Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Have you ever met someone who raved about visiting a particular city and you wrinkled your nose and shook your head, "Gah, no. That was not our experience at all!" How can people have such different impressions of the same place? Maybe the weather was bad, your kids were whiny, or you were tired from traveling. Maybe you picked the wrong restaurants, got lost too many times, or felt overwhelmed by the crowds. There are tons of reasons why your first visit to a new city or town may not be favorable. Some places deserve a second glance before you write them off for good. We have a list of places we want to visit and see, so we are often too quick to write a city off once we've been there. Been there, done that, let's move on. There are too many places to see and too little time, money, and energy to see them all so why go back to a place where you...
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Family Travel Guide to Öland, Sweden

Family Travel Guide to Öland, Sweden

Ice cream, go-karts, beaches, and alpacas? Explore this tiny island to find some hidden gems off the east coast of Sweden in this family travel guide.   In European countries, it is common for the entire country to shut down in August as people head off to various resorts and tourist destinations. In Sweden, that "shut down" month is July—typically the warmest weather month of the year with maximum hours of sunlight. With four weeks of vacation, what is a family to do? Fortunately, for Swedes, there are plenty of stugor (rustic cabins) to rent, and plenty of islands to visit. One island, in particular, Öland, is located off the southeast coast of Sweden in the Kalmar region. Öland translates to "island land," which is fairly nonsensical but essentially, it's a long, narrow island.   Getting to Öland There is a bus that runs between Stockholm and Öland if you want to put someone else in charge of the driving. You can enter the island either by...
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Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Imagine an amusement park where only kids are allowed to ride and they receive endless rides on the tea cups, carousel, and trains. Where kids drive cars, motorcycles, and tractors. All. By. Themselves. The 1980s are alive and well at Lådbilslandet—or Soap Box Car Land—an amusement park in Sweden with soap box cars, "motorcycles" (they have three wheels so they are more like tricycles with engines), tractors, and river rafts. Lådbilslandet is a place where your kids can feel like grown ups. Kids Only It's a "kids only" type of place and adults aren't allowed on any of the rides. Not one. If your kid doesn't want to ride alone then you'll need to find a willing child (or sibling) to ride along with them. Honestly, that shouldn't be hard at all to find since every kid I saw was dying for extra rides. The kids are really in charge at this amusement park and parents have no choice but to relinquish all pretenses of being...
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Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

"Where's the chamber pot?" I asked my husband at 2 am. "You're kidding me," he mumbled. Wish I was, my dear, wish that I was. If you ever wanted to know what life was like before modern conveniences, then look no further than your nearest Swedish stuga. Stuga is Swedish for "cabin or cottage, " and they are generally pretty rustic—mostly because they were constructed sometime in the 1800s and electricity and running water were later additions.   Your classic Swedish stuga has low ceilings—people were shorter 100+ years ago—a wood burning stove in one or all of the corners, and if you have a fancy stuga, you'll have more than one room with big heavy wooden doors. For whatever reason, my daughter thinks opening and closing stuga doors is the funnest thing ever and it keeps her busy for at least an hour. Many of our Swedish friends have mentioned spending their Easter holidays and summer vacations "at the stuga," and we always thought...
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Pushing the Limits—The Role of the Firstborn Child

Pushing the Limits—The Role of the Firstborn Child

My approach to parenting involves a lot of shrugged shoulders and raised eyebrows to indicate that, "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm hoping for the best." Based on my conversations with other parents, we're all in the same boat. A few months ago, I was asking a fellow American-in-Sweden parent at what age is it culturally acceptable for kids to bike by themselves to school and to friends' houses? The answer was a bit vague—well, depending on the distance, your kid's ability, comfort level, etc., etc., you know how it is. Basically, the advice was to launch the bike riding kid in steps. You slowly remove yourself from the equation and increase the distance and time they have on their own. For this American dad, he drops his seven-year-old daughter on the pedestrian/bike path, and off she bikes solo from school to home. He then follows along on that same route a few minutes behind her in case she...
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The Perfect Relocation in an Ideal World

The Perfect Relocation in an Ideal World

In an ideal world, there would be only perfect relocations. A world in which everything goes according to plan, nobody is running around at the last minute all sweaty with stress, and the children are well behaved on every flight and breeze through connecting airports. In this ideal world, here's what a perfect relocation might look like: In a perfect relocation, there is plenty of time to prepare, find renters/buyers for your current house, sell off unwanted possessions, and close your door one final time without a hint of sadness. In a perfect relocation, you have familiarized yourself with the local language and have language classes lined up to help ease your family into society upon arrival. In a perfect relocation, you get one last visit with all of your family members, and your friends throw you an amazing farewell party complete with meaningful gifts and inside jokes. In a perfect relocation, these same friends and family members promise to keep in touch and they do!...
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The Moments That Surprise You

The Moments That Surprise You

The post below contains affiliate links to help support Knocked Up Abroad at no extra cost to you.   Ever since starting this book publishing collaborative journey, I've reached out to a lot of writers, illustrators, marketers, and people in the business. During the Kickstarter campaign for Knocked Up Abroad Again, my "Why not? Meter" was at full tilt and I was daringly reaching out to New York Times bestselling authors. You know, because why not? What did I have to lose? Well, all of that outreach ended up being tremendously helpful and I received amazing support from NY Times bestselling authors AK Turner, Jen Mann, and Suzanne Kamata (their reviews on are on the back cover!) and I also managed to get looped into their world. Have you ever wondered how those reviews get onto book covers? Usually, the author or publisher sends around a beta version of the manuscript to other writers and asks for a few review blurbs months before the book is published. These reviews are then featured on the...
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Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

  Maybe I'm just a simple gal who enjoys the simpler things in life but in all of our travels, my favorite vacations have been the ones in which I can let go of all of my stress. I'm a casual jeans and T-shirt, comfort over style, laid back type of person and my most favorite vacations are the simple ones. Don't get me wrong. I've been incredibly fortunate and privileged to have seen the gilded ceilings of the Vatican museum, ridden in a private boat on the sparkling blue waters of Lake Como pretending I was Amal Clooney, and relaxed beachside at an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta. Those were all amazing experiences and I am so grateful to have experienced them. However, my favorite, most special moments occurred after everything went "wrong" and all of our planning didn't match reality. I think back on our trip to Tuscany and my heart aches to be "stranded" again in the middle of a tiny Italian...
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When The Exciting Life Feels Normal

When The Exciting Life Feels Normal

  When we first moved to Sweden (five years ago, ahh!), the newness of everything was overwhelming. Every day we jumped into the unknown with glee. It was thrilling to have a clean slate. We could be whoever we wanted to be in this new place. I spent the first few weeks converting everything into measurements that I could understand and then again into USD to get a sense of the cost. Everything felt expensive (it was). But it was okay because this was all new and exciting. Snow on April 1? Not depressing. Let's play! Get incredibly lost while trying to find a particular restaurant only to discover that they are closed on Sundays? It's alright. We'll get pizza from around the corner. Spend hours in line to get a national ID card, fill out forms, and hope that you've done everything correctly in a language you don't understand? Kind of scary, yes, but we're hanging in there. Everything we did felt like a strange but wonderful adventure....
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Heading Back During A Tumultuous Time

Heading Back During A Tumultuous Time

  I'm about to get on a plane for 12 hours and fly straight into the face of the unknown.   I'm not heading in for a family trip, holiday, or celebration. I'm making this difficult, time-consuming trek because I feel compelled. Something is pulling me. I must go.   New friends, old friends, and whoever I meet along the way will all be a part of this wave of energy. A hopeful turn of the tides. A show of change, positivity, and unity.   I have witnessed firsthand what women can accomplish when they organize. It is empowering, bold, and beautiful. When we set aside our differences and focus on our commonalities, we can break down barriers. Build bridges.   Discover how we are the same and the differences no longer seem to matter. We may define "best" for our families differently and approach it in various ways—there is no one path in life—but we are all trying our best.   My good friend, Clara Wiggins, talks about the uncertainty...
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