Traveling with a baby or toddler: Amsterdam edition

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We have been in Holland for an entire year now and I STILL have not written about how child friendly or unfriendly Amsterdam is.

While Amsterdam is known for their red light district and their coffee shops, you are still bound to see families out and about enjoying the more child friendly sights. Heck, I’ve seen toddlers stroll down the district. It’s a cultural norm here and I’m not here to judge.

HOWEVER, today I am here to judge how child friendly the city is. Check it out.

Stroller Friendly? – If you stay on the main roads then you are perfectly fine with a stroller. However, if you plan to venture off to the alleys and discover some hidden gems then you may find that your little one will be on a bit of a bumpy ride. The streets of Amsterdam get rather crowded as well and if you are as impatient as we are, we feel that having a stroller slows you down a bit. I may have or may not have purposely nudged people out of the invisible fast lane.

Restaurants – While the restaurants adore and welcome our Ittybot into their restaurant, the space is usually quite snug to say the least. If we have our stroller, we usually have to ditch it at the entry way and bring Ittybot inside. Our little guy is quite curious so he likes to check out the scene but unfortunately for him, there isn’t much to see or much space for him to wander.

Diaper Changing Stations – This may be the most frustrating part of Amsterdam for me. Finding a place to change Ittybot is such a huge pain! We have to a plan a special path and schedule in order to change him. Many restaurants don’t have a changing table, which is normally fine with me. I usually bring a changing pad with me so I can change him on any surface. But that’s the thing – the space is so snug that there isn’t much room for the both of us to fit, let alone for him to lay down for a diaper change.

There is good news though. “2theloo” is a paid restroom service located in the midst of Amsterdam’s shopping district. If I remember correctly, it was 60 euro cents to use the service. Another good place to visit for a diaper change is the “Bijenkorf” located across the street from Dam Square. Their restrooms are free to use and they have a big restroom with a changing table. YAY! We try to stop by the Bijenkorf whenever we can. Because we like free.

I’m not ashamed to say that on nice days, we laid down Ittybot in his stroller and changed him right there when we were in a pinch.

Activities – I can’t say that there is an abundance of activities for children in Amsterdam. At least, I haven’t discovered them yet! You can always hop on a boat and do a canal tour. You’ll have better odds traveling about an hour south to Rotterdam where there is a zoo and an aquarium for the tiny tots.

Transportation – The public transportation system is great. Getting baby from point A to point B using any train or bus isn’t bad at all. Most (not all) of the train stations have an elevator for your stroller.

I hope this was useful information when it comes to planning your next trip to Amsterdam!

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Free Travel Budget Spreadsheet!

Unless you’re Jay-Z and Beyonce, us simpletons don’t have an unlimited budget when it comes to vacations. Ever since we set our sights on being debt free, we have been using spreadsheets for anything and everything budget related. Vacations are no different.

We have had our fair share of trips this year and since we are a one income household, we have to stick to the budget. Laying out a budget ahead of time and strictly using cash has immensely helped us stick to our budget.

I thought I would save you the trouble of going through the awfully boring process of creating a spreadsheet and share ours!! Get it here.

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The pursuit of happiness

It’s about to get cheesy up in here so if that makes you squeamish go on and hit that “back” or “x” button.

People envision their happiness very differently. I’m not here to judge other peoples’ definition of happiness because I certainly wouldn’t appreciate them judging mine.

The first quarter of a century of my life was devoted to accomplishing what others defined as “success” and “happiness”. I got my big girl job, earned that office, bought a brand new car, got married, and bought a home by the age of 23. Our family even grew a little bigger with the addition of a Yorkshire terrier. We were on track to be the epitome of “success” and “happiness”, right? Wrong. I certainly was not happy.

I was drowning in never ending expectations. I felt as if all my hard work to live someone else’s pursuit of happiness was leading to even more shallow expectations. Working long, long hours on top of my hour+ commute (on a good day) to achieve the American dream only made me more unhappy. The stress of the pursuit of happiness caused me to have an affair with over consumption. Constantly trying to fill a void that could never truly be fulfilled. Or so I thought.

At the end of 2010, sunlight peaked through my gloomy skies when we were given the opportunity to leave our old lives behind and move to sunny Florida. Best decision of our lives. A huge burden was lifted off our shoulders as we made our 26 hour drive to the land of eternal sunshine. I finally felt like I was making a move in my life that was truly for me.

I won’t divulge too much but the moral of my blog post is that it’s okay to realize that your pursuit of happiness doesn’t align with others. Don’t let society coerce you to believe that you need to live your life a certain way. It has taken me a long time to figure out what truly made me happy and I can boast that I am living it here and now. I have truly found myself and I can honestly say that I can go back and face my responsibilities with a clear conscience and know what direction I need to take it in order to be happy.

Just remember that it’s okay to realize that your interpretation of “happiness” doesn’t coincide with others. It’s your pursuit of happiness and it’s your life duty to do all that you can to achieve it. I’ll always be here to cheer you on! SuSu!! (thai for “fight fight!”

BeYou

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Electric Run Rotterdam

One of the items on my bucket list was to do a FUN marathon. When given the opportunity to do one while living internationally, I couldn’t let it pass me by.

I missed my chance when the Electric Run was held in Amsterdam. The race was sold out in TWO hours!

You better believe that I was sitting on my computer 30 min before tickets went on sale for the run in Rotterdam.

I am no runner so signing up for a 5k was a big feat to begin with. My “training” was running (walk/jog) once a week for 30-45 minutes. Pathetic, I know. Luckily, the rest of the group that joined us weren’t runners either!

We brought Ittybot along and The Mr. found it to be the perfect opportunity to “electrify” his stroller. The Mr. and a friend of ours were giddy as they discussed the details. I for one, thought taping some glow sticks to the wheels should suffice but don’t say that to a couple engineers!

Just hours before the run, the skies were gloomy and rain soaked the streets. Fortunately, the rain stopped and the run progressed without a hitch.

We trudged along as legit runners weaved around us. The vibrant staged paths guided us along the 5k. Neon lights flooded the skies and black lights beamed on our faces. The enthusiasm amongst the participants was contagious.

The Electric 5k was an incredible experience and we were blessed to have an amazing group of people to share it with. Best believe I will do another electric run when we get back home!

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