Justin is going on a business/mission trip to Turkey in a few weeks, and I had planned on staying home with Elias while he was gone. However, my parents generously offered to buy us a plane ticket to come spend the week with them while he's gone! So I booked it this week and we're going! I am SOOOO excited about this sudden opportunity to spend time with my family - I can't wait for them to see how much Elias has grown and developed since they saw him last a couple months ago.
However, this means that I will be taking Elias on his first flights... Alone. I'm not terrified at the prospect because Elias is a good boy and generally easy to manage, but I am a little nervous just because I don't know what to expect. So I'm pleading for help from anyone who has any experience flying with toddlers! (Elias will be 14 months when we go.) I want to be as prepared as possible. I've thought up some specific questions, but if you have any advice that I didn't think of asking about, ANY of it would be greatly appreciated!
1. Air pressure - I know you're supposed to take a bottle or sippy for them to suck on when the plane is taking off and landing to help their ears adjust. When exactly do I give it to him? I'm just imagining giving him the sippy too early, and by the time he needs it for his ears, he's already drunk as much as he wants and he won't drink anymore... Would a pacifier work the same way?
2. DIRT! - I'm expecting I may just have to get over this, but I'm sure there is no way I can expect Elias to consent to being held or sitting in his stroller for the entire trip. So I'm going to have to let him crawl around and explore at some point. (He's not walking yet.) But on the floor in airplanes and airports? NASTY! I'm envisioning that I'll just have to find a corner in the airport and let him crawl around, then clean him up with Sani-Kids wipes, but I wondered if anybody else had any thoughts about this.
3. Stroller - I was very relieved to discover that the airline will let me bring a stroller on the flight at no extra charge. There's no way I could've handled him for 1-2 hours in an airport for a layover without having something safe to put him in. However, I'm trying to ponder which stroller to bring. The obvious choice would be the tiny umbrella stroller for compactness and ease of travel. However, I think it would be a lot more comfortable for Elias if we could bring his larger collapsible stroller. (See photo at right. We obviously wouldn't be bringing along the infant carrier.) I think he'd be more willing to spend more time in it at the airport, and it's a possibility he might even nap in it - we'll be in the Chicago airport during his afternoon naptime. (There is zero chance he'll sleep on the flight, and also zero chance he would sleep in his umbrella stroller.) Plus, it has convenient features like a reclining back, a pocket underneath for the diaper bag, and a detachable tray that he could eat on. But I'm worried that the larger stroller might be too big for them to allow me to bring it... Has anybody traveled with a larger stroller, and did you have any problems getting it on the plane?
4. Noisy Toys - I'm wondering about what kind of toys to bring on the flights with us. Elias' favorites that keep him occupied the longest are ones that have buttons he can push and make noise. I'm worried about bringing those just because I don't want to disturb everybody on the flight with the noise. I mean, I think they would certainly prefer music and sound effects over him screaming his head off, but I don't think it would be impossible to keep him entertained with quiet toys too. Any thoughts on that?
Um, that's all I can think of at the moment. I'll post more questions if I think of them, and feel free to give me ANY advice if you have it! THANKS!!