GESSELL + LEE: EXPAT LIFESTYLE & FAMILY TRAVEL

Gessell and Lee

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3 Travel Safety Tips for Traveling Solo

Tips for Traveling Solo

Lone travel for women has become increasingly popular and is something to not be afraid of. Traveling solo as a woman can be a great experience if some basic safety precautions are taken. So, what are some safety precautions you can take when you are out and about each day in a foreign country?

Does Your Clothing Conform to Local Customs?

Bikinis and shorts might be tolerated at beaches abroad, but these styles of dress are often frowned upon in some countries, particularly deeply conservative countries. Take your cue on what is appropriate from the locals. How do the local women dress? It is always a good idea to research the dress and local standards before you arrive so that you do not draw undue attention to yourself while you are out and about. For example: Thailand is currently in a one year mourning period and the rules for how tourists may act and dress is affected by these events.

Do a quick internet search of appropriate attire before you travel

How to Deal with Inappropriate Propositions

Unfortunately it is not uncommon for many women traveling alone to be sexually propositioned while they are abroad. Women traveling alone are seen as an easy target without the protection of a friend or family member. So if this happens to you, how can you deal with inappropriate propositions? My first rule of advice would be to try to ignore rude, inappropriate remarks. Walk on by confidently.

But what if ignoring the person doesn’t work? If you feel threatened, don’t hesitate to draw attention to yourself by shouting and making a fuss.

Plan Your Route Back to the Hotel

Planning and knowing your surroundings are great ways to prepare for the unexpected. One way to have a plan that helps keep you safe is by planning your route back to the hotel (or wherever you are staying) in case you run into problems or difficulties.

Take full advantage of cards handed out by hotels that list their address and contact details by carrying one with you at all times when you travel alone. If you plan to return late at night, ask the hotel to recommend a reputable taxi firm and then book your return trip. Do not walk back to the hotel, hitchhike or accept a lift from a stranger.

Lone women travelers are still a rare sight in much of the world, which is why they often excite so much attention. Stay safe when traveling solo by wearing clothing that is modest and conforms to local standards, ignoring propositions when at all possible, and planning your route back to the hotel.

Helpful Travel Safety Websites

Health Issues: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov

Road Safety: Association for Safe International Road Travel http://www.asirt.org

Travel Warnings: U.S. State Department http://travel.state.gov

Things to do with Kids in Amsterdam: TunFun

Amsterdam’s weather can be a bit unpredictable at times. Somehow, there always seems to be a bit of rain in the forecast just when I’ve planned a day at the sandbox. I guess Amsterdam’s proximity to the North Sea has something to do with this. But no matter the reason, it stands that with my little one now mobile when I want to get out of the house with her and the weather won’t cooperate, that means that we need to find something indoors to do.

While I would be happy to sit at a nice cafe on a rainy day just people watching, my daughter does not share this desire. (High chairs are only good for so long.) She would rather move around and explore the world. Understandably so when you’re a one year old. However, this conundrum led me to search for indoor things to do with kids in Amsterdam. I’m glad that I Googled it because I came across TunFun.

Tucked under Mr. Visserplein in a former traffic pass near the Portuguese Synagogue lies TunFun, one of my favorite things to do with kids in Amsterdam. From the outside it looks deceptively closed. However, once you spot the green arches just go down the stairs (or the ramp as this whole place is stroller accessible) and you’ll be greeted by the ticket counter. Then you just wind your way around and down to the enormous kids play area.

Prices for the day are pretty reasonable for Amsterdam and for what you get.

Children from 1 – 12 years old : € 8,50* Children <1 and adults (18 and over): free entrance

Amenities include: changing tables, diaper sacs, a lounge corner, high chairs and free wifi for the adults. If you need a bite to eat or caffeine to keep up with the energy of the kids, there is also a cafe on site.

Things to do with Kids in Amsterdam: Baby and Toddlers

There are two play areas at TunFun labeled “mini” which are meant for children ages 0-4. (And if you’re baby isn’t very mobile yet, there is also a separate area just for babies as well.) If you have a velcro baby like mine currently is, no worries. Just take off your shoes and hop on in. You can bounce and roll around with your toddler in this fun indoor play area.

How to get to TunFun

TunFun lies beneath Mr Visserplein and right next to Waterlooplein. It’s easily accessible by public transportation or by car. TunFun offers a 10% discount for customers when parking at garage ParkKing Waterlooplein.

TunFun Review: Mom Thoughts

The baby and I spent about 2 hours at TunFun. She was thoroughly worn out from playing and I was happy that she enjoyed herself. While we were there, I met other parents and there was also a school group of children. I will certainly be back. Having the indoor play area gives me a place to go in Amsterdam when it’s raining with baby.

It’s nice that the whole area is meant for kids. This means that I don’t have to worry every 5 minutes about the baby hurting herself while playing. I can browse articles on my phone and she can play in the ball pit or on the slide. Since discovering this place, I’ve already recommended it to the other moms in my group and as a great place for us to get the babies together in Amsterdam.

Learn more about TunFun at their website (English) http://tunfun.nl/index.php/

Zandvoort: Family Day Trip to the Beach

Is your family looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam for a little rest and relaxation? Zandvoort just may be the place for you. Only 30 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal Station by train, Zandvoort makes a fantastic family day trip.

Zandvoort is one of the major beach resorts in the Netherlands. Here you can find long sandy beach, bordered by coastal dunes. Families looking to spend some time playing on the beach or in the sand should check this place out. We took our baby along and made it into a short family day trip from Amsterdam. However, Zandvoort also has a few hotels and rooms for rent if you’re looking to make it more of a longer family vacation.

Bringing your dog to Zandvoort? October 1- 15 dogs are permitted during the entire day on the beach!

Family Restaurants in Zandvoort

We traveled by train from Amsterdam to Zandvoort and then walked from the train station to the beach. By the time we arrived it was lunchtime. So we stopped in to Thalassa for a bite to eat. This restaurant was right on the beach and offered a nice selection of food for lunch. Lee had a ham and cheese sandwich while I opted for Gamba.

With so many restaurants on the beach to choose from, you’re sure to find something to suit every appetite. Plus, the few that we went to all had high chairs available and baby changing areas in the restrooms. Zandvoort is very popular with families so don’t hesitate to bring the children along with you on your day out to the beach. It’s a very safe environment for children to play in the sand, play in the water, or even fly a kite!

Besides being able to enjoy playing on the beach or eating with the family seaside, there is also a museum in Zandvoort!

The “Jutters Mu-Zee-um” is a small museum filled with many curiosities of things that have washed up on shore from the sea, among other things. Here you can find: perfume, lighters, a mammoth tooth, whole and half dolls, shoes, toys, glasses, bottles station, remains of ships or aircraft, a piece of metal from a NASA rocket; If you can imagine it, they probably have it. The museum is a great stop to have an educational moment for the children and someplace that the adults can enjoy as well!

Jutters Museum (Website in Dutch)

No family day trip to the beach would be complete without seafood! For our final meal in Zandvoort, we stopped into another beachfront restaurant and had a light meal of oysters and sangria before heading home to Amsterdam.

Looking for more information about family travel in Amsterdam? Check out my travel guide below: