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Flying With Kids: The Good, The Bad, The Body Fluids

It’s holiday season and while visiting family is wonderful, it can also be horrifying because traveling with small humans is a gamble. They don’t understand that plane’s gotta fly and cars gotta drive and that means they must be still or quiet, two things small humans aren’t very good at. There are plenty of lists about best travel practices with kids, but forget that. Let’s let our hair down and talk the real, shall we? On (almost) the night before Christmas, here are a few stories of what’s it’s actually like to travel with children and the kicker? Even if the tale begins hairy, everyone survives and reaches at their destination with some lessons learned—even if they’re spelled out in bodily fluids.

“I found that the route to sanity is to not really travel by plane with kids. We once went to St. John with our two boys when they were both still toddlers and one of them stood up and barfed on my head and cried and would not sit down the whole trip. Since then, we have had multiple trips which were almost ruined by someone’s projectile barf.

Now we drive to our destinations, we go to the library and stock up on books on CD that the boys can follow, early reader chapter books like “Pippi Longstocking,” “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle,” myths and legends. We don’t have screens or DVD players in the car and we managed to do a 1,200 mile return drive from Chicago to upstate New York this summer with a surprising amount of peace even though we drove all day. We also made sure to stop and have lunch at playgrounds. It felt doable!”

– Jessica

“Before our flight from NYC to LA on a non-stop flight, everyone told us to nurse my then six-month-old son on the plane’s ascent and descent. We also booked an evening flight that departed an hour or so after his usual 7:30 bedtime. We felt like we did everything right, outside of over-packing with the stroller (never used it once) and car seat (could’ve used one from the rental car place after blasting it with bleach, smh), but I was still nervous. We even purchased a Delta lounge pass so I could breastfeed our little dude in the comfort of a cushy chair that faced a wall for privacy since he hates the very nice breastfeeding scarves I got and constantly bats them away. 

So we board the flight, even though the gate changed at the last minute but we’re still on track. The plane begins to taxi and I whip out my boob and start feeding my son. He’s not sure why he’s getting more boob after dinner, but who cares, right! He begins to pass out before take-off, then suddenly I feel it. He’s pooping as the plane’s going up and I have to make a decision, do we change him when the plane levels and risk him screaming? Do we let him ride soiled for awhile so he can rest and then change him? I pull the trigger and ask my husband to change him as soon as the fasten seat belt sign lights goes off since he’s closer to the aisle because poopy diapers suck… and so does the feel and smell as time passes. Little dude fussed about the diaper change but fell back to sleep soon after and locked my husband and I in a sleepless red-eye flight pattern of trying to keep him from rolling off our collective laps since he’s long enough to stretch across both of us and must sleep on his stomach. Still, we made it to the other side unscathed. God bless us, everyone.”

– Hillary

“Right before the Baby Girl turned two months (and got the shots that they vaccinate at that stage… ) we advised our doctor that we were planning to go to Miami, Florida from New York City. The doctor said we could delay the shots and go, we weren’t going to a third world country and they had doctors and hospitals in Florida so we should be fine. However, if anything happened and she should develop a fever, we would HAVE to go to the hospital if she hit 103 degrees.

Lo and behold, in Miami at my in-laws one night, Baby Girl gets hot. We are monitoring it and trying to avoid the hospital. I’m giving her cool baths, keeping her loosely dressed and just keeping an eye on how high her temperature climbed. Luckily one of my best friends is a pediatrician so we FaceTimed to check in, and he was helping to watch also. Baby Girl hit 103 and my friend suggested we should take her into the local emergency. We think it’s a flu but take her in to be sure.

What you should know is, at under two months going in for a high fever means the hospital staff have to check everything to identify what is wrong. This means sputum (spit), urine (so they have to go… get it… with a tube) and… a spinal tap. This sounds like craziness for a tiny baby but they have to rule out meningitis first since it can be deadly.

So I’m in this Children’s Hospital, holding this tiny warm baby and kicking myself like hell! All these sick people on this flight and this child would be two months in five days (because literally, after they hit a certain age, pediatricians don’t worry as much about high fevers once they have their next round of shots). Luckily for us, the results we got back for her spit showcased influenza and so we all avoided the spinal tap. The hospital sent us home with the advice to just take care of her but our family friend doctor gave us a script for some flu medication so we wouldn’t take any chances because we’d still have to fly home (because maternity leave is only but so long…). So… we made it and Baby Girl’s healthy and we vaccinated her as soon as we got back.”

– Isis

“When the twins were eight months old we traveled from the West Coast to Baltimore to visit my family. Unbeknown to us, parents of twins can not sit in the same row (on a heavily booked flight) because each row only has one infant oxygen mask. We didn’t know that, I thought I was prepared. I picked our seats to insure that we are sitting next to each other, packed tons of diaper, formula, toys, protective ear phones, and even Advil for mom and dad. We were good to go… until we checked in and saw my husband was sitting in the front of the plane by a window and I was in the middle, both of us alone with one twin.

After negotiating with the front desk and almost missing our flight, it became the scene from “Home Alone” as we rushed through the airport and changed diapers in the waiting area. Fortunately, the flight attendants reassigned our seats closer together, my husband in the row just in front of me and we passed the babies back and forth over our flight mates’ heads the entire trip. ‘I’m sorry. I am so sorry’ was my phrase the entire flight. What tops the cake is that I had to hand both babies to my husband so I could use restroom like he did a few minutes before. While he was gone, I handled them both like a champ! But when I went to the bathroom, I come back and he has the entire flight helping him. Some random guy was holding one baby, while the flight attendant was getting the bottle from my seat, lol. I was gone for five minutes.

The key to the story, parents of twins must make sure to arrange with the airline ahead of time to insure you are sitting close together for a smooth plane ride!”

– Angela

“My husband and I were traveling from New Orleans to Cedar Rapids, Iowa with our six month old twin boys to see my family. My mother-in-law dropped us off at the NOLA airport and after 15 minutes of unloading the car, getting the car seats out and in their check bags, getting the kids in their stroller and wrangling our luggage, we made it into the airport. Our luggage was overweight so we took full advantage of the car seat bags and put extra clothes and jackets in them because those check for free!

Onto the TSA line and half way through the dreaded wait, one of the boys sneezed and I asked my husband for a burp cloth from the diaper bag so I can wipe his nose. Immediately panic sets in—we don’t have the diaper bag! Did we leave it at home? Was it in Nana’s car? We moved out of line and my husband called his mom in a panic. She was already at home but THANK GOD the bag was in her backseat. She raced back to the airport and we managed to not miss our flight because the awesome TSA workers let us go through TSA Pre-Check!

The boys were pretty well behaved on the flights. We used baby carriers to board and deplane since we had to check the stroller at the gate. We came equipped with bottles, diapers and toys. They were a bit fussy but for the most part they were great. As much as it is a pain to have a connecting flight, in this case I think it was a good break from us having to hold them and it gave them an opportunity to stretch out in their stroller.

We learned our lesson; the days of showing up forty minutes before our flight are LONG over! We will now arrive two hours prior! Fortunately, I was not scared enough to stop traveling so my thought process now is to get as many trips in before they turn two and we have to pay for four plane tickets!”

– Staci

Got a kid story to tell? Share yours in the comments here or on Facebook and @ParlourMagazine on Twitter. Believe me, we want to hear it!

Last 5 posts by Hillary Crosley