Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Airports and Airplane Rides with the Littles

Up until our flight out to Utah I would have told you I had flying with small kids figured out. I could offer all the advice you might need. I mean, look at my little helpers, carrying their own load. Airports are a space we handle pretty well.

Until I get mad at all the gate lice standing in my way at O'Hare! Gate lice are the worst thing about airports. After so many "can I help yous?" I finally just shouted, loud enough for everyone to hear, "I just need you to move so we can get through!" 

Yes, I yelled at people who were offering to help me. But I didn't want the kind of help they were offering (carrying my stroller, directing my kids, etc); I just wanted them to stop crowding the gate before it was their turn to board. Had they all been patiently waiting their turn -- somewhere far away from the gate -- we would have had no problems. 

But I still probably shouldn't have shouted at adults. In public.

Not my best moment. 

But we made it to Utah all the same. 

That picture of Coraline walking through the airport with one shoe off, milkshake in hand, backpack strapped on, and smile fully loaded will probably always be one of my favorites. She was such a happy girl at that moment. She walked the entire length to our gate, and Nell was eager to swipe her ride.

Nell got a new backpack just for this trip. Ben spoiled her and let her get the most expensive one, but she sure was happy with it. Each kid carried their own needs: snacks, a few small lap games, and extra clothes. We checked one mid size suitcase (I pack light) and three car seats. We try to keep traveling as hassle free as possible when it comes to our "stuff" and that always makes things easier.

Then there is the stuff you can't control. Like Nell's inability to leave Coraline alone while she is napping (whether we are at home or on the plane), and Coraline's desire to scream at the top of her lungs whenever her ears bother her even just a tiny bit. Those two things, like the gate lice, were out of my control.

Our flight back to Wisconsin was soooooooooo much smoother. Which is ironic, because we arrived at the airport so much later and the lines were so much longer. Yet somehow, the kids were on their best behavior. Maybe because it was early morning rather than mid-afternoon? Maybe because they had McDonald's breakfast sandwiches waiting for them? I don't know, but they were a dream. 

We flew in and out of O'Hare because it was significantly cheaper. It takes us about two and a half hours to drive there. On our way down we stopped at a lovely forest preserve once we crossed the border into Illinois. We'd packed a picnic and planned enough time to let the kids run around for about 30 minutes. There was a great playground there, and it was a perfect pit stop before making our way into Chicago. 

The flight is 3 hours (plus the 90 minutes at the airport) and then it is a two hour drive to my parents house. So our travel days are pretty full of just that -- travel. 

Despite my failings, I will still offer my advice. It is simple:

1. Pack light. Decide what you think you will absolutely need and then reduce it. For our 15 day stay we each had five outfits (baby had six), three shoes (baby had two), two jammies (I had one), four under wears, and a swimsuit. That's it. And it was plenty. 

2. Make kids responsible for their stuff. My two big kids wanted to bring their favorite stuffed animals, so I let them, but they had to keep track of them. They rode in their backpacks and the kids took them out when they wanted them. Nell carried our first aid kit (because she loves band aids). Reid carried our kindle (which they only played for 15 minutes each). The front pocket of the backpacks held their snacks and they could take them out when they were hungry. They each had a Water Wow coloring book (bought new for the trip) and a High Five magazine (that they barely touched). That (and their extra set of clothes) is all that was in their carry-ons, and they never once complained about being bored. 

Kids love to look out the window, shuffle through the seat back reading materials, watch the flight crew, and just enjoy the ride. You really don't need to pack your own entertainment. 

1 comment:

Pa said...

The joys and trials of flying...

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