Sunday, September 2, 2012

First Flight

This afternoon, we three bears arrived home from a weekend trip to Raleigh, NC for my cousin's wedding. Normally when we travel a long distance, we drive overnight so Baby Bear will sleep most of the way. That plan failed us this past July, though, when Baby Bear stayed up for more than half the trip. So, this time we flew. We also normally stay with family during these long-distance trips, but this time we stayed at a hotel. Not only did I have butterflies in my stomach before traveling with my high-energy, loud, overly dramatic 2-year-old, but it felt like those butterflies were doing the conga.

Well, we survived the weekend, and most of it was good. My cousin and her wedding were beautiful, I was told that Michael Jackson lives on through my Baby Bear after he led the dancing at the reception, and we got to visit the most awesome children's museum I have ever seen (Marbles Kids Museum). Parts of the trip were a little rough, though, like when my son kept screaming at the airport because he really wanted to get on the plane that would take him home. I definitely learned some lessons about traveling with a 2-year-old.
  1. We decided to take only my Nook for Baby Bear to watch his favorite movies and play games on, thus saving space in our bags. We copied a few of his favorite movies onto the SD card and packed the headphones. +2 point for saving space, -10 points for not taking the DVD player he knows and loves. Even with the headphones, the movies were hard to hear because the sound on the Nook is pretty soft. And, even though I bought a stand for my Nook so we could set it upright for watching the movies, Baby Bear has a thing about using familiar objects the "wrong" way and would not accept the stand. We should have stuck with the familiar and forgone the little bit of space we saved.
  2. By playing Tetris with our belongings, we were able to travel with 3 medium-sized carry-ons and not check any luggage. +5 points for not having to spend more time standing in lines to check and claim bags, -4 points for having to lug so much through the airport. This decision was nearly a wash, but in the end I think it was worth not having to check a bag because Baby Bear and waiting in lines do not mix well. I was in charge of Baby Bear, my purse, and occasionally one of the checked bags, and Papa Bear took care of the bags and car seat, and that worked for us. This would not have worked with just one parent traveling.
  3. We took our own car seat with us instead of renting one with our rental car. + 10 points for having his seat to fall asleep in on the way home and not having to deal with a questionable rental seat, -5 points for the bulk of carrying it around, especially at the airport. At first, I questioned the decision to put Baby Bear into his car seat on the plane because it put his feet at just the right level to kick the seat in front of him and made it so we could not put his tray table down. When he was able to fall asleep comfortably on the way home, though, that seed of doubt washed away. It was a royal pain to lug around, for sure; but, Papa Bear found a way to attach it to the top of our carry-on with wheels so that it could be wheeled along. It's worth having your own car seat.
  4. Hotel rooms are really boring. Aside from the fun Baby Bear had playing with the phone (which we knew to disconnect right away thanks to Jenny at The NY Melrose Family's tip), the novelty of the hotel wore off quickly. Walking around, playing on the escalators, and swimming in the pool were only fun for about half a day. I don't know what we would have done if my cousin hadn't suggested that children's museum. Next time, I will be sure to map out some child-friendly places to visit ahead of time so there are less tears of frustration about wanting to go home.
  5. Even though flying means a lot of hassle, it still beats driving. At least, for us it does because the overnight driving thing was so much harder on Papa Bear who usually sat behind the wheel the whole 8+ hours while I tended to Baby Bear.
  6. Kids will be kids. I was not expecting Baby Bear to be a little angel on our trip, or even just on the plane. I accepted that there would probably be more outbursts than normal due to frustration at all the new things around him and his desire for the familiar, and keeping that realistic picture in my head helped.  I was slightly more forgiving of his outbursts (yes, plural) than normal, but he still faced consequences for unacceptable behaviors. In fact, he got a couple of timeouts right there in the airport. I think being some place new made Baby Bear test his boundaries even more because he wanted to know if the expectations and consequences were still the same. I think it also helped that they were. My husband had a great sense of humor about one tantrum that Baby Bear threw just as we were nearing our gate to head to Raleigh. He looked right at the wide-eyed people standing in the boarding line and said in a joking tone, "Yep, he's getting on the plane with you!" This caused quite a few chuckles, and instantly the mood was lightened. Being realistic and keeping a sense of humor was key for us.
 I'm sure there are more lessons I could list, but those are probably the biggest ones we learned. I'm not scared of flying with my son again, but at the same time, I think we'll be spacing these trip out as far as possible because they really are a lot of work!

Our home airport had a neat little playground area for little ones in our terminal!

Calling his Sesame Street and Hundred Acre Woods friends from the hotel room phone

He slept nearly the whole way home... yay! I think the fact that he had a little Dramamine to help with his upset tummy may have had a little something to do with it. ;)

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