Breastfeeding is best when you travel

There have been discussions about breastfeeding and travel on Gadling before. Breastfeeding on an airplane, in particular, has come up as a subject with many opinions. Here’s my take. I was reminded of my breast feeding days when I saw a woman with a two-month old at the movie Sherlock Holmes. When it comes to travel, breastfeeding is the way to go. And don’t worry about what anyone thinks about it.

If you’ve ever been to West Africa where a breast is for nursing children and not used as an object desire, you’ll see where I’m coming from. My Peace Corps male friends who were in The Gambia when I was would moan every time they saw a woman pounding grain without a shirt on or whipping a breast out in the middle of a conversation to nurse an infant, “This is ruining it for me,” they would say. What would they have to fixate on-to fantasize over?

When my son was born in India on New Year’s Day, I was fortunate to be living in India, a country where breast feeding is seen as natural as breathing. It gave me the notion that babies and travel do indeed go together.

Because I breast fed only, for six months my husband and I traveled bottle free. There was no worry about our son getting sick. No paraphernalia to pack. I’d pack onesies, a few cute outfits, and a pair of baby shoes, one of those plastic diaper changer travel kits, disposable diapers, burp cloths and a cloth baby blanket. (The portable changer rolls up to slip into a daypack and has a pocket for carrying two or three diapers and baby wipes.)

Breastfeeding made our lives easier. What I also discovered is that if one is quiet and discrete, you can breast-feed about anywhere as long as you look comfortable. I breast fed in movie theaters, museums, and restaurants. If you’re not worried about what people think about you nursing, you’ll feel comfortable. If you’re comfortable, chances are they won’t notice, and if they do, it won’t seem like a big deal. Think of it this way. Your breastfeeding is helping add to the peace and quiet of everyone else. Your baby who is breast-feeding is not crying. On an airplane, that’s a real gift to give to passengers-particularly during take offs and landing.

To help make breastfeeding easier, take a light weight shawl with you and wear shirts that provide room for your baby to nurse comfortably, but also will cover your breast.

Even when I traveled in the summer in the U.S. and breast fed there, I never had any problems.

For more tips on traveling with a nursing infant, whether breast or bottle fed, check out “Travel Recommendations for The Nursing Mother” at the Center of Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Copenhagen at Christmas–or at any time of the year is splendid

In Denmark in December, darkness settles in around 3:30 p.m. Spend a few days where there is such an early sunset and late sunrise, and you’ll know exactly why a festival of lights is a grand idea. Danes embrace the Christmas season with candles, evergreens and warm mulled wine.

The result of the cheer is a feeling that the world is drenched in pools of warm, soft glows. The candles and evergreens promise that the darkness will eventually lighten is enough to carry one towards spring.

The mulled wine called glugg, help seal the deal. The best glugg is served with the almonds, raisins and spices still in it.

Toss in a city of stunning architecture that artfully blends the old with the new, cobblestone walking streets, and centuries old canals and there you have it: winter magic. Copenhagen in December is a visual treat.

Last December, I traveled back to Denmark where I had spent a semester in college living with a family about twenty miles outside of Copenhagen. The trip brought back memories of my first Christmas away from home and reestablished the thought that I must have been Danish at one time. Denmark and me? A hand to a glove.

Here are my must see suggestions if you head to Copenhagen at any time of the year. On this visit, I was with my 16 year-old daughter so I picked out the places that I thought she would enjoy, plus those that would offer her a wide overview of Copenhagen’s cultural history and delight. We were also interested in spending as little money as possible.

We traveled twice by train into Copenhagen from our friend’s house where we stayed.

Day 1: In the early afternoon, we started out at Nationalmuseet, the Danish Resistance Museum. Denmark’s resistance movement against the Nazis during World War II is impressive. The museum tells the story of how the movement started, the important players and what occurred in Denmark between 1940-1945.

Since the time I visited when I was in college, the museum has a new building and the exhibits have been updated. Most of the information is also provided in English. Take time out to watch the videos of interviews that are scattered throughout the museum. They have also been translated. This museum is marvelous and it’s FREE. I repeat. FREE!

From here we walked to Amalienborg Palace to see where Queen Margrethe II lives with her family. Depending upon when you arrive, you can see the changing of the guard. We missed this, but we enjoyed watching the guards anyway.

As you go to the palace you’ll also see the gorgeous Fredriks Church, also called The Marble Church. We didn’t go inside the church or tour the Amalienborg Museum in the palace complex as we were in a hurry to get to Nyhavn and the canal boat ride. Besides, the day before, we had toured Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, a town in the northern part of Sealand, the island where Copenhagen is located. Of all Denmark’s castle’s, it’s my favorite.

At Nyhavn, the oldest part of Copenhagen’s original harbor, we took in the Christmas market where I found glugg and we ate pølser, the Danish version of a hot dog. Pølser is better. Each cost about $3. Nyhavn is also where you can catch a harbor canal tour. There is more than one company but DFDS Canal Tours is the only company to offer winter excursions. The boat tour takes visitors along the canals that were dug out by prisoners in the 17th century. This is one of the best ways to find out about Copenhagen’s history while seeing important landmarks–both modern and historic.

The statue of the Little Mermaid is one of the tour’s points of interest. If you go on the 50 minute tour in winter, bundle up. The $12 per person fee we paid seemed like a bargain.

After our tour that started before dusk and ended in the dark, we browsed the Christmas market once more and watched the ice skaters at the area’s outdoor rink before walking back to the train station.The market is an excellent place to buy Danish-style Christmas ornaments and fur hats. We bought a nativity set and a rabbit fur for my son. He used to be Daniel Boone in a past life. The $10 fur was the best present ever.

Day 2: (Between the two days, we took a ferry from Helsingør, Denmark to Helsingborg, Sweden to go to the Christmas festival at Fredriksdal Open-air Museum. Helsingør is where Kronberg Castle of Hamlet fame is located. Shakespeare set the play here. Remember? “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

We started out at Rosenberg Castle to see the Crowned Jewels. The castle was closed on that day. Oops. Next stop, shopping along Strøget, the pedestrian shopping street. Here I discovered I had been pick pocketed. Credit card? Gone. Money? Gone. Someone snagged my wallet right out of my day pack. Next came the detour to the police station to file a report and call VISA.

Without any money or a credit card, there wasn’t any reason to go to Royal Copenhagen, as we had planned. Sure, it would have been a gorgeous store to visit since it was decked out in its holiday finest, but how depressing would that have been? Why go to a place to shop when you can’t shop?

Instead, we headed to Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli, an amusement park that opened in 1843, served as inspiration for Walt Disney when he was designing Disneyland. During the Christmas season, Tivoli is a twinkling fairyland. Glugg and apple fritters are plentiful and the amusement park rides are in full operation. Every building and tree seems to be awash in holiday lights. We were content to walk around the park enjoying the ambiance and displays.

We left Tivoli for home around 9 p.m feeling satisfied, despite a day of being robbed. On a return trip, we’ll see the Crown Jewels and Royal Copenhagen. They’ll still be around.

TSA snags child’s Christmas present: Think like TSA when packing your carry on

Think like TSA when you pack your Christmas presents for your flight home. If you don’t think like TSA, your child may end up losing a gift. It almost happened to us.

In the past, I have said goodbye to a full bottle of suntan lotion and a corkscrew with a knife attached. Those were not fun to lose, but these were items that ended up in our carry on bag as we hurried. I’ve known about snow globes for awhile so I never would forget about one of those.

Still, to not be like me, don’t pack in a hurry. Sift through that carry on bag one more time. Don’t think logically; think like TSA. Items that may seem harmless to you can cause TSA’s warning bells to ring. This summer, as Scott posted, one boy lost a Star Wars toy from Disneyland at a security checkpoint.

In general, when it comes to TSA’s warning bells, I’m not one to argue, but when it came to one of my son’s Christmas presents, I went head to head with Mr. TSA Man. I tried to stay polite even though I was mad enough I could have spit.

Here’s how it went down and who won. Will a certain present be under the tree this year?

As a last minute shopping trip the day we flew out of the airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico this summer, I headed to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and my favorite gift shop. There, among other things, I bought a hand-painted, flimsy bow and arrow set for my son for a Christmas present.

Because both could be easily snapped in two–the arrow was more of a stick really with merely a suggestion of a tip, I decided to keep the set in the shopping bag and use the bag as a carry on. I had “toy” on the brain. I did not have my TSA thinking cap turned on.

As soon as Mr. TSA saw the bow and arrow through the monitor of the X-ray machine, he saw weapon. Of course he would. He’s TSA Man.

TSA Man pulled the bow and arrow out of the bag.

“It’s a child’s toy.” I tried to be reasonable in my tone.

TSA Man said, “It’s a bow and arrow.”

By this time the bow and arrow was on the counter in plain sight. My son looked happy to see it. “Is that for me?” he said. There went a Christmas surprise.

“Could you remove the arrow so we could take the bow?” I asked TSA man, thinking this might be a solution to keep us both satisfied. I really liked the bow.

“No,” said TSA man.

“Why not?” By this time, TSA man was really getting on my nerves. I was trying to be helpful. He didn’t seem to care that he ruined a perfectly good Christmas present that I wouldn’t find anywhere else.

TSA Man: “Because it’s a bow and arrow.”

At this point, I may have said “That’s dumb.” I did say, “If you take off the arrow, wouldn’t it be just a bow?”

“No,” he said. “It’s still a bow and arrow.”

Recognizing the futility of the power of logic, I said, “Then I’ll check it.”

I had a carry on that the set would fit in and I’m stubborn.

I reached for the bow and arrow.

TSA Man: “You can’t touch it. I have to carry it.”

“Fine.”

I waltzed toward the terminal door that lead out of security with my carry on and with TSA Man following close behind. He handed me the child’s bow and arrow once I was on the main terminal side of the door.

Ever polite, I did say “Thanks,” although by this time I did not sound pleasant.

The bow and arrow set made it home safely. Checking it last minute cost $15 dollars–twice as much as I paid for it. Oh, but keeping that bow and arrow set was so worth it.

This is a lesson in having a carry-on you can check if need be and enough time before your flight to do a last minute check in.

By the way, there were three wooden tomahawk toys in the shopping bag as well. I guess tomahawks aren’t weapons.

The bow and arrow set is not going under the Christmas tree. My son already has it.

When you are packing, remember to think, what would TSA man think about this? If you’re not sure, check out this list of prohibited items from the TSA website. Also, here’s the information about traveling with food and gifts.

Last minute shopping gifts? Here are 10 ideas

If you’re stuck with a last minute present to buy. Here are 10 gift ideas. Most are quick and easy. Some of them don’t require that you leave your house.

Two suggestions can be found at your local grocery store. No, you don’t have to cook.

For a couple of them, all you need is a phone, the internet to find telephone numbers and your credit card.

1. A journal with plain pages. Add a pen, a pencil, a box of colored pencils, glue stick and tape in a zip lock bag. If you can find a journal with a plain colored cover with no designs, pick that one.

The idea is for the traveler’s own thoughts to fill the pages without any suggestions. The pencils say, “Create.” The tape and glue stick is for the traveler to affix any interesting item he or she picks up along the way. Ticket stubs, interesting food wrapper, a leaf, etc. . .

2. An Entertainment Coupon Book— I am so fond of these books. Buy one for your family members to get them to travel in their own city. There are restaurant deals as well as deals on admission prices to various attractions and buy one get one free tickets to certain cultural shows. Leafing through the pages is a trip of future possibilities.

My son and I just saw BalletMet Columbus’s version of The Nutcracker for half price this past Tuesday. For two excellent seats towards the back of the orchestra, I paid $32. When we head up to Cleveland, we take my husband’s parents’ book with us to the West Side Market, a food mecca that’s been around since 1902 . We’ve run into other Entertainment Book holders while standing in line at Dohar Meats, one of the many vendors with coupons in the Cleveland area book.

3. Matt Harding’s book, “Where the Hell is Matt? Dancing Badly Around the World” Harding’s book tells the story of the behind the scenes of his Where the Hell is Matt videos when he danced his silly, simple dance around the world and eventually, people danced with him. It’s moving and funny and makes one think that this is a guy one would like as a friend. Plus, Harding’s version of the world is perfect for a New Year of good cheer.

4. A gift basket you put together with local foods from your state. Think jams, jellies, sauces, chips, candy, pasta, beverages–anything and everything. Call your basket a “Taste trip of ……..” and fill in the name of the state. You can make up your own label. You don’t need to artfully make a basket either. Get a gift bag, wrap items in tissue paper and you’re done.

5. A gift basket of foods around the world. Head to the grocery store and buy an item from as many countries as you can think of. Use # 4 as a guide. This can be a “Bringing the World to You” sort of gift.

6. A gift card to a movie theater and a list of movie suggestions for what to see. With the wealth of movies being released this season, a movie gift card is perfect for offering a travel opportunity to someone through the big screen. Along with your list, add details about where each movie will take the audience.

7. Money for an oil and filter change. For people who have about everything on the planet, wouldn’t this be useful? You could add a funny item for the dashboard or a funky air freshener for the rear view mirror.

8. A membership to a museum or a zoo. Call the museum and purchase a membership for someone. I bought a membership for my dad to the New York Historical Society this way. For families, this is a great gift.

9. Dinner out. You can call a restaurant to order a gift card in someones name if you don’t have time to pick it up or live in the same city. We did this for a friend of ours wedding present.

10. A night in a hotel or at a bed and breakfast. Give someone the gift of a night away from home. The hotel could even be where the person lives. Staying in a hotel in the town where one lives is a great way for a fresh view in the New Year.

Photo of the Day (12/23/09)

When I saw this photo last week while looking for Santas from around the world, I knew I’d found today’s Photo of the Day. Although this fellow appears among the other Santas, here he is again– center stage.

The cultural mix of this Santa shot is superb. Taken by Carpetblogger in Azerbaijan, this is an excellent look at how elements of culture travel. As Carpetblogger explains, although the country is predominately Muslim, some aspects of secular Christian culture are celebrated. Santa is one of those boundary crossers.

If you have an interesting shot of cultural boundary crossing, send it our way at Gadling’s Flickr Photo Pool. It could be chosen as Photo of the Day.