Okay, momentary time out there for our vacation, return home with colds, and final weeks of Obamacare enrollment (a huge part of my job). Enrollment ended at midnight last night and I was on site to see the end. It was pretty neat but I’m hopeful to get some small semblance of our schedule and routine back…haha. I have lots to write about our trip and Luke’s new tricks, but I’m still uploading/editing pictures. In the meantime though, while it’s fresh in my mind, I wanted to write about flying with a tot since, even after all the articles I read, there were still a few things we did that worked really well. Now that we’ve had four 5+ hour flights, I feel confident sharing what I came up with along the way.
Choose your seats carefully. We’re tall people, so even without a child, if we can spring for the business class seats, we usually do. I have to say that when traveling with a child it is money well spent. Consider it practice for that third ticket you’ll be buying before long. We actually had the first row behind first class which feels like it has more space than the exit rows. Not only was Luke able to stand in front of our seats and even sit and play on the floor, he had one less set of distractions when it came nap time.
Diaper up. I was really dreading changing Luke on the plane. So, I decided to pop an overnight diaper on him and hope for the best. Circumstances being what they were, I had to change him any way but other mothers may have better luck if their children aren’t as….er….regular.
Make a friendly introduction. I’m a friendly person, so I usually wind up chatting with the people sitting near us on a flight. For some reason when traveling with Luke, I’ve felt it really important that people meet him when he’s in a good mood figuring that if he looses his mind they think something more like, “Oh that cute baby is unhappy” instead of “Who let the son of satan on this flight”
Belly up. We had enough puree pouches and puffs to last us two days in the real world, but Luke was content to munch away while we were traveling. I don’t feel too guilty about indulging him when we travel, especially if it’s just a few times a year. I’ll confess, I used to unfairly judge parents who gave their children countless rice puffs thinking that they were placating their children with food. Once I read the caloric content of the puffs, I realized the great game that was afoot. These treats might as well be air. It certainly takes your little one more calories to find, pinch, transfer, chomp and ultimately dissolve those tiny nuggets than it does once you’ve eaten them. A major win in my book.
Know your child and know their sleep. We’ve had to work really hard at getting Luke to sleep through the night. My instinct said that there would be just too much going on for him to rest peacefully on a long night flight. Unfortunately, with the time difference between the coasts and busy holiday travel, we simply couldn’t avoid it when we flew back to LA at Christmas time. The flight left right around Luke’s bedtime and every time he’d nod off, a flight attendant would come by or someone would talk loud enough to wake him up. It was just to much for our little cherub who finally went ballistic about an hour into the flight. No matter what we did, he thrashed and cried. I ended up standing in front of my seat, and rocking him for the longest time, finally after having some more puffs, getting some hair rubs from dad and cuddling back up with mom, he called it a night. Now we know, fly during the day for the happiest experience. The fuss had gone on for so long, that the first class flight attendant came by and not-so-subtly suggested that we buy drinks for the passengers around us, which leads me to my next point…
Only shell out in emergencies. This trend of parents buying off their fellow passengers makes me a little crazy. I’m not above buying someone a drink if my child does something unreasonable, but making it a rule or expectation is just too much for me. Think about all the annoying types of travelers…smelly food eaters, non-stop talkers, people who don’t use headphones, people who should buy multiple seats but don’t, people with stinky dogs…I could go on but I think you get my point. Kids are far from the worst passengers on a plane and the adults around them should be understanding and able to content/distract themselves should the need arise. My plea to my fellow parents is to keep the card in your wallet and allow your fellow passengers to buy their own cocktails.
In addition to the tips above, we followed some other tried and true methods of distraction: walk the plane, meet the flight attendants, watch a movie (or in our case baby einstein), hand over your cell phone, and play lots of games. In the end though, Luke’s greatest distraction was playing with a plastic cup one of the attendants gave him and goofily trying to get the attention of the passengers around us.
We fly again in a few months and I wonder how different that trip will be since he’ll be fully walking. For now though, I’m happy to feel like we have experience under our belts to get us from coast to coast whenever we might need.