New York – with kids in tow!

A few years ago the husband and I had a childfree break to New York – and it was fantastic! This time we took some of the kids with us – which had to lend itself to a ‘how a trip to New York differs when you take the kids’ blog post!

  1. Never trust a bargain airport aparthotel!!
    When the husband and I have had an early flight we’ve always stayed on airport.  But travelling with the kids meant it would have to be 2 hotel rooms – or try an apartment.  Yeah – I failed with that one.  The on site parking was good (although an additional overnight charge which I must have missed in the booking) but the slashed sofas / smashed window / ripped sheets / non functioning in room phone were all not the best – and cost almost £300.  But hey ho, you live and learn, and we definitely won’t stay there ever ever again!!
  2.  They will find the free wifi EVERYWHERE – so can be relied upon to provide this information quickly – be it the free airport wifi before the lounge, the lounge, the airport waiting for the baggage, the hotel whilst waiting to check in, random shops etc etc.  Lack of availability of free wifi and the possibility that their social media streaks may fail is seemingly a fate worse than death.
  3. Travelling in the back of a New York taxi in a heatwave is unbearably hot!  Now I don’t know this personally – because I always had the front seat (a ‘benefit’ of horrible travel sickness!)  but the drivers and I were always lovely and airconned.  However, the plastic screen between the front and the back means the cold air does not circulate – and so the back is ROASTING! We did find one driver who had improvised his aircon – which was very welcome!


    I can also say that it would appear New York cabbies don’t like taking 4 customers!  The huffing involved with removing things from the front seat seemed a regular occurrence.  We are also spoilt with taxi drivers in the UK – and especially London – knowing their way about – it would appear that anyone can drive a cab in New York, even with minimal grasp of English let alone any ‘knowledge’ at all!
  4. Siblings will always fight over who has the best bedroom!!  We stayed at The London last time – and after some research, found that their 2 bedroom suites were cheaper than 2 separate rooms in other hotels – so went for that!  Actually the living room was big enough to house a roll out bed – so once child could be in there and one in the separate bedroom to avoid fighting!   The only downside was that the 2 bedroom suites don’t have the view of Central Park that our one bedroom had last time – but that wasn’t a major issue.  Sadly we didn’t celeb spot anyone in the lift this time! (Telling Billy Idol about working in WHSmiths in Acocks Green still ranks as one of the most surreal and random moments ever!!)
  5. Sights that can be Snapchatted / Instagrammed are key to the children!  (I should have guessed this after a dog Snapchat filter was applied to the Mona Lisa in February!) They could tell what shops were nearby by the available Snapchat filters (who knew?  Well, who over 40 knew?!)

  6. You can take kids to lovely restaurants (The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park, the King Cole Bar in the St Regis Hotel) – but they’d be just as happy at McDonalds or Burger King. #heathens

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    Helping his Dad with the world famous crab cakes!
  7. For us and people of our age you can remember exactly where you were when 9/11 happened (the husband was having lunch in The Sports Bar on Broad Street, Birmingham – I was at the office of the aerospace company I’d started working for 10 days before) but for the kids it’s history.  We went to the memorial and the museum – which are both really well done – but the emotions for the kids were very different than for us.

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  8. Things end up REALLY expensive when you have to double up – so, for example, taking a bike ride round Central Park.  We were right royally screwed by the 5$ per minute and 25 minute ride (which included the fighting amongst the drivers about whose fare we were, the stopping so we could walk through Strawberry Fields and then stopping at traffic lights IN THE PARK!)  Anyway – 250$ later, and me moaning about thieving robdogs to 2 large Eritrean gentlemen and the lesson has been learned!  Oh well – at least we got to pose in front of the fountain from Friends……..

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  9. You can’t wing it with Broadway tickets!  When the husband and I went to New York previously we watched The Book Of Mormon – which was BRILLIANT – but possibly the least child friendly musical ever!  So we planned ahead and booked tickets for School of Rock – which is equally awesome (but with a lot less swearing and rude stuff!!)

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  10. You might have the kids with you – but your husband will always be the biggest kid of them all!

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    Fountains at Battery Park
  11. You can persuade them to walk further when it’s something interesting – in this case, walking the Highline!  The 12 year old was insistent we did complete end to end too (he is slightly obsessive about such things – but it increased my steps for the day!!)

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  12. Even when your kids are 14 and 12 it’s still really annoying when the flight home is delayed – but at least they managed to sleep on the floor!!

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In summary New York was still so good they named it twice – just different going with the kids in tow – but so lovely to make memories. Also, when you’re used to 4 kids, going away with 2 was surprisingly easy – and we’ve already told the little 2 we’ll take them in a few years time.  I wonder what will have changed in New York by then (this is said with the context that when I went in 1999 I didn’t go to the top of the World Trade Centre as I wanted to go to the shopping mall underneath – and said I’d do ‘Windows on the World’ next time I went………………)

 

 

 

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New York, New York – twice!

A couple of years ago the husband and I had a wonderful childfree few days in New York!

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Tourists on board a river cruise

And in a fortnight we’re heading back – but this time with a 12 and almost 14 year old in tow!!

We’re currently paying for the big 2 to go to school – which means their holidays are loads longer than the state schools (although you can practically fund the school fees in the reduced holiday costs #economics!) – so the little 2 are staying at home (with the nanny!) and we’re taking the big 2 on a city break.

Excitement levels are high (mostly due to Snapchat and Instagram ops!) and we’re hoping the children manage not to kill each other sharing a hotel room.

We’ve booked to see ‘School of Rock’ on Broadway – and to eat at The Boathouse in Central Park – but otherwise, we’re going with the toursit-y flow!

We’re staying in the same hotel as last time – and after our Billy Idol encounter last time, are hoping for a more relevant celeb spot in a lift this time!

I will, of course, report back how a city break with teens / tweens differs to an adult city break!!

Bring it on New York!!!

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New York – by 2 parents off the leash for 4 days!!

As a belated 40th birthday present for my husband – earlier this month we headed off to New York for 4 days and nights – leaving our 4 children at home (they were supervised!) I thought I would share with you our experiences and top tips for parents being let of the parenting leash for a few days!!

1. Enjoy the holiday from the moment you leave the house.  No ‘are we nearly there yet’ on the way to the airport – and even stopping at the drive thru Starbucks at the Welcome Break service station on the way to Heathrow was a special treat when it was just for the 2 of us and no one was arguing about the fact they’d got the wrong frappucino / smaller slice of cake / whipped cream on their hot chocolate when they’d decided they didn’t want it – despite having always had it before!

2. Make use of all freebies on offer.  We’d cashed in our British Airways Avios points and so were only paying taxes and charges – but flying First Class.  This meant we got to go in the very exclusive ‘Concorde Room’ at Heathrow (and at JFK on the way back).  This was fabulous – champagne, massage in the spa, uninterrupted newspaper reading, wifi so the husband could work (this will be a recurring theme – we have our own business, we never truly escape!), amazing food – in fact I would probably have enjoyed just staying in that lounge for the whole 4 days!

Concorde Room - with vintage champagne!
Concorde Room – with vintage champagne!

3. Find the optimum food / film / sleep ratio on the plane. The husband (and in fact the son, must be a male Price thing) can fall asleep instantly when he gets on a plane.  I, however, am my mother’s daughter – and like to get my money’s worth – even when it was a bargain flight for us (the flights would have been £19,000 if we’d paid – wow!!!) Therefore food and drink has to be consumed before I can drop off to sleep.  As you would expect in First Class on Britain’s flagship carrier, the service, food and drink were impeccable – and being able to enjoy these whilst watching a film uninterrupted by little people (why do kids like going to the toilets so much on planes?) was BLISS.  However, one film in, I turned my chair into a completely flat bed (showing off now!) and slept until nearly landing – perfection.

4. Be lovely to the hotel staff at check in. We got to the hotel at midnight – not the best time for anyone to be at their best – so even though the reception staff were a bit grumpy, we were sweetness and light!  The bell boy who helped with our luggage was perhaps the chirpiest person ever at that time of night (it worked, we tipped him well!)

5. Jet lag is your friend. The next morning husband was up early to deal with emails / clients back in the UK. There are 2 photos that I could have posted here – one where he was totally naked, and this one (from the next day) where, thankfully, he was dressed!

Working pre sunrise!
Working pre sunrise!

Even with his pitstop for work, we were still out and about early each day.  We had paid to ‘skip the line’ at the Empire State Building – but our early arrival meant this was completely unnecessary! (Although I think it would have been very useful if we’d arrived later in the day)

So 'skip the line' was like totally worth it.............
So ‘skip the line’ was like totally worth it………….

6. See your destination through as many possible mediums / media (haven’t done Latin for years).  We had pre booked loads of things with British Airways before heading off (as I like to be as organised as possible!) so we saw New York by air (in a helicopter, I vommited afterwards, but it was amazing!)

Yeah - I was totally calm pre helicopter trip......
Yeah – I was totally calm pre helicopter trip……

By water – on a cruise (it was chilly on the water, layers is definitely the way forward when dressing for New York)

Tourists on board a river cruise
Tourists on board a river cruise

By skyscraper – we went up the Empire State Building (mostly because husband is a film buff and wanted to re-enact Sleepless in Seatlle or such like!)  We were incredibly lucky with the weather and the views were amazing!

The view South from the Empire State Building
The view South from the Empire State Building

By horsedrawn carriage – we were typical tourists and did the trip round Central Park – and it was great fun.  Not only is the park an oasis of calm in the midst of Manhattan – you recognise loads of it from films and TV shows.

A horse drawn carriage - around Central Park
A horse drawn carriage – around Central Park

By yellow taxi – well, it’s a must really isn’t it!

In the back of a yellow New York taxi
In the back of a yellow New York taxi

7. Learn stuff.  Without the kids in tow dragging you to look at stuff / needing a wee / demanding a drink it was possible to actually read about exhibits and listen to commentary both on the helicopter and boat trips, and also up the Empire State Building and at the American Museum of Natural History (from the film ‘Night at the Museum’).  The Empire State Building was really, really interesting (although this could be because we run a construction company so are both geeks about such things!)

Being a girlie swot listening to all of the information posts!
Being a girlie swot listening to all of the information posts!

We were less impressed with the American Museum of Natural History – it just felt a bit dry, and not a patch on what London has to offer in this regard.

The American Mueseum of Natural History (AKA the set for 'Night at the museum'
The American Mueseum of Natural History (AKA the set for ‘Night at the Museum’

8. Keep your eyes peeled for famous stuff / people.  Our Central Park tour guide took us to the fountain from the start of Friends! I’m not sure we would have found it on our own – and we were very excited as you can see!

The fountain at the start of Friends
The fountain at the start of Friends

One evening we got into the lift and a short bloke with white blonde spiky hair asked us where we were from.  I replied ‘Birmingham, in the UK’ to which his response (in a mid Atlantic accent) was ‘Oh, my Dad is from Acocks Green’ – which is a not very salubrious suburb of Birmingham – and I told him how I’d worked in a branch of WH Smiths there as a teenager.  Then we got out the lift and he wished us a good stay in New York. I turned to the husband and said ‘wasn’t that man familiar?’ – to which an American lady – who had been struck mute in the lift, said ‘OMG that was Billy Idol’!! Still gutted I didn’t get a selfie and instead told him about my Saturday job #starspottingfail

9. Enjoy the little things. I suspect like many parents, lots of the simple pleasures of yesteryear are long forgottent!  You’re not going to ‘waste’ a babysitter on going to the cinema, or sitting in a bar drinking and reading a book for a few hours.  Well we did both of these things!!  We went to see Gone Girl at the cinema (which was handily next door to our hotel) and then sat in  the amazing bar at The Hudson Hotel for a few hours on two afternoons!  The DJ in there on the Saturday afternoon was playing loads of 1980s / 90s dance.  She was about 20 – so it was probably ironically trendy for her – but we were in our element!!

In the Hudson Bar
In the Hudson Bar

10.Shopping. Most people rave about the shopping in New York – and there are, admittedly, a lot of shops – but we think that the UK has come on in leaps and bounds with regard to shopping in the last decade or so – and that, combined with a far less beneficial exchange rate as years ago, meant it wasn’t as much of as a big deal as we’d expected.  Husband in particular was gutted with the legendary toy shop FAO Shwarz (from the film Big – as you can see, most of his reference points were movie related!), as it’s no Hamleys!

FAO Shwarz
FAO Shwarz

We also both described Macy’s as Rackhams on steroids!  This will only mean something to Brummies of a certain age (for everyone else, substitute Rackams with a House of Fraser store!)

11. Enjoy just being a couple and being reminded of why you wanted to be together in the first place!  We had both lived a lot before we married each other (and I mean a lot!) but within 15 months of meeting we were married with our first (of four!) children.  We haven’t let having the kids hamper our travelling and experiences – but equally, we try to make time to ‘be together’ (obviously said in a really Brummie accent, like that old advert!).  It’s not always as flash as New York (although let’s face it, we do try!) but even one date night together is a great break from the old routine.

There you have it – a brief run down and edited highlights of the photos of our 4 days and nights in New York!!

New York – the city that never sleeps……..

Next month the husband and I are off to NYC – sans children, for 4 whole nights.  Husband wanted to go for his 40th birthday – but as I was 37 weeks pregnant with our 4th child, Centerparcs with a load of friends happened instead! (It was a great time – and lots of memories were made, before anyone takes offence!!)  But 3 years later – off we go to the city that never sleeps……

New-York-2

We’ve got enough BA Miles to fly for just the cost of  taxes and charges in First Class with British Airways – which I am beyond excited about – and in my head it’s going to be totally Sex and The City for 4 days – but having just read Brummymummyof2‘s post – I’m now thinking maybe not…….

So whilst my heart is thinking cocktails / shopping / trendy clubs / amazing restaurants / strolls around Central Park – maybe we’ll actually just relish some time together to catch up on some sleep without a small child (or 4) coming and getting in to bed with us in the middle of the night?!? Kind of ironic in the city that never sleeps!!

First class flying should be an amazing experience – but what’s the betting after a couple of glasses (bottles!) in the lounge beforehand, we’ll be snoring before take off and miss the in flight entertainment / vintage champagne / Michelin starred cuisine?!

I am determined that jet lag will be our friend – and we’ll be up early each morning to explore all there is to see in this amazing city, and with 3 bags at 23kg each – that’s a lot of shopping we can bring back!  We have tickets booked for a show on Broadway, and restaurant reservations made.

But maybe just a little afternoon nap each day ……………