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I am a huge proponent of ponying up the extra dough or miles to get your little one their own seat when you fly. Even if they are under two years old and can technically fly without a purchased ticket, I still think that purchasing their seat is the way to go for a number of reasons. For one, it helps when you bring the car seat that your baby or toddler is used to every day. That way, even though the plane environment may be a strange one, at least they are in their own mini-environment that they are used to. Having the additional seat space for the kiddo, having access to the space under their seat for storage, and the fact that it is just safer, all make obtaining the additional seat the way to go, if you can.
That being said, for this trip Little C will be in momma’s lap. To make it even more exciting, this will also be the first flight that she and I are doing without Daddy! Have I gone flipping mad?! Well, maybe. Here’s the deal, Little C gets insanely excited every time we see an ocean or a beach on tv or in books, so we really want her to see it in person. Crazy as it may sound, it is actually quicker and more economical to do a one day flight to the beach than it would be to load up the family and road trip it. We plan to leave on the first flight out, and come back on a flight late in the afternoon. No need for hotel expenses or packing up all of her overnight gear. Plus, it’s not like we will be able to tolerate countless hours on the beach anyway.
Normally we budget our money and miles for trips WAY in advance. We know that we need three seats, and plan accordingly. However, this was a spur of the moment decision, and thus there were no miles or dollars budgeted. We could afford to purchase one seat, but it basically came down to lap child, or no beach. Little C and I voted for the beach! See how much she loves the pool (with “beach entry”)………just wait until the real beach!
Since it is just me and the toddler, the travel routine that we normally use will have to undergo some major adjustments for this trip. Here are a few of the things I have thought of so far:
1. Toddler containment. As I have mentioned before, when we travel I normally wear C on my back in an Ergo carrier. She is safe and secure, and my arms are free to do other things. However, this time I plan to carry our things in a backpack. Also, she does not stay in the Ergo 100% of the time, so I would need something to keep her safe when I am doing things like checking in, getting screened, etc… She listens well for a 19 month old, but she is still only a 19 month old. So, I plan to bring a stroller. That way she can be confined in it when needed, and I can use it to help carry the gear we are taking with us.
2. Easy access. I plan to have my ID, her birth certificate, and our boarding passes in a safe, but very easily accessible location. I know good and well that if I just shove them somewhere in my “mommy purse” that they will disappear into the deep, dark caverns within the purse and will take way too long to find when I need to be able to just quickly grab them.
3. Toddler entertainment. I need to have light, compact, easily accessible toddler entertainment. When there are two of us we can bring more things to entertain her with. I need things that are instant gratification (no 15 minutes of booting up and logging into Netflix this time!). I plan to bring an old, cheap portable DVD player with DVDs that are ready to go. We will also have her favorite miniature Toy Story toys on hand for instant playtime.
4. Portable snacks. Eating on a plane is always a good time-killer for C. That will be the same this time, but I will need to make sure to have food and drinks already packed in her bag and ready to go. Usually one of us makes a run for the food court. While I may still be able to do that, I want to have the option to skip the food court and just go with what I packed from home.
5. Car seat. Since she will be traveling as a lap child, I don’t plan to bring her car seat on the flight with me, mostly because if I did I would turn into a pack-mule who would have no free arms or legs. So, I have reserved one with the rental car company, but I plan to call the day before to confirm that they have it available. I also plan to beg to have them install it for me ahead of time. Installing a car seat is a pain – it will be an even bigger pain to install a seat I am not familiar with, it a car I am not familiar with, while wrangling a toddler in the 8 million degree heat.
6. Patience. Traveling with a little one always requires patience. Heck, just being a parent on a “good day” requires an insane amount of patience. I am certain that at some point in the day Little C will have a melt-down. I just need to keep my cool and avoid having a melt-down myself. I know that despite some likely rough spots, that C and I will have a great time seeing the beach for the first time.
While we will still usually travel as a family of three, this will hopefully be the first of many trips that Little C and I will take as a dynamic duo. I hope that she will grow-up to have the travel bug just like her mommy has!
Here is a picture of her and I checking out a parade at the Magic Kingdom after a long day of traveling to Orlando, getting settled into the hotel, and then hitting the park hard for several hours. It was hot and we were tired, but we make a great happy traveling pair!
What travel tips do you have for Little C and I as we get ready for our adventure? Have we totally lost our minds doing this? What have I not yet thought of?
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