spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

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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Travel Guide Update: Hawaii Interisland Travel

As promised, I have updated the Interisland Travel Guide.  Much has stayed the same, which I verified manually.  I did make some small additions on new nonstop flights: Read the rest of this entry »

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Quinceañera Trip Report Part 5: making our way home

Unfortunately, it was time to leave NJ.  As arranged, my husband left first, driving the rental car to the Budget return area, and taking all the checked luggage with him.  He was flying American, first to Dallas from Newark, then onto Honolulu after a 2-hr layover.  I woke up with him to say goodbye, but let the kids sleep, since it was 5am.  I put the last bits & pieces away in the carry-ons, and woke up the kids about 90 minutes later.  Once they were dressed and ready, we did a last sweep of the room to check for easily-left-behind items.  Having my original packing list in hand to use as the Repacking List helped quite a bit.  I triple-checked that the envelope w/DD’s cash gifts was deep in my backpack, and that the carry-on with her new fancy jewelry was securely fastened shut.  Pro-tip: I used DS’s carry-on for the jewelry, and included the tiara and corsages, plus saved some space to shove our gloves and hats on top.  I figured anyone casing us for valuables wouldn’t check the bright green bag with the monkey on it first. Room cleared, we made our way downstairs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Travel = Education

This is something I know firsthand: traveling forces you to open to your eyes and see how people outside your bubble live, work, worship, and raise children.  If you have any sense at all, you observe, absorb, learn, and whether you agree with them not, RESPECT the cultural differences.

On my first trip to Ecuador that I can remember, we drove around the city and I saw little children my age working in the streets, barefoot.  I also saw some big, beautiful homes grander than anything I had ever lived in.  Later in life, I took a Greyhound bus from NJ to Florida which made several stops in small Southern towns- I saw things I had only seen on TV or read in books, like general stores and swamps.  At school, an Egyptian friend hung out with the rest of us (mostly Latino) kids, and I saw that our teachers and parents didn’t treat her any differently, so I didn’t either.  During college, I tried French Onion Soup in Paris, and learned that I hated French food.  Disney is a global brand, so any visit I have made to the Parks, Resorts, or Cruise Line rewarded my ear with many languages and accents.  Exposure to all of that was priceless.

I urge you not to be influenced by those in the government who would have you become afraid of your Middle Eastern friends, discriminatory towards your LGBTQ family members, distrustful of the immigrants you know, disrespectful to women, or any other ridiculous fear-mongering behavior put forth by people who are desperately trying to hang on to power.  I also urge you to not blindly follow the recommendations of whatever the majority of people are saying on Facebook for example. Find resources listing the actual facts, otherwise known as the truth, and follow your gut.  Fellow immigrants supporting bans on immigration, HEAR THIS: we do not get to close the door behind us.

If you are reading this blog, you have probably either traveled already in your life, or are planning to.  This means you are at least open to accepting the culture and people of a place that is not your own.  Make it your mission to travel for fun, to see family, to make friends, but most importantly, to LEARN.

coexist

I’m not sure who created this image, but I saw it on a bumper sticker near UH-Manoa and thought it was awesome  It says “coexist.”

 

 

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Quinceañera Trip Report Part 4:one day more

I just reread the ending of my last post and cried again!  Jeez, I need to get it together.  OK, let’s continue…

Today was Saturday, our bonus day to do whatever we wanted before traveling home to Honolulu on Sunday.  We definitely slept in.  We had only one concrete plan for this day besides packing, and it was to eat at Olive Garden.  Did you know that Guayaquil, Ecuador has an Olive Garden, and the US state of Hawaii doesn’t?  I would like to enjoy overpriced chain-restaurant Fauxtalian food, too, you know!  There was a location planned for Kapolei Commons, but it is on indefinite hold.

patience

“Patience, Iago.”

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Quinceañera Trip Report Part 3: eyebrows, holograms, and the Circle of Life

The day of my daughter’s Quinceañera dawned bright and sunny.  In fact, we had excellent weather during the whole trip.  It was cold but not freezing, and clear for the most part, with just a few sprinkles here and there.  Anyway, I had gone to sleep mentally reviewing the list of things that needed to happen today.  First, we got up and dressed, and stopped by the front desk to check into the extra room we reserved for tonight.  Then we made our way to my parents’ house, where DH and DS would be heading to the bus stop.  They were going to my beloved American Museum of Natural History, one of my favorite places in the world.  To use a British term, I was gutted not to be going with them.  My husband made my son very happy by spending the day with him at the Hayden Planetarium in the Rose Center for Earth & Space, since he’s been pretty into space and planets for a while now.  They made sure to stop and get some yummy NY food, too.  This worked out well, because everyone else was getting ready or doing last-minute things and my son would have been bouncing off the walls with boredom.  He got to ride the bus, go through the Lincoln Tunnel, then ride the subway and be in this room, which I love: Read the rest of this entry »

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Quinceañera Trip Report Part 2: showers, donuts, Thanksgiving

At the end of Part 1, we had arrived at my parents’ house after the long journey to NJ from Honolulu.  They were, of course, thrilled to see us, and it was mutual.  DD had a hair appointment right away, to get her ready for the extensions she was getting for her party ‘do.  First, we had to buy the actual hair, and the boys had to go get fitted for their tuxes.  We split up, with my dad, DH, and DS headed for the tux shop, and my mom, me, and DD off to the beauty supply place. Read the rest of this entry »

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