I want to share our 2 very different experiences traveling with PJ
Traveling with a 1 year old – 1 hr flight to SF
In July 2017, our little family went on a trip to NorCal. I had been on the plane many many times, especially since I went to pharmacy school out of state. I often booked Jetblue or Southwest and like everyone else, I’ve seen those parents lugging around bags, strollers, carseats, babies, toddlers, basically the works at an airport. Usually the only time I really noticed this was when they always let families with children under 2 board first. And I’d think to my Section C number 30 boarding pass holding self (if on Southwest) if only I had kids.. I could board now haha! But this time, THIS WAS US. I’m actually a little embarrassed at how excited I was about being able to strut in with our baby. If anyone’s ever noticed those strollers, carseats, and wheelchairs sitting in the corner as you board the plane, that’s free! Most airlines allow you to carry on or check in a diaper bag, stroller, and carseat for free, even if you didn’t buy a separate seat for the baby.
But before I start on our experience flying, let me start with the packing. Whenever I took PJ out, I always needed like an extra 30 minutes to pack his things. These days, I’m more like.. diapers, baby wipes, food, ok let’s go. Before I’d pack hankies, bibs, blankets, jackets, socks, toys, blah blah blah and now if we have those three essentials we’ll live, is my attitude.
This time, was more serious. We were going to be far from the comfort of our home so I needed to prep. I think I took about 2 hours to pack his things and 1 hour for myself. I also bought a lightweight stroller on amazon. Apparently, the Chicco Keyfit set I have is a 24 pounder, the lightweight Costway stroller we got is about 11 pounds, and an umbrella stroller is about 6 pounds for your reference. Quick pros and cons. Chicco has a big storage basket and a much bigger canopy. Costway has almost the same features but it’s obviously much lighter, smaller storage bucket, and does not stand on its own when folded. Umbrella strollers usually don’t have canopies, storage baskets, and don’t recline like the others.
The morning of our flight, it was unusual because PJ usually wakes up at the butt crack of dawn, but that day he woke up closer to 7am, which thankfully sped up our process of getting ready in the morning. I don’t tell my husband this, but I always buffer in 30 minutes. I say we need to get out of this house by 745am, but in my head it’s because I want to be out of here by 815am. Everyone has to do this, or someone has to do this or we’d always always be late to everything. We left the house at 820am. We dropped off the car at my parents and my mom took us to the airport about 1.5 hrs before take off. We went straight to security, Ed pulling 2 carry ons and his suit bag and me pushing PJ in his stroller, duffle (diaper) bag tucked in the small basket and my own purse. At first of course, PJ was quiet and well behaved watching the bustling around the airport. Then when we got the front of the security line, no one asked us for his birth certificate. We had heard some places are sticklers about this, but no one asked us for it, even though we had it ready. Then I had to take PJ out of his stroller so we could get body scanned. Ed had the task of putting everything on the conveyor belt and I stared at the big scanning machines, thinking.. do I have to put PJ through that??? And of course, no you actually don’t! You can hold your baby through a different scan on the side. Once we passed through, I was stopped because I forgot to empty his bottle of water. It turns out though, for babies you can take liquid! So awesome.
Fortunately for us, we timed it well enough that we didn’t have to wait that long at the airport before boarding. Even in the 15 minutes or so we were waiting, PJ was whining and trying to squirm out of our arms. He doesn’t walk quite well in shoes yet so I was really hesitant about this, we didn’t need any injuries before a flight. Ed instead carried him around trying to keep him interested and occupied. Our flight was around 1130 and this was well past PJ’s first nap. So I wore the Ergo and strapped him in, he fell asleep immediately. Then the magical announcement came, boarding with children under 2!! So, yes, I strutted in =] and PJ slept on me, in the Ergo, THE WHOLE FLIGHT. No need to have prepared his milk so his ears could pop upon departure and arrival like we had thought. In this respect, we were so so so lucky.
When we arrived we immediately headed towards Hertz. If you have AAA, you get a pretty big discount and Hertz also lets you rent baby carseats for free, unlike other rental companies. Now keep in mind, these are pretty bare bones carseats. But we didn’t want to lug his carseat around or risk it getting damaged being thrown around by the airline.
Traveling with a 1.5 year old – 5 hr flight to Maui
Let me just say, if I started this post with a great experience, this is most definitely a bad one. In November 2017, we went to Maui with Ed’s brother and mom. PJ is now a full blown independent walker and eater. He has very strong opinions on what he wants to watch on your phone as well as what he wants to do every single minute of the day. He is still a horrible napper and not much of a cuddler unless he’s feeling sick haha. Similar scenario as last time in regards to packing his things. Except now we were going to be gone for a week to an island, which meant we all needed a lot more clothes.
We arrived very early at LAX. Ed and I had missed this exact flight on our honeymoon to Maui a few years ago because we had underestimated traffic; it wasn’t going to happen again haha. The moment we got inside the airport, PJ wanted to be taken out of his stroller and walk around himself. Of course we wouldn’t allow it, so he cried and cried. And the moment we finally did, he ran away from us immediately fell over and hit his head. He had a big bruise on his forehead the whole week. Ed and I took turns letting him walk around the airport for a really long time. I was really banking on the advice I had seen online. “Let them use up their energy at the airport and it will help them nap in the plane.” Yea, no this didn’t happen for us.
PJ was going through a very strong, I only want daddy phase and it was not fun for Ed. PJ did’t nap, he didn’t want to be held by me, nor did he want to watch tv. He just wanted to be free to roam the cabin with Ed by his side and because we couldn’t just let him walk around Ed had to hold him down in his lap as PJ cried/whined/screamed FOR. 5. HOURS.
Don’t get me wrong. I prepped hard for this shit. I got the stupid pipe cleaners, the window clings, the special marker coloring books, stickers, toddler noise reduction headphones to watch cartoons, the snacks on snacks on snacks.. NONE OF THIS LASTED VERY LONG. Maybe everything was used up in.. 15 minutes?
The plane ride back was the exact same, except.. we were mentally prepared this time to endure it haha
You know, I hear a lot of parents smile and say to me.. yea he/she sleeps fine throughout the night or yea they love car rides or tantrums? no not one yet actually.. well shut up because it can change! haha
Moral of this story.. I think I don’t want to space out having kids. If anything, this means we need to have all the kids we want soon so that at some point sooner than later, they will have “grown” somewhat and we can travel as a family in a more sane way. If they were born years apart.. we won’t be able to travel in peace for decades..