Remember the days when I was afraid of going to the supermarket alone with the kids?
I was so naive.
I just got back from a vacation where I traveled on a commercial flight with my two kids (ages 2 and 3 months) all by myself. I believe I may deserve a medal.
I knew sadistic flight attendants and cruel airport screeners had it in for poor mothers traveling alone. Here are my tips for surviving if such a journey is in your future.
1. Pack Well
Your carry-on bag is your friend. It needs to make you self-sufficient while being lightweight. This means you need to pack more diapers than you think you need. (I pack one per hour of travel, including waiting time at the airport.) This also means you need to pack every snack known to man (what if you get stuck on the tarmac for 10 hours?) but that it can't contain any fluid or have the word "paste" on the packaging. The people at the security checkpoint are crazy - do not expect them to have any common sense whatsoever. Once, they made my husband throw away some toothpaste because "regulations don't allow you to carry more than 3 oz of paste on board."
"There's enough toothpaste in that container for 2 toothbrushes. That's much less than 3 oz."
"But it says 8 oz on the tube. That's more than 3 oz."
Don't even try to argue with that logic because it can get you arrested.
2. Security Checkpoints - Where Toddlers are Public Enemy #1
Remember that you are traveling with children - the biggest threat to the flying public after kindly old grandmothers. That's why you only see old ladies and moms going through the "random" secondary screening. It's also why the guy that stands at the metal detector will make you take your sleeping 3 month-old out of his stroller. He will watch as you struggle to fold it while holding said infant. He will stand by while a kind stranger folds the stroller for you and hurts his shoulder putting your huge carry on on the x-ray machine's conveyor belt. He will not tell you that your toddler is wandering away. And once you try to go through the metal detector, tickets and IDs in one hand, grumpy 3 month-old hanging precariously on the other, he will smile, point at your toddler and say "You have to take off his shoes."
Yes, he could have told you this BEFORE you took the infant out of his stroller. Yes, he did this on purpose. Fight the urge to kick him. They live for this shit.
Instead, someone with some common sense (i.e. not a TSA employee) will get on her hands and knees and take off your kid's rubber sandals for you.
Modern-day air travel requires you to check your dignity with your luggage. Keep calm and carry on.
3. Get Thee To The Gate
Do not purchase any magazines or entertainment for yourself. You will not have the time. Get yourself to the gate, but stop at the restrooms and the food court before hand. Take the food with you to the gate. Ask the gate agent if they could kindly seat you in a row with an empty seat. He will give you a sob story about how the flight is full. Sigh heavily. Traveling sucks.
4. Feed The Kids
Do this at the gate so your fellow passengers see that while you're crazy enough to travel alone with two children, you are not stupid enough to do it with hungry ones.
(To Be Continued...)