Flying with a toddler

Oh boy. So a couple weeks ago I went to Colorado with Ryan and my mom. Thank goodness I had my mom with me to help out, but traveling was still pretty hectic and stressful. Actually, on the way there, Ryan was pretty awesome.

My mom and I both checked a bag and then we had to carry through the airport: a stroller, a carseat, my carry-on bag and my carry-on suitcase, my mom’s carry-ons (2), Ryan’s little backpack and RYAN. Check it out.

After we checked our bags, I had Ryan in the Moby so that Icould put the car seat and my bags in his stroller. But he was NOT in the mood to be worn, he wanted out. Sooo… quick change of plans… put Ryan in the stroller, keep my bags and Ryan’s backpack in the bottom of the stroller, and put a car seat strap around the handle of my rolling suitcase carry-on. I pushed the stroller with one hand and pulled the suitcase with the other.

Luckily, there was hardly a line at security, but what WAS difficult was getting everything off, closed, whatever, and onto the security belt. Jacket off, shoes off, laptop out of bag, 2 carry-ons and Ryan’s back pack… okay, now take Ryan out of the stroller and try to collapse the stroller down while trying to make sure Ryan doesn’t run away… while apologizing to the people behind you… finding out your stroller is massive and won’t fit on the &*@# security belt so having to lift it back off, wait for the guard to notice you, and ask what the $&*% you’re supposed to do with it. When he rudely replies that you can open it back up and push it over to him, you say “no &*$%*#@ problem, let me just grab my son before he runs away, work my one-handed magic, and I’ll be there in enough time for you to get that stick out of your @$$.”

PHEW, take a breath, you  made it through the security gate. Oh wait, now you have to gather your things back together, put the laptop back, open the stroller, shove the bags in, strap the kid in, put everyone’s shoes back on and STOP SWEATING.

I think it was so quick and so crowded, Ryan just had too much to look at and take in to misbehave. And then our gate was literally around the corner. We had about an hour before boarding so we got some food and sat and looked at planes out the window. Ryan chilled in his stroller and was PERFECT.

Finally time to get on the plane. It’s 11am and I woke Ryan up early that morning (5:45am) to make it to the bus station to get to the airport so he was realllllllly tired. I nursed him on the plane and he fell asleep immediately–slept through take-off and everything. My mom wanted to hold the sleeping baby (aww) so I moved him over to her and I read my book. Wonderful!

He woke up after an hour. Not wonderful. We had 1.5 hours to go, I almost panicked. I asked my mom nearly every 5 minutes what time it was now. While Ryan really was awesome, it was a very tiring and busy 1.5 hours trying to keep him occupied and having fun for every single minute of the next 90 minutes.

He went back and forth from my lap to my mom’s. He played with a tray table toy I had (super awesome for traveling with a baby/toddler!!! It’s called Air Play). He opened and closed the window shade. Again and again. He ate cookies. He opened his straw sippy cup and the water shot into the air like a water gun, all over the poor girl in front of us. But he was good, overall, and we survived. When we got to Denver and got the rental car, he fell asleep in seconds for the drive to Fort Collins.

Now……………………….. the way home.

Really, the story starts in the airport with RUDE PEOPLE.

Know what I think the difference was? These people were all flying to Chicago. Who lives in Chicago? @$$holes. I can say that because that’s where I’m from (or near there).

I needed to get to the front desk for them to tag my stroller to be checked at the gate. I had one pathway and one old lady with one bag right in the FREAKING MIDDLE OF THE AISLE. I walked up and politely said, excuse me! She ignored me. I picked up her bag and I moved it, while apologizing to her that I just needed to get through. She glared. I moved on.

Now I’m trying to get back to my seat and I have to again squeeeeeeeze past this lady with my stroller. There wasn’t an inch of space to spare and I was clearly struggling to fit just perfectly and she JUST SAT THERE and gave me a death stare. I almost killed her. Seriously. I’m sure my stroller could be a deadly weapon.

THEN Ryan walks up to the man sitting next to me and just stares at him. I look at the man with a smile on my face–like haha aww what a cute boy, he likes to stare!–and this man is nearly growling at me. I whisk Ryan away and mumble something about @$$holes.

We’re trying to board the plane first because we have a kid and a million people are crowded at the gate. My mom slips through and tells me to follow. There was no way I was getting a stroller through without mowing some people down. So I took out all my anger and frustration of the last hour and snapped “WHERE?!?!?!” The entire crowd of people stared at me. Some kind, wonderful, sweet woman makes a path and says, “here, come through here sweetie! I have 2 kids, I know.” THANK THE LORD FOR MOMS.

My mom and I laughed hysterically (and scarily) the entire walk down to the plane and to our seats.

Then? Long story short: Ryan cried and whined and kicked THE ENTIRE PLANE RIDE HOME. I was near tear and if it weren’t for my mom, I may have ended in the loony bin. Or jumped out of the plane. My mom entertained Ryan and she got up and walked up and down the aisle with him.

After we landed, we stood up waiting to get off the plane and Ryan–now a little angel–started waving goodbye to everyone around us. No one waved back. I told Ryan he needed to learn how to say “I’m sorry.” Then a man 2 rows back waves and yells, “BYE RYAN!” hahahaha.

My advice? Have AWESOME toys. I brought books–his favorite ones and a brand new one–they didn’t work. The tray table toy was awesome. But I needed moooooooore. I even bought a couple in CO for the plane ride back. Some more complex, difficult preschool games would work–anything that takes a lot of time lol.

Advice #2: have snacks. Lots and lots of good snacks. We stocked up on oreos and cheetos. Oh and boob. That always works. But in case that doesn’t work for you–cookies.

Advice #3: try to fly during nap time. It’s all that will save your sanity. Or suck it up and get their own seat. Orrrrrr……………… don’t fly, hahaha.

Any advice to add? 😉

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16 comments to Flying with a toddler

  • I just wrote a post about our trip out to CA. Sounds like yours, except we bought Shelby a seat. It was worth every penny, although it doesn’t alleviate the security check nightmare. I agree, people without kids just don’t get how hard it is and they suck. But I can’t blame all of them. On our flight a mom behind us let her 3-year-old (best guess) play with a Leap Frog toy. It kept him entertained but it drove us crazy because the volume was so loud. She really should’ve muted it or had him use headphones. I’ve made a mental note for the future when Shelby’s old enough for those toys. Sometimes you just can’t win for trying.

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    babydickey Reply:

    Oh good point! We did bring Ryan’s v-tech laptop but he wouldn’t play with it so it was no problem, but I figured I’d just try to get the volume on the lowest setting. There’s no way he’d wear headphones! And if it’s between having your kid kicking and crying OR playing a loud toy…. bring on the toy! lol. Like you said, sometimes you just can’t win!

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  • ok you just made me VERY nervous!!! Next month I am flying to CHICAGO with my 3 boys by MYSELF and my youngest is 16 months. uh oh. You checked in your carseat but brought the stroller on board?

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    babydickey Reply:

    LOL, you can do it! I survived! And your older kids can help out with your youngest, that will be perfect… right?! Good luck!! You can check your stroller AND your car seat up front with your luggage, but I didn’t. I took both through the airport because 1) I didn’t want to risk luggage getting lost and then being stuck without a car seat at our destination. No car seat means you can’t leave the airport lol. and 2) I wanted the stroller to help carry Ryan or the car seat. You check them at the gate when you get there… they tag them and put them on the plane right there for you and you get them at the gate when you get off the plane!

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    Brandi Elam Reply:

    And, if you bring your car seat and there’s an open seat on your flight, they can give it to you for the baby. That’s happened to me twice.

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  • Haha please tell me you ACTUALLY said that to the TSA guy!!! I was flying solo with M and J a few weeks ago and got crap from TSA about my stroller and carseat too. Meanwhile, M is running away and J is screaming and I have no more hands. Then M bit J so bad I asked for an alcohol swab and the jerkface flight attendant at the desk called the FIRE DEPARTMENT to come, only I wasn’t informed of that until moments before four of them came running up with all their equipement asking “where is the man who bit your baby, ma’am?” If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, the boys took turns screaming the whole way home (5 hours) and J’s diaper exploded all over the Ergo.

    I’m not flying solo again with both kids for awhile 🙂

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    babydickey Reply:

    haha, I WISH I had actually said it. It’s the never-ending inner dialogue of swear words that goes with being a mom lolol.

    And OMG at your trip, that sounds HORRIFIC! I’m glad you all survived, haha.

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    Brandi Elam Reply:

    that sounds absolutely awful!

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  • Oh, my goodness. You poor thing. I flew, alone, with my 20 month old and 3 month old several years ago. My 20 month old was terrible on the way home and were it not for the old man sitting across the aisle from me who held my 3 month old for me, I would have pulled all my hair out. So I get how frustrated you were. At least the security procedures were not so terrible back then, but it was still rough. I recently flew with my 4 month old…the TSA people are all ridiculous at the way they completely refuse to help you put anything on the belt. And they make you not only take babies out of the sling or carrier but also take the carrier off and send it through the xray machine. So stupid. I’m going to use my ring sling to bomb the plane? Really? Common sense, people. Okay, sorry for my rant!

    To add to your list of things to take…DVD player with new DVD’s. Buy one if you have to or use a laptop, whatever…it’s the best thing for entertaining. Lots of snacks, and anything you don’t normally let your kids have: lollipops, candy, toys that you wouldn’t normally let them have because they can choke on them, etc. If it’s normally forbidden, it’s sure to be a hit!

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    babydickey Reply:

    It is ridiculous!! And thank goodness for nice and helpful people, seriously!

    I totally would have played something on my laptop, but Ryan absolutely will not watch TV/movies/etc. Nothing. We’ve tried every type of show possible and he’ll watch for like 20 seconds and then move on. I don’t know what it is! Maybe because we wouldn’t let him for his first year of life? Who knows. But I wish he would watch at times like traveling!!

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  • Amanda Knittel Herman

    i flew to from chicago to maryland last fall with my son who was then 2 1/2 months and everyone – especially TSA – was super nice! my theory is that a sweet baby that is only a few months old looks less threatening with a toddler – even though they can cry almost as loud! i bet if we tried a trip again (with my son who is now 10 months, is walking and is in full blown toddler mode) i would have a different experience. he was still in that “i’m a baby and i’m going to sleep constantly” phase 🙂 also, i flew with him alone and i think a lot of people took pity on me. the TSA people lifted my stroller for me and moved it for me when they realized it wouldn’t fit through the belt thingy and they let me cut in every line that i stood in.

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    babydickey Reply:

    Wow, lucky you!! That’s great!

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  • Haha! Lil’ J has been on 9 flights and she’s been good on all of them BUT she was 7 months (I think) at the oldest. She’s going on her 10th flight next week and I have to admit I’m more scared about ANY of the others we’ve been on, including the ones where we flew solo. I’m definitely bringing distractions and candy, which I’ve NEVER let her have… Gotta be prepared. haha.

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  • I had a bad experience with rude people when I was in LaGuardia airport right after BlogHer. Rude people really make the whole task harder! Hope you guys had a great vacation!

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  • Kim

    Yay for surviving. We had a similar security experience. It included our souvenir bag of CA oranges breaking and rolling through the crowd which I was struggling with our double stroller, two car seats & two babies. AAAAAAHHHHHHH. My new plan- carry the absolute bare minimum on the plane and save up for an iPad.

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  • Brittany

    You survived! I never want to fly with kids. Not because of you. My poor sister in law flys with two toddlers every year from Germany to Idaho and back by herself! ahhh it’s hell. She wants to sleep for a week after it.

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