One way to travel with a kid: Take the long road


If you like your countries moody and bleak, you’ll love Iceland!

We took an interesting path to Alicante from Seattle. From Seattle there just aren’t any easy ways to get here. There are no nonstop flights. Overnight flights via London, Barcelona or Madrid are possible but very long and expensive. And we have a five-year-old.
My dread was growing. What if he wouldn’t sleep on the flight over and start screaming and whatnot. Ugh. What to do? How could we make this problem actually work for us? After some investigation and brainstorming the solution presented itself: Mini-trip into Iceland first! So, thus, our itinerary became Seattle> Reykjavic> London> Alicante with a few days at each stop.

Our flights into Iceland were quite cheap (around $300 each, plus we covered most of it with miles) and from there we just needed budget intra-Europe flights to our final destination. Since time wasn’t particularly an issue, we could spend a few days in these cool cities and check a few things off the bucket list at the same time. As a bonus, the flight from Seattle actually left at 9:15 a.m. so flying time was basically during kid happy time. We’d arrive before he got too tired (4-5 pm Seattle time, I believe), have some food and start winding down for sleep and be pretty close to time zone adjusted. We spent about four full, expensive days in Iceland and then it was just a relatively short hop into London. After a couple days in London, we flew into Alicante to begin exploring our new city.

I’ll summarize Reykjavic and London in separate posts, but I will say breaking up our trip worked out very well. The jetlag adjustment was minor and we all enjoyed seeing the sights in both locations. It was definitely the way to go. Money-wise, the flights were cheaper going this route, however that easily worked out to at least a break-even when housing and food and other expenses were figured in. But at least we got more value for the money instead of just getting a plane ride for the same dollars. And less kid-stress!

So in summary, it was (WAY!) more time, about the same price but much lower in stress and even fun. I think all three of us would recommend taking the long road if you’re traveling with kids – and maybe even if you’re not.

Where we are now

Sailing in El Campello

Sailing school in El Campello

As I write this, 20 or so tiny sailboats from a local sailing class practicing their tacks as a scattered few sprawl on blankets along the shore. No umbrellas today – it’s far too windy for that. It’s Saturday in El Campello and summer has left, taking the overheated crowds with it.

We arrived here on July 27 following a flurry of last minute preparation that followed a year of slower moving preparation, which followed a year of consideration and increasing certainty that we were really going.

As we turn to Autumn, our focus is on mundane matters like how best to commute to school, getting to the grocery stores before they close for Sunday and what to do with our now plentiful free time.

Where is El Campello and why are we here?

Tower of El Campello

The tower of El Campello perched above the marina.

El Campello is a small town north of the metropolis of Alicante, one of the largest tourist centers of the Costa Blanca on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. The region is known for its warm climate, laid-back atmosphere and as Europe’s playground. Every August, visitors from throughout Spain, but especially England and Germany flock here to soak up the sun. But the most tourists of all here seem to be Spanish, coming from other parts of the country. We have yet to meet another American here, although we did finally meet one in Alicante city yesterday. But his mother was from here so we’re not sure he counts.

Rock throwing

It’s not all sandy beaches here. This quality rock-throwing area is at the end of the promenade.

The main landmark in El Campello is a circular tower, originally built in the 1500s to warn of pirates. The tower is featured in the city’s logo and other prominent depictions of the city. The tower sits above the marina and there is a fish market there as well, which we have yet to visit.

We chose El Campello as our destination as it’s quite near a school that we found for Z, a beautiful bilingual Montessori, called Montessori House. Z started school this week and so far he’s off to a great start.

All about El Campello

Condo in El Campello

Another interesting condo building in El Campello.

The total population here is about 24,000, according to the city’s web site, but they say that swells to 100,000 in the summer, which I believe. A lovely promenade lies between the beach and the town and it is packed with locals taking their nightly stroll in the evenings and with tourists looking for food and drinks. Beaches can be full on nice days in the summer, but never uncomfortably so. The water is incredibly warm and shallow quite a ways out. You might think all of that would draw out the party bros and drunk co-eds, but you’re much more likely to see a 70-something pensioner risking her hip dancing to terrible music than the oonz-oonz-oonz of the younger party scene. There are lots of kids around, mostly Spanish and it’s generally a walkable (except when it’s too hot), peaceful town.

We’re likely overpaying a bit for our condo, which we found through AirBnB at €1,300/month. But we have two bathrooms and three bedrooms and we’re on the beach with an incredible view from our balcony. Hard to beat it.

There is a modern tram system that runs from here (and farther north) into Alicante city, which has been handy and affordable. There is also a very nice bus system, which we use frequently, but their ability to keep to their posted schedule leaves us mistrusting it.

Right below the tower is an ancient archaeological site, which we have yet to explore. Apparently the site features remains of several civilizations, going back to the Bronze age. I’ll definitely post more about that once I have the chance to get over there.

Indian food in El Campello

Yep, that is delicious, authentic Indian food!

Food has been typically Spanish for the most part, but given the number of tourists coming through here, there are a few other options we’ve tried, including British Fish & Chips and Indian food. We’ll definitely do our best to entice you into a visit with some food posts.

In addition to lovely El Campello itself, there are a number of surrounding neighborhoods and towns, which we have yet to visit. I hope to take you on a tour of a few of those in the coming days.

More soon!

The first step


Every blog begins with a first post and this is ours. We have no idea where this will end up or what we’re going to say, but we feel the need to capture our thoughts and images as we go along, mostly for ourselves but we hope some of you will enjoy our posts as well.

Who are we? Just your typical family of three: Myself, my lovely wife, Shelley, and our son (who we’ll call “Z” here) has just turned five. Up until our departure this year, we were living happily in Seattle and as I write this are based in El Campello, Spain, just outside Alicante.

We are here so our son can attend school, to soak up the Spanish language and culture, explore Europe and to take a break from the grind back home. We’ve dreamed often of what it’d be like to live outside the U.S. for some time and with some effort we’ve managed to make it happen.

Where will our path lead next? Follow our footsteps and find out along with us!