August 23, 2012

Lessons Learned!

In the weeks leading up to our big trip, people would naturally ask if I was excited.  While I was to an extent, of course, I was also really overwhelmed trying to figure out the best way to get the four of us and all necessary belongings out of this country and to the Bahamas (not to mention making sure poor Chipper was taken care of as well)!  After reading several blogs/articles, the trip actually went off miraculously well.
Because I know so many of you are probably prepping for your own trips (at least at some point), I figured I should "pay it forward" and let you in on the highlights (and lowlights!) of what we learned! 

1.  Everyone needs a passport to travel internationally...and yes the Bahamas are considered international.  This meant even Levi was required to have one.  To get said passport, both parents have to be present.  And as is typical for anything travel-related, the line to get one is ridiculously long.  My mom was kind enough to get to the passport office before they opened for us, saving us the second spot!  
2.  Even though infants usually travel for free, that is not the case internationally.  They need a paper ticket (which was about $100).  Unfortunately, paper ticket/infant disqualifies you from any kind of online check-in or even kiosk check-in once you are the have no choice but to wait in whatever line there is.  So, plan accordingly and allow yourself extra time (super huh!).
3.  Don't bother with the car least for the planes.  Those things are crazy heavy and when you're already hauling a purse, diaper bag, child, stroller, and maybe even more stuff, you don't want it...TRUST ME!  The kids will be fine on the plane without it!
4.  And speaking of strollers, BRING ONE...and the lightest/most easily operated one you own. We put a lot of thought into which of our four strollers to bring.  We didn't want to bring the double stroller because it is a massive/heavy contraption and we figured with my whole family travelling with us, someone would help out with one of them if necessary (if it was just four of us, we probably would have had to do the double though!).  But at the same time, we knew we would be doing lots of walking once we got there and wanted a place to put Colton if necessary (which it turned out to be on multiple occasions!), so we brought the umbrella stroller and left the Snap N' Go at home.

5.  As for all the other stuff we needed...the formula, baby food, diapers, wipes, etc...well, that stuff is crazy expensive and not readily available abroad.  Since Colton had a seat and thus a checked bag (for  $25 anyway), we decided to pack a suitcase full of essentials.  It worked out really well, but I also  made sure to begin prepping for it a couple of weeks in advance to make sure I didn't forget anything.
6.  I read a lot about how much fun stuff/snacks to pack for Colton's entertainment.  My mom wanted to be in charge of that...and generously prepared a massive goody bag for him...which she then left at home.  I was a little panicked, but honestly he didn't need anything but the iPad!  So my advice would be to save the room in your carry-on and just bring the iPad (and if you don't have one, go buy it...or something similar because it is well worth the money to keep these tots not only entertained, but actually learning!)
7.  While we're on the subject of the iPad, don't bother downloading books for yourself on there.  Since we just established your child will have possession of it the whole time, you won't be able to read from it anyway!  Oh, and don't bother to bring too many books anyway, even if you're going to the beach for a whole week.  With children, your time to read is way limited...I got through half a book the whole trip!
8.  Some of you may be wondering how I even got through half a book...which brings me to my next your best to keep the kids on their home schedules.  Our kids nap from 2-4 each day, and after missing that nap time on the first two days (which resulted in an epic fail of a dinner during which Colton absolutely crashed), we were vigilant to have them napping at 2 each day after.  All was peaceful after that!  Plus, it gives you some much-needed down time too!
9.  Consider babysitting. As much fun as it was to play with the boys, Josh and I both definitely got jealous of everyone else's down time, especially at night when they were out at the casino or getting drinks.  In retrospect, I would have honestly brought someone with us (as stupid as that may sound, I really don't think think the cost would have been that much greater).  But we didn't and each night, we debated hiring one of the resort's babysitters.  We wussed out each time, though, because those people are strangers after all.  But after much reassurance/persuasion from my family reasoning tht the resort would have to be very selective with their babysitters, we finally did it on our last night.  It was definitely worth it...and the boys were well taken care of!

10.  Enjoy it!  Sure, travelling with kids is different than travelling without them, BUT take the time to enjoy watching them experience new things and making memories as a family!

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