December 28, 2016

Holiday Travel With Kids

We’re back home from visiting family for the holidays, and this was – without a doubt – our most painful traveling experience. It was rough all around, but our trip out was pretty epically bad.

Flying from West coast to East we pretty much had two options: wake the kids up early, or keep the kids up way past their bedtime. We opted for the latter. I figured interrupting their morning sleep would set up a painful rest of the day, even if they went to bed at a reasonable time, whereas if we kept them up late we’d just experience a bad evening. We had a short hop to Vegas and then a long lay over. Up to this point things were going reasonably smoothly. The girls were super excited about the whole process, and very well behaved for the first plane. Vegas is where it all went to pot.

After lunch we made our way to the gate to discover our next plane was delayed. How delayed? Well, it was almost boarding time, and the airline had made a decision to wait and hold the flight for additional passengers from another flight. There were 30 people scheduled to take our flight out of Vegas, who were arriving from Los Angeles. Their plane out of Los Angeles hadn’t even taken off yet. We were waiting for passengers who weren’t even airborn yet!

I can’t really blame the airline for their decision. There were no other available seats between then (the 20th) and Christmas. The airline’s choice was to inconvenience a hundred people, or ruin Christmas for 30. They made the right call, even though it made things painful for us.

Vegas is most definitely not a family friendly airport, and probably one of the worst to be stuck in. Any open area is occupied by slot machines, and the kids are not allowed to be near those machines, which means there’s no real place to let them stretch their legs. By the time it was boarding we had some very wired and very tired kids.

We took off about an hour after Alexis’ effective bed time. She was mighty cranky and overtired. I got her to nap on me about 45 minutes into the flight, but sleeping on the plane proved incredibly difficult for her. The next three hours were spent in 20 minute nap cycles and 5 minute crying cycles. Adding insult to injury Nicole started to get really tired about an hour before landing. At this point she had been up four hours after bedtime. She kept asking when it would be her turn to sleep on me. Oh how I longed for four arms and two laps.

The only saving grace was that Alexis was just a few weeks beyond two. Technically she’s supposed to be in her own seat, and we did have a seat for her, but the stewardess assumed she was under two and let her stay in my lap for landing. Normally I’m one of those really annoying strict rule followers, but I figured the difference in safety had to be minimal. After all there were some 18 months old bigger than her who would still be allowed on a lap!

Our return trip was a bit smoother. Alexis fell asleep during take off and slept the entire first hop. No mid nap fussing. That meant both kids stayed awake the second flight. We kept the entertained by singing songs, and lots and lots and lots of snacks. Alexis also had a ton of fun feeding her stuffed cookie monster by shoving gold fish into his mouth. Cookie monster is most definitely in need of a bath.

By the end of the flight Alexis was so deliriously tired that she’d burst into google fits when ever I’d wiggle her stuffed cookie monster in front of her. She did request to sleep on me about a half hour to landing, but we thought it best to keep her awake, rather than wake her just as she’s getting into a deep sleep.

A while back I said it was good our difficult flight was the return trip so we didn’t spend our entire vacation dreading flying. With our difficult flight being up front this time, we definitely dreaded the return. The benefit of having the smoothest flight being our final flight is that the girls ended up making a lot of friends around them. After we landed no less than four people praised them for being such good fliers. It’s nice to end travel on a positive note.

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