As lockdown measures are lifted and life goes back to the pre-pandemic routine, I look back at the past three months with mixed feelings. In the midst of insecurity, chaos, and overtime home-office hours, we have spent a fair amount of family quality time together and have learned a lot about the things that make us tick.
Not surprisingly, a lot of what we did and enjoyed was travel-related. Here’s our account of travel-inspired family quality time activities that brought us the most joy and that we’ll keep on as family traditions!
It’s an article I was not at all sure I should write. It’s an article that took the longest to materialize because it is not the type of post you’d normally see from us or we’d be comfortable writing. But it’s a piece meant to share more about who we are and how we function. It’s a post about silence and the values it brings when there is not much to say. It’s us, now, looking forward and hopeful to a future where we’ll travel more, read more, meet more of our readers, and spend more family quality time together.
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Which traditions and family quality time activities have you discovered recently? Let us know in the comments and win the chance to be featured on our Instagram account!
Travel-inspired family quality time – books that make us tick
Travel-inspired family quality time – travel books
It’s no secret to any of our readers that as soon as we get some free time we’ll get our hands on another travel book and browse for ideas for the next trip and itinerary, either for us or for our readers.
This was fairly hard to do during the lockdown months. Both reminiscing about previous travels like last year’s Andalusia road trip with a toddler or planning future getaways was painful and felt useless. However, what we did enjoy was reading about the cultural aspects of a destination: history, literature, customs, and traditions. For this, we found the Lonely Planet travel guides to be the perfect source as they do provide in-depth details about each destination they cover. We’ll be sure to use them for planning the itineraries as well when the time comes.
For those curious about the specifics of what we’ve been looking into – we searched for inspiration for spending time in Provence with a toddler, as this is one of our favorite destinations in the world. We’ve also been trying to understand the Western Balkans and plan a road trip there, which will probably need a bit longer to materialize than initially thought. Finally, we’ve been curious about the Arabian Peninsula for a while now and have even planned a Qatar itinerary and researched what to do in Doha with kids. We hope at least the first and the latter projects will take shape in 2021, as we’ll probably focus on discovering Austria, Slovenia, and visiting family in Romania and Turkey in 2020.
And if you’re wondering how we involve the toddler in this activity, the answer is two-fold: age-specific travel books from Lonely Planet and National Geographic, as well as travel-inspired games. For example, Ilinca loves to play dress-up and board a make-belief train or plane and we would play along discussing the details of her trip and destination. She mostly goes back to places she’s been to before, but it’s a delight to remember those trips through her eyes and find out how much she actually does remember!
Travel-inspired family quality time – Vienna through books
One of the biggest problems we have as long-time residents of Vienna is that there’s so much to explore in the city in spring, autumn, and winter, that we don’t have the time to update our list of books set in/about Vienna regularly. So what we did during the lockdown was to fall back on the pile of novels set in Vienna that has been waiting its turn for a while now. Robert Seethaler and Ernst Lothar were our top picks, as was an amazing Vienna City Guide for Kids we just purchased.
Luckily, Austria still allowed us to go for walks alone or with people from the same household during March and April, which not only provided the perfect opportunity to take wonderful pictures of the city, as shown below, but we also discovered an amazing new place to purchase books about Vienna.
Tucked away off Favoritenstrasse, on a street we mostly skip on our walks through Vienna’s best districts to stay in, this tiny bookshop immediately drew our attention when we passed by it. Most of the stock is in German at the friendly, intimate, and professionally curated Wiener Buchboutique in the 4th district, where we returned as soon as it open again to stock up on quality reading material for the summer.
Travel-inspired family quality time – novels
The novels we read before, during, or after visiting a destination, sometimes even without visiting a destination, are for us an integrative part of a complete travel experience. We talk about books in all our articles and we post regular reading recommendations on our social media channels every Wednesday, so be sure to follow us there and I’ll tell you more about the books I’ve been reading during March and April 2020.
And yes, they have provided a much-needed me-break from all the family quality time and the chaos of working hours spread all over the place in an attempt to balance two full-time remote-jobs, supervising the toddler, and maintaining a decent household within a day’s work.
Travel-inspired family quality time – children’s books
Whoever thinks children’s books are not for the entire family has clearly not read The Little Prince to a toddler for the first time. If I had to point out the one family quality time experience that brought me the most joy, this would be it: sharing one of my favorite books about travel and seeing the world for the first time with my daughter.
Ilinca loved this book so much that we had to make sure and get her several items related to the story, from a mug to a Christmas decoration to hang over her bed.
If you’re looking for more travel-inspired activities for the entire family, look no further than the National Geographic Sticker books! Fun family quality time guaranteed for hours!
Travel-inspired family quality time – trips to the wilderness
So we’ve been reading books, going for walks, and keeping it sane as much as possible, but the biggest discovery we made in the last months is actually the amazing array of opportunities the Vienna Woods offer right at our doorsteps. I will forever be grateful to our friends who encouraged us rather strongly to get out of the city more. If you’re wondering what we’ll write about over the next months, the answer is clear – we’ll write about the Vienna Woods, a place we love so much that we’ll make it a mandatory part of every Vienna personalized itinerary we design….just kidding…maybe….
Our favorite spot in the area is Helenental, right outside the Sacher Hotel Baden, a paradise easily reached by public transport as well, that has become our go-to place for regular outdoor activities. There has not yet been a single week when we skipped going to Helenental, from where we’ve started exploring further and further afield.
Travel-inspired family quality time – foods we love
One thing our readers might not yet know about us is that Sinan is the family’s chef. With Anca’s superpower of identifying the best restaurants in the neighborhood pretty much useless, we’ve focused on developing our own recipes like a sugar-free banana bread which we are now baking on a weekly basis. We’ve also dug out the home-made burgers Sinan was making for me when I was pregnant and we’ve taught (well, Sinan has) Ilinca how to prepare the delicious Turkish pogaca you’ll see below. Sharing meals we prepared together has proven a rewarding family quality time experience.
The tradition that ensued is that we would cook and bake and pack the food in Tupperware to eat during our regular outings to the Vienna Woods.
As this is not a recipes blog, we would be happy to share our culinary secrets with you privately! Just drop us a line if interested, we are always happy to hear from you!
Travel-inspired family quality time – photos we took
Going for neighborhood walks in Vienna is one of our favorite activities and it is how the #dailydreamtravel was born. We’ve been doing them with Ilinca literally since she was born, thus she thoroughly enjoys a new walk, rediscovering an old trail, or taking some photos of the surroundings.
It was mostly sad to see Vienna deserted, but at the same time it made us understand why we love the city so much – it’s beautiful, that’s one, but it’s also lively and approachable. Here are some of our snapshots, we’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
Travel-inspired family quality time – the plans we made
This post has been a lot about silence. But if you think we can be silent for too long, you don’t know us well enough. What we’ve been doing during neighborhood walks, trips to the Vienna Woods, and family cooking undertakings, was to try and figure out how the world will be changed by current events.
In our opinion, travel, as we know it, will not resume this summer. Despite governments’ and tourism boards’ best efforts, we believe caution will prevail in the way people choose to carve their holiday plans. And we think that’s a good thing. From reducing air travel to a minimum to favoring small local businesses and personalized, individually planned holidays, we think the future will help turn mass tourism into slow travel and that’s something we hope to be a part of. How do you see yourself traveling in the future?