Last month I wrote about moving to Wilmington. I ended by saying I was going to Disney World. It wasn’t a joke. The trip had been planned months before the move presented itself. It seemed like a crazy idea to drop boxes and take off with so much to do, but as it turned out, it was just the break we needed. Having not moved in nearly 30 years, I had forgotten how stressful moving was — not to mention how much “stuff” we had accumulated in that time. Plus, this was our first long distance move, other than when we were young with no children and our move consisted of very little. To say my husband and I were beyond tired is an understatement, and what better place to have fun and chill than Disney World?
We were going with our youngest daughter and family. The thought of driving all the way to Orlando with an 18-month old confined to a car seat the whole way gave us pause. The decision was quickly made that our daughter, granddaughter, and I would fly and let my husband and son-in-law drive. My daughter and I would not have to worry about dealing with luggage or items for the baby other than the few things she would need for the flight. We did have to drive to Raleigh to catch a non-stop flight, but we would have a little time for her to walk around to get some energy out before boarding. Or, so we thought.
The drive took longer than planned and, although I had the TSA pre-check status, my daughter did not and her security line was long. She had to wrangle the baby, plus her diaper bag and stroller. I got right through, but since I was carrying the cooler bag with baby food, I had to wait while they checked all of it out. My mind shut down as I raced to our gate to see if the flight was boarding instead of staying to help my daughter.
As we were flying Southwest, we had a number instead of a confirmed seat. Obviously, it has been a long time since I have flown with small children. When any of our girls were under two years old, we just showed up at the airport, boarded the flight and had the baby sit on my lap. That doesn’t work today. You have to contact the airline ahead of time and bring proof of their age. Fortunately, my daughter knew this, had called Southwest and Delta (our return flight) and had the baby’s passport – yeah, I know, an 18-month old with a passport.
We finally boarded and luckily found two aisle seats across from one another. I think 90% of the passengers were headed to Disney World, and it was a fun trip — the flight attendants were very entertaining. There was a mom sitting next to my daughter, so she was understanding about what to expect flying with a toddler — especially one who was missing her nap. Thank goodness she was. About ¾ of the way through the flight, my sweet granddaughter was ready to get off the plane. She had sat as long, had as many books read, and had eaten as much as she could stand. My daughter got her phone out to entertain her and in a split second, the baby had swatted it out of her hand where it, of course, hit the other mom’s nearly full cup of Coke. My daughter was horrified, but the woman could not have been more gracious. Her reaction to the cola going all over her vacation papers, and some on her, was one of such kindness and no apology needed, that I wanted to hug her.
The advice this column hopes to impart when flying with an infant is the following: help the one with the baby by always being aware; carry on as little as possible, but do bring some of their favorite books and toys; bring finger foods and milk or formula in a small cooler bag; have a small stroller; and the knowledge that most of the other passengers understand what you’re dealing with. And for those that don’t? Well, maybe one day the shoe will be on the other foot.