M is our packing supervisor
I can’t remember where I read it, but I once saw someone suggest that parents should take a “lap baby moon” of sorts, one last trip with an infant in arms before they turn two (if you’re reading this and that was you, message me and I’ll link you). Sounded like an amazing idea at the time, so we booked one last trip with Little M – to Asia. I’d be lying if I said that sounds like an amazing idea to me right now; I have no idea what we’re going to do for 14 hours on a plane.
I thought it might be helpful for some to see the steps I’m taking to prepare for the trip. Full diclosure: I’m just making all this up as I go along!
I booked this trip almost 11 months ago, and there have been some schedule changes since, so I spent some time confirming my itinerary. Originally we were going to fly on the Eva Air Hello Kitty plane, which was going to be super exciting for Jess and M. Alas, Eva no longer flies Hello Kitty from Los Angeles, so we switched onto a flight that we think will work better for M’s sleep schedule (leaving at 350 PM PST instead of 1100 PM).
When I confirm my itinerary, I double check the following:
– Confirmation numbers (PNRs) for ALL flights, including any partner carrier PNRs
– Departure and arrival airports/times
– Hotel rooms and confirmation numbers
In this case it took awhile because we are flying on four separate tickets (award ticket to Taiwan, award ticket from Taiwan to Hong Kong, award ticket from Hong Kong to Chicago, cash ticket home). After I checked all that stuff I loaded it into my travel plans on Award Wallet.
Clean up Travel Details
After making sure I remember which flights I’m taking, I take care of a bunch of travel details. In the past this just meant seat assignments for Jess and me. Now with the toddler, it entails quite a bit more. Of course, I started by making sure I selected seats on all my flights (needed the EVA PNR to do that flight).
The second thing I had to do was add M’s infant in arms ticket on our United award ticket. This took a phone call (and $500!). What worried me was I heard people have had issues on EVA flights with infants in arms when booking through United.
So what I did next (and would have done anyway) was confirm the infant in arms at EVA and on all other flights. When I called EVA, I learned some pretty interesting things. I ordered a children’s meal but what was really cool was I requested diapers for free. We’ll see how those turn out but it is pretty cool that they offer them.
The final thing I did to clean up travel details was to double check baggage allowance on all flights. My only concern was our one economy leg on Cathay from Taipei to Hong Kong but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a problem.
Oh wait I did one more thing! I’m super anal so I checked to see how full the cabins were on the long haul flights. Less full = better for M = offending less people if she flips out. Looking good so far!
Research Transportation at the Destination – Carseat or No?
Thanks to family, we’re all set in Taiwan for getting picked up from the airport and all that good stuff. However, I’m not used to hitting up Hong Kong without my parents, so I spent some time researching how we were going to get from the airport to the hotel. Turns out the Airport Express is the best way and the Hyatt Regency TST has a free shuttle from the terminus in Kowloon.
What I spent the most time thinking about though was whether we needed a carseat. If you remember, I’ve debated how to bring our carseat overseas in the past. But since we could borrow/rent in Taiwan, I had to spend some time thinking about whether we would need it in Hong Kong at all. Figuring out we wouldn’t need it to get from the airport to the hotel made a big difference in my thinking.
At that point it was weighing two evils – being confined to public transportation versus lugging that thing around. I ultimately decided that I’d rather risk the stress of public transportation in short amounts than deal with carrying the car seat around. Even if we checked it in, we’d need to get it from the airport to our hotel and that’s just one extra thing to carry. My goal is to have at least one of our four adult hands free whenever possible on this trip. Which leads me to the next step in my preparation.
Evaluate Luggage Needs
On our last long haul flight we had the luxury of grandparents packing diapers for us, but not this time around. We also are bringing a few gifts for relatives, so it took awhile for us to determine what types of luggage we needed to bring.
In the end, I decided that what is most important is that at least one of us has a hand free at the airport. My thinking is that we need the flexibility to hold M’s hand if she wants to walk. I think this is what we’re going to end up bringing:
– Large spinner suitcase (American Tourister purchased from Amazon last week). Before then we had nothing larger than carry-on size suitcases
– Carry-on sized roller
– Stroller (the Uppababy G-lite which comes with a shoulder strap if necessary)
– 2 Backpacks
– Diaper bag
– Toy backpack
The last four are what I’m planning to bring on the plane (gate checking the stroller). This way when we’re loaded for bear we’ll still have a hand free for M – and I’m gonna make her wear the backpack with the toys.
One thing we considered for awhile was procuring diapers on site. I decided against this for two reasons. First, packing diapers will prevent us from overpacking on clothes (I already find myself taking an extra garment here or there because I “have the space” now). Secondly, we rarely get to go to Asia, and we rarely buy souvenirs, but I figure the diaper space will empty out and we can buy things. In Asia there are a lot of fun things you can buy that are harder or more expensive to get here. Worst case scenario we stock up on Hello Kitty stuff for M (read: Jess).
Prepare for the Long Road Ahead (entertain the baby)
I’m more concerned about our flight to Los Angeles than I am about the 13 hour flight to Taipei for a couple of reasons. We’re leaving super early in the morning and that flight is just going to be tight – it’s pretty full and it’s not like we can like the seats flat or have her sit on an ottoman or anything.
To that end I’ve been preparing for doomsday scenarios. Will Little M finally get her first real taste of cartoon programming? Quite possibly.
I’ve been stocking up on crackers, goldfish, cheerios. I’ve downloaded a million mp3s to our tablet, Alphabet Aquarium, and a few videos. Our friend generously gave us a pair of toddler headphones. We are ready – I hope.
Find Ways to Save Money
This has plummeted to the bottom of my priority list – convenience over money at this point, so I haven’t even gotten a chance to do this yet. Taiwan is also quite inexpensive in general. BUT, if I end up having time, I really want to look up some ways on admission tickets and the like while we’re over there.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the details and stresses of a trip that I can forget to get excited. But this should be a great trip. Taiwanese breakfast, Taipei’s zoo, Xiao Ren Guo, relatives, food, food, food, food, food, Hong Kong Disneyland, two confirmed suite upgrades, two new sets of pajamas – gonna be a blast.
Guess I’ve made up for my lack of posting with a ton of words here. But there are a lot of steps that go into taking a trip, and the work almost doubles when worrying about a toddler. These are the steps I’ve taken to keep myself sane – would love to hear some brilliant ideas in the comments if you’ve got them!