I'm just a girl trying to have a cup of coffee all around the world. This is a blog about travel, expat life and our adventures living an international lifestyle, with two kids and two dogs!

Andrea Fellman of Wanderlust Living Travel Blog

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Adventure February 5, 2018 posted by

Send Your Kids to Summer Camp in the UK

Okay, yes, it’s only February. BUT if you are like us, you probably have already started plotting out your 2018 travel calendar. We might be slightly more travel-focused then the average family, but one thing that every family thinks about is summer travel plans. And if your kids go to summer camp, you have to start thinking about that sooner rather than later. I wanted to share with you the summer camp that our kids went to last year, because this was a very new and exciting travel chapter for us.

Do you want to travel in Europe without the kids for TWO WHOLE WEEKS? Then listen up. This is how you send your kids to summer camp in the UK.

 

Summer Camp in Europe

Last year we wanted to send our kids to summer camp. We thought the time was right, and it was an important milestone. We wanted our kids to have a full sleepover summer camp experience. We thought about sending them back to the US for camp, and as it happens, our school here in Barcelona partners with a camp outside of Washington, D.C. We almost did it, but then we thought, there has to be an English-speaking summer camp somewhere in Europe.

We first looked for an English-speaking summer camp in Spain, but we could not find anything. This makes total sense – we are in Spain after all. Why would there be an English summer camp? So then we had the bright idea to start looking in England, which is when we found XUK Summer Camps.

At first glance

This camp looked pretty great and it seemed to be reputable, it’s been around for 20 years. Harris even chatted with them several times via their online chat. We had the kids check out the website and printed out all the materials for the kids to look over and read.

McKenna was thrilled and super excited. Hudson not so much.

Hudson was nervous and scared about going to summer camp. He had nightmares and emotionally broke down at least a few times, asking us if he had to go. I almost gave in because I felt so badly about him having so much anxiety and stress over it. McKenna is two years older and maybe it was a great time for her to go, but perhaps Hudson needed more time? But Harris and I made the decision that we were going to force it and stay strong. It would be a real growth opportunity for him, although I still had some mom-guilt deep in my heart.

Camp XUK

XUK has a variety of summer camps to choose from. There are even day camps for smaller campers and a specific camp for kids to learn English. So depending on your kids ages and situation, you will need to pick the best camp for your child. Then there are certain field trips that they can take the weeks they are there, which are additional add-ons.

The camp provides a list of what to pack, and you can send your children with spending money which is given to the counselors to deposit. The kids have to go and ask to withdraw money from their account.  Parents and family members can send letters to the camp. We had the Grandmas send the kids letters in advance so they would get there upon arrival. You can also email the camp with a special message for your child, which are printed out and given to your child at lunchtime.

Dropping the kids off for camp in London

We were instructed to drop off the kids at Pancreas Station. While that may seem a little crazy – just check them in and hand them over in another country?! – it’s really okay. This wasn’t the first time we’ve handed our kids over to someone in another country. We did this both in Barcelona when they were 1 and 3 years old when they went to Kinder Barcelona in the mornings for three weeks. We did it again in Costa Rica when they were 3 and 5 at some random beachside school for a week, so we could go and explore without toddlers in tow.

When we got to the station we saw a large gathering of kids from the camp in large groups and a few counselor types with XUK shirts on. We asked where our kids should go as they were in the “Activity” specific camp for the under 13 set. I was very happy that our kids would be in the same age group at camp, so if nothing else they had each other. Someone pointed us to the right group. We were early so most of the kids hanging out had just finished camp and were waiting to be picked up. They all looked pretty happy (no one looked malnourished or miserable), so that was a good sign.

During Camp

Families can keep up-to-date with the kids’ activities via the Camp’s Facebook Page. The camp posts photos of what the kids have been doing every day. I’d be lying if I said I was not checking this page hourly at first. The kids were allowed access to wi-fi but it didn’t work so well. But we were able to Whatsapp with our kids on a few occasions. Of course, we don’t know everything that happened at camp, but our kids had some funny stories about some of the campers. What would camp be without some awkward things right?

I was really worried about the food – McKenna is vegetarian and Hudson can be picky. When I asked them about the food they both said without a beat “The food was good.” What? Camp food was good?! I assume they just ate pasta and pizza for two weeks, but whatever – if there were no complaints I don’t really care what they ate.

Another great reason why your kids should go to the XUK Camp is because they get to see a unique side of England. They’re traveling with other kids, and take field trips to attractions in London and cities like Oxford. How cool is that?

Picking the kids up from Camp

It was really bizarre to be going to the Heathrow Airport to pick up our kids, and from there directly fly home to Barcelona. The pick up and drop off of so many kids going so many different places was impressive to me. The camp coordinates all of this and gets your kids where they need to be and on time, whether it’s back at Pancreas Station, Heathrow, Birmingham or the Cardiff airport. Some kids literally take the EuroStar in and out by themselves. This is also why we love living internationally, travel is just a more natural way of life for all these kids.

I tried to not make a scene when we saw our kids with the counselors and other campers with them, but I was freaking out! I wanted to know everything. But most importantly, did they like it?! They LOVED it and not 10 minutes into the conversation they said they wanted to go back next year! I was ecstatic.

After Camp

McKenna and Hudson are still talking to the kids they met at camp last year. They even made plans to attend camp the same weeks as their friends this summer. Many of the kids come from all over Europe, and there were even a couple from the US. In fact, one friend of McKenna’s has been in Barcelona twice this last year and we got them together while she was in Barcelona.

Two thumbs up!

The reason I think I was so ecstatic was because I felt that we had really given our kids an opportunity to grow and be truly independent from us for the first time. Our kids are used to traveling the world, moving around and being flexible in life. But this experience was 100% their own, totally apart from us. Hudson conquered a HUGE fear and more than just survived, he truly thrived. The benefits and learning lessons we gave to our kids were the most important, but it also gave my husband and I two weeks to have our own fun and recconnect as a couple. Priceless!

We already live in Europe so this is an easier jump for us. Coming from the States it might be a stretch but if you are an expat family living in Europe I highly recommend it! Or if you are a digital nomad family, you may want to temporarily move to England this summer. Keeping in mind that it can rain a bit. 😉

I really can’t say enough about this new turning point for our wanderlusting family. I am so grateful that we found XUK Camp and that we made this happen for our kids. Let the countdown begin – we are all signed up for this summer!

 

Disclosure: I was not paid in any way to write this, but my kids better get the best bunk this year. 😉 LOL I share it with you because I want more kids and parents to have awesome experiences. Counting the days until they go back…

Send Your Kids to Summer Camp in the UK
Family January 11, 2018 posted by

The Greatest Showman: A world that we design

photo credit

The Show

I’m OBSESSED. Obsessed with the movie The Greatest Showman and the soundtrack!! No REALLY. I just got back from a 5 mile run listening to it for the 100th time.

Another reason I know I am obsessed is because I was up late last night watching YouTube videos of the cast talking about it. Pretty sure I’ve seen just about every damn interview they’ve done.

Since we live in Europe, this movie wasn’t even really on my radar, until someone on Facebook posted about it. I saw that Zac Efron was in it, so it peaked my interest just a wee bit. 😉 Then over Christmas break, out of nowhere my daughter said she wanted to see it. Again, I think Zac Efron might have something to do with it, but not entirely sure.

So we got back from France, and the very next night we went as a family to see it at the theatre down the street that is now playing movies in V.O. (Version Original) which means English. Hooray!

Walking into the theatre, this is what I knew: the movie starred Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, and the Barnum Circus. It would probably have lots of singing too. I didn’t even know that Zendaya was in it until the movie started.

HOLY HELL. If this is not the perfect movie to see to kick off the new year I don’t know what is! This movie just made me HAPPY. I wanted to sing, dance, and get up and take on the world!!

The dancing and singing is spectacular and one of the key messages of this movie is so needed right now. Wow. What a frickin’ show. If you have not seen it, I am telling you to GO! And if you don’t like it, well um… we can still be friends but just know that you are not 100% my people.


photo credit

The Songs

The songs ARE SO GOOD. One song that has really resonated with people is This is Me, sung by Keala Settle. She plays the bearded woman, and the song is chilling!! This is literally an anthem for everyone to be stand up and be themselves. Screw the naysayers. And going deeper, a song for groups and anyone that feels marginalized by society. “I am brave, I am bruised, this is who I am supposed to be” and other lyrics from this song have been made into t-shirts. (told you I’ve seen all the interviews)

But one song, in particular, has been literally pulsing through my head and in my heart. The song A Million Dreams resonates with me so much. Here are some of the lyrics;

We can live in a world that we design.
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take, for the world we’re gonna make.

I LOVE these lyrics so much because it is so empowering. You can design the life you want.

The Life We Want

Which gets me to my next point: Harris and I have designed a life we want. It’s not traditional and it’s a bit crazy and chaotic at times. We have taken risks and there are downsides. Our life is not perfect but we have intentionally designed our life just how we want it. We are both creators, dreamers, bootstrap entrepreneurs. We want to experience the entire world, we have kids and dogs and businesses but we juggle it all living abroad. Designing a life you want takes work, make no mistake. But at some point you need to decide on what you want and go get it!

I think I am writing this because maybe some of you that follow me and read my blog think we have it easy. We are always jet-setting off and doing cool stuff, staying in amazing places etc.. Maybe some of you think we somehow have piles of cash, maybe we got a big inheritance when my Dad passed away. Nope. Zero. Nada. We have worked our asses off for everything we have and are able to do. Nothing has been handed to us. I am not saying this for any other reason other than to say  – If we can do it, so can you!

Get busy designing the life you want.

This movie is about Dreams, Entrepreneurship, Love, Creativity, Ambition, Acceptance and taking Risks. It all speaks to my entire way of LIVING.

A million dreams are keeping me awake… what’s keeping you awake?

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The Greatest Showman: A world that we design
Andrea November 20, 2017 posted by

Life at Forty: celebrate, get a puppy and start a new business

Life? It’s been a whirlwind! I turned 40, got a puppy, and started a new business.

Oh, and we may have accidentally started a children’s theatre program in Barcelona too. Someone may want to come over here and check my sanity.

This is why I cannot keep up with this blog. As much as I would love to chronicle all of our latest travels and expat shenanigans, I do require sleep, therefore the blogging usually has to take a backseat. So here is a little digest to what has been happening in my ‘Life at Forty’, for anyone still listening.

Hello?

Life at forty. It's a whirlwind of puppies, Peter Pan play productions and a brand new travel magazine. My version of a mid-life crisis.

I TURNED 40

Yup. To celebrate I went to Tulum, Mexico for a girls getaway and let’s just say – it was a WILD weekend. To be honest, I had dreams of going to Morocco and staying in one of those fabulous riads, wandering the markets and riding a camel. However, getting a few of my girlfriends to come all the way to Morocco was going to be difficult. Most have jobs, kids, and busy lives themselves. So Morocco was out, and while going back to my favorite place in Costa Rica crossed my mind –  I really wanted to go somewhere I had never been before.

Then it hit me. TULUM. This trendy, bohemian chic beach spot in Mexico had caught my eye a few times. Plus, I know so many people that have been there and raved about it, I knew it would fit the bill. Tulum, Mexico it was. A little far from Barcelona, but what the hell, why not!

La Chica Reina

I invited ladies from all different stages of my life. High school, college, California, Costa Rica and even Barcelona. I wanted to spend my 40th Birthday with some of the women that got me to 40. Some of the women knew each other, but many of these women had never met before, ever. I was rolling the dice that they would all magically get along and love each other. It was either that, or this was going to be a frickin’ disaster.

But honestly, I knew even though some of them are wildly different, they would somehow connect because I truly enjoy each of them. I’m happy to report that they ALL got along SO well. It brought so much joy to me to see these women all laughing and talking like they had been friends all their lives. The weekend was beyond successful. I turned 40 being crowned “La Chica Reina” and it was everything I could have asked for and more.

We stayed at La Zebra Hotel and I cannot recommend this hotel enough!! 

Life at forty. It's a whirlwind of puppies, Peter Pan play productions and a brand new travel magazine. My version of a mid-life crisis.

WE GOT A PUPPY

Meet Rex. The newest member of the Fellman family. We still have Canela, don’t worry. But, what’s with adopting one of the craziest dogs in world, when we travel like we do!?

Well, to catch you up a little bit, we used to have a Jack Russell named Jack. Unfortunately, he was hit by a motorcycle in Costa Rica. It was devastating and awful, our hearts are still a little broken. Therefore, we told the kids that maybe in Barcelona we’ll get another small dog.

How It Happened

Then fate stepped in and Hudson’s friend from school tells him that his two Jack Russells just had four puppies. The friend doesn’t just tell him, he shows him a photo and video of the puppies online, which Hudson then showed me. Really…? What are the chances of Hudson’s friend’s dog having four little Jack Russells? Actually, probably not that uncommon, we see a ton of Jack Russells here in Barcelona. It seems to be a very popular breed. So being the suckers we are and having a huge soft spot for Jack Russells, we went to go see them. We were sold. Obviously. Hudson had already picked out one of the boys, how could we say no. We had to wait about six weeks before we could get him, but he is now ours. He is literally laying on my lap as I type this. He is destroying things and causing all sorts of chaos but he is the CUTEST.

And yes, Harris and I have even called him Jack a few times.

Life at forty. It's a whirlwind of puppies, Peter Pan play productions and a brand new travel magazine. My version of a mid-life crisis.

Barcelona Children’s Theatre

The whirlwind continues! If getting the puppy wasn’t bad enough, we added producing a children’s theatre production of Peter Pan to the mix. Well, to be clear – this was all Harris’s doing, but I immediately got swept into the craziness of it all. This has a little bit of a back story as well, but long story short: Harris and the Director we worked with in Costa Rica had tossed around the crazy idea of him coming to Barcelona to put on a show (sure, ha a ha). Then one thing lead to another, and the next thing I know the director, Paul and his girlfriend are looking for an apartment to rent for three months!

“All we wanted to do was find a English speaking theatre program to put our kids in!” However, after Harris searched and called other Spanish-speaking theatres there was nothing! There are a few theatre programs for kids in Barcelona, in Spanish and Catalan OR programs with the purpose of learning English. Therefore, as the saying goes – if you want something done, do it yourself.

The Production: Peter Pan

Fast forward ten weeks, a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears. Wrangling 35 kids, organizing parent volunteers, finding a theatre, buying supplies, dealing with logistical challenges, and plenty of other small headaches  – we have SOLD OUT all three shows. It is unbelievable. The response and support we have received from the ASB parents, staff and community is insane! The American School of Barcelona has been our partner in this, while this is not an official school program, they too see the need for a program like this so they have been supportive 110%.

It all happens November 30th, December 1, and December 2nd.

My mom is even coming to see the show. Well, she was coming to Barcelona to visit us anyways, so we just made sure her dates lined up so she could be here to see the grandkids in Peter Pan. Mckenna is playing one of Captain Hook’s main pirates, Starkey and Hudson is playing John, Wendy’s brother.

Oh and I made that poster up there, because somehow I am in charge of marketing and graphic design.

Life at forty. It's a whirlwind of puppies, Peter Pan play productions and a brand new travel magazine. My version of a mid-life crisis.

Twist Travel Magazine

Oh and hey – my partner Keryn and just launched the Twist Travel Magazine website!

You may have seen me write about this new ambitious adventure before, when we launched the spring, summer and fall issues. However, we did not start building the website until the middle of the summer. Now you can purchase single printed copies of Twist Travel Magazine or sign up for a yearly subscription! We are still only producing them quarterly, so your subscription includes four quarterly issues.

And if building the website wasn’t enough – while we were doing that, we were also putting together the 88 page winter issue!!  The winter issue is SPECTACULAR and will be released on November 28th. You can pre-order that issue right now. I will be writing more about this and the winter issue in the next week or so. 🙂

Perhaps this is my version of a mid life crisis…? Do IT ALL – you’re getting OLD.

I don’t know whether I need a drink or a nap.

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Life at Forty: celebrate, get a puppy and start a new business
Adventure June 27, 2017 posted by

School’s Out For Summer!

First Year at the American School of Barcelona 

School is out for summer here in Barcelona! Our kids finished school on June 22nd and I think I may have been just as excited about it as they were. The morning routine can get old no matter what country you live in and making lunches for my kids can be a frustrating experience in the morning. I have to say, we had a pretty incredible first school year at the American School of Barcelona. The kids settled in pretty easily and made friends fast, which is such a relief as a parent. When you move to a new country and a new school there is a lot of uncertainty, but luckily our kids were able to adapt and transition without any major problems.

Hudson was a little behind in reading, so right away he was put into a reading group with an aid to get those students all up to the reading level they should be at. Hudson does not like to read and this was his biggest challenge this year, so finding him books he liked and getting him to read was our main focus. McKenna was a little behind in math, so she was also put in a group for extra math help once a week until she got up to speed. We appreciated that this was assessed quickly and that there was a process already in place for this situation. When you have international kids coming from all over the world, it’s not uncommon for them to all be in different places. Seeing that the school was so proactive and had a successful system to get both our kids get up to where they needed to be in these areas was reassuring.

The 7th grade class kicked off the year with a team building trip to the Pyrenees Mountains which I think was brilliant and was a great way for McKenna to get to know her new classmates. Then the 5th graders went to the Pyrenees for three nights at the end of the year as their “step up” trip, as they would be entering 6th grade and heading to middle school next year. This was a fantastic way to end the year but this trip specifically helped Hudson prepare for the two weeks of sleepover camp in England this summer. Which he has been a bit nervous about, but McKenna on the other hand cannot wait and even asked to go for four weeks!

A few other school highlights this year was the incredible Halloween parade and the performances that the middle schoolers and high schoolers had to collaborate and work on to perform. McKenna’s class was assigned popular TV shows and her group did a little skit and dance as the girls from the show, Pretty Little Liars. They all dressed up as the character A and it was pretty awesome. The International Fair had everyone contributing dishes form their home countries and a foam party!

We also loved Hudson’s meet the artist presentation and the 5th grade end of the year beach party in Castelldefels, and of course the 5th grade promotion / graduation. Group lunches with our neighborhood Whats App group, 7th grade parents dinner and a handful of other events, sleepovers, and Birthday parties with new friends. We also received the ASB yearbook which is beautiful and so creative! The cover is of Barcelona’s iconic Parc Güell and inside the entire book is themed with social media pages. Each grade/section is either Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr or YouTube, complete with search toolbars, hashtags, and follower counts. 

Summer Travel Plans

Originally we were “not really traveling this Summer” (ha ha ha) just two weeks in England, but then things/people happened and well, we couldn’t resist! So here’s where we are headed…

Relaxing in Stockholm, Sweden

Tomorrow we are heading to Stockholm, Sweden to see one of my best friends Christine, her husband Kirk and their beautiful son Oliver. They live in New York City, but did a home exchange with a couple in Stockholm for a few weeks and well, if they are going to be this close to us – we have to go! We have rented a little house in the same neighborhood where they are staying.  I really have no big plans for Stockholm other then to spend some quality time with our friends and play with Oliver. I find these trips are some of my favorites – “having no plan at all, makes the best plan of all.” If that isn’t a famous quote already – I’ll claim it!

Work & Play in Budapest

Why Budapest!? Well there is a very special man in Budapest, Rob Toth. Rob is the business broker that sold my website and he happens to live in Budapest. Rob has been asking Harris and I to come and visit him so we are finally going! Since selling my website we have remained in close contact with Rob for a variety of ongoing business reasons. I have actually referred a few people to Rob and a few of those partnerships were very successful. I even got an email from one of the business owners thanking me for literally “changing her life” and expressing her gratitude for her new found freedom! It’s THAT, that right there – I love connecting awesome people and if I can do more of that then hell to the yes! So we are going to Budapest to play but also do a little work.

Summer Camp in England

Then at the end of July we go to England for two weeks. We wanted to put the kids in camp this Summer, and we thought about heading back to the States, but then we found XUK Camp just outside of London. We thought – we live in Spain, they should go to a camp in Spain or at least Europe, but we wanted an English speaking camp. Why? Well, it will be there first time going to sleep over camp and we wanted our kids to have fun and not worry about the language, it’s summer after all. Many of the camps we were finding around Barcelona are in Catalan and other camps in Spain are obviously in Spanish so we thought a amp in England is great!

So what will Harris and I be doing while they are in camp? We will be roaming the English countryside. We will be in London for a few days, then staying at a charming bed & breakfast in Peak District (one of Britains beloved National Parks) and then staying at an adorable cottage in the Cotswolds.  From both of those places we’ll be dong lots of day tripping!

Once home from summer camp we will spend the rest of August sweating amongst the tourists here in Barcelona. Well, we will probably head up the coast to Costa Brava a bit to hit some of the beautiful beaches but other than that we will be home (siting in the air conditioning) trying to rest and prepare for school to start up again! (we go back to school on September 4th) The Summer is sure to fly by and then I will have two middle schoolers, which is totally crazy to me! It also makes me think about how time is moving so fast. Even though the summer time is crazy, we have to make sure we slow down and enjoy them. However, right now I have to pack…

Hasta lluego!

School’s Out For Summer!
Andrea March 27, 2017 posted by

Wanderlust Finds: For the love of Lavender!

Color Me Purple!

I am normally not a purple person. I tend to be more of a blue hue kind of gal. However, a few things have caught my eye this Spring and they all happened to be shades of purple. Maybe what started it all was buying orchids for my office a few weeks ago. I’ve never bought orchids, but I saw them at this little flower shop that I always pass and had to have them. Then when the new Tech21 Evo Gem iphone case landed on my doorstep I realized this color was just begging for me to recognize it! Whether it’s lavender, lilac, orchid or wisteria, I am just loving this color right now.

So here are a few fun things that I’ve found while circling the internet…

1. Coconut Blueberry Smash Pops

Aimee from Wallflower Kitchen is the author of Coconut Milk Ice Cream and she makes the most amazing vegan treats! I stumbled upon her blueberry pops and literally wanted to lick my computer screen! These seem like he perfect Spring treat, I may actually attempt to make these this weekend!

Coconut Blueberry Smash Pops

Tech21 Evo Gem iphone Case

Tech21 Evo Gem iphone Case

 
2. Tech 21 Evo Gem iphone case

This little gem came in the mail and I was like “ohhhh, fancy!” I immediately took off my other Tech 21 battery charging case, which I LOVE because it keeps me powered up, but whoa. This pretty gem just made me take off my battery life line, which is a serious situation. My son ran his fingers down the case and said “oh it’s like an optical illusion!” The fine people at Tch21 made the new Evo Gem for iphone 6/6s and the 7 and the 7 plus.

Tech 21 Evo GEM iphone case $40

3. Birkenstocks for Spring!

I am loving the suede birks for spring. Not only do these come in a palette of pastel colors but there is also a nice rose gold leather pair too! Here in Barcelona the weather is still a wee bit chilly but I’ve already been wearing sandals they are so much easier to slip on and much more comfortable for running around the city!

Birkenstock Lavender Suede Sandal $150

 

4. Pastel Pots and Planters

Okay, so this is not technically purple but the succulent is! I found this little gem of a store on Etsy (of course) and when I found this speckled planter I also found these other pastel pots! THis seller has a lot of great pots and things for your garden.

Aqua Speckled Planter $15


5. The most Gorgeous Watercolor Feather Paintings!

I need one of these beautiful feather watercolor paintings in my life, but deciding on which one or to to get will be so difficult. This artist has even more incredible artwork in her CanotStop shop over on Etsy. Some of the bird paintings also caught my attention.

Feather Watercolor Painting $165

Have I sold you on loving purple? If so, go buy yourself some orchids!

Wanderlust Finds: For the love of Lavender!
Andrea March 19, 2017 posted by

Running a marathon with Tech 21

This is a post in partnership with Tech 21, because they make a product I literally cannot live without.

When I told a friend of mine that I was running a marathon he said “Wow, that’s intense” to which I replied, “Yeah, well I’m kind of intense – LOL”  

Then out of curiosity I looked up the exact definition of intense; of extreme force, degree, or strength.  I also found some synonyms for the word intense  – fierce, extreme, exceptional, extraordinary, powerful, vigorous, heartfelt, eager, keen, enthusiastic, excited, animated, spirited, strong, energetic, committed.  

Yup. I’m intense.

Which brings me to my point – living life full of intensity means that I need people and products in my life that operate on the same level. I have been meaning to write about my Tech 21 Endurance Charging Case for months now, but I guess this is perfect timing since it literally just got me through a 5-hour marathon. It has succeeded at its job and then some.

My relationship with my phone is intense, to say the least. I travel a lot and take an obnoxious amount of photos, I work from my phone and literally run for hours with my phone. The Endurance battery charging case is intense and I honestly don’t know what I would do without it.

I used to bring those little battery packs and a cord with me, which was always so annoying, not to mention when I go for my runs I don’t want all that extra weight and junk in my waistband. I have used this battery charging case for my entire marathon training and it kept my phone charged for hours on all my long training runs. When I run I have to have music playing. I also have to have my Strava app running in the background to keep track of my distance. I’m so bad about leaving other apps open, which can suck your phone battery too.

Tech 21 Endurance Battery Charging Case

Once I put the Endurance charging case on my phone last year, it has never come off. Sure, sometimes I miss having a sparkly, hot pink (AKA stylish) case on my phone, but it’s not so pretty when your battery dies. I’d rather have battery life and not get lost, miss an important message or not be able to take photos any day of the week. 

The Tech 21 Endurance Case uses a safe Lithium Ceramic Technology that prevents it from releasing toxic chemicals, won’t cause your phone to heat up and most importantly is not flammable. The case is also made with a material called FlexShock, which helps protect your phone when you drop it, and trust me I have dropped my phone plenty of times! 

The Tech 21 Endurance case is only available for the iPhone 6/6s and you can learn more and buy it here.  I have no plans of upgrading my phone because I cannot live without this case.

Disclosure: As I stated in the beginning, I am currently working with Tech 21, but I honestly and truly LOVE this product.

Running a marathon with Tech 21
Andrea March 7, 2017 posted by

Twist Travel Magazine!

While I have been kicking back and “taking it easy” this last year…I found myself working on a few projects here and there, (I couldn’t help myself) I had to keep the creative juices flowing! Then something that has been in the back of my mind for a while resurfaced and I thought, well why the heck not – let’s see what happens!

As a mom who lives abroad, I eat, sleep and breathe travel, but I have been very hesitant to turn it into a job. I want to protect my travels, I am selfish with them. I do not want to ruin them by the added pressure of making money from them. It is why I have not turned Wanderlust Living into a content creating machine. However, travel is a part of me and I want to create another business that I love and am passionate about.

Twist Travel Magazine

So today I am launching a brand new digital magazine called Twist. This is a co-partnership with my very good friend Keryn Means from Walking On Travels. Twist is a collaborative family travel magazine that we curated with a team of family travel writers and lifestyle bloggers.

So here is the first pilot issue of Twist travel magazine.
I’m not going to even tell you what is in this beauty – you’ll have to click through and see for yourself!

Twist Tip: Click on the box in the lower right corner to go FULL screen – it’s better that way!

 


 

We will be publishing Twist quarterly. We are building out a website now and we have some pretty bad ass plans! Is it perfect right now? No. Is everything ready? No. But sometimes you have to JUST START. I hope you will follow along on this new creative endeavor.

And on that note –  I actually hope to write more about the in’s and out’s of building an online business from the ground up here on Wanderlust Living, because that is the one thing that always boggles people’s minds!! And if you’re gonna move about the world, you might want to know how to make money from anywhere, am I right!?

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Twist Travel Magazine!
Andrea January 10, 2017 posted by

Is there such a thing as too much travel?

Hello New Year

It’s the beginning of the new year and we just got back from our holiday travels to Chamonix, France and London, England (which I am sure I will write about some time next January, the way this blog goes;)

The kids went back to school this week and I am still getting caught up on all the unpacking and the laundry that goes along with a ski vacation and being gone for two weeks. I did manage to de-Christmas the apartment over the weekend, but our very dried up Christmas tree is still in the corner looking pretty pathetic. Not sure when Harris will get around to hauling that thing down the stairs, but he has mentioned just throwing it over the balcony (more than once), so we’ll see how that goes.

It feels good to come home to Barcelona, but we are getting into the new year about a week late and I’m already feeling a little behind, but of course discussions about our 2017 travel plans have been popping up already! To be honest it’s making my head spin a little. I’m already leaving for Costa Rica on Monday to go pick up our dog Canela to bring her to Barcelona. Don’t get me wrong –  I am SUPER excited to get back to Costa Rica, but bringing Canela back should be interesting, since I have never traveled with a dog before!

2017 Travel Planning

With the new year comes a fresh calendar to fill up with travel plans, and while that’s exciting, it can also be a bit overwhelming. I mean we just got back, put down our suitcases and the laundry isn’t even dry and we have to start thinking about where we are going for ski week (yep, our school has a week off for skiing) Spring break and Summer plans. Not that we HAVE to go anywhere, but when you live abroad, there seems to be a little bit more of an urgency to get out and see all the places that are so close and available to you. As one mom said to me “Since moving here, I feel like I’m a damn travel agent”. And of course like most parents anywhere, we have to take advantage of the days the kids have off from school.

Not only is this planning necessary for us, but we are also coordinating dates with friends and family that are planning to come and visit us in Barcelona this Spring and Summer. We also have a family wedding in July that we would like to possibly attend back in the United States. Not to mention Harris has some business travel too, yep he does manage to still work amongst this traveling circus.

So I pulled out our brand new calendar, got my sharpies and started marking off all the weeks and dates for our 2017 travel plans.

And now I’m sick. This happens to me a lot after we travel, I come home and a day later I get sick, I think it’s by body’s way of saying “okay girl – you’ve done enough running around, now go lay down”. So we just got back from seeing the “English Doctor” – no really, that’s what his business card says in bold letters and yes he’s British. So I am on the couch resting and hoping that I get over these nasty flu like symptoms by the end of the week (because I got another plane to catch).

Which brings me to my POINT. Can you travel too much?

Is there such a thing as too much travel? 

I love to travel, that is obvious and I’m the first to jump at the chance to go anywhere, anytime!
However, I wonder if too much traveling causes you to not fully absorb and appreciate the places and things you just did. I wonder if coming home after a trip and reflecting about your experiences gets totally missed because you are already thinking and planning about the next destination.

Or when does travel start to lose its specialness, because it just becomes so normal. Or when you travel so frequently and trips are so close together maybe one destinations might not get your full attention or one might over shadow another. Or perhaps you did not get to prepare as well for a trip because you didn’t have as much time in between trips?

Maybe this is just a time issue – time is just moving too fast for me. Or maybe I hate that fact that I just had a brand new empty calendar and in 10 minutes that shit got crazy!

Maybe I’m feeling this way because I can’t seem to keep up with writing about all the places we have gone and things we have done. Not that I have to write about any of it, that is just me putting pressure on myself. But I do think that you can get burnt out with just about anything and too much of anything is usually bad. Or maybe this is all just because I can’t keep up with the laundry?

What do you think, can you travel too much?

Is there such a thing as too much travel?
Andrea October 30, 2015 posted by

My favorite place in Granda, Spain: La Milagrosa Cafe

Milagrosa Cafe Granada Spain Wanderlust Living

We spent five weeks in Spain. Five weeks. And the one place that I keep thinking about is a little coffee shop in Granada called The Milagrosa Cafe. At first I found this to be a bit weird, I mean there is SO much we saw and did in Spain, not to mention that the illustrious Alhambra is just a few blocks away in Granada, but the place I desperately want to go back to is this lovely cafe.

How bizarre, right? But maybe not so bizarre…

When we travel, people and places should leave an impression, it should evoke some sort of emotion,  and if we’re lucky enough to be paying attention, it can stay with us forever.

Milagrosa Cafe Wanderlust Living Travel Blog

The Milagrosa Cafe made me feel special from the second the waitress smiled, handed us a menu and quickly returned with a sample of juice for us on a beautiful blue glass plate. I immediately knew I’d like it here. As I looked around I loved the design of the entire place, from the soft grey walls, the floral wallpaper on one wall, to the light pink chairs.

If heaven has a coffee shop, this was what it would look like.

As someone who travels and works from all sorts of places, when you stumbled upon a place that makes you feel like you belong, you grab it and hold onto it as long as you can. Harris and I came back for our morning coffee and breakfast and sat in the exact same spot, four times. I was a bit obsessed with this place. Even the staff intrigued me, they were exceptionally good looking in their blue and white striped shirts and grey aprons.

Milagrosa Cafe Tea and Tray Granda Spain Coffee Shops Wanderlust Living
The stylish details made me light up with joy. The tea was delivered on a beautiful tray with a porcelain tea pot, I tried to contain myself. I snapped pictures of everything we ordered trying not to make a scene. Everything was perfect, no it was magnificent!

Which is exactly what milagrosa means. (thank you google translate)

The Milagrosa Cafe Desayuno Breakfast Granda Spain Wanderlu Living

The Milagrosa Cafe is actually more than a coffee shop, it’s a full restaurant, and wine and tapas bar too. I actually regretted not stopping by there at night to sample more of their food and grab a glass of wine, but then I thought nope, I had our mornings etched in my mind perfectly and was happy to leave that way.

Maybe calling this my favorite place in Granda isn’t so strange…it’s the little things in life, right?

Cappucino Milagrosa Cafe Coffe Shop Granda Spain

The Milagrosa Cafe Wine Bar Granada Spain

The Milagrosa Cafe Granada Spain Wanderlust Living

My favorite place in Granda, Spain: La Milagrosa Cafe
Adventure September 24, 2015 posted by

Hudson’s 9th Birthday at Llanos de Cortez Waterfall

Llanos de Cortez Waterall Costa Rica Wanderlust Living

Llanos De Cortez Waterfall

Birthday parties in Costa Rica usually consist of a pool or the beach, there’s not a whole lot of options for Birthday celebrations, but the kids have just as much fun (and sometimes more) regardless.

Birthday’s don’t have to be a big deal and since shopping is tough here, gifts are small or a hand made card will do just fine. We all prefer that anyways, for most of us we shed all that “stuff” before we moved to Costa Rica, so accumulating more of it is certainly not our goal. Birthdays here are definitely not about the gifts, its just about the kids getting together to have some fun to celebrate their friend and make them feel special.

For Hudson’s 9th Birthday I was racking my brain trying to come up with something we could do besides a pool party at our house. We seem to have pool parties all the time and it didn’t feel special or anything different from our typical Saturday. I also knew that boys only last so long in the pool and I imagined dripping wet boys running all over the house wanting to play on ipads or the Xbox, and I wasn’t exactly excited about that scene. I wanted them to DO something.

So…. we took all the 4th grade boys in Hudson’s class to the Llanos de Cortez waterfall! I had been there once before on a Mom’s weekend getaway, but Harris and the kids had never been, so I thought it would be something different and fun!

The Llanos de Cortez waterfall is just 30 minutes south of Liberia in the town of Bagaces, right off the Pan American Highway. It took us about 1 1/2 to get their from our house at the beach. We hired a shuttle to take the 12 boys and we followed behind with a few other parents – we asked a few dads to come along for extra supervision.

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall Costa Rica

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall Tips

Once you arrive at the dirt road you will be stopped and asked to make a donation to visit the waterfall, this money goes to the local school in Bagaces, so please make a nice donation. Then you will park your car and there will be a man to “help” you park – simply give him a small tip. Do not leave any valuables in your car.

The climb down to the Llanos de Cotez waterfall is a short hike but rocky and a little steep. All of us navigated down in nothing but flip flops, so it is not difficult just be careful with younger children.

There is a nice lake below the waterfall to swim and you can even climb up on the rocks just below the waterfall and jump off. It is not high but just be careful of the slippery rocks and be sure someone has checked the area that you are jumping into.

ON the weekends there is usually someone selling water, soda, snacks, and even grilling meat on a stick! However, you should probably pack a backpack with water and snacks.

To the left of the waterfall there is a very shallow river, and if you cross it there is a path that takes you up to the very top of the waterfall. Then what we discovered was another little watering hole.  It is hard to describe how to get to this secret little oasis, but if you venture straight on what sort of looks like a path (careful of barbwire) you’ll come to wonderful hidden pool.

While I was at the waterfall the girls came back to tell me about what the dads and boys discovered and that they were jumping from the cliff. I immediately grabbed my camera and told them to take me there! I realize the first thought that should have crossed my mind was if it was safe, but truth be told –  I thought of pictures first, then safety. But there were three dads in the water and they made sure it was deep enough for them to jump.

I am sure the other parents will love seeing these photos….

Llanos Cortez Waterfall Hugh

Llanos Cortez Waterall John


Llanos Cortez Waterfall Otis

Llanos Cortez Kaidyn
Llanos Cortez Waterfall watering hole

Llanos Cortez Waterfall Hudsons Birthday Boys

Hudson’s 9th Birthday at Llanos de Cortez Waterfall