First of all, happy Fourth, for those of you who are in the U.S. and celebrate our official recognition of Independence Day! (I don’t have to tell all you educated folks that the Declaration of Independence was not actually signed into existence July 4). Stay safe, and keep the burning objects away from Colorado!
Well, if all goes according to plan, today is the first unattended post of our trip. While you’re reading this, I’m fourteen hours ahead of my home town of Denver, wide awake in a town that never really sleeps–well, it sleeps from 11p-5a, but only if you need public transit.
My hope is that, after this post, my filler posts will be updated with content from our trip. However, my understanding is also that internet is sporadically available, so there are filler posts. Wouldn’t want to leave you, my reader(s), hanging while I am gone.
Today I want to cover travel in general, especially travel with a very small child. Aubri is just over a year old, and she’s with us on this trip because we couldn’t bear to leave her home for two weeks while she is this young. We might change our minds halfway through the trip.
We are fortunate because Aubri has flown four times already (two roundtrip flights to LAX) and been on a very long (10 hour stretches of driving) road trip. She has stayed in something like 8 different hotels already, sleeping everywhere from her carseat to the floor to our bed. She’s generally pretty calm about travel (although she hated driving when she was new), and she doesn’t freak out or scream when other kids are freaking out. A tip to you out there who are planning on having kids, or have them on the way. Socialize your child. Get them in play groups. Take them with you everywhere. Get them used to the hustle and bustle noises of grocery stores, malls, playgrounds, airports. If you want to take them somewhere different, make sure they get used to the idea first. You will be grateful.
If you’re planning a trip to Japan in particular, I highly recommend checking out jtbusa.com. They had great deals on plane tickets that saved me several hundred dollars, and their representatives are highly informative. I wish I’d realized I probably could have gotten away with just a 7-day rail pass. Hearsay is that it isn’t much use in Tokyo. More updates on that later in the trip.
Some things you need to know (if you are traveling with a small child). All children need a passport, even infants. They cost the same as adult passports and are only good for 5 years (but are good for 5 years even if the kid looks totally different when they get older). Aubri’s smiling 6-month-old face is going to follow her for a while. Also, on international flights, lap children still have to be ticketed, and with a paper ticket. The price is usually about %10 of the adult ticket, so Aubri’s ticket was about $160 after taxes, fees, and shipping. Also, some airports will let you through security with sealed baby food (we took fruit/vegetable/apple sauce packets in the squeeze containers, you can find them in the baby food aisle), but they will probably make you swear that it’s for the baby. Most of them won’t make the baby go through the body scanners, so have whichever parent is more sensitive to xrays (IE, the nursing mother) go through the metal detectors with the baby. Most airliners will let you check the carseat and stroller (if you are taking them, we are not taking ours to Japan) at the gate, so you don’t have to carry a screaming child across the airport.
For our purposes, we’re taking an awesome baby backpack to Japan. It has enough carrying capacity to cart a lot of extras, and it’s comfortable for us to carry Aubri most of the day. She’s walking, but she’s too little to walk all day. She only weighs 17.5lb, so a hands-free way of carrying her is optimal in a crowded place. If we need a stroller, they can be rented in a lot of places, and we don’t want to try to lug one around when we don’t need it.
We’ll talk about more of the resources we used to plan this trip in later posts. For now, just thinking about jet lag has me worn out… But we’re already planning next year’s trip, hopefully to the UK and France!
Edit for news: We flew Delta, and our plane had to be jump started from Denver–yikes! The flight from Detroiy to Haneda was nice and smooth, though, and Aubri slept almost the entire way. We’re safe and sound, and over at our host family’s house. Leaving in about two and a half hours for Tsukiji Fish Market!