Thursday, January 21, 2010

Disneyland on a budget

We are headed to Southern California bright & early Saturday morning. I am so relieved to be flying instead of driving as we usually do. You can imagine what that trip (about 22 hours) would be like with kids aged 4, 3, and 7 months so flying is a definite improvement! We haven't flown in over a year and are finding that air travel has become more complicated and more expensive.

We are hoping to avoid most of these costs by careful planning and packing, but it's been a lot of work this week!

First of all we are charged $15 for the first checked bag and $25 for each checked bag after that. Hmm . . . There is a lot of gear that goes along with kids! How will we avoid these baggage charges?

Our airline will check the strollers and carseats for free. Phew! We don't need the pack'n'play because Ed's folks bought one for our visits. So we have to figure out how to pack 10 days worth of clothes, diapers, kid activities and food. We will only be with extended family for 3 days so we're on our own for food those 7 days. To save funds we are planning to take along most of our food and prepare meals in the kitchen at our timeshare.

Here's what we decided:

Each of the 4 purchased seats is allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item. The girls will each have a carry-on with their own clothes and toys as well as half of the baby's things. This worked pretty well since their clothes are small and we only packed 4 outfits for each of them. We will have laundry in our timeshare so I am taking laundry soap instead of extra clothes.

DH & I will share one more carry-on. This is a little harder since our clothes are bigger, we have bigger toiletries, and we want to take things like our Bibles and books to read (this is vacation after all). We aren't done packing ourselves yet, but I'm pretty sure we'll take our skinniest, no study notes Bible and limit our reading material. We also will only take one extra pair of jeans and 3 shirts. I think I'm going to be using the washing machine a lot!

The final carry-on bag will be for a late Christmas gift that is fragile, heavy, and bulky and our soft cooler full of frozen-solid meat for the week. Yes, you can take meat on a plane. In all, with travel to the airport, time at the airport, flight, and travel from airport the meat will have only been out of the freezer and in a cooler for about 6 hours. Usually it's still frozen when we arrive.

We are going to check one bag and pay the $15. This is a huge duffel bag full of the non-perishable food for the week like cereal, crackers, nuts, pb & jam, box dinners, instant potatoes, salad dressing, etc. We also have all the diapers in this bag. We were going to pack all this in a big suitcase, but realized we'd have to pay the $15 on the way home then, too. Instead we are using this army duffel bag that we can just fold up and tuck into a carry on for the trip home.

So that's our frugal luggage plan.

Now we have to figure out how to navigate the airport, including security, with two strollers, four carry-on bags, a laptop backpack, a diaper bag backpack, and my purse? Oh, and three kids with their blankies.

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So, what do you think?