spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Flights and Mice- Part 3

on April 26, 2017

This is our last installment, where my sis boldly (ha!) details her adventures on the flight home from Honolulu.  My comments in RED.  I’ll be back soon with a regular post, lots of Disney news lately 🙂

FLIGHT 3: HNL to SAN. Hoping to repeat a successful flight out, I booked the same thing in reverse. Flight left Honolulu at 4pm, and the dates for our return only showed San Diego as an overnight layover option, and this time arriving much later, nearly 1am.

LUGGAGE COMBO 3: 1 large suitcase and 1 borrowed duffel bag, because of course I had more than I came with (natch), to be checked (all the way through to Newark); 1 backpack for hotel needs for in-flight stowing away; 1 standard carry-on for in-flight needs; my personal bag & her personal bag.

Mickey Overstuffed Luggage

HOW THAT WORKED OUT: This day, we had a low-key morning, and Hurricane actually DID catch a quick nap in the car on the way to the airport. This at least allowed me, with my niece’s help, to pass the large suitcase and a borrowed duffel bag first through Hawaii’s agricultural screening, then to check them in for the entire journey, not to be seen again til Newark. I returned to the car, cried endless tears at saying goodbye to my sister and my niece (much ugly crying ensued at the airport, and continued all throughout my drive home), hefted the backpack (hotel needs) on my back, hefted my sleeping child on my front, and hefted the in-flight needs bag on my shoulder. Hurricane was a little subdued, surprisingly enough, and again slept through a good portion of this flight, again declaring with about 30 minutes left, “Mami, no mas avion.” Same, kid, same. We get the hell off the plane™ in San Diego after midnight and just UGH until we left the next morning.

HOTEL 2: It was much more difficult to find a suitable hotel in San Diego. I didn’t find many with the 24 hour shuttle, and this was paramount since our flight would land in the middle of the night and I didn’t want to rely on trying to hail a taxi at that hour, by myself, with the Hurricane either sleepy or sleeping. The few that did have airport transfers, either didn’t operate at the hour we needed the pick-up, or were priced just way too high. In hindsight, I should have just paid up, because the Ramada Gaslamp (formerly St. James Hotel) was not only old (“historic” I would have said pre-Hurricane), but had one of those grate-door tiny elevators (“quaint” I would have said) that were a bitch to deal with at 1:30am. The room was microscopic, none of the outlets worked, and I barely slept a wink but thank goodness my daughter did! So much so, in fact, that I had to carry her downstairs in her PJs in the morning since my “F-it” levels were at max at this point. Most infuriating though, was the fact that they refused to transport us back to the airport in the morning, due to a stubborn, misinformed hotel clerk who mistakenly insisted I needed a car seat to use their shuttle. All kinds of wrong. This made me so annoyed that I looked up the laws…there I discovered that only some shuttles are exempt from requiring car seats for children under 8 years old.  It’s hard to decipher, but it appears to depend on the size of the shuttle.  Think of charter busses, with the little TV overhead, individual seats, cargo riding under the bus- those are generally exempt.  Now think of the sketchy airport vehicle this dumb hotel probably had…a passenger van or the kind of short bus with seating facing in and a couple of shelves that hold the luggage rather insecurely.  These are not exempt, and it is usually up to the driver or hotel staff to enforce the rule.  My sister and niece rode this hotel’s shuttle the night before, why did they suddenly choose to make her life difficult that morning?  At the VERY LEAST, they should have a disclaimer on the section of their website which describes their amenities so travelers can stay informed.


Rather than continue dealing with the situation, and of course having a flight to catch, I told him call us a cab, which I had to pay for, and looked longingly at the nice chain hotels we passed on the 10-minute ride to the airport. Full review is up on TripAdvisor as well (ETA: Ramada Worldwide has since contacted me and offered me some points on their program as a make-good. Meh.) Next time, I’m going to overnight in Seattle both ways, dates be damned!

FLIGHT 4: SAN to EWR. Same strategy as flight #2 leaving on a 10am flight and get home in time for bedtime!

LUGGAGE COMBO 4: 1 backpack for hotel needs, that actually ended up being checked for free! Leaving me with just the in-flight needs bag, and our personal bags.

HOW THAT WORKED OUT: First, we had that airport shuttle drama. Then our flight was delayed first one hour, then another one. So we were on the last leg of the journey, after the bad hotel and the bad airport shuttle experience, and Newark has the nerve to have weather.

how rude

But once again, the harness saved me; I was able to get a large coffee, and plop ourselves down by the gate (since we were now super early) at two seats with outlets. I plugged in my phone, I plugged in her iPad, and we zombie’d out until boarding.

ok mom mug

Since our flight was full, they were offering to gate-check any carry-ons for free. I got to check a 3rd bag (the hotel backpack) at no additional expense and that left me with only one bag and one kid to deal with on this last flight. It was a great experience w/r/t bags and logistics. Kudos to Alaska Airlines all around, they run a nice operation there. She watched movies the whole time and by the time we landed in Newark, and she ran out (as far as the tether would let her) to see her Daddy, we were both so done, so ready to not see an airport or a plane again for a long, LONG time. But we made it!!!

shaka window



So that’s all – I hope that this lengthy post can help both encourage you and reassure you, you, too, CAN, travel solo with a young child! Our next challenge – planning her first trip to Disney World. Only 2 and half years left to plan! I can’t wait. YAAAAAAAAAAAAASS.

One response to “Flights and Mice- Part 3

  1. gina says:

    you guys are troopers!!!


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