Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Getting ready for Alexandria

We leave for Alexandria in 2.5 weeks. Even though this isn't my first time moving overseas with a child, it IS my first time with two children, and my first time to Alexandria, so the preparation isn't as streamlined as maybe it could be. Here are the concerns that are bouncing around inside my mind these days.

1. How can we finagle ourselves the bulkhead seats on at least the transatlantic leg of our flights? Every other time we've flown overseas with a small child, the airline has just given it to us. I can't remember if we had to ask for it, though, and when we bought our tickets for this trip the bulkhead seating was not available. The reason we want the bulkhead is because they have these awesome snap-on bassinets to put your baby in (see Miriam, below). It's just nice to get your kid off your lap for at least a couple of the 894 hours you're spending in the airplane, you know?

2. What, exactly, should I pack? We are strict "less is more" people, but there are some things you don't want to skimp on too much. When we went to Jordan in 2007 I think I brought two pairs of pants and four shirts, and ONE skirt. By the end of that summer I wanted to burn those clothes, I was so sick of them. Which means I have two options this year: bring clothes I am ready to dispose of so I can just leave them there/burn them at the end of the summer, or pack more clothes. Let me tell you, I'm leaning toward the former.

3. Thanks to Project Gutenberg I don't have to worry about books for myself, but what about books for the girls? And toys? I had barely gotten started stressing about this when our friends in Cairo said they'd share some of their kid swag with us, which was such a relief, especially since said swag includes a My Little Pony castle (!!!!). Now the stress is about how many and which of her 27 My Little Ponies Miriam will choose to bring to play with it.

4. One of the things that concerns me the most is how disorganized all our stuff is, and I hate to leave it that way all summer long. You'd think that since we move so much, we'd run a tight ship when it comes to packing and storing our belongings. But in reality, everything just gets more jumbled and spread around since we're always taking things from various boxes, packing them up, and then unpacking them into completely different boxes months later. What a mess. I need to start a new storage classification system that embraces some of the weird stuff we own. It's hard to put things away in the right place when there IS no right place for something like, say, a Who Wants to be a Millionaire? board game in Arabic. Or travel pillows decorated like the Lebanese flag. Or a deck of Most Wanted Iraqi playing cards we bought in Jordan. Or a bottle of Fulla hand sanitizer that is empty but the container has serious cultural kitsch value so I can't seem to throw it away. Sigh.

Other than that, things are coming together nicely for a summer in Egypt!


Liz Johnson said...

Wow. Is the bulkhead seat the first one behind the partition between first class and coach? Is it sad that I don't know this?

Pack clothes that you're ready to burn. Maybe pick up a few cute things in Egypt.

I love magnadoodles for long trips. They're small, yet hard to lose. Beyond that... I have no idea.

What I'm discovering from this is that you're much braver than me. I have all but instituted a "no airplane" rule with my kids because I hate it so much. And having to bring all of your own books and toys?! Gah.

Jen said...

When booking passengers, airlines generally don't sit people in the bulkheads, but leave the seats open until the day of the flight. When you check your luggage, ask the person which bulkhead rows have been left open, and if they are authorized to assign those seats yet. (Sometimes only a gate agent can do this).

But know the row # and get in line at the gate counter even if the agent isn't there yet. Then you can ask to be seated in the bulkhead...

Good luck.

Nancy said...

Yeah. I loved this post. I'm totally dreading moving back to the States. We've been married 4 years and have moved...4 times...across the Atlantic every time. Soooooo...we're rather disorganized, ourselves.

I don't think they'll have a bassinet for Magdalena at this age. They wouldn't give us one for Rachel when she was 13 months. However, they gave us an extra seat for free, but not until after take-off. They just moved the other person in our row to a new seat.

This website should make you happy. I like it.

Anyway, good luck getting everything together! We're excited to see you!

karina said...

I agree with the take only a few clothes and leave them there rule. For some reason Egypt was harder on our clothes than Jordan and Syria were. Maybe the sun is more powerful? In any case, they weren't in good enough shape to take home again.

Grace said...

Is it already almost time to go on your summer adventure? Wow!

As for what to pack? I normally pack too much, so I'd bring at least 7 tops and 7 bottoms. If you can get by with packing minimally I'd say go for it. Then you buy some of the local fashion.

Kendra said...

Sounds like your adventure in Egypt has already begun with the adventure it is to get there. Best wishes for packing. I have so many clothes I'm ready to get rid of - I would do the pack light and burn scenario as well.

Bridget said...

Nancy, you must have had strict flight attendants because we got a bassinet for Miriam when she was almost 2! Maybe we were just lucky.

Jen, how on earth do you know this stuff??

Natchel said...

I Love Those Bassinets. They saved my sanity. Luftansa was the best. Baby food, toys, anything Gabriel needed. But on the way home we flew with Portugal air and it was horrible. They were rude and stuck us in the middle of a long row up against the bathrooms. Yuck. It was terrible.
I'm so jealous you are going to Egypt. I have always wanted to go!

Lark said...

What! I didn't even KNOW about those bassinets...I can't believe I have been suffering all these years...good to know for future - thanks!

I was worried about toys, etc. when we went to Guatemala so I went to the dollar store and stocked up on some cheap toys that I knew wouldn't last...but who cares? They helped on the plane and while we were there too. They didn't last long, but they were cheap so I didn't mind. (And as I am writing this I am thinking I sound like such a wasteful American...)
Good luck!
Can't wait to read about your adventure!

Jen said...

Bridget, it's too many x-country flights from Boston to fill-in-the-blank with an infant-turned-toddler-turned-boy...not to mention flying while [very] largely pregnant.

(Though, I did decide that the back row by the lavs was the best choice for me when I flew at 34 weeks...I was right by the bathroom and didn't have to bother anyone when I stood up and stretched my legs every 45 minutes or so).

I've seen the bulkhead policy personally on three different carriers, but they were all U.S.-based, so I'm not sure if the same would hold true for an international carrier.

Crys said...

Oh boy so much to plan. I'm excited to see how your trip goes with the two girls. Sometimes when I think about living overseas I wonder if I should just cut the tubes right now. Of course seeing as we've still got years of residency left I've got a good five more years to grow my kids before I have to think about this. Then I'll just have to worry about packing enough game boys :)

Kathy Haynie said...

I have been reading your blog for several weeks - I am a friend of a friend of a friend - my daughter Katie is married to Bryan who is Chris's brother, as in Chris and Anna, and I think that's where your connection is, if I remember right. Whew! That was a lot of info you surely didn't need.

Anyway, just want to say that I enjoy your writing, and keep coming back for more. Would love to read a post about why you move about to these fascinating places every few months. Good luck with the planning and packing and traveling!

Jill said...

I think we have those same Iraqi playing cards.

Mikael said...

I never thought about all this stuff. I say you just bring a pair of shorts and 3 shirts. I wear the same jeans everyday and I live in the US! Just treat it like Prego clothes, you wear them to death and burn 'em!!!
I can't wait to read all about your summer. I am so excited!!

Aimee said...

I meant to tell you this the other day. You DEFINITELY have to reserve those bassinets now. I sacrificed mine last year b/c Jameson was 14-months and wouldn't sit in it to the couple with the 2-month-old that would sleep in it the whole time. I would also call and talk to an airline rep because they will put you in the bulkhead if they are available.

Kristen said...

I've never even heard of those bassinets! Maybe they're only for flights overseas. Awesome.


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