Behind the scenes: Traveling with a doll…

The trip to Mexico was a new experience for me (besides being my first visit to Mexico) in that it was the first time I’d decided to take a doll with me on a trip where we had to go by plane. Sure, I’d had experiences before with taking someone “along for the ride” (Coolspring, Fort Necessity, etc) but those were day trips, in a car, and I didn’t have any planning ahead involved as far as props and such since they were just single day adventures. This was definitely a whole different experience!

First I had to run it by my husband since it was a work related trip. I didn’t know how he was going to take this idea, but he was actually pretty open minded about it. All he said was “nothing embarrassing”. I can handle that.

Then I had to decide who was going to go with me. When you’ve got as many 18″ girls hanging around as I do, it can get a little tricky. However, one factor narrowed it down very quickly to two girls: hair. I wanted a hairstyle that didn’t easily tangle and required minimal upkeep. That brought me to either Kit or Cassandra. Unfortunately Kit had taken that nasty fall and her eye was messed up, so that narrowed it down to Cassandra. Cassandra is older too, so I thought it seemed more realistic (seriously, I’m using the word realistic in a post about dolls?!?!) to take her along. Here is her reaction the day I told her:

cass cancun

Now it was time to do some planning. I needed to figure out what to take for various shoot ideas I had. And just like when you travel yourself, I did end up taking a couple of things that I didn’t use. Oh well, better to have them with me than not. And this trip really wasn’t planned to death, we left a lot of what we did to chance, we just had basic ideas about things we wanted to do. Overall though, I think it turned out well and I came up with a cute story to go with her photos.  I decided early on that this was going to be a trip where she wore her contacts because I didn’t want to have to constantly worry about losing her glasses.  Shoes were also a big decision because I wanted to be sure that they were ones that didn’t come off easily but fit in with what we were doing.  I did a little digging around in the shoe drawer and the minute I saw the trekking sandals, I knew they would be perfect.

The biggest issue I had was WHAT to take her in. I wanted something that she could be transported in safely as well as easy to carry. My first idea was a tote bag, but I was concerned about her getting squished in it and possibly damaged. One day while in TJMaxx, I came across a backpack that was on clearance, and on close inspection discovered that not only was it well padded but also had numerous compartments that I could stash an assortment of stuff in. For $15 I couldn’t pass it up, even if it hadn’t worked out for this, I could have used it for something else or passed it on to a family member. It looks like this:
(It is still available at Amazon)  What is nice about it is it is 18 inches tall and the way it is shaped on the top makes it possible to have the doll standing, plus you can get her far enough back that catching her hair in the zipper isn’t a big problem.  I did do that once, I felt so bad, it had to have hurt!  I also had plenty of room to put her clothes and accessories in as well as some snacks and a few other things I was taking along.

Her clothing all went into Ziploc bags where I pressed as much air out of as possible so they would take up very little space.  Her small accessories all went into her own backpack, and then all of that went into the bag with her.  I also tossed in a comb I use for the dolls and her snorkeling gear.  She was ready to go!

cass in the bag
Cass in the bag!

Throughout the trip she alternated between the backpack and a tote bag I took along, it just depended on what we were doing and how loaded down I wanted to be.  I only ran into one problem with this at the Museo Maya: NO BIG BAGS ALLOWED!  As this nice Mexican security guy is showing me the lockers and explaining what the issue was as best he could, I was kind of panicked.  I wish you all could have seen me juggling my wallet, my camera and Cassandra around the museum and the grounds.  Plus it was hot as all get out, so I’m sure she was as sweaty as I was by the time it was over with.  And yes, I did get a few odd looks from people as I carried her around, but remember, this is also where I met two fellow doll lovers.  I survived though, but my arms felt like I’d been carrying around a 10 pound bowling ball by the time we were done.  Ugh.  Now I kind of understand why dolls loved by little girls end up looking like they do…

Overall though, the backpack worked out well and she made it to Mexico and back with no injuries.  In fact, her sombrero and other goodies came back in the same bag with her, the padding worked as expected.  The bag was small enough that if I had needed to, I could have put it on the floor in front of me, but I didn’t need to, she went into the overhead compartments on every flight.

The drawback: weight.  I don’t know why, but it seemed by the time I put her in the backpack with a few other items, it weighed a ton.  Maybe it’s just me, I don’t do well with heavy bags due to a shoulder/neck injury.  I even took most of the stuff out once we arrived at the resort that I wasn’t going to need, but it still seemed heavier than I expected.  That was kind of disappointing as I was hoping this bag would be a good travel bag for any doll photo shoots, now I’m not so sure.  Perhaps I need to play around with it a bit.

So, the big question…would I do this again?  I’ll be honest, I don’t know.  If it was just a trip in a car, I probably would but I’m not 100% sure about taking someone on a plane again.  I’m very much a bare bones air traveler, and it was perhaps more of a sacrifice of space than I’m willing to do again.  We’ll see.  We don’t have any plane trips planned anytime soon, so maybe by the time I have to make up my mind, I’ll have come up with a better system.  It was a fun experience though, and how many dolls do you know that have been to Cancun????

13 thoughts on “Behind the scenes: Traveling with a doll…

  1. What a great post! I think I might just copy you sometime and write a post of my own on how I travel with my dolls on my own blog. Like you, I’ve only taken a doll on a plane once and that was to Hawaii. Also like you, I wanted to take a doll who wouldn’t have a hair problem, but that wasn’t about to happen because Kanani was the only doll who had any legitimacy in going with me to HI. I rope braided her hair very tightly and carefully and anytime I traveled with her, she always wore braids. Amazingly she came back with her hair in the perfect condition that she left with.
    I’m very used to carrying heavy things so lugging Kanani items and clothes didn’t bother me at all. For her clothes, I used the packages the clothes came in from the Stardust Classic and Life of Faith dolls which are basically garment bags that close all the way. I carried Kanani herself in a giant pink tote bag that looks and has the feel of a basket. If she stood in it, her face would peek out, but if she sits, she’s very well hidden. I put her under my seat on the plane and although she complained how uncomfortable she was, I just told her to go to sleep and she did. My best friend and I had a great time exploring HI with her and I will totally bring a doll with me if I ever go anywhere again. My rules for travel have been limited to only AG dolls (because if something were to happen to them I’d just send them to the hospital) and my limit has been no more than two dolls (when not flying) but this summer I’m going to try 3 and see if I’m overwhelmed.

    • LOL @ Kanani complaining, I can hear the conversation now! I’ll be interested to hear how traveling with 3 would go, the backpack would probably hold 2 easily but if I were to take 3 I’d probably use a rolling carry on, however my husband would probably disown me LOL. For me another factor in who got to go was who would be easily (and inexpensively) replaced should the worst happen. I hate to even think of something happening, but accidents do happen. And thefts. 😦

  2. I’ve been to Seattle a number of times, and I always take 2 dolls w/ me. I found that my Springfield Collection dolls don’t travel well w/ the hair issues (Julie’s made the trip twice) so I only use AGs now. I pack them both in bubble wrap and rubber bands and pack them in my suitcase, (that doesn’t get checked). I also pack a small suitcase for them and put it in my backpack. This contains outfits, props such as toy food. extra shoes, hair stuff and jackets. I also carry a super large tote which is actually a big beach bag and the both can lay down in it, for when I’m out and about. My last trip I found it was easier to dress them like twins so outfit planning went much smoother. I do take them all around Seattle w/ my niece (who’s grown), and get interesting looks from various people and little girls are kinda shy wanting to ask about them. It’s kinda cute.

    • I think my biggest issue is we are VERY light packers. We’ve gone to Europe and not checked bags, taking only a very small rolling carry on and a purse. I hate juggling a bunch of bags around now that we’ve adapted to that way of travel and this put a monkey wrench in that. Fortunately we don’t fly all that often now. Not sure if I will do it again, it was fun, but not sure it’s my “thing”.

  3. Fantastic post! I looooove the backpack and just added the grey one onto my camping Amazon wish list, lol.
    I learned early on that I can’t handle taking a doll on trips for most of the reasons you mentioned. I have two little kids and that is enough to worry about! Good for you for doing it though and that is really neat that you met two other doll lovers in the process that “get it.” I enjoyed your posts and Cassandra is just the CUTEST. 🙂 I really hope to add that particular doll to my collection some day!

    • I can’t even imagine trying to do this with kids along, just too much to keep track of! And while I don’t know that I would do it again when traveling on a plane, I definitely will be doing it again with car trips. It is fun and helps expand the creativity!

      It really is a very nice backpack, lots of places to put things, very well thought out. I hope you get a Jess mold doll, I just love that face. 4 later, it still is my favorite of all the molds.

  4. I’m so glad you took her, your pictures turned out so cute! Thanks for sharing this behind the scenes info, I’ve never flown with a doll, and I can see how it could be tricky. I’ve taken mine on road trips, but I always feel like every time I take one somewhere, she comes back looking a little disheveled. I like my dolls to stay in the best condition possible, so it’s definitely an internal battle as to whether they come or not. Straight haired dolls do travel much better! I had Kirsten at a museum last summer in a backpack, but I kept wanting to pull her out for pictures so often that I just gave up and carried her. I tried my best to ignore the funny looks. 🙂

    • I hear you, Cassandra was definitely a little worse for the wear when we got home. Her hair isn’t in A-1 condition to begin with though, so I don’t think it hurt it anymore than it was before. I got a few funny looks too, but hey, I could be doing stranger things LOL!

  5. Thank you for this post! I’m planning on taking a doll down to Disney and Universal on the AutoTrain in the fall and I have been going through this exactly regarding who and what is going. We too are light packers but I am taking my car too so it’s not that big of a deal. I would like to have the doll on the train because that’s half the fun but that totally means sleeping with her for security reasons so…if anyone sees a forty something sleeping with a doll on the AutoTrain, say hi!

    • LOL! I know what you mean about security though, that was another reason I wanted her in a small enough carry-on bag that I wouldn’t be forced to check her. Even though she is a doll they still make, another one just wouldn’t be Cassandra. 😦

  6. Fabulous post! Melody has flown twice now. The restrictions have changed a bit since her first trip. I carried or held her the entire time. Even on the plane. I think I got a few questioning looks, but also some smiles and requests for photos and good conversations. I was amazed that 2 little girls dragging their wheeled luggage with AG dolls on board didn’t even notice me. Oh, well.

    Part of the reason I carried her was the scanner. I wanted the TSA people to see a doll and not pull me aside for thinking I had packed a child. (Ever since the AAA guy almost fainted when he saw Kaya locked in the car.) Basically my purse was in the carry on and Melody was my second carry on.

    If you want to go lighter…yes, here comes the Thirty-One pitch. The zip top organizing utility tote is good, also the new tall organizing utility tote and the Cindy tote. There are a couple more, but I haven’t tried them out personally for carry on with a doll.

    I do pack her suitcase and pack that in my checked suitcase.

    • I did have that fear of my bag getting yanked by TSA when they weren’t sure if it was a doll. Didn’t have any issues with that though! LOL @ Thirty-One, I have been looking at the catalog to see if anything would work any better. I did try her in my Cindy tote, but it was back to her having to travel in a sitting position which I wanted to avoid for fear of damaging her joints.

      • Ah, I didn’t think of joint damage traveling in the sitting position. The soft utility tote would allow for a sleeping position, but does not have a zipper. The fold-over weekender does too. I’m not sure how structured the latter is; reminds me of the retro metro weekender and that was a soft bottom (must do more research on that one).

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