A two week itinerary in Portugal with a toddler

When my husband and I were trying to figure out our next big family vacation we wanted to try somewhere new. We also recently have fallen in love with surfing (not that either of us are any good at it) and so we wanted to go somewhere unique where we could hit the waves – and we all know the biggest waves in the world are in Portugal so that’s where we decided to go.

No, we weren’t planning to surf the 100 foot wave, but rather take in the beauty of the Algarve, drink wine in the Duoro Valley, and take in the culture of Lisbon. But there is one thing we had to keep in mind while planning, how will we also entertain our one and a half year old?

The more research we did, we realized Portugal is actually an incredible place to take a toddler. They let you skip the line at most museums and castles, they have a lot of toddler friendly beaches and parks, and lots of delicious food.

I wanted to share our two week itinerary with you – and honestly we fell so in love with this place, it is one of the few I hope I will get to travel back to someday.

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Why Harrison Hot Springs is the best shoulder season getaway

Southern B.C. can be quite grim in the Fall. They don’t call it Raincover for nothing. I usually plan a sunny getaway this time of year, but with a toddler my free time is a little limited nowadays, so I decided to mix it up and stay local this year. I discovered my new favourite shoulder season getaway  in B.C., Harrison Hot Springs.

The reason I decided to book a getaway here was after I heard about the healing powers of hot springs, (something that was much needed this time of year when the weather is just blah). Some of the benefits include boosting circulation, pain reduction, stress relief, improve skin conditions, and detoxify.

I wanted to share my weekend getaway to Harrison Hot Springs with you

Getting there

Harrison Hot Spring’s is part of Harrison River Valley in the heart of the Fraser Valley just a short 90 minutes from Vancouver. You can get here by car, bus, boat from Vancouver, or even a float plane.

Where to stay

There is no better place to stay in Harrison Hot Springs than Harrison Hot Springs Resort. It is located along the gardens and shoreline of Harrison Lake. Walking inside you notice the rustic charm right away. I had a pet-friendly room overlooking the beautiful lake. It is also home to famous hot mineral spring pools, that come straight from the mountain pools located just a short 15 minute walk away. There are 5 pools in total both indoors and outdoors each different temperatures. I spent 4 hours in the pools and felt like a whole new person afterwards.

There are also a few on site restaurants including the infamous Copper Room. The restaurant including delicious west coast favourites, amazing live music, and a dance floor so make sure you bring your dancing shoes.

Things to do

Soak in the hot springs 

The top reason to come here is to relax and rejuvenate and soaking in mineral waters is the best way to do that

Enjoy the lake

Sure, you may not be laying out in the sunshine in November – but you cans till enjoy the beautiful lake. There is a path all around with gorgeous views of the mountain and forests that surround the area.

Take a cultural tour 

I had a chance to join a tour with St’sailes First Nations to find out more about the healing powers of the hot springs and learn about the history of Qwolts (which means land of boiling water).

Visit Sasquatch Provincial Park 

There is everything you could want in this park, beautiful waterfalls, mountain ranges, and gorgeous second growth forest.

Visit the Sasquatch Museum 

If you didn’t know, Harrison Hot Springs is known for Sasquatch and there is even a must see museum with all the history and information of this spiritual animal.

Visit Bridal Falls 

On the way to Harrison Hot Springs make sure that you stop by Bridal Falls. It is just a short walk to see the gorgeous views of the waterfalls.

Get a coffee and treat at Muddy Waters Cafe 

With views of the lake and delicious farm to table treats it is a great little stop for a quick meal in the area.

Visit Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory 

You need to stop by here for a post meal treat, and make sure you try their Sasquatch feet.

I hope this inspires you to make Harrison Hot Spring your next B.C. getaway.

xo

Mia

 

 

 

Why you need to visit the Comox Valley

Whenever I think of making a trip to Vancouver Island, Victoria and Tofino are the first places that come to mind, but recently I discovered a lesser visited gem; Comox Valley. The region is made up of Courtenay, Comox, and Cumberland, as well as some smaller communities like Fanny and Union Bay.The region really has it all, mountains, ocean, and beautiful old growth forest to explore, and the great thing is you really can explore the whole Valley, because it’s not too far of a drive to get from one spot to another. I wanted to share with you my perfect weekend in Comox Valley.

Getting to Comox Valley

There are a few different ways to get to Comox Valley. The easiest from Vancouver is probably a ferry ride. You can take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay in Nanaimo – from there it is about an hour and a half drive. You could also opt to fly into the Comox Valley Airport from Vancouver.

Day 1: Cumberland

 

Locals that I spoke to told me they pride themselves on being a “forest in a village”.

The entire community revolves around the beautiful old growth forest in their backyard – so much so that they actually have been fundraising for years to buy parts of the forest back from a logging company – and then giving it back to the community. The Cumberland Community forest is filled with tons of trails, some specifically for mountain biking, others for trail runs and walks and so  I started my day in Cumberland on a beautiful trail run.

After working up a sweat, and an apatite, it was time for lunch. A few locals recommended Biblio Taco and I am thankful they did. This could be home to the best burrito I have ever had – and their portions are huge and they had some really unique combinations – but they worked really well together.

What is the best thing to do on a very full stomach? Go on a hike. If you have followed my blog for a while, you probably know my passion for hiking – it is the first thing I google when I visit a new place. One of the hikes in the area that was highly recommended was the Perseverance Creek Potholes. The smoothness of the pools, which has been carved by erosion was incredible to see and the deep colours of the water was so inviting. A great place to cool off after a hot day.

After a day of hiking and running it was definitely time for a treat. My first stop was Love’s Ice Cream. The homemade ice cream uses real fruit and there were endless flavour options. I also loved their commitment to using biodegradable and reusable products. After ice cream it was time for a treat of a different kind and Cumberland Brewing. Their goal has always been to share a beer with company in an inviting environment, even though I entered alone I felt like I was in a room full of buddies – people that cared about their community and local businesses – and the drinks were refreshingly delicious.

 

Day 2: Comox

I absolutely fell in love with this quaint waterfront town. Everywhere you went you have a view of the ocean.

I started the day with a walk along Goose Spit. The Spit is a very unique landscape, offering sandy beaches and gorgeous views of Hornby and several other islands. After taking in the views I wandered along the quaint harbour front (enjoying a coffee from Komox Grind). Along the way there are some more stunning views, this time of Comox Glacier and Beaufort Mountain Range. I then made my way over to Filberg Park where there are gorgeous flowers, a petting zoo, and even a little tea house.

After exploring the area by land it was time to get out on the water and explore by sea. I had heard of this incredible beach the locals like to call ‘Little Mexico‘. I rented a SUP from Coast Surf Shop and they actually took me out on a tour to the beach. Along the way we were followed by a curious seal before making our way to a truly gorgeous white sand beach to watch the sunset.

Once back on dry land it was time for some food. I was told by the locals Church St. Taphouse was the place to be on a Saturday night. They had great food, delicious beers on tap, and some great live music.

 

Day 3 Courtenay

I started the day with a run along along the spit and past the airport. It was a really beautiful place to stretch the legs and taking in that morning ocean breeze. A morning run sure worked up my appetite and so I went for breakfast at the Hog and the Hen. Don’t let the location fool you – the food here is AMAZING. I love their smoked salmon benny.

My next stop took me to 5th street where there are some of the most adorable shops I have ever seen. Classic book shops, home decor, fun gift shops, and some cute clothing boutiques. After shopping I wanted to get back out to explore the beauty of this area. I made my way a little outside of Courtenay to explore Browns River Falls. It is a beautiful wide waterfall where at the bottom there are some more popular swim holes.

After all that walking, it was the perfect time to relax and the best place to do that is at Kingfisher Hydropath. Take a dip in the heated outdoor pool and then relax in the steam cave. I am a big fan of any hydropath therapy – basically walking from through a circuit of hot and cold pools that helps blood circulation. And the icing on the cake, there is an indoor waterfall grotto.

I finished off my time here with the best greek food I have ever tasted, and that is saying a lot since I have been to Greece. Yimas Taverna is an absolute must visit.

Bonus: Fanny Bay

I didn’t have a full day to explore Fanny Bay, but I did get a chance to visit for lunch and some Oyster shucking. I first stopped at Fanny Bay Inn, located right on the water this has been the go to place for 80 years and it is the kind of pub where everyone knows your name – and the food was delicious. I ended my trip with a visit to the famous Mac’s Oyster LTD to get some lessons from the pros on how to shuck oysters.

It was an amazing trip to the Comox Valley, and I can see why more and more people are making the trip (and even move out here as it is one of the fastest growing populations in BC) but I promise you it is still a bit of a hidden gem, without the crowded tourist beaches and long waits for dining – you are going to want to make a trip here ASAP.

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

 

What to do if your baby gets sick while on vacation

Our family recently went on a beautiful vacation to Mexico, one problem though, our baby got traveller’s diarrhea half way through our trip. if you thought newborn diapers were wet, gross, and hard to clean, just wait until you have to deal with these kind of diapers. But aside from the diarrhea or poor little guy had a fever, a terrible diaper rash that was bleeding, and once he had blood in his stool we knew we had to do something.

It was so scary seeing our baby so sick (especially since it was the first time for us dealign with a sickness) but being so far away from home, in a foreign country, trying to communicate the issue in a different language, with medicine that also doesn’t have english on the label – well that just adds even more fear and anxiety to the situation. And so I wanted to share a few tips on what to do if your baby gets sick while on vacation.

Preparation is key

There are a few things you can do to prepare for the possibility of a sick baby before you even step foot on the plane. This is something I have learned very quickly as a new mom.

Even when I am just going to the park, I am always traveling with a first aid kit that has everything from baby tylenol to band-aids.

On top of packing first aid items you can also do a little extra research ahead of time. Talk to your doctor about safety tips for the particular place you are traveling to. Make sure your child is up to date on all their vaccines and get any additional ones that might be needed for the area you are visiting. Also check your travel insurance ahead of time in case you need to visit a doctor while abroad (like we did… twice).

 

Try to stay calm and assess the situation

Ok, you prepared as much as you could and your child still gets sick, now what? It is easy to go into panic mode in this situations – I know easier said than done ( I definitely went straight into panic mode), but thankfully I had my much more grounded husband by my side (and very lucky his GP mom) to help me stay calm. Even if you don’t have that support team though, it is important to remind yourself your child needs you and you need to stay calm to figure out the best plan of action for them.

Think about what you would do if you were dealing with a sick kid back home. How do you need to treat this? Is it something that just needs rest and fluids or do you need medication?

 

Regarding medication, finding the ideal one while on vacation might be difficult. It is even more challenging when the medication labelling is written in a foreign language. Fortunately, there is a way around this hurdle; you only need a good internet connection. It takes effective planning even before you get on the plane. For example, if your child has asthma, pack the appropriate inhalers. However, it would also help if you ordered the appropriate COPD medication prescribed by the doctor to help handle the situation. While doing all this, remember to stay calm throughout the situation.

Trust your instinct and seek help if you need it

I knew my babe wasn’t well but I didn’t trust my instincts right away. We kept going back and forth on if we actually needed medical help, that it wasn’t until we saw blood in his stool (which even google will tell you is no good) that we made the call. If something feels off and you need help, get it – but on that note do your research. Check online to find the most reputable doctor’s office.

But try and get a second opinion if you can

Like I mentioned, we were super lucky to have my husband’s mom with us – who right away told us that the medication they prescribed our son wasn’t the right one. Of course not everyone has the luxury of having a doctor in their family. If it isn’t an emergency and you might be able to get on the phone with your doctor back home (especially if you are in a different country) I would highly suggest doing that.

Adjust your itinerary

Sure it is no fun when you have to cancel plans you have been looking forward to – but hey getting your child better is top priority – and if you can do that in the sunshine by a pool at your resort -well that sounds pretty good to me. We were lucky that we had a team with us (aka my husband’s parents) so we decided to take turns and everyone got to stay home and snuggly with our sick babe and also hit the town for a little date night. At the same time don’t the experience totally ruin the trip. I was exhausted by the end and needed another vacation – but we still created some beautiful memories as a family.

Take care of yourself so you can take care of baby

In our case it was traveller’s diarrhea but what it if was a virus? It is hard enough to take care of your sick child in a foreign country, but to do that while fighting off a virus yourself? No bueno. If your child does get sick try and take those extra measures – extra hand washing, stay hydrate etc.

We survived the first one and I am sure it won’t be the last but don’t let the idea of a sick baby on vacation deter you from booking that ticket to experience the world with your little one.

xo

Mia

7 Tips to make travel more enjoyable

Most of what I write about on this blog has to do with travel. I have always LOVED traveling. In fact I took my first across the world flight (from Canada to South Africa) when I was just 1 (my parents are brave). Traveling is a great way to see the world and learn about different cultures. However, it can also be stressful if you are not prepared. Over my many years of traveling I have picked up a few tips and tricks that can make your experience more enjoyable. 

Do Your Research

Before you travel, it is important to do your research. I know that this can be a daunting task at the time – but it will make the actual travel part so much more enjoyable. What I mean by research is take the time to learn about the culture and customs of your destination. It is also a good idea to research the best time to visit, as well as any potential dangers. By doing your research, you will be able to avoid potential problems and have a more enjoyable trip.

 

Get Travel Insurance

Things happen that are out of our control – especially as the world starts to open up again so another important tip is to get travel insurance. This will protect you in case of any problems while you are away from home. It is a good idea to buy travel insurance that covers medical expenses, lost luggage, and cancellations. By getting travel insurance, you will be able to relax and enjoy your trip, knowing that you are covered in case of any problems.

 

Be Prepared for Jet Lag

One way to make your travels more enjoyable is by being prepared for jet lag. Jet lag can cause fatigue, headaches, and difficulty sleeping. To avoid jet lag, it is important to adjust your sleep schedule before your trip. You should also avoid alcohol and caffeine during your flight. By being prepared for jet lag, you can avoid some of the more unpleasant aspects of travel.

 

Pack Light

During my days as  a professional athlete I lived out of a suitcase and learned a very specific talent of packing light, this has come in very handy traveling today.  This will make it easier to move around and avoid lost luggage. It is also a good idea to pack versatile clothing that can be worn in different weather conditions. By packing light, you will be able to have a more enjoyable trip.

 

Stay Healthy

While it is easy to just sit by the swim up bar your entire trip, I have found it so important to try and stay healthy and in a bit of a routine while traveling.  This means eating healthy food, exercising, and getting enough rest. It is also a good idea to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. By staying healthy, you will be able to enjoy your trip more and not feel so rough when you get home. 

 

Take Care of Your Feet

I will never forget a day in Rome where I spent 10 yours on my feet exploring all the sites. Your feet can take a lot of abuse when you are traveling. To avoid problems, it is important to pack comfortable shoes and socks. If you know that you will have intensive travel where you will walk a lot, consider buying custom foot orthotics to help support your feet. You should also take care of your feet by washing them regularly and keeping them dry. By taking care of your feet, you will be able to avoid problems and have more enjoyable travels.

 

Be Mindful of Your Belongings

When you are traveling, it is important to be mindful of your belongings. This means keeping your passport and money in a safe place. It is also a good idea to make copies of important documents. By being mindful of your belongings, you will be able to avoid problems and have a more enjoyable trip.

These are just a few tips that can help make your travels more enjoyable. By following these tips, you can have a better experience when traveling.