Checklist for flying with small kids

Blog 18-19 combo

In our 50% Chinese 50% American household, we often travel with our young kids to China.  We have taken some long international flights, for example, getting back to my wife’s hometown can take 25-35 or more hours door to door.  Through these experiences we have learned a lot.  So, for this blog post, I wanted to write down some of the tips and tricks of travelling with small kids internationally.  These tips are focused on our own experience with kids that are 1 year up to about 6 years old.  We won’t cover the obvious (like requesting the bassinet for kids under two) and this article will probably change and evolve over time as we travel more and kids get bigger.

1. Food

Food is the first item because it is the most important one.  Every time the plane takes off or lands, the pressure change inside the plane causes kid’s ears to hurt.  However, if you just give them something to chew on or swallow, that allows kids to equalize the pressure in their ears, and makes their inner ear comfortable.  The ideal thing is something chewy they can eat a lot of that will not fill them up.  We find that Gerber puffs are excellent for this; the kids can eat a ton of them and never get full.  Beyond this, single serve snacks are great (whether you prepare them yourself in ziplocks or buy single serves).  The types of things we bring are: Cheerios, raisins, rice cakes, stuff like this.  Single serve is super convenient because you don’t have to worry about spilling and the unwrapping of each item is an activity for the kids.  We actually have a backpack that is almost totally filled with food for kids on these longs trips.

2. Toys 

We also bring a small number of cheap toys.  Because we bring cheap toys, we don’t mind if they get lost during the trip (which will invariably happen). For example: hot wheels cars, small puzzle, a small LEGO box set, all are good.  The dollar store is perfect for picking up small and disposable toys for taking on the plane.  If they get lost, no problem.

3. Pen & Paper

We have found that simple art supplies go a long way with children. For example, small stickers are cheap and light and will keep little finger busy for a long time peeling and sticking stickers onto paper.  For crayons, it’s worth it to find and buy these triangular cross section crayons as shown below.  They are super handy on the plane because they don’t roll!

4. Games

We don’t like electronic games and iPad for kids. Maybe I will write a separate post on this topic. A deck of mini uno cards can keep kids busy for a long time. Uno is also good because it doesn’t matter if you lose some cards here or there, and two, three, or more people can play together.  We also like to pickup game books that have coloring, tic-tac-toe, word search, connect the dots, and other games inside.

5. Inside the airport

During layovers, we try to find a children’s area if they have one nearby.  If not, an excellent toy to play in some open space is an inflatable beachball.  This packs flat, weighs nothing, and after blowing it up, you can play all sorts of games with it.  It’s been a super helpful on all of our layovers and delays.

6. Medicine

You can and probably should bring all types of medicines along for kids, especially when travelling abroad and not knowing what you will be able to get your hands on, what dosages, etc. For our kids, a key must have on the place is something for their nose like Vaseline.  Our kids both get nose bleeds, and the dry air on the plane really exacerbates it.  I can write a future story about this . .. but for now, I would just recommend bringing Vaseline or Ayer for the nose.

7. Other helpful items

There are tons of other little things we have found very helpful, for example: babywipes (out of diapers and still using these) and clean empty ziplock bags.  Ziplock bags are super helpful for when you kids takes two bites out of that apple and is full, you can just pop it in a bag and save it for later.

That’s it!  What types of tips do you have for travelling with kids?  Please let me know in the comments!


1)食品。食品是第一个因为食品是最重要的。每一次飞机起飞或者降落的时候,压力变化让孩子的耳朵痛了。如果给孩子们吃喝东西,可以降低对孩子耳朵的压力。让他们耳朵舒服。大多他们需要一些东西咀嚼和吞咽。我们发现小宝贝的饼干是最好的。Gerber的泡芙饼干是我们最喜欢的,因为很好吃,吃很多也不会吃地很饱。我们也带很多小吃。我们觉得分开装很方便,可能买或者自己准备:葡萄干,Cheerios, 米饭糕,等等 … 所有的小吃多很好吃。我们准备好的小吃放在食品背包里面。

2)玩具。我们也带一些便宜的玩具。因为带便宜的玩具,所以我们不担心玩具弄丢。例如: 小车,小拼图,小乐高积木(LEGO)盒子,都可以。你可以在两元店买很多便宜的玩具带到飞机上。如果玩具弄丢了没关系。




6)药.  你可能带很多种孩子需要用的药。对我们孩子们最重要的是凡士林(Vaseline)。在飞机上空气很干。我们的孩子们经常鼻子出血,所以我们总是带一些凡士林(Vaseline)放在鼻子里面,保护他们的鼻子别太干了。

7) 其他物品。例如:婴儿湿巾, 纸巾, 自封袋,都很方便。我们孩子们吃一般的苹果吃饱了,我们会放在自封袋里,等一会儿孩子饿了想吃了。可以从自封袋里拿出来给他们继续吃。这样可以别浪费食物。


Beijing 798 arts district

Blog 16


798 is a cool area I visited recently while in Beijing. You can read about my other adventures here.

798 used to be a military factory, one of the biggest in China. The buildings there were designed by a German designer and have a cool industrial look to them. The top of each building section is curved with big windows which lets the light in. The whole place is now divided up into many studios, cafes, and shops.

Beijing 798

Beijing 798

I shared in a previous post about the Hyundai gallery. They also have a neat air filter display which was titled “Cleanest air in Beijing.” It consists of a large glass walled air filter system with five filtration stages. It also included a long video screen showing different colored dots representing sensor data on measured pollutants flowing into the air filter system from outdoors. Cool!

Beijing 798 cleanest air exhibitMultistage air filterParticle counter display

We also saw the beautiful sculptures of cast metal shown below.

798 arts district

Crafts people are also selling various goods, including these neat sounding and colorful steel drums.

Steel drums

All in all, a bit commercial, but worth a visit I think.








Blue skies in Beijing and the power of deciding.

Blog 15


One of the most interesting things about my recent trip to Beijing was the sky – totally blue skies! Unbelievable! In the past, every trip to Beijing meant me getting sick from the pollution. Why are the skies blue now?

Back in November the Chinese government banned coal burning for all areas around Beijing. Just like that, the terrible pollution problems of Beijing are solved. This is one of the most amazing things about the Chinese government. When they make a decision to change something, it changes immediately. It is unbelievable. I don’t think any other large country in the world can make changes like this.

Another good example: I remember about 10 years ago, both China and USA both said they were going to invest in high speed rail. USA debated and talked about how and where to build rail, whereas China got to work building. China now has 25,000 km (16,000 mi) of high speed rail connecting the entire country built over 10 years. How much does the US have? In the US we have zero.

That’s the characteristics of a decisive government. It can be a good thing or a bad thing but you are guaranteed things will happen.





Stone lions at Forbidden City

Blog 14


I was revisiting all the big sights on my recent trip to Beijing, including the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City has lots of dragons, but I like the guardian lions as shown in the picture above best. There are usually a pair of them guarding various palace entrances. And once you see them, you will begin to notice them all over Beijing, bronze lions and stone lions. One has a ball under its paw and the other looks like it is crushing a baby lion. Looks pretty scary. What are they? What do they mean?

The first lion is a male, and has his paw resting on top of a ball or sphere.  That is supposed to represent the yang male force and the paw on the ball represents dominance of the world. The second lion is a female and has her paw resting upon or restraining a child lion cub. This is supposed to represent nurture and the female yin force.

There is a famous Chinese tongue twister about stone lions

四 是 四 , 十 是 十 , 十 四 是 十 四 , 四 十 是 四 十 , 四 十 四 只 石 狮 子 是 死 的。

Pronunciation: sì shì sì, shí shì shí, shí sì shì shí sì, sì shí shì sì shí, sì shí sì zhī shí shī zì shì sǐ de.

Translation: 4 is 4, 10 is 10, 14 is 14, 40 is 40, 44 stone lions are dead.

Can you see why it’s difficult for foreigners to learn Chinese?





Art in Beijing and Self driving cars.

Blog post #10


On my recent business trip to Beijing I had some free time on the weekend and decided to go see the Beijing 798 art district. It was very cool!

There are many small galleries within the district and probably my favorite was the Hyundai gallery. I have an image of the artwork below. It shows a picture of a car surrounded by a circle of salt. I thought what in the world is this?

The artist’s caption says that the picture is about self driving cars and their relationship to the environment. OK. Here is where it gets neat – because the self driving car is not truely smart, it just responds to stimulus in the environment, for example, the car will not cross a white solid line. If someone were to put a white solid line around a self driving car, it would be trapped inside! What a neat idea. So, if someone steals your parking spot in the future, I suppose all you need is a little white paint to get even 🙂

(P.S. I taught my mother in law driving, you can read about it here.)





Eating Crab with Chopsticks

Blog #6

I learned how to use chopsticks when I was a kid because I thought they were neat.  Now, whenever I travel in China, people are always amazed at how proficient I am as a foreigner with chopsticks.  I’ve never really had trouble eating anything with chopsticks until one night in Shanghai.  
My wife and I were meeting a friend of a friend at a restaurant.  She ordered the food, and out came hard shelled crab . . . and nothing but chopsticks.  I said – OK, I have no idea how to eat this with chop sticks.  Our host was sitting directly across the table from me.  She smiled and said ‘ you just use your teeth the break the shell’ and then she smiled a big smile . . . Every single one of her front teeth was broken.  It was like looking at a zig zag jagged line. I guess she really enjoyed to eat crab.
I left the dinner hungry that night.

我小时候学习用筷子,学会了,并且学得很好。现在我去中国的时候,中国人常常说”哎呀,这个外国人会用筷子!”。别人说,我拿筷子的方式是对的,可是我太太拿筷子的方式是错的。大部分时候用筷子没有遇到问题, 直到在上海一个晚上。 我和我的太太打算和一个朋友的朋友见面一起吃饭。她点了菜以后上了五只硬壳螃蟹。我们都用筷子,没有其他的。 我说了“好。我会筷子但是,我不知道怎么用筷子打开硬壳螃蟹。 我们的朋友坐在我对面。他说”没有问题!你就用你的牙打开。“ 然后她笑了笑。他的每颗牙齿都是坏的, 看起来很不整齐。我想她真的很喜欢吃螃蟹。这个晚上我没有吃饱。

Getting Cheated in Beijing, Part2

Post #4 Jan 21, 2018

(Make sure to read part #1 first:Getting cheated in Beijing, Part 1)

The next day, I looked at these bills – they did look super new, maybe just printed. I took them to the counterfeit bill detector in my hotel and they were in fact fake. I asked the hotel manager about it and he told me that the ATM does not dispense fake money.  Every bill in the ATM is accounted for as real.  He asked me, have you been in a taxi recently where the driver refused to take your money?  The taxi driver had cheated me. He switched the bills and I lost 500 Yuan!  The manager said he was sorry, this is a wide-spread scam in Beijing right now.

Below are pictures of the fake bills. It is easy to tell the difference by feel once you know they are fake. If you try to pay and someone gives your bills back to you, they are most likely trying to cheat you. Especially if they are a taxi driver.


#4 一月二十一号2018