Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there hasn't been a lot of travel this year outside the house, let outside the country. Like many, we have been staying home as much as possible, working and taking classes remotely, and postponing gatherings with extended family and friends. Early in February 2020, however -- without realizing the scope of the impending crisis -- we embarked on a trip to the other side of the globe, all the way to Thailand. At the time, we knew about the new viral threat and seriously considered cancelling our trip, but cases of the covid variant reported outside of China were still relatively low and there were no travel restrictions on U.S. travelers. Ultimately, we decided to prepare as best we could and go for it. Little did we know it would be the final weeks before the world changed forever.
World's Longest Non-stop Flight
With one suitcase dedicated almost entirely to masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes, our family of five boarded the world's longest non-stop flight from Newark to Singapore (9,537 miles; 18h 30m), with a connecting flight to Bangkok (876 miles; 2h 30m). [Watch the globe spanning flight path in the inflight video we recorded below.]
After many years in the rat race, Natasha and AJ decided to take an eight-month sabbatical from the corporate rat race and travel the world with their 18-month old son. Since then they have visited 44 countries, taken four cruises, embarked on over 70 flights, and explored over a hundred unique destinations with their son (now four years old). Recently they launched The 2 Idiots Travel Blog and wrote their first book How To Travel With Kids (Without Losing Your Mind) with the purpose of sharing their insights and inspiring families around the world to travel more with their kids. We had the opportunity to pick their brains and are excited to share some of their brilliant travel tips here.
1. Please tell us a little about yourselves and your family and where you’ve traveled together as a family.
We are AJ and Natasha, originally from India, but now live in Charlotte, NC. After many years of climbing the corporate ladder, we decided to take a break and travel. We have now traveled to 6 continents, 44 countries and 115 destinations as a family, including an incredible 8-month trip across the world when our son was almost 2-years old.
2. How has traveling changed the most since you became parents?
Traveling as parents is very different. We used to be able to pack everything in a carry-on but now I have to pack a lot more. Also, the pace is slower, you need to bake in time for toddler tantrums, snack breaks and toilet runs.
3. Babies seem to need a lot of stuff at home. Do you have any packing tips for traveling with a baby or toddler, including any essential items or items you wish you had just left at home?
Babies and toddlers do need a lot but strollers and car seats have come a long way. Also, people tend to overpack; you can in most places buy diapers and baby food. Depending on your destination try to take only the essentials: travel stroller, travel car seat (our foldable one is our favorite), travel bassinet (you can get these at hotels and AirBnbs also, check ahead), some food (formula or favorite snacks), a few toys and clothes.
4. Which countries or cities have you found to be particularly family friendly?
Spain is our favorite country for family travel; they have parks everywhere and the restaurants are so chill about having little kids running around. But in general, we've found most countries around the world to be pretty accommodating for kids and families.
On a recent trip to L.A., we had just one day to make our daughter's Disney dreams come true, so it was important to maximize our time there. Although I've probably visited Disney in Orlando and Paris about 20 times, it had been a decade since my last visit to a Disney park and a lot has changed since then. In my opinion the best change by far has been the addition of MaxPass.
What Is MaxPass?
MaxPass basically turbocharges your FastPass so that instead of having to make an in person reservation at a FastPass kiosk, you can do it all from the Disneyland App. I'm sure this saved us miles of walking back-and-forth and enabled us to book as many popular FastPass attractions as possible. How it works is this: on popular designated rides MaxPass enables you to make a reservation on the Disneyland App for a specific return time that lets you skip the long standby ride line and go through the shorter FastPass line.
Even if you live in the Washington D.C. area with access to the wonders of the National Air & Space Museum, a visit to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is awe-inspiring. KSC is the real deal: a working spaceflight facility where spacecraft is being built, tested, and launched. With new virtual reality exhibits, astronaut encounters, and real rocket launches happening more and more often, KSC is entering a new age of space exploration that everyone can be excited about.
While in Cape Canaveral we were also lucky enough to see an actual SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch -- a huge thrill and well worth doing if you can time your trip around it. Below is a view from the live feed, which we watched on an iPad simultaneously with our view from the ground. From our vantage point a few miles away the rocket looked a lot like a sun rising at night, accompanied by a low rumbling and roar.
This month, Royal Caribbean opened up a new private island, CocoCay, with a "Perfect Day" that has something for everyone in the family to get excited about. Last week we were lucky enough to be aboard the Mariner of the Seas, one of the first ships to visit the island. Some cruise excursions and destinations have a reputation for long lines and crowded beaches, but this was not the case at CocoCay. At the time we visited there was just one other ship visiting (Navigator of the Seas) with plenty of open space, beach chairs, tables, and few if any lines for the attractions or food.
We were lucky enough to go and see Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes at the Eagle Bank Arena in Fairfax, VA. I admit that I am not much of a super hero fan. My children know all the characters (and villains) and their traits, but I personally have a hard time remembering the details from one movie to the next. With this in mind, Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes was one of the most incredible live action and visually stimulating shows that I have ever seen.
Day Out with Thomas the Train is coming to the B&0 Railroad Museum in Baltimore on April 26 - 28 & May 3 - 5, 2019. We are giving away two separate family 4 packs of tickets to the Friday, April 26, 2019 event.
We have a family 4 pack of tickets to give away for Marvel Universe LIVE! at the Eagle Bank Arena in Fairfax, VA. The tickets are for opening night, Friday, March 22 at 7:00 PM.
Marvel fans, assemble for this live, legendary battle to defend the universe from evil. The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man join forces with Doctor Strange, master of the mystic arts, in a race against time to recover the Wand of Watoomb before it falls into Loki’s hands in this all-new, spectacular arena production.
By the time your kids hit their teen years, they've probably seen it all when it comes to roller coasters, carnival games, and cotton candy. If you really want to show them something new, that's where a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood comes in. More than your typical amusement park, Universal Studios Hollywood offers them a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how some of their favorite movies and TV shows are made.
Behind the Scenes Shows
Starting with the famous Studio Tour, they'll see the sound stages and sets for class movies like Jaws, Psycho, and War of the Worlds (wreckage above). There are also plenty of special effects surprises along the way including floods (yes, you will get wet), subway fires, 3D attacks on the tram by a T-Rex and King Kong, and a high-speed car chase with Vin Diesel and his Fast & Furious crew. [I'd share more pictures, but the tram was so realistically shaking and the action was so fast during the 3D attacks that all I captured was a blur of open T-Rex jaws. We all definitely thought that was cool!]
Kid Trips Northern Virginia Edition
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Kid Trips' blogs profile fun events and cool family-friendly venues. We focus on regional and national family travel articles.
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