(Reluctantly) Flying with Children


My brother graduated from college this past December and I really wanted to be there to see him walk.  He went to school in Florida so it ended up being our first real family vacation.  Initially, we planned to drive.  For months, our plan was to rent a car, pack the kids and gear in somehow, and drive to Ocala, where my parents had rented a house. As the trip approached, I started thinking about it and there was nothing that was going to be easy, fun or relaxing about this trip.  It was less ‘vacation’ and more really, really long drive with two-year old twins.  Oh God.  By November, I was seriously panicking.

I remember going to work one day and a coworker asked why we didn’t just fly.  I had never even considered it for a lot of reasons(price, hassle, umm, etc?), the biggest of which is, I’m a big fat chicken.  I hate flying.  I’m scared to death of airplanes.  The few times I’ve been forced to fly (honeymoon, brother’s wedding, etc), it’s really come down to the very last moment whether I would actually get on the plane.  We almost didn’t even go on our honeymoon.  As we stepped from that accordion platform thingy onto the airplane, I started hyperventilating and had to get off.  I cried and begged S not to get back on the plane.  He said we could do whatever I wanted, but also that we’d paid a lot of money for this and it was our only honeymoon. But if I wanted to go home, he wouldn’t be mad.  He must have known I wouldn’t ditch out on our honeymoon.  If roles had been reversed, I would have said, “You don’t want to come?  Okay, see ya in a week.”  But I went, of course I went.  I marched to my seat like I was marching to my own death.  It’s seriously like that every time.  You know the original Final Destination movie?  Exactly like that.

Anyway, I hadn’t even considered flying for this vacation.  My parents were driving (because my mom is afraid of flying too) and I had assumed it would be ridiculously expensive for S and me and the two kids to fly.  But when I got home and looked online, it turned out that flying would actually be a lot cheaper than renting a car and driving.  Turns out, kids under two can be lapped.  Also, the airline checks strollers and car seats for free.  And, they will bring your stroller right to the gate so you don’t have to drag the kids to baggage claim to find it.  Um, score!

I realized that it was unlikely that my 23-month olds would want to be lapped for two hours, so I compromised and got one seat for the two of them.  I figured I’d just buy out a row and have the adults block them in by the window.  It seemed like the perfect solution.  AND, we would get two extra days of vacation because our trip would take two hours each way instead of two days.  And let’s be honest.  Two-year old twins?  In the car?  For TWO DAYS?????  No, thank you, to put it politely.

Finally I found something that trumped my fear of flying.  I sucked down a glass of wine and I ordered tickets online, right then, before I had a chance to change my mind.  I did go through some pre-trip flight panic.  But again, when I thought about the alternative, there was no way in hell I’d rather do the drive.  So I got my kids and my husband to the airport and flew our asses to Florida.

The kids were pretty great on the way down.  I won’t lie – I was a panicky mess.  I ordered two airplane bottles of vodka and a can of club soda as soon as the flight attendants came around with the snack cart.  It was just after 6 am.  Yes, I really do hate it that much.  I did apologize for drinking so early (and with two kids) but she didn’t seem to care. We were told to bring tons of toys and snacks and dvds to keep the kids occupied.  It was so cramped in our seats, the only thing I could reach was the snacks.  But it worked out fine because they were perfectly happy just playing with the magazines and menus and eating goldfish.  Really, it was a pretty awesome and quick flight down.  We all enjoyed looking out the window and watching sunny Florida come into view.  As the plane touched down, just a little over two hours after we’d boarded, I was giddy with vacation anticipation.  I couldn’t believe anyone would choose to drive over flying!  Because flying was awesome!!  I mean, how easy-peasy was that?  Also, I was a little buzzed.

The vacation was so much fun.  We went to some cool places, like Harry Potter World at Universal.

Pretending I got my letter of acceptance to Hogwarts

The whole gang in front of the castle

We saw my brother graduate and went to a party where we tried grilled dove wrapped in bacon (don’t ask).

This was Eliza's favorite part

We went to the Kennedy Space Center and a bird attacked me while I was holding Jack and I dropped him on the pavement (Jack, not the bird.  I wish I was quick/badass enough to drop the bird because that bird was an asshole).

Asshole bird

My dad chauffeured us around Florida for five days in a row.  We did all sorts of things and went to parks and ate out and drank wine from a box that we bought at Target.  It was seriously fun.  And seriously tiring.  And the kids didn’t take one nap the entire trip but they slept great at night.

And then it was time to go home.

The flight home wasn’t nearly as smooth as our first one.  Eliza stretched herself out like a board, refusing to sit either on our lap or on a seat.  Basically, Jack took the window, S got the middle and I sat on the aisle.  Eliza the Board sprawled out across the three of us, doing a screech/whine combo that started before we even began taxiing.

I really couldn’t blame her though.  We’d spent much of the vacation in the car, driving from destination to destination.  They got car sick once, and both projectile vomited within minutes of one another.  Jack actually woke up from a sound sleep to vomit.  The rental smelled like ass from that point on, despite taking his car seat apart and washing the whole thing.  All of their normal habits were disturbed for a week straight.  So what I’m saying is, by the time we got on the plane home?  The kids were just plain DONE.  Imagine if we were getting in the car to drive home for 17 hours instead of flying for two?  Yeah, that’s enough to get my ass on a plane.  Hell, I’ll get on a thousand planes before I do an end-of-vacation drive home with two toddlers.  So again, we got on the plane and dealt with Eliza’s tantrum, thankful that it was only a two hour trip.

She was a monster for almost the full two hours.  Jack was slightly better, but not much.  So when the plane touched down in cold, rainy Atlantic City, NJ, I said a silent prayer of thanks.  Not that we got home in one piece (though I was certainly thankful for that too), but that my children made it without causing a major disturbance on the airplane.

As we got up to get off the plane, a very sweet old lady in the row in front of us turned around and told me my children were so well-behaved on the flight.  Now maybe she’d been in a cramped, public space with her own screechy children many years ago.  Maybe she remembered the sweating and prayers and the begging them to just please be quiet for fifteen more minutes.  Maybe she remembered the looks from the single guy in the row next to us who was just trying to read a book (eff that guy, btw).  Or maybe she needed to get her hearing aid adjusted.  Whichever the case, I thanked her very much for being sweet and dragged my little monsters off the plane.


2 responses »

  1. Funny story. My wife gets a scared look in her eye when I talk about a taking a trip with the children that involves flying and they are 5&7. Of course, it could be beceause the trip I want to take means 12 hours on a plane.

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