Posts Tagged ‘Trip Planning’

August 25, 2013

Airborn Toddler

Yesterday was our first cross-continental flight with a toddler. It was safe to say I was a more than a little nervous about it. Dreading it might be a more apt description. Flying with toddlers is rumored to be more difficult than flying with babies (they have opinions and preferences now! And remaining seated and still and using indoor voices are typically not among them.) Our last east coast venture resulted in a diaper blowout during each leg of our return trip. What would be in store for us this time? The answer was not much.

Here’s what I learned about flying with a toddler.

There are a 101 ways to entertain a toddler with plastic cups. Wowza. We asked for a spare cup thinking it would make a good snack bowl to help keep the mess contained. Nicki loved the concept and was grabbing puffs with doubled handed glee the way some of us (*cough* me *coungh*) eat popcorn. At one point we started mixing snacks – cheerios AND gold fish crackers. The novelty of the different snack combinations in the same bowl fascinated Nicki.

snack bowl

We also turned the plastic cup into toys. We put them on her feet like shoes and “hid” things in them. At one point we were holding them to our faces to make funny sound. Hearing Nicki ‘sing’ muffled by the cup? Priceless. They were great distractions and a source of entertainment for both of us!

You can get away with packing a lot less stuff than you think you need, and you will be grateful you did. Nicki’s at that stage where she’s walking, but can’t walk the length of the airport. So we had to carry her, our bags and the car seat. Everything seems twice as heavy when you’re stressed.

We opted not to bring many diapers again since they’re bulky. I brought a day and a half’s worth, all overnights to minimize the number of necessary diaper changes, with the intention of picking up some more at the store first thing in the morning. The downside to this approach was the local drug store didn’t have the brand and style of diapers we prefer (Huggies Snug and Dry tend to fit Nicki best, we’ve only had three blowouts, including the two from our last flight, since 4 weeks old.) But holy mother of expensive! I guess I now know why all those online diaper cost analyses are so high.

We also mostly passed on toys since they didn’t really keep Nicki’s interest for long last time we flew cross country. The name of the game was small and easy to tuck away into the corners of our suitcase. Daddy bought some new squirting bath toys which we served us well for both bath time in the hotel and a non-bulky distraction on the plane. We also brought the headbands she likes to play with. That was it. For in flight entertainment we let her destroy the sky mall magazine and put the extra plastic cups to good use.

The only thing we found really necessary to pack for Nicki was clothes and food for the plane. Toddler food, baby sun tan lotion, diapers and wipes tend to be sold everywhere. Even our hotel gift shop sells baby sun tan lotion.

The Miami International airport is deceptively long. The extra cost of buying diapers in the convenience store this morning was worth it.

Do not, repeat NOT, feed the baby solid foods the day before the flight.

Happy Little Frequent Flyer

I thought I was being all clever putting Nicki in overnight diapers for the plane. Airplanes have such small changing tables in the restrooms, and with the possibility of turbulence I thought we the extra time an overnight diaper might buy us might be a necessity to get us to our layover destination. What I did not count on was poop. Oh, and there was poop. Lots of poop. On both legs of our trip. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Overtired parents

The day started out way too early. We had a 7:30 am flight, which would not be a problem pre-baby. When I booked the flight, however, I forgot that it generally takes us (or at least me) 2 hours from waking-up to out-the-door these days. I also forgot that the airport is about an hour away and that we were up late last night finishing up packing (and laundry and dishes, etc.) It was also the Saturday before New Years, one of the busiest travel days. Mommy did not plan the start of our travel day well, and she paid for her mistake with sleep deprivation.

Fussy baby won’t sleep.

Our trip out east went beautifully. Nicki fell asleep on the first leg of the flight, and was in a well rested happy mood on the second leg. (If she was going to only have one good travel day, I’m glad it was the one out east! Otherwise, our whole trip I’d be worrying about the return.)

This time? I knew we were in trouble when we had to wake Nicki up to go to the airport. She was so comfy and warm in her sleeper, and so unhappy about having to get out and have her diaper changed. Overtired and fussy, she wasn’t happy about the long security line to check a bag.

Nicki usually falls asleep when being rocked. The light vibrations of the car can also do it. She fell asleep during takeoff during our first flight. Since the flight was so smooth, she didn’t stay asleep and couldn’t go back to sleep. Once she was up, she was up. And cranky.

It wasn’t until we arrived at Las Vegas and I got out the ergo that she took a little cat nap on me. And by little I mean just enough that she wouldn’t fall asleep on the second flight until we were halfway through our final descent. She stayed asleep until our luggage came off the carousal. This second cat nap was just long enough to keep her from going to sleep on the drive back to the house. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s one ten minute name, one half hour nap, and one 15 minute name.

Fussy Baby won’t nurse

Another thing that went well on the trip out was nursing. It was my first time nursing outside the house, and also my first time nursing with a nursing cover. Neither seemed to bother Nicki. She was a champ. We had expressed breastmilk and formula (first time mom is always over prepared!) The formula was never used, but the expressed breastmilk looked like it was going bad well before the four hour mark, so we decided to skip expressed breastmilk for the flight home.

This time? She wasn’t having any of it. Not one drop. We tried to nurse four separate times. Not only did she refuse, but she would grab and pull at the cover while screaming at the top of her lungs. If anyone at the airport didn’t know we were trying to nurse, they did after that! Good thing Domingo insisted we bring four bottles of emergency formula. She consumed the fourth and final bottle on the drive from the airport home.

Lessons Learned

(1) Don’t plan the flight too early. The day runs much better when the baby gets a full night of sleep.
(2) Overnight diapers are the way to go (but they aren’t full proof.)
(3) New toys only help for a few minutes. Keep a set of five toys (new or not) and cycle through them to keep baby distracted.
(4) Try not to take the baby out of the carrier close to landing, she will not want to go back into it!
(5) Relax. Much like weddings, something will go wrong no matter how much you plan. It wasn’t all bad, and now she is sleeping quite soundly.

July 16, 2011


We made the plunge and bought an iPad this weekend. We also bought a nifty keyboard case for an additional $100, which basically turns our iPad into a $600 (+ tax) computer. That’s more expensive than the laptop I’m currently typing on, with less functionality, that we’ll only use occasionally. I think I’ve lost my marbles.

We decided to get the tablet for travel. Between the two of us, we travel a fair amount for work and visiting family. In a few weeks we’re off to China and Las Vegas, and the following month it’s off to the east coast for my family reunion. Confession time, I really don’t like the iPhone or android phones. I find the menus cluttered and it annoys me that I can’t find what I’m looking for. I guess in this respect I’m a bit of a phone luddite. I also don’t like the price. But with travel coming up, we couldn’t wait around for a good deal, and we wanted to go with the brand that already had an extensive collection of apps and games to keep us entertained on 10 hours plane flights.

I hate having to take the laptop out of the my carry-on. I’m always worried someone will walk off with it by mistake, or (more likely) I’ll leave it somewhere by mistake. It’s not like the laptop is expensive, but the data is irreplaceable. Photos from our honeymoon, the source files for flash videos, my research code – they are all irreplaceable. While I try to remember to back it up before ever trip, I’m inevitably running ten minutes late to catch my flight, pleading with the computer to finish the data transfer. I’m always pulling the plug and hoping I got all the important stuff. One of these days I’ll discover the hard way that the back up wasn’t complete.

The other reason we decided to go with the iPad as a travel device is for added internet security. A rouge wireless access point is an excellent place for a man-in-the middle attack. When traveling, we tend to plug into a many different wifi points, and it only takes one compromised point to put a virus on a computer. It’s not a bad idea to wipe a computer and give it a fresh install when returning home from travel. However, that’s much less practical if you haven’t backed up your hard drive. The iPad will never be a primary device, and so it will never have important data. We can wipe it before and after each trip without a second thought.

At least that’s how we justified the purchase. I still look at that price tag. Here’s hoping I still think it’s worth it in a month…

April 3, 2011

Missed it by this much

You know how I was waiting for ticket fares to increase with Southwest so I could get a free flight? Well I waited a little too long. Instead of underpaying by $30, I overpaid by twice that. Yikes! When I checked on Thursday the price of tickets had actually gone down, not up. I was thinking I was going to be $50 shy of my free flight. This, of course, that means I roughly paid $100 more than I would have had I bought the tickets two weeks ago when I first looked. Yes, I am kicking myself over that one (and probably will for some time). I hate it when I miss out on a deal.

I continue the Southwest love. I was not thinking this afternoon and made a mistake booking Domingo’s flight, booking it for the wrong time. I was worried about what it would cost me to change it. Yes, I have seen the “no change fee” commercials, but after paying more for the tickets than I wanted to, I was a tad price sensitive. I had visions of dollar signs floating away in my head. I tried calling customer service, but the wait was north of 40 minutes because of the recent Plane Issues. Luckily, their web interface was really nice. I just gave the confirmation number, selected which flight I wanted to change and picked a new time. Easy Peasy, problem solved.

I’m all settled in to my Seattle apartment, new employee orientation is tomorrow for my internship. I’m not exactly loving the apartment. The heater died sometime last night. It was definitely on Saturday afternoon, but hasn’t kicked on since despite the place getting cold. Than about an hour ago, the TV decided it too would die. Oh well, it’s not like I came to Seattle to watch TV! I’m looking forward to the heat being fixed, though. I’m wearing three sweaters! Sarah does not do well in the cold.

March 24, 2011

Very Un-Sarah Like

I’ve been doing something very un like myself… waiting for airline ticket prices to go up before booking. Usually I am the queen of the discount. I love a good sale, and the hunt for the good sale! Sometimes you gotta spend more in the short-term to save in the long-term.

Domingo and I generally fly Southwest domestically. We racked up a fair number of credits during my last summer internship at Microsoft. It’s just 2 hours away by plane, and if you book early, not too terribly expensive, making it easy.

Southwest recently changed over the point system. Before you received 1 credit per hop, regardless of how short it was. We are just 3 credits (1.5 trips) away from a free round trip ticket. This march, they changed their system. Now you are awarded points based on the cost of the ticket. You can convert points to credits, but even with the 5 hops we have planed (2.5 trips) before the credits expire, we still won’t qualify for a free ticket! We would be about $30 worth of points shy! We can’t have that. Especially because it would be another 3 or 4 additional hops to make up for those expired credits, which would put us right back to square one.

So for now I’m waiting, and watching like a hawk for a slight uptick, so we can nab the free flight.

BTW, the new point system? Love it! It’s basically a 10% discount (well, technically 9%). You earn 6 points for every dollar spent, and redeem at a rate of 60 points per dollar. (1 free trip out of 11 ~ 9%). The points don’t expire as long as you fly at least once within 2 years and with my family on the other side of the country, we have a built in excuse to fly. Last but not least, you get more points for spending more. If I don’t time my ticket purchases well, and the price jumps up a little, at least I get something for it.