California Dreamin’

After 2+ years we finally decided to break our self-imposed plane trip embargo and book a trip to the west coast with Jasper!  There are several reasons I thought it was the right time. One is that Jasper has FINALLY become manageable in a car seat, so I *think* he’ll be able to deal with the flight without a complete freak out.  Another reason is that he’s OBSESSED with airplanes, so I think the novelty of being ON an airplane should provide enough of a source of excitement that we will be able to get away with statements like “sitting in your seat is what people who ride airplanes do” sort of thing.

The other reason is that my sister lives in LA and we’ve been really wanting to collaborate on some photography template designs, a few hours together will get us a lot farther than sporadic emails and skype sessions!

Jeff travels to Hong Kong a lot for his job, so in the past few years he’s racked up tons of frequent flier miles that have thus far gone unused.. which means that Jasper’s first plane ride will be business class!! I find this pretty amusing, since in all the years I’ve been flying I’ve only ever flown business class once, and that was because the airline overbooked and had to bump me up.   Jasper, apparently, travels in style!

So we’ll be in LA from Saturday until Wednesday evening at which point we’ll be headed to San Francisco until Saturday.   I’m so excited that in this ONE trip I will have a chance to meet both Kari AND Shane & Ava, who I already feel like I know so well that it’s almost unfathomable that we HAVEN’T actually met yet!

We also will be visiting our friends Sara & Mando and Jasper’s long lost love Lola of this fame:

They only recently left us moved to SF where Sara opened up a wonderful new boutique called Tractors & Tiaras which sells educational toys and has amazing art & music workshops for kids (if you live in SF, you should definitely check it out!!.)  If you recall, I did a whole photoshoot with Jasper and Lola and a tractor for Sara and am incredibly proud that these images are now hanging in her shop.

According to Sara all the moms ask who did the photography, so there has been some interest in my coming to do some mini sessions which I *think* I will be doing. I say I think because a) it’s very short notice and b) we have so few days there that I’m wavering as to if it makes sense to give up a whole afternoon to shooting.   It’s very tempting though to be able to subsidize some of the hotel/rental car costs as well as make the whole trip a giant business write off :)  Plus, I love shooting, and the idea of doing so in a great new location is pretty exciting.. so I’m leaning towards yes if there is enough interest.

So, that said, please let me know if you are in the SF area and and are interested in a “mini” session with me and I’ll send you the details!

Now, I have to get on the ball and figure out what exactly to bring with us. Our trip to cape cod we loaded up pretty much the whole car with gear which is obviously completely impractical!  For those of you that have flown a bunch before, what stroller do you take?  Our Uppababy is too heavy I think, but we don’t have a good umbrella stroller. Maybe now is the time to invest in one  (recommendations for one that travels well?) because Jasper is getting too big for the Uppababy anyway.  I guess we will have to bring the travel cot, no way of avoiding that..

I think I will bring my laptop for Jasper to watch movies on the plane, I just have to hope to God that they have a power plug in Continental business class!

Any other plane travel tips are greatly appreciated!

(PS, anyone know if there is a rental car company that provides a convertible carseat? That thing is a beast and I really don’t want to bring it!)

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Sheri says:

We’re heading out to England this week for Aaron’s third trip there. We’ve learned to bring ear plugs for the night flights and pass them around to people sitting next to us. It’s a small gesture, but it seems to help. I have other friends with a toddler who have bought a round of drinks for the people sitting around them, but in business class, that’s a moot point, I guess.

I’ll add the the McClaren comments. We love ours for travel!

ariana says:

You all are such a wealth of information!! Doris that’s such a good tip.. I wonder if I should instead invest in a nice carseat cover that we could use with ours anyway? I just hate the idea of lugging that thing around…

JB, I know, me too :( Where did you get the little suitcase? Sounds so cute! And it’s not so much that Jasper isn’t big on walking as that we aren’t big on running around after him LOL.

jbhat says:

Waah! I wish your trip brought you to Seattle. I would love to meet you all in person.

One thing that our kiddo loved was being in charge of his own suitcase. He had a little firetruck shaped one that he rolled along behind him, and he loved the smiles it brough him from passers by. Bring stories and snacks for the plane, and an umbrella stroller will do if he’s not big on walking.


Lynn says:

go-go baby wheels are awesome. We visit my parents in FL frequently–we just use the go-go baby wheels, attached to the car seat, and skip the stroller. We find we have never used one during our visits. Daughter (just turned 2) much prefers walking!

I ditto the comments about juice or suckers during take-off and landings. Absolutely no problems–and I keep waiting for them to happen!

Doris says:

Carseat..Bring your own. We rented them from Hertz once paid $15.00 per day and it was gross. (Sorry). We’ve taken them on a plane (for the 2 year old) and checked them in (for the 3 year old).
For the actual plane ride, I may be crazy but I filled my kids’ carry on with tons of kids stuff.
Coloring books, washable markers (crayola with tops attached), mini doodlers, playdough, one present wrapped up (opening it took time! :) ) stickers, books (new ones and favorite ones)and candy (which I never give the kids usually) . The suckers were timed for landing and takeoff to help those little ears pop.
Have a great trip!

Maria says:

Rental carseats make me nervous, just as buying carseats second hand does.

We bought this for our Britax and that basically made it a stroller. It was AWESOME. We had to take it off on the plane itself, but it was so quick. I totally recommend it despite the cost. It fits so many seats that it will last through a second (or more) child and get its money worth! We plan to buy a second for our son’s seat next time we travel.

Sarah says:

We just got off a flight with my 21 month old. We travel a lot with him and this past flight was challenging. What worked:

He’s into trains/cars so I got a matchbox travel set which saved the day when our DVD player didn’t work:

We use a go-go baby attachment and wheel him through the airport and bring the Maclaren (got mine new for $50 on ebay). We gate check both.

I bring his milk/juice/water with me. They allow you to for infants and toddlers:

Raisins are a big hit, too. And they take time to each a whole box–added plus!

have fun! And by the way, Jasper’s party was killer.

Kimberly says:

Oh, I totally agree with the cheapie BRU umbrella stroller, too… we use ours MUCH more than the big stroller. I just sling a bag across the handles (just make sure the kid stays IN the stroller to counter-balance it, lol!)

Boo! Wish you could stay longer! Or that I could come down to the bay area… but not likely on that weekend.

Vegas is much further from me than SF… 500 miles, it’s at least a 6-7 hour drive even across the barren desert of Nevada. But it IS a fast, cheap flight away on Southwest. AND, in February, I’ll have a super-cute 4 month-old, too! ;) Would you have Jasper with you on that trip, do you think? We MIGHT be able to work something out!

heartartz says:

ah the paci..How could I ever forget that?
Our son called his binky-boo!
A true life saver!!!

lelu says:

My husband works for an airline and we have done a lot of flying with kiddos in the past. My best advice…dum dums. When all else fails, dum dums come to the rescue. I always bring our carseats but check them. I worry about how clean rented carseats are. And while cheap umbrella strollers are super light and easy, the handles are too low for me and especially for my husband to push. I don’t know how tall you are but thats something you might want to think about. Business class will be awesome. You’ll have so much more room than you would in coach. Oh, and I always wait until the last minute to board. You never know how long you’ll be on the ground before you actually take off. Y’all have fun!

Kari says:

We used the Enterprise by LAX when we flew to LA and they had a closet of car seats – including rear facing and forward facing convertible seats.

We brought our small Chicco umbrella stroller anticipating trunk space and having to transport others, but we could have easily brought something a bit larger; especially since the airline checks the stroller for you at the gate.

Bring lots of snacks for the plane ride – that was the only way we got through ours. Good luck!

Liz says:

We took a short flight from MD to RI when Nathan was about 15months. We bought him a separate seat on the plane and used a carseat on board. We felt better having a seat that he fit in and that would keep him safer in the event that something happened. I also think it was good because it sat him higher up and he could see more. It also ensured that we had a seat we were comfortable with in the rental car. We actually bought a Cosco Scenera (about $40-$50 at Target) specifically for this. It’s lightweight and comes in a plastic cover with a handle which makes it great for taking through security.
We made sure he ate snacks and took sips through a straw during takeoff and landing and it really seemed to ease the popping. You might want to consider giving Tylenol or Motrin beforehand just in case.
Also, get to the airport early and check as much luggage as you can. We could have probably been okay with carry on but decided that we wanted to worry about as little as possible going through security. We went through as early as we could and then let Nathan run around an empty part of the terminal to burn off energy. We also made sure to change him into a clean diaper right before boarding so we could avoid in-flight diaper changes.

Shae says:

Get a CHEAP umbrella stroller b/c they get pretty beaten up. My little girl just turned two yesterday- we have flown with her a handful of times and this stroller is awesome & cheap.

actually – we spent all this money on a bugaboo and now we use this stroller everywhere we go even around town b/c it is so light weight and let’s be honest, she wants to walk most of the time anyway!

No need for a travel cot- just make a pallet on the floor. Doesn’t your little boy like to sleep on the floor anyway? Or do like us- we just stick her in the bed with us!

My little gir did great on the airplane. If you have an iphone just download a movie for when he gets restless. Otherwise our little one was so fascinated with the plane that it all went way better than I expected!

I think all rental places rent convertible seats. We use Hertz and always just get a rental convertible seat.

Samm says:

O how fun! The weather has been perfect here and I’m sure you will have a great time!

ariana says:

Kimberly.. that sounds so AMAZING!! God I would say yes in a heartbeat but we are only in SF for such a short time, really only two full days that I don’t think it would work :(

I am almost positive that I will be attending WPPI in Vegas in February, but I just stalked your FB page to see your hometown and realized it’s so far from you.

Heather, I’m shocked that they still do that post 911, I will definitely ask! Jasper would just flip!!

Marybeth, thanks for the warning! I guess we could bring the BRU don’t miss the storage capability? Jeff’s new job at TRU is actually to be the product developer at BRU for all of their gear (much more coming soon like carseats, cribs etc) so I’m going to make sure he makes them a stroller with some undercarriage storage LOL.

Good luck with your plane ride. I’m sure it will go much better than you expect it to!
One word of warning: the airline absolutely TRASHED my stroller the last time I traveled with Haiden. It was in fine condition when I checked it, and it came back with crazy dents, scratches and stains that I couldn’t get back. It still worked, but there was nothing I could do. I’d be VERY careful about checking an even semi-expensive stroller like a MacLaren. After doing some research, I’ve learned that the cheaper BRU umbrella strollers fit nicely into a contractor-grade garbage bag. The bags are big and sturdy and will keep it protected from getting dirty or stained.

Heather says:

Ask if you can meet the pilot and see the cockpit. We did, and it was a HUGE hit! Also, a portable DVD player w/ at least 5 hrs of playtime will be a life saver…a bit pricey, but as the flight is free…

Have a great trip!

Kimberly says:

Ahhhhhh, you are going to be SO CLOSE to me!!!!! I am so excited for you guys, taking the leap and making the trip!

You should really consider a day trip (or overnight) to Lake Tahoe… it’s only a 3 hour drive from San Francisco, and an easy drive at that. You could even stop halfway in Sacramento at the train museum or something to break up the trip. Then James and I could meet up with you! (Maternity/2 year session?) LOL :) Plus, it’s just one of those places to see before you die… and an incredible photo backdrop. ;)

We’ve had our best luck flying by having novel snacks, toys, books, crayons or markers, iPhone games that he’s never seen, and an iPod or something to listen to music on, etc. The plane itself tends to be a pretty great distraction, and provides a LOT of white noise to lull him to sleep or to cover up any noise he might make to disturb other passengers. Have him suck on a sippy during takeoff to help pop his ears.

Katie says:

Hertz rents car seats! I believe it depends though if they have one but ask and you should get your answer!

kari says:

I hope the West Coast will win you over!
so – my recs are the same as pp’s
umbrella stroller – we have the Maclaren Triumph also – love it.
for the plane – juice, stickers, fun snacks (special ones that he doesn’t normally get) i wouldnt even be opposed to a sucker/lollipop! the two items that kept liam occupied during our last trip (other than a movie) was star shaped post its… he stuck them ALL over the seats, it was a riot… and colorful pipe cleaners that we could shape into animals/whatever.

its going to be GREAT!

ariana says:

Ava, I have that stroller! I just HATE that you can’t put a bag in it KWIM? Since Jasper usually wants to be out of the stroller anyway I like the option of being able to pile it up with other things :)

Thanks for the offer for the carseat.. I don’t think we’ll need it but I will definitely let you know!!

Shane, such a good point about the non tech toys!! Definitely will bring curious george books (that reminds me I have to order some soft cover ones) and his magnadoodle..

Shane says:

Airplane tip – ensure you have some no-tech toys/etc for him that don’t require the tray to be down. I realized that so much of our arsenal of distractions couldn’t be used during take off and landing (ipad, iphone, drawing). We had a lacing board and books. G was also entertained by looking out the window spotting other airplanes, birds, mountains — at least for an hour or so :-)

Not sure what age they stop letting you take liquids for kids through security. We were able to take milk/water through security for G — they just made us taste it.

ariana says:

@heartartz, OMG we would never forget bear!! I can’t even imagine :) I love the idea of a little backpack for him, how cute! He doesn’t chew gum, but he still has a paci, which will be great for take off and landing.

Catherine, ear pain is one of my BIGGEST fears because when I was little I remember the excruciating pain.. I don’t mean just the wierd pressure sensation, I mean mind numbing pain. I can only hope Jasper’s ears are water free :( He loves water, but I also think the Paci should help with the popping.

Stephanie, I’m so worried about that too (the business class passengers.. yikes!) I guess we can always request a seat in coach if necessary. I’m sure there would be people willing to trade if the plane was full LOL. I can’t imagine Jasper in his carseat the whole flight! He would freak.. I feel like if he sees everyone else sitting just like him he’ll get it and not feel like he’s as restrained as in his carseat, but I could be totally wrong. I guess we’ll find out!

Ava says:

We have an extra car-seat by the way in excellent condition. We used it on our trip to Europe. We can meet you at the airport (or wherever) to drop it off if you’d like. Let us know.
Also, in terms of light-weight strollers, the cheap umbrella ones from BRU are TOTALLY worth it. They’re small, compact, inexpensive and hold up really well. We bought ours for Europe and still use it. At this rate, we’ve paid 50 cents/day for it, and it’s been more than worth it.

Stephanie C. says:

Good luck! We’ve flown many times across the country with our almost 2 year old and once we manned up and got him his own seat it was a piece of cake. BUT we used the carseat on the plane. Otherwise he would have been all over the place wanting to get up and what not. If you do use your carseat you can also buy a try to strap around it so he has a little table – that was great for us.

You’re pretty brave flying business class with him though, because people are intolerant enough with toddlers in coach so I think you may get a few people in business class upset because they buy those seats to get away from noisy kids and what not. Hopefully not, but my fingers are crossed for you!

heartartz says:

oh yes in backpack he fit his blankie was stuffed but light!

heartartz says:

Don’t forget his bear!
When our son was little, he had a special small back pack for travel, in it he fit his favorite “friend”, a couple snacks, a favorite book or 2, and a couple “new” small toys. He then carried this on as his carryon.
Be sure you talk about going thru security in a light fun way…maybe there is a book about flying on an airplane.
In your carryon, take some new books, new toys and fav treats…the novelty keeps them entertained. Because of the liquids restrictions, you must buy your juice gateside, so choices are limited.
Does Jasper chew gum? It too was also saved as a special takeoff and landing treat (for ear protection).
Have a great flight and a fun trip.

Catherine B. says:

We have the Maclaren Triumph and love it. It is lightweight and compact. I have traveled with a jogging stroller and the Mac and definitely recommend taking the smallest thing you can. You never know how much storage your rental car will (not) have!
We have always taken Nathan’s car seat with us. We drop it off at curbside check-in and do not see it again until we arrive at our destination. I bought a cover for it so we can carry it as a backpack so that helps. I believe there are some that roll as well. The airline will wrap it in plastic if you do not bring a cover so it will be protected. I am pretty sure all rental car companies offer car seats though if you do not want to worry about bringing your own.
I would recommend for you to take some juice on the flight! The pressure change can bother babies ears so they need to drink something to “pop” their ears. I tried to wait and give Nathan his milk during take off and landing but he needed it earlier. Water was the only other liquid I brought for him and he was not interested in that. Since he was not drinking anything, his ears were hurting during take off and he was letting the whole plane know about it! Juice is a special treat at our house so I believe that if I had it instead of water, he would have been much more willing to drink it and therefore would not have suffered with ear pain!
Good Luck!

Sara says:

Sounds like a fun trip!

I highly recommend any of the Maclaren strollers. We have a Quest and love it! It is so easy to collapse, and very comfy too.

As far as a car seat rental, you shouldn’t have any trouble. Every company we’ve rented from has had that as an option on the webpage where you make your reservation.

Good luck; I always think packing is the hardest part. Enjoy your trip!

Cathy says:

Bring lots of little bags of different snacks and in the past I brought little bags with different craft projects that are plane safe and would keep the kids interested.
Hopefully the noise will lull him to sleep for a while : )
Have a great trip and I always reminded myself during the good,bad and ugly of a trip this is what memories are made of and every new day is the best day of our lives!
Have a great time.