Friday, July 26, 2013

Hawaii with a Toddler - The Gear

"The Gear"

Anyone who has traveled, or even lived, with a toddler knows that it requires a lot of STUFF.  Every outing requires things like diapers, bags, wipes snacks, strollers, carriers, pack and plays, etc, etc, etc.  So, I thought it would be worthwhile to spend a post just on the various gear we brought with us to make this trip smooth and wonderful.

Becco Butterfly II

I think I would have to say that this item would rate #1 on the best items we have used traveling, and FOR SURE in Hawaii.  Plus, don't I look handsome using it?  (note, picture is not really me, haha).  
Without getting into the ins-and-outs of Baby Wearing, this really is a great carrier, both for comfort, and for the health/safety of the baby.  Its supports baby's legs so they are not being dangled by their crotch.  
The primary feature that drew us to this particular carrier was that you can strap your baby in to the carrier while its off your body.  There is actually a swatch of fabric between you and baby, and this means you can get your toddler settled, THEN lift them onto your back or front and buckle in.
This carrier is EXTREMELY adjustable.  Its capable of front or back carry, and comes in a lot of fun patterns.  
Note: The Butterfly 2 has been discontinued, though at the time of this post,  you could still find it online.  Becco does have other carriers with the same feature set!
Amazon Link: Becco Butterfly 2
Finally, here is a pic of B enjoying a ride in the Becco

Britax Car Seat Travel Cart

Coming in at #2 on our favorite gear for traveling with our toddler is the Britax Car Seat Travel Cart.
Simply, this cart converts your LATCH equipped car seat into a stroller.  We use a Britax Marathon seat, and it fit PERFECTLY on this cart.

This cart folds down for easy storage and fit easily into the overhead bins on the airplanes we were on, and once unfolded, the seat goes on in a matter of seconds.  Just set the seat on it, click latch to the loops on each side and snug them up.  SIMPLE!!
Taking the seat off was even easier, just hit the latch buttons and your done!

The cart is light yet sturdy, and the roller-blade style wheels were smooth and wonderful on carpet or tile in the airports.  B loved riding in it, and we were able to push or pull him depending on the situation with ease!

Britax Marathon Car Seat

Logically, the next thing to think about is the car seat we put ON the cart.  This is not only the seat we traveled with, but its also our daily driver seat, and it normally calls our Honda Odyssey home. 
B is comfortable in this seat, and with the addition of the frame, it was a pleasure to use.  We purchased seats for B on the flights to and from Hawaii, so we brought this seat with us.  It is Air Travel Rated, though don't assume all seats are.  
None of the planes had LATCH (I don't think any do), so we did have to use the belt.  I'd recommend getting a belt extender and to practice ahead of time.
Once installed in the plane, B was comfortable, VERY secure and quite content.
If you want more information on flying with this seat, see Flying with a Toddler Part 2 .  
Amazon Link: Britax Marathon
And, here is a quick pic of B, being silly in the seat that's ON the cart!

JL Childress Airline Carseat Bag

The final piece of the Car Seat puzzle is this Carseat Bag.  Its an extremely simple, and inexpensive bit of protection for your seat if you need to check it.  
This bag folds into an attached pouch and packs away easily.  Its BRIGHT RED, and easily spotted as you come off the plane and you've gate checked it.
It also stood up to the abuse that baggage handlers tend to give to luggage quite well.
Also note, this item WILL fit over the seat while its attached to the cart.  This worked quite well.
We attached our gate check tags to the handle and it was easy to carry down the gangplank.  We used this on the island hoppers between islands.  Its not super heavy-duty, but for the price, it can't be beat!

Pea Pod Travel Bed

This one may be a bit controversial.  Yes yes, I know there was a recall,on this product, but the reality is the recall was from NOT PROPERLY USING IT... not a flaw in the item.  That's all I'll say about that.
We have used this item a TON of times since B was born.  Basically, its a small tent with an air mattress that goes in a pocket under the tent.
It folds up easily, and springs open quickly when needed.  
It comes with its own carrying bag, and the air mattress is self-inflating.
The Pea Pod helps to contain your little one in a safe manner while they sleep, or  you sleep, yet lets air in, lets them see you, and protects them from bugs.
All around its a big WIN!  These had become a bit hard to find after the recall, but as of now, there are multiple spots online!!
Amazon Link: PeaPod

thirty-One Cindy Tote

This was part of our diaper bag solution when traveling in Hawaii.  Basically, this bag from thirty-One was our diaper bag on the plane, holding all the assorted stuff we needed for B.  Once we got to our location, we used it for other things, as we had packed a small (2-3 diaper size) bag in the suitcase to use on the islands.
There is not much to say about this bag other than, It works GREAT!.  Its quite large, the outside pockets are great for holding a sippy cup or bottle, and the zippered top keeps everything contained.
I was amazed at how much stuff we could get into this bag!
And, for the guys, there are actually prints I am not embarrassed to be around... REALLY!
thirty-One's Site: Cindy Tote

Revo Hardside Luggage

Unfortunately, this luggage is on closeout as of when I'm writing this... but we LOVE IT!
We decided on hard sided luggage, as we had had too many soft bag get destroyed during air travel.
These bags feature 4 swivel wheels, and each wheel was a double.  They rolled easily either when using the handle, or straight upright.
The color also stuck out among the rest of the luggage on the plane.  
Also included are TSA locks built in to the case.  These were great and very easy to use!
Our bags look almost as good today as they did before we traveled, and THAT we appreciate!

Elmo "Pak Pak"

 I have no idea where we got this backpack, I believe it was a gift from someone.  But B loves it.  I specifically mention it as "Gear" because I think its a good thing to give your toddler something to carry.  We didn't put much in there except a toy or two, a small book, and his lovie.  Any time we were walking at the airport, he wanted his Elmo Pak Pak!  And, if you get your little one a seat, he gets the same baggage allowance as you!

Amazon Link: Elmo Backpack

iPad / Touchpad

Even if you are against "Screen Time" for your little one, I recommend some kind of tablet to bring with you.  We had 2 with us, our Ipad and our Android Tablet.  Not only did these provide entertainment to B, but we used them to manage the THOUSANDS of pictures we took.
A few things to note:
If you don't have wifi or 3g where you are with your tablet, you will not be able to stream Netflix (duh), but it can also cause Google Play Video's to be slow to open.  We put Sesame Street and Finding Nemo on the devices for B to watch on the plane.  He didn't even care about sound.
But the other big use we had for our tablets was photo management.
We had our big DSLR with us, and kept filling the card. 
So, we used our NEXT piece of gear to help with this.

Ipad Camera Connection Kit

These 2 adapters allow you to either connect your camera via USB to your ipad, or read an SD card on your Ipad.
We used this in connection with our Dropbox account to empty the memory cards, and when we had WIFI, to save them to dropbox.
The neat thing about this was, by the time we got home, all our photos had synced to the computer, and we could view them there, or on one of our smart TVs
There are options for Android Tablets as well, including some with SD card slots on them, or adapter cables that allow you to connect USB.  These are not as a standard for Android hardware, so do a little research!
As well, Apple changed the connector for the latest gen Ipads, so these connecters pictured above will be slightly different.  

Floaty Swimsuit

IMPORTANT NOT:  These are not personal flotation devices, and are not meant to save a life.
We had one of these for B.  Its basically a swimsuit with flotation foam front and back.  We brought one of these, as well as an infant PFD with us. 
We discovered that when wearing this one, B was more comfortable in the water and really started to enjoy being in it.
Recently, at home, we have been using this to help him learn to swim and learn to be comfortable and capable in the pool!
NEVER EVER EVER leave your child alone in the pool assuming this will save their life!

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