three paintings hanging in gallery
Babcia and Yia Yia!, Study Hall: Essays On Travel

5 Ways to Connect Art To Your Travel

Art and travel go hand in hand just like peas and carrots. This is true no matter where in the world you roam but it may stand out even more when you wander in Europe. Well organized and very relatable, the art of Europe always seems to surface into the stories and memories of travelers. But what if art just isn’t your thing? What if every time you even hear the word art, you involuntarily roll your eyes toward the heavens? More importantly, what if you want to enjoy art but you just aren’t sure how to make it happen? This is your lucky day! We’ve got a plan made just for you!

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Do what you like.

So you can’t wrap your mind around the art world. Okay. Maybe, instead, you are a movie buff. Use that comfy space to expand your understanding of the art world. There are plenty of choices. Pop the popcorn and check out some of these amazing films:

  • Woman in Gold with Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds which is a 2015 movie about Gustav Klimt and post war Austria.
  • Monuments Men with George Clooney and Matt Damon which is the story of stolen art during the war.
  • Made You Look which is a true crime doc all about the forgeries of Jackson Pollack


Find The Story.

Invest in art by reading both fiction and nonfiction. If you are a book junkie, then the art world has got you covered! There are so many amazing stories that weave together great worls of art and their creators. Here are just a few:

  • Girl With A Pearl Earring by Traci Chevalier
  • Cooking for Piccasso by Camille Aubray
  • DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
  • The Monet Murders by Josh Lanyon


Mix it up.

The idea that you have committed yourself to go to a very large building with a lot of canvases on the wall can realistically feel defeating. The truth is that sometimes the big, iconic museums are just too much to handle and it may be better to dip your toe in the art pool at a smaller venue. Additionally, collective art like the CarnaValet in Paris with its signs, shops, and apartments as well as paintings may give your eye more variety to focus on in a shorter amount of time.

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Photo by Gagan Cambow on

Speaking of time, it’s time to not feel guilty about seeing every single thing when you visit a museum! Walk your walk and look along the way. Feel free to stop at what catches your eye. It’s just fine! Speech over.


Be a doer and not a looker.

Art can fall more into the doing category instead of the looking category. Look to see what art venues are offering. For example you can drop in for a drawing session at the Cloisters through The Met in NYC or the V and A in London has a ton of workshops from stitching to photography. Some are free and some are not, but it’s worth seeing if there’s something that you’re interested in.


Jump in the deep end.

Immersive art experiences have been a huge trend over the past few years and they are starting to produce events for more and more famous artists. Enjoy art by walking into a room which surrounds you with music and some of the most famous canvases in the world. The headliner of these exhibitions has been Van Gogh. His work was set to music and then slightly animated to give you the sense of of storyline. In just 45 minutes or so, you can immerse yourself into his world and then reacquaint yourself with some of his most famous works and motifs. You might be surprised by how much you know!


Coming in at a strong second is the Monet and friends experience which was most recently at Biltmore. Truth be told, I’m a huge fan of Impressionism (and any art professional will most likely tell you that makes me no art expert). But, this exhibit lacked something I couldn’t put my finger on. I loved the work and I loved the music but it just didn’t match the Van Gogh experience note for note. Still it was a worthy excursion and certainly not a waste of time.


Study Hall: Essays On Travel

Make Travel Your Resolution!

Dear Babcia and YiaYia- It’s the New Year and I am so ready to start 2023 off on the right foot. My New Year’s resolution is to travel more! I want my family to experience this world and everything it has to offer! One slight problem…. I haven’t the foggiest idea where to even start! Any ideas to get me dreaming in the right direction?

Oh, yes, travel dreamer! I do have a few good tips! Let’s start with a good book to peruse through and share with your family. I found this gem- called 100 Countries, 500 Ideas- up at the National Geographic Hall (available everywhere, though) and I love just turning the pages and reacquainting myself with all those geographic basics of each country. I think a good reference like this is a great way to keep things flowing. It keeps our minds wandering and our options open.

Reality Strikes

But let’s be a bit realistic, parental dreamers, we’ve got kids to factor into the equation and that can be a bit daunting. I’m going to let you in on my parenting secret: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. It seems like a blogger who is talking about global citizenship, should have a better parenting philosophy but that about sums it up (along with: don’t cause an international incident).

I have three great, strong minded young adults now and the last twenty years have taught me that just trying to do my best everyday is all I can expect. So, my kids love animal shows, I took them to see animals! My kids would eat anything put in front of them, let’s go out to eat (this is actually more important than it seems). They love swimming, let’s hit the beach. When it came time to plan trips, I followed the same ideals. If we were Australia bound, it was time for coral reefs, kangaroos and koalas. I was always dreaming but success came when I kept my dreams in focus with those three strong willed spirits.

Dream Big

One thing that you may also want to think about is next December. Yep. It’s one year away and maybe it’s time to have a serious conversation about whether you want to have a traditional holiday or do you want to commit to a holiday travel experience. Think about it, you could start close to home at a mountain resort or perhaps you could celebrate at an airbandb at the beach! The choices are limitless.

From Christmas markets in Germany to surfing in Hawaii, your holiday could go from lots of presents under the tree to lots of adventures to do and see. You just need to make the choice and commit to a shift in your thinking. Wherever my family and I end up, I take out their stockings and we each contribute a little something to each one. An ornament to commemorate the year, a book for something to think about, and a treat that brings back a memory. Nothing is too difficult to pack and everything is from the heart.

Think It Through

December is not the only time to take advantage of family travel. Spring break is another opportunity to pack the kids up and experience the world. It’s springtime, the air is fresh and the flowers are just starting to bloom. The tourist crowds are not at their summer peak and 5 to 6 days in a great location could be just what everyone needs to power through the rest of the school year. How about loving Paris in the springtime under the Eiffel Tower. How about experiencing the metamorphosis of Japan during cherry blossom season. A littler closer could bring you to our Capitol to experience the Smithsonian, take in the new babies at the zoo and with a little planning, see the White House. Your adventure awaits.

January is a great time to dream. Go ahead and get cozy by the fire and you may be surprised that country 72 looks like as much fun to you as to your kids!

New Year’s Day! All around the world, young and old look forward to putting the old year to bed and planning to make the year ahead the best lived year possible. Time to celebrate in style! So how can the global minded family celebrate? Try these activities to make New Year’s Eve a fun and festive occasion for everyone.

Celebrate another country’s New Year! It’s so hard for young ones to stay up so late to watch that ball drop. They get whiny and overtired just to watch something on TV that they really don’t understand!  I live on the east coast, so I can conveniently choose a country that is ringing in the New Year at say, a conservative 7 pm my time.


Good choices for me include Iceland, Italy, or Morocco. Different variations would be to count down a different country throughout the day and celebrate by tracking the new year across the globe or having a lunch that represents another country (like Singapore or India) that has already made it to 2020. Little celebrations like this take a normally confusing holiday for little ones and add some global meaning to the change of time. But, in case those activities don’t just quite cut it… you could go BIG! Check out these three last minute ideas….

Road Trip!

Why not take off for two or three days and go discover something in your home state? If you think about it, I bet you haven’t taken the chance to see some of the wonderful things that make your hometown a great tourist destination. Try using an app like TripAdvisor or Localuer to find something in your area that you may not have considered before. Be sure to check on hours and holiday schedules on any local destination- you’ll thank me later Smithsonian visitors.



Interested in a balance between kid time and adult time? Need a quick getaway from the cold? How about a family focused resort? There tons to choose from: Great Wolfe Lodge is a kid centric wonderland that keeps kids entertained 24-7. Franklyn D. in Jamaica is known for its family service. Perhaps you are ready to jet set during the cold winter months and need to recharge your batteries on a faraway island! Check out Fiji’s Kokomo Island for the best in southern pacific hospitality. Don’t forget that winter is always time to go skiing and take in those other winter sports. Check out family friendly Beaver Mountain for all your winter needs.


Check out apps like VRBO and Airbnb to see if there are any last minute finds for great picks in the city or on the beach! Easy app rentals are available worldwide and can always be arranged through reputable handlers: just check out the host rating and be realistic about what you are renting.

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Okay, so we are done opening presents, the thrills and surprises of the holiday season are drawing to an end, the holiday decor is getting a bit dusty. Yep. I’m there too. I’ve had enough wrapping paper and sweet treats to last all of 2023!

It’s true, secretly, we adults are over it. We are ready to box things up and get on with the chilly trudge through January and February. But hold on just a minute! The cold temperatures of January and February are prime planning and prepping season for the global traveler!

If you are a first time planner, January is prime time to start searching for that perfect trip you’ve always wanted to experience. January is dream time. So, where to? (That’s my favorite question!) Perhaps its time to explore ancient ruins in Greece or maybe its time to relax at a beach resort on some tropical island. Then again, hiking in the Swiss Alps could be just the ticket! Maybe a sporty jaunt to a national park is just your speed. Although, I can’t argue that a cruise wouldn’t be perfect no matter what the destination is!

So, where to? And perhaps, more importantly, how to decide?! What should be your step one? It can be overwhelming to simply choose the place you want to learn about. What would work best for you and the entire fam?globe

First things first: Set the time of year that you are available to travel as a team. When do all of your calendars magically align to allow everyone some travel time together. If you are like most families, Summer is your optimum season. The kids are out of school and work, while always hectic, seems to usually have a pretty good Summertime groove.  Europe or Canada may be good choices for you.

On the other hand, you may be a Spring breaker! Ready to tackle a week-long challenge, places like Japan or Costa Rica could really appeal to you and yours. if you are one of the lucky few who have no schedule constraints, the World is your oyster no matter what time of year! Lucky you! Maybe you are just the type who would choose to country hop all over Northern Europe or dedicate some time to a service project in Africa before a once in a lifetime safari! Wow!

Once you have a time frame, you are ready to strategically pick a destination. Someplace new, far away, a yearly tradition? I ask again, where to? Spring is great for beaches but perhaps you’d like to experience Hanami: the art of cherry blossom viewing for the first time by visiting Kyoto, Japan. Summer is prime time to explore Alaska. If you do like an escape from the balmy weather you might be interested in checking out all the wild life down under- Winter is in full swing! Although, I can think of nothing better than taking advantage of the shoulder seasons in Europe. Things are happening but the big cities are not yet over run with tourist mobs. Whether it’s around the corner or on the other side of the world, January is prime time for getting your travel dreams in order!

So you’ve taken the month to pick the perfect spot to pin on the map….. next stop, February! Let’s start booking! See you then….

Stay with the conversation and listen to our podcast!

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Babcia and Yia Yia!, Notes on Planning and Packing, Study Hall: Essays On Travel

Your Travel Wardrobe Is In Your Closet. Right Now.

You hear it all the time! Create a capsule wardrobe to be a successful traveler. It makes any potential packer think that they need to order and buy specialty clothes to only use when there’s a suitcase at hand. Not so fast! We, here at Babcia and YiaYia, think that you might be selling yourself and your closet a little short. That’s right, we think you probably have far more than you think to complete the perfect travel wardrobe.


In fact, we think that you probably have clothes that you love to wear that could be the foundation for that super elusive capsule wardrobe that all the rage. But where do you even start? We’ve got some easy steps to help!

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Weed out what won’t pack well.

You already know all of the things in your closet that are high maintenance They wrinkle fast and never wash well. You probably pull them out once or twice a year. They probably won’t pack very well anyway. Additionally, you probably know what kind of weather your head toward so out of season stuff is not part of your packing equation.


Choose a color.

You know the color. It’s your favorite one and you pair it with black and white all the time. Ours is blue. It goes with our complexions and never fails to photograph well. You probably have this color weaving in and out of every rack in your closet anyway.

a girls standing in the closet
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on

Set out your neutrals.

Black. White. Denim. The gang’s all here! These are the pieces that go with pretty much anything. These wardrobe basics are the foundation to your mix and match packing style.


Edit out the cliche items.

It’s time to do a double take. Is there anything in your potential packing pile that screams tourist? Message tees? Super bold colors that scream “pick my pockets”? Shoes that say “I have no idea how to travel comfortably with style”? Now is the time to edit those items out of your capsule concept.

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Photo by Liza Summer on

Start to mix and match.

Now that you’ve got yourself focused. It’s time to start pairing items together so that everything you take pulls a double shift. We start with the amount of days from take off to laundry. Do you have seven days until laundry? Then you need 5 bottoms in cool weather and 6 bottoms in hot weather. (Why six? Try sweating all day and then trying to look refreshed for dinner.) Seven days also needs 6-7 tops. There are many people who will give you different numbers but sweat doesn’t lie. Match them together. Make those outfits. Then make sure each top has a different bottom that will make a new look.


Minus one for dresses.

If you like dresses, simply subtract one for every dress you plan to pack. Just remember that every dress you take needs to pack well. It also needs to be useful. Dresses for a rafting trip won’t do you much good but an easy to use maxi dress might be just perfect for evenings in Paris.

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Weave in the layers.

No matter what the weather, we always pack a wrap, a cardigan, and a scarf. Sounds like overkill? Well, we find that we use every single item every single time. Wraps are perfect as a double for plane blanket or pillow. Cardigans cover up if it gets a little too breezy. Scarves can cover bare shoulders or shorts in a pinch if you need to cover up at a particular site like a church or mosque. The most important thing about these pieces is that they go with every single outfit we bring.


Finish off with three pairs of shoes.

You are definitely going to need walking shoes. These will most likely be your bulkiest shoes and you will most likely wear them on the plane just like us. Additionally, you are going to want a pair of shoes that turns all of your outfits into a smarter look for evening. This may be a pair of flats or sandals. The point is, they elevate your look somehow to give you a little oomph. Lastly, you may want to add in beachy flip flops or a second pair of walkers depending on your needs. The most important thing about any pair of shoes you choose is that they go with every outfit you just made for your travel capsule wardrobe.

person wearing pink nike low top sneakers stepping on stone surrounded by flower
Photo by Jens Mahnke on

Take it for a test drive.

Now, weeks before your trip, take all of those picks and pack them up. Zip that suitcase closed and put it in the corner. Try not to open it for three or four days. Then, take it all out and decide if it’s a keeper. We promise you probably only need to change out a few items. You’re ready to make a shopping list of the very few things that may be missing.

a woman wearing a sun hat packing clothes in a suitcase
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We bet you feel a lot better!

We told you! You DO have a lot of items to contribute to a great travel capsule wardrobe. While you may want to add in a few last items, your closet is already full of great pieces to travel with. One last tip: take things that you love but may be expiring soon. If you need to ditch them for a little extra packing space on the way back home, it won’t hurt too much. Happy travels!