It’s a shame that the internet is closed for the holidays and no one is around to read this, but perhaps those of you who are terminally boring like us and don’t have plans will glean some wisdom from it. This blog is about our family and our travels, and I think it’s fair to say that 2010 was the most insane year for both (…so far). Even 2009, the year that we became proud parents to a reflux baby who is philosophically opposed to sleep, was less insane than the up-down-all around marathon of 2010. So while I have much to say about our last-minute trip to Maine for the holidays (Did I forget to mention that? To like, everyone? Including my grandparents who were, to say the least, utterly shocked to see us? I’m a stinker like that. Also, we’re still here and it is COLD) I’m going to do a roundup on the 10 things that made this year possible.
Even though my friend DP tagged a tweet of mine declaring my love of Smartwool as “stuff white people like,” I think I may have to move to Utah to polyamorously commit my love to both Tom and my socks. They were nothing short of perfection in Japan and on this current trip I discovered that the shirts are even better. As far as other travel products go, I have much to say on the topic of…let’s say “lady matters” while traveling, but I don’t want to gross out you dudes. Leave a comment if you’re interested in my thoughts on that.
Petroleum free, can be used as a facial moisturizer (I wouldn’t lie to you–my skin is sensitive, small-pored, and bitchy and I use it regularly on my face), can be used on small babies, and great for after-sun care. I am completely uninterested in you guys suing me for following my dumbass advice, so while I don’t think there’s any concern for those with nut allergies I’m going to absolve myself of responsibility for your hives by saying to check with your doctor first.
8. Kayak, Priceline, and other fare aggregators; United Premier status and other travel benefit programs
Our most recent flight to Maine, booked in mid-December for a Christmas Eve flight and a NYE return, was stupid-cheap…er, relatively. It was still a good chunk of change, but far less than I had anticipated. Priceline got me a good deal on a rental car that I used for three weeks this summer. Starwood Platinum status got us three free nights in godawful expensive Tokyo plus a free dinner. United Premier status got us upgrades and all sorts of perks, plus a free rental car with all those miles. When people ask us how we can afford to travel, that’s how–we cheap out on super-budget travel when it’s our dime, and suck every bit of benefit from our programs (with points accumulated through Tom’s work travel) as we can to make sure we occasionally get a hotel where we don’t have to share a bathroom with the old French dude who likes to freeball.
Worth its weight in gold at the airport, at temples with lots of stairs, at the farmer’s market, and everywhere else. Don’t balk at the price tag: good customer service and excellent quality ensures you’ll use this FOR YEARS.
6. Dropbox and Google Docs
Being in a billionty different places is fun, and so is having all my stuff in one spot. Also nice for all those mix playlists my musically-inclined friends like to make for me.
5. Quiet toys
The current favorites are an I-Spy bag from Etsy and the clip section of the Melissa and Doug basic skills board. Other improvised toys: the sarubobo keychain for our hotel in Takayama, a folding travel hairbrush, and the airline safety cards. If you’re traveling with a kid, don’t be like that asshole sitting next to us on the redeye from Osaka to Honolulu who plugged in a cartoon DVD for his three year old to watch…without headphones. DICK MOVE, GUY. Your travel toys need to strike that fine balance between keeping the child quiet and being quiet enough not to disturb anyone else. (If I see people rolling their eyes as we board in anticipation of Maggie behaving badly–she doesn’t–I also find it helpful to say very loudly “These are our new flight friends, Maggie, and we must be respectful of them and behave well!” She doesn’t understand me, obviously, but the point is made that I have the needs of others on my mind. If she acts like, y’know, a kid, I’ve bought us some goodwill from those who hate kids in flight on general principle.)
4. My purple plastic…thingy
No, not like THAT. I have a purple plastic document holder from Target. It cost $2, has a Velcro flap so documents stay inside, and is waterproof except around the corners of the flap. It is my mainstay, my constant, my one consistent traveling companion. As we make reservations at home, get tickets, arrange Maggie’s travel docs (our letter of consent if I’m alone, her birth certificate), etc.–all the paper goes in the purple envelope and into our safe until the day of our flight. Organization is paramount for this kind of lifestyle, and that thingy is my security blanket.
3. Argentinian malbec
This one should require no explanation.
2. New friends…and old
I met Geraldine, who rules all within her sight, and through her Christine and Jason. In Kyoto we met a musician named Chris who reminded us of Tom’s uncle and who burned Maggie a CD of his own folk music covers at the end of our conversation. At three amazing weddings, I got to know a ton of awesome new people and reconnect with old friends, some of whom I’ve known since I was in diapers (so by my calculations…since last month?). And of course, all of the friends and family that without whom, I would never ever have made it through our long spring and summer of separation. They made it possible for Tom to take a great opportunity and still keep Maggie and me surrounded by love and support.
1. The Monkeys
Sure, they scratch and they may or may not fling poo, but they’re my creative muses, my hilarious travel buddies, and the loves of my life. I mean, look at them!
Together and separately, in 2010 we saw:
Alice Springs, Australia
Wellington, New Zealand
Portland, ME, southern Maine and central Maine
Seacoast New Hampshire
Tokyo, Takayama, Kamikochi, Kyoto, Himeji, Kobe, Nara, Koyasan, and Osaka, Japan
Four countries, ten states. It was a very good year indeed. And next year? We’re moving to England.
BRING IT, 2011.