1.21.2014

Traveling with a toddler

Toddler travel supplies.
Believe me, we have wrestled with this decision since we started the process. Taking a three-year-old to the other side of the world was no easy decision for us, but ultimately, it came down to this: bringing Little Man on the trip wouldn't be convenient or easy, but we really wanted to meet Little Brother as a family. We wanted Little Man to be a part of this amazing process (he actually mailed in our application to start the adoption) and to understand, as much as he can, about how we have all come together as a family.

Over all, we are really excited to have this opportunity to do it with him. Had there been only the single required trip (as when we brought Little Man home) we wouldn't have done this. I can only imagine an international flight with one squirmy boy at a time! So, while more expensive and time consuming, the multiple required trips are allowing Little Man to participate in a huge part of the process.

Now, for the actual travel preparations!

I'll post after we returned with parent-tested toddler travel tips. Here's some of the things we are doing to prepare for the trip.

FLIGHT:
We enrolled him in the frequent flyer programs for our airlines. If we are paying the fare, we want the miles! For children, some airlines require a special form that you must fill out (instead of an online application) so it takes a little more time to process.We are flying Korean Air which is a Delta partner, which means we'll get miles to use here in the states for our trip to Korea.

I've also been crazy trying to find lots of new things for Little Man to do on the plane. Korean Air has screens on each seat with lots of movies, games, music and videos. And we have an iPad. But our guy's tolerance for screen time is only about an hour. He's just not interested in it after that.

Many experienced traveling toddler parents say to give the kids something new every hour. We have a 14-hour flight. Each direction. That's a boatload of stuff. I've built a small arsenal of activities he might enjoy. My parameters were that they had to be quiet, simple, not a lot of pieces and small/lightweight. The picture shows just some of it. I also have playdoh, pipe cleaners, tape/post-it notes (he loves to make "letters") and some little activities I found on Pinterest. It totally looks like overkill, but it packs down small, into 2 gallon sized bags (one for each trip). I'd rather be prepared than not!

Snacks are a must. Little Man eats non-stop. Half our carry-on weight will be food. You think I'm joking. I'm not! There's also suckers for take-offs/landings.

I'm debating on bringing the CARES harness. When he was younger I was able to keep him in the harness for takeoff and landings. But the majority of the time he screamed when he was in it although it would stay in his seat with the seatbelt on. I think we are erring on the simple side this time and going without.

Korean Air gives amazing family service. Last time we flew we were given a gift bag with some small toys, snacks, wipes, kleenex, etc to make his flight easier. This trip, a representative called us this week (they said they call everyone who is flying with children) to confirm meal choices and choose our seats. We are sitting on a side with our own row. Korean Air also brings all families to the front of the line and lets them board early. LOVE!

GETTING AROUND:
My worst nightmare---Little Man darts off (as he is wont to do) and gets lost in a sea of people. No one will look for the white people as the parents of a Korean kid. To avoid writing my name all over his body in Sharpie, I opted to use these safety tattoos. I'll probably have at least 3 of these on his body at any one time!

Koreans don't use car seats and most of the time we'll be traveling via subway, so we won't be bringing a car seat along. We are debating bringing an umbrella stroller (but leaning on the not bringing it side). It might be nice while rushing through airports and customs, but Seoul is not a very stroller friendly place. Little Man still fits in the Ergo, though the thought of 30-pounds on our backs isn't thrilling. However, it does get us through the airports quickly and he's easier to keep track of that way.

I've been tearing up the Web looking for kid-friendly things to do in Seoul. The Kids Fun in Seoul website has been particularly helpful. I'm hoping to get some shopping in, but realize that this trip will be our first foray into really international traveling with a child, and know that we'll have to go slow and do fewer things than we used to on international trips. Each day we only have one commitment (court, meeting with Little Brother, visiting with foster family, etc) and I'm hoping we can do at least one other fun activity each day. Other than that, I'm keeping my expectations low. Really, really low.

Which leads us to the hotel. Since we might be spending a good deal of time there, it was important to find a good one. We are staying in a serviced residence hotel which means it comes with a small kitchenette & laundyr. This will allow Little Man to eat some of the comfort foods he likes, and we won't have to drag him to meals all the time. I think this will take a lot of stress off of all of us.


Just over a week and we'll be heading out! Wahoo!


Resources:
Safety Tats: http://www.safetytat.com/
Delta Minor Skymiles form: https://content.delta.com/content/dam/delta-www/pdfs/skymiles/SkyMiles_Enrollment_under13.pdf
20 Things To Do With Kids In Seoul: http://kidsfuninseoul.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/20-things-to-do-with-kids-in-seoul/

3 comments:

  1. When we traveled to Korea with our 4 year old son (to bring our daughter home), we had him carry a laminated card in his pocket ALL THE TIME. The card was in English on one side and Korean on the other. It said something like "I am an American citizen who is visiting Korea with my parents x and x. We are staying at Fraser Central (phone number). If I am found, please call the hotel or take me to the United States Embassy". Made me feel better and he knew he was supposed to pull out the card if he got lost and couldn't find us.

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  2. Great ideas about putting contact info on the kids. And I would second the "no" for the stroller. Ergo is the way to go. And yes, it is 30 lbs but!! given all the new experiences for LM, being close to you could be a wonderful benefit. Don't hesitate to put him on your front, either. Even if he seems too big. Sometimes that belly to belly thing really helps.

    Almost there!! So excited for you!!

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  3. Pix,

    I know I am a bit late in the game here, but just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you and your family as you prepare to meet your little boy. Safe travels and enjoy Seoul! I look forward to hearing about your trip!

    Kristin

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