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Hitting the Road

Last week’s poll asked how often you choose to travel with your baby. Does your baby have his own frequent flyer number? Do you prefer to drive over flying? Or do you stay home by choice if at all possible?

Almost half of you said your baby’s a seasoned pro by now, with quite a few trips under his belt. The rest of the mommies were pretty evenly divided between those who fly when necessary, those who try to drive if at all possible, and those who stay home by choice.

We first flew with Maddie when she was three months old. I knew the mommy trick of nursing Madeleine during takeoff and landing to help equalize her ears, and as promised, she didn’t cry at all during any of the flights. The airline we flew was (overall) helpful, allowing us to pre-board, gate-check our stroller, and carry-on a diaper bag for “free”. I remember when we returned home from the trip feeling as if we had dodged a bullet; no major meltdowns, no huge baggage catastrophes. Maddie’s car seat was part of her stroller so they transported it for us for free. In fact, I had a few mommy friends tell me enviously to “enjoy it while you can”, since apparently newborn is the easiest age to travel with for quite a while.

We next flew with baby girl when she was five months old, and what a difference a couple months made. She was more alert, more interested in her surroundings, and less likely to obligingly conk out for a long leg of the trip. Her intense, unblinking, unwavering staring at our seatmates made them all nervous, and they all responded with varying degrees of “Cut it out, kid, you’re freaking me out!” Maddie’s new engagement with her world necessitated traveling more gear to keep the queen occupied, and I was much more exhausted at the end of that trip than the first one.

We’ve not flown with Madeleine since then; we’ve made a few car trips of varying length and success. Her first big car trip, at 8 months, went fairly smoothly. She’d just started crawling and wasn’t yet walking so she suffered the long hours in the car seat fairly good-naturedly.

Since Maddie’s been walking, though, pinning her down for any length of time is really rough. So rough, in fact, that we canceled a car trip in July after Maddie screamed for an entire hour-long car ride the weekend before. She simply doesn’t like to be held still!

I’ve been thinking a lot about this because we’re going on vacation the end of this week. We’ll be spending a couple weeks on first one beach in Florida, then another beach in Florida – part vacation, part business trip for hubby. New York to Florida isn’t too bad of a flight.

Unless you’re on frequent flyer miles.

For some unfathomable reason, we’re going through Dallas every leg of the flight. That means New York – to Dallas – to Florida. Then Florida – to Dallas – to another city in Florida. Don’t ask why.

I’ve spent the better part of a month alternately looking forward to this trip and having nightmares about it. Maddie’s a willful toddler who must be allowed to walk a lot, we’ve got the big old Britax car seat to lug through the airport a bazillion times, we’re not allowed to bring food on the plane like yogurt and applesauce, we have to bring our own Pack ‘N Play; the list is endless of things that make this trip harder than any other trip we’ve made.

So please, please, please, pray for me as I spend the week preparing for Operation Good Times Or Bust. If you’ve got any helpful hints on traveling with a 15-month-old, I humbly beg you to post them or email me.

And if you’re in an airport and see what looks like an Babies R Us bearing down on you, it’s just my husband. Best get out of the way. 


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