am I going to do with this? I thought. I might as well keep it and store it away. I just might have a daughter one day who will want to use it.

This is nearly 15 years later. I now have a daughter. I am a freelance writer. I write about travel. I have no idea what the latest trend is for F/W or S/S 2015. And I now look around my apartment, my world, and feel like all the things I accumulated in my years in fashion I no longer have use for. I have started a closet purge, and I found this scooter again. Do I keep it? I have a feeling there is someone in this world who would appreciate it, far more than me, and far more than my equally other-minded daughter. At the age most preschoolers are already fussy about what they wear, she could care less about what I dress on her in the mornings.

There are three things today that I desire in life, more than anything I could have envisioned all those years ago.

1. To write books.

2. To travel.

3. To encourage an intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually abundant life for Lulu.

None of these involve the things I thought so very important back then. I am the same person, but my priorities have decidedly changed. Who would have ever guessed? I was so married to my work then, and thought my future as a mover and shaker in the fashion world was clear. After all, it had been all I ever wanted, ever since I was 10 years old.

If only I could give this luxury designer scooter to my 10-year-old self.

Have you changed so drastically from who your younger self thought you would turn out to be? What was the change, and what was the shift in priorities? If so, please share in the comments below…

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

Finding Design & Style in Travel With Kids

Our room at Relaix & Chateaux’s Eolo – Patagonia’s Spirit

When the shift came from traveling as a childless adult to travels with a baby, I found that besides the obvious challenges, there was also the challenge of finding accommodations that fit my taste. Hotels that are known for their attention to detail in their interiors, their amenities, and even in the food they serve, do not normally have patrons of the smaller size in mind. I remember on our first extended trip to Brazil in the spring of 2011, I had discovered a good number of the lovely hotels and B&Bs I had researched back at home (and intended to book) did not allow any children under 12 years of age.

As I love hotels, interiors, and appreciate style and good design, this was a big disappointment. I felt as if there was an element to our unique experience we were both missing. Instead I often turned to vacation rentals, which has become wildly popular since those first days 3 years ago, when Lulu was an infant.

More families are traveling together, and more children are traveling the world with their parents more than ever before. It says a lot about our global culture, and to my delight, it’s inspired a number of travel websites that take into account the tastes of both parent and child. Below are a few that I have used and have recently discovered. I hope they too can make all the difference in your travel experiences. Happy wandering and happy (temporary) nesting with family!

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image courtesy of i-escape

www.i-escape.com – I have been using i-escape for years now. It’s a fantastic informational resource that highlights the high and lows of the hotels featured, specific details of individual rooms, as well as insider tips and special offers for i-escape guests who book through the site. There are accommodation choices of boutique hotels, villa rentals, or city apartments, and the site even breaks down properties by appropriate age group– genius for parent travel planners!

ciaobambino
www.ciaobambino.com - CB! was started by a mom determined to fill the need for a resource directed at parents traveling with kids. It has a ton of information on itineraries, travel tips, and booking options for kid-friendly accommodations for those with discerning tastes. Their editorial content is expansive and varied with lots of ideas on where to go in the U.S. and internationally– and what to do once you get there– perfect for travel ideas and inspiration, when thoughts of a vacation first come to mind.

www.kidandcoe.com – This vacation rental booking site has often been on my list of recommendations to friends who travel with their families. Specializing in property rentals that are kid-friendly, it offers stylish apartments and homes for families in various destinations around the world. Especially when first traveling with Lulu as an infant, I would often look for access to a kitchen and convenient laundry facilities. The options here take a lot of guess work out of the equation, without sacrificing aesthetics.

 

BlackTomatowww.blacktomato.com - Black Tomato is where expert travel planners do all the planning for you. They have a service dedicated to luxury family holidays– fill in their questionnaire to get started, such as where you are looking to travel, for how long, how many kids, and any other specific requests– and this will get the ball rolling to have an exclusive itinerary mapped out for your family. An amazing service for parents with little time (and patience) to plan, but with ample budget.

image courtesy of Ashley Muir Bruhn, Hither & Tither

image courtesy of Ashley Muir Bruhn, Hither & Tither

www.hitherandtither.net – This is the only blog I am including, as it is not a family travel planning site per se, but one that is full of inspiration. I’ve followed Hither and Tither for several years now, and Ashley’s blog is a treasure trove of ideas on design and lifestyle– especially her Travelogues. Between her travels and her overall taste, as well as vignettes of her life juggling family, home, DIY projects, beautiful photography and a blog (I don’t know how she does it), she manages to inspire readers to follow a similar life of good living. Alternatively, her Pinterest page is full of travel ideas for the design-conscious.

Book Passage Travel Writers’ Conference

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A Selection of Goodies at Book Passage for Kids Who Travel (and the parents who love them)

It’s been a few weeks now that I am back from San Francisco. I’m behind in posting as I’ve been distracted in sending Lulu for the first time to school (!!!), and as a result preparing for some life changes this Fall. I did not want to be remiss however, and not report back about the Book Passage Travel Writers’ and Photographers’ Conference I attended last month.

I had been to several travel conferences last year, some tourism-related, others blogger-related, but most were festivals for people who have a general passion for travel. It’s always interesting to see who attends these things, and I go with an open mind– but usually it’s easy to get lost. Most have hundreds of people, if not thousands. I visit a number of booths, make connections, exchange cards, meet people in the industry as well as random people who love to travel, and I send out various tweets about it throughout the day(s). And then I go home and eventually the event gets forgotten until the next one rolls around.

I had read about the Book Passage bookstore in Marin County and their annual Travel Writers’ & Photographers’ Conference sometime last year, and kept it in mind. By the springtime of this year, I decided to attend. I’m so glad I did. It was so decidedly different from any other.

First off, it is specifically a writers’ and photographers’ conference, so there is that. Not an industry show, not a we-love-travel-here-are-ideas-of-where-to-go-next show, not a bloggers-look-how-you-can-get-sponsors-and-increased-SEO show. The conference was also smaller than most– there must have been around 80 who attended. It was similar to the writing workshops I attend at home in NYC, stretched over three days, but all about travel writing, with an incredible faculty (read about them here), and spent alongside strangers with whom we shared our personal travel stories. That sharing alone breeds a certain bond and intimacy, and the energy was consistently of the nurturing, inspiring, and communal kind. One of the speakers called the 3-day event “summer camp for travel writers.”

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Nat Geo Traveler Columnist and Travel Writer Don George, interviewing Tony Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet

Authors Andrew McCarthy, Tim Cahill, Jeff Greenwald, David Farley, & Don George on Crafting the Perfect Lede

The overall warmth could be because it was in California and most attendees were from the Bay Area. I was one of a handful of people who came from the East Coast, there weren’t many. But most likely the difference in atmosphere could be attributed to seasoned travel writer Don George, the chairman of the event– a positive, enthusiastic, kind, and happy person himself– but also to the venue. Book Passage is a dream book store, one you don’t find in many cities any longer. Not only do they encourage a love for reading and of browsing through their gorgeous shelves, they clearly have also built a loyal community with their presence in the Bay Area. For readers and writers alike.

bookstore1

The highlight of my time there however was to hear Georgia Hesse speak. At 81, she is revered in the industry, as the first ever travel editor for the San Francisco Examiner as well as for the San Fran Chronicle. She was the first keynote speaker, and had story after story to tell about her experiences on the road, her life as a reporter, finding that unparalleled moment in her travels and seizing it to make it an unforgettable piece of writing. I sat listening, wondering if I could ever live to tell even half of the stories she described to her captivated audience. It was one entertaining tale of exoticism and danger, then dramatic escape, after another. I wish I had recorded it.

One evening a friend of mine and I cornered Georgia over several glasses of wine and encouraged her to regale us with more of her adventures. I first met Julie, a travel blogger from Arkansas, at TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) in Toronto last year. We sat leaning in towards Georgia, with hearts full of wanderlust and a thirst for story, as if seated around a campfire. The whole trip out west was well worth those hours spent in the company of this trailblazing writer.

Julie & Georgia

Julie from Empty Nest Travels, Georgia Hesse, & me

From what I understand, Georgia does not have children. If you have read my blog from its beginnings, you will know this is something I have struggled with: living a life of adventure through travel, with a child in tow. What I can do with Lulu does not compete with the sort of adventure one can do on his or her own. But I’ve made the best of the past four years with an infant, then a toddler. Not many children can say they’ve visited 4 out of 7 continents by the time they were three years old.

All this is to say that our time traveling the world may be slowing down, especially as Lulu has officially started school full-time. But you never know what the future holds. Traveling, and seeing other countries, other cultures, will always be the thing that I love to do the most. But hearing Georgia’s and all the speakers’ stories at the conference, I felt I had so many more experiences to live, so much more adventure to seek.

Maybe I will have to wait until Lulu comes of a certain independent age. That will be when our true travel adventures will begin– and maybe then she and I will be able to return to Book Passage and inspire other writers, by telling our own stories of two lives well-lived.