Monthly Archives: March 2015

Migros Museum of Contemporary Art Zurich

Satellite photo of central Zürich, with Lake Zürich to the south (bottom) and the main station in the north-west. The Limmat river flows from south to north, whilst the Sihl flows from the south-west and joins the Limmat to the north of the station.


Follow Limmatstrasse from Zurich’s historical centre and discover the city’s former industrial district, Zurich-West, now a cultural hub for art and design. Migros Museum of Contemporary Art resides in the Löwenbräukunst complex – a converted century-old brewery – and ideal setting for thirsty art hounds.

Established in the mid-twentieth century by the eponymous Swiss retailer, the museum’s initial collection was born from the fostering of local and national artists. Ever since, Migros Museum has continued to support the careers of young and emerging talent, outreaching to artists from around the world to develop new and innovative work for exhibition. Social contexts and large-scale installations are on the curatorial menu, which suits the vast, open spaces across two floors.

Its programme of individual and group exhibitions throughout the year makes Migros Museum an influential platform for international art in Switzerland.

The Löwenbräukunst houses several further institutional and private galleries within its walls that will satisfy your art taste buds until beer o’clock.

Migros Museum of Contemporary Art Zurich

Limmatstrasse 270, 8005 Zürich, Switzerland

+41 44 277 20 50

Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst Zurich | Arts Hotspot

Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst Zurich | Arts Hotspot


Jonathan Velardi | Melting Butter Arts + Culture ContributorJonathan is our UK-based correspondent covering all eye-pleasing things for Melting Butter’s Arts & Culture pages. Being a contemporary visual artist working in public spaces around the world as well as a freelance culture writer for sites and publications like Ohh Deer and London Calling, Jonathan brings a rare combination of talent from the worlds of editorial, conceptual art, design and lifestyle. Be sure to check his blog and his art practice, which satisfy his hunger for both high and low culture. Follow his tweets too: @JMVELARDIRead about Jonathan’s favourite hotspots here.



Follow on the social web to keep up to date with new posts and get daily inspiration on food, travel, music, fashion, culture and lifestyle:





(Feature Photo: Teresa margolles, the pursuit of 2014, sound installation – photo: Nicolas Duc, Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich)

The post Art Find: Migros Museum of Contemporary Art Zurich appeared first on Melting Butter.


Melting Butter

I Heart My City: Risto’s Helsinki


Satellite photo of central Zürich, Switzerland with Lake Zürich to the south (bottom) and the main station in the north-west. The Limmat river flows from south to north, whilst the Sihl flows from the south-west and joins the Limmat to the north of the station.  Photo by NASA Earth Observatory.


Avid traveler Risto Kuulasmaa has explored monasteries in Bhutan, trekked across deserts in the Middle East, hiked across Iceland, and then some. Despite his wanderlust, the Scandinavian television producer has proudly called the “hassle-free, pocket-size metropolis” of Helsinki home for the past 12 years. Here are a few of Risto’s favorite things about Finland’s capital city.

Follow Risto’s story on Flickr and Instagram.

Helsinki Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to Ateljee Bar, a classic rooftop terrace located on the 14th floor of historical Hotel Torni.

August is the best time to visit my city because the warm summer nights are magical, people are in festive moods, and the city is bustling with a diverse array of events.

The Helsinki skyline (Photograph by rikukettunen, Flickr)

You can see my city best from a boat. Helsinki is built on a peninsula stretching out into the Baltic Sea.

Locals know to skip driving a car and to check out the city by bike instead.

Kaapelitehdas—a cultural center that hosts art fairs, markets, and design events—is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like composer Jean Sibelius, painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela, and military leader Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is Suomenlinna, a fortress complex built across six islands, because it offers a scenic window on Helsinki’s maritime history, both past and present.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to travel by kayak. You’ll find the peace of nature and plenty of urban tunnels and bridges to explore.

Best way to travel: By bicycle. (Photograph by dodoorg, Flickr)

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the Helsinki Archipelago. Charter a boat and check out the nearby islands.

My city really knows how to celebrate summer. On weekends, everyone flees to summer cottages, turning Helsinki into a ghost town. Take a bike ride through the empty streets in the white light of the night, and you’ll feel like you own the city.

You can tell if someone is from my city if he or she is very reluctant to use a car horn. We prefer silent politeness—even in the traffic jams.

For a fancy night out, I start with an appetizing drink at Hotel Kämp, followed by dinner at one of the city’s finest restaurants, such as Olo, Savoy, Muru, and Ateljé Finne.

Just outside my city, you can visit many small towns. My favorite road trip destinations are Porvoo, Fiskars, and picturesque Svartå Manor.

My city is known for being a bit introverted, but it’s really ready to offer adventure. Just ask locals to show you around their favorite places.

Helsinki's archipelago is made up of more than 300 islands. (Photograph by paarma, Flickr)

The best outdoor market in my city is Hietalahti Flea Market.

Café Ekberg is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Putte’s Bar and Pizza is the spot for late-night eats. 

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Visit Helsinki, or simply shut your laptop, go to a bar, and chat up a local.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I open my own pop-up restaurant and cook and serve my favorite food during Restaurant Day, another fine Helsinki-based invention.

To escape the crowds, I pull up the sails and head to the islands to take in a quiet sauna and bonfire.

Tavastia is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out monthly Club Balkan Fever—a sweaty mix of locals and ex-pats dancing ‘til they drop.

Feeling fancy? Grab a drink at the Hotel Kämp bar. (Photograph by timberwolfstudios, Flickr)

The illegal and infamous (yet highly anticipated and fun) annual beer float (Kaljakellunta in Finnish) could only happen in my city. 

In the spring you should go to Kulttuurisauna for a skinny dip in the hole in the ice.

In the summer you should fill up your picnic baskets, pick up your guitar, and join the locals sitting in Helsinki’s many parks.

In the fall you should put on your dancing shoes and enjoy September’s bounty of events. Check out the Flow Festival, Helsinki Festival, and the Art Goes Kapakka festival.

In the winter you should enjoy sunny (but cold) February by skiing or ice skating on the ice-covered sea.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss searching for oft-reported elves that are said to inhabit the forests of Nuuksio National Park.

> Related:


Intelligent Travel

Tips for Planning a Roots Travel Trip


Grafton Street, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by Donaldytong.


Planning a roots travel trip can yield rewarding, and surprising, results. “For some people, the thrill of just being there is enough,” says Marion Hager, owner of genealogy travel company Hager’s Journeys.

Here’s how she says you can get the most out of a trip:

  • Use a local tour operator. If you are going to a country, or an area of a country, where English is not widely spoken, be sure to use a reliable operator at the destination and arrange for a car and driver or guide. “This way, you will get the most from the time you spend there,” Hager says.
  • Call the relatives. When you find people you believe are living relatives, try to contact them prior to your travel. “It would be fun to meet them and have them show you around and tell you what they know about their ancestry.”
  • Find a local genealogist. It will be much easier to
 gain access to view documents and records in archives through a local genealogist. “They also can help you contact living relatives you discover,” Hager says.
  • Bring printed copies of your family tree. You never know who you may connect with. “On a trip to Würzburg, Germany, we visited with a 13th-generation pretzel baker who unrolled a huge chart to show us his U.S. relatives,” Hager recalls. “He never knew he had an American family until they found him in their research, visited, and brought a copy of the family tree. He was so excited to show it to us.”
  • Make appointments. Records offices, churches, cemeteries, and other locations that might keep ancestral records may not be open to the public without an appointment, may have very limited hours, or may be closed due to holidays. To avoid disappointment,’s Loretto Szucs recommends making specific appointments, including the day and time you want to visit, before finalizing travel arrangements.
  • Do your homework. No matter what kind of roots travel trip you book, do your homework in advance. “To appreciate the journey more, read up on the place where your ancestors grew up,” adds Szucs. “What was the culture like? What were their traditions? What may have caused them to leave their homes, loved ones, and all that was familiar to them to cross the sea to the unknown?” Plus, she says, “You don’t want to find out about a family farm still in operation after the journey is over.”

This article was adapted from the National Geographic book Journeys Home: Inspiring Stories, Plus Tips & Strategies to Find Your Family History.

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Intelligent Travel

The Great American Road Trip Part 2


[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”0399173285″ cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”” popups=”default” tag=”harveyrobinso-20″ width=”117″][easyazon_link asin=”0399173285″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”harveyrobinso-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter[/easyazon_link]


For over half a decade, Matt Kepnes (aka Nomadic Matt) has used his massively popular travel blog to teach readers how to travel the world on the cheap.

Arguing that traditional travel media lies, Matt cuts through the myth that travel is expensive. In the new edition of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, Matt reveals the tips, tricks, and secrets to comfortable budget travel that you won’t find anywhere else with over 100 new pages of updated content.


To Americans, there’s nothing that hold more appeal than the classic road trip. It’s built into our cultural DNA dating as far back as the 1920s. In Jazz Age America, the car was a symbol of freedom – a chance to escape your small town and the watchful eyes of parents. It allowed men and women to sneak off together in a way never possible before. As the highway system was developed in the 1950s, a wave of kids set out on the road to explore the country, giving new life to America’s car and road trip culture.

Americans have an on going love affair with the car and great open road.

And no road trip holds more mystery and allure than the one cross-country. It’s the king of road trips. In 2006, as part of my original round the world, I drove across the U.S. before I went abroad. I left my home in Boston, and spent close to two months traversing the country, getting as far west as Arizona before turning back east, driving across the plains, and finishing in Chicago.

I wanted to get to know my country before I got to know others. But I barely scratched the surface of what the United States offered. I saw and experienced a lot – from the Rocky Mountains, to the Grand Canyon, Denver, post-Katrina New Orleans, and the Great Plains – but you don’t realize just how vast the U.S. is until you’ve been driving for twelve hours and notice you’re still in Texas.

This country is big and there is still so much more of it I want to see.

I decided to use the release of my new book as a chance to take another road trip across the country. From Memphis to Montana, Yellowstone, wine country in California, Utah, Mardi Gras, and much more, it’s time to my gaze homeward and explore my own backyard.

I have quite the long route in front of me:

I have a number of goals for this trip:

  1. I want to learn how to travel the United States on the cheap. I have a number of questions in my head: how do you get around easily and cheaply? What do you do for accommodation in a country not know for hostels? What are good routes? How to find free parking? There’s so much I want to figure out.
  2. Write more content on the United States. Most of the U.S. content on my site dates back to that first trip. Back then, I didn’t look at travel with a writer’s eye. There’s going to be a lot of U.S. content coming up on the blog now!
  3. Hike a lot of national parks. I’m finally going to visit Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Monument Valley, and see the giant redwood trees!
  4. Visit as many kitschy roadside attractions as possible (i.e. the world’s largest ball of twine).Most importantly, I want to better understand the people in my country. I’m a deeply political person and I want to know if the country is as politically divided the media makes it out to be. Are we really that far apart or do blowhard pundits make it seem that way?

Over the next few months you are going to see posts about cities, national parks, and regions in the United States. I have no international travel planned until June. (The general tips, thoughts, and advice articles will still occur with the same frequency, though!)

I remember the long, long drives across the States from 2006 so this time I’m looking forward to having friends (and readers) join along the way. If anyone wants to join for part of the trip, I’m open to having travel buddies on the road. Just send me an e-mail ( and we’ll try to work something out.

To me, travel is more than visiting some far flung exotic destination. It’s about exploring the unknown. It’s seeing new places and coming to a new understanding of how the world works together. Sometimes that means flying across an ocean and exploring a new country. Other times, it simply means getting in your car and driving off to explore your own country and learning to appreciate where you come from.

The post The Great American Road Trip (Part Deux) appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.


Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site

Solo Hiker, Big Bend National Park

by AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker on Flickr (cc). Big Bend has more than 1200 species of plants including 60 cactus species, over 600 species of vertebrates, and about 3600 insect species. The variety of life is largely due to the diverse ecology and changes in elevation between the dry, hot desert, the cool mountains, and the fertile river valley.

Downtown L.A. Through The Eyes of Please Do Not Enter

Downtown Los Angeles panorama, with San Gabriel Mountains as backdrop, 2013. Photo by Doc Searls from Santa Barbara, USA.


As Nicolas Libert guides me through the boutique-cum-gallery he founded with Emmanuel Renoird in Downtown Los Angeles, he recounts an anecdote: “when we first opened last year we were expecting a delivery. We waited and waited and realised the courier had in fact attempted the delivery; he read the name of the space – Please Do Not Enter – took it literally and returned to the depot”.

Unusually it what just what Libert and Renoird could have hoped for – creating a destination of temptation for only the curious of customers willing to step over the threshold into their conceptual world of contemporary art, design and fashion. The art collectors from France relocated to L.A. in early 2014 and had been tempted themselves by Downtown’s diverse community and iconic architectural landscape. Within its first year Please Do Not Enter’s ambitious programme of international exhibitions and events alongside its collection of unique and limited edition luxury products has earned this dynamic concept store a spot on L.A.’s creative map.

Let your curiosity get the better of you and discover Downtown L.A. from daylight to nightlife through the curated eyes of Please Do Not Enter.

Please Do Not Enter is available to visit by appointment.

523 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90731
(213) 263-0037

JONATHAN VELARDI: Why did you decide to open Please Do Not Enter in Downtown L.A.?

PLEASE DO NOT ENTER: We felt something exciting was and continues to happen in Downtown. We loved the historical architecture in the area and the Beaux-Arts style of the Pacific Mutual Building on Pershing Square where we’re located. It’s been at the heart of Downtown since its founding and remains the epicentre for the community, which is diverse and unlike any other neighbourhood in the city. We’re interested in the aesthetic of life – that’s what Please Do Not Enter is all about and for us Downtown is a perfect match.

DTLA Guide_Please Do Not Tell | Downtown LA City Guide_Pacific Mutual Building

VELARDI: Describe the Please Do Not Enter experience and what makes your curated store different from a traditional retail model.

PDNE: Sharing our experience of the artists and designers who we work with is really important to us. We enjoy the dialogue and interaction between the pieces in our collection when customers visit the space. We guide them through the collection piece by piece – who the artist or designer is, where they are from, what type of craftsmanship process is involved – this is where the value is for us.

Hosting exhibitions and events allows us to introduce our customers to new products or talent from France and around the world never before seen on the West Coast or even in America. Unlike traditional retail models, as a curated store we can tailor our programme with cultural events happening in the city, such as hosting the launch of art magazine Headmaster during the L.A. Art Book Fair. We always want to create something new and unexpected and we’re delighted to be bringing to our space a group exhibition of 6 established international artists who produced one-of-a-kind artworks for the Wink Collection, debuted at the Silencio Club in Paris, which will mark the very first time the works have been seen together outside of France.

VELARDI: What can we look forward to from Please Do Not Enter this year?

PDNE: We’re taking new directions this year both in-store and out into L.A. In the very beginning we wanted to stick with what we knew and that was menswear. But we had so many women visiting the space, wanting to be catered for. But when we saw the amazing cashmere collection by Denis Colomb we decided to stock womenswear for Spring/Summer for the first time alongside our existing menswear designers.

We’re also really looking forward to the opportunity of moving to larger premises in the Pacific Mutual Building since our current space is too small for what we want to do, and for artist and designer Arik Levy to inaugurate the space with a monumental exhibition of newly commissioned works.

Beyond the curated space, we are staging our first outdoor installation, ‘Projection’. In April, Paris-based artist Vincent Lamouroux will shroud the entire Bates Motel – an abandoned Silverlake landmark – in a symbolic coat of whitewash ahead of its demolition, to act as a visual commentary on urban redevelopment.




If you’re coming to Downtown for the first time you have to visit Grand Central Market – the oldest and largest public market in L.A. It’s located a couple of blocks from us and it’s really a symbol of the Downtown spirit right now; where the Downtown community past and present come together. You can experience the old school food stores alongside the hipster bars and restaurants all under one roof. We love the fresh juices at Press Brother’s Juicery as well as soaking up the atmosphere at Eggslut where eggs of any preparation are served all day.

Grand Central Market LA
317 S Broadway St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 624-2378

DTLA Guide_Please Do Not Tell | Downtown LA City Guide_Grand Central Market LA



The rooftop bar at Perch offers the best views of the Downtown skyline. We like going there because they always play French music and songs you just wouldn’t be able to hear anywhere else. If you can take your eyes away from the view, this is a great relaxed spot to people watch over the French-inspired menu.

Perch LA
448 S Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 802-1770

DTLA Guide_Please Do Not Tell | Downtown LA City Guide_Perch



FLAX Foundation is a non-profit organisation promoting contemporary French culture across Southern California. The foundation provides residencies to emerging artists from France to work in L.A., who in turn produce specially commissioned works for exhibition throughout the year. The foundation is in good company, based in the same building as the ever-influential Francois Ghebaly Gallery.

FLAX Foundation LA
2245 E Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90021

DTLA Guide_Please Do Not Tell | Downtown LA City Guide__Flax Foundation



Life doesn’t only exist in Downtown. When we’re Westside we like to visit OHWOW in West Hollywood off Santa Monica Boulevard. The contemporary gallery opened its L.A. outpost in 2011, representing emerging and established American and international artists. As of 2013, OHWOW also represents the estate of Robert Mapplethorpe in Los Angeles.

937 North La Cienega Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 652-1711

DTLA Guide_Please Do Not Tell | Downtown LA City Guide__OhWow



For over three decades the Los Angeles Conservancy has worked towards protecting and advocating architectural gems across the city. To raise awareness of its cause they organise architectural walking tours. One of our favourites is the Broadway Historic Theatre tour on Saturdays. The tour is a rare opportunity to visit some of LA’s most elaborate palaces of performance, no longer open to the public, and uncovers the significance of Broadway and the Commercial District as the beginning of L.A.’s future as we know it today.

523 W 6th St #826, Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 623-2489

DTLA Guide_Please Do Not Tell | Downtown LA City Guide__Los Angeles Theatre


Capture the energy of Downtown’s nightlife on Monday nights with an eccentric gay and straight crowd of avant-garde creatives from the art and fashion industries. It’s a place where you go without any expectations but are always guaranteed a fun time thanks to the people, their style and the DJ sets.

336 S. Hill Street, Los Angeles 90013

Inside La Cita Bar - Photo: Courtesy of La Cita Bar

Jonathan Velardi | Melting Butter Arts + Culture ContributorJonathan is our UK-based correspondent covering all eye-pleasing things for Melting Butter’s Arts & Culture pages. Being a contemporary visual artist working in public spaces around the world as well as a freelance culture writer for sites and publications like Ohh Deer and London Calling, Jonathan brings a rare combination of talent from the worlds of editorial, conceptual art, design and lifestyle. Be sure to check his blog and his art practice, which satisfy his hunger for both high and low culture. Follow his tweets too: @JMVELARDIRead about Jonathan’s favourite hotspots here.


Follow on the social web to keep up to date with new posts and get daily inspiration on food, travel, music, fashion, culture and lifestyle:


(Feature Photo: Inside Please Do Not Tell – Photo: Courtesy of Please Do Not Tell LA)

The post The Curators: DTLA Through The Eyes of Vanguard Concept Store Please Do Not Enter appeared first on Melting Butter.


Melting Butter

Palais de Tokyo Paris

The Palais de Tokyo (modern art museum) taken from the Eiffel tower, Paris. Behind is the Palais Gallieri. Photo by Strobilomyces.


[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”2847110496″ cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”” popups=”default” tag=”harveyrobinso-20″ width=”126″][easyazon_link asin=”2847110496″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”harveyrobinso-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Palais 15: History Of The Palais De Tokyo Since 1937[/easyazon_link]


In this special inaugural issue of its new format, the magazine of the Palais de Tokyo tells the story of over 70 years of artistic life in Paris. In-depth perspectives on its exhibitions and programmes highlight the history of the visual arts in France, which has come to be written through the openings, multiple renovations and changing uses of the building. With numerous images, plus testimonials, interviews and several previously unpublished documents, it invites the reader to discover the Palais anew. Includes texts by, among others, Jean-Baptiste Minnaert and Didier Schulmann, and interviews with Dominique Païni, Lacaton & Vassal and Robert Delpire, to name a few.


Three words have long epitomised the avant-garde in Paris in recent years. Palais de Tokyo has been defining creative accessibility since 2002 with its anti-museum aesthetic and multi-disciplinary ethos around contemporary art. Occupying a monumental building built for the Paris International Exhibition in 1937 in the 16th arrondissement, Palais de Tokyo presents a network of cavernous spaces over 22,000 square meters, where equally monumental installations and events are staged by both established and emerging international artists and performers.

With an annual residency programme focused on young artists as well as an outdoor art garden, cinema, technology and entertainment venue, eateries and one of the best-stocked bookshops in the capital open until midnight, Palais de Tokyo is a destination experience of enterprise and electricity in the City of Light.

Palais de Tokyo Paris

13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, France

+33 1 81 97 35 88

Palais de Tokyo Paris | Arts Hotspot_La Fée Electricité by Raoul Dufy

Palais de Tokyo Paris | Arts Hotspot

Palais de Tokyo Paris | Arts Hotspot

Jonathan Velardi | Melting Butter Arts + Culture ContributorJonathan is our UK-based correspondent covering all eye-pleasing things for Melting Butter’s Arts & Culture pages. Being a contemporary visual artist working in public spaces around the world as well as a freelance culture writer for sites and publications like Ohh Deer and London Calling, Jonathan brings a rare combination of talent from the worlds of editorial, conceptual art, design and lifestyle. Be sure to check his blog and his art practice, which satisfy his hunger for both high and low culture. Follow his tweets too: @JMVELARDIRead about Jonathan’s favourite hotspots here.



Follow on the social web to keep up to date with new posts and get daily inspiration on food, travel, music, fashion, culture and lifestyle:





(Feature Photo: Henrique Oliveira Baitogogo installation – photo: André Morin courtesy of Palais de Tokyo Paris)

The post Contemporary Art Find: Palais de Tokyo Paris appeared first on Melting Butter.


Melting Butter

7 Common Excuses People Use to Avoid Family Travel


Father and son on a family road trip in front of a lakeOn the third Friday Saturday of every month, Cameron Wears from The Traveling Canucks is here to give us tips and advice on how to travel better with your kids. This is an often requested topic so I’m excited to have him on the team! Here is this month’s article.

Before having kids, we didn’t spend much time thinking about what travel would be like with little ones. We knew having kids would be a big part of our future and, like many newlyweds, we mistakenly assumed our days of travel would be put on hold when the babies arrived.

Over the past few years, I’ve heard many reasons why it’s not a good idea to travel with young children. It was the common wisdom of those around us. “Once the kids arrive, don’t expect to travel anymore,” they would say.

And so my wife and I internalized this line of thinking, but I realized I was listening to the wrong people.

While I can appreciate that some families are simply not in the position to travel, most of the reasons people don’t travel with their children are based on outdated conventional wisdom and conflicting information online and in the media.

Today, with the help of a few family travel bloggers, it’s time to shoot down those common reasons why people delay family travel:

You should wait until your child can remember the trip.

Father and son on a family road trip in front of a lake

Sure, your kids won’t remember every detail about your travels, but let’s be honest – most adults struggle to remember what they did last week. I don’t remember every detail from my trips, but I still appreciate the overall experience.

Our toddler still talks about the time we slept on the overnight train and “Daddy slept on the top bunk.” He may not remember visiting the Eiffel Tower when we were in Paris two years ago, but he remembers riding the popular carousel located across the street. This past Christmas, he opened a present and saw a gift receipt attached to box. He ripped off the gift receipt and screamed, “A plane ticket, I got a plane ticket Daddy!”

Keryn Means of says, “My son remembers going to Iceland almost a year ago. He remembers splashing in the waters of Hawaii and hanging out at a volcano. He remembers eating gelato in Italy when he was 3 (he is 5 now) and how to say ‘strawberry gelato’ in Italian. If he hears the word ‘Iceland’ mentioned he’ll say, ‘Hey mom, we went to Iceland!’ These are not things we bring up, so he clearly remembers. Adults don’t give kids enough credit for what they remember.”

Without question, our travels are influencing our boys and shaping who they are and who they will be. I understand that when they’re teenagers they won’t remember many of these trips but every trip we take teaches our boys something new about themselves and the world. It would be such a shame to put all of those impactful life lessons on hold for 15 years, just because you want your kid to remember what the Eiffel Tower looks like.

Traveling with kids is too difficult.

Father and son on a family road trip in front of a lake

The biggest mistake new parents can make is to travel the way they did before having kids. Life is different now, so you have to change your expectations. You can’t stay out late partying at night clubs with a baby and you can’t scale the side of a mountain with a baby on your back (well, maybe you can, but I wouldn’t).

“When I was pregnant with my first child, many of my friends told me that my traveling days would be over because it would be too hard to travel with a baby,” says Becky Morales of “We got our baby a passport shortly after she was born, and her first international flight was at 3 months old. Growing up traveling has helped my kids become comfortable in all types of situations.”

Times have changed, but that does not mean you have to stop traveling. It is possible to have kids AND travel, you just need to plan ahead and slow down. There are plenty of families out there who travel all the time – listen to what they have to say about family travel instead of the naysayers who say it’s too difficult.

It’s too hard to travel with a baby.

Father and son on a family road trip in front of a lake

We couldn’t fathom taking our baby on a long trip at the time. We took a couple of short road trips to test the waters, but didn’t board a plane until he was 3 months old — but babies sleep a lot. They don’t crawl, they don’t walk, and they don’t do much of anything except eat, poop, and sleep. Traveling before your baby is mobile is actually the BEST time to travel with your baby!

Claudia Laroye of says, “Traveling with a baby is much easier than traveling with toddlers. Upsides: If you’re nursing, no extra food packing is required, babies are not mobile and can’t run away, and they sleep most of the time. One can also access fast lanes through airport security with kids up to a certain age – a happy bonus of family travel.”

When babies get older, they become more active, inquisitive and demanding. We’ve found the hardest time to travel is between the ages of 12 months and 18 months because they just want to move and they’re difficult to reason with.

But babies aren’t as hard to travel with as you imagine.

Babies and children are terrible on planes.

Father and son on a family road trip in front of a lake

Some children behave poorly on planes – but so do some adults. We can’t label all children as dreadful flight passengers just because a few children have a hard time being confined to a seat. Out of 30 flights we’ve taken with our boys, only one is filed under the “terrible flight” category. Babies less than 24 months old fly for free on most airlines, so we thought we’d save some money and have him sit on our lap. He was 18 months at the time, so we thought this would be fine. He wasn’t having it. Lesson learned.

Melissa Angert of says, “Yes, they sometimes cry, but if you teach your kids how to travel young, they learn how do it. We went on 16-hour flights with a 2- and 4-year-old and they were better behaved than most adults on the plane.”

Most children are fine on airplanes as long as you keep them entertained. We prepare by bringing plenty of snacks, toys, and games. We have their favorite shows downloaded on our tablets and they have noise canceling headphones so they don’t disturb our neighbors. Moreover, whenever possible, we book direct flights and choose flight times that coincide with nap schedules.

You have to visit destinations built for kids.

Father and son on a family road trip in front of a lake

Having kids does not mean you’re sentenced to a life of prepackaged vacations or theme parks. Far from it — but you do need to include activities that your children will enjoy, otherwise nobody’s going to have fun. When we went to Arizona last year, we enjoyed visiting the Phoenix Zoo, SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium, and Rawhide Western Town just as much as our boys did.

“Parents often hear that children only enjoy vacations to Disney World and other theme parks or beach destinations, but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Lisa Goodmurphy of “It has been my experience that children are naturally curious about the world and get excited about visiting new places and doing new things. Our kids have great memories of exploring European cities like London and Paris, cruising the Baltics and visiting palaces in St. Petersburg, Russia, and experiencing the midnight sun when we travelled north by train to Fairbanks, Alaska – all of these places would not be classified as typical family destinations.”

Keep in mind that all destinations have child-friendly activities. You don’t have to stick to theme parks. There are museums, attractions, play areas, aquariums, and parks.

You have to pack so much stuff.

Father and son on a family road trip in front of a lake

Yes, it’s true, traveling with little ones means more luggage and bulky items like strollers and car seats. Yes, you will most likely be required to check your bags and pay the additional baggage fees. But it’s only a temporary inconvenience.

Once you check your bags at the airport you no longer need to worry about them. When you arrive at your destination airport, grab a buggy for your luggage or ask for help. Traveling without a partner? Why not hire the services of a porter? Instead of taking a taxi or bus, consider renting a vehicle directly at the airport. By renting a vehicle, you only have to set up the car seats once and the headache is over (instead of the alternative which typically requires setting up the car seat several times per day – not fun).

To reduce the weight of your luggage, consider booking accommodations that have an in-suite washer/dryer or laundry service. Being able to wash your laundry means you can pack half of what you’d normally take. You can also rent baby equipment, like strollers, cribs, car seats, and high chairs, at your destination. This service will cost you more, but it will significantly reduce your load.

Micki Kosman of points out that you can always purchase items at your destination. She says, “When we first traveled with our little guy, I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to find baby supplies (like disposable diapers) at our destination. It turns out that there are babies everywhere, and we found what we needed everywhere from the Philippines to Hong Kong to Mexico.”

Traveling with kids is too expensive.

Father and son on a family road trip in front of a lake

Traveling with kids is certainly more expensive than traveling without kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s too expensive or unattainable. If travel is important to you, there is always a way to reduce costs and make it affordable.

There are plenty of ways to save money on travel. Family travel is no different.

“It actually doesn’t cost much to travel with kids at all, especially if they’re still really small,” says Corinne McDermott of “As lap infants, they typically fly for free until they’re two, public transit is usually free or steeply discounted, and it’s free admission to most attractions until a certain age. Until they enter the picky ‘chicken nugget only’ stage of kid-hood, most are content to just to eat off your plate in restaurants.”

I shared some tips on saving money on family travel in a longer and more detailed post.

Family travel is not something to fear or avoid. You do not need to put travel on hold just because you have kids – far from it. Your children will only be children once. Before you know it, they’ll be awkward teenagers that don’t want to spend time with mom and dad. There’s no better time than right now to experience the world together as a family.

Cameron Wears is one half of the duo behind the award-winning Canadian travel blog Having travelled to over 65 countries and territories on six continents in the past eight years, he now lives in beautiful Vancouver, Canada with his wife Nicole and their two young boys. You can follow their family travel adventures on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

The post 7 Common Excuses People Use to Avoid Family Travel appeared first on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.


Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site

Ecuador and The Joys of Exchange

The volcano Imbabura in the background, with the town of Otavalo on the floor of the valley. Photo by Bcasterline.


[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”1409363848″ cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”” popups=”default” tag=”harveyrobinso-20″ width=”104″][easyazon_link asin=”1409363848″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”harveyrobinso-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]The Rough Guide to Ecuador[/easyazon_link]

Discover Ecuador’s highlights, with expert advice on exploring the best colonial cities, participating in ancient festivals, scaling volcanoes and learning Spanish, straddling the Equator, and swimming with turtles, penguins, sea lions, and even sharks. The guide includes extensive coverage of the capital, Quito, and the Galápagos Islands, the world’s premier wildlife destination.


The Joys of Exchange

by the great Candace Rose Rardon

I’ve only just begun to settle into my room in the Ecuadorian village of Tunibamba when I hear a quiet knock on the door.

My host mother for the week—a middle-aged woman named Carmen Taya with glowing brown eyes and long black hair pulled back into a braid—stands outside in full traditional Kichwa dress, and she has a question: Would I like to help her with something?

I slip on my sandals and follow Carmen into her concrete courtyard, where a huge pile of dried beans has been spread out on a sheet for us to sort. As we sit on the ground sifting and swapping stories, I assure her that during the four days I have come to stay with her family, I would like to help out as much as possible. Little do I know what she has in store.

Carmen and her husband Alonso Estrada are one of more than two dozen families from four indigenous Kichwa villages surrounding the city of Otavalo, Ecuador, that are part of the homestay program of locally based tour operator Runa Tupari, which fittingly means “encounter with local people” in the Kichwa language.

The Dutch nonprofit Agriterra helped Runa Tupari establish its first homestays, starting with eight families, in 2001. The aim was to create a way for travelers to stay in local communities, instead of merely passing through on their way to other parts of Ecuador.

“Back then,” shares Runa Tupari’s marketing director Martin Baumann, “families had to be persuaded to take part. They couldn’t understand why anyone would want to come to their home. It took a lot of convincing for them to believe that people like getting their hands dirty.

(Illustration by Candace Rardon)

“In 13 years, there’s been a complete change in attitude,” Baumann maintains. “It’s not only the extra income; it’s also that people are now much more confident and proud of their culture.”

For travelers looking to immerse themselves in a destination’s traditions and ways of life, homestays are a perfect entry point. They are the very definition of local travel, getting visitors on the ground as soon as possible and plunging them into the deep end of a new place.

In the past few years, I’ve stayed with several families around the world—from India to Turkey to a small island off the coast of Bali. Each time, the opportunity arose spontaneously, after I arrived. Travel serendipity, I guess.

My homestay in Tunibamba would be the first I had sought out ahead of time. In the days leading up to my trip, I wonder if the experience will yield the same sense of authentic connection.

I needn’t have worried. When our bean-sorting session concludes, Carmen leads me around her family farm, revealing her endearing sense of humor and the bevy of animals that call her fields home.

My Spanish skills leave much to be desired, but I’m grateful to understand a good deal of what she’s pointing out—the guayaba and granadilla trees in her garden (guava and passionfruit), the three chickens and trio of cows patrolling the yard, and a snorting little pig named Chancho.

Only one thing puzzles me. “We have many cuy,” Carmen reports, a fact I dutifully note in my book, though I have no clue what cuy means—perhaps the word for ‘chore’ I’ve yet to learn.

“Now we are going to collect herbs for the cuy,” Carmen continues in Spanish. Still, I remain in quiet confusion as we fell a huge swath of alfalfa with a sickle.

Only when we carry the basket overflowing with the flowering herbs into a brick-walled shed do I come face to face with the mysterious cuy—no fewer than 40 guinea pigs stirring in their wire pens and squealing at the sight of dinner.

(Illustration by Candace Rardon)

The best part about homestays is that they’re a constant education—a chance to see another way of life in its natural expression, to pick up on rhythms and routines, and to be a part of them, if only for a time.

On my third morning in Tunibamba, I accompany Carmen and Alonso to a regular occurrence: a village-wide gathering called a minga. Held nearly every Saturday in a Kichwa village, mingas require someone from each household to work on a project that benefits the entire community.

“You never miss a minga,” Carmen says, explaining that mingas can involve building houses, cleaning streets and irrigation channels, or, as on this day, tending the town’s communal cornfields.

There are already at least 50 people at work when we arrive, spread out in groups across the furrows of fertile soil. The women wear hooded sweatshirts over long skirts and headscarves to protect them against the strong Andean sun, chatting away in Kichwa.

Armed with a hoe I’ve brought from Carmen’s house, I join the swiftly moving ranks. We work up and down the rows of young plants, teasing weeds away from the crops’ roots, so that at any given time we are moving toward one of two towering volcanoes—Mount Cotacachi to the west and Mount Imbabura to the east.

As my bare feet sink into the cool, dark earth, my connection to this place and these people takes root and begins to grow. By staying with Carmen and her family, I have been gifted the chance to step out of the shadows and play an active role in their community.

(Illustration by Candace Rardon)

It’s hard to believe that just days earlier I’d never heard of Tunibamba. Now, with skin covered in dirt and dust and sunscreen and palms burning with blisters, I’m finding it harder to imagine ever leaving.

These experiences are not always comfortable or easy; indeed, as I spend the week pulling weeds, peeling potatoes, and feeding the cuy, I’m struck by how eager I am to help out with tasks I actively avoid back home. Each chore and conversation brings me a step closer to understanding their culture—and better yet, by participating and engaging, I slowly transition from outsider to included guest.

And just as I am eager to drink up every detail of daily life in my temporary home, so too are my hosts curious about me. Throughout my time with them, Carmen and Alonso frequently ask me about life back in Virginia, where I am from.

“Do you also grow corn there?” Alonso asks as we work in their fields one afternoon, and I am delighted to tell him that I grew up helping my grandfather with his garden.

Martin emphasized that one of the most valuable byproducts of homestay programs is cultural exchange. “One day someone from Finland comes, the next day someone from Japan,” he said. “These families don’t have a chance to travel very often, but this way, they have the world in their home.”

They have the world in their home, and then we bring home the world—memories of showering in rainwater in Bali, preparing dinner in Turkey, or tending a cornfield in Ecuador, as well as the families who opened these worlds to us.

On my final night in Tunibamba, I sit with Carmen and Alonso around their kitchen table, a pot of verbena-infused tea steeping between us as we reflect on the week.

“The next time you return to Ecuador, you have a home,” Alonso says. “You go from Quito to Otavalo to our house, okay?”

I raise my cup of tea to him and Carmen with a smile and say, “Okay.”

Candace Rose Rardon is a writer and sketch artist with a passion for storytelling who recently released her first book, Beneath the Lantern’s Glow. Follow her story on her blog, The Great Affair, on Twitter @candacerardon, and on Instagram @candaceroserardon.

> More From Candace:


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