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Travel Tips for Toting Tots

October 21, 2010
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could that title be any cheesier?  probably not, but that’s me. take or leave.

(ok I’m bluffing. take? please?)

So I had my colposcopy yesterday and, well, that sucked.  The doc took a biopsy and if it tests at low levels of … I don’t know, abnormality, then we’ll take a “wait and see” approach for 6 months.  And if they come back worse, then we’ll look at cryotherapy or LEEP.  I find out in a week.  Have I ever told you about my irrational fear of specula? No? well I won’t regale you with that today.  Nah, we’ll save that for a special occasion. For today? Let me put this all out of my head and tell you about the thing that sets my heart all apitter-patter.

Playa Grande, Costa Rica - 2008

Traveling.  That’s me, on the beach in Costa Rica in 2008. 

I love traveling.  I mean, who doesn’t right?  Wanderlust gets you in the gut and twists until you find yourself on kayak wondering what trip you might be able to swing with your 37 hours of vacation.  While it’s true that I began my tenure as a Traveler of the World (say it with a gameshow voice, it makes me feel important, k?) a tad later than some, I think it’s safe to say that my first taste of the rest of the planet began by jumping in with both feet.

I never did a semester abroad, and my parents sure didn’t have the cash flow for European ski vacations or treks through the Outback.  (though we did walk across the border to T.J. once!) So it happened that I got my first passport at the ripe old age of 26.  But by the time I got a new one (after changing my name) at 29, I’d worn that sucker out.

Before Masa and I walked down the aisle, we did a thing that some people dream about and others call crazy. We dropped out of the rat race for six months and made like Magellan and circumnavigated the globe (only we didn’t bite it in the Philippines. Obviously.)

Siem Riep, Cambodia - 2006

COLD!!!COLD!!!We learned a lot about each other – after all how many couples can say they spent literally every moment together for six months and survived to tell the tale? But we also learned a LOT about traveling, our limits, our comfort zones, our flexibility.  Not to mention what living out of a backpack for that amount of time will teach you about what you REALLY need in life.

But even with that trip and other smaller excursions under our belts, I have to admit that we have been on a killer learning curve the last 16 months when it comes to traveling with a baby (and now a toddler.)

So in order to remember all of these things for the next round, and maybe to help one of the eight people who stumbles across this blog, I’m going to write up a short series of posts with my own experiences (both success and failure) and tips for parents.  anyone from a tried-and-true trekker with permanent pack calluses on her shoulders and hips to the novice weekender hoping to brave the 5 up to NorCal (or wherever you might drive for a getaway in your necks of the world).

If you’re one of the prestigious few who has the brilliance to read this blog, comment or tweet me (is that the right terminology? sounds dirty) if you have any of your own suggestions or questions or funny stories for me.  and if you think/know I’m dead wrong on something please speak up on that too! (of course, from what I can tell of the internets, folks rarely miss a chance to tell a person she’s wrong… 😉

Puako, Hawaii - 2010

and finally, since I can’t in good conscience, leave you today with just a boring old “here’s-what-i’m-going-to-do-doesn’t-it-sound-fun-too-bad-this-one’s-crap” post, here are the top seven things (that I can think of right this minute) that we’ve learned the hard way about air travel with a little person:

1. you know how at the store everyone thinks your baby’s cute and says all sorts of nice/annoying-but-meaning-well things? they don’t do that on planes. mostly people try to forget that you and your baby exist in hopes you won’t a) sit by them or b) be there when they wake up to snag their 3rd G&T.

2. when you have to pay upwards of $35 to check a bag? packing diapers adds up quick. tip: a)stuff a stack in the pack-n-play*. b) guess what? babies in other places crap too. bring enough for the trip there and one night and buy the rest at your destination (wherever possible).

3. whether or not to buy a seat on the plane is a debate as old as… well, probably plane tickets. I’ll delve further into this one on a subsequent post. I’ve done it both ways and will probably continue on a case by case basis.  However, if you do buy a seat, get the middle section of the plane if there is one.  everyone will like you better, including you.

4. there are rarely changing tables on planes. practice the standing change.  even with poop.  because you are SO going to need it when you least expect it. extra points for simulating turbulence.

5. you CAN (I repeat C. A. N. can) bring water on the plane with you from (gasp!) outside the airport IF you have a baby.  best bet is to bring a couple nice sized new bottles, so that there is NO chance of strange contamination.**  If you are questioned or told to get rid of the water, tell them it’s for the baby and ask them to test it.  I mean, it’s not worth getting the crazy out for, but I say firmly insist and chances are they’ll let you bring it.  if not, dump and move on.

6. gate-checking a stroller does NOT mean it’ll come through unscathed. get a bag for it. we got a kit for our MacLaren Volo that came with a nice heavy-gauge fabric bag.  we learned the hard way that we should actually use it.

7. don’t bring the PacknPlay unless you KNOW you’re going to need it. Hotels usually have cribs for free.  I’ll discuss hotel cribs and squeamishness in future posts.  If you HAVE to bring the PnP, they usually check for free and don’t count toward your allowed baggage but check individual airline rules.

* see #7

** this happened to us last time we flew. my son’s sippy cup tested positive for hydrogen peroxide. Twice.  luckily the TSA guys took it easy on me and didn’t escort me out to dispose of the “suspicious substance”.  WTF?

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