Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.

Preparing for 36 Dreaded Hours

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.

On a flight at 4-months…so peaceful.

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.

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6 comments on “Preparing for 36 Dreaded Hours

  1. veg-ease
    June 3, 2012

    Thanks for the list! Electronic devices…so smart. I forgot that on our 28 hour journey! I also forgot bum cream and gravol.

  2. Lisa McKay
    May 26, 2012

    Ugh. I can’t believe the itinerary. Except, I can. Thinking of you as you prep.

  3. Madhu
    May 20, 2012

    Your itinerary is insane! Thank God for the overnight. All the best with your preps.Your kids must be pros by now 🙂

    • Wanderlustress
      May 21, 2012

      Yes, they definitely know the airport process pretty well by now. Unfortunately, they aren’t familiar yet with sitting on an airplane for 13 hours straight!

  4. travelladywithbaby
    May 17, 2012

    OMG, that is the strangest flight itinerary. Deep breathing. To make it easier –
    don’t worry about noise, we didn’t. We brought the leap pad. I swear by it, it is hours of entertainment.
    For extra clothes, try Merino wool, I have washed my shirt from vomit (and it was a colleagues) on the flight, put on an undershirt and then got the flight attendant to hang it up and it was dry within 2 hours.
    I bought LeSportSac bags for flights, they are crazy light, and again, I had to rinse mine out in the middle of the airport in HK. The thing dried so fast. Plus, if you have a carry on on wheels it fits nicely onto the handle. I just always keep food and Kid things under the seat for easy access.
    I swear by play doh and Chef Boyardee.
    I just had a friend who got posted with her 3 kids to Vietnam, I can ask her what she packed.

    • Wanderlustress
      May 19, 2012

      I would love to get an idea of your friend’s trip, thanks! And thank you for your tips. I’m taking all the advice I can get!

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