Clearly, I survived. Ellie survived. Our luggage sort of survived.
In my state of what on earth have I gotten myself into?!, I talked to several other parents at Ellie's ABA therapy center and gained a lot of tips, which I would like to share with you.
|In case you missed it--we celebrated Easter with my parents in STL|
1. Have a passenger escort.
My biggest concern was not getting on the plane or sitting through the flight, it was getting through airport security. I had to lug the diaper bag, the stroller, and the car seat up on the X-ray belt after removing my shoes and whipping the iPad & medications out of the diaper bag. All of this while holding onto Ellie. You do know that she is squirmy little thing. She is also fast. She is also flexible. She could also probably sense my fear and would thus act out to her full potential.
Passenger escorts come in two forms--airport escorts and family members. Many of my ABA mamas used airport escorts by showing documentation that their children have autism. They were met at the check-in counter with a wheel chair and a passenger escort. These escorts handled all of the nitty gritty of the security screening. Andrew was my passenger escort on the way to STL and my mama was the escort on the way back. I put them solely in charge of Ellie while I handled everything else. It was still a bit stressful, but it was a breeze compared to my nightmares of what I was expecting if I was alone. At the airline check in counter, no one even batted an eye when I said my mom was our passenger escort. They just checked her ID and printed out a boarding pass-like thing. So my suggestion is if you are traveling alone, ask the person taking you to the airport to be your passenger escort.
|My Mom and Ellie on the carousel at Foust Park|
2. Donut Holes
Do NOT and I repeat do not underestimate the supreme importance of donut holes. After clearing security and getting all of your belongs and child back in order, it is imperative find a place that sells donuts. Be sure to discretely buy said donuts so that the cranky pants toddler does not see them until you are safely on the plane. This is your distractor for during those times when electronic devices must be "off and stowed away". Graciously provide your complaining toddler at take off and landing with a few donut holes as this will keep her quiet while you cannot have the iPad available for her use. If she is eating, she isn't complaining. Again, donut holes are imperative.
|She may look like a sweet little angel, but this kiddo needs some ooey gooey sticky glazed yumminess to prevent of the screaming triggered by turning off the iPad.|
3. Use a carseat.
Now I know not everyone can afford to purchase a seat for their wee bambino. We have looked into it and some airlines offer airfares at lower rates, but typically you have to book via telephone rather than online. Also, if your child does okay sitting on your lap, excellent! That makes me insanely jealous. You will still need the donuts though.
The Bear is NOT a snuggler. There would be none of this sitting on mommy or daddy's lap during the flight. Instead, there would be running up and down the aisles of the aircraft which is generally frowned upon (and a safety issue). We learned that the best thing was to get the hyper mobile toddler Bear her own seat and to use our own car seat. Come on, you didn't honestly think the Chunky Chicken was going to sit unassisted in the airplane seat and not get out did you?
When I was pregnant, we registered for the Sunshine Kids Radian 65 (now called Diono Radian) carseat specifically because it is FAA approved and the seat folds up. It folds up so nicely that I was able to set the carseat into the carrier basket of the stroller. Viola! I did not have to carry the carseat at all (which is good, because I am certain the seat weighs more than Ellie).
I suppose now would be the appropriate time to say, do NOT remove your toddler from the carseat after safely buckled in. For any reason at all. Andrew and I made that mistake on our flight to California. We were unable to wrestle the strong 22 lb Bear back into her safety seat during a good portion of the flight.
|Ellie's first plane ride Oct. 2010|
This post is getting to be a tad long so I shall continue in the next post. Please share your traveling tips in the comments!
Be sure to visit Traveling With A Toddler: Part 2