Later this week, it will be time for me to embark on something only caped crusaders or drill sargeants would be brave enough to endure: a plane trip by myself with a 3 year old going through potty training. (I take that back. Caped cursaders and drill sargeants are usually men. They've got nothing on moms). The pro is that the plane trip is only 1 ½ hours –- from Columbus to Newark airport -- the con is that I’m deathly afraid of flying, and how do I entertain/calm/cajole/bargain with a 3 year old while I’m gripping the seat with white knuckles? I can’t drink. I can’t take a Xanax. Remember, I have a 3 year old that I have to take care of. But do you think he could fend for himself?
Anyway, I found a really cool website that has lots of information and links for traveling with your kids: travelwithyourkids.com. Written by parents who have traveled the world, they give a humorous take on the oh-so lovely situations that can come up while traveling 30,000 feet in the air and other means of travel. (30,000 feet in the air? Gulp). Their articles made me giggle and have taken the edge off a bit so far. But today is only Tuesday. The flight leaves Thursday. Ask me how I am Thursday morning.
So why am I braving the trip if I’m so deathly afraid of flying? My oldest friend is getting married and my list of excuses for “why I won’t be able to make it” didn’t outweigh the “why I should be there” ’s. We’ve been friends since shortly after we both learned how to walk, so of course I should witness one of the most special days of her life. It’s been a long time since I first learned how to walk, so we go way back. We spent summers surfing the ocean waves of the Jersey shore on our belly boards, running from pool to ocean, ocean to pool in endless hours of youth-inspired indulgence. We went through 12 years of Catholic school together, and I can say with certainty that she is much more moral than me. She’s made me laugh until I peed my pants and we’ve cried together through the losses of our parents, and various other personal defeats. We’ve had times where we were not such great friends, and times of being inseparable. For better or worse, she is someone that will eventually be in my life longer than anyone closer to me right now. So, I have to be there right?
So back to the plane ride with a toddler. While I’m gripping the seat during takeoff, doing my best impression of Barney’s “Airplane Song” through gritted teeth, once we get in the air, I’m sure the novelty is going to wear off for him. So here’s what I’m thinking I will pack:
• Coloring books (I know it’s obvious, but he actually loves to color, unlike my older son)
• A small familiar toy
• Curious George (his favorite stuffed animal)
• A small book
• A new, unfamiliar toy
• Finger puppets
The last time I flew with one of my two kids was with my oldest son, who was 8 months old at the time. Again, not a really long flight, but nerve-racking enough. He fared better than me and really enjoyed the flight, sleeping through most of it from Newark to Milwaukee. Of the tips I’ve read, the best suggestion to pass along would be to pack things you absolutely know your child will enjoy. Don’t pack what you read is the best toy, but pack the toys you see him/her play with the most at home, assuming they will fit in the carry-on. That way, you don’t go overboard. See for me I’m trying to avoid the baggage fee and traveling light, embracing my inner cheapskate. Hey, times are tough right? I'm hugging tight.
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