Bring along your baggage
Metrodad wrote the other day the struggle he had about going on a fun-filled trip to Europe without his daughter. Like any good parent, he missed her terribly while he was gone, and swore that he would never leave her side again (OK, I'm stretching the truth on that part).
Watch what you blog, MetroDad....that commitment may come back to haunt you!
We have taken Sophie on all of our trips, including two trips to Europe and countless visits to our homeland, the Midwest (aka "Flyover States"). I think we've had enough experience and learning to be seasoned parental travelers. After all that first-hand knowledge, we've decided to never travel again.
Just kidding....but not really.
What does a major trip with toddler in tow entail?
1) Pack a bag for just the trip. Pack enough diapers so you're not caught midflight (or midconnection) without any. You ever notice those cute shops in the airport? Ever see any diapers sold in them, let alone the Huggies LeakProof uber-absorbant ones (in size 4)? Same goes for food - you can scavenge only so many bar pretzels.
2) Don't fall for the early check-in scam. Those airlines are so nice. They allow early check-in for people with kids. Here's what happens - you end up getting on the plane first, heading back to your cramped seat (where the three of you fit into two seats), and wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait while every other seat in the plane fills up. Wait until that guy that always runs onto the plane the last minute gets there. You know, toddlers love nothing more than waiting. That's really what they're known for.
3) Don't forget the toys. You always need to bring something to entertain while you're stuck in the flying aluminum tube, but it can't be too loud, big, or round. If you think losing a ball in the car is tough, just wait until that ball drops under the seat and rolls up to aisle 12, Seat J. And remember, don't shoot your load too early by breaking out the toys before takeoff. You've got about 0.1% of all of her toys selected for the flight (asking of course which ones she'd like to bring), and 1/2 of them will no longer be interesting when you get them out.
4) Got Milk? Airlines don't have milk on the planes. We found this out the hard way. Before she gave up the bahbah, we needed the equivalent of 1.2 cows along in order to statisfy Sophie's milk fix.
5) Jet Lag...it's not just for adults. We all know about jet lag, except it's a tough concept to explain to kids, especially when you have a tough enough time getting them on a sleep schedule in the first place. The only upside of this was that on our last trip we went to Italy, where a toddler going to bed at midnight raises no (thick) eyebrows.
6) How do you say "diapers" in french? Unless you plan on bringing a U-Haul along on your trip, you will need to buy supplies while on your trip. Even when we were in the UK (a more-or-less English speaking country), it took us an hour to figure out which baby formula was right for our sunshine. The labels made no sense, there was "first milk" and "second milk", formula for "hungry babies", etc etc etc.
I remember the days of traveling to Europe with nothing but a backpack and a guidebook. Those days are over, much like the days of chugging a funnel full of beer, and staying up all night. Well, two out of three.
Update 11/17 - I didn't realize what a popular topic this is....Dutch at Sweet Juniper had some similar comments, and mentioned one in particular that I forgot - grabbing the aisle & Window seats to "box out" the middle seat for the little one. It's a sweet move, especially if you have a "baby in the bucket".