flying with kids

The 10 Stages Of Traveling With A Toddler

This last week I had the pleasure of taking a trip home to visit my dad and step-mom out in the boondocks of Colorado. This would be Baby 1.0’s third trip out there, but the first since she was mobile, vocal, and opinionated. These things, of course, aren’t considered when you stumble across Southwest’s $99 fare, and then purchase tickets faster than your toddler can eat a wad of old chewing gum they find on the ground. As our trip approached, the reality of the situation set in, and I found myself going through the 10 stages of traveling with a toddler.

1. Book trip. Feel confident, excited, and happy.

2. 1.2 seconds after receiving confirmation email from airline, feel panicked, claustrophobic, and extremely worried. Nearly drown in mental what-if’s. What if I flash someone while nursing? What if she poops? What if she won’t let me hold her for 2 1/2 hours? What if she screams the whole way? What if she gets sick? What if I get sick? What if there are snakes on the plane?

3. Vacillate between excitement and panic up until day before travel. Grab the reigns and focus all mental energy into packing. Pack perfectly. From diapers to Dog Dog, from toys to Tylenol you remember it all, and manage to fit it into one small suitcase. Okay, two medium-sized suitcases. And a full diaper bag. Applaud yourself on not overpacking (more). Feel calm and prepared for anything.

4. The night before traveling, wake up no less than 85 times checking alarm clock to make sure it is set. Stress pee each of the 85 times you wake up. Wonder if in the event of an airline emergency, you would indeed have the wherewithal to place the oxygen mask over your face before placing it over the face of your child. Decide no, because you would likely be in the bathroom stress peeing while trying to keep your toddler from licking the door to the bathroom. Wonder if they have oxygen masks in the bathroom.

5. Get out of bed early and walk around house collecting miscellaneous items to cram into nooks and crannies of suitcases and diaper bag with the intensity and passion of hoarder at a flea market.

6. With a frown, relinquish armful of items to disapproving husband who confirms you have actually packed nearly everything you own, and reassures you there will be no airline emergencies in which you will be tasked with oxygen mask placement.

7. Get dressed. Pee. Load car. Run in to pee again. Realize at this very moment child hasn’t yet pooped today. Say a prayer to the Saint of Doodie Britches your toddler doesn’t poop while on the plane.

8. Arrive at airport with plenty of time to spare. Check baggage, and breathe sigh of relief. Don dark glasses and give your unruly hair a toss to channel your inner movie star.

9. Start to feel relaxed and confident again. For first time, notice beautiful color of the morning sky. Look down at child to try to share this moment, only to witness child lick handle of baggage cart. Make mental note to not share water with child for a day or two. Take off dark glasses and pull hair into your standard pony tail so you can more closely monitor child’s behavior.

10. Get on plane! Flash neighbor, repeatedly. Wrangle wiggly toddler successfully, and smile uncomfortably when toddler loudly announces 15 times they have pooped. Change diaper on galley floor in record time under scrutiny of flight crew. Empty contents of perfectly packed diaper bag in an attempt to entertain toddler “the old-fashioned way” but give in to increasingly impassioned demands to watch Elmo on the iPad. Let toddler watch embarrassing amount of TV, but secretly thank your lucky stars you have an iPad. Eventually arrive. Pat yourself on the back and beam with pride when neighbor tells you what a good baby you have.

So there you have it. Any stage I missed you other parents experience when you travel?


Unsurprisingly, you cannot gate check a wagon full of toys.

Cover image credits, wagon belongs to HMDHM

Traveling With Kids: the fastest way to knock a few years off your life via immeasurable stress

Just in case you’ve been living in a hole since Halloween, I’m here to tell you the holidays are upon us. With Christmas a mere 9 days away, we are edging closer and closer to dawning our ugly sweaters and dodging awkward hugs from distant, drunken relatives. Even worse, for the most unlucky of us, it is nearly time to embark on trips, some short, some very far, with kids in tow. While it is romantic and sweet to picture your holiday travel day as serene as riding in a horse-drawn sleigh while being gracefully pulled over the river and through the woods, more often than not, it’s hours upon hours spent in a cramped metal tube, hurdling through the air at 700 miles an hour, while your baby bounces happily on your bladder and tries to rip the hair out of the arm belonging to the sour-faced gentleman sitting to your right.

horse drawn sleigh

This is 50% dreamy, and 50% Donner party.

Having traveled cross-country relatively recently with Baby 1.0, let me first and foremost offer my deepest condolences to anyone about to board a plane with any baby too young to appreciate an iPad. When we moved from the East Coast to the West Coast this summer, the iPad didn’t yet have the hypnotic effect it now has on Baby 1.0. The two cats we were traveling with, and also had with us in the cabin of the plane, were equally unimpressed with its powers. Spending 10 hours traveling with three mammals who were incapable of understanding why you had essentially kidnapped them, and were enforcing a strict “no screaming, no meowing, no pooping, no moving around” rule, was A-W-F-U-L. It was a very long day, that without question knocked a few years off my lifespan.

we made it

My smile says “I’m so happy” but the bags under my eyes say “I just aged 10 years.”

For those of you who hate people who travel with babies, let me assure you, people who travel with babies hate it more than you. Physically, it is a test of endurance comparable only to the Iditarod, or maybe one of those 100k races people run with no shoes. Mentally, it’s a total brain drain, as you have to think through, plan and pack for every scenario that could possibly happen with a young child over 10 hours not in your house, which, if you’re wondering, is literally anything. Barf, poo, barfpoo, boredom, hunger, insatiable thirst…all of these things and more are potentially on your horizon, so you pack and repack and pack and repack your diaper bag to the point where it won’t close, a visual that closely resembles the feeling in your head right about then. To top it off, remaining in constant physical contact with your child for 10 hours requires the patience of a Saint. For those wondering just what it is like, but aren’t lucky enough to have a small child and an impending trip planned, I find the experience could best be replicated by following these steps:

1. Surround yourself with a few hundred people who hate you, crowded into a very small space

2. Purchase one 30 pound turkey carcass

3. Attach turkey carcass to wind surfing kite

4. Hold onto turkey carcass at all costs, as it attempts to escape your clutches by leaping, spinning, pulling and twisting with remarkable force

5. Rig turkey so that at unpredictable times, it rips your shirt up and exposes your nipple

6. Do this for 10 hours without losing your cool or deserting your turkey

During this time, you cannot eat or drink anything because the turkey carcass will slap it out of your hands onto one of the people standing by judging you, nor can you pee because if you show it once that getting up out of your seat is possible, you will never be able to convince it walking up and down the isles 175 times isn’t allowed.

Of course, this isn’t how all babies act on a plane. I hear there are babies who sleep the whole way, or who just curl up on their parent’s lap and suck on a paci while they contemplate if they are indeed aging at a slower rate than those other babies 30,000 feet below them. But if you have a spirited child who doesn’t believe in sleep, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, you have your work cut out for you. There is no amount of toys or snacks that will make this easy, though they will help. But the very best news is, unlike many difficult childhood situations like sleep issues or colic for example, there is an actual end point to this misery, and it’s measured in hours.

baby on plane

This baby is doing quantum physics, and his mom is reverse aging. Lucky gal.

So pack exactly 49 pounds of luggage into your biggest suitcase, fill your diaper bag to capacity, and say a prayer to the travel gods. I, for one, will not be traveling, but I will raise a glass to you brave women warriors taking to the skies this week. Godspeed, my friends.

Image credits: Sleigh, airplane dental exam pic is us, baby boy on plane , cover image