Author Archives: Lori Chaplin

About Lori Chaplin

Lori Chaplin lives in San Francisco and San Diego with her husband and her 5 year old daughter Olivia. She is an Exercise Physiologist by trade and a travel bug at heart.

August 8, 2008

keeping your travel sanity

We are confirmed travel addicts.

As a couple, my husband and I traveled as much as possible and now that we have a daughter, we are pleased to announce she is one of us. Although we are troubled by the fact that she will not eat salsa, she indeed loves to travel and so we will, in turn, allow Olivia to remain in the family. Traveling is deeply seeded in her DNA. Okay, that was dramatic. The truth of it is that she thinks everyone does it and it is normal everyday life. We have had only one mild passive-aggressive objection from her and it was on her 1st birthday celebrated on the big island of Hawaii. She took her first steps there, which we thought was especially magical as her namesake is Hawaiian. However, during that week of her birthday (we celebrate “birthday weeks” at our house) we continued traveling and she continued walking in Hawaii, then California and then Chicago. This is when she went on strike and didn’t walk again for 2 weeks. We got the message, three states in one week is too much to ask of a one year old.

There are so many travel tricks that we have used over the years to make the air portion of our travel smooth. As she gets another year older we have to come up with new solutions for cohesive travel. We started her traveling as an infant using the obvious trick of breast-feeding on take-off and landing. Bottle, boob or pacifier is essential to make sure you do not have the screaming baby in row 4 that rows 5, 6 and 7 wished was not there. Seems obvious but I have witnessed many-a-parent traveling with their child screaming in pain upon the landing. The baby has to swallow to break the building pressure in the ear canal upon take-off and decent thereby keeping baby free from pain and allowing the parents to smile an elitist smile when all members of row 5 state “that is the best baby I have ever seen.” We flew today from San Francisco to San Diego and a box of soy milk with a straw and carrots were on the no-ear-pain menu now that she is 5. Although Olivia’s Berkeley/hippie pediatrician states I can breast feed until she is 6, I opt for carrots at this point.

There have been a multitude of travel secrets between her infancy and 5 years old. Some I am afraid to mention or should I say that I am too embarrassed to mention. Two of such involve the airplane bathroom. Our current all-important travel secret is… podcasts. Olivia has a Nano iPod filled with podcasts. While she prefers the podcasts I download which contain video, I have also loaded it up with stories sans video. Everything from French lessons to Sesame Street. We used to travel with the portable DVD player, which was both heavy and bulky. It was always running out of battery life but worse yet, her movie would be mid-point and she would hear the instructions to turn it of by the invisible pilot. Very frustrating for her. Podcasts are great for short flights with short humans with short attention spans. Great for driving around Saudi Arabia too but that is an entirely different story.

start traveling y’all

Prior to having a child, my husband and I traveled all over the world. We live in San Francisco and we love to travel the globe. We have been told, time after time, once we have children our travel days will be over. Heeding this information, we traveled to Indonesia prior starting a family. We chose Indonesia because it seemed to be the farthest possible place for us to travel to. It was our theory to travel to the most distant possible place because after starting a family it would never happen again. After all, that is what EVERYONE was telling us.

EVERYONE was wrong.

December of 2007 our daughter was 41/2 years old and we found ourselves in Saudi Arabia. We were wrong about travel on two accounts. One: travel is definitely not impeded by children and two: Indonesia is NOT the farthest place from San Francisco. Saudi Arabia is!

We feel our success with traveling as a family is from just that….traveling. It is so second nature for our daughter that there is never an issue. At the age of 4, Olivia had been to 5 countries. Multiple prior domestic trips also helped. I urge all brand new families to start traveling with their babies right away. No reason to wait. There are many tricks for being en route but the biggest secret to success is to start them at a young age.