Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane...

So, in two days we'll be hopping on a plane and heading to Atlanta.  The fact we're even doing this trip is a little beyond my comprehension, but at the moment I'm glad we're doing it and really excited to get away.  It'll only be for three days, but we're going to pack a lot of fun (and years of wanting to do something like this) into those three days, so I think it has the potential to be awesome.

Notice I said "potential".  It also has the potential to be a disaster, and a rather expensive one at that.  The trip isn't ridiculously expensive or anything, but for three days it's a bit more than we'd normally spend to go anywhere else more local.  Our flights were just over $200 each (plus insurance, which was only $15 each--can never be too careful with a four year old and a pregnancy), which I thought was reasonable.  Our hotel is definitely within the realm of what I'd be okay with paying on any other weekend jaunt.  The rental car seemed to be a good deal when I shopped around.  The only other big expense on this trip is baseball tickets, and since that's the key reason for the trip, I can't really worry about that.  We're going to visit the zoo while we're there, and our zoo membership here gets us 50% off there, which is awesome.  We'll have meals, souvenirs, and a couple other activities, but considering the circumstances I don't think we did too badly.  And, of course, consider the fact that we're doing this now with just three of us.  In a few more months there will be four and traveling will get infinitely more complicated.  Oh, and there's the little detail that Craig's favorite baseball player is retiring after this season so we would never have this exact opportunity again anyway.

Taking a trip like this is completely unlike me.  The only time I've ever done something similar was the time I spent $450 on a flight to Phoenix (the next day!) when the Knighthawks were playing in the NLL Championship Game.  Again, it was a rare opportunity--they were so good that year that the odds of them winning seemed favorable, and I just couldn't bear to miss it.  And it turned out to be completely worth it--they won and it was an AMAZING weekend.  I'd still be kicking myself to this day if I had missed it.  Anyway, about a month ago I was thinking about how Craig's favorite baseball player, Chipper Jones, was retiring, and how we'd talked before about going to Atlanta for some sightseeing and a ballgame.  Craig's 40th birthday is coming up, and let's be honest, by December I may be completely unmotivated to give his big day all the attention it might deserve.  So, it seemed like a trip to Atlanta to catch Chipper before he retired might be a nice way to celebrate early.  And surprise--when I checked the flights, I was shocked at how reasonable they were.  So, we discussed it a bit and considered our options.  I researched hotels and rental cars to make sure the whole trip would be reasonably priced.  Of course, when I finally confirmed that everything would work, I hopped back online and the flights had jumped literally $100 a ticket.  Seriously?! 

Part of me thought that was fate's way of telling us it was just a crazy idea, but I continued to stalk travel websites anyway, hoping the flights would drop.  Just when I had given up, I got an airfare alert that there were cheap flights again.  Turned out that suddenly the dates a couple days later than our original dates had dropped in price (believe me, I had been checking them all along, too), and out of the blue we were back at or below the original fares.  We had a couple options this time around, as well, because Buffalo's fares were also cheap and Craig has to head to Toronto right after we get back anyway.  The flight times all around weren't super ideal for our schedules, but eventually we settled on ones that worked and booked them ASAP before anything else changed.  I booked the hotel a day later, Craig bought baseball tickets after that, and I finalized the rental car over the weekend.  Trip booked.

Because it's only for three days, I'm trying not to freak out about packing.  My goal is to get everything into carry-ons so we can avoid checked bag fees and waits.  The weather is looking pleasantly summery, so it's nice to be able to pack up clothes we wouldn't need to wear in the meantime.  My wardrobe is going to be interesting, of course, as it's pretty limited these days anyway.  I have some trying on to do tonight to make sure a handful of summer stuff still fits. 

My biggest concern is probably in-flight entertainment.  Jacob knows that he is limited to whatever stuffed animals/toys fit into his backpack.  I will obviously make room in my bag for my laptop (Craig will have his, too), and my iPod and Craig's phone will be helpful as well.  I'm planning on making sure we have some coloring books and crayons, Jacob's travel Magna Doodle, and hopefully a travel game of Connect Four (which I want to go buy--he plays it at daycare and I like it too).  It's not a long flight, but our flights are at weird times so I want to be prepared for anything, with as many distractions as possible.  Airport waits aren't particularly fun either.  We'll have the bonus of this being Jacob's first set of flights, and therefore it will be a novelty.  Hopefully he'll be so excited and fascinated by the whole thing that he won't even think about being difficult.  But considering our departing flight is at 6am and our return flight is very late on Sunday (figured it was better than spending money on another night at a hotel, just to leave right away in the morning), he may not have full control of his behavior at those times so we'll just have to wait and see.  If nothing else I'm looking at this as a trial run for our trip to Florida in November.  Better to figure out what works for Jacob now, rather than having to do it among four other kids and with a much longer trip duration.  That trip will be fantastic regardless, but I'd like to work out the kinks now, if possible. 

We're all very excited but it's been fun to see Jacob get so excited about it.  He just doesn't get super excited about many things.  But he's REALLY excited about this.  He asks every day if today's Atlanta, and I finally sort of got him to understand the number of days before we go.  He's definitely counting down.  I'm really dreading having to go pull him out of bed sometime after 4am on Friday, though.  I'm planning on keeping him in his PJs until we're through security, hoping that we can minimize our "get ready" time that morning, transfer him to the car still asleep (fat chance), and have a clothing change to kill time in the terminal.  But it should all be worth it when we're in Atlanta by 8:30am and have the whole day at our disposal.  At least, that's how I've felt every other time I've taken a ridiculously early flight...without kids, of course.  Let's hope adrenaline takes us all a long way. 

It should be quite the adventure regardless, and I'll certainly try to post when I can.  In the meantime I'll keep the baby letters coming...

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