Friday, June 28, 2013

Traveling (on an airplane) with our one-year-old

I am realizing that it has been a while since my last post. Life just gets crazy sometimes. As a teacher, finishing off the school year is always a sprint to the finish, and this year I also had to pack up my entire classroom because I am getting new tile installed. Then, literally the next day, my family and I headed to Minnesota for a much-needed vacation to visit family and friends. In the past, my husband and I have driven from Maine to Minnesota and back, but this time we decided to fly. Our daughter is 13-months-old and our flight was scheduled to leave Boston at 9pm.

I was not sure what to expect from our sweet baby girl. The plane would be boarding at bedtime and leaving an hour after bedtime. I didn't know if she would sleep the entire way or scream the entire way. Honestly, she is more unpredictable these days. We have flown with her once before, when she was 9-weeks-old, and she was wonderful both ways. Now she has an opinion about things.

We had to pack very lightly for this trip because the airline charged an arm and a leg for bags, even carry-ons. My husband's parents have a crib and car seat and were able to borrow a pack 'n play and high chair, so in terms of gear, I just brought our Boba baby carrier and our daughter's down comforter from her bed.

For our daughter, I brought:
  • 12 all-in-one cloth diapers for daytime. (5 BumGenius Elementals and 7 Grovias)
  • 2 night diapers (2 Thirsties duo diapers with 2 extra inserts and 2 Disana wool covers)
  • 1 pack of disposable wipes
  • 1 roll of Bummis flushable liners
  • 1 stick of rash cream (Grovia magic stick) just in case
  • 8 disposable diapers
  • a small baby doll and doll bottle
  • 1 book
  • 1 thin stretchy blanket (for nursing and naps)
  • 2 pacifiers, one with a strap and one free
  • a container of cheerios
  • a container of Annie's Cheddar Bunnies
  • 3 fruit leather strips
  • organic fruit gummies
  • her toothbrush from home
  • 1 portable DVD player and charger (and a sleeve with 4 kid DVDs that adults can also enjoy)
  • minimal clothing - 3 PJs, 1 pair shorts, 4 t-shirts, 1 skirt, 2 onesies, 1 pair jeans, 1 pair comfy pants, 3 dresses, 3 pairs socks, 2 pairs shoes, 1 pair tights, 1 bathing suit, 1 swim diaper, 1 thin sweater, 1 thin fleece, 1 bib, and 1 sun hat

I packed all of her diapers and diapering items into the diaper bag, along with a pair of PJs, all of the snacks, her baby doll and bottle, our camera and my water bottle. My husband and I brought enough clothes to last three days, figuring we'd wash clothes a few times during our trip. We brought minimal gear, like a breast pump and beard trimmer, but not shampoo or toothpaste that we could just buy there. Last time we flew, we cloth diapered the entire way there and back just as usual, but this time I decided to use a few disposables so that I wouldn't have to carry a heavy wetbag full of an entire day's wet diapers.

The drive to Boston is about 5-6 hours, depending on weather, pit stops, and traffic. We are blessed to have some good friends in the Boston area that were able to keep our car in their garage during our trip and transport us to and from the airport. We arrived at the airport at around 7pm. Lines were very minimal and we were able to move through airport security without the pressure of a long line behind us. My husband and I packed together in one suitcase and I had brought my pocketbook and the diaper bag. Our daughter cried hard when we had to put her baby in the bin to send it through the scanner and she didn't stop crying until she saw the doll come through the other side. I don't know why I didn't think of that before. I should have been more stealthy putting the doll in the bin. After security, we packed back up and put on our shoes, and even though I had the baby carrier with me, I put our daughter down and let her walk.
 She walks like a champ, but those tiny legs mean that the going is quite slow. My thought was that if I wanted her to sit still and sleep on the plane, she needed to expend some energy in the airport, especially after nearly 6 hours of sitting in the car! We held her hand until we found our gate, and then let her run free (one of us stayed right with her, of course). I cringed when she put her mouth on the edge of one of the seats, and I wasn't happy that she pushed her face right up against that nasty window, but it was worth it to have her moving around and so happy. She greeted everyone with an enthusiastic "Hi!" and waved and blew kisses. It was pretty cute. We got on the plan at 8:00. I had a window seat and my husband had the aisle. There was one seat between us, and that seat between us was unoccupied, so our daughter was able to move back and forth between us, which was very handy.

As soon as we were on the plane, I changed her diaper and put her PJs on. Like I said before, we used disposables while en route. After running around in the airport for nearly an hour, nursing during take-off was a great transition to bedtime. I wrapped her in her down comforter from home and held her close. They turned off the cabin lights for take-off and I was hoping she'd fall right to sleep, but she had other plans. For the next couple of hours, she ate her snacks (we gave her one piece at a time, not the whole container) and played with her baby, her blanket and her book. She moved constantly back and forth between my husband and me. Entertaining her was work. We tried the DVD player, but it was dead. She got pretty cranky (not crying really, but expressing her tiredness) right before we began the descent into Minneapolis. My husband carried her up and down the aisle a few times, and then she asked to nurse, so I tried again and she finally fell asleep. Once we landed, I transitioned our sweet girl into the Boba carrier, still sleeping, which made carrying our bags much easier.

Once we arrived at my in-laws house, our sweet girl woke up and was wide awake! She could not be convinced that sleeping was a good idea, and eventually we decided to bring her in bed with us for the night, and we all slept pretty well. For the rest of our stay in Minnesota, we used cloth diapers, washing every other day. We washed clothes three times during our stay. During the trip, our daughter reverted back to nursing more that usual and ate less "real food" but now that we are home, she is eating more again.

Our sweet baby girl became very fond of her grandparents almost immediately, which was great! We had a wonderful time with grandparents, parents, siblings, friends and family! We went out on the lake in a boat, we went to the zoo, attended a Twins game in the new stadium and hung out. It was a laid-back trip and one of the best we have had so far. I love my husband's family and get to know them more and more each time we are together.

The flight back was supposed to leave Minneapolis at 11:35 but was delayed a little over two hours. Again, we encouraged her to walk around and play in the airport, and she made lots of new friends. Usually our sweet baby girl takes a nap sometime between 10 and 11am. She ended up sleeping in my arms at the airport as we waited for the plane to come in. She woke up just before getting on the plane. She was very happy and friendly on the flight. The plane stopped in Chicago to refuel, so we had to deplane and wait for a while there before continuing to Boston. She was very pleasant again on the second stretch of the flight and eventually fell asleep again. We arrived in Boston a little after 7pm and then still had to drive home! Our daughter was so excited to be in her own car seat again, and she fell asleep pretty quickly. We woke her up to change her and eat supper on the way, but she fell asleep again as soon as we got back on the road. My husband and I talked the entire way home, and had great conversation. We got home around 2am, absolutely exhausted. Our daughter nursed one more time and happily went to sleep in her own bed without complaint.

I am so thankful that we were able to go to Minnesota and we all had a wonderful time. Cloth diapering there is just like cloth diapering here, and we found that we really liked using the flushable liners, so I will write a whole post about those later. As much fun as it was, it is good to be home again too!

Do you have anything special that you do to make traveling with an infant or toddler easier?
Please share your tips and tricks! I'd love to have some new ideas!!


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