We Survived Our First Family Flight!
I was dreading it, but we did it. Specifically, I did it. I survived. We traveled to see my parents, and that meant flying with our daughter for the first time. I was very anxious about it even though it wasn't going to be a long flight, thank goodness. As usual, I knew this would involve lots of planning on my part if I wanted to make the experience as stress-free as possible. One of the things I did was get our family TSA pre-check. My husband and I both applied and did our interviews far enough in advance that everything was set by the time we were to travel. I figured if we didn't have to wait in lengthy security lines, have to take off our shoes, or even take laptops out of bags, that might save us (me) some time/stress. Plus, it's good for five years, so it's worth it even when we travel for other reasons. Additionally, I booked our flights maybe six months in advance, and I knew my daughter would have the same nap schedule when it came time to travel. I tried my best to work around that schedule, even if it meant we'd have to try to get her to nap in the car on the way home. Obviously, it has happened where that has been unsuccessful, but I at least had to try. Thankfully, there were many flights to choose from, and I booked the most convenient ones. Finally, I made sure I had a bunch of snacks and books and toys for her to stay entertained. We haven't started with electronics, so we were her sole means for entertainment. She's usually pretty content when you feed her, so I made sure she had plenty to eat. She loves to color, so I asked put this toy on her Amazon wish list, and it arrived just in time. It was perfect and less messy than having crayons and a coloring book (which I had, too, just in case).
The day we were to fly out did not start very well, and I was nervous that it would continue on the flight. We were not sleeping at home, and I think my daughter was restless most of the night. So she woke up pretty grumpy and sad, and that already stressed me out. Once I got some food into her, though, she was much better. :) Everything was running on schedule, for the most part.
When we got to the airport, I tried putting her in the travel stroller I purchased for the occasion, and she lasted maybe three minutes in it. I knew she wanted to be free, but that wasn't going to be an option at the airport, obviously. So I had to carry her. Which made having the pre-check even more worth it because we could just sail through. The airport was actually pretty empty that day, but I'm still glad we didn't have to deal with taking off our shoes. Sounds silly but every little convenience helped. Thankfully, by the time we got to the gate, we didn't have TOO much time to wait, but we also weren't rushed. My husband and I got some coffee and gave our daughter more snacks (I'm telling you: It's all about the snacks!) and then did our best to entertain her at the gate until it was our turn to board.
In addition to all the snacks and books and crayons and things, I had tons of pacifiers. We are planning on weaning this month, but I wanted to make sure she had something to suck on for ascent and descent (and in case she got super whiny on the flight) and she doesn't take a bottle so I figured pacifiers would do the trick. As it turned out, she didn't even notice when we took off or landed, and she had NO ear issues whatsoever! I took the win! During the flight, she spent most of her time on my lap, but she definitely went between my lap and my husband's. I was grateful that the plane had two rows of two seats so no one else was disturbed by her trading laps. She spent most of her time eating and drawing on the doodle toy, and she seemed fairly content and unimpressed with being on a plane. When we landed, we had to wait on the tarmac for approximately 15 minutes before we could approach the gate, and that's when she (and, therefore, I) started getting restless. She started squirming and whining and I was getting so stressed out. I just wanted to get the heck off the plane! After what seemed like an eternity, we did get off the plane. While we waited for our bags (one of my friends suggested checking everything and just having a diaper bag with me, which is what I did and it was perfect), we decided to let her stretch her legs and walk around. I waited for the bags and my husband walked around with her in the baggage claim area, obviously taking care not to interfere with people waiting for and collecting their bags. After that, we got in my mom's car and had the best week visiting with family. :)
The flight back wasn't horrible, but it wasn't as smooth as our flight out. We had to wake our daughter up a little earlier than normal that morning, and she was NOT a fan. Because of that, I think, she was squirmy the whole freaking day, including on the flight. She could barely sit still and could not decide whose lap she preferred. Neither the snacks nor the doodle board helped. Which was very exciting for me, as you can imagine. All in all, we had a lovely trip, and flying with our toddler wasn't all that bad, all things considered. If you do plan on flying with a baby or toddler (obviously babies are a little different than mobile toddlers), I highly recommend asking family or friends who have done it for tips on what to bring and what to consider. My friend's tips helped me tremendously!