Wednesday, May 16, 2012

BAF: Vacations Part I - Orlando

Even though Bad Ass Dad works in a third world tropical country with lots of sun (and lots of rain), he still needs a vacation from time to time. Vacations fall under two categories: those that BAD has to draw up Warning Orders / Operation Orders for, and those that are Fire and Forget. For you non-military BADs, lets put these two types into terms we all can understand: À la carte vs. All-You-Can-Eat. Self-planned (or agency-assisted) vs. All-Inclusives. Both types  have their pros/cons, its just a function of energy, time, funds appropriation, and flexibility.

When throwing BAK(s) into the mix, costs and planning consideration seems to rise exponentially. Gone are the days when BAD and BAM can just fly away to Rome for a few days, or drive from San Francisco down the Big Sur to Los Angeles spending hours upon hours at all the different sites. BAFs must consider all the needs of the BAK(s) during the planning phases for such endeavours now. This is why, for BAD's sanity, he prefers All-Inclusive Vacations (cruises and wholly agency-planned trips, would also fall into this category).

However, this coming travelling season (2012), BAD has planned three small getaways, WDW, T-dot, and Mayan Riviera. Of the three, only the Mayan is AIV - the rest are  À la carte. The first and immediate is the WDW. Added to the complexities of the logistics when within the Orlando area for a week with an infant and a 3.5 year old, is that we are flying domestic US airline meaning checked luggages are now $25 (and no, I'm not a super elite top dog status with United), and a secondary objective to attend a first you might be thinking "Fuck, this is a logistical nightmare." And in fact, you're right, sort of.

After all the major bookings were completed (hotel, flights, vehicle rental, airport parking, WDW tix, travel insurance...), the next biggest task was to pack. Given that we are flying into Orlando with 1.5 hr layovers on either side for 7 nights, 2 x adults, 1 x 2 mnth old infant, 1 x 3.5yr old female, attending a wedding on day 4, we needed to make some considerations...
  • n suitcases
  • x suitcase size
  • boolean stroller
  • n outfits for BAF
  • n diapers
  • boolean backpack
  • boolean camera
  • types of sunscreen and other sundries such as snacks for the layover and games.
  • boolean carseats
Now, when trying to do a cost-benefit-analyses with your sig fig, it is a good idea to have a pot of coffee and know how to make tables and lists in Excel (it's also a good idea to ship your BAKs to the bad ass grandparents for a few hours). We weighted the cost-benefit of the above items, and at the end of it we decided that we would pay for one checked in massive suitcase and then use two carry ons. We would also bring our jogger (BOB revolution), diaper bag, and BAK will be using her Little Life backpack. I also will probably take the 5.11 Tactical Camera Bag which would be dual purpose of holding travel docs and ident as well as tactical camera. Because we have two little kiddies, one that still gets tired from walking intermediate distances, and one that is still an infant, we wanted a little people carrying system that produced a small footprint (not a double stroller), so we opted for taking the BOB with infant carrier attachment, as well as the Ergo (a baby carrier). This would allow us to rotate the kiddies in and out of the BOB when required.

We have decided not to do laundry at our hotel, so we packed about 7.5 outfits, plus a metric tonne of diapers for the wee one. I am of school where "buy what you need when you get there," but BAM takes the advice of other BAM's who say "pack everything you think you need, and then some." She prefers to travel as a self-contained unit with little to no reliance on others. We compromised and packed exactly what we would need, leaving no room for error, and then just supplement by going to the local bodega. Come-on, we're going to Florida, not some 3rd world shit-hole. Even in the Mayan, there's an F'n Costco. For the mother of all packing lists, check out Corinne McDermott has on her blog. It's true, gone are the days of travelling lite.

BAD called United to find out whether the BOB can be sky-checked. They have no policy in place for weight, but they do have one for length/width, and the BOB just scrapes through by an armpit hair (with the wheels off - I'll have to tether them together with bungee or something - or they might be nice and 'say yeah yeah go').

My rule of thumb for packing has always been pack everything in one suitcase, then spread it between carry-ons...this way, you end up with carry-ons that can sustain you for a day or two if your main one did not arrive at the same time you did. In fact, I like what Claire Newells have to say about it carry-ons...

I am in the process of writing up an OPORD to show the level of logistics required. Although, not everybody goes through the same level for formalizing their plans, the same thought processes are involved.

Stay tuned for more....


  1. Hi,

    Nice post you have shared with all from this we all are going to get help for our vacations in other places like you experienced.Thanks.

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