Thanks to Luggage Online for partnering with me on this post! All (terrible) travel experiences and opinions are my own.
I have a little confession to make: I am still terrified to fly with my toddler thanks this little charmer of a story. And guess what? We hop a flight on Christmas Day so that we can be with family by Christmas Dinner. While I am thrilled to see our family (and for Gray to experience a Williamsburg Christmas), I have laid awake at night for the last few days planning all of the ways I can ensure that our travel day is as peaceful/non-emotionally scarring as possible.
Thankfully, Justin will be flying with us, so having another set of hands will, without a doubt, alleviate some of the stresses of a toddler travel day but that hasn't stopped me from planning for the worst. We've plotted the best ways to get through the day and here are some of our current strategies:
1. The iPad is our friend.
Gray is still totally into numbers and has two apps that he loves, loves, loves. He doesn't realize it but we are still rocking the free versions of said apps - meaning we can only play a small percentage of each app. On Christmas Day, I'll pay for and download the full versions of both apps so that he'll be surprised when we get to the airport. I know he loves the apps, knows how to play them and still enjoys them without the sound (we will fly on a tiny prop-job plane that will drown out any and all iPad noise, even on children's headphones). I thought about downloading new games but think updating what we love is the best way to capture his attention.
2. The iPad is our friend, until its taken away
I won't be handing over any sort of toy, iPad or lovie that Gray can fall in love with prior to going through security. All of our troubles last time began at the metal detector so I'm doing by best to plan for the least amount of struggle at the checkpoint. I don't want to take anything away from him that will (rightly so) make him upset right before we have to manage a pat down. And I'm thinking shoes might be included on that list.
3. Pack It
We have officially decided to ditch the carry on bags. Our flight is short and direct so normally Justin and I do our best to carry everything on. After our bag searches last time, the plan is to check one giant bag all the way home. Our large suitcase lost a wheel on our last trip to the West Coast so I made my way to Luggage Online to snag a suitcase for this trip. If you've never shopped Luggage Online, you should take a peek, the prices are great (and they price match between other authorized luggage dealers, so you will always get the best deal) and they are insanely familiar with outfitting families for all types of travel. I actually let Justin pick the suitcase and, wouldn't you know it, he managed to find a large, lightweight suitcase with "spinner" wheels....that comes in orange.
I really did try to put up a fight over the color (it also comes in classic black, in case orange isn't your thing) but after he pointed out that it would be super easy to find at baggage claim, I let it go. You can't fight with logic, even if it is bright orange logic. Anyway, we'll be packing the entire family in our one orange suitcase and the only carry on luggage we'll have will be my purse, Justin's back pack and Gray's toddler back pack. Hopefully nothing in our bags will test positive for bomb residue this go 'round and we'll speed right through security, pat down and body search-free.
4. All of the bribery
I plan to take an entire box of Annie's fruit snacks in my purse and hope that, at the very least, bribery will do the trick in the hardest of situations. Because Gray is two, he will have his own seat for the first time - which I think could either be a blessing or a curse. I know I will love not having a stranger next to us sighing every time Gray invades their personal space (I try so hard to keep him contained, I really do) but I'm not so sure that my toddler wiggle worm will manage to keep himself in his seat. We've decided not to travel with a car seat because my parents have one and will pick us up, seat installed and ready to roll, but that means we are relying on fruit snacks and whisper yells to ensure that Gray stays buckled into his own seat. I think we might draw straws to see who gets to sit next to him (kidding, kidding, he'll probably choose when one of us goes to sit next to him and he screams for the other).
5. Try to laugh about it.
Justin and I love to travel and want our kids to love it as much as we do, we just have to get through this toddler season. While I did cry last time we flew, I'm hoping that this time I'll just be able to laugh off whatever comes our way. The best part about an airport is that you'll never see the people who are staring at (or snapping iPhone photos) of your public meltdown again!
P.S. Be sure to take advantage of Luggage Online's free shipping on orders over $99 because nobody has time to pay for shipping.