“I’m not sure who exactly coined the term “flying the friendly skies”, but I am living proof that you can travel with young children.
I remember before I had kids thinking that travel was so easy.
I’d hop a plane, grab a glass of red wine, take a Dramamine, and miraculously land at my destination.
Don’t get me wrong, wine is still helpful in facilitating peaceful travel, but these days it’s even more beneficial for those people sitting around me.
Before take-off – they make their introductions –
“Hi my name is Olivia, we are sitting in the row behind you, my sister and I will do our best to be respectful, not kick your seat or fuss, but in the meantime, my mom would like buy you a drink. Is there anything that we can get for you? “
Traveling with young children is an exercise in stamina if nothing else. I’d break all my trips into 5-minute milestones and keep these increments in mind while packing.
* Blueberries to feed the children one by one – check
* Crayons to put in and out of water bottle – over and over – check
* And …tape – check
Tape is a truly a wonderful travel companion. Instead of barking at your children not waste the tape – encourage them to tear, pull, and decorate. I’ve easily gotten 20 minutes (that is 4 increments of time mind you) out of three rolls of tape. I’ve even had plenty to pass down the isle to save other mothers.
I have learned the hard way another golden rule for travel with little ones: Leaving on time for the airport is far more important than shooting for the sweet spot. You know, the sweet spot?
When you time things so perfectly that you walk directly onto your plane.
Once I missed my flight because my three year old had to POOP. The girls and I ended up flying later that night – standby from Seattle to Milwaukee on a red eye flight.
As it turned out, we really needed to come back home anyway because, in our rush to leave the house, I’d left the backdoor wide open. Trust me, it is definitely not worth finding the sweet spot anymore.
And then there was the year we decided to take kids home for Christmas, the snow was intense. After two cancelled flights and eight hours in line, we found ourselves rebooked for Christmas Day.
Our neighbors took pity on us and invited us over for a fabulous Christmas Eve dinner. They went so far as to give us their box of Christmas kringle. Its like a flat Danish in a pizza box.
So, Christmas day, we arrived at the airport at the crack of dawn. My husband offered to park the car and handle all the luggage. All I had to contend with was two kids, a carry on packed full of tape… and the kringle.
When we got to security, we had been flagged for our unusual booking pattern.
I had to explain to my daughters why it was okay for this “stranger lady” to pat them down after I had just taught them that no one other than their doctor was ever allowed to touch their body. We eventually made it through security, but only after lots of sweat and tears, with my children screaming “MY body! MY body!”…
My husband met us at the gate with time to spare. In celebration of our traveling success, he decided to serve the kringle and began to cut it with a huge butcher knife. I looked at him in horror. He shrugged his shoulders as to say “we got it thru security – why not use it?”.
I calmly approached another gate and told the attendant “I don’t want to alarm you, but I have a big knife…
We accidentally smuggled it in the airport despite your million dollar x-ray machine. She took the knife and I walked away to enjoy the kringle.
I think we’ve finally reached cruising altitude – with a 5 and 6 year old, 3 iPhones and an iPad – we’re golden. I still have the girls introduce themselves to their neighbors, but this step isn’t nearly as important as it used to be.
I have learned, in my travels, that even the worst turbulence will pass.
So I sit back, fasten my seatbelt, enjoy the ride…. and God willing the drink cart will be here shortly.
About the Author
Shelley Prosise is a PEPS Mom and former PEPS Board Member. She helped us kick off the PEPS Annual Storytelling Contest, PEPsTalk, in 2014 by sharing her story about flying with her little ones. Her story was selected by Listen To Your Mother, a series of stories by mothers at live events across the country. Shelley lives in Seattle and works at the University of Washington.
PEPsTALK is a storytelling contest that aims to give a voice to the highs and lows of parenthood and narrates the winding road of the parenting journey. Tell us your stories from the trenches and step right up to ‘audition’ for PEPsTALK. We encourage PEPS parents to submit their story or stories and, if chosen, the storyteller will be given the opportunity to share it at our Annual PEPS Benefit Luncheon in the spring of each year.