Friday, April 27, 2012

Traveling with a Toddler: Part 2

A few days ago, I started Traveling with a Toddler Part 1 where I discussed the trip that Ellie and I embarked on without Andrew to St. Louis.  It was a one-stop flight with a diaper bag, a carseat, and a stroller.  Oh yeah, and a feisty toddler.  Did I mention I was the only adult?  Was it difficult?  Oh yes.  Would I do it again?  Definitely.  Err, maybe not quote me on that.  Here are the remainder of the tips/things I learned during our travels.

4. The Scream.
This is a key element when standing in a very long line waiting to go through security.  Just when you think you cannot stand another moment of balancing your luggage and a fidgety toddler, your little princess will most likely let out a blood-curdling, annoyed screech.  The scream, in and of itself will grant you admittance the Premium Travelers line.   I am not lying.  The moment we went to stand in line for security, Ellie starts her Scream.  The head guy at the Premium Line waves us on over (to both the horror and relief of those in the regular line) and we breezed right on through security.

Me scream?  Never!
Outfit, courtesy of Kohls--see #8

5. The Flight Attendant is your friend.
Flight attendants have several important jobs and for the most part are greatly under appreciated.  A part of their job description includes helping passengers during boarding.  This extends to carseats.  Or at least in my experience this trip it did.  My AUS-DAL, DAL-STL and the return flights were all much smoother because a kind flight attendant carried either the carseat or Ellie onto and off of the plane.  With the second leg of our flight up to St. Louis, I did have to ask for assistance.  Do NOT be afraid to ask for help, because believe me you will cheese off a lot less passengers if you do not try to walk down a tiny aisle with a diaper bag slung over one should, a squirmy toddler on one hip, and a bulky carseat held in front of you.

6. Utilize that big bulky stroller.
This bad boy served two purposed.  One, it was a carrying mechanism for our carseat which was coming on the plane with us.  Two, helped transport Ellie up and down the terminals.  For the most part, it was a life saver.  Now all of you know that Ellie is motor sensory seeker.  She is a climber and airport chairs scream "climb me!".  The terminals say "run up and down me while waving your hands as frantically as possible.  Oh and don't worry about those other people with suitcases!"

Forever climbing.

When Andrew and I both fly with The Bear, one of us stays with the stroller while the other makes sure Ellie doesn't collide with a harried traveler during her sprints down the terminal.  Traveling solo does not allow for this.  Remember Ellie's heavy work backpack?  It was one of those harness backpacks that came with what I like to call "a leash" that attaches to it.  Oh yes I did!  I swore up and down I would never use it as such, but the things we say before we are parents. . . So, yes, I hooked that backpack bear up to Ellie and plunked her into the stroller with it.  When she wanted to run, I let her out while holding onto "the leash". Let's just say Ellie was not a fan and tried to climb back into the stroller.

Oh my goodness, can you believe this was taken nearly a year ago?!

By the way, I am totally winning a Parent-Of-The-Year award as Parent's magazine just recommended not using harnesses on our wayward toddlers.  Poor Ellie will be forever scarred.

7. Pack all things you cannot live without in the diaper bag / carry on.
First off, do not bother to fill up your bag with toys. She will refuse to play with them.  And throw them.  Then the toys will roll to the back of the plane and be irretrievable.

Next, make sure to pack your diaper bag with the important things like medications, diapers, food, blankie, and the iPad.  Perhaps I should preface this with I did pack an iPad.  Okay, we are not rich.  Really, we aren't, but we (Andrew) are techies over here so we are technologically well-off.  We have 2 iPads.

The first (cheap or cheaper) iPad is the one that I talked about with Ellie and learning to point.  The second was a wonderfully, fabulous surprise gift from my Andrew for our anniversary.  Thank you, honey!  I will be honest when I tell you that I seriously was not thinking things through when it came to packing.  I loaded the diaper bag up with Ellie essentials, iPad #1, toys, and medications.  Unfortunately, because I packed enough toys to outfit a small daycare, I did not have room for my iPad. . . the expensive, pretty one.  Andrew assured me that it would be fine in its case all bundled up in my clothing.  You are all probably shaking your heads right now.

We traveled through Dallas the day after the tornadoes.  This, therefore, made it the most chaotic air traveling day in Dallas outside of Christmas.  You see where this is going, right?

In St. Louis, I had a cranky, tired, no-nap Ellie strapped down in a stroller and my mom excitedly greeted us.  I patiently stood by the baggage claim conveyor belt.  My patience turned to panic as I saw no more bags descending and I was left with neither one of our two bags.  I will tell you, I was not the only with lost luggage from this flight.  Hours pass and there were still no sign of our bags.  I was consistently reassured by Southwest Airlines.

Now, remember iPad #2 was in one of our bags.  You know that "Find My iPhone/iPad" app?  It really works.  I had Andrew look for my fan-tabulous piece of electronic using this app and guess what it said? "St. Louis National Airport Terminal E".  Ah hah!  It had arrived.  A few more round-a-bout phone calls with the baggage department of SW and it was determined that Ellie's bag was still missing.  Good thing I had her blankie!

Absolutely, positively do not travel without the beloved blanket.
The moral of the story is, do not pack your iPad into checked luggage.  Needless to say, I shoved Ellie's toys into the checked bag for the return flight home and crammed both iPads into the diaper bag.  The airline did finally deliver both of our bags, unharmed to my parents' front door in the pouring rain.  I nearly kissed the poor guy, I was that happy.  Andrew, you didn't just read that and notice I said nearly!

8. Finally, when all else fails, go to Kohls.
When a certain toddler is covered from head to toe with food and there are no PJs or clothing to change into due to a luggage disaster, head to Kohls where you can find cheap, cute clothing and kind, caring people.  By the time we realized that our luggage was not arriving that day and Ellie and I would have to run around naked, it was rather late by the time we made it to store.  Little Miss No-Nap thought it was an ideal time to throw a huge screaming-crying fit in the middle of the check out line.  Exhausted, I turn to the entire line of people and say "I am so sorry.  Normally, I wouldn't bring her out this late, but we have no clothes or pajamas because the airline lost our bags."  Customers nodded sympathetically and handed me Kohl's coupons!    Did I mention that I love Kohl's? Look at these cute jammies!

Please share your travel ideas and tips with us!  



  1. Too much drama! I'm glad you got through it all. It's probably okay that you skipped Zumba because this sounds like it was a workout.

    It looks like my hubby will not be joining us on the halfway-around-the-world flight we're taking this summer to visit Austin. I just pray that I don't get airsick because my kids will be on their own if that happens.

  2. What an adventure! I would definitely cry if "they" lost my luggage.

    Kudos to you for keeping a clear head and having Andrew find it by searching for the iPad!

  3. My jaw was dropping over iPad #2! Thank goodness everything was returned!

  4. Just an FYI, Southwest airlines covers up to $3,000 of lost goods if your bags are not returned to you within 5 days. That is what made me so clear-headed!


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