After getting lots of great tips from you guys about flying with a toddler, we thought we’d give you guys a recap about what worked well (lollipops!) and what didn’t (two words: red eye).
We spent a lot of time in the air: six flights in total. Two on the way to Portland (layover in Chicago), one direct from Portland to Maui and then a whopping three on the way back to Richmond (with layovers in Seattle and Chicago). The flights between the West Coast and Hawaii were the longest at six hours each, and since Clara’s still under two, we didn’t buy a seat for her (we knew she’d be most comfortable in our laps anyway and potentially could make a LOUD scene until we let her sit in our laps even if we did). So we knew going into it that we’d have our work cut out for us. Our game plan: keep Clara happy (and relatively quiet) at all costs, while encouraging sleep at every turn. Oh yeah, and try to enjoy the ride best we could.
Some flights were pretty darn good (we had an empty seat next to us on the way to Maui!) while others verged on nightmarish (this means you red eye). One of our carry-ons was her monkey backpack, which was stocked with items to keep her engaged. Here’s what we found worked well:
- Crayons and coloring books. Between coloring, identifying colors together and simply pulling the crayons in and out of boxes – these were probably the biggest hit.
- Food. Mainly, Goldfish crackers and Teddy Grahams. Someone made the point that in the fuss to keep kids active on a plane, you can forget that they may just be hungry. So we were well stocked with a few snacks (and a water cup). She also really liked eating the crushed ice that the flight attendants served during drink service and playing with snacks by putting them into different cups like a mad scientist.
- Lollipops. Someone suggested these as a way to trick kids into swallowing during take-off and landing to keep their ears from hurting. Well, Clara made a big dent in our stock of dum-dums before, during, and after the flights. But since our MO was to keep her happy and not disturb other riders at all costs, we were happy they worked so well. We may have a lollipop addict on our hands now, but at least they did the trick in the air: no complaints during take off or landing! Not even one ear tug or whine! We also learned that the sucking motion made her a bit sleepy too.
- Talking about the plane. Clara actually loved just looking around the plane. She liked to stand up and say “Hi people!” or “Hi lady” to the folks around us. We joked that she was the mayor of the plane by the time we got off since she schmoozed so many people. On one leg she got so comfortable that she nearly crawled in the lap of our seatmate (thank goodness he was a good sport). Oh, and of course looking out the window was a hit.
- Moving walkways at the airports. In addition to the flights themselves, we had a couple of three hour layovers mixed in – so we had to keep her busy/happy for those too. We spent most of those walking around the airport trying to let her stretch her legs and get some energy out in the hopes that she’d sleep (no dice on that front). Of course what she gravitated towards most were the moving walkways (she called them “escalators”). Airports are a lot more interesting than I remembered – O’Hare had a big dinosaur skeleton, Sea-Tac had some cool sculptures and PDX had a toy store that kept us busy for quite a while. We’re thankful.
- Committing to local time. We made the decision to immediately commit to local time wherever we were – and it worked out great for us. We figured Clara was already discombobulated from the flights so we might as well take advantage of the opportunity to reprogram her clock every time we changed time zones. When we arrived in Portland it was actually her bedtime EST, and having woken up two hours early that day and not napped at all on the flights, she was beyond tired when we checked in at our hotel. So we put her down to rest, but only for a nap. After an hour and a half we woke her up, went out to dinner (and dessert!) and then put her down around 8:30pm PST for the night. Thankfully, she was perfectly on schedule the next two days we were there (no wake-ups at 5:30am – yay!). We did the same thing in Hawaii – we just kept her up until 8pm HST the first night and then put her down for her regular 1pm nap at 1pm their time every day afterwards. It really helped us get a normal wake up and nap every day after that.
Now for what didn’t work so well. Sigh…
- Videos. She loves ’em at home, but didn’t seem interested in them on the plane. They helped a little bit, but she was mainly just frustrated that we couldn’t watch her favorite KidsTV123 videos on YouTube during the Wi-Fi-free airplane.
- Sleep. Our dreams of long flights with a slumbering toddler curled up in our laps were quickly dashed. Clara’s always been a great sleeper… in her crib… at night. Knowing that she never sleeps much in her car seat or stroller should’ve been a clue, but we were still hopeful that she’d eventually crash. On the way to Portland she literally fell asleep for exactly thirty seconds the moment our wheels touched down at PDX. Oh the irony. That moment of sleep was all we got that entire nine hours of traveling there (but at least she was a pretty happy girl that whole time). The spare seat on the way to Maui was helpful and we did get about an hour long nap during that six hour flight. Not much, but at this point we were happy for anything.
- The red eye flight.We knew booking an overnight flight was probably a bad call, but we couldn’t seem to avoid it without spending the night somewhere on the West Coast on our way home. So knowing that Clara’s always been a great night sleeper, we thought we had a chance she’d just be knocked out the whole time (allowing us to follow suit). Our flight left Kahului at 10pm HST (3am EST, but she had adjusted to Maui time pretty easily, so it felt like 10pm to her). She hadn’t napped much that day and we ran her buns around the airport right up until we boarded, at which point she started to look sleepy. Good right? Nope. She couldn’t get comfortable on the plane. It was a full flight – hooray! – (that’s sarcasm) so we desperately tried to get her comfortable in our arms but it just wasn’t happening. She managed about forty five minutes of sleep before waking up in a screaming night terror of sorts. So yeah, people loved us. Thank goodness the flight attendants were super cool (hi Rebekah! you saved our life!) and let us hang out with them at the back of the plane where Clara snacked, enjoyed being rocked, and generally stayed calm so the rest of the plane could sleep the whole flight long… while we stayed awake… all… night… long. Thank goodness she graced us with an hour-long nap on the next flight between Seattle and Chicago. Hey, we’ll take what we can get. This is Sherry’s I’m tired face. At this point it was Friday morning and we hadn’t slept since Wednesday night (since there was no sleep on the Thursday night red eye).
The disaster that was the red eye just threw off the rest of the day. The three of us were all tired and all a little bit grumpy. So many of the things that had engaged her on the flights out just didn’t work anymore (no lollipop could keep her interest more than a few seconds). That, combined with a delay going into and coming out of Chicago, made for a day that we were all just ready to be done with. You can’t tell by this photo, but it’s snowing out there. We definitely weren’t in Hawaii anymore…
We finally landed in Richmond at about 9:30pm EST – about 19 hours after we left Hawaii and two hours later than scheduled. We think Clara slept about three hours in total (in the entire 19 hour trip, much of which was overnight), so Sherry and I probably had about half of that each when it came to catching zzzs. But at that point all that mattered was IT WAS OVER. And, even better, we could finally go to bed. And boy did we. After not sleeping at all on Thursday night (remember, the last time we all actually slept for the night was Wednesday night) we all slept until 1pm on Saturday. Yes, that’s fifteen solid hours. And yes, it felt awesome. Of course we shifted Clara’s naps and night sleep back to her normal times and she seems to be back on schedule except for sleeping in an extra hour or two in the morning (but it doesn’t effect when she goes to bed, or her 1pm nap, so we’re ecstatic). I’m sure it’ll go back to normal over time.
I think it’s safe to say we won’t be taking any more red eye flights with a toddler. Ever again. Bad move on our part. We actually heard from not one but two flight attendants that kids rarely sleep on them (even great night sleepers) so they said they would never take a red eye with their kids. Good to know! Here’s hoping that helps someone! The stress to keep you kid quiet while the lights are out and everyone else sleeps (while being incredibly tired yourself) just isn’t for the faint of heart.
Anyone else have a travel with kids / toddler story they’d love to
get off their chest share? Or do you have any additional tips we might consider when Clara’s older and we’re foolish enough to try something like this again? :)
Ah, yes. I completely sympathize. We travel A LOT with our toddler who is just a few months older than Clara. Our family members live in Europe, Israel, Portland, Texas, California…. so we get around. I’ve done a 13(!!) hour redeye. Alone. With Toddler. Who didn’t sleep. At all. Until we landed – a la Clara style.
The travel part is definitely stressful for a parent. However, I do think that the worst feeling is reserved for us parents. Other passengers really do understand and will easily forget the crying kid on the flight. The kids will forget as soon as they land. Us? We’ll be scarred for a while.
Whenever I’m about to bust open the airplane door and parachute out with my crying toddler, I take a centering breathe and remind myself that the travel part is just a small portion of the whole adventure (hours in a plane vs days of being somewhere new). I am always glad I made the (Herculean) effort. Traveling is a wonderful way to expose a chile to the world. I never once regretted getting on an airplane.
Laura Jane says
Wow, I’m so impressed that you do that by yourself!!!
Phew! I’m tired just reading about your trip back. I don’t sleep well on planes (even red eyes). I haven’t had any luck with a sleeping toddler on a plane either. Your list is pretty complete, so there isn’t much I can add, except…if you’re ever in the mood for another volcanic island adventure, you should try the Azores. It’s a 4 to 5 hour flight from Boston, technically in Europe, and gorgeous. My parents go every year, lucky ducks!
Oh man, every year we travel with our kids from NY to CA. We’ve travelled with them as babies, toddlers and as little people and every year when we fall into our beds after its all over we look at each other and say “NEVER AGAIN!” Hahaha, our kids are happy little travelers but, yes, it is exhausting! And after time passes we remember the fun stuff and make plans to do it all again!
Stephanie Ussery says
The first time I flew with my 18 month old it was an 8 hour flight from new orleans to chicago then chicago to Frankfurt, Germany. My husband is in the Army and we are stationed in Germany. After that my son who is now 3 and i have flown 4 times round trip to the states and back, and we will complete our final flight from Germany next MOnday, Thankfully dad will be with us! For Mason, he actually did pretty well with watching a video, the flight that stink are the super full ones. Once I was lucky to get a bulkhead, so he could play on the extra floor room, always try to ask for that or the one near the back of the plan where the galley is so they have some floor space. We traveld on a C-7 once to the states, which by far was my favorite, it was a military hop, and there were no seats so we brought a sleeping bag and camped out! I always made sure to take walk up and down the aisle frequently, and there is always a grandparent of someone who loves kids who is willing to play for a while!
I too have flown on the c-7. Unfortunately it wasn’t as fun as your trip sounded.
I’d read advice in support of red-eyes for babies when planning our European summer vacation last year.
Wrong! Our daughter is two days older than Clara. She sleeps great as well. While everyone on the plane slept in the dark, she cried and wanted to get up after only 4 hours. Her noise was much less stressful during the return daytime flight when no one else was trying to sleep.
Krystle Clark says
Bless your hearts, sounds like it was quite an episode! Kudos to you for keeping it together and surviving the trip! As always, thanks for sharing your tips in hopes of saving the rest of us ;-)
Great advice! I’ll be passing this on to my friends with twin toddlers who are traveling next week.
As Clara gets older, something that takes a lot of time to complete is great for the plane. My mom used to bring supplies to make friendship bracelets on plane rides and road trips.
SO brave! We had to travel with a 1 and 2 year old once and it was one of the most stressful trips ever! Having to lug all the gear (car seats, strollers, play pens, etc.) and keeping 2 (very tired and often grumpy) little ones entertained at the same time was exhausting.
I read some travel ideas before leaving some things that worked for me were: “surprise” bags to pull out when they got bored. Some of the items in the bags were things I made like lace cards and discovery bottles while others were cheap, small, quiet toys like magnetic dolls and plastic handcuffs…..I know, weird, but it is funny the things they end up liking!
We also did the lollipop trick! Good Job guys. Traveling with kids can be so fun and so hard. It sounds like you were very considerate and I am sure your efforts were appreciated!
Thanks for sharing all this info!
We took our yearly trip to Florida (from Boston) last year when our son was only 5 months old and he slept the entire flight. Now that he is older, bigger, and wants nothing to do with sitting on our laps for more than 3 seconds, I am so scared to take him on a plane! It was one of the reasons we opted not to go to Florida this year – ok, money and time were the main reasons but my fear of himflipping out on a plane was definitely added into the equation!
I guess it shouldn’t be such a big concern because other passengers might get annoyed but, heck, if they are flying to Hawaii then they don’t have much to complain about! :)
Our son is adopted from Russia. He stayed up the entire 21 hours it took to get home. I feel your pain. Our son is a mover and a climber. He can’t sit still unless he HAS too. We bought a special harness for the plane. Basically turns the plane seat belt into a 5 point harness. Once he is seated we charm him with snacks and toys. CARES harness is about $65 and sooooo worth it, our friends are borrowing it all the time.
Young House Life says
Thanks for the tips and the stories everyone!
Karen F says
I’ve actually rented the CARES seatbelts from someone on eBay before (for much less $), I want to say it was around $15. It worked great, my daughter didn’t mind it at all, and it gave me peace of mind!
Young House Life says
We haven’t flown for a couple of years, but we did the “fly across the country before your toddler turns two” thing and it wasn’t bad. I also flew with Sophia when she was 6 and 9 months old. Again I don’t remember the flights as too bad; what traumatized me was the 6 hour drive by myself with a screaming hysterical baby. “If I stop and hold her she’ll calm down, but I’m not getting anywhere. If I keep driving to get there sooner, she’s screaming like nobody’s business.” Lose, lose situation. Fortunately, I’m the only one who remembers that.
Young House Life says
Aw man, that’s tough!
We learned our lesson with a red-eye. There is just something so tempting about them.
We have travelled a lot with our now 2.5 year old but our longest flights have been somewhere around 6 hours never a long haul. I feel like every flight is full of lessons (I love that I just mistyped and wrote lesions).
We realized (by accident) that the only movie or TV our kid would actually be distracted by on a plane was video of herself. So we loaded all the videos of her on DVDs and watched all of our home movies again and again…we did the same thing with photos of herself…
Don’t know if it would work for Clara but perhaps…
Young House Life says
Sadly we had all her home movies on the iPad and she didn’t care at all. This girl loves videos at home, but not on the plane!
My daughter won’t sleep in a crib to save her life… but could sleep all day in a stroller, car seat, arms, etc… thanks for helping me see the potential upside of this! (Now to book that Hawaii vacation – LOL).
If you ever have a layover in Chicago again, there’s a mini, air travel themed version of the Chicago Children’s Museum in the airport! Sounds like Clara was plenty entertained by the moving sidewalks but always good to have another kid-friendly option.
Young House Life says
Thanks for the tip!
Thanks for sharing! I am going to be flying with my one year old daughter and I’m actually having nightmares about it. I just imagine stepping on the plane and everyone letting out a sigh of disappointment. Hopefully she will be a little trooper, like Clara!
Thanks for the tips!
Mary – I flew with my daughter when she was a year and it really wasn’t that bad. It was just her and me and we flew to Florida from Boston. She was great and most people were nice and understanding. I just kept her busy with movies, food… a few days later we flew to Oregon from Boston and it was a much longer day but we were able to buy her a seat – she did great again. I’m sure it won’t be as bad as you think.
Amanda @ The Scacchi House says
Good to know. We will be flying from Florida to Alaska next July and our daughter will be 20 months old. I know it will be interesting!
So timely. I’m flying with my 14 month old on Saturday to Mexico and have been stressin’ about the trip. Last year we took him with us and he was just 10 weeks old, sleeping most of the time. This year, he’s a running, busy maniac…and my husband is not flying with me. I’m taking note of some of your tricks and will add more treats and lollipops to my “bag o wonder” that is full of toys and treats.
Here’s to not being “that mom” on our flights…but if so…most other parents will understand.
Thank you for sharing your experience!! I’m gearing up for a flight with my almost 2 year old daughter in May…solo…should be fun…off to go buy some lollipops!
I could barely handle the red eye flight from Las Vegas to NC so I can’t imagine what it would be like with a toddler. But good job to you guys for making it through. :)
I flew with my then 7-month-old as a lap child on a sub-2 hour flight and vowed never again (and once at 3.5 months, which was okay, though not ideal). So even though she’s still only 1, we never fly unless we buy her a ticket. And we always bring her car seat on board, which gives her a secure and comfy place to sit/sleep and is also much safer for the car seat (there are some videos of baggage handlers tossing car seats/luggage on youtube, and considering that most seats are required to be replaced after even a minor fender bender, I feel safest knowing exactly how it’s being handled). My other tip is to rear-face on the plane as long as possible, to prevent seat-kicking and let the kid have a nice little nest to look at mom or dad. That depends on your car seat, but we bought an inexpensive Cosco Scenera just for travel – it’s compact enough to rear-face on the plane and narrow enough not to overlap into the adjoining seat (and it only weighs about 10 lbs – great for schlepping through the airport!) Oh, and of course snacks. My kiddo is not super interested in “sitting still” toys or games yet, so I bring lots of snacks and pay no attention to their nutritional value (we mostly snack healthy at home)! If she wants to eat 400 Gerber puffs, so be it. :) I think we’ve racked up about 15 flight legs so far, and only had one semi-disaster (which was 45 minutes of screaming because I strapped her into her seat during some extremely heavy turbulence – safer, but she was SO UPSET). We even had one flight where the people behind us invited her over the seat to come visit!
Young House Life says
Great tips everyone! Thanks for sharing!
Whew! We’ve had a few of those types of trips, too. Something my toddler travelers LOVED was stickers! We’d stock up on those cheapy garage sale pricing circles and bring some paper (sometimes stapled into a little construction-paper book) or a laminated picture (for removability). Of course, they end up sticking them all over themselves and us, but it makes for great photos & I’m happy to walk around with a forgotten sticker on my cheek if it keeps a munchkin quiet. :) Oh, and I also learned you can download youtube videos to watch later. It might take downloading a small program or doing a little poking around in your browser, but I’ve found that to be really helpful.
Young House Life says
Ooh great tip about downloading youtube videos. Also, the sticker thing was one of Clara’s favorite things along with coloring, so thanks for the reminder!
So sorry to hear that the red-eye didn’t work out too well for you. We moved (temporarily) to the Dominican Republic 2 months ago and took a red-eye with our 15-month-old. We figured we were in for a total meltdown, but the plane was pretty much empty and we were able to bring her carseat on. She slept the entire trip which shocked us both. We have another red-eye in May when we move home – wish us luck this one works as well! Hope you enjoyed Hawaii – such an amazing place to visit!
Young House Life says
Thanks for posting. . .We will be flying in Sept with our little love (she will be 20 months). I took a red eye with her when she was 8 months and it was terrible. . . good to know it still won’t be a good idea at 20 months! The lollipops are a great idea!
No kids here but we took a red eye from California to Washington D.C. last summer thinking it was a good idea, that it would give us an entire extra day in D.C. NO. NO. NO. Horrible idea. Neither of us slept on the airplane more than 30 minutes. We were so exhausted when we got to D.C. all we wanted to do was check into our hotel and sleep….at 8 in the morning. Luckily, we were able to check in an sleep a few hours but it really just ruined that day instead of it being awesome to finally be in D.C. Lesson learned!
Tomi Ann says
Our worst flight was with our six month old, coming home from England. On the way there and most of the way home he was fine — we were traveling with about 15 family members and he was the only one under 16, so there were plenty of helping hands — but on the last leg of our flight, when we were smooshed into a little commuter jet with nowhere to escape to, he suddenly developed a raging ear infection. Or so we found out later. At the time, he was just a squirming, screaming mess that no one on that tiny plane could block out. Thank heavens it was a short flight, because I don’t think he drew breath between screams the whole time. We felt awful.
Young House Life says
Oh man, the poor guy! So glad you made it home!
The red eye flight is one of the reasons my husband and I waited a few years to have kids (we lived in Honolulu for 7 years) and why we didn’t take our 2-year-old son back with us to visit last May…. hats off to you for making the journey with Clara!
one word – Benadryl.
Young House Life says
We actually heard from a flight attendant that some parents try that and it backfires! Apparently one in about ten kids has the opposite reaction to it and it makes them completely wired and insane. She said she knows when a kid is going absolutely nuts that it must have been an unexpected reaction to Benedryl and sure enough the mom says “I even gave them benadryl to try to make them sleepy! I have no idea why they’re thrashing and screaming!” – yikes, huh?!
Benadryl makes me weirdly wired. I will be really tired but then I get restless legs and can’t fall fully asleep (even if I’m exhausted). It’s fairly horrible, so I definitely don’t suggest trying that for the first time on a plane!
This terrifies me, but mostly because my husband got a dum-dum stuck in his throat one time so I kinda fixated on that. Be so careful with those, they scare the bejeezus outta me.
Young House Life says
Yikes, oh yes we watch her like a hawk!
We did a flight to Seattle from VA and the iPad saved us! We also got him a seat since he knows to be seated and belted in a car seat and rarely wanted to roam. I also hate flying and have heard horror stories about turbulence and dropping 20 feet in the airs long with the oxygen masks (which happened to my friend) so I’m a little paranoid about kids not being buckled down.
Now we have a second child who hates the car seat. Wish us luck cause we’re planning another trip to the west coast!
You guys are brave!!!
Young House Life says
Ooh, good luck!
Oh no! That sounds so, so, so awful for you guys! Quick question for you (and maybe you were going to cover this later) — did you bring Clara’s car seat? If not, how did you get around Portland and Maui? Were you able to take public transportation? I’m traveling soon with an infant, and desperately trying to figure out a way to get out of lugging a huge car seat around with us in cabs, etc.
Young House Life says
We rented a car in Portland and HI, which came with an infant seat! The one in HI was hot pink and Clara still talks about it!
I had no idea that most kids don’t sleep on the red-eye flights. Probably due to excitement of a new place. This is definitely good to know since we were considering taking our daughter to Europe in the fall and now I think we may have to schedule a day flight instead. I wouldn’t worry too much about the other passengers. You’ll never see those people again (hopefully). If it makes you feel better on our trip back from Chicago I was sick and my daughter decided she wasn’t sleepy (it was pretty late – almost 10pm by the time we landed) so my husband played with her on the floor in front of our seats. Thankfully the lady sitting next to us (I was in the middle seat, husband on the aisle) didn’t mind Emma and played with her since I was trying to sleep. The cabin pressure once we hit MA was just awful which made Emma super cranky. Thankfully people weren’t too distracted by her. I think most people were just glad the flight was almost over. I apologized and thanked our flight attendants and the woman sitting next to us and was grateful that no one seemed super put out. It was definitely not a pleasant trip home but at least it was memorable.
Oh no! We are taking red eye home from Hawaii next month, so now you have me scared! We did buy him a seat though, my son (will be 20 months when we fly) would not sit in our laps though, so we will be bringing his car seat. Hoping for the best! Glad you enjoyed Maui, we are going to the Big Island (first time for me, can’t wait!)
Oh man, it’s so unpredictable! When my daughter was 8 months old, she slept from the time the engines powered up, to when we slid into the arrival gate 5 hours later. Amazing! When she was 16 months old, I nearly drove myself crazy trying to keep her entertained – NO!! SLEEP!! ‘TIL BROOKLYN!! BROOKLYN!!!!!
On our last few long flights (SEA to OGG), the netbook loaded with Backyardigans and Wonder Pets DVDs worked like MAGIC. I don’t think she blinked the entire time. We bought her a seat, and a CARES harness, and she was set. Of course, I think it helped that she doesn’t get to watch too much TV at home, so it was an extra special treat. We’d have to figure something else out for a longer flight, because the netbook battery only lasts 5 hours.
I’m glad y’all had a wonderful trip! … but we missed you last week!
Two years ago we took our 6mo old son from Virginia to Hawaii. Like you, we were well prepared. The only thing that went terribly wrong was I had eaten three slices of pizza the night before our flight, and apparently it affected the taste of my breast milk. My son would not breastfeed!… making him very unhappy. Luckily we had formula for him -just in case-. But the pump was in my suitcase under the plane… making me very unhappy.
Worst travel day ev-er!
PS: We fly often and he never sleeps on the plane, unless it’s within 15 minutes of landing. Kids!
Young House Life says
Oh no! The first time we flew with Clara, she was nursing (she was only 3 months old) and it saved the day! It made her so sleepy – but this time was a whole new ballgame! Haha.
I wish I had read this two days ago…we just booked a red eye to Switzerland with our 2.5 year old…who is a great night time sleeper BTW (Haha)!
Hi – Having traveled alot with my now six-year-old, I wholeheartedly agree with the suggestions to bring along the car seat once Clara is sitting in her own seat while flying. In additon to be comfortable and secure for her, you can also get a cover for it, which makes it easer to transport through the airport AND allows you to tote a whole bunch of additonal goodies to keep her entertained (fill a toy bag and clip to the seat inside the cover). Also, if you are renting a car at your destination, it’s nice to have your own car seat; sometimes the ones from car rentals are less than great. Another suggestion for long flights (and this is controversial) is to give Benadryl – but test it out first; it makes some kids sleepy but others get hyper (and the rest (my duaghter) don’t react at all). We took my daughter to Japan when she was almost two (14 hour flight) and went Benadryl-free. She had her own seat but wanted only Mommy for the entire flight – she screamed every time I got up to use the bathroom. And slept only three hours during the entire flight. Good times. On the plus side, she adjusted immediately to the time difference. She slept longer on the way back and then took a week to recover from jet lag. Now we depend on our portable DVD player and her pink earphones (not earbuds). Happy Trails!
Emily Black says
If you were to do it again would you purchase a seat for Clara? I’m trying to make the decision of purchasing one for my son or letting him sit on laps right now!
Young House Life says
I think so and I’d bring her car seat so she might have a better chance at sleeping! She’s almost two so we’ll have to purchase a seat next time we fly anyway, so that solves it. Haha.
Oh man, do I have a doozy to share. . .
I’m from England, but live in TN with the hubs and 3 kids. We like to go home every other year, and last year was our scheduled time to fly back to Blighty. The kids were 6, 3½, and 9 mths. After spending Memorial Day weekend at a music festival 3 hrs from home (my husband’s uncle runs it, so we like to go to support him, we had to get up at 5am on Monday morning and drive 3½ hrs to Atlanta where we had a short flight to Charlotte. The kids did great. We had a few hours to spend at Charlotte, where our kids enjoyed the moving sidewalks. The flight was due to take off around 6pm. About 15 minutes before we would start boarding, I noticed the flight had been delayed by a couple of hours. No biggie. But then it was delayed by another hour, so they gave us meal vouchers. After dinner, the flight was delayed by another hour – mechanical problems which led to a new part being flown in from Philly. At this time, the baby was sooo tired, so I had to walk around with her in the Ergo carrier so she would sleep. By this time, the terminal was empty. Then the flight was delayed again because the crew had finished their shift, so we needed another pilot to show up. Then the part was installed, but they needed to test it, so at least another hour to wait (it was Midnight at this point). I spent a lot of time apologizing to our fellow travellers because they would be flying with 3 cranky, tired kids. But everyone was so nice and sympathetic, and reassured us it would be okay and that the kids were doing great. We finally get on the plane 7 HOURS LATE. My anxiety levels were high, and not helped by the couple across the aisle who muttered a snarky “Great” when they saw we were next to them. We took off at the time we were originally scheduled to land in London. The baby screamed during takeoff but then slept on my lap for 6½ hrs straight. The other two also slept. It was a horrible experience resulting in a lost day of vacation and eating into time spent with family. Plus the airline never once apologized. I’m hoping for better luck next year!
Young House Life says
Oh man that stinks! Good luck next year!
Molly A. says
You guys are troopers and an inspiration!! I have to say I feel your pain. I don’t have kids yet, but I travel for work to the middle east a few times a year. I have to connect from Chicago to the east coast and then fly from usually DC or New York to Dubai. The second flight, is 15 hours – just in the air flight time – and I usually try to book a red eye so that I can get a full nights sleep on the plane and get on local time as soon as possible. Woe is me, I usually have to hit the ground working as soon as I land. Without fail, there are always toddlers on the flight who are going BANANAS. I feel badly for their parents who are helpless to appease the kids who are just too little and too tired to know what’s going on. My last flight in January, by the time I landed in Chicago I hadn’t slept in over two days. So, as a weary traveler I would love to spread the word that red eye + toddler = DISASTER!!! Glad you had a great trip, it looks amazing!
I would really like to know how Clara did when the third seat wasn’t empty. Did she bother the passenger next to you at all? Were they curtious about having a small person in their row? I only ask, because I can imagine my own toddler being overly curious to that person and never leaving them alone.
Young House Life says
She was obsessed with one guy (ironically in the red eye) but since we hung out in the back of the plane to let everyone sleep she didn’t bother him much.
I just had to comment on this! I have flown 2 times with my 2 1/2 yo! Both times at the holidays, once when he was 15 months old, and the 2nd time, this past christmas, when he was a little over 2.
We flew from Denver – Philly, with a red eye flight. It actually worked perfectly for us — he was excited and wide awake in the airport before boarding our red-eye. But once we got on the place, settled in our seats, and I got out his bottle (which he was already weaned off of for over a month at that time) but to him, it was like seeing an old friend! He sucked his baba during take off, and fell right to sleep! And slept the whole time (4 hours) until minutes before we landed!
This 2nd trip, we had to buy him a seat since over 2! (man does that part suck!) We also traveled from Colorado Springs to Philly, so connecting flights this time! We did NOT want to bring our carseat (my parents have a car seat already in their car, for my nephews), so we knew we didn’t need it at our destination. So, we felt uncomfortable with just having him either in our arms, or sitting in the seat with just the lap belt. So, after doing some research, we found the CARES Harness. It is SUPER easy to use, pops right in your carryon bag or purse, and it slips over the airplane seat, and goes around them like the harnass that is on the car seat. You can google it, or find it on Amazon. It is good for kids 20lbs – 40something, so it will last probably until the kid is over 4 or 5 years old. it was about $70 – which seems like a lot – but when you can use if for so many years, and it allows you NOT to have to carry your huge and bulky car seat thru the airport! At first my son wanted no part of it, but once I said its like your car seat in our car, he happily settled down during take off and landings. And we unbuckled him whenever the seat belt light was off. It worked really, really well for us! Not to say that everything was perfect — he certainly was a LOT rammier on the return flights during the day, and it took a lot more patience and creative thinking to keep him occuped and happy!! Crayons,coloring books, fruit snacks, and the plasic cups were definitely winners for us too!!
SO — long story long…. I am happy that your first air travel with Clara, went relatively well and it didn’t completely scare you away from EVER traveling with her again! So, to me — that = success!!!! Happy future toddler travels to us all!! LOL! :-)
I just really enjoy your blog. It is easy to find things and I love that when I click on a link in a post, the first window stays open and it opens in a new window. I don’t have to click on the backspace arrow (I hate when it takes over my existing window). I love that you guys are down to earth and don’t act like you are better than anyone else. I love that you answer every single question that your followers ask. I just love this blog! And I wish you guys even greater success!
Young House Life says
Awww, thanks Carshena. That’s so kind of you!
Hello? BENADRYL!!! ;)
My son was 17 months old – my husband worked for Delta at the time so we got free “standy by” tickets. Which means you get whatever seat there is left.
My baby and I get put in the very last row of seats with a poor, poor gentlman. My son – who is in the process of weaning him from his nightly nursings, screams as his ears were popping and pulls at my shirt to nurse!
I was mortified! The gentleman next to me tried to laugh it off (as my son is trying to rip my shirt from my body and put his face down toward my breast! Eventually, he threw up (thankfully in the baggie) and went to sleep.
As I exited the plane (finally) I see my husband talking with this beautiful woman – casually laughing. I could have killed him! We’re no longer married. (kidding, that’s only partly why) ;)
Adriane T. says
I grimaced as soon as you said “red eye.” I get terrible motion sickness but can usually moderate it with Dramamine. The only red eye I ever took was cross country (LA to Florida with one stop in Dallas)–we hadn’t made it out of California and I was in trouble.
It was my husband’s first plan trip EVER and I puked the.whole.way. to Texas (while sitting across from a TV star, BTW). Where we had to deplane and cried in between vomits for us to get a hotel and not get back on that plane! I think I eventually passed out from exhaustion and dehydration because I vaguely remember him carrying me onto the plane and then I woke up in Jacksonville. Awful.
You should’ve gotten a I-flew-19-hours-overnight-with-a-toddler-and-all-I-got-was-this-lousy-t-shirt shirt. Wow, parenting badge earned for that. Glad the rest of the trip was so great! :)
Young House Life says
Oh man, what a story. I think you get a “I almost puked on a TV star” shirt in return. :)
eRin @ Growing Up Senge says
What a marathon of a trip!! At least you guys got to do (and eat!) a bunch of fun stuff. I can’t wait to hear all about Hawaii! I’m jealous, except not about the traveling with a toddler, and layovers, and 19 hours of no sleep…
We just traveled to Disney World with Alice (who’s almost exactly Clara’s age!) and bought a ticket for her car seat. We did the same on her first flight in September, and knew it would be a good idea for this longer flight as well. She only sleeps well in her own bed, and didn’t sleep a wink on the first flight until we started our descent (just like Clara, what’s the deal??). Alice is usually pretty good on the way TO our destination, but worn out by the time we’re coming back. Our 7pm flight home from WDW was kind of a nightmare, after a full week of playing. We let Alice cry it out until she fell asleep, only about 20 minutes but it felt like 20 hours. I knew she’d go to sleep, and she did, but only for about 2 hours of the 5 hour flight. Once she fell asleep, I cried (much more quietly) for about 20 minutes… It is a horrible feeling to have to let your kid cry, made infinitely worse knowing that 200 other people have to listen, too…
I wrote a bit about it at the end of this post: http://growingupsenge.blogspot.com/2012/02/disney-world-vacation-playing-part-rest.html
I remember being totally terrified and opposed to flying with an infant. Aside from the germs, it seems SO easy now!!
Tina I. says
Sounds like (other than the red-eye) that you had a great time! We have 5 young kids (all very close in age) and have schlepped them all over the US (AND a red-eye from HI) in a budget friendly fashion. I totally agree with your condo vs. hotel decision. Rental Condos or houses are the way we roll! My biggest piece of advice is to not sweat it. Snacks, activities, lollipops and electronics are all great and I highly recommend them, but sometimes the best strategy is to just breathe deep and realize that while family vacations are AWESOME, its not always easy. Looking forward to hearing more about your HI trip, and your kitchen remodel!
We fly from the north so every flight is a redeye. We found gummy bears to be awesome for the take off and landings to keep those little ears popped. Drink cup was imperative. We also found music rather than videos were great. Sticker books worked well or bandaids – seriously, they love to open them and stick them on themselves. We also used a few little zipper bags to put things in and take them out.
I feel your pain! I was in a similar flight situation with my 2 1/2 year old and 16 month old on the way home from HI. By myself…Luckily i had a wonderful seatmate and I only had 2 flights. Some of the highlights were neither of my kids sleeping and cranberry juice kicked on my neighbor. Also the free adult beverage on the last leg was a highlight. My husband remembers waiting at the gate as every passenger unloaded, and much later… his hagard wife and children staggering out of the plane :) Definateley made me vow not to travel with my kids, without my husband.
Young House Life says
Wow. You should get an award for that one.
One thing that I have found with my kids is to talk talk talk about the trip before we take it. We live in Alaska, and their grandparents are in South Carolina, so once or twice a year we make the trip cross-country, and since it’s so long, there’s no way to avoid the red-eyes. We’ll spend the week before hand talking about what to expect on the plane, the airport, etc. Also, I pack their carry-ons with new toys, some that they pick out, some that are surprises. They’re usually chomping at the bit to play with the new things (nothing that is expensive or heavy…think the dollar bins at Target!), so they do okay. Last summer, I made the trip with all three kids (ages 4, 2, and 4 months) by myself. Eek! I’m doing it again on my own in July. It will probably be harder since the baby’s walking now…yeesh.
Um, you guys are lifesavers. My husband is from Oahu, and we’ve been dreading taking our baby all the way from Richmond to Hawaii to meet his family! I mean, terrified. I’m hard enough to deal with on that redeye, much less a baby. ;) Even though she’s younger than Clara, your advice on the time difference etc. helped tremendously! THANK YOU!!
On one of his first flights, our son figured out people would pay attention if he produced a high pitched, shrieking scream, so he did this just for fun. Luckily a fabulous flight attendant also came to our aid. The flight attendant wasn’t even on duty, but she came to our row and distracted and entertained him (he was just under one I believe) until he either forgot or lost interest in the scream. Our money is on forgetting. Which we haven’t done, and plan to pay him back by showing funny photos of him to his first date because we’re mature like that.
Glad you had a good trip overall and sorry about your challenging trip home!