Saturday, June 30, 2012

Flying for 8+ hours with a toddler: Easier than I thought it'd be

In order to get to Spain, we took a two hour flight from Chicago to Newark, NJ, then a 7.5 hour flight from Newark to Barcelona.  We were in Barcelona for 3 days, then took a 1.5 hour flight to Valladolid.  During our stay in Valladolid, we took a couple of car trips that were at least one hour each way, and also a 3 hour (each way) train trip to the beach in Santander on the northern coast of Spain.

On the way back, we had to fly back to Barcelona from Valladolid, then from Barcelona to Frankfurt, Germany, and then an 8 hour 20 minute flight back to Chicago.  Yikes!!!! Even now, I can't believe that we did all of that!

Evie had never flown before this trip.  I know, I know...I like to start with the high ropes course.  I was as prepared as I thought I could be: plenty of diaper, snacks, entertainment options, etc.  Of course, none of those things will work when you're dealing with a fussy toddler, but Evie was a trooper, and I learned a lot about my own levels of patience.
At El Parque Güell in Barcelona

A few things helped us more than I thought they would though.   First of all, when flying for extended periods of time with a toddler, tiring them out at the airport is key.  We ran Evie from one of the terminal to other during each layover.  It worked well for us on our way to Barcelona: she slept for 6.5 hours of the 7.5 hour flight!  On the way back, we had less luck, but we tried our best.  Fortunately, she wasn't too fussy and I was able to walk around the cabin of the plane for most of the flight.  I don't know what I would have done if there had been more turbulence...

Second, I never would have believed in the kindness of strangers to entertain my child.  From the soon-to-be grandma on our first flight who played peek-a-boo with Evie for at least half an hour, to the elderly Spanish grandma of 5 who held Evie for an hour of the train ride to the beach, it seemed like everyone was understanding of fussy babies and willing to help out if they could.  I will remember to pay this forward!!!

With my dad in the Plaza Mayor of Valladolid
 Overall, I was really impressed by others' attitudes towards my toddler being on their trans-Atlantic flight.  There were only two instances of people being snide or rude throughout the whole trip.  One was just a man on a train who did a lot of eye rolling and huffing.  The other was a woman on our first flight to Newark who said, "I guess you haven't heard of the Benadryl trick."   (Make sure that you picture this woman's lips pursed and very judgy wudgy looking as she says this.)  I am not going to drug my child for a two hour flight.  I will admit that I brought a bottle of the stuff along just in case it got really bad.  I was fortunate that I never had to use it though.

It wasn't all easy.  I had to hold Evie for about 16 hours straight on the way back because she refused to go by my dad, or go in her stroller in the Frankfurt airport.  Trying to entertain her on the long flight from Frankfurt to Chicago was tough too.  But really, the whole ordeal was better than I thought it would be. 

Have you flown with your child?  How did it go?  Do you have any tips for me in the future?

1 comment:

E @ Life on a Quilt said...

Wow! You are one power mom!

I fly every other month with J and I never know how it's going to go. Honestly, he flew the best at 3 months, compared to 9 months. At 12 months it was decent but I'm terrified for this next flight (15 months). Thankfully, my husband will be with me for backup but the times that I've flown just the toddler and me have been horribly stressful in anticipation, but not that bad in actuality.

My blood pressure does rise just thinking about it...

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