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Packing Light

semi-overcast 78 °F

Another long trip from Hawaii to the mainland. First to the Bay, then a drive to Lake Tahoe. Another flight to Seattle, and then back home to Hawaii. Our son has become such an experienced traveler. I have heard not to travel with kids, that it is difficult for them. Actually, it doesn't seem to faze our son. It is my husband and I that appear worse for the wear. Sometimes we get less sleep staying in an unfamiliar bed. We are hot and sweaty from hauling many bags around. We have come to the conclusion based on our 9 (!) bags from this past trip, that somehow, someway, our packing strategy & our bag count has to change. We are currently traveling with two more bags than we took for our three month excursion through Italy. With five more bags than our joint trip round the world in 2003. Granted, a toddler needs many more items to keep them entertained than travel sans children, or even travel with infant. With infant, you need diapers, wipes, a rattle and possibly a monitor and you're good. With a toddler, you still need the diapers and wipes, but now you also need a ton of food and snacks, books, the trusty blankie or in our case 'wolfie' (the stuffed wolf Bodhi sleeps with), several key books, a few toys, an ipod and speaker, a video player... I could go on, but we realized between my husband and I, we bring about a full bag for each of us, the other 7 seem to all be essentials for Bodhi.

So...now I realize that the real deterrent to travel with children is the sheer volume of items that you need for them to be comfortable and entertained. We are going to go through some serious inventory work and some downsizing, much like corporate America has been assessing their work force and productivity. What items can we live without? What items are duplicates? What items can we possibly replace with newer more efficient (or smaller) versions?

We recently received a tiny Monster iClarity bluetooth speaker as a gift. This is perfect, because it is a wireless speaker, small and perfect for travel because you can 'stream' music from your computer, ipad or iphone = perfect travel device. No need for additional ipod used solely as a nighttime wave machine. Speaking of technology, the ipad has been the greatest travel invention of our time. OK, we still bring 'real books' along too, but we also have a virtual library of books, apps, videos, and hours of plane ride entertainment of one small device. It has easily been the best purchase and best travel device for our son. At first, I admit, I thought it was indulgent for a two year old to play with such a pricey machine. I thought it was overkill. After several long flights from Hawaii to the mainland, I can tell you that was some of the best money we spent, letting him have our old ipad, buying a new one for ourselves. Our two year old is blissfully entertained and able to sit in his car seat on the airplane for several hours without fussing. And this is the same child who refuses to sit in a stroller or sit still for more than several seconds: always, always on the move. Climbing, jumping, running, swimming, hiking, bouncing balls, moving from toy to toy, into everything and anything. This same child can be mesmerized by an Elmo app for an hour. AND it has taught him the alphabet, how to trace letters, and countless words. Pretty incredible stuff. This admitted techno-phobe is now a complete convert to the amazing world of the ipad.

But I digress...other things that we do to make travel easier are to always travel with small detergent packets, for washing on the go. I recommend if traveling with children to get a few items that are synthetic fibers (i.e. a fleece sweatshirt, instead of cotton) and that way, you can wash and easily drop it when it gets inevitably dirty on first wear. The amount of clothing you need to pack for a small child is ridiculous when you consider during half of their meals they spill something, they are still occasionally waking soaking wet from sleep, and jumping in mud puddles or climbing trees. They get dirty. It's best to have clothes you can wash and re-wear. We try to bring toys that have multiple functions or can provide different forms of entertainment. I like flashcards, and crayons or those invisible markers. We usually bring a soft ball, some type of bath or water toy, and a truck or train. Nothing annoyingly loud with batteries for the airplane. I like to bring toys that don't have small parts, and not ones that are favorites...ones that are dispensable, or at least can be easily replaced. I don't like to have to worry about finding small pieces or leaving something behind that will cause tears. Less travel stress = happier momma.

The essentials for me (to travel with less stress) are the sleep routine items. For us, that means 2 books, Wolfie his stuffed wolf, alternative milk, (soy or rice if we don't think we can get it where we are going), and his wave music that we put on when he sleeps. That way, he feels a sense of home no matter where we are. This seems to be a key component to our success with traveling. When Bodhi was younger, we traveled everywhere with our own crib. We literally hauled an extra bag that was his travel crib. He slept so much better that way than when we tried various cribs in different hotels. You know, they smell different, the sheets are different...you can't blame him really. I reasoned, better to have his own crib, even if we set that bed in a different place every night, he has a comfort, a piece of home. Like the calm in the center of a storm, if you provide an anchor for children to feel secure, than I think they have no problem adjusting to external fluctuations of time and place. Plus, it made us more flexible to stay in pensions, rental houses and other places where sometimes cribs are not available. Now that he's older, he does OK sleeping on other beds and cribs as long as we are with him and he has his bedtime routine. And when your child/infant sleeps better on a trip, I don't think I have to tell you how much better that is for everyone... to us, it's the most important thing of all when traveling with your child, to bring the items they need to sleep well.

Posted by globalmomma 05:21 Archived in USA Tagged children travel well with light sleep packing change time beds clothing toddler adjusting essentials cribs Comments (0)

Easy Remote

Life in Hawai'i

I am starting to realize why people come to the islands for vacation. Yes, the beach, the sunshine, the warm 80 degree temperatures year-round, the relaxed pace, the ability to wear sandals and sundresses and tanktops in the middle of January, all are HUGE reasons to come to the islands on vacation.

But a larger draw, in my opinion, is the idea of 'getting away from it all'. At first glance, this technically means just leaving your workplace and the piles of papers, the ringing phone and the to-do list that never gets shorter, the bills, the errands, the monotony. But it feels that much more powerful when you literally place MILES and MILES between yourself and those day to day chores. The stress tends to add up little by little over time, compiling like someone else's money in a 401K. It grows and grows until you drain it somehow, and then it creeps in and rebuilds. So in order to release the stress, many of us run as far away from the stressors as we can possibly get.

Hawai'i is literally thousands of miles of ocean away from any other large land mass. So when you come here on vacation, it truly is getting away from it all. And you can feel that stress being lifted as you fly the miles and hours to arrive here. But when you start to live here, you begin to realize just how far away from everything you really are.

Everything is double the price, because it often has to fly halfway across the world to get here. So everyday items like shoes, toys, shampoo, milk, cost 2-3 times what they would cost on the mainland (this is Hawaiian for 'rest of the USA other than Hawai'i'). Gas, cars, everything has a surcharge here, kind of like a luxury tax for being able to reside in such a beautiful, remote, healing place.

Then you begin to realize just how long it takes to visit the ones that you love. And how far away you are when you are missing them... Today my mom flies here from California, and I cannot wait to see her. We are arriving early and waiting for her to come through the gate. I cannot remember the last time I actually parked the car at the airport and went inside to wait for a flight, rather than circling. It is such an event to have a visitor already. We have been 'living' in Kona for almost three weeks, and the time is passing by so rapidly. It feels like we have just arrived, and we are still in that phase where we are exploring, getting lost, finding new spots.

There are a few things that make us still visitors: (1) the rental car, that we are hoping to trade in for a purchased used car at some point in the next ten days before our rental contract runs out (2) the un-tanned skin: although we are working on remedying this situation, we still do not look dark enough to be islanders who have a steady base of sunshine on their skin (3) no permanent dwelling, no plans past next week

The things that are localizing us:
The fact that we carry in our car at all times: a boogie board, two towels, several wet bathing suits, a football, a cooler, sunglasses, and a beach chair. Just in case. You never know when you may need it. When you may just decide it is such a beautiful afternoon that we might as well stop at the beach and have a quick swim, which we have done at least every other day since we arrived. You would think that there is only so much time one wants to spend at the beach, but I will tell you that we have not yet reached that point. Basically, any spare moment throughout the day after work is finished, we either say, "hey, let's go to the beach", or take a dip in the pool.

We have island time down. In fact, I have always lived on island time. It was the rest of the world that had it wrong :) The islands are always moving slow, so being five, ten minutes late is recommended...and customary. I love this. Absolutely love it. And the fact that everyone wears easy shoes, and slips them off the moment they enter into anyone's home, so at least half of your life is spent in bare feet. Bodhi loves this. It is an easy life. But also a remote life.

Posted by globalmomma 18:48 Archived in USA Tagged beach surf in island life swim pool time hawaii barefoot aloha Comments (1)

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