This was our third big travel with four young kids and it went amazingly well! Tips we learned from previous travel:
Pack light and plan to do laundry.
I’ve mentioned before, we use the Mother Lode ebags. They are back pack style and exact measurements for carry-on luggage. Three people’s clothes and toiletries are carried in each bag. We were also able to keep papers, passports and tablets in them and still pass the 7kg weight limit for international travel. The best part is not having to check luggage. Between boarding, flight, and transportation, it just helps us move easier, quicker and less waiting for tired kids. Bonus, no chance of losing your luggage!
The two big guys carry smaller back packs for the camera, snacks, water bottle, etc.
Lotus carries a small bag filled with small toys.
Packing light and planning to do laundry translates out to about two pairs of pants and four shirts, 4 pairs of socks and underwear per person. We use a lot of quick-dry, light weight clothes.
What we learned from this trip:
Packing light and traveling to a colder climate presents a new challenge. The answer is layers. Long underwear doubled as a base layer and pajamas. The Columbia Mighty Light jacket with Omni-heat for everyone was a great choice. They are incredibly light, warm and stuffed into back packs easily when the weather warmed up.
We didn’t have any Couchsurfing options this trip so we opted for an Airbnb rental. Hotels in Tokyo are extremely small and expensive. With Airbnb we got a decent sized apartment, great prices and a personable host who helped us out on occasion.
I usually plan very few activities. Taking it easy and paying attention to what the kids are able to handle makes for a smooth trip. Even though I only planned three things for the entire two week vacation, we ended up doing a ton of things! Splitting up and doing different activities worked out well for us too. The big guys were able to enjoy the long trip to see the monkeys with mom, while the little guys enjoyed something closer to the apartment with dad. Then Dad enjoys a relaxing day with his oldest son the next day.
Jet lag: Going West was a lot easier than going home. In fact, I was worried the kids would be wired from the plane trip and make too much noise in the apartment. Instead, they went to sleep at 5pm and woke up at 3-4am each night for the first 5 days. They were awake at 3am but stayed quiet in their beds until 6am, at which point most residents are getting up for work. Not bad at all!
Coming home has been tough! we couldn’t sleep most of the night, then sleeping until afternoon. Lotus had been sleeping in her own bed before the trip and we even bought ourselves a new queen bed (threw out the old, worn out king bed). After sleeping with me on vacation she spent the next many nights wanting to sleep with me but I don’t have good bed options. That means not getting any sleep while I try and get her to sleep.
After a full week of exhaustion and nesting at home we finally recovered. Whew!
Isaac: “It was the best!” favorite activity: Snow monkeys.
Xander: “Out of all of the trips we have taken, this was the best.” Favorite activity: going to visit friends (Mari, Toshiyuki and Hikaru)
Simon: “It was awesome!” Favorite activity: Robot restaurant and fighting the robot.
Lotus: “All of the ice cream!!” Favorite activity: The bike ride!