Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Help, please

Next week we (me, the husband, and Bat Girl) are flying cross-country for a dear friend's wedding. When we were planning this trip, I decided that since we were going to have to endure long flights and time change and cranky baby no matter what, we might as well make a whole week out of it. So we are going to be gone for six days. That's six nights in a hotel room. Six days eating out for most meals. Two late nights (rehearsal dinner and wedding) for a child who normally goes to bed at 8 p.m. on the East Coast and instead will be kept up probably past 10 p.m. on the West Coast (that's a five-hour difference). Two coast-to-coast (5.5+ hours) flights with a very active toddler who melted down the last time she was on a plane, nearly a year ago, for just two hours. It's the longest we've ever been away from home with BG and the first time we're going someplace that's not a relative's house (with ability to cook for ourselves, for example).

So obviously I need some advice. I have combed the Internet (including this post of Cecily's) for all sorts of tips, which led me to purchase a Magnadoodle and a stack of Blue's Clues DVDs (we have a portable DVD player, which I tested out on BG on a long car trip a few weeks ago--worked great at toddler anesthetizing, except that she is still rear-facing in her car seat so I have to hold the DVD player for her and/or prop it up on a stack of blankets so the heat from the machine doesn't fry her little legs). I'll probably pack minimal toys--her bear, a few books for bedtime. The kid can entertain herself for ages ripping pages out of magazines or staring out the window at BIG TRUCK! CARS! DOGGIE! so I'm not too worried on that front. And worst comes to worst, we have Blue.

I also bought her her own seat on the plane, and I scored a Volo on eBay for cheap so we wouldn't have to worry about our beloved Techno getting mangled by baggage handlers (and yes, it had to be another Maclaren, not because I'm a snobby Big City mom but because I'm tall and the handle height on those $20 umbrella strollers makes me want to kill myself). We'll be wheeling her in the stroller through the airport and hanging the carseat off the back, then gatechecking the stroller. We have one of those teddy bear backpack harnesses so she can run around in the terminal without us having a heart attack trying to keep track of her.

I made sure we'll have a refrigerator in our hotel rooms (we're staying in two different hotels, just to make things even more complicated) so we can keep milk and yogurt and a few essentials on hand (and hopefully eat most breakfasts in our room to save $), and our first hotel is a few blocks from my mothership, Whole Foods. BG is a pro at eating at restaurants, so we have that covered--although lately she has been more and more impatient with sitting and behaving at the table, so that could blow up in our faces spectacularly. Not sure yet what we'll do for plane food--I'll have to pack something, as there is no meal service on our flight. Flights are scheduled to overlap with naptime, fingers crossed there.

I emailed a friend who lives in the area for toddler activity recommendations. I've been checking the weather obsessively--apparently the Pacific Northwest is still pretty cool but it'll be in the mid to upper 70s by next week. I have a long to-do list of things both minor (buy Purell) and major (buy shoes to wear to wedding). I'm freaking out a little bit. What am I forgetting? Any tips for traveling with an under-2 toddler? Any suggestions for stuff to do in Seattle?



Blogger Rachel Inbar said...

Earplugs and valium?

Now really - she'll probably surprise you by being terrific. I think crayons and paper go a long way.

I'm traveling next month with my 4-month-old - 15.5 hours from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles. I have already started having nightmares about it...

Good luck!

1:28 PM  
Blogger Eva said...

Just remember: no matter how much it sucks, it will end.

We're off to Sweden soon. Not looking forward.

My only advice is lots of snacks.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Ewokmama said...

I always skip the stroller and use our Ergo carrier instead. Occasionally I'll rent a stroller on the other end.

It really sounds like you have everything covered. Whatever her current obsession is, tap into that with something new (like, if she likes to read, get some new books).

4:31 PM  
Blogger heather said...

we've done cross country and over the pacific 3x with dd. the dvd player is a must! the only thing is that if you use regular dvd's the player may die after 3 hours...so check your battery life. dh ripped some of our baby einsteins (5 or 6 of them) onto an SD card and that saves so much battery power because there's no spinning of the disks.

on the last cross country flight i made dd some food...sweet potato fries, string cheese, cut up grapes, some chicken, and an assortment of snacks...makes the take off and landing easier because she's swallowing to help pop her ears. bring a bottle/sippy cup and buy water once you're through security to fill up her cup.

i don't know what to tell you about the nap time thing...our dd won't sleep unless she's in bed or the carseat, so we try to plan our flights with a layover to walk her around in the stroller, or after her long nap at home or i the car.

good luck! i'll be back if i remember other things...

6:00 PM  
Blogger MoMo said...

Just having gone through this let me tell you some stuff that work.
1. I have DH board before B and I do. I take that extra time to let him run around the terminal while S sets up the car seat etc. This gives B extra time to play. Most of the time I am the last person to board the plane. I know it doesn't seem like a lot of extra time, but if you don't have to strap them in for an additional 20 minutes I think it is worth it.
2. You might want to consider buying 1 or 2 toys-something new that she hasn't seen--you can give this to her when she seems bored and restless.
3. I make B a grilled cheese sandwich for the trip since as you said no food service and most of the stuff that they do offer, he can't eat. Bring lots of snack, water. Milk was never an issue since we just ask the flight attendants for milk.
4. Does Batgirl have a security blanket? B loves his monkey blanket and we have a few of them-we brought one on the plane with us and that was a life saver!
5. We tried to keep B's schedule as normal as possilbe when we are out of town. So if he naps at 1 we make it a point that we are back at the hotel for his nap time. B won't nap anywhere but his crib--so we had no choice but to go back to the hotel.
6. We try to keep his bedtime/naptime routine as normal as possible. So we pack the same books we read at night and we also have his CD that we play for bedtime, plus of course monkey.
7. And if you forget something...don't worry. You can always buy it!

I think this is all I can remember-if something else comes up I will email you. I know it is so overwhelming, but you guys will have a great time!

10:40 PM  
Blogger May said...

Everything that MoMo said re: travel. And bring a clean shirt for yourself on the plane. I have yet to fly with Dee without her throwing up on me.

I grew up in Seattle- what area will you be in? There's Greenlake, any number of beaches, the Woodland Park Zoo, the aquarium, Alki point, Pike Place Market...

And if you get the chance, leave BG with family and eat lunch or dinner at Wild Ginger. It's my absolute favorite restaurant.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Amelia Sprout said...

Not sure where you're going, but check out the Savvy source blogs. www.savvysource.com, the drop down is middle left for cities.
In the face of full disclosure, I write for one of the local sites, but they really do have good info.

9:27 AM  
Blogger shanna said...

No advice - we also have our first airplane, non-relative-house trip next week (also a good friend's wedding, also extended to a week because why not), and I'm in worse shape than you, I think.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Kathy V said...

Sunny in Seattle and Despite the best laid pLans both live in Seattle. Neither one have a toddler (yet) but might be able to give you suggestions on activities.

I just read an article on cnn.com about plane travel. It said to use a few new toys that the children haven't seen before or haen't seen in awhile to keep them amused. As best you can try to carry liquid and snacks to keep them fed and buys. Also it says to try to keep a similar schedule. Keep them up a little later so that they can sleep a little later. I sent my sister the link cause she just went on vacation. So here is the link for you. http://www.cnn/2008/Travel/traveltips/06/06/flying.with.babies/index.html/

I hope you find it helpful.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I agree with the clean shirt on the plane for you! Another idea is to wrap some of the things you are bringing for her to play with. Kids think it is so fun to rip paper and even crayons can be super exciting when wrapped! Or if you are pressed for time, but stuff in brown lunch bags and offer them too her. It can even be a game on the plane. You give her a bag with and item and she opens it. Then you take the bag back and put a new item in it. Sometimes put the same item in a few times in a row to throw them off! Good Luck!

10:39 PM  

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