Similar to the difference of getting sick pre- and post-baby, there are striking differences when traveling pre- and post-baby. Of course, no one enjoys the long lines and inevitable delays that come with airport travel, especially around the holidays, but there is nothing quite like adding young children to the mix.

The anxiety starts building once the flight is booked with the “infant in arms” asterisk. When our son was very young, we attempted to book flights at the “right” time of day, hoping, praying, he would nap on the plane. He never did.  Still, it seems as though every time our children’s’ eyelids start to fall (my husband and I holding our breath as we watch in slow motion) the pilot cranks up the speaker to encourage all of us to “relax and enjoy the flight.” Ha!

Perhaps we are gluttons for punishment; we have flown with our children many, many times. Here are five tips for “infant in arms” newbies:

1. Bring snacks and extra bottles. Lots of them. This is not the time to worry about serving 3 balanced meals a day. Cookies, graham crackers, squeezable smoothies– all good choices. Bring some for yourself too.

2. Embrace the portable DVD player, iPhone apps, and tablet. Again, this is not the time to focus on mental stimulation or the NO  T.V. [EVER] before age 2 or you will ruin your child! warnings that are so gleefully highlighted in parenting magazines.

3. You know how airlines always encourage those that need “extra time” to board the plane first?  Do NOT do it. It will add at least 30 minutes to the stuffy, crowded environment that so eagerly awaits you. Let your kids run around the gate area, and then board the plane at last call.

4. Consider purchasing a premium beverage (i.e. alcohol) for yourself. Once I got over my fear of judgment (that mother is ordering wine while holding a baby?!), I found a cocktail makes the flight more bearable, even a little humorous.

5. Create a mantra. If all else fails, you can repeat it in your head when the baby wants to wander up and down the airplane aisles for the 5th time. Mine? “This flight cannot last forever. It has to land.”

Happy Holidays!

Nothing like a Facebook status update to completely get my ire up. It read: “Upgraded to First Class. Yay! Crying baby onboard. Boo!”  Then this: “I am prone to headaches and that baby isn’t going to help.” 

Realllllyyyyy?????  Listen, I can tell you this as a fact:The mother of that crying baby has a headache, too. And if she knew that she was causing a frequent-flying saleswoman who got a free upgrade to First Class a headache, I bet she would feel really awful.  I mean, she probably would choose to never fly again so as not to create any unnecessary headaches. Because we all know, the ONLY thing that causes a headache when traveling is a baby (ick! Even the thought turns my stomach. Babies!  How terrible!)

Everything else about traveling is peachy-keen: the long lines, getting patted down at security because you wore your good bra because you didn’t want to look like a schlumpy mother, and the taking off and putting on of your shoes, the crowded overhead storage, the lack of personal space, the selection of indigestibles at the airport food court.  Food should not be served in a court.  Basketball and volleyball are played by sweaty athletes on a court.  I can’t think of a less appetizing environment to acquire the meal that will take me from LAX to Belfast than a court.

No, the flying experience is just dandy.  The large, sweaty drunk man beside me that is snoring and drooling in between asking for more drinks, yeah that’s the kind of travel that brings me peace and tranquility.  Ahhhhhh….not a baby in sight.

As a mother of two young sons, I am well aware that a large segment of our society hates to see kids on planes.  I have been subject to their glares, their sighs and eye-rolls.  I have been that mother on the plane with the out-of-control 1 1/2 year old.  And let me tell you, it sucked.  Big time.  I wanted to buy everyone around me a round of drinks, give them all noise-cancelling earphones, and free iPads.

But now I’m the mother of a 4 year old and a 7 year old who behave beautifullly on planes.  We’ve flown all over the country and internationally, as well.  You know how they got to be such great fliers?  Practice!  That’s right.  No kid is born with the inherent ability to behave in a situation he/shae has never experienced.  Well, practice and some screens. Don’t let the media fool you.  Video games do not rot kids’ brains, at least not on a 14 hour flight across the Atlantic. I’m sure the same researchers that love to bag on gaming devices probably change their tune real quick when they are seated next to a fidgety preschooler on a long flight with an insane delay on the tarmac.

My favorite part of traveling with my kids is at the end of the flight, when they stand up and get their backpacks on, the passengers and even the most jaded flight attendants comment, “Wow, your kids are so well behaved. I can’t believe it.” Well, believe it sister.  It was not easy to train my kids to behave well on flights.  But I did it.

But this time, dear First Class traveler with a headache, I’m going to do you a favor.  Instead of taking the short 3 hour flight from Los Angeles to Houston, we’re going to drive.  I would rather spend 26 hours driving across the desert in a van with my kids than spend a minute on a plane with ignorant numbnuts.  And, as an added bonus to you, by taking my well-behaved, well-traveled kids off that flight, I have freed up 4 seats for a woman with amped up triplets.  You’re welcome!

This post was originally published on Stacie’s KidKit World column “Seriously Funny“. For more from Stacie, click here

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Not being able to leave the house empty handed is one of those less-pleasant realities of mother-hood. Granted, now that my children are both school aged — out of diapers and self ambulatory — we travel a bit lighter. Except for those days when we go to visit my parents, and the dog and the guinea pig, and her cage, and half of the books on our book shelf just have to come with us.
And whenever I look in the rear view mirror at the seeming mountains of stuff in the car, I’m reminded of the time I took a hike with baby Isla up a nearby mountain and ran into yoga mat, bikini girl.

When we got to the trailhead there was just one other car, a newish Subaru Outback, parked there. It took close to ten full minutes to stock the Kelty backpack with a spare diaper and wipes, snacks, water, sunscreen, and a dog leash, and then get Isla situated into it.

I walked passed the Subaru and looked in the windows for a clue about what sort of fellow hiker I might meet up with on top. The front seats were entirely free of clutter– even the passenger side, which in my car is used as an all-purpose storage and waste bin. In the back seat were just three simple items: a yoga mat, a beach towel and a bikini.

I contemplated this unencumbered scene for far too long, just taking in the simplicity, the possibilities of it all. I tried to remember what it felt like to travel with nothing more than the clothes on my back and something to swim in.

The yoga mat added intrigue. It said that this person, a woman obviously, had time and space and the sense to do something completely selfish and self nurturing with it.

The bikini? Well just those two tiny pieces of stretchy fabric held worlds of significance. And the way they were so neatly folded and placed on top of a folded towel……..

The sound of a fussing child and a whining dog shattered my reverie. So I continued on. I met the owner of the bikini and the yoga mat and the towel about halfway up the trail. She was coming down. I’m guessing she was in her late 20s. Pretty and fit.
We smiled at each other. She reached down to pat my dog and smiled at Isla. And I couldn’t help but wonder if she was maybe fantasizing about one day having a dog and a kid of her own to take with her up the mountain. And it pleased me to know that she would probably never imagine, in a million years, that I was fantasizing about an empty, dog-hair free car, a yoga mat, a bikini and a beach towel.

[photo: via TMGR]

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