That time I went to...

Twelve years ago I lived in China, teaching English as a Foreign Language.

And that inspired the start of some serious itchy-feet; I regularly popped across to the US, Europe and Asia over the next seven years, and when I met MrS15S
he was just as adventurous.

Niagara Falls, April 2011

Hong Kong, November 2008

New York (a lot)

Tromso, inside the Arctic Circle, Nov 2010.

Then five years ago we had a daughter, and aside from a brief week in Tenerife, have only ever travelled in the UK with our little girl – I have found time for a couple of solo Me Trips, which I completely advocate as the ultimate parent-recharge:

Belize (read my post here), April 2016

Chicago, 2013

I've also indulged in the odd UK mini-break - London/Manchester/Birmingham – according to country music and shopping needs.
I know that travel with babies and/or young children is entirely do-able, but as new parents, adjusting finances and new routines, we just didn’t.    

And then we took a family break to Disneyland Paris last summer.

From the flight I saw the excitement mirrored in the eyes of Mini-Me, I knew she’d caught the travel bug. She can't help it; it’s in her DNA.  

No problems with eating, although we all have a healthy addiction to French breads.  No problems with late night parades and firework displays, thanks to a welcome mid-afternoon nap for all. 

Mini-Me is also much better behaved when we’re out and about, as opposed to trying to coerce her into tidying away toys at home. I'd much rather experience than tidy, too.

So, as I approach my first summer break from the school run (yes!!!) I’m considering a long haul trip with Mini-Me, if only so we don’t spend half the summer mornings on the sofa, and the other half in the rain...sorry, UK summers, but you are a bit wet sometimes.

Ideally, we’ll hit the States – one of my favourite travel destinations (although this will be my first trip since the Obama Administration departed The West Wing; gulp).

But which of the 50 to choose from?  Should it just be the one? 


I love the Amtrak service - comfy seats, huge distances, iconic scenes and usually decent WiFi - and how great would it be to have ocean, desert, mountain and city escapades this August? We travelled by train from Niagara to New York in 2011, which was just as fabulous as we expected, and I regularly use the service when I'm in Chicago to travel for work

This summer I’ll also say hello to 40, and as I’ve been lucky enough to have some amazing life experiences (Great Wall, Niagara Falls, becoming Mum – and not losing myself) I don’t really have a Things to do Before I’m 40 list. 

Well, I wouldn’t mind driving a really fast car somewhere.  Or dying my hair pink.  

Maybe both adventures on the same day?


Hello San Francisco, Canyons, Denver and Chicago? Incidentally, the perfect pre-flight-home city for an airport discount shopping haul, thanks to Fashion Outlets. 

Amtrak's California Zephyr train journey takes around a week, depending on stops and travelling companions, and would probably be drier than a Summer's fortnight in Devon.  

But we're very much in the delightful planning stages, pouring over maps, books, photos and websites, and are open to spontaneity; once we book flights, we'll just book a night or two accommodation and take things from there.  

What US adventures can you recommend with a giddy five year old - and an even giddier almost-40 year old?  Mr S15S will likely be in his element with camera gear.

Oooh, and, as someone who takes three bags just to go to work, I would really appreciate any packing tips that you might have, for a three week multi-destination adventure for three people!

I received no money or products for this post, all thoughts, adventures and opinions are my own. 


  1. I had mixed feelings about traveling on Amtrak from NYC to Canada, but the California Zephyr trip sounds like a lot of fun! Do you know how much time on/off the train you get? And do you leave your luggage on board or…? I really don't know much about the long-haul amtrak trips.

    As for packing tips? Be sure to roll clothing! It saves so much room in your luggage! But then the weight goes up, so have a scale. Pack layers. Even though I've never been to California, I imagine it's warm during the day and cool in the morning/evening. Umm… I like having a toiletry bag and packing cubes, but that's just me. And I have heard of parents packing kids outfits in ziplocks, so that you don't have to decide what to wear each day; it's already picked out. *shrugs* I don't know if any of these ideas help. Three weeks is a long time! If you learn anything through the packing and planning of this trip, be sure to come back and share! :)

  2. Wow - I love the idea of packing kids' outfits in separate bags ... ideal for those early morning starts!

    As for the Amtrak, I was contemplating a 15 day pass, which I think allows 8 journeys, although plans aren't finalised yet...I may just opt for individual rail trips and domestic flights.

    Will definitely blog as I go, though, and as planning increases!

    Thanks so much for your suggestions!

  3. Look up "capsule wardrobes" - a colleague swears by them because she hates when a piece of clothing doesn't get used on travel.
    Plan to stay 2 nights at a B&B with free washer and dryer once per week so you only have to take 1 week's worth of clothes (and leave plenty of space for your purchases). Bring a laundry bag for delicates.
    Definitely layers - the weather will be as varied as the geography x 2 (middday vs evening).
    Bring fewer toiletries - you know you're gonna stock up in the US!

  4. That was KL commenting, BTW!

  5. I love a capsule wardrobe... in theory! I do now travel with a similar colour palette, usually black, to ease laundry issues!

    Love your tip on leaving space for shopping and US toiletries, too! I'm almost out of Bath and Body Works goodies.