spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Hey, I’m learnin’ here: Disneyland Paris

In a unique position here: planning my first trip to a Disney Park!  One specific Disney Park, to be exact: Disneyland Paris.  My sister went once, but that was in the Dark Ages when it was called Euro Disney Resort.  Of course I will take any info she can provide, but I’m essentially starting from scratch.  Here’s what I know about Disneyland Paris: Read the rest of this entry »

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Flights and Mice- Part 3

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 🙂

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Flights and Mice- Part 1

Hello, there! Something exciting: my sister has graciously agreed to share the details of her experience traveling with my favorite niece.  It’ll be her report of the travel TO Hawaii, then I’ll interject an Aulani Report and some reviews of other local activities, and then it’ll end with her travel FROM Hawaii.  These are her words- any comments I add will be in RED.

and away we go

And away we go…

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A tour of My Planning/Trip Binder

Hey friends (and several new followers)!  This post was requested by Jen 🙂  She wanted to know more about my Trip Binder and how I organize this low-tech item.  So here we go!

planning binder11

Here she is at my office.  That’s my eBags Kayla Town Square bag that I use for work.

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Planning for Aulani

Hey hey, my niece and her personal assistant, AKA my sister, are coming to town soon!  We have a bunch of fun stuff planned, including trips to the Honolulu Zoo, Sea Life Park, the Oahu Railroad Train Ride, the beach/pool, and of course, Aulani.

candace heart eyes

This will be my niece’s first official Disney Experience.  I’m thrilled that I can be a part of it- you may recall that DD’s first Disney Experience was a Disney Cruise and WDW trip with me and my sister. My being a part of this Aulani stay with my niece means another Disney tradition continues!

Since we’ll have 5 people (DH has to work), I once again looked at renting DVC points from David’s DVC Rental.  We needed either 2 rooms or a small villa, and cash rates WITH Kama’aina discount were coming in at nearly $1000.   Looking at the points rates on the DVC rental site, I saw that going through them would save a huge amount.  We wound up securing a standard 1-bedroom villa (sleeps 5) for $660.  Since my sister and I are splitting the cost, it’s very reasonable.  Our past Aulani stay was in a regular ocean view room.  It’ll be nice to have the extra space and kitchenette.  Here’s the floorplan:

aulani 1br

The bed is king-sized….me and both kids can probably fit on there 🙂  The pullout bed in the living area is queen-sized.

 

 

I tell you, the property is very beautiful, well-appointed, and includes all the Disney details you would expect…but I think the thing I’m most looking forward to is the lazy river.  That thing is AWESOME.  Another thing I’m looking forward to is the Menehune Adventure Trail.  I think DS will really like it, as it involves puzzles and is a scavenger hunt.  And depending on how DD does grade-wise this quarter, I may look into booking a treatment for her at the Painted Sky Teen Spa.

I’ve prepped homemade empanadas (my niece is crazy for them), got my jigsaw puzzles up and out of the way, hung a bell on the front door in case of any escape attempts, purchased a variety of yellow beach/pool accessories (her fave color), and unearthed the outlet covers that we used when DS was a toddler.  Hurricane Niece is coming to town!

But wait, there’s more!

  • Kama’aina, I found this great discount for Sea Life Park, which expires soon (3/19/17)!  You just bring a receipt from Times Supermarket for $20 or more to get 2 adult tix for $25, which is $15 off each ticket.  Nice deal.

Perhaps I can persuade my sister to do a guest post on her experience traveling with a toddler, following some of my tips…get back to you guys in a few weeks on that.  Also coming soon, by request, a post about my physical trip binder(s) and how I put them together.  I have one specifically for Disney, and one for all other trips- see below.  Have a great day!

binders1

The lowest of all possible techs

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“Show me your papers.” NOPE*

*on a domestic flight, that is.  Of course, you must be prepared to show your passport/appropriate visas/International Letter of Consent when completing international travel.  That’s the law, folks, because you landing in whatever country essentially means that you are asking permission to enter it.

Here are various accounts of a recent incident, including Customs & Border Patrol’s statement, which occurred on a Delta flight from San Francisco to New York.  Some thoughts:

  • it’s not international travel, and therefore, when you land, you are not “requesting permission to enter the US”….because, you were in the US when the flight began, and in the US when the flight ended.  Your ID requirements for before, during, and after the flight were set by the airline you flew.
  • Customs and Border Protection agents can ask you to cooperate with certain things in a official capacity.  In this case, they were looking for an individual adult identified by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents who was properly documented, but served an order of deportation, and they had information the individual would be on this flight.
  • CPB cannot require you to cooperate by showing your ID on a domestic flight.  In this case, everyone did and that was the end of it, because they did not find the individual in question.
  • in my opinion, it does make some sense to ask to check everyone instead of just people that matched the suspect’s physical description.  This avoids racial profiling.  If I had been asked nicely to show my ID, I would have asked if it were required, and then taken it from there.  The whole thing makes me very uncomfortable, though.  It’s weird that there are multiple reports of the agents just checking IDs, without reference to checking names off the passenger manifest.  Another point: domestic IDs like driver’s licenses rarely, if ever, provide information on immigration status.  So they weren’t checking documentation in the immigration sense.

So what advice would I give to people traveling domestically?  Read the ID requirements of the airline carrier you are using, and follow those to the letter.  I’d add the following to be totally safe: with babies, carry a copy of the birth certificate for proof of age.  With toddlers, it’s easy to make a laminated ID card with a recent photo (see example below, lol), and I’d carry the birth cert copy, too.  With school-age and up, school ID plus the birth cert copy.  In my experience, the TSA agents that check your boarding pass and ID before the security obstacle course do the simplest of all checks….they call out the kid’s name.  If your kid responds to the name on the boarding pass by looking at them, or verbally responding, they’re usually good to go.  These front-of-the-line agents will usually let sleeping babies lie, unlike their x-ray machine counterparts, who will make you take said sleeping little one out of the stroller or carrier before letting you pass, naps be damned.

disney-id

Ha, ha.  Kids’ IDs also generally include date of birth, descriptive info like hair and eye color, height/weight, and names/#s for legal guardians.  It may be worthwhile to list any serious allergies here, too. 

 

Pro tip: make your own laminated ID at home with self-sealing luggage tags.  I like the ones with the loops versus the clips, because you can securely attach them to the inside pocket of your bag, and no chance of getting a wee finger caught in the clip.  And the ones with neither loops or clips are too big to fit in a wallet, and easy to lose/drop.  Finally, many daycares provide a Child ID of some sort, and you can certainly carry that instead if it has relevant info.  IDs are good way to help a kid recognize their written name, so you get a side benefit.  Another one: it is fun for your child’s comfort object to also have an ID.  Long ago, DD made a small, crayon-colored passport for her doll Jessica, and it was helpful for “playing airport security” at home.  We even stamped stuff into it.  Good times.

OK, now…proceed as normal.  We all know the old line…kids are like horses-they can smell fear.  If you are anxious, they will pick up on it.  If you are traveling solo, make sure someone knows your travel details.  But I won’t be packing my passport or naturalization certificate for domestic travel nor will I be afraid to speak to my children in Spanish on the plane/at the airport.  Happy and safe travels!

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Quinceañera Trip Report Part 1: HNL to JFK

Me upon hearing/seeing the name “JFK airport”…

disgust

This is because, despite it being only 20 miles away from where I grew up in NJ, it can take over 2 hours and nearly $30 in tolls to get there.  Plus, the most direct driving route takes you through midtown Manhattan, so you need nerves of steel, a healthy rage-vocabulary, and catlike reflexes as well.

Here’s what I knew in advance: the party was going to be the Friday after Thanksgiving.  I would stay at a hotel because a bunch of relatives were coming from all over and I didn’t want to inconvenience anybody by taking up all the space at Hotel Mami/Papi with my people and a fluffy dress.  I would need a car to go back and forth to the hotel, to arrive early at the party, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

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Post preview: travel, Quinceañera, and general world news

This isn’t a full post- no time, as we just got back to Honolulu today and must get ready for school/work/life starting again tomorrow.  But a general idea of what will be coming up in the next few weeks…

  • travel via Alaska Airlines to JFK, picking up a rental car and dropping it off in NJ.  Includes details on Budget’s e-toll service.
  • our reward stay at Holiday Inn Secaucus, paid for by IHG points.
  • travel via United’s nonstop from Newark (EWR) to  Honolulu (HNL). Spoiler alert: nope nope nope.
  • a modest Quinceañera trip report.  It was a wonderful, beautiful, fun event.

Finally, a general support statement regarding the US Presidential election outcome.  All are welcome here.  No hate, no discrimination, equal rights for all.  If you don’t agree, leave.  If you do agree, please enjoy the posts coming soon 🙂

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Unaccompanied Minor Services- a comparison

Buckle up, everybody- your captain has turned on the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign.  This here is a crazy ride through the huge variety of services, policies, and practices of the rules for Unaccompanied Minors (UMs) on 6 US-based airlines.  Each airline name is a link directly to the Unaccompanied Minor policy of that airline- some pages were difficult to find navigating from the home page, so I figured I’d save you the work 🙂  Also, I would have torn my hair out trying to decipher what is recommended versus what is required for international travel, given that they all advise you to call in for that info AND it can vary per country, so I limited this chart to domestic travel policies, unless noted otherwise.  Some basics that apply to most major airlines: Read the rest of this entry »

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International travel, party of 1

Ok, so I’m off to South America soon, and have followed my own travel planning tips.  But…it’s downright weird.  I’m going alone, so my spreadsheet is puny and there are no touristic plans since I’ll be having a medical procedure and mostly resting.

Packing has been bizarre, I had to force myself to do it.  No color-coordinated list.  Just my stuff, and some gifts for my nieces and nephews.  It is exciting to take my new backpack out for her first gig as a carry-on, so there’s that.

I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I actually really hate the “taking off” part of the flight.  LOL, I’m white-knuckling the armrest, and tears are threatening to spill out of my tightly-closed eyes, and OHMYGOD I just remembered what that swoop when the plane levels off feels like in my stomach and I’ll be right back, going to cancel my tickets.

baymax

Thanks, Baymax.

 

Got a little too close to the ledge there.  Did not cancel.  *deep breath*

I won’t have DD or DH or DS’s hands to squeeze during takeoff, so I’ve created a “YOU WILL BE JUST FINE” playlist on my iPod, which is a mixture of Disney stuff that makes you feel happy to fly (the soundtrack from Soarin’, naturally), and some “remember when you were young and hip and stayed out all night dancing” fast-paced salsa and cumbia tracks.  I may even have a drink (!), which would be an all-time first.

My next post will probably be from the lovely land of Ecuador.  Wish me luck!

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