If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you already know I live to eat, drink and travel. But let me clarify further: I love to do all of these things in luxury. (I’ve earned it.) My most recent mother-daughter trip to Europe did not disappoint.
Now, typically I’m all about dragging Zoe to the things I want to see, but this time I decided to let her call the shots — and boy did she take charge! (I wonder where she gets it?) From researching and planning to discovering hidden gems and selecting our second destination, she proved to be quite the travel expert.
This month, I'm sharing where we went, what we saw, and most importantly, what we brought to elevate our travel experience…
First Stop: Iconic Paris
In my experience, you will never regret a memorable travel experience with loved ones. So when Zoe’s best friend’s mom casually dropped the idea of a girls’ trip to Paris, you already know my response was a hell yes. Before our trip, we curated our itinerary to make the most of our time. This is essential, especially in cities with large distances between attractions.
Paris oozes luxury like few other cities. From the iconic Tour Eiffel to the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs-Elysees, we covered it all. Pro Tip: Comfortable shoes are a non-negotiable when exploring these winding streets.
After 4 days with friends in Paris, we adventured to another European city…because why not? I decided to do what any awesome mom would do: I handed over the reins to my 10-year-old. With Zoe’s love for the new Matilda musical — and borderline obsession with everything Harry Potter — it was no surprise that London became our next stop.
London Bridges, Musicals & A Baking Award
Fun Fact: When I was 13, I won a trip to London through a scholarship essay contest and took my grandmother on her first trip out of the country. It was a really special experience, and even after 30 years, the city still held the same timeless charm we enjoyed together.
If you don’t already know this, I LOVE bridges. I’m not sure Zoe was as into it as I was, but she humored me in exploring the Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and even hopped aboard an Uber Boat (yes, they have those) for an up-close and personal look. Highly recommend!
The highlight of London, however, was watching Zoe win second place in The Big London Bake, a local spin-off of The Great British Bake Off. She was a boss.
Some other shenanigans we took part in:
- London Hop-on Hop-off Bus (recommend)
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory High Tea
- Harry Potter Tour
- Matilda the Musical
- Visiting the biggest LEGO store in the world in Leicester Square
Yup, Zoe was one satisfied traveler.
Thoughts on Choosing Lodgings
Before choosing a place to stay, it’s important to think about how you actually want to live while you’re traveling. In London, I knew exactly what we needed: centrally located, comfortable and private rooms, and good food and drinks. I don’t ask for much, right?
Paris was a different story. We opted for an Airbnb — a flat in the center of the city where parents could have their own rooms and the kids could share a room. While it was in a great location, we were fooled by the photos. (Don’t you hate it when that happens??) Choose wisely…
Packing the Elevated Essentials
When jet lag strikes, all I want to do is relax in the comforts of home… yes, even when immersed in incredible destinations. Fortunately, I’m a more experienced traveler at this point and I always pack the “elevated essentials.” Here’s what I recommend for comfort when you’re away from home. Thank me later.
1. The ultimate travel essential: a sleeping mask. I know they look like something out of a ‘90s movie, but they work… and you never know what the light situation will be when traveling. (Like when that ONE person on your flight keeps their window open.)
2. I always bring along luxurious slippers to soothe tired feet. After you’ve been walking five days’ worth of steps at Heathrow Airport (worst airport layout ever, by the way), you’ll want them, too.
3. I love to stash a lightweight robe in my suitcase, because let’s be honest, hotel robes can be a hit or miss. I prefer my own, even if the hotel has one, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space.
4. Rather than wear an old t-shirt, try a set of nice pajamas to provide that feel-good comfort of home. Opt for a lightweight set to keep your temperature just right.
5. Who said bathroom essentials have to be boring? For this trip, Zoe and I invested in some cute toiletry bags for the perfect blend of organization and style. (And don’t these just scream “Joy Street?”)
6. I know, I know. These packing cubes are a little cliché, right? Well, think about it this way: better organization means less stress and more time for food, exploring, and enjoying your destination. I’m in. (Tip: Zoe couldn't wait and started packing a week ahead — one cube for each city.)
7. Since this was strictly a girls’ trip, we opted for all things cute. Zoe is at the age where she wants to carry her own passport (terrifying), so we tried to make it fun so that she wouldn’t lose it. We each picked out vibrant passport holders, and....
8. As an extra precaution, we invested in Apple AirTags. They may be a tad bulky, but the peace of mind is worth it. Bonus: If you’re wary of lost luggage, throw an AirTag in your suitcase.
After learning firsthand just how valuable these items are, we’re excited to announce that we’re currently creating our own versions. Soon, you’ll have the opportunity to experience our curated collection of elevated essentials. Trust me, they are absolute game-changers.
Life is good and I’m feeling lucky that I got to experience such a memorable trip with my daughter. Now, I’m home, refreshed, inspired, and ready to weave my travel experiences into our work in a big way. Stay tuned for an exciting project coming soon…
In the meantime, if you're ready to elevate your own experience at home, you know where to find us.