Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Traveling with a Toddler while Pregnant...

...is not recommended. Can it be done? Absolutely. Was it fun? Not at all. I already wrote quite the manifesto on traveling with a 1 year old, so here I'll just add a few small tidbits for the pregnant woman contemplating a solo trip with a toddler.

Our flight on the way back to the US of A was happily uneventful. The flight landed smack in the middle of lunch time and so we spent about half of it eating. Then we did a little aisle walking, where Little Boy made friends with some of the passengers, and per his expertise acquired a key chain memento! Waiting in line in immigration was way up there on worst parental experiences with an overtired kiddo and a really long wait. Even the miraculous lollypop did nothing for us. By the time we made it to baggage claim the kiddo zonked out in the stroller and had a little cat nap while I installed his car seat and we were on our way. He continued his mini nap on the drive home and all things considered it was a success.

During the week we did lots of fun stuff (separate post) but the rough part was the more routine stuff: meals, naps, car trips etc. The kiddo was extremely well behaved considering the new environment but life must go on and in order to make time for everything my break-time (during the Boy's nap) became my errand-time. The cumulative tiredness was particularly bad for my sciatica.

The way back? Oh goodness, I don't wish that experience on anyone. We did pretty well at the airport, although security was less than helpful in getting us through with all our stuff in tow. I particularly enjoyed the comment "just pick him up", when I am clearly 6 months pregnant and had both my hands full with other bags, because obviously when you are a parent you are supposed to have a third hand to pick up your toddler.

We had a solid hour before boarding and so we made our way to the club. Thank goodness. The quiet, the clean bathrooms, the snacks, the limited options for the kiddo to run away out of sight, made the wait manageable. Of course when we made it to the gate, the flight was delayed so we still had a wait.

Our one moment of peace: devouring snacks and discovering M&Ms at the club

Once we boarded, the real fiasco began. I think it goes without saying that when you are pregnant, your lap child has a particularly small amount of room in an already tight seating arrangement. Couple that with waiting on the tarmac, an overtired child that could not find a comfortable position to sleep in, and sun blaring in through the window and we had a lot of crying, whining, standing/sitting/rolling/kicking on my lap. I could not have been any happier when that flight was over.

Except then they wanted to send all of the gate check luggage to the baggage claim! Instead I stood on the tarmac (while a bus full of passengers waited) and insisted on getting my stroller. We've already done the "no stroller while waiting to get through immigration" shenanigan before, and I was not having it! It's amazing how fast the situation can get fixed when you won't get on the bus. Not my finest moment, but definitely worth it.

Luckily, getting through the airport was mostly uneventful and the kiddo had a short nap on the very long drive back home through rush hour traffic. Lest you think it wasn't worth it, I should reiterate that the trip was great overall! We had a lot of fun, but I want to keep it real, it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns.


Advice:
  1. If you can in any way get another adult to travel with you- do that! 
  2. Minimize the luggage, and in particular the carry-ons. The less you have to wrangle and keep track of, the easier it will be to focus on your Tasmanian devil and the better it will be on your back. 
  3. Maximize snacks. It was absolutely incredible how much this kid ate before, during and after our flights. 
  4. Try to utilize a club membership or one time pass for long waits. 
  5. Make sure you know how your gear works ahead of time: installing car seats, folding strollers, etc, to keep moving along as quickly as possible. 
  6. Try to plan flights for morning or meal time, whenever your toddler will be easiest to manage (and definitely not during nap time, unless they are the type to fall asleep anywhere).

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