A few years ago, we experienced loss and heartache and in the midst of grief Andy and I had some big conversations. You know the ones: what next? what for? And, one early afternoon Andy and I sat a table in a restaurant and wrote a manifesto. It just came to me and I knew we needed to do it. I opened up the journal I keep in my purse and wrote at the top of three consecutive pages.
And then we just took turns filling the pages.
One consistent theme – in all three categories – was intentional adventure, putting things on the calendar we get to look forward to, where we focus our energy and efforts on exploration, experience, connection and togetherness. We decided we would aim for five iterations every year: we’d each have a one-on-one getaway with each kid and we’d have our own kidless getaway. Why? Because we are a strong family unit and we do a lot all together. It takes a different, more concentrated aim to set up time and space for just two of us to engage. Generally speaking, personalities are complex and layered and every person we interact with creates a unique combination, a unique energy. Specifically speaking, we all have our roles within our family and when we bust out of that space and open up a line of communication that is 100% reciprocal between only two people it’s like opening a gift. Setting aside time to listen to our kids in this way has proved to be a key component in our family’s foundation, providing framework based on trust, listening and prioritizing time together.
We accomplished the goal last year.
Andy took Margot to her jump rope competition in Seattle, staying with family.
Ruby and I hiked into a friends cabin only to find it crawling with ticks. So we bailed and drove home at 11pm and did day trips from our house.
I took Margot to another jump rope comp in Seaside, Oregon. Kinda last minute we turned it into a road trip to see cousins so Ruby joined in on this one!
Andy and Ruby had a ski and art-making weekend.
For this year, Andy and I have had our sights set on a big trip. And, it happened earlier this month! We have saved up and planned for this for about two years and I will tell all about it – the details of what, why and how – through a few posts here.
Step one: find affordable plane tickets somewhere outside the country. We were completely open to where we went, we simply wanted it to be a place we’d never been and for tickets to be under $450. I subscribed to Scott’s Cheap Flights and was pretty impressed with the results we got. It took about 18 months of waiting for the right deal at the right time. We ultimately ended up flying out of Seattle (7 hour drive) because tickets were less than half the price than out of Missoula. Our plane tickets to Amsterdam were $350 each.
As I was booking the tickets on Iceland Air, the option for a stopover in Iceland popped up and we said yes! Iceland Air offers this without an additional charge. You can stopover for up to three days. We chose two days (and wish we’d done three.)
We packed for our trip on a Monday night and I felt bummed we weren’t bringing the kids. Andy and I have done a few weekends away since becoming parents but nothing like this. Thirteen days. I missed them before I even left and it was hard to imagine two weeks without making breakfast and kissing their freckles. At the same time, I also felt thrilled for the time with just my love and thrilled for the adventure my kids would have with grandma and grandpa and our community of friends who stepped up with play dates and carpools to art class, jump rope and ski team.
At first it felt nearly impossible to pack only a carryon for this trip as we needed gear for hiking in freezing temps and navigating snow and then street clothes for city walking and museum going…But we did it and I am SO glad we did because we were hopping on and off trains and buses as well as walking up to a mile from the train station to our hotel, hauling our luggage over 400 year old cobblestone roads, and for sure: less is more when navigating all that.
So, what did I pack? And what should I have left behind? Here ya go:
I knew I’d likely wear my puffy coat every day so I focused on compact items that could be layered and worn in different ways.
1 thin, long sleeved wool shirt
2 t shirts
1 long sleeved black shirt
2 thin, warm sweaters (wish I’d brought just one and wish I’d brought a cardigan)
2 bodysuits (for layering under blouse and sweaters)
3 scarves (two large and warm wool, one thin silk)
Opting to not bring bulky snow pants, I layered the long underwear and leggings while hiking in Iceland.
1 wool skirt
1 pair velvet fancy pants
thin, long underwear bottoms
3 pairs of jeans (wish I’d brought 2)
2 pair short boots
Shoes take up a ton of room so I only brought two. And I could have left one behind (these, which I also love) as I only wore them twice. I was thoroughly impressed with the boots I wore every day: comfortable, waterproof, durable, functional, cute and can be dressed up or down. I wore them with my yak trax on a big, steep icy hike and I wore them out to dinner. Simply: I love these boots! I got them on sale at REI and they only have a few sizes left. They are called the Kodiak Alma and here they are on Amazon.
2 x wool socks
5 x underwear
first aid kit
empty water bottle
portable phone charger
necessities for Iceland (for hiking and hot springing):
compact, quick dry towels
We scrambled to get last minute work done and and left Missoula Tuesday afternoon with two small suitcases and a mostly empty car. We had read that Iceland is crazy expensive (heck, this whole trip is expensive!) so we stopped at Trader Joes in Spokane and bought a stash of snacks that would see us through all of our flights and our time in Iceland.
This decision saved us some cash money. Nothing is complimentary on Iceland Air and our wraps and salads were significantly cheaper than anything offered on the flight. Plus, we could then justify a splurge on cocktails and discover our new favorite gin! Old Islandia. The snacks also served us well for the two days in Iceland as we ate minimally and on-the-go. But more on all that soon!
Next post: Iceland.
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Nici and Andy, I so enjoyed reading this post! You both are amazing, I’m so happy you had a great trip. I learned some awesome tips!
Your pics are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!
Patti Joyce Trombly.