Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.
I want to apologize for posting only pictures without much narrative recently. It seems like all of a sudden my brain has decided to devote itself solely to getting the family to Laos without undo snags which means finding my way through the darken maze of government employee travel regulations as well as conduct exhaustive independent research for flight routes etc. in order to arrange what’s best for us (ie, the least amount of time possible to cross the globe with two energetic toddlers). But who am I kidding because no matter how familiar I am with the regulations or what flights I find, the travel agency that books flights for State Department employees will undoubtedly book the flight that has always been booked to get from point A to point B. No one (or very few) people get to reinvent the well greased (though sometimes illogical) wheel. Take for example the possibility of flying DC-Seoul and connecting Seoul-Vientiane. Simple, right? No. There are no partner airlines with a US carrier (see “Fly America Act”) that flies direct from Seoul to Vientiane. This means we HAVE to fly DC-Tokyo, 3 hr layover, fly Tokyo-Bangkok, 12 hr layover, then fly BKK-Vientiane. After over 20 hours of travel, they are merciful enough to put us in a hotel for the overnight in Bangkok before catching our flight to Vientiane.
Door to door, it will take approximately 36 hours and here are some of the suggested things to bring on board when flying with kids:
- One diaper for every hour of travel plus as many extras as you can. For us this means at least 72 diapers.
- Several changes of clothing for every family member in case of vomiting, diarrhea, spillage, and flight delays.
- One new toy for every hour of flying time, so for us this means more than 17 toys x’s 2 kids. Oh, and if you wrap each of them, it will occupy the kids longer. Volunteers for wrapping welcome.
- Electronic devices and apps that will entertain the kids – iPad, iPod, smartphone, DVD player, you name it…but only things that kids can use with headphones to not disturb other passengers. Definitely no electronic or musical toys.
- Kid’s favorite books, drawing pads, crayons (triangular ones don’t roll off the tray), stickers…stuff they are known to enjoy doing at home.
- Kid’s favorite stuffed animal or whatever is their “lovie” that comforts them for going to sleep. And make sure you have a back up favorite or a duplicate in case it gets lost.
- Food, snacks, wipes, small first-aid kit, anti-bacterial gel.
(And some airlines want to start charging for carry-on luggage!)
I could go on but I get a dull ache l in my stomach when I think too much about the long trip so I’ll stop here.
I remember how hard it was flying with my kids when they were super little and how easy all of that seems now in comparison to what’s ahead, especially when I think about how well they used to sleep on airplanes. It was mostly peaceful except for only one particular flight. I can’t imagine it will be the same now given their abundant kinetic energy and tantrum throwing when they get bored or tired (neither of which will be avoidable on our journey).
Oh well. Maybe if I set the bar really low in my mind, I’ll be pleasantly surprised when the time comes. In the mean time, I’ve got to tackle sorting our belongings into three categories for the packers coming in a month: air freight, sea freight, and consumable goods, as well as plan for our check-in luggage and carry-on.
This is all really boring, mundane stuff, but I’ve got to slog through it. On the other side will be tales and photos of our adventures in Laos. I promise.