As I mentioned in my last post, Matt, Adelaide and I just got back from a week in Houston visiting my parents. This trip was significant because it was the first time we traveled with Adelaide on a plane, and the first time we visited my parents in Houston.
Since the flight time from Portland to Houston is in the five hour range, we had a TON of anxiety leading up to the trip. Our nearly-two-year-old Addie-bug is super energetic and active and has a 10 minute attention span AT MOST—none of these characteristics make for a good plane companion. We didn’t have a choice, though—it was airplane or no trip at all—so we prepared for the worst and hoped for the best!
We had a two part flight survival strategy:
Part 1: Benadryl and pacifier and hope she naps during her normal nap time (which was in the middle of our first flight).
Part 2: The largest carry-on bag permissible, packed to the brim with never-before-seen toys, activities and snacks.
Going into our travel day, we really had no idea if it would be better to get a direct flight and just suck it up until we got there, or split up our flight into two flights and deal with a longer travel day but the ability to get off the plane and stretch our legs. It turned out we didn’t have an option—our flight was split in two with a layover in Phoenix. This turned out to be PERFECT!
Everything about our first flight was a nightmare, but we learned a TON.
Getting through security was a hectic chaotic mess and we wound up causing serious delays while we figured out what needed to be taken off, taken out, put in bins, and if Adelaide could walk or had to be carried through the metal detecter. We allowed time in our schedule for this, though, so other than the stress, it really didn’t impact our trip. Going through security on our return trip was sooooooo smooth and quick compared to this first flight that it’s almost laughable!
Once we got to our gate, Matt and I decided that he would sit at the gate with all of our carry-ons and I would go with Adelaide while she ran around exploring the airport (and hopefully tiring herself out!).
Adelaide and I walked circles on the “people movers” (aka human conveyor belts) then we explored the shops and finally we happened upon a play area with legos and puzzles and a tv playing Little Bear. After playing and exploring we had time for a pre-flight diaper change and then it was time to get in line to board.
I read all over the place that Southwest no longer offers pre-boarding for families with children, so we paid for their Early Bird check-in service to guarantee our ability to board as early as possible. Imagine our surprise, then, when there were families with children lined up in the pre-board area! After some confusion and line switching we boarded with our boarding pass group, but when we got to Phoenix we asked the attendant what the deal was! She explained that Southwest offers “Family Boarding” for passengers with B or C boarding passes, which allows the families to board between groups A and B (giving them a better chance to sit together). So there you go, now you know too!
The flight to Phoenix was only 2.5 hours but it felt like 5…Adelaide was climbing the walls. She wanted nothing to do with sleeping or napping and to make matters worse we had the toy bag in the overhead compartment! That was a major communication failure between Matt and I.
Since Adelaide is under two years of age, she still flies free as a lap baby. Great for the pocket book, AWFUL for the actual trip. She’s bigger than most two year olds we meet and with her energy level, we all would have really benefitted from a third seat. We tried to “sneak” a third seat on our flights by having Matt sit on the aisle seat, Adelaide in the middle and me by the window, but our flights were overbooked, so no seat for Adelaide.
Somehow we survived that flight to Phoenix and getting off that plane felt amazing! Our next flight was delayed 30 minutes so we had a leisurely 2 hour layover—enough time for lunch and then getting Adelaide to sleep! We tried…sooooo hard to get that kid to take some Benedryl but she’s used to taking medicine through a syringe type dispenser, and Benedryl comes with a cup. So no help on that front. She finally fell asleep after I strapped her into the ERGO baby carrier and walked up and down the concourse 12 times. It must have been miles because I was super sore the next day. But she finally fell asleep!
We had high hopes of her sleeping through the next flight—only two hours long, which is a normal nap length for her. Unfortunately she only slept through boarding, waking up just before take-off. *sigh* The nap did put her in a better mood, though, and we made sure the bag-o-toys was down at our feet so this last flight from Phoenix to Houston was much more tolerable.
Here’s what I packed in our toy bag:
- Thomas the Tank Engine coloring book
- Blank paged sketch book
- Crayola® Color Wonder Stow and Go Studio (mess free markers)
- Melissa and Doug Vehicle Sound Puzzle (without the batteries!)
- Five lift-the-flap books
- Playskool Stack & Nest Barrels
- Mr. Potato Head
- Some kind of squishy stretchy little person
- Blue Painter’s Tape
- B.toys Snug Bugs
- Snacks – Goldfish, White Cheddar Cheeze-its, Ritz Crackers, Brother’s Freeze Dried Fruit Crisps, Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies
The Blue Painter’s Tape was the surprise hit of the trip. She had so much fun sticking and unsticking it to everything she could reach. It occupied her for 30+ minutes which was AMAZING! Seriously…I’m putting a roll in my baby bag….
Arriving in Houston brought such a wave of relief! We made it! We survived! We didn’t piss anyone off (too badly, at least). That was actually one of the interesting things that kept happening—fellow travelers kept telling us what a good baby she was (clearly they weren’t sitting in our row, or in front of us…) but that was really, really, really awesome to hear. Even though I knew their opinion was entirely based on the fact that they didn’t hear her (ie, she wasn’t screaming or crying the whole trip) it still made me smile to receive a compliment about my tiny traveler.
My parents were waiting to greet us once we got past security and then we all piled in the car and started the hour long drive to their home.
It was a VERY long day of traveling, and all things considered, I think Adelaide handled it well. Matt and I on the other hand…well…lets just say it was an experience we’ll never forget.
Tomorrow’s post: Daylight Savings Time + jet lag = Less sleep than you would think!