Flying with babies and toddlers part I: the good, the bad, and the sticky.

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching and Christmas a scant seven-ish weeks away, I've got travel on the brain. Both of my boys took their first flights when they were about 2 months old, and since then, we've flown about every four months. Little Joe at 3 years old is a most cooperative flyer. Amby at 18 months would rather play soccer in the plane aisle and serve drinks with the flight attendants.

Or the floor. He'll take the floor.

Air travel with babies and toddlers presents two trials: the terminal, both before the flight and during a layover, and the airplane.

Here's the rundown of our terminal tactics:

1. Double stroller
Even though Joe's 3 now, I still find it invaluable to eliminate the Toddler Snail's Pace when necessary. It's the pace at which an older toddler ambles his way through a terminal, picking up every airline credit card brochure, analyzing the color coding of the trash and recycling systems, and exclaiming something about "Wook mommy, FIREWORKS!" when he sees the illustrations of what not to bring on a plane. I suppose exclaiming about fireworks is better than shouting "knife!" at the boarding gate, but oh. Buckle those kids in and get moving. Also, the stroller helps haul all the carry-on luggage. See item #2.

2. Bags
Nothing's worse than being 30 minutes into your travel experience and realizing that either you brought too much, brought too little, or brought what you needed but in the wrong size/hard to carry bag. I hate leaving home an item that I know would help me tremendously in a crisis (a crisis defined as anyone having substantially wet pants). 

Though I take a lot, I've got my status as a traveling mule down to a science. Sean and I each take two carry-on bags. We generally don't switch up on what each person carries, either. Nothing sucks more than getting off a plane and saying, "Wait, don't you have the bag with my expensive portable thingy?" 

For him:
- Laptop bag with his work stuff that always travels with him
- Drawstring gym bag with the emergency lightweight stuff: a change of clothes for each boy, some extra diapers. Both bags go in the overhead storage bins when we board.
For me:
- Diaper bag or purse jammed fuuuuuuull of the snacks, the meds (see #3), the lollipops, the Kindle, the milk cups/bottles, the 3 oz liquids. 
- Drawstring gym bag (second one) with boy's cuddle blankets.
- Bonus bag for me: Joe's backpack which contains all distractions and baby crack toys. All three go underneath the seats of the poor suckers in front of us.  

3. Meds
I give each kid a dose of acetaminophen and Dimetapp once we're through security. And at all times I am ready for:
- someone to throw up
- someone to bleed
- someone to get the runs
- someone (everyone) to need hand sanitizer 
- someone to need eight kinds of chips (salty medicine for the soul, nom nom...)

I don't mess around.

4. Gulp
My first exorbitant airport purchase is a big bottle of water with a flip-top cap. My second (and last, if I can help it) is 12 oz of whole milk with ice from a coffee stand. 

Since my boys seem to be part calf and have little interest in either water or juice, I bring a sippy cup full of milk and ice for Joe, and a bottle of the same for Amby. An empty insulated thermos comes along in my purse. After security, I buy the milk and pour it in the thermos. This seriously saved our hides when we had a super fast layover last summer and had no time to buy more milk for the second leg of the trip. 

5. Use that big ol' family bathroom.
If there's a line for it, we wait. And then we go in there and have a crazy family potty party, rejoicing in the fact that we're not having to use the restrooms on the plane, and that I didn't have to unfurl one of these things during the flight. 

Ok, I'm the only one who rejoices. And I do so while trying to make sure no one touches anything.

Next up: All the Dollar Store crap treasures I bring to distract the kids, plus my love/hate relationship with Dum Dums. Click for flying with babies and toddlers part II.

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