xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' World Toddler: 2015

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Where to store your stuff during world travel

My first recommendation: If your parents have a basement and are willing to share- Put your stuff there!  Storage units, as I am coming to learn, are pretty darn expensive.  And dropping $150 - $300/month just to store your stuff feels like a pretty big waste.  Man, I'd rather use that $1,000 or so to buy the World Toddler her own seat on the 14 hour flight from Osaka to Tel Aviv.  Alas, if you must use a storage facility, as we are, here's what I've found:

Pods seem to be the way to to go.  Offered by Pods. com, UHaul, and various other companies, the company either delivers the pod to your home, or you can attach the pod to the back of your own SUV-type vehicle.  Spend the day loading up the pod, then deliver it to the storage facility.  All your belongings stay put in the pod until you return.  The pod is then delivered to your new address.  This cuts out an entire cycle of loading and unloading.  If, however, you prefer to schlep and save a few dollars, just hire a UHaul and put your stuff in a permanent storage unit.  Surprisingly, this option doesn't seem that much cheaper than the pod.

Reviewing the available options for my area, UHaul comes in significantly lower than the competitors, primarily because they let you move the storage unit yourself. So you can save about $500 on pod-delivery-charge.  Here's what I've found:

UHaul: $25 + nominal amount per mile for the truck rental to transport the pod. $126/month for the pod storage for a "studio/1 bedroom apartment" (and one month free just for asking). $250/month for pod storage for "up to 2 bedroom apartment". When it's time to retrieve our belongings, we can hire the same truck for $25 or so to move the pod to our new home. Works out to be under $1,500 assuming we take 2 pods.

Pods.com: $180 delivery charge for pod. $145/month for pod storage (based on 5 months of storage) for a 12 foot container, which "typically holds 2-3 bedrooms." Smaller pods are not available in my area for my move out date, so I'd have to take this option.  Delivery of pod at move-in time will run us around the same amount as delivery charge ($150 - $250). PS.  I found a promo code on Retailmenot.com for my pods.com quote.  So these prices are 10% lower than normal. Works out to be about $2,000.

Atlas: $1900, all in.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Restaurants without High Chairs


In preparation for our recent trip to Lyon, France, we learned that the Lyonnaise do not generally use high chairs in their restaurants.  A quick google search pointed us to the $30 KisKise Sak'n Seat, a light, fabric "baby seat ready for use everywhere." With this portable seat, and the many others like it, you can make any chair into a highchair.  Seem too good to be true? It should.  Here's the problem with building your own high chair: If a restaurant doesn't offer high chairs, it's not because they want you to make or bring your own. It's because they don't want you to bring your baby. My advice? Take the hint and dine elsewhere.  Portable high chairs are not as comfortable as regular high chairs.  Your child will surely express her discomfort by squirming, throwing food and/or squealing, which will only draw more attention to your noisy, out of place, American family, ruining the locals' fine dining experience.  If you're having trouble finding restaurants with high chairs, stop by the grocery store and pick out ingredients for a picnic.  Enjoy the fresh local products in a park, where your baby can act like a baby. Or, if you're really craving a table cloth and carafe of wine, visit the touristy part of town.  You'll be overcharged for everything, of course, but, in exchange, your child will be offered a high chair and a smile.
Comfy high chair in tourist center of Lyon
A picnic in Vienne, France

I xoxoxo Benadryl

Before our first long-haul flight, my pediatrician recommended giving our then-10-month-old 3 mg of Benedryl. According to the Doc, Benedryl has no side effects, and almost always puts baby to sleep. Thanks to Benedryl, baby, parents and fellow passengers stayed calmed for our whole 9 hour flight. But beware: as my doctor warned, some babies have a reverse response to Benedryl and actually get more hyper. So definitely test out meds before ever using them on a plane or your long-haul flight will be interminably long haul.

Packing List Problems

Travel books and the internet abound with packing lists for trips around the world.  The problem is, as far I have found, almost all of them are written by very low-budget, single guys.  My favorite packing list is in Rough Guide's First Time Around the World, where the author recommends you bring only 1 t-shirt (and, bonus: "women, if the T-shirt is longer, it can double as a nightshirt.") and 1 pair of socks, but to definitely make room for a permanent marker--"for making hitchhiking signs and other notices." Who on earth can travel around with one, stinky t-shirt?!

 Needless to say, the common packing list is not for the world toddler. As we start developing our own list, I'll post it here.  In the meantime, here are some of the most useful pieces of wisdom I have taken away from other travelers' packing lists:

1. Pack light. To do so, pack your bag with the least amount of stuff you think you need. Then unpack and remove 1/4 of the items.  Packing lightly is critical for a comfortable, enjoyable trip.

2. No bottles.  Bottles of shampoo and conditioner, etc, weigh a ton, take up a lot of space, and are likely to spill all over your bag at least once during the trip.  So just travel with trial-size packs to keep you covered in case of emergency.  Otherwise, buy what you need once you land at your destination.

3. If in doubt, buy it- don't bring it.  If you're not sure if you'll need something, leave it home. You can always buy it on the road or even have someone ship it to you.  Don't schlep something around the world "just in case."

4. No travel gadgets.  Don't get sucked into the REI travel gear aisle- buying all sorts of funky tools that you might, may, perhaps some day, need. If you're not used to using the gear at home, you're probably not going to use it on the road either.  

Around the World Trip Insurance

Annual trip insurance is a great concept for frequent travelers: 1 policy (and 1 premium) covers you for all the travelling you do for the entire year.  You don't have to worry about getting new policies every time you go on vacation.  Here's the problem for people travelling around the world: annual policies only cover trips lasting 90 consecutive days or less.  This limitation is often set out in fine print In the description of benefits, which might easily be overlooked.  In fact, annual insurance is intended for people who plan to travel a lot, but for only relatively short periods of time, over the course of the year.

Long-term travelers must purchase Single Trip Insurance. The insurance companies define a single "trip" as the time between your departure from and return to your home town.  Thus, our 6 months of travelling constitutes a single "trip" in insurance lingo, as we will not be returning to the United States at any point during our travels.  We do not need to insure each individual segment of our travel, but just the entire "trip" under one plan.  You can only insure up to the dollar amount of non-refundable expenses paid before you leave for the trip.  You cannot add coverage once you've set out on the trip.  So for instance, if, after departing for Argentina in February, we decide to add a week long river cruise through France in June? We cannot insure that cruise through an existing travel policy.  This means it's best to book and pay for all non-refundable components of the trip before leaving for the first destination.  This may mean decreased travel flexibility and additional planning, but will ensure you can properly insure your travels.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Long-haul Flights with Baby

Most international airlines seem to recognize the benefit of keeping babies happy on long-haul flights. Many international planes have bassinets that hook onto the wall in front of the bulkhead seats.  If you are travelling with a baby under 2, and a bassinet is available, the airline will seat your entire party in bulkhead and provide you the bassinet, free of charge.  Be sure to call the airline when you make your reservation to alert them that a baby is travelling with you and to try to reserve the bassinet seating.  If a non-baby-party has already taken the bulkhead seats, they'll be bumped to other seats to accommodate you and your little one.

On airplanes not equipped with bassinets, the airline will do its best to get you an extra seat. So before you pay for an extra seat for your baby, call the airline to see how they can accommodate you for free.  You can usually buy an extra seat at the gate if it turns out the baby accommodations are all taken. Worst comes to worst, there are no special accommodations, and no extra seats available for purchase, and you turn to Benedryl.