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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)

Eleven hours of hell

Traveling with kids is the hardest thing in the world. Don't listen to me if I tell you otherwise.  I never realized how easy I had it when all I had to do was worry about getting myself to the fight on time, and what I brought with me to read. With kids, it is a constant crapshoot for what you are going to get.  It could be an easy ride, after which you say, 'wow, that wasn't so bad', and you almost forget about the other times when it is difficult. Other times, your child is awakened during every nap, you forget the milk, you go through each diaper, and you are banging your head against the seat in front of you by the time the whole thing is through. Or maybe in need of a strong drink. Or three.
 
The anxiety of not knowing what you are going to get is the worst part.  Dreading the ten hour flight or the overnight trip or the five hour car ride.  Having a strong arsenal of supplies is half the battle. Sheer luck is the other half.

When your child is crying and unsympathetic people around you are glaring, and you are turning red-faced as you try to appease, nothing is good, and you can't get out of that situation and off the plane fast enough. Nursery rhymes, rocking, even playing with your iPhone...bribes, snacks, new toys, any method is employed to try to get through a long flight.  Planes have a higher probability of hellishness because there is so very little room to move.  You stand in the aisles, you get bumped. You stand in galleys, you are likely to get chastised by crabby flght attendants. You try to go into the bathroom but the lights are too bright for sleep. You try in your chair but the baby kicks the seat in front of you and squirms onto the floor. If you are lucky, you may have one of those children that can fall asleep half-standing in the middle of a football game.  Most of us have children who sleep best like we do... In quiet, cool, dark rooms without hordes of strangers around.  For them, as for us, sleeping on a plane is near impossible without medical help.

This last one was a doozy. Direct from Newark, New Jersey to Honolulu, eleven hours; which at first I thought was a great plan, and since have started to regress such notions of any 'better way to go'. I now know flying from the east coast to Hawai'i is torture, regardless of how many flights it takes.

The particulars of this flight started with a packed flight leaving Newark, one that we happened to board nearly last, as it took forever to get through the terminal and to the gate. Even though we arrived at the airport over 90 minutes early, we still got to the plane as all rows were boarding. No time for diaper changes and water runs, and it was rush, rush, rush. Between all the elevators and trams in Newark, I told my husband I felt like the flight should be nearly over before we even left, I was so exhausted. Usually I try my hardest to plan for a good nap before a travel day. I find it is the best predictor of success...well, that and an empty flight, which is rare and totally unpredictable.  This morning the nap was not good, a foreboding detail.

We get on the plane and get settled in with ourr eight carry-ons, including a car seat, diaper bag, cooler bag, two coats, backpack, rolling bag, bear. Since Bodhi had a miserable first nap for only about forty five minutes in the car, he was whiny and fidgety from the start. As soon as we got up to altitude, we were hoping he would fall asleep. We bought him an honorary third seat on the plane for this purpose...so he could fall asleep in his car seat as he usually does. No problem, right? Wrong. After an hour, it was clear it wasn't going to work out, so we were back to standing in the galley with him over our shoulders whisking him to sleep. Of course, right about the time we finally get him to sleep, the baby across from us decides to wake up and starts chatting and shrieking. Game over. We try for a few minutes to keep him asleep but it is of no use. He pops open his eyes and yells, 'uppa!' The second nap goes in about the same manner and I find myself staring at the computer screen with the airplane trajectory on it, willing us to go faster and get there.  During the four hours between naps, Bodhi managed to burn through all three of his outfits. One was peed through. The second was also soaked, after he tried to grab Chris's ice water and ceremoniously dumped it straight on his face.  Imagine a baby being doused with a full glass of ice water. Didn't feel good. And he sure let us know about it.  I stripped him down to his diaper in about three seconds as if I was practicing for a class in hypothermia first aid.   The third was partially soaked by the wet car seat from the pee incident and the ice water, but also got food all over it. But it will have to do for the remaining three hours.

Luckily I brought an entire carryon of diapers so we aren't going to go through all of those. We had that happen on a previous flight and I wasn't going to let that happen this time. I also thought to bring the entire jar of toddler formula instead of the bottles of milk I usually bring. Good thing because we have already burned through four bottles and the night is still young. We make it to Honolulu, and then while buying dinner and getting from terminal to terminal, somehow we miss our connecting interisland flight to Kona. And it is the last one of the night. Good things I brought those diapers and formula, because we have another overnight here. We don't have his travel crib, and we don't have anymore clothes, but what we do have will have to do. By the time we check-in at our airport Best Western, it is 3AM East Coast time and we are all more than ready for a night of sleep. Goodnight.

Posted by globalmomma 00:24 Archived in USA Tagged travel flight kids with hawaii airplane Comments (0)

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