I used to fly solo with Evie all the time when we lived in Houston. It was just so simple when she was a baby. A few bottles, put her in her wrap, she'd fall asleep on my chest and I could relax, read, and just enjoy some quiet time until we landed and she woke up. This worked until she was about 11 months old, and we tried a flight to Florida for G's family reunion. OMG. We stopped flying after that. Then in December my folks moved to Arizona, and I felt like Evie was finally old enough to fly with solo again (She's just a few months shy of turning 3). So we went for it last month. And, I have to tell you, it was overall so good. I learned some things though. Some things I brought were unnecessary, and I left some things I wish I would have had. First, let me share what we did, then I'll spill the beans on what we didn't need and what I was wishing we hadn't left behind!
WHAT I DID:
Since we had a short time between our connection, I carried everything on. A suitcase for me, duffel for Evie, my purse and her backpack. She also choose a large stuffed cat as her night time toy, so I was wrangling that, too. I planned a few activities that would engage her without being complicated on the plane - stickers, a magnet dress-up doll, magic markers, and a make your own bracelet activity. I organized it all in our Petunia Pickle Bottom train case. Being organized makes such a difference, especially in a small space. I also downloaded a few favorite episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for her, and purchased some kid earphones. Finally, while I gave myself the freedom to purchase snacks and food, I packed a few favorites that would travel easily in my bag. I chose to leave our carseat at home since my parents were picking us up and already had one, and I also left our stroller at home. One less thing to gate check, and with the short turn-around time I was worried about making our connection. Also, we had no plans to do anything but hang out on granny's ranch, so we shouldn't need a stroller once we got there. I contemplated bringing a carrier for Evie, but with all the bags and my hip injury, it just didn't seem feasible for me to carry her.
HOW DID IT GO?
It was every bit as easy to fly with her as I'd hoped. She was the most self-contained, relaxed girl and took to flying like she'd been doing it for 13 years instead of 3. I had some trouble getting off the plane once we were home (stairs with all that luggage and a toddler was a mess- thank goodness for passengers who lended the extra hands I so desperately needed), and a few hangry breakdowns on our return flight (it was at night, which is typically her grouchiest time), but overall, it was great, and I look forward to our next trip!
WHAT WOULD I CHANGE?
First, let's cover what I'd leave behind: I wouldn't bring so many activities. I was ready for her to need entertainment, and she just wanted to chill. I'd swap out the variety of things I brought for just some markers, stickers, a page or two to color, and a book to read. Basically pare it down and simplify. I'd also leave the bags to someone else. We managed it (just barely), but you better believe I'm checking bags from now on.
When I think of what I wish I had brought, two things come to mind: first, I would definitely bring the stroller. When Evie and I were tired, it would have made a world of difference and been worth the gate-check hassle. Plus, ours is so lightweight, folds down easily, and has an awesome travel bag. Second, an iPad for her! All her shows were downloaded to my phone, and I wish I would have been able to watch something while she watched her movies.
That's it! I've linked a few of our favorite travel activities, our stroller and those awesome kid earphones below. What are some things you wouldn't fly without?
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