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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Traveling Pangs

When I told friends and family that I was considering flying solo from Maui to New England with my boys (one's just barely two and the other is only 11 weeks old) they all thought I was CRAZY! Haha!

Well, maybe I am!

But, to me, the tradeoff of getting to spend extended time with family and friends was worth the consideration. Jake would've come with me, but his work makes it difficult for him to leave Maui for that long.

So, crazy or not, I booked my tickets and hauled my two little guys across the Pacific and then the country until we landed in Boston, MA. Jake would follow a month later to spend the last two weeks with us.

Flying solo with 2 kiddos under 2!

Here are a few tips and things I learned about traveling with little ones.

1. To Layover or Not to Layover

When purchasing my tickets I chose to take the flight that had the fewest layovers versus the shortest travel time. For me, the idea of having to navigate fewer airports (Maui, one layover, and the final destination) was easier than dragging them through an additional airport or two just to save time.

2. Mrs. Pack-Man

Next came packing. After much thought and consideration, I chose to wear my newborn in a harness and push my toddler in an umbrella stroller. This made it easier for me to keep the toddler (who I will refer to from here on out at Mr. Wreck-It) under control. I could also use the stroller to help carry stuff. Despite what some may think, the stroller was easy to collapse at security and the airport's gate check option made transporting it easy.

3. Carry-On #1: The Everything Bag

For our carry-on bags, I utilized our large diaper bag backpack the most. Its numerous pockets made it easy to carry and quickly retrieve things like diapers, wipes, diapers, extra sets of clothes for all three of us, diapers, a blanket, diapers, glasses case, diapers, laptop, wallet, and a few more diapers. I even brought headphones for me and Mr. Wreck-It to help ease the noise of air travel (look into Cozyphones for the kiddos. They're wonderful!)

4. Carry-On #2: The Other Everything Bag

For my second carry-on I chose a large beach bag that I could hang from the stroller to transport and would make things easy to get to on the plane. In this bag I put snacks, a cup and lovie for Mr. Wreck-It, no mess painting pads, a blanket, kid-sized neck pillow, child restraint backpack filled with toy cars, books, and finger puppets. This bag was basically less essential stuff that I just wanted easy access to in case Mr. Wreck-It was in meltdown mode and I wanted to keep him from wrecking something.

5. The Secret Empty Seat

When I arrived at our gate I headed to the desk to inquire if there were any open seats for my infant in arms. I've learned that if there are any open seats, the airline will often block off an extra seat in your row just for the baby. And if you have your carseat (which I did not) you can even put them in that. On our first flight, which was a red eye, there were some open seats so the boys and I ended up with our own row! Hallelujah!

More Travel Tips From A (Alleged) Crazy Mother

  1. Go into the trip planning to get no sleep. You are there to entertain and help your children survive the flight. If you plan for no sleep and get 45 minutes you'll feel amazing! ;-)
  2. Don't expect your 2-year-old to sleep on the plane. At all.
  3. Remain calm no matter what happens with your kiddos. Upon boarding the plane Mr. Wreck-It, my 2-year-old, started to freak out and wanted off. I remained calm, explained over and over what we were doing, who we were visiting, and all the fun we would have, and he got over it. Kiddos pick up on our emotions. If we start to get bent out of shape because they're crying and might disturb other travelers, they tend to escalate. So keep your cool. Don't worry about anyone but you and your kiddos. Just do your best.

The Tears. Oh, the Tears!

Once the 2-month-old was soundly asleep, I put him down on a blanket in the seat with a seatbelt around his waist so I could hold Mr. Wreck-It. That helped him fall asleep, which was around 1am Maui time.


We originally had a 7 hour layover, but I had seen that another direct flight was headed to Boston 5 hours earlier. So, with fingers crossed, I went to guest services and inquired if there were seats and, if so, could we transfer to that plane? For $50 each they changed us, and I will tell you that $100 was 100% worth it! Seven hours would've been way too long. The two hours we had was perfect. Mr. Wreck-It got to wiggle and walk and run and tumble and fall and jump and get out as much energy as possible.

The second flight started out much more smoothly. Mr. Wreck-It was asleep before takeoff and remained that way for 3 hours of the5-hour flight. Unfortunately, when he woke up he informed me that he was done traveling by having a full-on meltdown. He was done being on a plane, done sitting, done keeping quiet, and there was little I could do to console him.

For about 20 minutes I had a 2 year old and an 11 week old on my lap at the same time crying. What could I do but embrace it and comfort them as best I could? I just tried not to freak out, tried not to worry about the other passengers, and just focus on my boys.

At one point, Mr. Wreck-It needed to go potty. Teddy was awake so I asked one of the flight attendents if they could hold Teddy so I could help my 2 year old in the bathroom. They happily obliged. In fact, two of the flight attendents were jokingly fighting over who got to hold Teddy. I told them where I was sitting and to bring him back whenever they were done. That gave me about 10 minutes with Mr. Wreck-It, just enough time to get him calmed down and comfortable. So never be afraid to reach out to the flight crew to hold your baby if you're in a pinch.

One Last Hurdle

My last challenge was getting my bag from the baggage claim. I had Teddy strapped to me and Mr. Wreck-It in the stroller. There was no way I could also drag a large checked bag behind me. Thankfully a kind gentleman offered to grab it off the belt. He then wheeled it across the room to get us out of the crowd.

And then my parents were there! We had survived! Woo-hoo!

Would I do this again? Honestly, yeah, I think so. It wasn't terrible, and it was all over and done within less than 24 hours total. I gave birth to these two minions with no epidural, so what's a day of travel pangs?

I learned so many other things that could benefit other traveling Mamas, so if you have any questions feel free to comment below and I'll do my best to answer.

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