Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Helpful How-To: Flying with a Toddler

Another lifetime ago, I gave you a list of how-to's for flying with a baby, and now, while it's fresh in my mind, I want to give you a list of how-to's for flying with a toddler.

For reference sake, I will use my experiences from this past weekend to tell you what to do.

And I will start with this phrase:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"  But mostly just the worst of times....

(I added that last part myself.)

(It's purely for emphasis.)

(And based on how ridiculous this travel experience was.)

Last Thursday, Techy and I, along with someone that we are still calling Little Man, despite the fact that he is not so little, travelled to Georgia.

Technically, it was last Friday, but that's beside the point.

And because Techy and I are cheap, we refused to check any bags.

Meaning that we packed for a 4 day weekend in 1 carry-on bag and 1 diaper bag.  Techy carried on his necessities - lap top case and camera bag.  Meaning we had 4 carry-on's total.

Step 1 for travelling with a toddler - Do what we say, not what we do! 

In this case - pay to check your bags.

You can thank me later.

Trying to push a stroller, a carry-on, a diaper bag, and 2 random technology-filled bags through security is difficult at best.

Seriously, though.  If you want to fly with your toddler on the cheap and carry-on is your method to prevent madness, fine. 

But at least check your car seat.  Most airlines will check car seats for free. 

Sure this will slow you down at the check-in counter, but when you are running through the airport trying to catch your flight, you will be glad you did.

Step 2.  Worst case preparation is best case preparation.

Thursday evening/night, Techy, Little Man, and I spent about 6 hours sitting in an airport waiting for our flight.

Luckily for me, I had thought ahead enough to pack 3, yes THREE, pacifiers - because airports are disgusting and my child is very much in a "everything can be thrown like a ball" phase - in the outside pocket of my diaper bag.  For easy access.

I also packed his "night-night" AKA, his blanket, on the top of his diaper bag.

Along with a cup of juice. 

Airports will let you carry on baby bottles/sippy cups IF you have a baby with you. 

(Don't get all smart and try to get through security with a bottle full of apple juice if children aren't in your party thinking that because I told you they will allow it, it is Gospel.  I know it's hard to believe, but it probably won't work.) 

They will however, take them aside and screen them.  Be prepared.

For ease of use, though, we did pack our umbrella stroller rather than our traditional larger stroller.

And it worked just fine.

Especially when in hour #3 of being in said airport, this happened.

That was when they delayed our flight the 2nd time. 

Thank goodness for the night-night, paci #2, and that stroller!

Because when, at 11:30, they grounded our flight indefinitely, we thought we were going to spend our night like this.

Thankfully, within about 45 minutes, they advised us that we were cleared for take-off, and by 12:35 we were on the run way.

You would not even believe what you can do with a bunch of overly tired, southern-bound people when you give them the option of sleeping in an airport all night. 

I think everyone was on board the plane within 15 minutes!

You'd have thought they were serving cupcakes on the plane, the way people were rushing to their seats.

Of course, once we boarded the flight, Little Man morphed into this kid -

AKA.  The kid who just had a 3 hour nap and wants nothing to do with sleep on a plane.

I think he thought they were serving cupcakes, too.

He wanted to play with the shades.

He wanted to throw around the barf bags.

He wanted to read through the picture guide for how to crash-land a plane and how to use his seat as a floatation device....

Anything but sleep.

Thankfully, he wasn't noisy, so most of our travel companions were able to catch some Z's even though we couldn't.

Step 3 for travelling with a toddler. 

Bring toys. (Or a dvd player - unfortunately for us, LM is not interested in tv right now...)

Preferably a dead cell phone or a remote control without batteries.

Maybe even a truck or 2.

Although, if your kid is anything like mine, he gets a truck in his hand and starts screaming, "BEEP, BEEP!"

Thankfully, by 3 am, we were in Atlanta, out of the airport and on our way to our friend's house.

But before you go thinking that travel adventures end with the plight of delayed and/or cancelled flights...

They don't.

Because on the way back, we pulled in to the airport and realized that we had left our umbrella stroller sitting in our friends' garage.

Now, we were left with 4 carry on bags and a toddler with no stroller.

In Atlanta International.

Step 4 of travelling with a toddler - Make sure you have your stroller.

At all times.

Go back to your car and make sure you have your stroller again just to make sure.

And just to be certain, you should probably tie strings on your fingers and toes reminding yourself to check for your stroller before ever stepping out of your door again.

You might think this is ridiculous.

But you haven't carried a 25 lb. toddler on one hip while carrying a diaper bag that weighs at least that, if not more, on the other hip for an hour through Atlanta's rigorous security checks.

Just saying.

Other things to consider that I am not necessarily making steps or how-to's:
-Carry a birth certificate for your child.  If for nothing more than your own peace of mind.
-One of those back-packs/baby leashes would be an excellent idea for an airport.  I used to think they were ridiculous.  USED TO being the key words in that sentence.
-Snacks would have come in handy and kept us from spending a small fortune on airport food.

All in all, we survived.  We haven't yet contacted a divorce attorney.  And we are planning to travel with Little Man in the very near future. 

Obviously, we learned a lot on this trip.

And hopefully, you did too.

1 comment:

tarynddavidson said...

hahaha! i love this post, because traveling with kids (any age) is hard enough. throw in a curve with the differences in ages and it's nearly a death sentence.
example: i traveled ALONE by air with a 6 month old Lake - who had just learned to crawl (aka: does not want to be held).. i had a diaper bag and a carry-on and a toddler and no stroller. dumb mom. the poor dude next to me just had to deal with Lake kicking him constantly in the leg while Lake slept (he moves his legs a lot when he sleeps)... the plane was crammed. and hot. and thankfully i sat next to the most obliging person EVER.
I can give you tips on traveling with an 18 month old across the country by plane as well ;)