This summer hiking became our new favorite family activity. Hiking with a baby or toddler offers a great alternative way of training. Plus you get to spend time with your family and enjoy the great outdoors. So here are my top tips for hiking with a baby or toddler.
Get a good baby carrier
When our son was quite young we would carry him in a normal baby carrier or baby wrap. However this was only a solution until he wanted a bit more view. We were given a used baby backpack carrier, which can be used when they are around 9 months old and can sit fairly stable. However we didn’t like the model and looked for a better one. Because this is key for making hiking with a baby or toddler fun and comfortable.
What to look for in a hiking carrier
Adjustable shoulder and hip straps for the carrying adult: of course you want to adjust the backpack to the personal size of your back. This helps to make carrying comfortable and to avoid back pain.
5 point safety harness for the child: you want your child to be safe, even when it moves around or falls asleep
Adjustable seat for the child: The carrier should be able to accomodate a growing child
Foot rests: so your child’s feet don’t get numb after a while
Soft pillow: at one point your child will fall asleep. This will make them sleep even more comfortably
Sun and rain cover: some baby hiking carriers offer sun covers. As your child’s skin is still very delicate, I would highly recommend it. In addition, I always carry a rain cover because the weather is sometimes unpredictable in the mountains.
Enough pockets for your stuff like diapers, changing mat, food, drinks, toys…
In the beginning we were really ambitious with our hiking goals. We would try to hike long routes with lots of vertical ascent. But this got more and more difficult the older our son got, and the more active and mobile he became. Because he also wanted to explore and walk himself. So we now plan our routes in a way that we can take enough breaks and have lots of activities for him.
We usually look out for:
Restaurants with children’s playgrounds
Flat open spaces and lawns where he can run around freely
Everything with animals like cows or goats. (children are usually fascinated by animals)
Small streams or ponds where he can play in the water on a hot day
Places we avoid:
Fancy viewpoints (because this usally means steep surroundings)
Places with lots of people (just harder for him to run around freely)
Routes that are completely in the sun
Bring enough snacks
And with enough I mean a lot of snacks. Hiking will make you hungry because the extra weight on your back will burn a lot of calories. And snacks also can distract your child for while when you can’t take an immediate break. I know that as parents we are told not to comfort our kids with food, but sometimes it just works wonders when hiking with a baby or toddler. And there are a lot of healthy snacks that you can bring along and feed your child while in the carrier without making a huge mess.
My favorite hiking snacks are.
Rice or corn crispies
Bell peppers cut in into stripes
Thin italian sausages (not so healthy, but super yummy)
Do you have more tips for hiking with your kids? Let me know in the comments!
It has now nearly been one year since I gave birth to my little baby boy. And needless to say, the first year as a mom has been very exhausting, very exciting, and very different from what I’ve imagined it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and learned a lot along the way. So here are the things I learned in my first year as a mom. And the things I wished someone had told me earlier. And my thoughts on mom life in general. Enjoy my one-year postpartum update!
My life has changed a lot, and that’s okay
One thing that I definitely didn’t imagine was that my life and lifestyle as a mom would be so different postpartum. Yes, I knew that with a baby it wouldn’t be so easy to do the things we did before. Like going out, meeting friends, traveling or running races like before. But it actually now is REALLY different. Of course, all these things are still possible with a baby, but so much more complicated.
What is really different now is that we plan everything around him. Going to a cafe or restaurant? We look for the ones with diaper changing facilities. Sleeping in on a Sunday? Probably not happening, and staying up late to watch Netflix isn’t a good idea either. We want to travel or see friends? We only drive around his nap times so he can sleep in the car. Flying away? We pick the airline with the best infant luggage policy. (For more tips on traveling with a baby check out this blogpost)
But guess what, I don’t mind this change at all. Because the new activities are just as much fun as the old ones. Playing peekaboo in the living room. Playing on the grass or in the sand or in the water. Tickle him and make him laugh. Kids are amazing in teaching us to appreciate the little things. And these little things now give me way more joy than all the other big activities before.
We love breastfeeding and don’t want to stop
From the beginning I wanted to breastfeed my child, even though I knew it might be hard. I read all the books, got all the tools and asked for a lot of advice. (Btw: you can find my favorite products fo breastfeeding and pumping here.) And to my surprise, breastfeeding was really effortless and easy. Yes the first few weeks were hard and painful. But after that it worked really well. The only downside however was that Lucian doesn’t like bottles and pacifiers, so giving him pumped breastmilk in a bottle was rnearly impossible.
So in my first year as a mom I nursed baby Lucian everywhere, in my office, on the train and tube, in restaurants. But my favourite breastfeeding moment was by far Chicago Marathon, where my fiancé met me with the baby at the half way mark for a quick pit stop. At around 5 months we started giving him pureed foods, but I still nurse him a few times a day. I do this because breastfeeding has so many benefits, like supporting the immune system. And this was definitely the case because Baby Lucian was only sick once in the past year. So, I want to at least keep doing it until he enters nursery. Because he needs this immune boost when he contracts all the germs that young kids usually gets there.
But the main reason why I want to continue breastfeeding is simply because we both love it. It gives us some relax time during a stressful day, even if it is just for a few minutes. I can cuddle him, talk to him, feel him. It is special bonding time for both of us, and I want to keep that as long as possible.
Losing weight in the first year postpartum
Another benefit of breastfeeding is that it burns an extra 500 kcal per day. And every runner like me knows: 500kcal a day is a lot. For me it worked so well, that I did not worry about losing my baby fat at all. My main goal was to fit into my favourite jeans again at around 7 months postpartum. I reached that in just 3 months, mainly by breastfeeding. I am now 5 kg below my pre pregnancy weight, and even though I am eating A LOT I am not gaining any weight. To my surprise I even had to buy new clothes because the old ones were too big. But losing weight and being slim is not only good…
My back hurts
… being slim might look like a great goal to achieve, but there is one down side: slim doesn’t mean fit and strong. And I am definitely not fit and strong as I used to be. I don’t take the time to train as I did before, and I can definitely feel it. The baby is getting heavier and heavier, and with that extra weight it gets harder to lift him up and carry him around. My back hurts a lot because of lost muscle mass, bad posture and not enough core strength. The solution is of course solid strength training, that I need to be more consistent about.
So, to all new Moms and Dads out there: do your strength training exercises regularly, even though the baby is not so heavy yet. Your body will thank you.
The baby is more important than time for myself
I think every Mom knows this feeling: we feel bad if we want time for ourselves. And I am definitely the same. My baby cries sometimes when I leave him with a babysitter, and my heart cries as well. But I do see the need for some me-time. Self-care by spending time with yourself is really important, even for moms. So, I tried to find ways where I can do things together with my baby, like running with a running stroller or hiking with a baby carrier in the great outdoors. It is the best of both worlds. And if this doesn’t work out, I am very lucky to have very loving grandparents.
My pelvic floor will never be the same
Yes, this was one thing that I imagined really different in my first year pas a mom. Even though I knew that the pelvic floor is stretched hard during the birthing process, and that a pelvic floor postpartum rehab is really important afterwards, I imagined it to be easier. Fact is that I still need to do my rehab exercises regularly one year postpartum, so I don’t get any issues. Being lazy and pausing for too long will cause even more problems. So I now exercise regularly using my Elvie trainer device, which is really expensive. But for me it was worth every Euro.
Sleep deprivation and sleep training
I can easily count the nights in my first year as a mom when I got 8 hours of sleep in a row: zero! At one year old my son still wakes up at least once a night. Sometimes he wakes up more often, especially when he is teething. And sometimes he wakes up early in the morning, and I can’t go back to sleep.
So I’ve accumulated lots of sleepless hours in my fist year as a mom. And trust me, it was not fun. I have times when I am really exhausted, and when I am having real breakdowns because of a lack of sleep. We have considered sleep training more than once, and even have tried a gentle version a few times. Did it help? I honestly don’t know. His sleep was getting better over time, but this could also be his age.
But I do know is that it is perfectly normal. Probably all new parents are going through this. And I know that things will change one day. Until then I try to adapt to him and just go to bed earlier.
New job opening: Chief Entertainment Officer
One thing I didn’t imagine for my first year as a mom was that the baby would need constant entertainment. I was really naive and thought he would be sleeping all the time. And when he was not sleeping, that he would be eating.
Reality was really different. Already at 3 months he clearly wanted to be carried around and enjoy a good view. And now he wants to switch constantly between being carried and crawling on the floor. He can play with his toys, but he gets bored of them quite soon. So we get creative in finding new toys and new ways to entertain him: the remote control, a small calculator, tupper ware, kitchen utensils, cardboard boxes, post its on a glass door…
My fiancé is really good at keeping him entertained. So, I promoted him to CEO: chief entertainment officer.
I am such a proud Mom!
One thing that has definitely changed in my first year as a mom are the pictures on my camera. We take pictures of every milestone that our son hits and we celebrate it heavily. The first time rolling over, the first time sitting up or standing up, the first time crawling, his first tooth etc. And we are soooooo incredibly proud of everything he does. We think he is the cutest and smartest baby out there. One day he will be an Olympian or Nobel Prize winner.
I never understood my Mom when she cried at important moments in my life, like graduating from high school or university. But now I totally do, and I see myself crying as well when they will happen in Lucian’s life. It’s just a mom thing. We moms are always super proud of or kids and can’t wait to show the world.
Mompreneurlife is hard
Half a year before I got pregnant, I quit my old corporate job and started working in our family business. And while being an entrepreneur definitely has some advantages when it comes to flexible working hours, it has some disadvantages as well. For me it meant that I could not take my maternity leave as planned, especially not during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
In the beginning I brought him to the office with me. Be the older he got, the more he needed special attention and entertainment. I applied for a spot in the local nursery very soon, but there will only be open spots in December. And until then I have to either ask the grandparents or book a babysitter when I have important meetings.
But the worst thing is the current struggle of priorities. When I am at work, I feel bad because I am not spending time with my son. When I am playing with my son, I feel bad because there is still so much work to do. I usually am at work before he wakes up. But when I have to say good-bye to him and he cries it breaks my heart. I honestly don’t knowhow to resolve this inner conflict. But for now I am just trying to do my best in my both jobs as a Mom and entrepreneur.
We want more!
Something we decided the second day after our son was born, and we haven’t changed out mind in the first year as a parents: we want to have more kids. Yes they are a lot of work, and life as parents can be really exhausting. But they are sooo cute and adorable and they bring so much love and joy into our lives. So this is what our heart says: we are not done yet. Let’s see how many kids will make our family complete.
When my son Lucian was born, my fiancé and I were still in a long-distance relationship. While he was commuting between Austria and the UK on a weekly basis, we also agreed that I should come and visit him with the baby once a month. In addition, we were also traveling with the baby a lot to see friends and family. And we also flew to Chicago Marathon when the baby was only 4 months old. Let’s say baby Lucian was an experienced frequent traveller before he was even one year old.
But all this traveling with a baby didn’t come easy. It was actually the result of lots of planning, great baby travel gear and also some trial and error. (Lot of errors actually). So here I’ve compiled all our tips and tricks for traveling with a baby.
Plan your trip wisely to make traveling with a baby easy
As parents you probably know one thing by heart: with small children planning is key. This is especially valid when it comes to traveling with a baby. So here are the most important things to consider:
What place am I travelling to? Is it safe? Does my child need vaccines?
What is the weather going to be like? What clothes should I bring for the baby?
Do I need to bring diapers or can I shop them somewhere?
How will I cook baby food? Is the water potable?
Once you’ve thought about your trip and planned everything, I highly recommend making a packing list of all items you need. I now have one complete packing list of all items that I go through even though I might not pack some things in the end. Before having such a list, I was forgetting lots of small minor things that I then had to buy somewhere else. At the bottom of this article I’ve compiled a list of my favourite products to bring.
At what time of the day should you travel with a baby?
For short distance travel we now always schedule traveling around our baby’s nap times. This is especially useful when I am driving on my own for 2+ hours. But also, when flying we try to book flights that fall around his nap times. The worst times to travel are actually early mornings or late evenings, because it means disturbing his normal sleep schedule. And traveling with a cranky baby is definitely not fun.
For long distance flights however, it is just not possible to book them just around nap times. We there prefer to book them so most of the flight falls into the baby’s regular sleep time. This makes our life a bit easier.
Should I book a hotel room or an apartment?
I personally prefer to book apartments when traveling with a baby. The main reason is simply because preparing food and cleaning the baby’s things is so much easier if you have a fully equipped kitchen. However, not all of the apartments will have a baby crib. So we usually bring our own super light travel cot and travel high chair.
In case we have to stay at a hotel we let them know in advance that we will be coming with a baby. Most of the hotels will have baby beds available, and some also have kettles, diaper trash bags, and bottle warmers if you ask for it.
Another tip, no matter if you stay at a hotel or apartment is to bring a baby nest that fits into your suitcase. In your room you just move the bed towards the wall, and let the baby sleep in his nest between you and the wall. Therefore, they will can’t fall off the bed, and they still feel comfortable in their own nest with you being close.
Flying, driving or taking the train?
Sometimes you don’t have the option to choose between various means of transportation. But when you do, it is better to take the car, the plane or the train? Generally, each of them have advantages and disadvantages for traveling with a baby.
Traveling by car is the most flexible way of traveling with a baby. You can pack everything you need, which is usually a lot with a small baby. However small babies should not stay in a car seat for an extended time. They need to take frequent breaks where they can move freely. But in case you are traveling by car you can always take as many breaks as you want.
Traveling by train with a baby is also a comfortable way to travel. You can walk around as much as you like. But one major disadvantage for me is that you can only bring limited stuff. If the train access is not step free, you have to lift everything on and off the carriage. And I also found the diaper changing facilities not always very convenient. Some trains have great facilities where the baby also can’t fall off the changing table. On other trains I found the changing tables not safe at all, especially when the train is moving fast.
Flying is definitely the best way to travel long distances. However, the process of going through security and boarding the plane is quite stressful with a baby. All parent’s nightmare is a crying baby due to pressure changes during take-off and landing. However, I found that this was not a problem for us at all as I generally nurse the baby during take-off and landing. What was a big problem however was that we had to change his diaper right when the fasten seat belt signs were on. And even then, the diaper changing facilities on planes are usually very small and not practical.
Tips for flying with a baby
After flying over 10 times with a baby less than 6 months old, most of the time on my own, I think I am now quite experienced. And here are my top tips:
When you book your flights check with airlines on what terms you can check in baby’s stroller or car seat. Some airlines like British Airlines let you check in two items for free, whereas others like Ryanair charge extra for every piece. Book flights during the middle of the day, where there are less travellers. Be there with lots of times in advance. I generally bring a light travel stroller, a car seat that fits onto the stroller, a baby-wrap or baby carrier, a big backpack. and If I need to check in extra luggage, I bring one big suitcase on wheels.
One of my key items for flying with a baby is a cabin-size stroller. It just makes everything so much easier because you don’t have to carry the baby all the time, you have somewhere to put him when he needs to sleep. Also, if you can bring it onto the plane it doesn’t get damaged as often compared to checking it in. Especially when traveling alone I always bring it.
I also have perfected my routine when flying with a baby. First, I check in the baby’s car seat in its travel cover. There is enough space under the travel cover that I can also put the foot muff or blanket inside it. After the flight I put the car seat onto the stroller so I don’t have to carry it.
Going through security with a baby
When going through security I find it very important to have everything ready so you don’t lose time with the baby. When I am alone, I first put on the baby into his travel stroller so I have my hands free. I then pack everything in to my boxes. The last thing I do is take the baby out of the stroller and onto my arms, fold the stroller with one hand and lift it up onto the conveyor belt. In case you can’t handle the stroller on your own there is usually someone there to help you, but it might be difficult to explain to strangers. I’ve also found security personnel really helpful when the baby was sleeping. Sometimes they just checked the stroller without waking him up.
In case you don’t want to bring a stroller, you can often borrow one for free at the airports. I also always bring a baby carrier or baby wrap, but during security I found them not helpful at all when traveling on my own. You will have to take them off during security, and I find it hard to put them off and on again while holding the baby. (Yes, I could give the baby to someone else and put on the baby carrier, but I don’t like the idea.) However, after security, once the baby is back in the stroller and I have packed everything up again, I put on the baby carrier or baby wrap to be prepared for boarding.
After security I generally try to find the diaper changing rooms and toilets first. Most of the time the disabled toilet will also have a diaper changing table. In some of the airports there are some bigger toilets especially for people with luggage where I can fit the stroller into the toilet. I then try find a quiet spot in between the boarding gate and the diaper changing facilities.
Boarding a plane with a baby
I generally try to be at the boarding gate some time in advance, to let the staff know that the baby and I are here. I ask them to have pre boarding (which they generally do for families with kids) and that they could let me know some minutes before so we can get ready. It once happened to me, that when they announced pre boarding, I was not ready in ten seconds, and then they let everyone else board. I then had to wait at the back of the line with a crying baby, and ask other passengers if I could go in the front. That’s why I recommend that you always let staff know that you are there first.
When boarding starts, I pack up everything, put the baby into the baby carrier or baby wrap, fold up the stroller and board the plane. I generally book an aisle seat at the back of the plane. The advantage there is that you have no pressure when packing up your stuff when going on and off the plane. Also, you are close to the toilets and diaper changeing facilities in the back of the plane.
So when I arrive at my seat, I lift the stroller into the overhead bin or I ask the flight attendant to help me. This is also a great opportunity to say hi to the flight attendants. They usually love cute babies and are super helpful. At my seat I then prepare a nappy change emergency kit, which consist of changing mat, a diaper, wet wipes and one spare outfit.
During take-off and landing
The flight attendants also have to hand out a baby seat belt and life vest for the baby. Putting on the seat belt for the first time can be a challenge, but you will soon get used to it. During take-off and landing I generally breast feed the baby to help him with pressure changes. In case you are not breast feeding you can also give him a bottle of pacifier. Whatever means you choose, it is important to find the right time window to let the baby suckle. If you start too early before take-off he will be done before the main pressure change happens, which can lead to pain in his ears. Also, you should start early enough during the decent phase, as this is where most of the pressure change happens. You can ask the flight attendant to let you know when the decent starts, so you get the timing right.
On the plane
In case it is a short distance flight, you will be busy most of the time with taking care of the baby, helping him during take-off and landing, changing a diaper etc. Most of the babies also nap during the flights. In case they get fussy you can put the baby into the baby carrier and walk to the back of the plane. The noise there will help them to calm down and fall asleep. And before you realize it is time to go back to our seat for landing.
On long distance flights, I recommend you book front row seats in advance. Most of the airlines offer infant beds that can be attached in the front rows. However, only some airlines reserve these seats for free for families with infants. At other airlines you have to pay extra for these seats. Also, the quality of these infant beds varies a lot. On our flight to Chicago we had one of these cots for baby Lucian, but he was already too big for it. As a result he was very uncomfortable. In the end we were taking turns in letting him sleep in our arms or wrapped up in the baby carrier.
Some airlines allow you to bring your car seat onto the plane, if it is certified to be attached to the plane seat with the seat belt and if you book an extra seat. The advantage is that you baby can sleep in the car seat during the flight. However, this is another piece that you have to carry. Also, if the baby is able to sit upright, you can buy a special seat belt system.
How to deal with jet lag when traveling with a baby
Just like adults also babies can have jet lag. And trust me, it is not fun. Because not only can the parents not sleep because of their own jet lag. Also, the baby is keeping them awake. My tips for dealing with baby jet lag is just the same as for adults. Before traveling try to adjust your schedule for 2 hours towards your destination. At your destination try to set you circadian rhythm with light and darkness. If you and the baby need to sleep, make it as dark as possible. During daytime, try to get lots of fresh air and sunshine. And most importantly: always give yourself enough time to adjust by maybe taking off two more days after your trip. The more you stress about jet lag, the more your baby will.
My favourite products for traveling with a baby
A collapsible cabin size stroller
In the past, the Babyzen Yoyo has been the first stroller to fit onto a plane. This is also why we got it. It also has a new-born kit for babies under 6 months. However now several other brands came up with collapsible travel strollers. For example the Bugaboo Ant and Bonavi Air.
Diaper changing mat
Another thing that I love is this diaper changing mat, which also has pockets for diapers and wet wipes. It has a really practical size, and I generally just toss it into my backpack. When we need a diaper change, I then just take it out instead of taking the whole bag with me.
Travel high chair
This booster seat is great when you have booked an apartment that does not have a high chair for your baby. You can attach the booster seat to most of the chairs. Your baby can then sit in this seat attached to the seat belts and it cannot fall off. Also, you can save space and put your baby’s food into the bottom of the seat. This makes it perfect for traveling with a baby.
Baby carrier or baby wrap
I am a huge fan of baby wearing (you can check out my article here) and having your hands free while traveling is one of them. I personally use a Baby Bjorn baby carrier in summer and a bamboo baby wrap in winter.
We have bought this super light travel cot for baby Lucian. It is quite expensive, but super practical. Setting it up and taking it down is super easy and takes less than a minute. While the baby is small it can sleep in the top crib. Once it gets too big you can detach the crib and have bigger bed that also doubles as a day cot. If you open the zip on the side, the baby can also crawl out if he wants to. We love it so much, that we even got a second one as his permanent bed in London.
When traveling with a baby you will also need to bring toys to keep him entertained. However, bringing lots of toys can take up a lot of space. That’s why I prefer multifunctional toys that don’t take up a lot of space and can be used in various occasions. My favourites are stackable cup toys with holes that can also be used during bath time.
UV sterilizer and travel kettle
While your baby is still small you will have to sterilize baby’s pacifiers, teething toys and bottles regularly. At home I have a big steriliser, but I can’t take it with me while traveling. That’s why I got this handy UV sterilizer. And if you still prefer to you boiling water, you can buy a small travel kettle instead.
Do you have any more tips for traveling with a baby? Just leave me a comment!
This year our summer holidays will look very different than the years before. With all the COVID-19 restrictions and travel bans in place, we might not be able to go abroad for our vacations. But while we are a little bit sad about it, we are looking forward to spending out vacation in Austria. And I’ve got the perfect hotels for active foodie families with kids.
But htese hotels are not only great for Austrians while we have to stay in Austria. I highly recommend them to everyone once tourism is back to normal. Simply because I highly recommend spending your vacation in Austria. Our tourism offers so much more than the now famous apres-ski bars in Ischgl.
Why I love these hotels for Vacation in Austria
I am not writing this blogpost because I am getting paid for it. But because I really love these hotels. I’ve stayed there several times and I had a great time there. They offer great quality and service. The food there is outsanding. They are child friendly and also great for outdoor enthusiasts. lAll of these hotels are family owned and I know the owners personally. All of them live and strive for their family businesses and put a lot of effort into making their customers happy. I want them to stay in business and I can’t wait to spend my summer vacation in Austria these hotels.
Best for family vacation in Austria: Stanglwirt – Going / Tyrol
Even though the Stanglwirt is famous for attracting a celebrity crowd during the even more famous Kitzbühel ski race with its legendary Weißwurst-Party, it offers much more than that. It originated from a historic inn (Stanglwirt literally means “Stangl” – Inn) which has been around for over 400 years and is now a 5 star luxury ressort. It has it’s own organic farm (yes you can watch the cows during dinner in their cowshed restaurant) and its own Lipizzaner stud. And it offers a lot of different sport activities: horse riding, indoor and outdoor tennis, golf, hiking, fishing, skiing, swimming etc.
But in my opinion it has the best offer for kids of all ages. There is a special Kindergarden childcare service for kids aged one to three years old. For older kids they converted a small farm into their hotel childcare center (“Kinderbauernhof”). Not only can the kids can pet and feed the animals there, they also learn about them. So far I have not met a child who didn’t love playing with the animals. They also offer all the sports activities mentioned above, plus a huge children’s water world with a 120m long water slide. The children’s water world is separated form the huge adult only spa, which is also great if the parents need a break.
In case are coming with a small baby (like us) they have everything you need: a baby crib made from famous Zirben-wood, blankets and linens, a bottle warmer, nappy bin, and even a Nespresso machine for sleep deprived parents. But it is higly unlikely that you will not get any sleep as the hotel room furniture made out of Zirben-wood is supposed to give you the sweetest dreams.
And the food is also great too. Not only do they produce a lot of the food themselves, like cheese from their own farm. They also give every guest a loaf of home made bread as a good-bye gift. With details like that you can really see that the owners want you to feel at home at the Stanglwirt, which as been their motto for years. And it is definitely true. You come as a guest, and leave as a friend.
Best for golf vacation in Austria: Sportresidenz – Zillertal / Tyrol
For a very long time the famous Zillertal valley in Tyrol was known only for skiing and hiking. But this changed when the Schultz Group – which is owned by the Schultz siblings – built the Sportresidenz, an amazing 4 Star Superior golf ressort into the valley. Not only does it offer a great golf course, including the island green on the 18th hole. It also offers a beautiful modern alpine style boutique hotel. From every room you have a great view on the local mountain range.
Besides golf there are a lot of other activities: skiing on the slopes, hikingthe local mountains, cycling, paragliding, smimming in the infinity pool and relaxing in the “cloud 7” spa. But I highly recommend this hotel in early spring: in the mornings you can go skiing in the Hochfügen Ski ressort, wich also belongs to the Schultz group, and in the afternoon you can play some golf. And afterwards you can relax in your hotel room in your personal infra red sauna cabin, and have an amazing meal at the hotel restaurant, or a nice glass of wine at the bar.
Best for mountaineering in Austria: Gradonna – Kals / Tyrol
The 4 Star Superior Gradonna in the small mountain village Kals in East Tyrol is another gem of the Schultz group. It offers the same benefits of all their hotels and ressorts:
interesting architecture and design
gym and fitness area
In this hotel you even have the option of staying in a hotel room or your own personal chalet.
But for me the biggest bonus of this remote hotel is the proximity to Austria’s highest mountain, the Großglockner. You can see this majestic mountain from the village of Kals. And if you are up to it, you can book a tour guide and summit via the “Normalweg”. Usually it is a two days trip. On the first day you climb up to the Erzherzog Johann Hut, the hightest mountain hut in Austria. After one night in the bunk beds you summit in the morning and then decend again. If you are an experience moountaineer who is used to climbing with crampons, you might be able to do it on your own. but generally I would recommend booking a local tour guide.
I climbed the Großglockner in 2017 and it was a once in a lifetime experience. I highly recomment it as a vacation in Austria to everyone who is fit and loves mountaineering. And spending a few relaxing days at the Gradonna hotel afterwards is a real nice treat.
Best for Spa & Wellness: Edelweiss – Großarl / Salzburg
The Edelweiss hotel in the Großarl valley is a true family business. Founded as a small hotel by Grandma and Grandpa Hetteger, who also raised 11 kids while running the hotel, it has seen a steady expansion and modernisation.Today 14 family members work in the family business.
The most recent expansion has made it the perfect spa getaway. With several indoor and outdoor swimming pools, saunas and several beautiful relaxation areas it offers everything you could with for. Especially the relaxation areas are perfect, if you want to cuddle up during a romatntic weekend trip with your significant other. In case you feel a bit more adventurous (or have adventurous kids) there are several waterslides. Trust me, you don’t want to stop sliding because it is so much fun.
(c) Edelweiss Großarl
The breakfast buffet is probably the biggest one I’ve ever seen, and the food is delicious. The hotel lobby and the hotel bar is absolutely stunning. It is just perfect to try a glass of wine from their extensive wine cellar. And if you feel like working out you can either use the hotel gyom or go hiking and cycling the beautiful Großarl valley.
(c) Edelweiss Großarl
Best for foodies and party people: Hotel Aichinger – Nußdorf / Attersee
Hundred years ago the painter Gustav Klimt always spent his summers at lake Attersee and painted its turquoise waters. No surprise that is is still a great place to spend a vacation in Austria. And the hotel Aichinger is probably the best place to do it. Its origins trace back more than 200 years, but it has been fully renovated and refurbished in recent years without loosing it’s traditional charm. Run by the Aichinger family you still feel that it is a true family business, with all of them workiong actively in the hotel and restaurant. Grandma Aichinger was the main chef whos cooking skills earned them two hats at the Gault Millau rating.
(c) Hotel Aichinger
It also has two bars: the Mayer’s bar wine cellar bar, and the famous American bar. Even though both of them will be unfortunately closed this summer due the Coronavirus Pandemic, they offer a great alternative: as of May 15th they will open their new beach bar “Achterdeck” directly located at their private beach at lake Attersee. A great way to enjoy the clear waters of lake Attersee, the beautiful scenery and a glass of delicous Austrian wine.
(c) Hotel AIchinger
The area around lake Attersee is also great for hiking and cycling. Or for some sightseeing at Salzburg, Bad Ischl and the famous Hallstatt Village. And when you’ve need a bit more down-time, you can also relax at their small hotel spa, or at the hotel pool.
If you are a frequent reader of my blog or follower on my social media channels you might have noticed that in the last few weeks, I’ve been quite absent. I didn’t write a blogpost in months, and was definitely spending less time on social media. The ugly truth is: The Coronavirus Pandemic has hit me hard on a personal and professional level. Very slowly I am getting my head and heart back and returning to a “new normal”.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic has affected me
First, I think we are all affected by this pandemic in different ways. Lots of us are struggling really hard right now, either mentally or financially. I am affected as well, and I want to give you an update on what happened in my life.
Private life had some ups…
As a family we were extremely lucky: My fiancé is usually commuting between Salzburg and London. When the lockdown in Austria happened on March 16th, he was back home with us. All the flights back were cancelled, so he is still working from home. And the baby and I are extremely benefitting because we are at least for a while done with this long-distance family thing.
We were also able to get my Dad back home from a holiday before the airports were closed. So, while we were really lucky to be together, we were also self-isolating in the same household with my parents for nearly two months now. Which is really hard, even though we generally get along quite well. Also, we didn’t have any support from our regular babysitter and housekeeper, so my Mom had a lot of extra work taking on both roles.
…while professional life had some major downs…
From a professional side life was also hard the last months. For the first weeks of the lockdown it was unclear if and how our family business was allowed to be open. We were trying to apply for governmental support schemes, either through short time work or emergency funding, and were facing extreme bureaucracy and technical hurdles. Nearly two months later we still have not seen one euro of that support money, and are somehow trying to keep everything running. The fear that our family business, which is over 100 years old, would not survive is always on my mind. Additionally, we were facing personal conflicts with our employees. Which is not a big surprise, as everyone was on the edge of going crazy.
These struggles, especially financially and personally, made a hard toll on my mental health. I was fighting hard, but didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I was working long hours and also on weekends, and I didn’t have enough time to take care of myself. Going for a run or a walk outside in the glorious spring weather was a luxury I could barely afford, even though it was legally allowed. Wen I was in the office, I felt bad because I wsa not spending time with my son. When I spent time with my son, I was feeling bad because I still had so much work to do. There were not only few occasions where I had fights with my family members, where I cried for hours and wanted to quit everything.
But now I am slowly getting back to what fells like myself. There now is a light at the end of the tunnel, with restrictions being lifted, and governmental support slowly on its way. And slowly I am realizing that not everything is bad and that I am actually really lucky. And I want to share with you what I learned in overcoming that crisis.
There is an opportunity in every crisis
This is something that my fiancé has told me several times, and it took me a while to actually believe it. While he might refer to the stock market, where you can definitely make money and find bargains also when the markets go down, it is also true for everyday life. Every crisis will end at one point. And when it ends, it is time for a fresh start.
You lost your job due to the Coronavirus Pandemic? Maybe you didn’t like it that much at all and this is now a perfect opportunity to find a new one. You realize that you don’t like the partner you’ve been self-isolating with? Maybe it is now time to live your own life. Your travel plans got cancelled? What about saving money and discovering the beauty of your neighbourhood? You can’t go to the restaurant? Maybe now is the time to cook. You can’t go shopping? Maybe now is the time to learn how to sew and knit. You can’t go to the cinema? What about learning a new language or reading a good book? You can’t meet your friends? Maybe now is the time to actually call them and have long meaningful conversations.
There is an opportunity in every crisis, even the Coronavirus Pandemic is. Now is the time to find it an seize it.
Spend time with your loved ones
The longer the Coronavirus Pandemic continues, the more people I know that have lost someone to COVID-19. Especially my friends in the UK have suffered a lot. And all of them told me that it is really heart-breaking if you can’t say good-bye to someone you love because they are stuck in intensive care and not allowed to have visitors. And all of them told me that they regretted not spending more time with that special person before they died.
So, spend more time with your loved one. As long as your country is still in lockdown, call them frequently. Once you are allowed, visit them and give them a big hug. Life is short, so appreciate your time together, especially in these tough times. I was really lucky and happy that all my family members were healthy and close to me. And I appreciate this hard, but special time that I have with them.
I don’t need that much to be happy
Guess what I didn’t miss during the Coronavirus Pandemic? Going shopping. Yes of course we had to buy groceries, but besides that I was not in the mood. And I realized that I didn’t need a lot of the stuff I owned. I went through my closed and put a lot of things up for sale. Most of it some very nice clothes and accessories that I didn’t wear in years. If you want to have a look, check them out here.
The only things I needed were for the baby, and I tried to get them through different ways. I was ordering toys from my friend that owns a toy shop. By doing this I was supporting a local business that was also affected from the lockdown. One other friend also sent me her used baby clothes, that she didn’t need any more.
Yes, I miss eating out, but I discovered that baking brownies was making me equally happy. So, will this change my consumption habits on the long run? Probably yes. Less money spent, more happiness.
But the Coronavirus Pandemic definitely showed me my limits. The long working hours, the constant struggles in our business, the lack of sleep, and especially the lack of self-care were taking a hard toll on my mental health. There was one weekend where I had a massive break down. And I realized that I can’t continue like this. I needed to take care of myself.
I am now trying to make certain things a priority, even though I am not perfect at it: working out, sleeping more, not working weekends, baking brownies, finding more personal space, and now writing blog posts again. Self-care is not a buzz word for being lazy, it is really about taking care of yourself and recharging your batteries.
And I highly recommend to everyone making this a priority: If you need time for yourself, take it. If you need space, step away. If you need to recharge your batteries, do it.
So I can conclude with a quote that feels very appropriate right now:
Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.
How have you been affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic? Leave me a comment below!
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