Friday, December 23, 2011

the truth about taking your 13 month old on a plane that passes the international date line

We did A LOT of research to prepare for our trip to and from Walt Disney World. We were looking at 11 hours from Narita to Orlando and 14 hours back in the same direction, with layovers in each direction. What can you say, we flew the cheapest way possible.
There is so much information out there and it's hard to know who to trust. I wouldn't say you should trust us over anyone else, but just in case you need a little more advice or just a bit of encouragement feel free to read on. It's best to lay out what we found most encouraging and then let you know what really happened.

Some research (that we found helpful):
  • EVERYONE, even the most holistically organic, natural people said to invest in Benedryl. Advice taken.
  • EVERYONE said to buy 1 new toy for each hour you expected your child to be awake. Advice taken - mostly.
  • At least 3 bloggers said to individually wrap each toy. With the intentions that unwrapping would eat up some time. Never got around to it.
  • 3 bloggers recommended this toy: Lauri Toys Toddler Tote. Advice taken.
  • EVERYONE said to buy Gerber Puffs. We bought these instead: Happy Baby Puffs & Happy Tot meals.
  • EVERYONE said buy a big water after security. You will use this to not only keep your baby hydrated but to clean their sippy cup. DO NOT clean sippy cups with airplane water. Airplane water is NOT SANITARY and the crew usually only stocks enough for service.
  • Many blogs said to spend the extra money and buy your baby their own seat. Advice not taken.
  • Every blog had a great packing list. We'll let you know below what we packed and what we actually used.
Our experience:
We bought the Benedryl and we used it. We gave her a small dosage right before her usual bed time and she slept for 6 hours! One the first flight. On the second flight, not so much. The dosage helped, but she only selpt for 4 hours. However, she naturally fell asleep later and slept for another 3. DO A TEST RUN AT HOME.
We only bought 3 new toys:
  • The Toddler Tote (mentioned above) is great because it doubles as 3 or 4 toys. Ella loved the puzzles, but the pegs were a bit too difficult for her tiny hands.
  • Doodle Sketch. AMAZING.
  • Leap Frog Junior Tag Reader and 3 books. However, Curious George Colors was the favorite.
We got an iPad. We had been toying with the idea for several months, but this trip finally sealed the deal. We bought a cover that lets you stand the iPad on it's side like a TV, loaded up a handful of her favorite Yo Gabba Gabba episodes (and a few of our favorites too) and the rest was history. On the first flight she watched the three episodes, twice. This ate up approximatly 2 hours. Amen.

Never got around to wrapping the toys because of, well life. However, I could see this would be an excellent idea for parents with children who understand what opening a toy means.

Snack food = awesome. We always bring our own snacks like bananas, nuts, etc. Plane food is so boring and full of sodium so adding in some natural favorites always helps. It just made sense to pack Ella the same goodness. Happy Baby products are our favorite.

Buying a seat. We are indiffrerent on this idea. Here are the reasons. For this flight, we didn't even think about it. If you buy your own seat (on American Airlines) for a child under 2 you must have a car seat. Since we don't have a car, we don't have a toddler car seat. On the flight back we lucked out - we were sat in a row with an empty seat. However, Ella still needed to switch from lap to lap to keep her entertained. It was great for sleeping hours because she was able to stretch out, but if we had paid we would have had the car seat; so she wouldn't have been able to lay down. If you are an American living in Japan with no car this could end up costing you more hassle (and money), but if you have a car seat and your kid likes sitting in that seat for 10+ hours, go for it!
Now for some things we discovered on our own:
TOYS: Everyone tells you to pack plenty of toys, but no one talks about what happens when your kid drops those toys on the ground. We all know those airplane rows are cramped - but imagine being a 6' tall guy trying to bend over and pick up a toy in a dark isle while the guy next to you is sleeping. Not a good situation. So, be prepared to drop toys - and to loose toys. It sucks. If you are lucky the person behind will pick them up for you. Thank you random person!!

SOBA NOODLES: If you fly a Japanese airline you will most likely get soba noodles at some point. Don't eat them - save them for your child. We gave Ella Soba and she ate/played for 1 1/2 hours! Not flying Japanese? Pre-cook some of your childs favorite noodles and pull them out about 2 hours into the flight.

ASK: Ask for everything and anything that might help your experience. Ask for the crew to hold your food until your child is asleep. Ask the gate attendant to hold a seat in-between you and your husband in the hopes it will stay empty. Ask for the last row in the plane - you won't feel as bad when your child is craying because there are less people around to bother. And once your child goes to sleep, ask for a glass of wine.

DOWNSIZE. We bought ONE large piece of luggage that doubled as a backpack. It was key that we packed as few suitcases as possible. We bought an small stroller so that we could check it at the gate. We bought a new carry on BAG. Bag is key here. If you bring everything in a bag you can stuff it under your seat which equals easy acess for toys, food and diapers.
Packing List for the Plane:

As promised: what we packed and what we used.
  • 1 diaper for every hour on the plane, this left plenty for layovers. Just enough.
  • 1 package of wipes.Plenty.
  • 2 sippy cups. Used both.
  • 5 small towels . Used all.
  • pair of PJ's. Didn't use.
  • 2 plain white onesies. Used 1.
  • 1 extra pair of pants.Used.
  • 3 bibs. Used all.
  • snacks (mentioned above) plus a banana, cheese sticks and pre-made grilled cheese & peanut putter sandwiches. Everything was eaten
  • toys (mentioned aboveUsed all.
  • iPad.Used!
Well, we hope that this provides you with some helpful bits of advice. If nothing else we'll never forget what we read on one blog: Just remember that your flight will end and the plane door will open. You will get off and you will have a great vacation. If all else fails - just tell yourself that!
First day at Magic Kingdom! Proof that your flight will end, the door will open and you will have a great vacation.

Friday, December 16, 2011

uncle nate walks!

Congratulations to Uncle Nate! He graduated today from the University of Little Rock. Keep your ears and eyes open for his documenting, reporting and general awesomeness!

Workin' hard amidst Occupy Protestors

In case you were curious, we purchased a Kammok as his graduation gift. No better gift for an outdoorsy, earth and human respecting adventure guy who needs to take a load off! Buy a Kammok today!