It CAN be done! And just a qualifier – no checked luggage does not mean that I did not check the carseats. I went back and forth on that and finally had to “be real” as some of my colleagues like to say and not try to be a hero dragging those things around creation.
- Me, mom of two, with two solo flights with ONE child and no checked baggage under her belt. One flight with the hubs and the girl-child, too. Also? Only 2hrs of sleep.
- Em, 3yrs, 2mo. Three air trips under her belt.
- Jacob, 6 months, no flight experience.
Here is my packing list:
- My clothes – a pair of gauchos and a pair of casual slacks; 2 shelf tanks, 3 tank tops, 2 short sleeved shirts, pajamas
- Em’s clothes – two pairs of shorts, 4 tops, pajamas
- Jacob’s clothes – 4 onesies, two pairs pants, 2 sleep & plays
- Flip flops for all three of us
- Undergarments, 10 pullups, and 44 diapers, package of 72 wipes
- Em’s blanket, Elmo & Jacob’s Mr. Elephant
- Toiletries, Learning Toys
NY & Co Black Leather Tote Bag:
- Baby B’air
- 4 diapers, 2 pullups, travel wipes container (with about 25 wipes)
- Two extra infant outfits (1 romper, 1 onesie & pants) in quart sized baggies, 1 extra kid t-shirt
- Wallet w/phone
- GPS, phone charger
- Infantino Front Pack Carrier
- Snacks, snacks, snacks
- New Toy (Black plush horse with long hair)
- New (Old) Toy (Mini My Little Pony)
- Mr. Elephant
It helped a great deal that Em was a big fan of Dora, so getting her to wear the backpack was a snap. The Kelty went on my back, the Infantino on my front. The diaper bag over my shoulder and my tote in my hand. The car seats in the bag, bungee corded to the hand truck. I held on to the hand truck with my free hand, and Em held onto it too, to “help”.
Going through airport security at 5:30am on a Wednesday was amazingly/alarmingly busy. Another mom traveling alone with two kids (ages 2 and 10 months) was ahead of me. She was traveling to LA, and then on to New Zealand. It made my worry/anxiety about two 2-hour trips each way seem like I was screaming about a paper cut.
I got in a lane, and carefully unloaded everything, removing my shoes and Em’s (Jacob was not wearing any). I removed the front pack, after removing Jacob from it. I removed my phone, GPS and toiletries. I allowed an older gentleman to go ahead of me. He let me know that he had three kids and he knew what it was like.
Our things went through the scanner, and my other fear – the body scanner vs. the pat-down choice – never came to light. There was one at my security entrance, but they were choosing people at random. I requested a visual inspection of my carseats, and security asked to remove them from the luggage carrier and put everything that could fit through the x-rays too. Sure! Em walked through the metal detector, and then I carried Jacob through.Then came the task of putting everything back together again. Another security guard held Jacob while I helped Em with her shoes. He let me know that he had two kids at home, and has had to do this too.
We were just steps from our gate, and 10 minutes away from boarding. I walked up to the gate agent, and requested to gate check the car seats. They asked “Do you want to just send your bag on to your final destination?” After all that I didn’t even need to think about it. “Yes, please!” Air Tran has the best track record in the industry for baggage handling – and the gate agents even assured me of it. I didn’t let on that I knew, but I was glad that they did. Another passenger (a mom with one kid) helped me stuff the luggage carrier into the bag.
We waited 5 minutes for them to call our zone, and off we went into the plane.
Em kept wanting to climb into whatever seat struck her fancy. I still had Jacob in the front pack, but trying to negotiate that narrow aisle with stuff is hard enough truly solo. Trying to do it while corralling stuff and a kid – not easy. I was banging into everyone until a flight attendant who was standing in the exit row offered to take the diaper bag. And so we made it the extra 8 or so rows to our seats, and she put the bag up above us, helped me with my backpack, held Jacob while I negotiated the front pack and pulled out the Baby B’air and finally seat belted Em into her seat.
The flight itself was uneventful, except at one point where both kids were having issues at the same time. In two hours, Jacob nursed no less than 3 times. Em was less than thrilled with having to keep the windows open. Whatever! I specifically chose the two seat row so that no one would have to deal with our nonsense, and that was a good choice for the 5 minutes where I had two crying kids.
Reverse operations on the way off the plane to make it to the connecting flight. I hadn’t paused to use the facilities myself, and did not have the benefit of an adult diaper, so even though it wasn’t a great thing, I waited in the crazy line for the bathroom, and asked Em about 100x if she needed to potty, at the Atlanta airport. She refused. I’m kinda glad, since we didn’t have much time. I’m not proud, but I am a little. I didn’t take off my backpack or front pack, and we all fit in one tiny stall that was supposedly for handicapped usage (someone was nice enough to wait for the next stall when she saw me and all of our stuff and saw that was the one that had opened up for her). Jacob didn’t need a change. I used some antibacterial hand sanitizer instead of waiting for the same line for less sinks than stalls while hotfooting it to our gate because our connecting flight was already boarding as we were landing.
We still got a little help on that flight. It was nice of the flight attendant to stow all of my stuff for me. Wonders of wonders, both kids settled down (or were wiped out from being up at 4am) and napped together for 45 minutes after we were in the air. I dozed, but didn’t sleep. On the way out we had a different flight attendant helping us and he loved holding Jacob.
Can I just say that the White Plains Airport is the smallest airport I’ve ever been in? I’m going to assume that it is par for the course for a regional airport, but I was amazed. I walked out of the terminal and was immediately presented with the one baggage claim area. Our car seats were off first, and unfortunately, there was a tear in the bag. Not huge, but it was there. This was the second set of flights for this car seat bag, and I’d spent the previous one not caring and dragging it along the ground, so it shouldn’t have been unexpected. I strapped everything in and wheeled myself and the kids about 20 yards to the car rental counter. I waited behind one person, and walked another 40 yards to the rental lot. I guess that’s a good thing about a small airport – it wasn’t a big production to get from one place to another.
I took my time getting us settled into the car and off we went! I will do a separate post on logistics for our trip into Manhattan later in the week.
After the trip, what I discovered that I did not need in our bags:
- The diapers – I really could have bought these, but we were trying to run out a size too small that we got too much of – just trying to be economical!
- One shirt for me and Em and a sleeper for Jacob. My best friend generously allowed us to use her washing machine while we stayed with her, and we still never got to certain items of clothing
- One of the learning toys – we only got to one
Let’s talk about the return flights.
See above. Go in reverse. Add at least an hour of wait time at each airport. Me checking in the car seats at the counter and not at the gate. Security flagging a toy. An attempt to use a learning toy to pass the time. And a nice mom who watched our stuff while I took Em to the bathroom. Considering that the waiting area at the terminal was in plain sight of the bathroom and security, it was probably not terrible of her to do so, and it was very welcome. The flight to Atlanta was uneventful. There were a couple of nice older Italian ladies across the aisle who were more than happy to make googly eyes any chance they could at Jacob.
At the Atlanta airport, some brainchild Air Tran employee, who I know was just doing his job, flagged me down carrying all of our stuff and thought that it was a brilliant time for me to decide to open a new credit card account and had a hard time taking no for an answer. This was counter balanced by a pair of nice 20-something married hipsters striking up a conversation with the 3 year old who was on the verge of melting down just as we were about to board.
On this flight we were in a row of three. I turned to the older gentleman next to me and said “Looks like you won the lottery.” He was unfazed, and asked how pricing and seating worked for the little ones. I asked if he was considering it for his grandchildren and he let me know that he was. I let him know that on all domestic flights that up to 2, the kids fly free, but over 2 its a full adult ticket. After that we politely did not speak and he seemed unfazed by me turning away to nurse. I might add that Jacob was polite enough to not have any crazy diaper antics on this set of flights either.
Both kids fell asleep, but Em was still throwing fits in her sleep and wound up slumped down in her seat by the time we landed. When I unbuckled her, she fell out of the seat and while we waited for everyone else to deplane, she got ready to explode. Just as I let her know that it was time to get off, she refused. Flat out and loudly. A flight attendant helped me put on all of my gear and literally picked her up and carried her off the plane and set her down on the gangway. Hey, it was midnight and he had places to be too. And the help was ever so much appreciated.
One would think that our (mis)adventures would be over here, but we had just one more. We walked to the automatic revolving door, and I saw my husband just beyond the glass before Em did. I sent her to walk ahead of me and the doors turned before I could get through with all of our packs. And she stopped walking. It took one more airport employee to help us out and encourage Em from one side while I cheered her on from the other to keep walking so that we could finally see Daddy.
Moral of the story? It can be done. People WILL help, WILL be courteous, WILL be polite and will NOT send you poison daggers with their eyes for daring to travel with your children. Or if they do, you’ll be way too busy to notice or care.
Like I said – a post on our trip to Manhattan to come and upcoming travel plans. Will I do this again? You betcha. Now the question is when and where…I’ve got some ideas, as well as a trip I really need to take, and one that I really want to take. Happy to answer ANY questions in the comments!
A new diet idea and a trip plan June 8, 2011
So, today I discovered a “new” diet called the Dukan Diet. Its very Atkins-esque, but seems to have a very good idea of teaching someone how to maintain the weight they’ve lost. It also isn’t strict in some respects like Atkins is in that low-fat liquid dairy isn’t out, and neither are diet soft drinks – both of which were kinda killer for me when I tried Atkins years ago. It also promotes natural, whole, real food as opposed to over-processed food. And there is no counting of anything – fat grams, net carbs, calories. Seems pretty straight forward too. Granted, I am NOT a “diet” person. I don’t do well on “diets”. But this seems like a real “eating plan” and since my weight has now stalled out at 209, which is 4 pounds over where I was pre (this) pregnancy, but nowhere near my goal, I need a kick start.
This diet originated in France, and some of the recipes and food suggestions are pretty funky (what is Quark???). But according to the US adaptation if I start today, I should hit my goal weight by December (!) but I will be considered still in “maintenance” through August of next year. I’m ok with all of the foods recommended that I can recognize – which is about 90% of them, so that’s ok too.
Of course, my daughter’s birthday is this weekend, so I will have a “last hurrah” of sorts, and I think I’ll start on Sunday. In the process I will also document the stages of the plan and my meal plans.
Trip plan! I now have airline tickets that I have saved judiciously for, and a car rental for my trip. And I plan to travel with no checked luggage.
No, you didn’t hallucinate for a minute. I will be traveling with two kids and NO checked luggage. Because I will not have the patience or the manpower to wait after a flight for luggage at a belt and/or risk not having my stuff make it to my destination.
My initial plan is to have the following:
- The baby in a front pack carrier
- A VERY large 4 compartment backpack for all of our clothes
- A diaper bag for kids amenities (blankets, loveys, pullups, extra diapers, flight vest, kid leash, amusements)
- A messenger bag that will be purse/mini diaper bag that will fit in the top of the diaper bag
- An umbrella stroller
- A carseat bag that will hold the lightest of all the convertible carseats and the infant bucket seat, which will be pulled using a fold-able luggage cart
I’m still conflicted on whether or not to check the carseat bag, as my airline was rated best in the biz for luggage handling last year. But I don’t want to be that 1 in 1000 that has the problem, especially since it is carseats. I don’t want to push my luck! I’m 99% sure that I will gate check.
And I have a connection to make both ways. Should be fun.
I will definitely detail my packing list here as I have in the past and make edits based on what I learned the first two times I traveled alone with a child. The good news is that because nursing is going so well, and because he won’t be 6 months old yet, I won’t have to worry about packing food for the baby.
Post-Travel Wrap-up June 16, 2010
Bag #1: Kelty TC 1.1 This was an absolute life saver. I can NOT emphasize how much use we got out of this!
- Mr. Monkey: We didn’t pack the pocket toy for this, and we actually didn’t get as much use out of it as we thought we would, but for when we did use it, it was invaluable.
- Baby B’air: We used this, and had no issue with it. The best thing? Both flights, I was able to score an empty seat next to me.
- Diaper Wallet: This was very helpful, but changing a toddler on a plane? No fun. Especially if said toddler does not like the the small confines of an airplane bathroom, and the loudness.
- My purse. No issues here.
- Emergency outfit for my daughter. – Totally didn’t need it, but always better to have one than to not.
- A sweater for me. – Didn’t need it readily available, but again, always better to be prepared.
- Hardierlime Toddler Entertainment Package. This will be placed in a smaller tote for ease of pulling out of the kid carrier and keeping everything together.
- Creative Zen: This provided about 30 minutes of entertainment. Again, the loudness on the inside of the plane counteracted the volume of the programming. And since I was using toddler headphones, the volume just couldn’t get that high.
- 2 Dover Sticker books: This WAS minutes of fun. Until she started dropping the quickly non-sticky stickers between the seats.
- Lacing cards: I did not even break these out.
- Crayola Color Wonder Markers: I did not break these out.
- Snacks: carrot sticks, raisins, goldfish, juice box, dum-dums, chips – The m&ms were a hit. And she ate around everything else to get to them.
Bag #2: Sunshine Kids Travel Bag: Note to EVERYONE! Do not pack things in the bag before you get to security. As much of a pain as it would be to lug multiple pieces, its even MORE unfun to lug the giant bag and have it unpacked and then have to RE-pack it because security doesn’t believe that its a carseat with another bag or two thrown in.
- Carseat. We have an Alpha Omega and a Cosco Scenara. We actually took the Cosco Scenara, since it was lighter and less bulky.
- Backpack. A Jansport Trans. Everything packed in it was used, and useful.
- Eco Friendly Tote bag. – I didn’t bother packing this, but did shove the things that were going to be in it into the larger carseat bag.
Except for the debacle with security both going and coming with the carseat bag, and the carseat bag feeling like it weighed close to 15 tons, the packing job was a successful one. I’m looking forward to traveling next without the pump and with even fewer things and getting more and more streamlined.
Things that we didn’t know we needed/didn’t plan for:
- Walgreens – My girl got sick the second day we were on vacation. Lots of runny nose, so I assumed it was allergies. We went ahead and refilled her prescription so that we could get started on it, and help her sleep. Thankfully wherever you are that there is a Walgreens, you can have a prescription refilled.
- More meds/Tylenol Recall – When the allergy medication didn’t help much, we purchased some cold medication but the recall came out the week we were there, so we had to work hard to find ANY cold medication.
- The day before we left, she started running a fever, and I contemplated taking her to a doctor just to figure out what was going on. But, we were not prepared with a list of doctors in the area that took our insurance.
Now to make sure that no one thinks I’m a terrible mom for not thinking about these things, please know this: My kid almost never gets sick. In her two years of life, prior to this trip she’d only had a handful of colds and had only needed antibiotics once. So, of course I wouldn’t think that she would get sick while we were away. In case anyone is wondering, we took her to the doctor the day we returned, and found out that it was an ear infection. Her very first ever. Which presented as a runny nose with no fever until 5 days later. So, logically one wouldn’t presume ear infection. Regardless, I know now to have a list of doctors wherever we will be just in case.
All in all it was a decent trip. If any of you have any questions, feel free to comment, and I will be happy to answer!
Yes, I’m obsessive about planning April 7, 2010
Last time we flew, in October, my husband was with us. At 16 months old, as a lap child, my daughter was a nightmare on the plane, and in the airports. From door to door from home to hotel was close to 4 hours and it was longer on the way back because we flew standby to catch an earlier flight.
I think we were underprepared for just how much entertainment a toddler needs on a plane. We had snacks, a couple of toys and then all of the accoutrement afforded by the seat back pocket in front of us. She was bored with all of it before we even took off. Never mind that the inconsiderate fools in front of us reclined their seat backs, giving us even less room than we already had on a packed flight with a lap child.
Suffice to say, I was very nervous about flying by myself with her again. But, it was too late to try to get a seat for her, so in less than 4 weeks, I will be flying by myself with an almost 23 month old lap child.
Last time, I flew alone with the baby, I flew with a stroller, a backpack, a duffel bag and a diaper bag. And of course, the baby. When I arrived I was picked up with the car I was going to be borrowing which had a carseat which was also borrowed. I had entirely too much stuff, and I thought I had economized.
So this time, I needed to streamline even more. And this time, I am going to bring our own carseat! Yikes!
I have made no less than 6 lists with various iterations of luggage, compartments, items that must be taken and I’m fairly certain that I’ve got it streamlined as much as I can while still taking the essentials and of course an airplane survival kit (aka the toddler entertainment).
Bag #1: Kelty TC 1.1 We have tried this out and she loves riding around in it. However, this is more for transport OUT of the arrival airport, than transit within the departing airport.
- Mr. Monkey: I know some people have problems with toddler restraints aka “leashes”. I don’t. For one thing, my daughter loves Mr. Monkey. For another, there is no way that I’ll be making my way through busy airports, trying to tire her out by walking, by myself with JUST holding her hand. This will make it easy for her to burn off any extra energy she may have. Mr. Monkey has a pocket, and in it will be a smaller stuffed animal that she can hold/play with if she likes.
- Baby B’air: To keep her safe in flight. Watching the video on the page pretty much sealed the deal. I’d rather be safe than sorry. It worked just fine on our prior two trips.
- Diaper Wallet: We never take the diaper bag out unless we are taking a day trip. We will have diapers waiting for us, so bringing just enough for a full day should work. In it, we will have 5 diapers, a travel pack of wipes, and baby tylenol.
- My purse. This is also streamlined, and will only have my phone, my wallet, the digital camera and the Garmin GPS.
- Emergency outfit for my daughter.
- A sweater for me.
- Hardierlime Toddler Entertainment Package. This will be placed in a smaller tote for ease of pulling out of the kid carrier and keeping everything together.
- Creative Zen: This is listed first, but will be a last resort. It will be loaded with all sorts of shows from her favorite network.
- 2 Dover Sticker books: She loves all sorts of sticky things and putting them on other surfaces. Hopefully, this will be minutes of fun.
- Lacing cards: These will either be full of win or full of frustration. But at least she likes pretending things are necklaces, so maybe this will be fun.
- Crayola Color Wonder Markers: She loves crayons, so hopefully these will be fun, and not a constrained game of pick-up sticks for me.
- Snacks: carrot sticks, raisins, goldfish, juice box, dum-dums, chips
Bag #2: Sunshine Kids Travel Bag: I’ve read through hundreds of reviews of more than half a dozen bags that can be used for the transport of a carseat. This bag should be good for slinging over my shoulder. It has room to spare for transit, since the space that’s normally taken up by the child in the seat will be vacant. This bag will be gate checked.
- Carseat. We have an Alpha Omega and a Cosco Scenara. I think the Alpha Omega will be coming with. Its the one she travels in the most, so it will be a comfortable thing to have in the rental car. We won’t rent a carseat, because who knows how clean they are and/or if they’ve been in an accident?
- Backpack. A Jansport Trans.
- Large Compartment: My clothes. Taking a tip from Stacy and Clinton, it will be mostly jersey cotton/poly blends that will be able to be folded/rolled with little to no wrinklege. I’ll be bringing 3-4 days worth of clothing. We will have access to a washer/dryer.
- Medium Compartment: Blow dryer. Flat iron. My daughter’s clothes. She will have 4-5 days worth of clothing.
- Small Compartment: Toiletries.
- Tiny Compartment: all electronics chargers.
- Eco Friendly Tote bag.
- Breast pump. Yes, I’m still pumping.
- Pump parts, bottles and a book.
- Mr. Elephant, her naptime & bedtime lovey and her blanket from home.
- Breast pump. Yes, I’m still pumping.
Why am I packing bags within a bag? So that when I remove the carseat, I won’t have a mountain of stuff to wrangle when I hit the ground. What about a stroller? No, no, NO! I will either use the kid carrier, a shopping cart (depending on where we are) or carry her myself. As of today, the carseat bag has been purchased, and I have some snifty new clothes coming to me from Old Navy.
I will do a download of how well this worked out when we return.