Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hitting the Skies

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!!


Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

The larger stroller shouldn't be a problem. The flight attendants will meet you at the door into the plane. They will then tag your stroller, give you a "claim ticket", and stow the stroller in a special compartment while in flight. Then, they have the stroller waiting for you to pick up right outside the airplane door. I've even seen people with double strollers have no trouble at all getting their strollers on the plane.

Ashlee said...

We've flown with Noah twice but both times were before he was mobile so I can't answer those questions. However, i suggest taking the bigger stroller for several reasons, some of which you already mentioned. But also, you can store some of your stuff under it so you will have less to try to carry. This will be very helpful in giving you free hands to play with him and if you need to go to the bathroom, your stuff can be easily tucked under the stroller in the handicapped stall w/ him in the stroller.

And for noisy toys, If you have any that have the two volume level options, I doubt the low volume setting would carry very far in the plane. And they usually sit ppl with kids all around each other so if anyone was to be able to hear it over the hum of the plane, they probably have a kid traveling with them too.

And I was just thinking... you'll have to tell me what dates you'll be up there. Maybe we'll go to Columbus during that time and maybe we could meet up for lunch or something along our way. I'd love to see you and let our boys meet!

Myra said...

1. We flew to FL when C was 14mos old (her first flight). I just gave C a bottle during takeoff/landing. No biggie. I did buy some toddler yogurt melts (the only "candy" I gave her at this age) and Gerber's dried fruit stuff for her to nibble on during the flight.

2. I guess there's a point in toddlerhood that you just can't worry too much about germs. But, yes, keep some wipes handy! :) Travelling is the one of those RARE times that means any normalcy and consistency goes out the window. Wanna crawl on the floor during a layover? Fine. Wanna watch DVDs for 3 hours. Fine. Want to have candy just to keep quiet? Fine. LOL. Lower your expectations that your child will nap, eat right, or keep to his/her normal schedule.

3. We used a mid-size stroller (Combi) to put our stuff in (carryons, diaper bag), and I wore C around the airport in a sling. You can gate-check your stroller right before you board. No biggie. Travelling alone, I actually suggest the bigger stroller (normally I hate big strollers) because of the capacity to hold things... But you do have to fold it to get it through Xrays and stuff, while holding on to a 14 mo, and your carryons. Just keep that in mind. You might want to check most of your luggage. and have just a diaper bag and your purse as carryons.

4. Noisy toys... One of airline passenger's pet peeves. I'd keep some noisy ones he can play with at the airport/gate, etc. but use the soft toys or books on the plane. (this is when those yogurt "candy" and snacks comes in handy!)

--You didn't ask about car seats. Does your parents have one? Yuu can check those too, I think free of charge, but check the airport.

Nick said...

As Ashlee said, Noah was smaller - but our experience flying was very good. Definitely take the larger stroller -- it may be that navigating through the airport is actually *easier* than if you had no kid at all -- you can push your carryon, and that might be more secure for you to use a restroom in a terminal (I sometimes imagine Noah could flip out of the umbrella stroller! You may even get special treatment (e.g. board first!)

Noah did well during flight, (I don't even think we did a pacifier or anything most of the time) -but he was sleeping quite a bit then.

Any toys with lights but no sound? The other day I put my headphones on Noah, it makes me wonder if he would watch a portable dvd with headphones. Probably not!

Nick said...

Oh, btw, if you are using water for your baby, you may find that the "3 oz." rule for liquids doesn't apply to you.

Also - one thing you will still have to deal with is security - be prepared to collapse the stroller and send it through the x-ray. Hopefully you won't be flying at a high traffic time and I imagine, that you will receive some help at the checkpoint.

Jessica said...

We flew last year when A was about 1 1/2 yo, and we flew with P when he was about 1 yo. I definitely had to go into "calm Mommy" mode -- everything is fine and easy. Leave early enough so you aren't rushed, pack a ton of his favorite snacks, and expect the schedule to go out the window.

Azlan ate literally the entire flight -- it's the one thing I can count on keeping him happy. I would hide E's favorite quiet toys & books now and surprise him with them on the plane. That might help him be satisfied with them.

Neither boy had any trouble with air pressure, but we had pacis and sippies ready just in case.

You and your big boy will have such an adventure -- there will be so much to explore and learn! Have fun!

Tracy said...

I have flown with Elliott twice. Both times were exhausting and overwhelming because he is a constant mover and can't yet understand why he has to sit still.

I would suggest books and snacks for the flight. I think Elliott usually gains a pound each flight.

He never seemed to have any problem with the take off, but a sippy is probably a good idea. Also, you can just buy extra water once you are in the cleared security area and have it as backup in your bag.

Start praying now - seriously - that you will be seated by someone who loves children. I always want to be seated by a grandmother who has a grandson the same age as Elliott but never gets to see him.

Corrie said...

I haven't read all of the other comments, but thought I'd add my own 2 cents!

Clara has flown on two trips. Once we got in the terminal (past security) I let her run wild like a crazy banshee! This got her good and tired.

She had a pacifier at take off and landing. She wouldn't take a bottle.

I brought several new books that she had never seen before to keep her entertained before she conked out.

I gave her 3 or 4 teething tablets, and they relaxed her just enough that she went to sleep in my arms.

I also brought along some cool snacks and those kept her entertained for a while too.

My friend Audrey was flying with her little boy, Sam, a few months before he was 2. They made her show his birth certificate to prove that he wasn't two yet. She had to frantically call her pedi's office and get a copy faxed to the airport. I guess they just want to make sure you aren't trying to bring a kid older than 2 as a lap child. You may want to bring a copy of his BC just to be safe.

When I checked in for the flight, I told them that I would be willing to move to another area of the plane if that would give us any more room. They ended up putting us ALL the way in the back, but we had two seats!

Tylenol when all else fails.

I found that a back pack met our needs best as opposed to me carrying a diaper bag and my purse. It let me keep my hands free and still housed all of the "goods" we needed!

Okay, that is all from me!