While on the last leg of our flights, I counted up how many times Maxwell has flown in his life. I think the round-trip total is 15. He is barely 3. I'm guessing I hit the 15 round-trip milestone when I was 25, give or take a year.
With that many kid-included flights under my belt, I would think that I would feel like an expert. I don't feel like one. Every Single Time I worry that my child is going to be THAT child on the flight. I worry that I am going to have to deal with a blowout (poop is always on my mind), nonstop screaming, demands to be walked up and down the aisle, or demands to visit the lavatory 50 times just for fun.
Up to this point, we've only had a couple major issues, both of which we just dealt with. Maxwell on his first round-trip projectiled vomited all over everything. The flight attendant was very helpful, and even sent me home with a bottle of wine. Really. Seriously. That happened. Sometimes, just sometimes, the skies are actually friendly.
The second incident involved a blowout at the airport. A wipe bath was given, clothes were tossed, and we went on our merry way.
I don't have much in the way of great advice because I don't feel like an expert. That being said here is some of what I do to get by:
- Relax. I suck at relaxing. All of the worrying I do about each and every flight is so pointless (to be clear, I am not afraid of flying, I'm not worrying about the plane going down. I am worried about Maxwell or Frances's behavior, things like that.) I should spend a lot less time imagining hypothetical situations and just go with it.
- If you are traveling with an infant, I have found it works best to wear the baby through security. I will actually wear the baby all through the airport, and use the stroller to carry all of the stuff.
- Bring the toddler new never before seen toys. For our last trip I bought him this crayola dry erase board. It cost $10, but it entertained him for TWO hours. Seriously. TWO hours. On the flight home it was only worth about 15 minutes. See how brand new never before seen toys work? They work miracles.
- If you are traveling with another adult and only one toddler, bring the car-seat on-board. Really, just do it. Maxwell behaves so well when he is in his car-seat. It isn't worth the hassle with two kids (lesson learned on this past trip), and (I don't believe) it is possible when you are traveling by yourself with a toddler (unless you can rely on the kindness of strangers).
- I've never once woken up a sleeping baby during take off or landing to feed them. I don't believe in waking sleeping babies on airplanes. Let them sleep. They'll wake up if their ears hurt.
- In airport security, they'll let you bring lots of liquids for kids. Bottles of water, applesauce, formula, breast milk. They might need to do some bomb residue tests on them. If they do, ask them to change their gloves. I'm totally not a germaphobe, and I only ask them to because they are annoying, so I want to be annoying back. I'm stuck in junior high in a lot of ways.
- Keep in mind TSA is very inconsistent. In one airport, they might send you through with a wink, and in another they might make you break the seal on the ready to drink formula that goes bad an hour after opening. Just be ready. And probably avoid bringing ready to drink formula.
- This one sounds crazy, but sometimes it is easier to have a connection than to have a long direct flight. Two 1.5 hour flights with an hour layover in the middle might be easier than a direct 2.5 hour flight. I've found that letting the toddler run around in the airport in the middle of the journey helps it all go more smoothly. It all depends on the age of the child, but I've found the connection to be easier with 1 year olds. Their attention span is shorter, they are often still in your lap, and getting out of the airplane for a little while to run help make the flights go more smoothly.
Of course the headache is all worth it.
Otherwise, we would have missed the family vacation with my siblings and Dad. Seeing Frances with my dad makes it all worthwhile.