L in LaLa Land

November 22, 2011

Traveling with a Toddler

I thought I was prepared.  I read numerous blogs on the topic, I talked about it with the little one days in advance, I was even armed with snacks and videos.  Nothing, I tell you nothing, could have prepared me for this!  And by this, I mean, traveling alone, by plane, with my 18 month old son.

I was surprising my best friend (of now 12 years?? wow!) for her birthday.  Alex and I were scheduled to be on a flight from Atlanta to Oklahoma at 9pm on a Friday night.  The Tuesday before, I started freaking out.  Even now, as I write this post, I’m getting anxiety again!  I read blog after blog after blog, both personal and those on parenting sites, trying to get prepared.  99% of them said that it wasn’t that bad and these people took their kids overseas and was fine.   Still, my mind was saying, “You don’t know MY child.  What if he runs off at security? Will security give him or me a hard time? How will I get him to sit STILL on my LAP for 2 HOURS?!?!”  Wednesday, I packed my clothes and freaked out some more.  I contemplated buying a leash harness, but decided against it.  Thursday, I packed the baby bag making sure I had his Pediasure (my toddler’s kryptonite) and snacks and games.  I relaxed at the hair salon some until my stylist told me the horror stories of traveling with her 6 month old (opening his diaper, tasting the milk….before TSA policies were changed).  Friday, I had complete and total inner meltdown.  My awesome husband told me to relax since the baby would feed off of my energy.  I tried to calm down, I couldn’t.  I rushed to Target to get the harness that I had decided against.  I picked up the little man from daycare and packed the rest of our things.  The husband came home with an early birthday gift for me (a Kindle Fire) that was loaded with all the baby’s videos for the trip.  This brought my anxiety level down from a 13 to probably a 9.  I also went ahead and gave the little guy some of his cold medicine, thinking he would get tired on the plane.

WRONG!  I knew it would be wrong and thought it might help.  With the excitement of the airport, a new environment, and being overtired, my little man was WIDE OPEN.  I used the harness while putting stuff in the bins at security.  Thank goodness for it because he tried to dart underneath the rope.  He did however, had to walk through the metal detector with it off and by himself (which made him want to run through it about 3 times).  I couldn’t get the harness back on him fast enough at the other end before he took off running through the airport, leaving me to run after him IN SOCKS while all the bags were left on the conveyor belt (I caught him though before he got too far).  We didn’t have much time in the terminal before getting on the plane which we were allowed to get on board first.  He enjoyed looking out the window and drinking his Pediasure until the guy who actually had the window seat boarded, to which he let out a blood curdling scream.

I'm going to scream in 3....2....1..

 For the 1st hour of the flight, Alex did really well with the Kindle videos (THANK YOU HUBBY!!), but then got bored and learned how to skip through them.  Me and our seat buddy then entertained him by turning off and on the overhead lights.  Finally, he got tired and fell asleep for 30 min but woke during the 15min landing.  I combatted his ears popping by giving him something to drink but he still screamed the last 5 min.

Watching Best of Elmo's World 2

The flight home was totally different.  Because he actually started getting a cold, I still medicated him but 4 hours before our flight.  He got a burst of energy but ran it out at my friend’s house.  By the time we got to the airport, he was exhausted.  Security decided to close the check-in point right by the drop off area and my gate so I had to walk a little further.  He had fun again at the metal detectors but didn’t stray too far.  I had one bottle of Pediasure left (from a whole 6-pack) which OKC TSA made me open, but luckily I gave it to him while collecting my bags and putting my shoes back on.  We grabbed some Moe’s at the terminal and while I was collecting my garbage he decided to dart off again.  I had grabbed the harness JUST IN TIME (which was our last time using it).  The plane was pretty empty so he had his own seat by the window.  This was an evening flight as well, so he relaxed with the Kindle for pretty much the whole flight.

Buckling his seatbelt

That is of course until we landed.  He didn’t want to drink ANYTHING for me and thankfully, a gentleman leaned over and rubbed his ears until they popped (which takes a little pressure and I was rubbing too gently).
 
All in all, it WAS a great trip.  We both survived even though my nerves are still bad.  Would I travel alone with my son again? No. But I’m more prepared for the next flight (which is Christmas time).  Here a some items/travel tips that I learned/recommend:
  1. Bring a portable DVD Player or anything with your child’s favorite movies
  2. Snacks (make sure they won’t get taken away at security) or money for food/snacks in the terminal
  3. If it will make you sane, buy a harness (for those just in case moments)
  4. Games/Toys that are age appropriate
  5. Be aware that medication is only for sick children (and can have the opposite effect)
  6. Find the fun in everything (with us, it was the overhead lights)
  7. Your child feeds off your energy, so make sure to travel with patience
  8. Don’t worry about what others think (this was a major cause of my anxiety)
  9. Lots of people travel with kids and all of them, both parents and children, act differently.  Find what works for you!

Do you guys have anything to add?

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