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Last weekend my family of three traveled to Kansas City to visit Little C’s grandparents and go watch a Kansas City Chiefs football game. I’m going to break the trip down into a few parts so you can see how it went. If you are looking to travel with your own toddler in the near future, maybe you can learn from both the things that worked for us, as well as the things that didn’t.
My parents were nice enough to drive us to the airport – it is such a gift to be dropped off at the airport when traveling with Little C. As you can tell, even for a weekend away there is tons of stuff that goes along with a traveling family. It was early, so please forgive the somewhat terrifying expression on my husband’s face!
We didn’t actually need to put C in the stroller, but it served a very useful function as being our “cart” for all of her stuff. The other good news was that even though he wasn’t so thrilled with dragging around all of that luggage, Little C was ready to help.
She really was trying to be helpful with that bag. Unfortunately, she had woken up a bit earlier than normal and was also dealing with a nasty cold. Needless to say, her almost two-year-old side quickly reared its head.
In truth, it actually was somewhat helpful to have her on the floor pouting while we were checking in. At least that meant we weren’t having to chase her anywhere. She was a bit sad to see her car seat being “checked” – the agent helping us said she often sees little ones get sad when they see their car seat going away. Who knew?! Since we have one piece of checked baggage free for up to two people with our Continental Onepass/United MileagePlus Explorer Card card, we were able to check her car seat for free, and then check two other pieces of luggage for free as well. I highly recommend you have credit cards (or elite status) that gives you free checked luggage on the airlines you fly most frequently with little ones because the baggage fees alone for this trip would have been $100. So, we saved more than we pay in annual fees for this credit card just in this one trip . I don’t usually check bags when flying by myself, but it is essential right now while flying as a family with all this
Once we got checked in, it was time to go through security. Thankfully, the line was very short and I didn’t step on any glass this time. It was also handy to not have to take C’s shoes off of her. For those who don’t know, children 12 and under no longer have to take their shoes off to go through TSA security. Since C had her own seat and our trip was just a domestic hop, there was no need to show a birth certificate for her. All she needed was her boarding pass and we were good to go.
Once through security, we picked up some breakfast in the airport and headed to the gate. As I have mentioned before, eating on the plane is one of our big activities for C, so we hid the food as best we could until we got on board. At the gate we just explored and looked out of the windows at planes. We found a pretty deserted corner of the gate and let Little C explore some of the chairs while looking out the windows. Since we had been talking about planes all week, she was very excited to see them out of the windows and was more than ready to get on one herself.
Boarding the plane is never a fun process, but we are always sure to get on as soon as they will allow us so that we can try to get settled before the whole line is behind us and we are holding everyone up. This was the first time for us to use the CARES Harness, so getting it installed at first took a couple extra seconds. I think both Daddy and C were a little frustrated by the process of getting strapped in. It can be pretty stressful trying to do everything quickly and in a cramped seat.
It would be fair to say that after the somewhat stressful loading process that C was a bit upset. This meant it was time to start with the “big guns” immediately, and bust out the McDonald’s sausage biscuit that we had been saving for the flight. She went from 60 to 0 in 1 second flat. Luckily, toddlers are pretty slow eaters most of the time so that biscuit lasted for just about all of loading and most of taxiing to the runway.
I had gotten her pretty excited about the takeoff process, so we held hands for that and both chanted “faster, faster” until we were up in the clouds. A drawback of the harness was that she isn’t as elevated as she normally is in her car seat, so she couldn’t see out the window quite as easily. I was able to lift her up some so that she could see the clouds. She was so excited to be flying.
I have outlined our flight ritual before in Babies on a Plane Part 1 and Babies on a Plane Part 2, and we basically stuck with that plan for this trip. On takeoff we drank juice so that her ears would pop and shortly after that we played with toys for a few minutes and then turned on Winnie the Pooh. For those who are horrified she doesn’t have on ear phones, trust me I could barely hear it sitting next to her. No adjacent passengers were harmed in the watching of this movie.
I also shut her window to try to encourage her to fall asleep. It worked.
I learned that before we travel using the CARES harness again, we really need to pick up a child’s neck pillow because her head was bobbing around so bad that she woke up from her nap much sooner than she otherwise would. This happened on both the outbound and return flights. Please take my advice on that one, especially if you are using the harness for a younger kiddo who might take a good nap on the flight. I was so frustrated by her bobbing head – especially when it woke her up!
Once we got to our destination, everything else was pretty much a breeze. She was pretty tired by this point since she didn’t get a good nap on the flight, but she was kept pretty entertained by all the cool things to see. We met her grandparents for lunch at Arthur Bryant’s BBQ (recommended by Million Mile Secret’s fiance, Emily!) and it was delicious. The line was insane and wrapped around the building, but we had food waiting for us since C’s grandparents got there before we did.
After lunch we headed to the Hyatt Regency Kansas City in the Crown Center part of downtown. This hotel is scheduled to become a Sheraton starting 12/1, but I will go ahead and review it anyway in a separate post in the near future. We were able to book a very cheap rate of around $100 a night and used a confirmed Diamond suite upgrade to make sure we had enough space for C and Grandma to play while the rest of us went to the football game. Even though the Chiefs did not have a good showing, it would be fair to say that Grandma and C enjoyed their time together with just the two of them, and the three of us that went to the game had a great time despite the ugly loss.
The trip was a great time, but the last night we were there Little C decided to boycott the pack-and-play that the hotel provided. She would start screaming hysterically whenever we tried to put her in. Combine that with some horrible coughing fits she was having and some very restless sleep, and you had a recipe for only a couple hours of sleep for Mommy and Daddy. That made for quite a long day of traveling home. I just about lost it when she woke up on the flight home due to her head bobbing in the harness. I was so ridiculously tired, and so was she. I actually had to hold her in my lap for some time on the flight home because she was too exhausted to be anywhere but with Mommy. Again we were very thankful that my parents picked us up from the airport once we landed.
I seriously was on the verge of a breakdown I was so tired the day we traveled home, so having my parents pick us up from the airport and watch C for an hour or so later that night was amazing. If it is at all possible to schedule a “down” day after you get back from your traveling adventures with kids, I highly recommend it. I know it isn’t always possible, but it sure would have helped the day after our journey back home. I’m still tired thinking about it.
For our flights from Texas to Kansas City and back, we each used 20,000 Continental Onepass miles with about $5 in taxes (gasp, we redeemed for a domestic flight!). 🙂 The car rental came to about $65 for the weekend and the hotel came to about $250 for the weekend with taxes – and that was for a very large suite thanks to our Hyatt Diamond Suite Upgrade. So, grand total for those expenses was 60,000 miles, and $330. We also earned Hertz and Hyatt points for the trip and those points will help make a future trip possible. Not at all a bad deal to make sure that C continues to connect with her family.