We bought our plane tickets to Spain this fall! Yes, our first trip as a family of three to the land of jamón serrano, tortilla de patatas, and no humidity!
Thirty whole days. That’s right: one entire month. I can hardly contain myself.
I’ve already given the trip its own hashtag (so, be sure to follow me on twitter @espanolita and Instagram @espanolitablog).
Little Miss E. will meet her two, yes, two bisabuelas (great-grandmothers), D.’s childhood friends, and countless primos (cousins).
With just a few months left before the gran aventura, here’s a picture of how we’ve begun to prepare for our family trip.
1. E.’s passport – After visiting a CVS pharmacy (someone stole their camera), a RiteAid (theirs broke), I finally found a UPS store that would take an infant passport photo. Well, the paperwork has been filed, and now it’s just a matter of waiting until it arrives in the mail. Soon, Little Miss E. will become World Traveler E.!
2. Housing – Since we will be in Spain for a month, we decided not to stay with family and to instead find an apartment to rent. Unfortunately, the whole AirBnB culture of subletting a flat or house hasn’t completely caught on with most Spaniards, so after a few weeks of, “oh, no, we’re not going to have a place to stay,” D.’s best friend – a talented architect – offered us his home in Madrid, fully furnished and child-friendly, with a pool. Praise God!
3. Driving –
- Renting a car: D. grew up in Madrid and I lived there for two years. We’ve been to the Prado, the bullfighting ring, and the soccer stadium. So, this upcoming trip won’t be about sightseeing and souvenir shopping. Instead of staying in the heart of Madrid, we’ll be about 20 minutes west of the city, which means we’ll need a car. While D. can drive a stick shift, I have never had the opportunity to learn. So, we’ve rented an automatic. In the past, D. has done all the driving, but since he’ll be spending a week in Germany for work, I’ll have a week to get the hang of driving on Spanish highways.
- International Driver’s License: It sounds more complicated than it is. There’s actuallyno test involved if you already have a U.S. license (for my American readers). You can apply for an international license through AAA. Super easy!
4. Creating a game plan to travel light – I confess: I’m the world’s heaviest packer. I’ve always laughed at those Pinterest posts “How to pack for a two-week trip with only carry-on luggage.” But, having a child has made me come to value the importance of simplicity and to believe that less is more, which now translates into how I plan to pack for our trip.
I have already decided that I will pack all of E.’s and my things into one large suitcase, which we’ll check at the airport. Then, besides my purse (small), a mini-backpack for E., and my Beco baby carrier, I won’t be bringing any carry-on luggage. We’ve also decided to leave our car seat and stroller behind. Besides my own make-up and toothbrush, I won’t be packing any toiletries, since those can be purchased once we arrive. Finally, as for what clothes to pack, my plan is to pick one color palette and only select clothes and shoes that can be mixed and matched and that are comfortable for moving around with a toddler. Perhaps, however, the biggest reason for traveling light is that I plan to purchase several books and CDs/DVDs for E. to bring back, as well as good vino!
5. Contacting preschools for E. – Our month in Spain will certainly be a time spent with family and friends, relaxing, eating, and soaking up the culture. It will also be an intense linguistic immersion experience for E., as well as a refresher for my and D.’s own Spanish (yes, even bilinguals need to refresh their language skills!). So, in order to maximize the input that E. receives in Spanish from children her own age (a crucial element in promoting and protecting the minority language), D. and I have decided to enroll E. in a preschool, o escuela infantil, during our time there.
Unsure if a traditional school would be willing to take E. for such a short time, I decided to contact as many alternative schools (Waldorf, Montessori, forest Kindergartens) in Madrid as possible to see if I’d have any luck. So, one by one, I started e-mailing schools through a fabulous online directory of alternative schools called Ludus. After about ten e-mail attempts to different schools, I finally found a Waldorf preschool whose director said she’d welcome us both (yes, E. and me!).
Why do I want to attend preschool with E.? First, because over the past several months I’ve been reading and studying several alternative educational models, like Waldorf and Montessori, and this will be an opportunity for me to gain first-hand knowledge of what it looks like in practice with children. Second, and most importantly, by attending school with E. and volunteering with different tasks, I will expand and improve my educational vocabulary in Spanish.
I’ll update our family’s preparations for #España2015 in a few weeks here on the blog. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you: how did you plan for your child’s first trip overseas?