Trvlbees

In today’s member interview we talk to Amelia Edelman. Traveling conquered a big place in her heart ever since she went on a class trip to France when she was 16. And ever since – the lust to wander, discover and learn new culture hasn’t stopped.

Amelia Edelman

Together with her 3-year-old son Silas she travels all around the world. Today she tells us all about her travels and let’s us in on the best tips and tricks for visiting Havana with kids.

Please tell us something about your life journey- Where are you born and raised?

I was born in NYC, inthe Bronx. My dad was a voice actor and my parents used to be in a ‘70s rock band ha. I lived in Connecticut as a teen and went to college in the Hudson Valley. This before moving back to the city for grad school at NYU.

Then I started my writing/editing career as a speechwriter and letter-writer for the Dean of NYU Medical School. Then I went to do communications for the drug rehab nonprofit Phoenix House for 4 years while freelance writing/editing on the side.

I “sold out” (lol) aka moved into digital publishing in 2014 editing wellness, home and travel for Refinery29. I lived in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn until I ran out of boroughs I could afford (sorry Staten Island) and my son was almost a year old.

Amelia and her son Silas

That’s when we were officially priced out of NYC and relocated to Nashville. Since landing here three years ago I started working at SheKnows. I’m now Senior Editor of the Parenting vertical and launched/manage our family travel series, Mom Voyage

Where did your passion for travel and sharing travel stories start? 

I did not travel growing up, and I always wanted to. We didn’t have the money for it, and my friends who did have the money went on cruises or to resorts and I thought that was kind of boring.

I left the country for the first time on a French class trip to France at 16, and that was my first taste of the idea that travel could be about wandering and learning and culture, not just sitting at a pool. I bought my first plane ticket when I was 19 — to Mumbai, India, three weeks after my dad died. I’ve been traveling ever since.

TRVLBEES focuses on family friendly, boutique and green hideaways- so let’s talk:

Family friendly: when searching for your own family holiday, do you specifically focus on this feature? How and why?

Oh for sure. As a single mom, I’m pretty much always traveling with my 3-year-old son Silas. I often don’t have another adult traveler along to help. Thus I’m always looking for hotels where both him and I will be able to relax. Oh, and get some sleep! Silas will NOT take a shower… yet. So I want there to be a bathtub, and usually one big bed for both of us. A kids’ menu is huge, too.

Bedroom Paseo 206

Stylish: does this category appeal to you? How would you describe ‘stylish’ in terms of stays?

Absolutely. I love unique, mindful design. The feeling of coming “home” to a beautiful hotel space while on the road. For me this makes a huge difference in the vibe of your trip. I’d say my personal design vibe is boho minimalist; simple with a lot of organic shapes, plants, natural materials. But I can also certainly get on board with more maximalist design when it’s not MY home; I love The Gilded Hotel in Newport, RI, for that very reason.

The Gilded Hotel, Newport RI

Green: is this important for you and your family while booking a hideaway?

For sure. Flying is bad enough for the planet; the least we can do is choose an eco-conscious place to stay when we get there! I have a feature on SheKnows about eco-resorts and I’m always poking around hotel websites looking for ways they’re working to conserve and preserve the environment.

The Greenhouse, Babylonstoren

Which locations/areas should you visit when you are in Havana with kids?

Habana Vieja 100% — the old town, which has a central square where there are a bunch of sidewalk cafes and always competing bands (son, salsa, rhumba, you name it) and folks hawking toys and whatnot. I actually loved Vedado, the less-touristy area where our favorite hotel, Paseo 206 is. And for kids, the Parque La Maestranza costs pennies to get in and is an extravaganza!

What are the 10 unmissable things to do in Havana with kids?

1) Walk through the winding alleys of Habana Vieja and ogle the old cars and pastel walls

2) Eat fresh seafood and dodge the waves on a beach in Playas Del Este 

3) Learn about Cuba’s fascinating and tumultuous history at the Museo de la Revolución

4) Go to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes to dive into Cuban art (it’s worth paying the slight extra admission to see the 2nd building, the world collection, which has a stained-glass ceiling to die for)

5) Watch the sunset from the rooftop pool at Hotel Saratoga

6) Drink a canchancharra (Cuban rum cocktail made with honey and lemon and mint) or four — it’s better than a mojito 

Canchancharra, typical Cuban drink

7) Go for a jog or a stroll along the Malecón 

8) Take a short cab ride west of Havana to check out Fusterlandia, José Fuster’s home and art gallery, which is basically a wonderland of funky colorful mosaic sculptures (and a live pet tortoise)

Fusterlandia

9) Eat at Porto Habana, a weird but wonderful (and absolutely delicious) restaurant located on the 11th floor of an apartment building. You’ll second-guess yourself all the way up the elevator, but I promise it’s worth it.

10) Stay at Paseo206, a beautiful boutique hotel that will make you feel like family. Oh, and they have the best bathtubs too.

Any practical tips for traveling to Havana with kids?

If I’m going somewhere like Cuba or Africa where I’m not CONVINCED I’ll be able to find stuff my kid will eat, I bring a case of Clif bars. Not the most nutritious, but they’ll keep him alive in a pinch 😉 Cuban grocery stores do NOT have a lot of variety (because, you know, communism) so don’t expect that yu’ll be able to find a favorite snack.

However dishes like rice and beans, fresh fruit, grilled chicken, and pasta/pizza are pretty plentiful around Havana, so it wasn’t a problem even with my picky eater. Oh, and don’t you dare bring a stroller; either wear a tot in a carrier or carry them on your shoulders, whatever you gotta do. The crowded cobblestones make a stroller not worth it (I was really glad we didn’t bring one).

There’s also no need to bring a carseat; it likely wouldn’t even fit in the wacky array of taxis available anyway! Get ready for taxi rides with a kid on your lap.

Where was your best sleep? (Why do you recommend Paseo 206 and Saratoga as the best hotels in Havana to stay with kids?)

Paseo206 hands down! It’s so beautiful and well designed. I cannot recommend this hotel highly enough; Andrea and his family and staff were so warm and welcoming and made us feel at ease. You could tell they are parents too!

They had the best tips for where to go in the city including Parque Maestranza which is an amazing playground where we saw zero other tourists. Also the Paseo206 food, drink, design, etc was phenomenal, and they had wonderful live music… We even came back for the pasta after we had checked out haha.

Paseo 206

Do you have any honorable mentions? (like tips for great restaurants, shops etc.)

We also stayed at Hotel Saratoga which is beautiful but a bit stuffy, and much colder in terms of service (especially compared to the warmth and friendliness of Paseo206). But Saratoga has gorgeous rooftop views from its pool, so can’t complain!

Saratoga rooftop

What is your favorite photograph of this trip? 

My son absolutely THRILLED to be at Fusterlandia exploring, and us on the beach Playa Megano. Traveling with a little one can be so exhausting, I love being able to look back on these moments and realize, okay, yeah, it was worth it. This kid may have fussed about the weird pizza and got frustrated about the language barrier, but he had an amazing damn time. So yeah, I would recommend traveling to Havana with kids.

What is you most beautiful memory about this family trip?

Oh gosh, there are a lot. Silas falling asleep on my lap during the middle of a live music show our first night at Paseo206’s bar/restaurant while my partner and I polished off canchancharras. Paseo staff teaching Silas to count to 10 in Spanish, and him finally gathering the courage to tell people “gracias” and “buenos dias” and ask for “helado.”

Oh, and Silas dancing around the Plaza Vieja and having play swordfights with Cuban kids. Basically anytime I can look around and feel like, yeah, I’m dragging this kid around the world — and I’m absolutely doing the right thing.

Plaza Vieja

Meet TRVLBEES member Carmen Bierens! She is here to make your family-travel plans easier and without any stress – she has done the research for you and will tell you everything you need to know about traveling to Bali with the kids. 

This Amsterdam mum is a real travel addict and she loves to travel to family-friendly, stylish, conscious places and show her kids the world. A big plus is that her husband travels around the world for his work and they can join him often. We’ll admit we’re a tiny bit jealous…

You visited so many countries in the last year, from Manhattan to Abu Dhabi, from South Africa to Indonesia. What’s your favorite travel memory with your family?  

It’s simply not possible to pick one favourite out of so many completely different experiences! We loved living and working in NYC for a few months, because only by doing that, you get to really know a city. 

Holiday wise, Morocco surprised us the most. It was incredibly child friendly, we visited Marrakech for a few days (oh, all the wonders for a child to see there!) and relaxed in a gorgeous luxury Kasbah in the Atlas Mountains. The weather was great in November. The food was to die for. We just had a perfect time; my only regret is not taking home more interior decorating accessories…. 

TRVLBEES focuses on family friendly, conscious and stylish hideaways- so let’s talk:

Family friendly: when searching for your own family holiday, what are you must haves on this feature? How and why?

I have to say I’m very picky (as well as a bit spoilt) when it comes to accommodations. I spend a lot of time looking for the right places to go and stay. What we look for in a hotel room as a family, is a separate bedroom and/or an outside space, so when the kids sleep or nap, someone can be with them without keeping the room all dark and quiet. 

Also, we look for a nice restaurant in the hotel itself, so we can go there using the baby monitor. Not a massive buffet restaurant, but something really atmospheric. My husband works in theatre, so we don’t get to spend many evenings together. The dinners we can have, need to be romantic! 

Last but not least: a pool, nowadays, is a must for the children.

Stylish stays: how does this category appeal to you? How would you describe ‘boutique’ in terms of stays? 

I’m an interior lover, so I really enjoy staying in an inspirational accommodation. If you google ‘design hotel’ you often get the standard white sleek massive hotels, that doesn’t do it for me. I love a local, traditional design with contemporary influences, blending in with the surroundings. These are usually small hotels, such as Mediterranean agritourism’s, but sometimes the big chain hotels can be stunning as well, like the Anantara Qasr al Sarab in the desert of Abu Dhabi, one of my favourites. 

Conscious traveling: is this important for you and your family while booking a hideaway?

We live in an energy neutral house in Amsterdam ourselves, and often book eco-friendly hotels. However, if you take a plane to get there, of course you can’t really pretend to be very conscious. One of the things we love about sustainable hotels, is that they often feel more authentic: for example, a restaurant serving local & organic food, hiring local staff, and the use of local building materials. 

You told us that Bali is one of your favorite destinations – reason why you stayed here for a whole month. Please let our other travelbees in on some handy tips for traveling around Bali with the kids:

What are the top things to do with kids and why?

We decided not to go to all the big famous places, but to take it easy and enjoy a bit of ‘slow living’. Bali is super child friendly, and safe as well. If it’s the first time for your kids in Indonesia, they won’t need big activities, because every street corner is a little miracle.

Canggu

We stayed in a villa with pool in Canggu first, which is a blend of upcoming tourism and hipster and local life. Taking your kids on a scooter is not done in Amsterdam, but in Canggu it’s the way to go and nobody will bat an eyelid (we did get helmets, though!) The kids loved every second of just getting around driving past the rice fields, having a foot massage, eating a smoothiebowl, looking at all the little temples with ‘scary’ or ‘funny’ statues of Balinese Hindu Gods, eating sateh at a Warung (local restaurant) at the beach, etcetera. 

Ubud

We wanted to visit Ubud as well, and we opted to stay in a gorgeous hotel in the middle of the jungle, 30 minutes outside town. Ubud can be very hot and busy, so this was the right decision for us. I loved the temples and shopping, the kids were more into the Monkey Forest 😉 A bicycle tour (child seats and electric bicycles possible) is nice to do as well, it really gets you off the beaten track. 

Gili Air

Our last destination was Gili Air, a very small tropical island, technically in Lombok but only 2 hours by boat from Bali. The beaches in Bali are golden, so if you want a white-sand turquoise-sea kind of holiday, this is your place. No cars, very laid-back. We spent our time at the beach playing with a SUP board and the drone, in old boats doing some snorkeling. And ended the day with early sunset dinners and our feet in the sand. We absolutely love visiting Bali with the kids.  

Which hotels/villas may not be skipped? What were the pros and cons?

Canggu Villas

This is one of the nicest villas we’ve ever stayed in. Very spacious with 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, beautifully designed. It has a private pool, daily cleaning, on-demand taxi drivers, babysitters, located next to a great yoga school with vegan restaurant and organic food market and not too expensive. We highly recommend. 

This is the perfect luxury jungle resort. Completely secluded, a gorgeous infinity pool looking out over the jungle mist, sunset yoga with animal sounds in the background. A high quality spa and even a small but very professional kids club. This resort is very secluded and 30/40 minutes from Ubud and everything else, so only recommended if you don’t mind that. 

Gili Air: Scallywags Joglo

An Indonesian open-style villa with 3 bedrooms, private pool, great location, and daily breakfast delivered. The owners also have a beach club with free beds and umbrella’s a 10-minute walk away. 

Looking for more inspiration? Find all TRVLBEES properties in Bali below

2-12 persons | Canggu, Bali


2-5 persons | Buleleng, Bali


2-4 persons | Canggu, Bali


2-6 persons | Ubud, Bali


2-16 persons | Canggu, Bali


Wonderful restaurants enough in Bali – any tips for stylish-family friendly places (= read great for kids and heaven for parents), delicious (organic) food and sublime sunsets?

Everywhere we travelled, we found both really nice modern organic & vegan hotspots, as well as cheap & cheerful local Warungs with the best Indonesian food. Some of our favourites: La Brisa, Echo Beach, Canggu. Our favourite spot to go with or without kids. It’s everything you need in one place: beach club, pool, restaurant, cocktail bar and with breathtaking Balinese décor. The menu is fingerlicking good and organic. Kids can play on the beach or in the pool while you look at the surfers or the fabulous sunset. 

  • The Lawns, Canggu. If you want a more relaxed ‘clubbing & dj’ experience. Not really made for kids, but you sit picnic-style on the lawns, so they can run around freely, or play in the pool. 
  • Milk & Madu, Canggu. This all-day restaurant is tailored to families with small children and we loved it here. It’s fresh, modern and relaxed. It has great service, delicious food and a playground with sweet nannies to watch and entertain the kids (!). 
  • SizzleWraps, Canggu. Mexican food in Bali? Oh yeah. This little Mexican is super relaxed, romantic (you sit under the trees with little lights), cheap and very tasty. 
  • Mama Pizza, Gili Air. Wood fired pizza, and a few tables in the sand, plenty of space for the kids, watching the pink sunset. Love it. 
  • Mowies, Gili Air. Hip and cozy ambience, with large bean bags placed on the beach, soft music, overlooking the bluest ocean. Lots of vegan options.

What not to miss if you have ‘only’ a couple of days in Bali with the kids?

I would visit Canggu for the laid-back surf & yoga vibe, and Ubud for culture – while staying a little out of town for nature. And if you prefer it super easy with the kids: Sanur is close to the airport, has some nice 5-star hotels (we stayed in the Maya for 2 nights) and golden beaches. It’s touristy, but nothing like the mass tourism you’ll find in places like Kuta. 

Last travel tip for Bali with the kids  : we flew with Qatar Airways, and were able to have a 4-day stopover in Doha, Qatar on the way back. Doha only has a 3-hour time difference with the Netherlands, so this was a great way for all of us to beat the jet lag while still being on holiday.

We at TRVLBEES want to provide you the best family-friendly, conscious and boutique style hideaways.  All the wonderful properties provided on the TRVLBEES platform are tipped by likeminded parents and with all your input we’re able to constantly expand and improve our platform. So what’s new? In this blog we will tell you all about it. 

EASY SEARCHING WITH THE NEW FILTER AND SEARCH TERMS

  • To make it easier for you to find your perfect family friendly, conscious and boutique style hideaway,  the general search function has been improved and can be found much more prominently on the website. You can now type in what you’re looking for, filter it through and voila!
  • Not sure yet what you’re in the mood for? Use the menu items Destinations and Inspiration and gain ideas for your next exciting trip (to be found at the top of the menu bar)

A STEP FURTHER IN BOOKING

  • Book your holiday spot via a reservation request form. So what is the advantage of this? Much more personal advice, a proposal that fits your wishes  and a response within 24 hours with the lowest price guaranteed. How it works exactly; you can read all about it here
  • Need help and/or advice? We added a chat function where you can reach us even more easily. But of course, mailing or calling is also possible! 

NEW STAR-RANKING FOR FAMILY FRIENDLY, CONSCIOUS & STYLISH

  • We’ve now added a star-ranking (1 to 5 stars) that’ll show you the extent to which the property meets our criteria. You’re one glance away from finding your family-friendly, conscious and boutique style hideaway. Convenient right? 
  • Even more ratings! Google ratings have been integrated for all properties – (and you will see… all TRVLBEES properties score a minimum of 4 out of 5 stars within the google rating). 

SPECIAL OFFERS & LIFESTYLE TRAVEL TIPS

We at TRVLBEES love to surprise you with special offers that are only available for our TRVLBEES members. Think of discounts on your stay, 2=1 offers and many more. We also love to keep informing you with tips we find on categories as conscious lifestyle travel. And when we find amazing travel must haves, we don’t hesitate to tell you all about them and offer them at discounted rates. 

WHAT MEMBERS SAY IS OUR GOLD

TRVLBEES lives through its community. The addition of “what members say” (to be found on the homepages amongst others) and the ‘member stories‘ shows the face of our community. We would love to hear from you! If you want to give us a quote, share a great property tip or tell our team how to improve the platform even more, please let us know by clicking this link.

family-friendly conscious and boutique style hideaways

INSTAGRAM & STORIES

Do you follow TRVLBEES on Instagram yet? If not, definitely do. We love to set the mood for your next trip or update you about our new offers via our Instagram feed and stories. 

Thanks to all your amazing input we’re able to keep offering you the best platform for family-friendly, conscious and stylish travels. Grab yourself a glass of wine or a nice cup of coffee and check out our new and improved website. All you have to do is get inspired and pick your next destination!