Tomorrow, we will be taking 17 months old Ravi on his first plane trip ever to Albany NY to visit my sister and her family. For those of you don’t know, this involves two separate flights (no direct flight from LA to Albany), with a total trip time of eight plus hours. Also we will need to arrive to the airport two hours early to check in luggage and pass the security check point, and once we get there, pick up luggage and get a ride to our destination. So I am counting this to be about a twelve hour trip!
From my tone here, you can tell I am a bit concerned. It will be great fun once we get there, I am totally jazzed about posting all of our experiences there. So in order to make sure we will survive the travel, I started to prepare for this trip weeks ago.
First, I made a list of things to bring. I add things onto the list as I realized we will need them for the trip. Some of the bulkier items include the stroller and carseat. I contemplated if I should bring a stroller. Certainly I wouldn’t want to check my stroller in with regular luggage items and risk getting damaged, but it would be really nice for all our outtings.
Secondly, I researched on-line to find out what I am allowed to bring on board. I was concerned that I would not be able to bring any milk or water for Ravi. I found out from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Traveling With Kids’ site that for kids, it is okay to exceed the 3.4 ounces maximum per container rule for carry on and bottles are not required to be presented in the zip-top bags. That’s really good news. We have been giving Ravi cool boiled water to drink which I believe is safer than plain drinking water.
What about the carry on items? Of course I would have to bring on board with us extra cloths, bottles, sippy cups, toys, food, laptops…etc. The idea of dragging the kid, carry on bags, car seat though the airport terminals a couple of times scares me. Ultimately it would be great to bundle everything onto something with wheels. Initially we considered getting a wheeled carry on bag and somehow mount the car seat onto it with bungee cords, then carry the kid, diaper bag, and other carry on bags on our shoulders. Let’s face it, Ravi is not going to be happy seating in the stroller while being cranky and tired. This idea still sounds too hard. I found out from Delta Airlines Infant & Children’s Items page that ticketed infant/child is entitled to the standard baggage allowance, and stroller and car seats are counted as free additional baggage. Aha! That means we can check in the stroller at the gate (not buried under hundreds of luggages) and use it as work horse to carry all our carry on items. Suddenly an image came into my head, of me carrying Ravi walking effortlessly through the gates while Mario pushing the stroller hauling all our carry ons steps behind us… Happiness, it brings tears to me eyes…
Lastly I solicited tips from anyone who was willing to talk to me about traveling with kids. I cornered co-workers in the hallways, pinned friends on facebook, and what I got back are similar suggestions (double and triple confirmation!):
1. Drink some liquid before take off, before landing, after landing to prevent headaches caused by experiencing different pressure levels.
2. Snack, snack, and snack! Stay away from high sugar content snacks as it would make the child more hyperactive.
3. Bring a blanket to make him feel more comfortable.
4. Buy a couple of new toys before the trip and introduce them to him on the flight.
5. Bring some video entertainment.
6. Buy your child a ticket for long flights.
7. Travel red eye so the kid can sleep through the flight.
We have carefully planed for tips1 through 6. We have decided against traveling red eye because I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night and try to get on a different flight while being so tired.
How solid is our plan? We’ll let you know in a couple of days. In any case, if you hear from us again, then we would have survived the flights. You will be the first to hear about it soon.