Forgive me if I have trouble putting words together into sentences today, as I have just returned from a cross-country trip with two seven-month-olds. And I am here today to tell you… it was actually great!
Oh, I was afraid. Very afraid. Boston to LA (6 hours), two-plus-hour layover, and then a short hop in a prop plane. At the ripe old age of 0.6-years-old, this was Daniel & Rebecca’s third round-trip air travel. Previous flights have been so-so, at best (or plain awful, at worst). The mere thought of planning this trip had me feeling faint.
But the travel gods were smiling down on us, and the kids did better than I could have hoped. They slept and were otherwise mostly content on the plane, they had a ton of fun with grandparents, aunts and uncles in sunny California, and adjusted really well to the new environment. They tried (and loved) avocado, took a dip in the (not-too-)hot tub, and attended their first wedding (my stepbrother’s). The worst I can say is that they mostly stayed on East Coast time, so they were awake and ready to play at 3AM. Ah well.
Though I am hesitant to claim too much credit for how well things went, and prefer to thank luck/fate/karma/God, I do think there were a few things that really, really helped.
Things that saved us:
- nap schedule – this is something we’ve been working on over the last few weeks, so the kids really do have some idea of when they expect to take a nap, and fight it less. Also, several of the flight times coincided very well with those nap times, so they fell asleep on takeoff.
- sleep habits – we Ferberized a few weeks ago (that’s another post, entirely), so both kids now take significantly less intervention to get to sleep and stay asleep. No more swaddling, no need for rocking. Just a little bottle snack and their blanket. Very portable!
- nice gate agents – upon arriving at the gate in Boston, the nice agent took one look at us and rearranged the seats so we had both sides of the aisle to ourselves. We had purchased four tickets, but had the full six seats to ourselves. Hallelujah, no one to bother or ask to move. We were lucky it wasn’t a full flight.
- happy babies – when they’ve slept and eaten, we really do have just plain happy kids. They’re also old enough that they’re somewhat more easily entertained. They love a few toys, they love a few books, and they even get a kick out of people-watching.
- family – needless to say, the grandparents and aunts and uncles were nothing short of thrilled to see them. Extra hands, extra faces, and lots of attention went a long way. I even got to take a nap and get a pedicure!
- fresh air – it was 80 degrees and sunny in the southern California desert, so when they started to get fussy, we plopped them in the umbrella strollers and walked around the development. No hats or sweaters! Hooray!
A few complaints:
- not-so-nice gate agents – after our delightful woman in Boston, her counterpart on the way home in LA was far from helpful. In their infinite wisdom, United had placed the four of us in three different rows. The gate agent was quite unwilling, as she had “no seats available” except for middle seats. Infants in carseats are required to be in the window seat, because they’re so big that no one would be able to get past them. When my beloved husband pointed this out, she didn’t believe him. Despite the fact that numerous other airline employees had lectured us on the importance of window seats (which, on those occasions, we had already reserved). Anyways, they finally sorted it out as we boarded.
- changing tables – or lack thereof. Seriously, it’s a 757. Big honkin’ plane. Flying cross-country. They couldn’t retrofit a single lavatory with a changing table? Apparently not. So I had to change Daniel (twice) with my changing pad on top of the toilet seat, Daniel doing a backbend and attempting to touch every germy surface he possibly could. Nothing like trying to clean up a poopy diaper in that situation. Thankfully, Daniel seems to enjoy backbends these days, so he wasn’t terribly put out. M said Rebecca was less pleased with the arrangement.
So, we survived our third trip with infant twins. In style, even! Let’s just hope we haven’t used up all of our good travel karma, as there are already more trips in the works. This is what happens when you live far from all of your family!