What did we get ourselves into, Harrison?
We had travel points, and time.
“Lets see how far this gets us?”
We are starting to pack for our big trip, and by start, I mean I’ve gone as far as filling a bag with granola bars, a few toys I’ve hidden from you in hopes they will be “like new” when re-presented, and three post-it notes containing lists of random obscure things I don’t want to forget.
I have never taken a trip where I’ve travelled less “by-the-seat-of-my-pants”. This trip is 90% booked, which is a far cry from the “we’ll figure it out” approach I have always applied to my travels. I have gone beyond reviews and websites, I’ve emailed providers with questions, and posted to forums. I have eliminated accommodations and excursions because of the risk to a baby. Almost exactly 9 years ago, I took this same trip and happily pitched herself out of planes and off bridges (Ill likely avoid such on this trip for fear of putting my back out).
Me and your dad have had a few strategy-planning sessions in regards to packing, and we’ve set a goal for ourselves. One piece of luggage, a (large) backpack, and your diaper-bag. I fear that wont come close to containing all the things we need, however we also need a carseat, stroller, carrier, and (obviously) YOU.
I have been on websites, forums, and made phone calls to figure out how to streamline taking an overseas flight with a very active ten-month-old baby. I will tell you right now, our goal is simply “survive”.
For anyone considering international plane travel with a child, consider that not all airlines will accept a lap infant free anymore (I say this because in our case, “no”, we were not aware). Part of the rationale of this trip, Harry, was that we didn’t have to buy you a ticket. We booked using Alaska Airlines points, where “lap-infants” incur no extra cost, however the partner we’ve been booked with upholds no such standards. We found this out about a week after booking, when my paranoid sense of planning led to me call this secondary airline “just to check all is right with our reservation”. Following one very long phone call with a very nice lady named Melissa, we had you on-board with a minor “airport tax” capped on as your “fare”. It could have been so much worse.
Another question I’ll pose: How to get a bassinet in the plane? You can try, but you won’t know if it’s possible until the day-of, in which case it becomes “first come-first serve” for anyone travelling with a baby.
What if any non-baby-carrying ticket-holders have reserved seats in the bassinet-approved bulkhead area? They will get punted, despite having booked that location specifically in advance (why reserve them in the first place?).
There is also the possibility of bringing a carseat on-board if a spare seat presents itself, but, that particular possibility is at the decision of the crew on duty. Thats right, there is no “yes” or “no”, it’s completely dependant on who is working that day.
What do we do? Do we check the carseat, or do we bring that bulky irritant to the gate just in case? You can gate-check one thing (Stroller or carseat), so what do we count on? My type-A planning desire is being challenged to the maximum.
The car seat is a conundrum, since it is large, and incredibly awkward to carry. Its not one we would like to omit, however. Stories abound of outdated, expired rental carseats, and lax regulations on weight and direction. It flies free, so as long as we are able to physically carry it with everything else, it comes.
We are approaching this thirteen hour flight armed with every trick we can think of. I hid two of your favourite toys last week in hopes they will be “like new” to you. I’ve made you your very own key-ring, your favourite (and forbidden) “toy-that-isn’t-a-toy”. Anything we attempt to withhold from you automatically becomes gold, and so we can count on that to occupy you for at least 20 minutes at some point. We have also caved to screen-time, you at the tender age of ten months, because our iPad now holds apps designed to excite and occupy a toddler. At the 11th hour, it’s coming out of the bag and into your sticky little fingers. I’m not proud to admit that one, but like I said, we’re hoping to “survive”. We were also delighted to discover it has a home-button lock to prevent you from accidentally charging our credit card in your pursuits.
You want to do what?!
The internet has been a great tool for looking at excursions and activities, but with it we have encountered lots of opinion. I posted a question to TripAdvisor about visiting a town 5 hours away. The response? “that is too far to drive with a baby in the summer”. What? I’ve read reviews recommending no more than three hours drive in a day, and to not attempt camping, hiking with a baby. “In the summer” also doesn’t mean a lot when you have an air conditioned car, either. This gives me the impression a lot of people with babies don’t do a whole lot. To get anywhere in Canada, a drive of three hours is practically necessary, and on occasion done just for a day of shopping.
There are some neat options for accommodation, though some have been “cut” for reasons including an unsafe looking balcony, a pool off the front door, as well as cattle-guards in several places. We’ve sought rentals with bedrooms so you can nap uninterrupted. Some rentals list themselves as “not safe or appropriate for kids” but we really-really want to stay there. Anywhere is unsafe if you let a 1-year old “free-range” on a property, but where do you draw the line? I’ve inquired on a few, and no one has been opposed to a baby after I have messaged requesting it. One lady accepted our request only following our assurances that we would not leave you unattended with the domesticated pigs that inhabit her yard (undoubtably pictures of that one to follow).
It’s not our first time travelling with you, Harry, but it is the furthest. I gather that compared to what we’ve experienced so far, it will also be the most memorable. Lets all pray I don’t break my arm this time.