WELCOME to the second part of our PCS journey! In case you missed my first post, here is the link with the backstory of our adventure and includes lots of PCS tips & information! This second part will focus on travel tips while flying with a toddler, and our visit to sunny California, specifically Los Angeles.
The flight from Hawaii to California is about 5 hours long, BUT seems even longer when you’re traveling with a high energy toddler. Here was our flight experience: Our son was in his carseat next to the window because it was required by the airline, poor Mommy was stuck in the middle seat, and the hubby had the aisle seat to give him more room for his broad shoulders. There was heavy turbulence the whole flight so we were mostly confined to our seats, which doesn’t bode well for a 15 month old boy that is constantly on the m-o-v-e. The plane was shaking so much during the flight that we both felt nauseous and exhausted. Not fun. It was a constant challenge to try to keep our son from crying/screaming during the flight. I never felt more relieved and happy (and I’m sure those sitting around us as well) to arrive at LAX knowing that we didn’t have to catch another flight because we would be driving from that point on.
Tips for flying with a toddler
- Bring lots of your child’s favorite snacks! TSA will go through all your stuff and test squeeze pouches and sippy cups…so ensure you arrive early for the additional time at security.
- Before we started our move, we bought a kid friendly kindle from Amazon for our son to watch his fav show (shoutout to Super Wings) and also play some age appropriate games during both long car rides and on the plane. This thing was a life saver! The kindle does not require a Wifi connection while using if you download shows/games in advance on wifi, has both kid and adult password protected sections, and comes with an Amazon full replacement warranty for the kid/smash proof case. The separate sections feature will come in handy when he is older and we want to control what he does on it. Here is the link to the Kindle.
- If your PCS requires you to fly, make sure that your base IPAC books your toddler their own plane seat (when they ask you if you want to hold him in your lap, tell them no!) and bring their carseat! They are already used to sitting in their carseat while traveling and it helps keep them strapped in way better than the over the lap seatbelt on planes.
- We found it extremely helpful to have a small cart to pull the carseat around on when we were moving around the terminal. The seat was too heavy and bulky and with our other carry-on luggage it definitely came in handy! We bought our little luggage cart at Wal-Mart for under $20.
- Bring books, toys, favorite stuffed animal, and blanket for the kiddos! The more to help them feel comfortable and distracted the better.
- If possible, try to book your flight with a time that will coincide with your child’s nap time…then pray that your child sleeps for some of the flight! LOL joking, but really.
C A L I F O R N I A (Los Angeles)
I had never been to Cali before and imagined as this beautiful place filled with Hollywood glamour, fancy cars, and celebrities. Boy was I wrong.
We were grateful to finally see the city lights of the west coast as we flew over the dark pacific ocean. We touched down late at night at LAX….everyone was hungry and exhausted, but we felt a sigh of relief that we had finally made it! LAX is a ginormous airport that no matter what time of the day has way too many people and inadequate facilities to service them all. I think my husband and I both agree it’s one of the worst airports we have ever had to fly into. Trying to navigate our way through the terminals to baggage claim proved to be very difficult because of the size of the terminal and the sheer volume of people moving in every direction. Trying to get a Taxi or an Uber at LAX is a whole feat in itself and we took over an hour learning the hard way. Here is a big tip if you are flying into this airport for the first time and need a service ride to pick you up….the drive by pick-up curb area outside of the LAX main baggage claim is off limits to cabs and uber. This is strictly enforced by the airport and the driver will face massive fines if they attempt to pick up travelers outside of baggage claim. That area is only designated for people getting picked up by family/friends and buses. SO after it took us almost an hour of trying to drop an uber pin to figure that out we were in the entirely wrong place to get a ride. We had to lug all of our stuff which included a tired toddler, carseat, stroller, carry ons and 3 suitcases to find an elevator that would take us up to the second floor pick-up area where we could find an uber. Our uber driver had to fight insane traffic to get to us, but seeing her finally pull up in her uber mini-van to take us to our hotel was one of the best feelings in the world! We just wanted to get out of this crazy airport!
Our car was shipped into the port of Long Beach, so we booked our hotel near the port so we would be close to pick it up the next morning and be on our way. Our Holiday-Inn hotel wasn’t the best we’ve ever stayed at, and we joked that the only good part about it was the next door Denny’s, so we were able to eat a big American breakfast before we got on our way for the day. My husband took a short cab ride to the port where our car was waiting for us. A short while later he came back to the hotel to pick us up, loaded our luggage and gassed up the car, topped off our coffee, and off we went! Hollywood here we come!
We were only staying in California for 3-4 days before we had to get on the road to begin our cross country trip, so we really had to prioritize our time and the things we definitely wanted to see. California offers so much and it is impossible to try and see it all in such a short stay. We decided that our first stop was to the famous Hollywood Boulevard! Driving into the city I was shocked to see this place in daylight. Hollywood itself seemed very run down. It was very sad to see so many desperate, homeless people living there. Hollywood just seemed like such a shock to what we had conjured up in our imaginations of what the glam of Hollywood would be. California has a huge issue with vehicle emissions and it was evident by the amount of haze caused by polluted air hovering above the city buildings. Not at all what I expected. We parked because we wanted to walk the Blvd, and were constantly reminded every few feet by prodding salesman and magicians that it’s all a big tourist trap. I mean, don’t take any of this the wrong way, Hollywood was definitely cool to see once, but then you leave with “I never want to do that again” in summary. BUT nonetheless we were good sports, did the touristy things and made a lot of fun and memories from doing it.
We saw the Hollywood Walk of Fame (pictured left), TCL Chinese Theatre, and the famous Hollywood sign from a distance in the Hollywood and Highland Center. The Hollywood and Highland Center is a huge outdoor/indoor shopping mall in L.A. It is absolutely beautiful on the inside and houses the famous Dolby Theatre (where the Oscars are held). Unfortunately we did not have the time to get in and see the inside of the Dolby Theatre, so if that is something you really want to do, then I suggest booking your tickets in advance. We walked through the huge mall and inside is a perfect photo op spot where you can see the Hollywood sign in the distance. This saved us the trip from having to figure out how to get to a closer spot to see the sign. We felt hungry so we grabbed a quick lunch and got on our way. A great thing about Hollywood is that everything is within walking distance and it all can be done in a day.
(Hollywood sign & entrance to Highland Center)
We then jumped back into our car and began our journey to Anaheim where we would spend the next two days going to Disneyland! Yay! The drive from L.A. to Anaheim is about an hour with no traffic. On our way there we stopped at the popular west-coast “In-and-Out” fast food joint for dinner. If you haven’t heard of it before it’s because it is only a west coast thing. The only thing this place serves is burgers, shakes, and fries! They were pretty good and not too heavy on the wallet either. When you order your fries, make sure you ask for it “animal” style. It is a part of their secret menu and I promise you will not be disappointed!
I am going to save our Disneyland trip for it’s own separate post because I have so much to share and lots to talk about! So stay tuned for that post coming up next! Lastly, even though L.A. wasn’t our fav, we felt the “west-coast cultural vibe” and had an entire experience that was equally exciting and foreign to us. I am not trying to discourage anyone from visiting, only retelling our experience so you do not feel surprised or disappointed when you arrive. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found this blog post helpful 🙂