Flying with twin toddlers

We did it. We took our first flight with our twin toddlers. I won’t lie – leading up to the trip we were anxious about the flight – what if they cried the whole time? What if everyone around us was going to throw shade? After all, the internet is filled with horror stories of people being hateful and nobody likes sitting next to babies.

It turns out that the flights really weren’t bad. There were a few moments of fussiness but overall the girls were entertained and happy. I attribute this to a combination of my prep and a new environment.

How we keep our twins happy on our 3.5 hour flight

Leading up to our flight to Colorado, I obsessively researched ways to keep babies entertained on planes. I queried my mom groups, my travel groups and my friends. I surfed on Amazon and I quickly realized that there’s a huge, very expensive industry geared towards travel toys.

I was not about to spend $30/per toy per baby just for a flight. That’s absurd. As I was getting ready to head out one day, I noticed that Zoey was playing at my feet with my husband’s toiletry bag. She was hyper focused on unzipping the side pockets and pulling things out. Which gave me an idea, so I headed to Target and raided the dollar section, school supplies and party favors. This is the outcome:

Because we were flying with so much stuff, I wanted something compact. I also wanted things that weren’t going to cost a lot of money in case the girls broke or lost things (inevitable).

I originally was looking for makeup bags, but found that pencil cases were cheaper and had much more fun prints. Inside each case, I put in the following things:

  • 1 Indestructible book
  • 6 soft, shiny poofs
  • 3 Clothes hangers
  • 2 sticky felt letters/numbers
  • Teething toys
  • A koosh ball
  • A plastic spoon
  • Linky loops
  • 2 Balls with suction cups all over
  • Post-it notes

Outside of the bag, I also had a roll of colorful tape that we tore pieces off and stuck to hands, tray tables, etc.

Each item was new (except for the teething toys and linky loops) and had different textures. While they didn’t play with the pouches exclusively, they did enjoy sticking their hands inside and pulling out everything.

The biggest hits were the Koosh balls (they liked pulling the rubbery strings), Post-It notes (all my seat mates were “gifted” Post-It notes on the way there), the clothes pins and the suction cup balls. Noted.

What we ate on the plane

When we booked our flights, we intentionally booked early flights to try to capitalize on naps (for the record, Zoey was way too excited to sleep on the plane on the way there). But I know my babies – they love to eat. Milk was not going to be enough for an almost 4 hour flight, and I didn’t want to rely on crappy plane snacks. So on the way there I packed food for all of us, including:

  • 8 oz bottles of milk for the girls
  • Homemade oatmeal bars with apples and raisins
  • BBQ Turkey meatballs
  • Snack packs of granola for El Hombre and I
  • Baby teething crackers

We gave the girls bottles at takeoff and landing for their ears. As we were flying, we broke off parts of the oatmeal bars for the girls for their breakfast. As we got close to landing, we switched to the BBQ meatballs. This way we had full bellies with real, homemade food. Because full babies are happy babies.

What we learned

Flying with babies isn’t as bad as it seems if you plan in advance. Also, everyone around us was nice and supportive. Several people asked if we needed help, offered to share food, etc. Instead of getting static, we were told lots of stories about our seat mates’ children and their first flying experiences.  I’m sure there were some anti-baby people on that plane, but we didn’t feel any rudeness from anyone.

 

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Every day I’m hustlin’

I’ve had my nose to the grind for the past couple weeks. I’ve been writing, editing and planning non-stop. During nap time, after the babies hit the sack, when the sitter is here.

It’s time to rest for now. I’ve just wrapped up a ton of content for one of my projects, I’ve got my action plan in place for another, El Hombre ran out and the kids are still napping. I’m set to finish a ton of work in the next two weeks and then take a break for a week (as much as any freelancer can take a break that is).

Now I’m daydreaming of crisp mountain air, being outside in tolerable heat and exploring. We head to Colorado in two weeks and I’m ready for a change of pace. I’m excited to be outside without feeing smothered by humidity. I’m nervous about two wriggly babies on a 4.5 hour flight.

This is why I freelance… to be able to strike out on adventures when we want to. When you can work from where ever, and whenever it opens up the world. It allows you to meet new people, to forge new relationships (which can lead to more business) and open up your worldview. I never feel more creative than when I get a different perspective and there’s nothing like travel to spark that fire.

Four of my travel must-haves

It’s no secret that I’ve got a bad case of wanderlust. Over the past decade, I’ve perfected the art of “pick up and go” and I’m quite proud of the fact that I can go overseas for a week and still only take carry-on luggage.  But there are a few things I take with me on every overnight trip:

  1. My Kindle. I read quickly so this has become a major space saver. Even though I don’t read as much as I used to (because twins) I still like to sneak an hour or so in each day.
  2. Face masks. I picked up on this during business travel to Denver. The plane ride plus the altitude killed my skin, so I picked up a couple of sheet masks at Target. And then I became hooked. They take up barely any space, and there’s something relaxing about kicking back with a face mask at the end of the day. Especially now that I’m usually back in our hotel or AirBnB by 8 pm because of the girls.
  3. Socks. I have a serious disgust for gross floors, and now that my girls crawl everywhere, it’s eye-opening how dirty hotel floors are. Unless they are vacuuming and steam-cleaning with a high degree of frequency, those floors are a cesspool of germs. gross.
  4. Snacks. Especially for long road trips or plane rides. Plus there’s something cool about getting local nibbles for the trip back home. My go-tos are coconut water, fruit, energy bites and some form of candy (usually the kind I would beg my parents for on our road trips).

What are your must-haves for being on the road? Do tell!

Dreaming of Wyoming

I’ve gotten into the habit of checking the “On this day” feature on facebook during my 2 am feedings and today’s brought such a smile to my face.

You see, I am pretty sure that we got pregnant with Z&E immediately after this trip. And this trip was life-changing for me. It was a tack-on to a business trip to Idaho, and it was my first time traveling alone. I was in a risk-taking part of my life. I was wound up with stress to the point of breaking. I had just turned in my notice to my job with no other job lined up. I had pretty much given up on the idea of getting pregnant.

I had tried to convince El Hombre to come with me to Wyoming, but he had just started a new job and he didn’t see my vision. So I went alone. After all, I wasn’t going to spend almost 10 hours of travel each way for two days in Idaho.

This day a year ago, I woke up at 5 am (mountain time), put on all my layers, hooked up my music to the car and made my way through Teton National Park as the sun rose to get to Yellowstone. To see the sun rise over Teton pass, with the mist steaming off the lakes is magical. The entire drive was breathtaking, and every waking moment I felt the stress slowly melting off. I entered Yellowstone feeling like I took a step back in to the Jurassic period. The ground was steaming and the world felt ancient.

I drove until I made it to Old Faithful, and I took a ranger tour around the geysers. Old Faithful erupted, as did several others, and watching the earth work its wonders with bison lazily grazing in the background, I realized that everything was going to work out.

I ended up spending the day driving through the park, stopping and walking around. I ended up close to the Montana border at one point and I remember debating if I should just keep going, just to see how far I could get.

I still daydream of those windy roads and the vastly different landscapes. Next time I want to spend several days within the park, exploring with my wonderful little family.

4 Tips for traveling alone

I’ve always envied my friends who fearlessly would take off in to the world by themselves. They’ve always seen braver, so sure of themselves.

shadow of myselfThen last year I went to Idaho for work. When I was researching the best airport to fly in to, I realized that I was only going to be a few hours from Yellowstone. Since it takes almost 10-12 hours to get to that part of the country from South Florida, I couldn’t come up with any reason to not spend a few extra days exploring the park. Except… I didn’t have anyone to join me.

Then I said, “why not?” There was no reason for me to not go. I refuse to buy in to the idea that women can’t travel alone. I’ve been way too stressed to not take some time to explore America’s first national park. And you k
now what? It was an amazing experience. I was able to move around when I wanted, where I wanted. I came up with ideas for a longer trip with the hubby, read books and discovered amazing parts of this country.

If I had to give advice on traveling on your own (especially if you are a woman), it would be this:

  1. Be confident. The first question I got was “but what if something happened to you?” Well, anyone who knows anything about self defense knows that the more confident you look, the less of a target you are. Plus it’s easier to meet people if you aren’t afraid to talk to people.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings. Definitely get off the beaten path. I did. But be aware of who and what is around you. Not just in a paranoid, “is something going to get me?” sort of way. But also in a “wow, this place is amazing,” sort of way. Since you aren’t with people, you have no excuse not to look up and around.
  3. Research. There’s no negotiating things to do because you have different interests. So take the time to find out if there are awesome things around that you wouldn’t normally be able to do.
  4. Sit at the bar. It feels awkward to sit at a table by yourself. It’s quick, easy and if you aren’t feeling the people, at least there’s probably something on TV.

And if nothing else, carry bear spray. Especially in the woods.

Throwback Thursday – Travel Style

So, I don’t always jump on the #TBT bandwagon, but this morning Facebook served up such a fun memory, I couldn’t help it. It’s no secret that I love traveling. Even if it’s just in my proverbial backyard.

It’s also not a secret that many Miamians like to get out of town on Memorial Day. Long story short, Miami Beach throws a hip hop party every year, and it gets crazy packed. Parking and traffic are even worse than normal and it’s virtually impossible to find a good spot on the sand. I always planned my vacations around that weekend for these reasons (plus an extra day that I don’t have to take PTO on? No brainer).

Back in 2009, El Hombre and I headed down to Key West for our first Memorial Day weekend trip, and it still ranks as one of my favorites of our trips together. Our friend had just moved back in town, and we spent the weekend on bikes, exploring side beaches, boating and listening to music. I’m pretty sure our uniforms were flip flops, bathing suits, shorts and sunscreen. I fell hard for Key West that weekend. I can still smell the coconut sunscreen and taste the saltwater.

Here are a few pics of that weekend:

Haunted by wanderlust.

It’s back. That restless need to experience new things and see new places. Historically, I’ve always been restrained by a desk job and a meeting schedule but now it’s different. I have no place to be except for here. And in South Florida there are still nooks and crannies that I can explore. But I’m held back from exploring for much more physical reasons. Shortness of breath, inability to lean over, the bone-in exhaustion that comes with too much activity.

I think I’ve always been haunted by this sort of wanderlust.

In the past I dreamed of faraway places like Egypt or Japan. But now I am deeply curious by all the wonders that this country has to offer. My latest fixation is the Southwest. I am dying to take a trip through New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. I also think of turning up north on that trip and revisiting Yellowstone – a park that stamped an indelible memory on my soul (and may possibly be the reason I got pregnant.)

I want to experience deserts and mountains. To hike through crazy rock formations and admire rivers cutting their way through the landscapes.  To be on the road and stop at crazy scenic spots and quirky local shops.

It will be interesting to see if these girls inherit my urge to see the world. I can’t help but envision them in part of these adventures. Only time will tell, I suppose.