Travelling Parents: Don’t Leave Home Without This!

Am I the only crazy parent who tallies the number of diapers used for 2 days before the trip, averages the number, and multiplies by 1.34 to determine how many to pack on the plane?

See, my mind just kind of goes to the worst case scenario, and I don’t want to be out of diapers, goldfish, or hand wipes at 30,000 feet.  (But especially diapers.)  This June, we went on an 18-day trip to the West Coast, and it was a great time with family and friends.  But after a hair-raising sequence of flights filled with experiences that I can NOW laugh about, there’s one thing I didn’t have on my packing list that I really should have.

Let me explain…

It started with a left-behind sippy cup, and went to vomit in my lap.  Worse, vomit on the security blanket, which has major soothing powers for the 1-year-old.

Actually, let me rewind.  It started at home when I braved a mizzly, rainy dawn to bring clothes off the line and noticed the toddler’s favorite shoes, soaking wet, in the sand box.  The dryer, in case you are wondering, shrinks shoes.  Just file that one away.  They just barely-kind-of fit, but he seemed to be okay with them, so off we went.

By the time we spent 2 hours in the car, an hour hustling kids, car seats, and bags through the airport shuffle, and survived a 3 hour flight, we were all tired.

Add a 3 hour layover while we waited for the next 3 hour flight, and it probably won’t surprise you that my kid was licking the glass partition on the moving walkway, and I was desperately licking the inside of my latte cup.  I am a super-clean super-freak who travels with about 5 packages of hand wipes at all times.  (I watch MONK episodes and take notes.)  But what can you do when he’s already licked it? I couldn’t exactly Lysol his mouth, so I did the only thing I could think of:  I took Elsa’s advice and just let it go.

We made it on to our second flight just fine.  This particular plane had designated seats for infants and lap children (because of oxygen mask availability in the event of, you know, catastrophe.)  This means that Superman took the 5 year old and 1 year old to the very back of the plane, and the 3 year old and I settled in 6 rows aft.  The airline stewardess hated parents of young children oh-so-sweetly enforced airline regulations by ensuring that ALL the bags were neatly, tidily, and precisely stowed under the seat in front of my toddler, with not a centimeter protruding from the edge of the seat in front of him.  We had to give up something to the overhead bin, so we elected to part with the booster seat, because you can pry the backpack with the books, toys, snacks, and had wipes out of my cold, dead fingers. 

I learned three things somewhere between Minneapolis and the Rocky Mountains:

  1. You can use an Ergo as a make shift nursing cover.  Looping one of the arm holes over your neck actually positions the main body as a quasi-privacy shield and keeps the in-flight entertainment G-rated.  Just in case you ever need to know that.
  2. I will never travel without essential oils again.  Never, ever.  I went to change a stinky diaper, and shook a few drops of rosemary and lemon on a napkin to reduce noxious fumes and the everlasting wrath of everyone within a 5-row radius.  It was magic.  The oils came in handy again and again as we packed shoes in the same roller bag with clean clothes, and when the car smelled like 10 days of hard use.  They might or might not hold health benefits (depends on who you ask), but they make things smell good.  For me, that’s enough to merit inclusion in the 1-quart zip top baggie! 🙂
  3. Be kind.  Always, always be kind.  The sweet mother of five who whispered on the jetway “it does get easier,” reduced me to exhausted tears that thank you, someone gets it, and the stewardess who insisted that my tired 5 year old turn off her quiet movie “because you don’t have headphones” are both parts of the trip I won’t forget.  (Obviously, for different reasons.)  The patient lady who entertained my kid with a game on her Kindle while I juggled a noisy 15 month old is a saint in my book.  And the gentleman who helped pull our bags off the baggage claim carousel while I shuffled an overtired infant, well, he goes down as an angel in disguise, too.

But the main thing I learned on our travels?

It isn’t anything huge or complicated.  It’s simply this: don’t leave home without prayer.  There will always be things you forget or leave behind, unexpected circumstances you can’t prepare for, and no matter what you bring or do, you won’t be able to change the fact that travel with young kids is just plain EXHAUSTING.  But if you take prayer with you, and lean into Jesus no matter what, you’ll be just fine.

Even if you get the stewardess who hates children.

Even if your kid licks the glass on the moving walkway.

Yes, even then.

 

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