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Giving Wings to Our Baby Boy

Day 343:

We made a large stride towards our big goal last week when we took Baby Ethan out of the city and into the skies for his first trip across the country.  Turning 11 months in the middle of it, Ethan touched down in that celebrity-filled entertainment capital known as the City of Angels.  This post will detail the where, the how, and the what about our first trip in 18 months, and Ethan’s first trip ever!

Why Los Angeles?

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Mommy and I have been to the Pacific Northwest, toured NYC in the Northeast, and bathed in sunny Florida (the southeast).  Southern California was the only corner of our great nation that haven’t seen, so we certainly wanted to check it off our list before leaving the country for the first time.  The opportunity came along this past winter when my best friend suggested going to Blizzcon for the first time.  As an avid gamer I certainly couldn’t pass up the chance, and so I began on my 8 month mission to get my family out to Anaheim, and somehow do it for as little $$$ as possible.  If you’ve read any of my previous posts you know that money is tight around here.  Having and raising a baby is incredibly expensive compared to our lives before pregnancy.  But with limited vacation time and way too much stress from careers and life in general, I was determined to make this trip, and many more to come later.  It is so important, and educational, to show your children the world, and despite a diligent savings plan, I am pleased to report that besides tickets to the con and all of our somewhat expensive meals, this trip cost us absolutely nothing!  Zilch, nada, null.

But How?

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My goal is to become financially independent from work in order to enable my family to see the world together.

Yes this is a very lofty goal.  But is is also one I think is achievable.  As I work towards financial independence, I have learned that I do not have to wait for that to happen before trotting the globe with my family.  I spent most of 2014 executing strategies I learned from The Points Guy and the Art of Non-Conformity, amassing a total of just under 800k frequent flier miles and hotel points in the process, all without flying.  I strongly recommend reading up on travel hacking if you’re interested in doing the same.  I continued these strategies throughout 2015, and now have enough points to take my family around the world.  Our only limitation is the amount of time our jobs give us off each year, which I will fix with the financial independence part later on.  Cashing in just a fraction of my payload, I received 3 round trip flights to LAX, and an 8 night stay for next to nothing (~$30 taxes).  The best part is that I earned all of these points in 2014, and earned enough in 2015 to make up for the points redeemed, and then some.  We now have a bright future of traveling ahead of us and already have plans to visit China, Europe, and Mexico, all before Baby 2 grounds us again when he/she is blessed upon us.  Most of these trips will be two-week vacations because if we’re going to cross the ocean, we believe we should make the most of it.  Oh if only we could have more than 3 weeks PTO, then those would all be 2016 trips, instead of the next 3 years.

Traveling with a Baby

The day began in a hotel room, generously comped to us by my stepmother, who manages it.  After pushing all of our luggage to the airport shuttle we were off with Ethan in arms.  Let me tell you, the biggest change we encountered, adding a baby to our travel party, was watching our luggage double in size, maybe even triple.  Before it was two checked bags and a purse.  Now we had two checked bags, a purse, a stroller, a car seat, a car seat carrier, and a diaper bag.  There may have even been a baby food bag in there somewhere.  I can’t remember now.

We had a direct flight to LAX, but unfortunately that was not the case on the return trip, of which we had about 5 minutes to jet across the whole terminal with a baby in tow.  Mommy and me both have sore arms from that experience.  Anyways, once in LAX we retrieved our treasure trove of luggage and proceeded to the International Terminal for Global Entry interviews; because, China… After a quick 45 minute jaunt through LA traffic, we arrived in sunny Anaheim, lined with palm trees and clear skies, a very stalk contrast from home.

I didn’t get to see much of Little Ethan for the first 3 days because, Blizzcon… duh!  But I kissed him goodnight each night and on Sunday morning (Day 4) we packed up to leave Anaheim for LA, where we would spend the rest of the week, so here’s a quick rundown, because we all know my memory is going to fail me someday.  I just need a cheat sheet, not a detailed diary.

Sunday: Downtown Disney, lots of driving, Chinatown, lots of eating.

Sunday

LA’s version of China Town!

Monday: Venice Beach, lots of walking, Santa Monica Pier, lots of freezing, lots of wind, even more walking

My best friend Josh at Santa Monica

My best friend Josh at Santa Monica

Tuesday: Mommy got really sick :(, we attempted the observatory, Mommy got even more sick, quick jaunt through the Getty Center.  Wish it was longer!

The Getty Museum

The Getty Museum

Wednesday: Hollywood Blvd, walk of fame, Griffith Observatory, magnificent views, Universal Studios, really good food!

At the Hollywood Sign!

At the Hollywood Sign!

Thursday: Way too much driving, Blizzard Headquarters, Downtown Disney again, scary near-collision to end the trip.

This is as close as they let us get.

This is as close as they let us get.

Ethan did great on most of our outings!  In fact, he only got cranky when we weren’t moving!  That’s how I know he’s going to be a world traveler like Mommy and me!  As I’ve said, traveling with a baby is different and challenging.  There is more baggage, and the list of things you can’t do is always longer than the things you can.  But we will manage and grow with it, because every single one of those challenges is worth it, so Ethan can have the wings we are so willing to give him.