5 Tips on International Travel with Toddlers

Here are a few things I thought I’d share with you on traveling internationally with toddlers.

  • Backpacks are better than strollers.
    It’s far easier to get through airports, old European cities, and tour castles with Little C strapped to my back than in a terrain-sensitive stroller. As ill-fitting as our current Kelty is, I couldn’t imagine making the same trip with a stroller. That said, I was skeptical of the backpack when we left. Plus, he loves the view – you can see it in the eyes of the people we pass on the street.
  • Regular schedules aren’t.
    It shouldn’t go without saying that after traveling across 7 time zones our regular like-clockwork schedule wasn’t. Little C required quite a bit more cuddling and personal contact during the 3-4 days he took to adjust. We picked up a couple new board books for him and a few old toys he could rediscover. He slept on our shoulders and spent a lot more time in our arms. I’m good with that.
  • They have babies there to.
    Diapers, baby food, clothes, and all the stuff a toddler needs exists elsewhere – even in foreign countries. Only pack what you need for the travel itself. Our hosts’ car even had the LATCH system for Little C’s car seat. Just cause a place isn’t home don’t mean it isn’t civilized.
  • Walk whenever you can.
    Jen and I would take turns walking Little C around the gates at the airport and Jen walked him up and down the aisle on the trans-Atlantic flights. Sure kept him happier.
  • Have them try the new foods.
    Little C likes spicy interesting foods. On this trip, we discovered he loves pesto, taai-taai, calamari, and still doesn’t like cheese.

Smells Like Home

We’re back in Minneapolis. Probably the least eventful trans-Atlantic journey I’ve ever taken. A couple minor hiccups leaving BRU, but nothing that slowed us down. In fact, despite sitting on the tarmac in the rain for 45 minutes on departure and 20 minutes on arrival while the jet-way wouldn’t connect, then going through customs and security in ORD, we nearly made our original flight to MSP. But, we decided not to stress it and take the next one. Half our luggage went on the first flight and half on the second.

Little C held up like a champ. After 15 hours of travel, he still had a ‘vrooom, vroom’ left in him for each and every truck at the airport.

This time, it wasn’t the car seat with the TSA sticker, it was our mid-sized checked bag, with a sticker saying only: ‘Suspicious’Suspect on slapped to the outside – and a TSA pamphlet on the inside.

Stepping outside of MSP, I got my first whiff of the winter. Cold. Pure, clean, unapologetic cold – like an ice cube to the lungs. Refreshing.

Cherishing the Unrecorded Moments

As many photos we take of the little guy, none of them capture his laugh. As many times I try to record his laugh, it never captures the joy in his eye. Handing him the phone to talk with Grandma is the surest way to make stop talking.

I have a memory of playing with a reel-to-reel recorder as a kid, maybe 6 or 7. Just the memory. Not the tape or the player.

Perhaps all our recording devices are really good at is capturing the special moments, the big moments, the when-we-know-something-will-happen moments. Freeing us to really enjoy the wondrous banality of the unrecorded moments – when things really to happen.

Inspired by: Eric Rice’s chilling thoughts.

Lifehack: Put Empty Garbage Bags at the Bottom of the Garbage Can

It started with the Diaper Champ. After forgetting to replace the plastic garbage bag liner, dropping in a fresh, full diaper, and hearing a empty thud as it splats against the bottom of the bucket.

After the third or fourth time of kicking myself for not replacing the bag, I put a few empty garbage bags in the bottom of the Diaper Champ. Now, when I pull out a full bag – look, there at the bottom, another bag – ready to go.

I’ve done the same in the kitchen garbage can.

Sure makes collecting the trash go just a little bit faster.

What a Difference 3 Blocks Makes

We’ve been in the new place about a week now, and I’m amazed at the difference 3 blocks makes. Seriously, from 2700 block of 31st to the 2900 block of 30th.

All week, there’s been kids riding bikes, shooting hoops, and we’ve met half our neighbors. Rock on.

Speaking of rocks. We’re deep into the road construction. Both streets have been stripped of their asphalt, and there’s some pretty big machines sprinkled up and down the street.

Yea, Cooper’s loving the new place. Lots of space to roll around on the carpet and do this weird crawling thing he’s doing right now. Here, you can practice at home:

  1. Get down on your hands and knees
  2. Flatten your feet against the floor and straighten your legs
  3. Fall forward
  4. Repeat

What I Want from Diapers – At a Glance Color Indicators

There are a number of indicators to determine if Cooper’s diaper needs a changing:

  1. Is he screaming?
  2. Does the front of the diaper feel and look full?
  3. Are his clothing, blankets, or crib wet?

As you can see, all the items in this list are what economists call lagging indicators. In addition, two of them have fairly unpleasant consequences.

Continuing my thoughts that diapers should be made for parents, not kids (i.e. 86 the cartoon characters) – I think diapers should change color based their ‘status’. Yes, exactly like those dorky Generra Hypercolor shirts from the late ’80s.

Then, I can see – at a glance if this is why Cooper’s alarm is going off.

Sure, the entire diaper changing color would be nice. I’d also be up for geo-political trivia, where the answer is displayed upon saturation.

Huggies, Pampers, Anything in R&D along these lines?

UPDATE 26 March 2007
Along the same lines:

“I was surprised at changing time with a message on J’s diaper: “My Last Diaper!” — a message from one of her teachers that we needed to bring in another batch of diapers”Sara Brumfield via Parenthacks

Sam’s a Genius – National Geographic Lullabies Before Bedtime

A couple weeks after Cooper was born, Sam sent over National Geographic Around the World Lullabies. Of course, it went straight into Cooper’s playlist on the iPod.

Tonight Cooper was inconsolable. None of the usual settling down techniques were working and we were scratching our heads with what to do. Attempting to think strategically between screams is a very useful skill in times like this.

And when the going gets tough, the tough…refresh their RSS aggregator?

Well, I’m glad I did – in it, a well-timed reminder from Sam:

“…we played a National Geographic lullabies CD for him, both for his afternoon nap and at his bedtime”

Brilliant.

I cued up the lullabies in iTunes, flipped the speakers to the radio (thanks to the Airport Express) in Cooper’s room, then ran down to rock him into it.

Update: Cooper slept through the night. Rock on.

Yes, Sam’s a genius.

Oh, and Sam on your cassette-to-MP3 problem: try connecting the cassette players output to the audio input of your iBook using a common 1/8″ jack (might need something like the Griffin iMic) and record into Audio Hijack Pro.

AHP can automatically start a new track when it hears the silence between tracks in whatever format you’d like. After that it’d just be a matter of burning the CD.