I could lie and tell you it was such a relaxing time traveling with kids is filled with joy and laughter. But, like I said, I’d be LYING!
We flew to Connecticut and had to wake up at 3am Phoenix time to catch a flight to Atlanta, and then pick up another plane and head to CT. Getting everyone (tired) out of the car, into the airport is trying.
We have used Blue Sky for our parking lot, and they are just wonderful. Clean buses and nice attendants. Dragging everyone and everything into the airport is just..ridiculous. We had two large suitcases and a backpack for each child (and one for mom and dad) with entertainment items, snacks and a change of clothes.
We didn’t have to show birth certificates for our kids, but brought them just in case. Like, just in case they threw a fit on the ground and someone thought we were kidnapping our own kids kind of deal. I don’t know, that’s what I worry about at 1am in the morning, right before a flight.
Going through the TSA checkpoint is tiring in itself, but children 12 and under don’t have to take off their shoes. I try to wear slip on clogs if at all possible. Easier than trying to tie shoes at the four chairs at the end of security while three children try to jump on the conveyor belts. Or wear the buckets on their heads. Children who can walk are supposed to go through the sensors on their own. Luckily, Dimples was in an agreeable mood to do this.
Then we find our gate and try to not bother other sleep deprived passengers. We do laps, we get some food, we go to the bathroom a zillion times and look out the window. We try to find an open area to jump up and down or dance. Here we are doing races back and forth pretending to be different animals, twirling, jumping and hopping. Yep, there were people looking at us, but most were amused!
When it’s time to board the plane, we basically wait until the end of the line. We were zone two and at the back of the flight, so we were scheduled last anyhow. Might as well say hi to all the other passengers we have to pass on the plane (and watch them pray we don’t have the screaming child!).
We also choose backpacks for each of us because they fit under the seat ahead of us. Most times we get on the plane and there is just no more overhead room. If we have all of our “airplane supplies” in that bag, we are in big trouble.
What we brought-kids leap pads, our ipads (the kids used them), coloring books, little candy “airplane” fans, snack bars, small light up balls, cards, lollipops for take off and landing. One of my friends suggested wrapping the toys so the kids could have something to “unwrap” during flight. Unfortunately, the TSA agents don’t like wrapped gifts.
We flew on Delta, and we were lucky enough to have great staff on all flights that remembered our children’s names and even chatted them up a bit (and we got extra snacks..wooo hoo!).
On one of our flights they had awesome tv screens and had chargers (USB and plug) on each seat. I was able to even read a book or two, in between napping with Dimples on me.That charger made me SO happy because my iphone was on 10% battery and music on my phone was what I thought I might need to get Dimples to sleep.
We had a stop in Atlanta, and a delightful lady named Janice coerced us to jump aboard her “golf cart” for a parade. We usually like to walk, but she promised she’d make it fun (she must have sensed I had a blog and a sense of adventure). Every time we passed other people walking, she’d calmly say “Ok children, now wave, and wave, and wave to the right, and wave to the left.” I cracked up with her tour guide skills!
Janice also suggested we take the train in the Atlanta airport to go to one terminal to the next. Supposedly there was Zimbabwean art we could have checked out and possibly a small children’s area, but they weren’t in the terminal we were headed to. So, as Janice suggested, we went to the back of the train to get a good seat.
We try to stay at Residence Inns when we go anywhere. They have complimentary breakfasts (at most locations) that you can eat at their lobby area that has tables or bring to your room. We opt to bring to our room so we can at least have a chance to eat our food before our kids bounce off. They also have an in room coffee maker that I love.
A few things we do to ensure a somewhat sane visit at a hotel-unplug the phones.
The bathtub can be a makeshift pool. And those kitchen supplies-put the non breakables in the tub! Great makeshift bath toys! (Just wash them with dish soap when you are done!)
Also, plates, stationary paper and drawers can make for a great game of make shift basketball.
If all else fails, you can always run laps around the hotel.
Next time, we are just going to do that every morning so my husband and I can continue our workouts!
We were, fortunately, able to borrow a car seat from a family member and I bought Bubble Bum booster seat for the kids. They blow up and are easy to put in the car. It was hard to keep them blown up and covered without deflating. And, I think it worked decently if my kids didn’t keep falling asleep in the car.
It was a great trip to see family and friends, but traveling cross country is tiring! The 3 hour time change was pretty brutal. Lots of snacks and different ideas to keep your kids busy in an airport is a must. The other absolute must is not to worry about people judging you and your weirdness. I know hopping around like a rabbit in the airport probably made me look like a lady out of the crazy bin, but hopefully they saw my little bunnies enjoying themselves.
I wish you the very best in your travels this summer!