European travel plans?

by Finn

How have the recent bombings in Paris and Brussels affected you?

I’m guessing that one impact they might have on totebaggers is on travel plans. While Europe is not high on my list of places to go and things to do, there are a few places on my list, but those will probably have to wait for less turbulent times.

We’ve recently been affected. The kids’ school just hosted a group from Japan, who had originally planned a trip to Paris. But the bombings there caused a change of plans, and they came here instead.


144 thoughts on “European travel plans?

  1. My DD#1 school has travel plans to Spain this summer. They will be at an international language school as well as some sight-seeing and interacting with local families. It has not been cancelled and the bombings have not come up as a topic. I have not considered pulling her from the trip either. I think you are at risk everyday, it is a matter of from what – people die almost weekly on our major roadways in my metro – and how much you can do to reduce risk. The company the school is going through did send a broadast email right after it happened saying that they were in touch with their groups currently in and traveling through that area and that all were safe and accounted for.

  2. I’m of the mind that if you let something like this change your plans, then the terrorists win. We recently booked a trip to Iceland for this August, and we have no plans to change it. I know there’s some internal protests going on there right now and that won’t change our plans either. I wouldn’t travel to a known danger area like Syria or something like that, but you can’t live your life in fear. Something can happen any place at any time.

  3. We’re going to Paris & London between Christmas and New Year’s. I asked my DH if he was concerned about terrorism, and he said you could die in a car accident today and you have to live your life. His attitude helped calm me down.

    Looking for recommendations on places to go with a 5-year-old and 7-year-old. For Paris the big thing will be the Eiffel Tower, then we’re taking the chunnel to London. In London we plan on the Tower, British Museum, seeing a soccer game. DH wants a hotel with a pool in London, but I think that is silly. Any other ideas or must-see places for kids?

  4. DD. You will love Iceland. Bring layers, rain gear and sleep eyeshades. We did not plan travel this year outside of No America because of hubbys health. 2017 has Scandinavian trip planned if all goes well this year. Terrorism doesn’t change my plans, but I avoid visiting unstable or oppressive regimes.

  5. We had to cancel our planned trip for my milestone bday due to inlaw health issues. I am starting to think about a new plan because the summer is only a few months away, and there is a possibility that their health issues will be stable for a few months. I still want to go to Europe because it’s what I’ve been planning for a few years.

    My thinking is that I already live and commute to a very high risk city. It is probably less risky than Europe right now, but I do not believe that the commuter rails or subways are safe from terrorists. I haven’t changed my commuting patterns due to terrorists, so I am going to apply the same logic for travel. I am only going to celebrate this birthday one time, and I don’t want these psychos from ISIS to scare me away.

    I flew out of JFK a few days after Brussels. We never thought after canceling our vacation. We got more questions from our friends and family about Zika than the safety of flying. I was disturbed to see that there was little additional security outside of the terminals, or even in the parking garages. In my opinion, and based on my daily life – it would be easy to be a terrorist because there are so many soft targets. Does it seem more likely to happen in Europe right now? Yes, maybe. I just don’t want to let it stop me because I think there are threats that I face each day that seem riskier. It’s just that those threats don’t get as much news coverage.

    BTW, we didn’t encounter mosquitoes on our trip even though this was supposed to be a huge risk for the island we went to visit.

  6. DD’s summer band trip has already changed its itinerary twice in response to the bombings, which means as a practical matter it is now almost all Germany. I’m a little annoyed, but I realize they probably needed to do this or else too many parents would cancel. I am not even considering pulling her, because most of the time they will be in smaller towns that would probably be about 12,031 on the terrorists’ potential target list. Yes, they will be in a European airport, but I don’t see why that is any different than any other airport in the US that we all fly out of all the time — if anything, they’re probably safer given the heightened scrutiny at the moment. Our own summer travel plans remain unchanged as well.

    Of course I worry, especially about sending my kid off without me for several weeks. That’s just who I am; I worry about stupid things all. the. time. But I refuse to allow my irrational fears to control my actions.

  7. It was a minor factor for us. We seriously considered a southern Italy trip for this summer, along with several other US destinations that have been high on my list for a while. In the end, the cost of the plane tickets was probably the biggest determining factor, but general instability in Europe was on my mind.

    That said, would it have stopped me from planning the trip if all the other moving pieces had pointed to Italy? Definitely not. And I’m sure we’ll reconsider it for next summer.

  8. I am traveling to Europe for work in May. No changes expected.

    When I lived in London, it was during Sept 11 and other bombings and terrifying events occurred relatively near me. I continued to travel as needed and as I wanted. My family, OTOH, did not want to visit me, disappointing me greatly.

    You have to live your life.

  9. Terrorism has changed my plans in the past. We skipped a trip to Bali, when terrorists were targeting tourist destinations with bombs (nightclubs, hotels). We skipped a trip to Egypt when terrorists were kidnapping tourists. We skipped Machu Picchu for the same reason (rebels targeting tourists). All this was ~15 years ago.

    Like others, I will avoid hot spots, but what effects my travel more now-a-days is the insane price of plane tickets. However, I would still love to visit Egypt, and it’s off the list for the next few years, due to instability.

  10. tcmama – I highly recommend taking a Beefeater tour at the Tower. I also really enjoyed going to St. Paul’s, then waking across the pedestrian bridge to the Tate Modern. You can see as much or as little of St. Paul’s and the Tate as you wish with the kids, but the view is spectacular. The London Eye is fun too. If you’re a WWII history buff, the Churchill War Rooms are interesting and it’s not a big overwhelming museum.

  11. Kids seem to like Madame Tussauds, but your kids might be a little too young if they don’t know recognize a lot of famous people yet. I noticed that some places will close in the UK for a three or four day weekend around Christmas due to Boxing Day. It is the one time of year that tourist places may be closed for more than one day. If you’re near Covent Garden, I think it is fun to visit the Transport Museum. kids are free.

  12. I have no European travel plans, but if I did, I wouldn’t change them. You really are far more likely to just get hit by a car.

  13. I am thinking of visiting family in London next year. I learned that my relative who works in an airline does the European sector but missed Brussels.
    Since our family vacations now include the grand parents we do domestic travel mainly, that will be suitable for seniors. When my kids get older, their school does trips overseas, I may consider going. I wouldn’t go to unstable parts of the world. Some previously inaccesible countries are now open – Sri Lanka, Cambodia and slowly Cuba.

  14. “Since our family vacations now include the grand parents”

    All your vacations include grandparents?

    I was wondering about LAgirl’s plans to go to the Olympics in Brazil. I’ve read ticket sales are down, with some travelers concerned about Zika.

  15. Coc – yes for now. The seniors used to visit their other kids but they didn’t get along so they now live with us. If we leave them at home while we vacation, we need to make sure reliable help is available in an emergency.

  16. Probably more relevant than terrorism to me are tropical diseases. Not only with respect to exotic travel, but also the ever warmer southern wet regions of the U.S. or the islands. I would visit US destinations, of course, briefly, but as for relocation in late life, Santa Cruz looks better and better.

  17. Louise,
    Is your nuclear family able to travel at all without the grandparents? You are very gracious to invite them to live with you.

  18. I lost my phone sometime after 10 last night. I suspect that I put it down and some other older lady at the bridge club put it in her giant purse inadvertently. It was on silent. It will turn up weeks from now. So the two obvious anon comments were me on another device

  19. Santa Cruz looks better and better.

    C’mon down! The water’s fine!

  20. I lived in Germany in an era when there were far more bombings. We were planning to go to Paris this summer, and I hope we do. The only thing that may derail us is money – we had to sink a lot of cash into a rebuilt garage/shed thingy this year (original collapsed last year in snow)

  21. I don’t think I would travel to Turkey right now, a destination that’s been on my wish list for a while. I noticed my son’s alma mater moved most of their Turkey semester abroad students to Paris and other locations. A few years ago they suspended their Egypt program, and I don’t think they’ve reinstated it.

    “You are very gracious to invite them to live with you.” — Yes, indeed.

  22. Most of the Middle East is off my list, partially because of terrorism, but partially because of not wanting to deal with being a woman in a Muslim country. I also passed on a conference a couple of years ago that was going to be held in Israel. There was something or another going on in Israel at the time, and I just didn’t feel like adding stress to my life

  23. I’m in the “live your life” camp. DD is in Barcelona right now, w/ her dad and her BFF. He offered to take the girls someplace else but I didn’t feel it was necessary to avoid Spain, and neither did the other girl’s parents. I’m more concerned about a monthlong trip DD will take in the summer, to a small country in Asia where things like leprosy still exist. Still letting her go though.

    I’m not the wrap-them-in-bubblewrap sort of mom, and even if I were, I find having a boy first–especially of the make and model I have–has required me to let go of all of those urges.

  24. I went through anger, denial and now acceptance of the way the situation at home turned out. I guess religion helps me here, we all have our crosses to bear, this apparently is mine.
    Back of topic – my friend who has no kids tends to travel to the more exotic destinations – when I saw pictures of her in Turkey, I was upset. My other friend and her family, died in a car accident while touring the home country from the U.S. Though such accidents can happen anywhere, in some places travel conditions are worse than here.

  25. Louise – Any way to tell the siblings “We’re going away the week of July 17th through the 24th. Plan to visit Mom and Dad that time so they have some company while we’re gone and you get to see them. You’re welcome to stay here, of course. By the way, Wicked is touring through our city during that time — here’s the link.”

  26. Louise: You are a saint and I hope that your in-laws appreciate you. We are ok vacationing with family some of the time, but really enjoy trips with just the 4 of us. We move faster, see and do different things, etc. I had to tell my in-laws “no” for several vacations–partly because of the activities involved (zip lining, hiking, white water rafting) and partly because I wanted it to be the 4 of us.

  27. no plans, but if I did , wouldn’t change them, I would think security would be better now, than before the attacks

  28. DH has to travel to Indonesia for work. I don’t think he feels so safe when he is there even though there is a lot of obvious stuff for bombs and terrorists. His travel is only to Jakarta. We have a cousin that lives in Bali. He did a total House Hunters International move, and he lives there now. He travels back to the states at least once a year, and I know he feels safe in Bali. He agrees with my DH about Jakarta, and I don’t think he spends much time there.

  29. Indonesia is on DH’s short list of travel destinations. We might go there next year. Any advice would be great.

  30. I was disturbed to see that there was little additional security outside of the terminals, or even in the parking garages.

    What would have them do? Search every car coming into the airport? People don’t want the inconvenience of what real security entails (nor pay the cost), because then you’d have to get to the airport 4 hours before your flight.

  31. Meme, we’re working on our itinerary and there are a lot of geothermal pools, waterfalls, etc. Any recommendations on which are the better ones? I’ve read that the blue lagoon is always packed and grossly overpriced. The kids are really looking forward to the phallus museum, though.

  32. They could just hang around with big machine guns. They do this at Grand Central with big bomb sniffing dogs. Just have a presence.

    It doesn’t have to delay travel.

  33. DS3 is going with a school group to France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany in June. He asked if the group running things had said anything (as they had done after Paris) and I said I hadn’t checked. They did remind me last week the final payment is due this weekend, indicating the trip is still on. We have no plans to pull him out. Thinking is along the lines of others who say live your life.

    Paris with kids: ice skating in front of city hall (near Notre Dame); walking the Champs-Elysees at night all lit up; street food (crepes with something sweet inside); just taking the metro is fun, but taking the bus lets you see more. If you choose to take them to the Louvre, the kids are free. We went on a Friday night when there is a younger crowd…all under 26 are admitted free.

  34. I thought about the supervolcano when planning our Yellowstone / mountain west trip. I’ve thought about whether Kim Jong Un will decide to go out in a blaze of glory while we’re in Japan. But those are fairly remote possibilities.

    Like others, I wouldn’t be planning a trip to Syria right now and I have limited sympathy for the college kid who thought North Korea might be a good place to pull a college prank (stealing a banner for the frat walls, or something, wasn’t it?) But countries not currently at war or run by a crazy totalitarian government? Well, what are your potential risks and how likely are they? Europe remains a pretty safe destination.

    My in-laws just got back from Istanbul . . . they’re at that stage of retirement where they’re still healthy enough to travel (more river cruise than adventure tourism now) and are confident that yes, they really do have enough money.

  35. I would really like to go to northern Italy this summer, but waiting for the final remodel bill to come through before buying tickets. Had actually toyed with the idea of flying into Belgium and making our way south. However, not the point of the trip, so will probably avoid Brussels. Have read a few things there that make me think they are both a target for terrorists as well as uncoordinated in their investigations. Brussels seems riskier than Paris or other European capitals, but that may not be rationale thinking on my part.

    On the other hand, if the point of the trip was Belgium, we would probably still go.

  36. Ahh, Milo. Merle Haggard. A great. One of my favorite songs is “Get Naked with Me”.

    Milo, I have a good book to recommend. It’s about Bechtel– the engineering firm that built the Hoover Dam and everything else and makes Haliburton look like a start-up. They also do nuclear subs (and indeed all of our nuclear stuff). It’s a fascinating read (I think) that you’d enjoy. Also some others on there.

    It’s called “The Profiteers– Bechetel and the Men who built the World.” It’s by Sally Denton.

    I really think you’ll like it.

  37. I traveled abroad a lot in the late 60s, early 70s. IRA was very active in southern Ireland and England blowing things up – went anyway and took my grandmother with me to Ireland, Went touring through Russia and the scariest part was flying on their planes between cities and being stopped by citizens badgering us to sell them our clothes,. The world has always been a scary place – you can’t let it stop you, That being said, I wouldn’t travel to real hot spots like Syria, Afghanistan and others.

  38. Interesting contrast between today’s responses and the risk-averse responses to yesterday’s topic.

  39. Thanks, PTM. They’re always a potential employer. They just moved to Reston, which many of their employees are not happy about.

    HM – I’m surprised that I’m in a position where I have a lot more sympathy than you do for the prankster in North Korea. His forced statement was so stupid, like that of an ISIS victim, that I was wondering if he even really stole it in the first place. And seriously, it’s a banner. A piece of cardboard, right?

  40. Finn, I read it as “travel is good, and there are lots of places to go without assuming exhorbitant risk” and “income is what allows me to keep my standard of living and travel for fun…the uncertainty (risk) of not knowing when I’ll get my next paycheck means I need to line up the next gig before I say FU”

  41. Thanks, Fred. I didn’t know about that search engine and based on a test itinerary I’ve been running to track prices, it looks very promising.

  42. I have no interest in traveling anywhere in the Middle East, Africa (maybe a safari but that is WAY down the list) or anywhere other than Europe, so if I had plans to travel to Europe I wouldn’t change them. However, DH mostly doesn’t like to travel and especially not with the kids (see, e.g., our only trip with them on a plane being last year to Disney), so I expect we won’t take any trips to Europe or anywhere else until they get bigger.

    My biggest issue with traveling is taking my vacation – almost all of it is eaten up with our summer travel (to or with family) and then I take a couple of days around Xmas and I can’t take any more. So I can’t take off for the kids’ vacation weeks at school or anything like that, and any extra travel we might do would shunt aside our normal ‘camp’ vacation weeks with family during the summer.

  43. “However, I have shied away from these types of helicopter rides because they seem risky, although I don’t know if they really are.”

    Same here. I’m sure on a per-mile basis, they’re orders of magnitude worse than commercial air travel, although that might not be an appropriate metric. On a per-hour basis, they’re still going to be a lot worse.

  44. Also, remember Southwest. It won’t show up on any of the common search engines, including the one I linked, but if you’re on the mainland often they are the best way to go point to point and their pricing has always been that way.

  45. Milo,

    I was talking to someone about helicopter tours and it seems that helicopters crash 9.8 time per 100,000 hours. A commercial aircraft crashes 0.16 per 100,000 hours. Making them 6,125% more dangerous than a plane.

  46. Rhett – We’ll have to ask LfB, but I think Maryland Shock Trauma helicopters in the past few years were going to be restricted severely because they were having such a poor safety record, it was becoming hard to justify their benefit.

  47. Thanks, Rhett. For some big ass meeting for some dumb ass client tomorrow, I have to take a helicopter.

  48. ” 6,125% more dangerous than a plane.”

    6,125% more dangerous than a commercial aircraft.

    My guess is that private planes have a different, and probably higher, crash rate than commercial aircraft.

  49. Yeah, Milo. But I’ve only been under water to 120 ft in a “submarine” in Grand Turk! (Saw some neat coral, though.)

    Actually, this is my first helicopter trip since Junior was born. I used to do a lot of stuff I don’t do now. I don’t have a backup.

  50. We took a helicopter tour when we visited Hawaii. That’s about the only place I’d be tempted to do it. (I’m not a fan of heights to begin with.)

  51. They could just hang around with big machine guns. They do this at Grand Central with big bomb sniffing dogs. Just have a presence.

    You think that will stop a suicide bomber?

  52. Another risky thing IMO is taking young kids on taxi rides without car seats. I’ve never liked doing that, either in NYC or elsewhere in the world.

  53. ” But I’ve only been under water to 120 ft in a “submarine” in Grand Turk! (Saw some neat coral, though.)”

    There are more planes at the bottom of the ocean than submarines in the sky.

    I still have the image of you as Tom Cruise in the Caymans with Gene Hackman.

  54. Does anyone want to speculate on what they’re talking about — what is being left unsaid — in this song?

  55. It sounds like the airlines have just mucked up our ability to do multi-city ticketing:

    I’m not understanding what the outrage is about. I think there’s much more flexibility booking them as a bunch of one-way tickets rather than as one itinerary.The issues with connecting flight itineraries being different than the individual tickets has been around forever.

    I’ve been saying for years that the government needs to go after the airlines for price-fixing, though. The majors have been doing that forever.

  56. “I still have the image of you as Tom Cruise in the Caymans with Gene Hackman.”

    The better image would be of the aging James Bond in the bathtub exhausted.

  57. “Another risky thing IMO is taking young kids on taxi rides without car seats.”

    Couldn’t you use your own car seat?

  58. “Another risky thing IMO is taking young kids on taxi rides without car seats.”

    When my eldest was three months old we flew out to Chicago for a graduation and FIL, always diligent about keeping family members happy, had booked a limo from the airport to the hotel, partly for this reason I guess. And maybe it wasn’t any more expensive than two cabs, anyway, so she was able to ride rear-facing like any good infant.

  59. Wonderful song, Milo. Thanks.

    Finn, can you just imagine hailing a cab on 5th Avenue any time, let alone rush hour, and making the driver wait until you secured some apparatus to the back of the grimy seat?

  60. PTM – I like their duets, but I really don’t know what they’re talking about there. Did you ever what??

    I also like Golden Ring:

  61. Milo, can you google Get Naked with Me? It is honestly the funniest Merle Haggard song I ever heard and in many ways the most typical.

  62. tcmama – not sure if this has already been suggested, but the London Eye and the Churchill War Museum (his underground government HQ that is literally under the government buildings!) are my ideas for your family!

  63. “I can imagine the meter running while the car seat is being secured.”

    1) Elapsed time is probably a minor variable compared to distance traveled in fare summation.
    2) In Manhattan, they probably won’t actually be parked but holding up a lane of traffic.

  64. Milo, the songwriter, Bobby Braddock, just says, “It was inspired by a TV commercial that showed a filling station customer trying to show the attendant what he wanted, but every time he got out half a sentence, the filling station guy finished it. I thought the ad was pretty funny, so I started the song like this:” and then proceeds to spell out the lyrics.

    Braddock’s on Facebook so you could ask him. He seems to be mostly promoting Bernie Sanders at the moment, though.

  65. Milo, I can’t find it either. I have it on an LP (I no longer have a record player. Sigh.) I’ll find out some way to find it and get it to you.

  66. tcmama – another thought for London: you could visit the Courtauld Gallery (darling little museum with beautiful paintings) while your DH takes the kids ice skating right next door. We also went to London right after Christmas and had a great time. The only somewhat negative thing was that it got dark really early (around 3:30 or 4:00 I think).

  67. Rocky – Thanks. I figured it was something sexual and unspoken.

    PTM – Record players have made a bit of a comeback, and include things like USB output (and Bluetooth, if I had to guess). You could pick one up at Best Buy.

  68. I am a real stick-in-the-mud compared to a lot of people. I have no interest in going to Asia, Africa, Antarctica or South America. I did want to go to Egypt at one time, but now I would be too worried about terrorists or kidnapping. Many people I know travel take family trips to the Galapagos and Antarctica, and that doesn’t interest me at all.

    Western Europe is about it for me, and luckily DH agrees. I want to go back to London, and would like to visit Italy.

    DS is thinking about studying abroad, and one of the universities is in New Zealand. I would love to see New Zealand, but I’d much prefer to apparate rather than take a plane.

  69. Tee, hee, Milo. I’d offer to make you a cassette tape, but that would date me too. (Not that I have any tape recorder laying around, although I do have a million cassettes!)

  70. PTM – I’m old enough to have made mixed tapes, recorded the radio, and later used a cassette adapter to play a Discman in the car.

    Now I’m about to drive home in a car that still has a factory cassette player.

  71. OT,
    We’re planning to go to Lisbon and the Azores for a short trip in the middle of the summer. Brussels will not deter us. Other things in our life might, but not that.

  72. And in other news, it only took 11 days from the time I filed our taxes to getting the ACH refund/credit this morning. The internet is a wonderful thing.

  73. “Couldn’t you use your own car seat?”

    Lugging a car seat around as you’re walking/touring around a city (or suburbs) is a PITA. I’ve never noticed anyone actually doing it.

  74. I am reading through the comments. Totally understand L – it wasn’t relaxing taking plane rides with young kids, car is a better option. Now, that we are on the other side of that, I am relieved. Same thing with going to the beach or pool, it is now much easier.

  75. Merle had been touring with Willie Nelson recently. Pancho & Lefty takes me way back.

  76. Car seats would seem to be something that Uber might be able to provide better than cabs.

    I’m guessing that catching cabs here is a lot different than in NYC.

  77. 1) Elapsed time is probably a minor variable compared to distance traveled in fare summation.

    Yup. Any cab driver will tell you being stuck in traffic costs them money.

  78. “Car seats would seem to be something that Uber might be able to provide better than cabs.”

    I started typing how that would work on a voluntary basis, particularly for Uber XL, if the driver selects that he is capable of offering that. He would need one five-point harness seat that can face either direction, and one booster with an easily removable back. $5 surcharge per seat use. But then the infant seat has four or five different settings for shoulder straps, and reconfiguring those is not quick. Then Uber would have an interest in ensuring that no seats in its service are “expired.” So it’s probably one of those situations where potential liability makes perfect the enemy of good enough.

    Also, keeping two car seats in the back of an SUV is going to limit luggage capacity for other fares.

  79. DH has Hertz Gold so, we never carried car seats, they were always waiting for us, fixed in the car. On the plane, we always had a seat for the kids even when they were infants. This was really necessary on long international flights. Everyone eyes that one seemingly empty seat :-).

  80. We may have stumbled on a potential fly in the ointment WRT Uber’s vision of making individual car ownership obsolete.

    I can think of other potential kid-related reasons problems with the Uber model, e.g., not being able to have a bunch of just-in-case items on hand in the car, as opposed to having to lug them around. I guess a stroller makes lugging that stuff easier.

    How do you city dwellers deal with that?

  81. Louise, how did you secure your kids in the airplane?

    When our kids were small enough to require car seats, we used them on airplanes too.

  82. Milo and Finn, my experience with a newborn in Manhattan was that it was much easier to strap the baby in a chest carrier and take the subway or walk.

    When I did have to take a cab with the baby and the car seat mounted on the stroller, I would hail the cab, open the door wide, open the trunk, unhook the car seat and install it *without closing the door or trunk* (this is key), collapse the stroller and put it in the trunk, close the trunk, and then get in the car.

    If I got in without securing the car seat before closing the door, the driver took off and once the baby and car seat fell.

    Being a safety nut I never hailed a cab if I didn’t have the infant seat, and when some of my mommy friends tried they were often refused. (I have a friend who needed a dozen reconstructive facial surgeries when she was riding in a cab without a seatbelt and slammed into the plexiglass divider in an accident on the FDR.)

    Once they are old enough you switch to travel vest or bubble bum car restraints and maclarens so that cab travel is easier.

  83. Thinking of aging country singers, when we were at the Opry, Jean Shepard was performing on her 81st birthday. The older artists still follow the tradition of telling a few corny jokes before they sing, and she was kind of funny talking about she had to keep performing because her Social Security checks weren’t cutting it. But her voice at this point seemed about as strong as you’d expect from an 81-year-old, very soft, a little weak, about how you might remember your grandma. But then she launches into this song, and she completely transforms and has the projection and power of a drill instructor. It was incredible. This is her singing it 26 years ago–no spring chicken then:

  84. Sky, how did you carry your diaper bag while you walked or caught the subway with your baby in a chest carrier? What if you were doing some shopping and had to carry your purchases?

  85. Thinking about it a bit more, I think Uber will come up with a solution to the car seat issue as it makes the transition to owning a fleet of self-driving vehicles. One likely solution is an easily adjustable car seat to accommodate a wide range of baby sizes.

    Or perhaps Uber doesn’t come up with a solution, and then the cost of having a kid will include buying and maintaining a car, and population growth slows down.

  86. Rhett – yes, I would go to Australia or New Zealand – I mentioned earlier that DS is thinking about doing a study abroad semester there – so I would probably want to make that trip. I just can’t fathom the hours in the airplane, though. I am a nervous flyer (since 1985 when there were several plane crashes both locally and nationally that gave me the heebeejeebies), and just the thought of all of that ocean for thousands of miles creeps me out.

    On that tangent, does anyone take something when they go on long flights to help them sleep?

  87. Milo, are you suggesting that self-driving cars won’t be in crashes, and thus there will not be a need for child-specific car seats?

    I’m thinking there will be a transition period in which self-driving cars will need to share roads with human-driven cars.

  88. “On that tangent, does anyone take something when they go on long flights to help them sleep?”

    I often take several things: a pillow (especially if I have a window seat, I put it against the side of the plane and lean on it) or a neck pillow, iPod, noise-cancelling headphones and/or earplugs, perhaps something soft and comfy to wear.

  89. Yeah, that makes sense. I’m still not convinced this is happening any time soon.

  90. I’ll be red-eying my way home tonight. I hate flying, it makes me super nervous. However, I promised myself a million years ago that I would not make decisions based on my totally irrational fear.

    I don’t usually take pills when I fly overnight (at home I might take benadryl or melatonin to help with sleep) because I usually need to be alert on arrival, and most red-eyes are less than 6 hours. A drink at the beginning is my relaxant of choice. If I don’t have to drive home, more than one drink.

    I have had anxiolytic medication (like Ativan) prescribed in the past for this, and I have to say that I found it a big comfort to just have the bottle and know there was something I could do if I felt worse. Most primary doctors are pretty comfortable prescribing these medications when they are for very specific, not chronic situations.

  91. For rides to the airport, we’ve used a particular car service that will bring car seats for the ride to the airport– specific to the age of the kid– if we request them at reservation. That’s been a lifesaver. Otherwise, travel with convertible carseats is a serious drag. 2 of my 3 can now ride in boosters when we travel, and it’s SO much better. And Milo– Britax has several seats that can adjust with knobs instead of re-threading the straps. Spendy, but if you are traveling with a variety of kids, they adjust pretty quickly.

  92. Rationally, you might believe that as the risk of children dying in car accidents decreases, the amount of customization and attention to fit of carseats would be less important. Experience says otherwise. I foresee a future where kids will need even more different kinds of strapping, perhaps until they are 18 or 21.

    I think we have gotten to a point where car travel is so very safe that we magically believe that we can avoid any damage to our children if we just do everything perfectly. The amount of obsession in my Facebook feed about car seats is crazy. Yes, rear facing until kids are 6 is likely better. But the improvements are so incrementally small at this point.

  93. Finn, I didn’t carry a diaper bag – I put three diapers, a ziploc full of wipes, one outfit for baby and a tee shirt for me in the pocket of the baby carrier. No food or bottles because I was nursing. If I needed anything while we were out, it’s not like I was in Siberia – I could just go to the next block and there would be a pharmacy or bodega selling whatever I needed.

    If I needed more stuff for a full day outing, I wore a small backpack, keeping my wallet and phone in my pockets.

    One warm spring day I walked ten miles around Manhattan. It was not difficult. But I have very small babies :)

  94. Sky, we walked halfway down the Grand Canyon and back up with DS1 in a back carrier. Your Manhattan hike made me think of that.

  95. I haven’t thought about this in a long time, but my father didn’t own a car when I was a kid in the city. It was almost impossible to get cabs in the outer boroughs at that time so we would take gypsy cabs. It was taking a ride with a complete stranger in an unregulated vehicle, and of course there were no car seats.

    DD has been asking to sit in the front seat because a few of her taller friends have graduated to the front seat. We haven’t said yes to that request yet, but I won’t tell her about riding shotgun from the age of 5 between my grandparents in their Olds.

    I am a big believer in seat belts, safety restraints, and car seats. If I compare it to my childhood in cars/illegal car services would be considered completely reckless by today’s parents in NYC.

  96. Honolulumother – I am not really dying to go to either place, so I don’t think I would unless there was a reason (like ds going being there for school). How long are the flights from Hawaii to Asia and Oceania?

  97. Lauren – we would sit on the armrest in the front seat between my grandparents! It was a big black car – probably an Olds or a Buick.

  98. Ssk, of course it depends entirely on where you’re going. Guam and some of the more-traveled points in Micronesia are about the same flight length as going to the west coast of the US. Tokyo is a couple hours longer than going to the west coast, and I believe Beijing and Seoul are a bit longer than that, as are Australian / NZ locales. If you’re going to SE Asia or South Asia you’ll probably be changing planes and it might mean an overnight layover (e.g. my friend with family in Sri Lanka always had to spend the night in Malaysia or somewhere). Likewise, the more you’re going off the beaten path in the Pacific the more island-hopping you’ll need to do and that can really lengthen travel time. You just don’t get a lot of nonstops to Funafuti or Kiribati. And then there are some places where the travel patterns don’t really support having direct flights, like between here and Tahiti, so it would be longer than you’d think to get there unless you had a private jet.

  99. Those Western Europe trips that are a hop across the pond for the East Coast folks are long hauls for us.

  100. OK, I lied (just checked Google flights) — Hawaiian does fly direct to Papeete and it’s a 6 hour flight. I.e. only slightly longer than going to the west coast.

  101. I had to look up Papeete! You are right about the extra time to fly to Europe from your neck of the woods. If you were to go to Europe would you stop somewhere on the mainland to break up the journey? For me on the west coast those 3+ extra hours to London (compared to someone leaving from New York) seem awfully long!

  102. It takes about the same time to get to a ski area in Japan from here as it does to get to one in North America.

  103. Tcmama, Winter Wonderland (Christmas market plus amusement park rides) should be going on in Hyde Park during your London stay.

    DH and I have not changed our plans too much. Turkey and Egypt (which is high on our bucket list) is currently out but we’ll be in Africa later this year.

  104. Finn – on take off and landing they were on our laps with an extension belt. For the duration of the flight they sat/stood in their own seat. I used the new toy trick/coloring book trick, so they sat quietly. Now, of course there are iPads and such. Once they were older they were able to sit in the seat with their own seat belt. Once my DS was refusing to sit still on my lap while I fastened the extension belt. A male flight attendant came over and sternly said “Sit down”. That was enough. After that the whole flight he was well behaved !

  105. Uber in NYC charges a $10 premium for car seats. A quick check showed many were readily available. In past times and in other locations, such convenience was not so common. I remember riding with my D in my lap and my heart in my throat taking cabs in Spain back years ago. I wouldn’t normally take such a vacation with a young kid, but it was an unusual situation. Of course, she remembers almost nothing of the trip.

  106. Yeah, the car-seat-on-airplane thing was pretty much a dealbreaker for me too, now that I think about it. For Disney we put #3 in a booster seat even though she wasn’t old enough, just to avoid dealing with hauling a car seat on the airplane. Note: even though the airline website (and the customer service people) SAID that booster seats were OK for the kids to use while flying, when we got on the plane the flight attendants still said no, they had to be stored. (1 flight out of 4, they let us use the boosters.)

    Sky – our #1 kid was also teeny. We didn’t even get a stroller until she was >12 months, just used the baby carrier everywhere.

  107. Ssk – the configurations of the long haul planes in certain airlines is better. You get some space to stand in the back if the toilets are a level below. As Rhett is always posting, those flat beds are awesome for a 8+ hour flight.

  108. Yeah, in Colorado, everyone got a temporary battlefield promotion to the next-higher car seat grade: #1 to nothing, and #2 and #3 to backless boosters (which might be considered two levels for #3). This had the added bonus of fitting three across one seat.

    We didn’t even bother on the plane; if the purpose of a booster is to better position the body for a shoulder belt, and the plane only has a lap belt, what’s the point?

  109. Yeah, in Colorado, everyone got a temporary battlefield promotion to the next-higher car seat grade . . . . We didn’t even bother on the plane; if the purpose of a booster is to better position the body for a shoulder belt, and the plane only has a lap belt, what’s the point?

    Ditto. We were religious about carseats on planes, but then we had to go to Europe when DD was maybe 3 1/2, and the idea of @10 hrs strapped in, trying to keep her from kicking the seat in front, was too much. So we gave her a special upgrade to a “big girl” no-carseat trip, conditioned on her behaving. Best. flight. ever. The one time she started to get antsy, I asked if we needed to get the carseat, and she settled right down (empty threat, as it was with the checked luggage, so glad she didn’t call my bluff).

    “I think we have gotten to a point where car travel is so very safe that we magically believe that we can avoid any damage to our children if we just do everything perfectly.”

    This, but not just car travel — disease, nutrition, wild animals, other safety improvements. We live in a (first) world where it is no longer common for children to die before adulthood (hallelujah). But we still hear horror stories of kids who die in car crashes, or drown in pools, or whatever. So we look for ways to control the uncontrollable horror. Which leads to emotional/illogical risk decisions, like “I’ll spend $400 on a carseat for my 8-year-old just-in-case, but I am NOT going to get my kid vaccinated for free, because whooping cough is one of those pioneer things and and people don’t really die from that stuff any more, but I sure don’t wan’t my kid to get autism.”

  110. We have had my dad’s truck on loan for a few months (no worries, it’s just his back up truck). My under 8 year old has been riding without a booster – the middle back seat doesn’t had a shoulder belt, so I think it is legal and rationale not to use a booster. Upping my bubble score and banishing me from the PTA.

  111. I remember reading something from a member of the White House Press Corps a few years back that nobody wears seatbelts on Air Force One, and she takes off like…whatever/you can not believe/like they stole it/like a bat out of Hell (to minimize the time that its most vulnerable to a surface-to-air missile).

  112. “the middle back seat doesn’t had a shoulder belt, so I think it is legal and rationale not to use a booster.”

    It probably also doesn’t have a middle headrest, so it would be better in a rear-end collision for a child’s head to go back into the padded seatback rather than be boosted up to rear window level.

  113. DS will soon be eligible to sit in the front seat. He can’t wait. Of course, he can’t wait to get his license and drive. The grandparents have already signed on for rides with him.

  114. Denver Dad – I am not sure whether you are going to northern Iceland or not. I liked Myvatn baths for atmosphere, but the water was not quite as steaming as the Blue Lagoon. In the summer Blue Lagoon will be very very crowded. These pools are hot spring mineral water mixed with cooler regular water. If you are not going to the north, but still driving around on your own, you may be able to find more local seasonal hangouts. There are always large municipal pools and recreation areas in every city – the water is thermally heated, of course, but no minerals. The water for drinking is the best in the world – filtered through the volcanic rock. If any of your kids are contemplating becoming vegan or close, tell them to wait until after the trip. The local cuisine is fish, dairy, meat and pickles, in that order. And curiously, because of the thermal greenhouses, Iceland is the second largest producer of bananas in Europe.

  115. “A male flight attendant came over and sternly said “Sit down”. That was enough. After that the whole flight he was well behaved !”

    I love this. I can totally see my kids having exactly the same reaction.

    After one very ill-advised short trip with a lap infant who was old enough to reach for the drinks on the neighbor’s tray, we were car seat Nazis on subsequent flights. And I used to dread the occasional taxi ride, until I reflected on the slow speed of most taxis in big cities. I cannot ever remember reading about a child seriously injured in a taxi accident, but there were plenty of tragic stories about accidents with children properly strapped into their parents’ minivan.

  116. Meme, we are still deciding if we are going to go north or south. It sounds like the tourists tend to go South to the golden circle and such, so we’ll probably go north. Originally we wanted to do the complete loop but we won’t have enough time. Thanks for the info.

  117. My only annoyance from flying when the kids were little was one trip when DD was about 5 months old. We bought her a ticket and were bringing on the car seat/carrier and a flight attendant kept telling us we couldn’t bring the seat on because it was a full flight so there weren’t any open seats, even though I was standing there with boarding passes for all of us. It seemed to never cross her mind that we might have actually bought a seat for her because she was probably so used to people holding babies on their laps.

  118. “not being able to have a bunch of just-in-case items on hand in the car, as opposed to having to lug them around. I guess a stroller makes lugging that stuff easier.

    How do you city dwellers deal with that?”

    Umm, Totebag! =)

    Strollers carry a lot of stuff. Really though, we used totebags or backpacks. And, you don’t really need all that stuff, most of it is just nice to have.

  119. “Sky, how did you carry your diaper bag while you walked or caught the subway with your baby in a chest carrier? What if you were doing some shopping and had to carry your purchases?”

    Take your kids/baby shopping?! Heck no.

    Plus, everything can be delivered in NYC.

  120. We love to travel, so we won’t change our plans much unless there is greater chance of something happening at the destination.

    We also travel a lot with kid and have never taken a car seat on plane
    or cab. If we are renting car for a few days, then we also rent car seat or just buy a cheap one at the destination from Walmart.

    I have done subways in New York and DC with a kid and it was PITA to lug around a sleeping kid and a stroller. But unless I took can everywhere, it hadn’t overdone that way. What surprised me was that how some stations did not have elevator to get tot the tracks. It was a nightmare carrying a sleeping 2 year old and a stroller up and down the escalators.

    By far the worst was a flight where I was flying with kid solo and our flight got delayed several hours including having us get on and off the plane a few times due to mechanical issues. Total time spent 12 hours for a two hour flight!

  121. Dell – now imagine a double stroller. Ugh!

    I did not enjoy the starting to walk thru the still need a stroller stages. We kept the kids very close to home during those stages. Being in NYC that still meant we could do quite a bit.

  122. SSK, here to Western Europe is still only a single redeye so it’s not necessary to spend a night somewhere, but you can certainly plan that in if you want to.

  123. HM, who flies direct to Europe from here? The few times we’ve looked into going there involved a stopover in North America, typically NYC.

  124. Finn, I don’t think anyone does anymore other than those oddball Euro-based charters. I was talking about itineraries where you connect in LAX/SFO/PDX/SEA or even Vancouver. With those your your HNL-LAX (or wherever) would be a daytime flight and then your LAX – CDG (or wherever) would be the red-eye.

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