Tag Archives: flying with kids

The Truth About Difficult Traveling Days

It’s time to be truthful. Sometimes, in travels, it isn’t fun. Sometimes, in traveling, it is stressful and tiring and can lead me to tears. Sometimes, on our trips, I think why are we doing this? Yesterday, well, yesterday was one of those days.

We left yesterday for our week long adventure in Seattle and Vancouver. I was already feeling a little stressed because I am not a good packer. At all. And I struggle with this on every trip I take. I pack too much and it means we have too many bags and I just don’t know how to pare it all down so instead we have learned how to maneuver with too many bags and not enough hands.

See? I don't lie. We pack a lot. Too much. We know.

See? I don’t lie. We pack a lot. Too much. We know.

I mean, I may need 3 black shirts and an extra pair of jeans and shoes just in case, right? Don’t even get me started on the kids clothes. I did really well this time to only pack them 3 pairs of pajamas each. And, we have access to a washer and dryer every day of this trip. So, there you go.

Anywhoo, it generally takes about 25 minutes or so to get to the airport, and while we would love to utilize our public transportation (because, let’s be honest, pretty much the only thing Atlanta’s public transport has going for it is the train to the airport, sadly) it is really difficult with a stroller, 3 suitcases, 2 car seats, 2 kids and several carry on bags. We enlisted my parents to help us get there so we didn’t have to leave our car for a week, and as we entered the highway, 2 and a half hours before our flight time, with my parents and F several cars behind us, we came to a complete deadlock, with brake lights as far as we could see.

Not a car was moving for miles. Thanks Atlanta!

Not a car was moving for miles. Thanks Atlanta!

I immediately called my parents and told them that whatever they do they needed to avoid the highway, and take a different route. My husband, who was beating himself up for not checking the traffic ahead of time like the anally retentive guy he usually is, was trying to figure out the best way for us to get off the highway and take it from there. Unfortunately for us the exit we planned on taking was closed, with no prior notification before the exit, and after that there were no more exits for several miles. Thanks Atlanta, your public transport sucks and your highways suck and your decision to do major roadworks, thus closing down 3 out of 6 lanes on a Saturday where there are road races, summer vacation-ers, and a Braves game, well, that decision sucks. You can see how I felt about it.

There were tears involved, all from me, and a super negative attitude that ended in the knowledge we were going to miss our flight, also from me. There were also some words. Lots of words. It took us almost an hour to get off the highway, at which point we relied on google maps to lead us through parts of Atlanta I have never spent much time in, and finally to the airport, with 45 minutes to spare before our flight time.

My parents and F had been there, so we did a complete puzzle of hopping out of our car, my dad parking it, meeting my mom and F in the airport where we took advantage of my parents Diamond Medallion Delta status and got checked in right away. And, thanks to the generosity of several strangers in security, who saw 2 frazzled parents, a sick 5 year old and an adorable 2 year old and let us go first, and even helped me get all our bags when Lee had to take F to the bathroom. Sometimes the kindness of people can start to make it all better.

We made it onto the plane-train with about 30 minutes to spare, and once it got to Concourse A I was feeling pretty good, only one stop to go, and then it stopped. And just sat. And sat. And sat. I started to feel nauseous. Once it started moving I could breathe again.

L on the plane-train. She didn't know why it was stopped either.

L on the plane-train. She didn’t know why it was stopped either.

We raced through the airport, with about 25 minutes until take off, with Lee pushing F in the stroller because he was too sick to walk, and me holding L’s hand and making her little legs run at double speed, which is not easy for a 2 year old to do. We made it to the gate, walked down the jetway, and knew we were okay.

Gridlock on the jetway too!

Gridlock on the jetway too!

The one benefit to getting on the plane late means less time to sit while waiting to take off, even though I had to store our bag, filled with the snacks, about 10 rows ahead of us, with Lee. We sat down, amongst a family heading out to go on an Alaskan cruise, including a 2 year old boy that L befriended, and we took off. Straight into 45 minutes of turbulence.

So now I am smelly from running and sweating, flustered from racing to make the plane, scared because I really hate turbulence, and for 45 minutes all I heard was ‘Mommy, nutha snack? Mommy, more snacks? More snacks mommy. MORE SNACKS MOMMY’. Since I couldn’t get to the big snack bag I found every last thing left in my purse and she ate it all. Eventually we got the ‘real’ snacks and life was good, and quiet, again.

L did a lot of this, ipad watching and lollipop eating, while I waited for the turbulence to end.

L did a lot of this, ipad watching and lollipop eating, while I waited for the turbulence to end.

At this point I am thinking the flight is going pretty well. We are out of the bad weather, scheduled to land early, L was happily watching Yo Gabba Gabba and coloring, and I finally had a chance to go the bathroom. Which meant I had to take her with me, but since we were 2 rows from the back it wasn’t a big deal. We squeezed into the bathroom, and when we left walked up ahead of us about 15 rows to see Lee and F. At which point I hear lots of laughter and a nice woman kindly points out I have toilet paper hanging out of my pants.

I could have died. Actually on any other day I probably would have died. But I was so tired I just couldn’t muster up the energy to care. I laughed it off, chalked it up to just one more thing that happened, and called it a day. Not really, but I felt like it.

This is what all parents tray tables should look like - snacks and a beer. Yum.

This is what all parents tray tables should look like – snacks and a beer. Yum.

Then L seemed to do a lot of this, which involved washing her window, tray table, seat and more with wipes. Wipes are an awesome, cheap plane toy. Who knew?

Then L seemed to do a lot of this, which involved washing her window, tray table, seat and more with wipes. Wipes are an awesome, cheap plane toy. Who knew?

And then...sleep. Blissful sleep.

And then…sleep. Blissful sleep.

And then the rest of the flight happened, we landed, got our car, got our tired children to the apartment we rented, realized we are about 15 years too old to be hanging out in the area our flat is in, and went to sleep. Sleep is a great answer, because when I woke up? It was a new day, in an awesome city, and I was ready to take on Seattle.

'Mommy I do, by self!' Of course, a stubborn 2 year old at the end of a long day!

‘Mommy I do, by self!’ Of course, a stubborn 2 year old at the end of a long day!

Poor guy was still feeling rough when we were on our way to get the car but he was a real trooper

Poor guy was still feeling rough when we were on our way to get the car but he was a real trooper

And then, upon exploring our apartment rental, he declared it awesome and that he loved all the cool people hanging around the bars outside. Also known as hipsters, or people too young for us to be staying near.

And then, upon exploring our apartment rental, he declared it awesome and that he loved all the cool people hanging around the bars outside. Also known as hipsters, or people too young for us to be staying near.

Sometimes, despite the travails of traveling, even on a day when you wonder why why why, you hear your kids giggling about the day to come, and it is all worth it, even when you previously thought it wouldn’t be. When you wake up and look around you, at your happy kids, rested despite their jet lag, staying in a clean, safe, nice apartment, in a city across the country from your very own, you realize that you are lucky to have these opportunities, and a day of suffering is worth the outcome.

Everyone is rested, happy and ready to go after breakfast!

Everyone is rested, happy and ready to go after breakfast!

 

An Open Letter To Fellow Fliers

I have learned I have to stop reading the comments on articles or blog posts about families traveling. Inevitably there are comments that run the gamut of ‘suggestions’ to families who are flying but almost always include the fact that they think babies, toddlers and kids shouldn’t fly, period. And it irritates me. I have complained about this for years, and after a particularly long trip back from Jackson Hole, Wyoming a few years ago, with just me and my son, I wrote an impassioned letter to fellow fliers in the world on my personal blog. After reading a comment in the same vein as above on this piece (which is a discussion in itself) I think it is a good time to repost my letter. Sometimes traveling with kids is difficult. Sometimes it makes you weary. And sometimes you just want a little compassion from those around you.

Hi! Remember me? The frazzled mom with a toddler hanging off my front, a backpack carrier on my back, and a stroller full of bags in front of me? No? Well my face isn’t actually important. In fact, substitute backpack carrier with baby bag and stroller with car seat and I could be any of thousands of parents who travel with their kids by air. You know us. The ones you grimace at and silently plead to whichever God you believe in that we don’t, gasp, have seats next to you. The ones who you seldom, if ever, offer to help, as you are all cosily tucked into your seat and all you really care about is that my son doesn’t spit up on you, shriek too loudly or that you don’t get hit with one of our many, many items that we are forced to carry on board. I realize you probably wonder why we have so many things? Well for that I blame you, since us parents feel a tremendous amount of pressure to keep our children occupied and quiet so as not to disturb you, and if that means bags of snacks, toys and books, then so be it.

See, what baffles me is that you can sit and watch and even discuss amongst your friends how you can’t believe how much stuff I have, and you wonder how I do it. How do I know you do this? Well besides the fact that you aren’t always quiet, well, as a mom I now have eyes in the back of my head and can see you doing it. I may have a toddler but that doesn’t make me blind, deaf or dumb. I see you standing up in the Gate and moving to another seat, as far away from little toddler hands as you can go. I see you looking me up and down and shaking your head out of disbelief. I see it. We all see it. What you don’t see is that it makes you look like a first class jerk.

But here’s the thing. Most of you probably have kids. Or grandkids. Or nieces and nephews. But even if you don’t, well, for Gods sake, you were a child once too. And while your family may not have traveled by air with you, times, well, they are a changing. We travel. We have family that live in another country. We want to see the world. We want to expose our child to the world and teach him not to be such a stick in the mud so that when he grows up he won’t think that all kids are loud and germy and dirty. And guess what? Kids over 2 don’t fly for free. And parents never fly for free. So while you sit and enjoy your cocktail remember that we too have paid our own way and have just as much right to be sitting next to you, in Coach or First Class.

Enjoy your flight, and we will talk when we land, because you know what?  You will be the ones saying to me how good my son was on the plane, how you didn’t hear him at all, and what a good traveler he is. I will be standing there, trying to hoist him up in his ergo, while subsequently grabbing 1,657 cars from the ground and zipping up the car seat. Quite frankly I don’t need your praise. I needed your understanding about, oh, 3 hours ago. Once we land I really don’t care.

And to the select few who sympathize, who ask if they can help, who smile and say ‘I know, I have kids’, well, Bless you. Bless you. Bless you. Cause you have no idea how simply offering to help or letting me know I am not alone can change my mood.

Finally, at the end of this rant, let’s all remember that all those faceless parents you see flying most definitely have way more apprehension about their flight than you do about sitting next to them. So put on your Bose headphones, sip your wine, and dodge the Cheerios. Because, at least for this family, we are going to continue to fly, and I refuse to be bullied into feeling bad about it anymore.