Toddler Travel Diaries

It’s 10pm and Oatmeal just went to bed.  What better time to start on a blog?

I keep trying to kill the night owl that lives inside of myself, but that damn bird won’t die.

No really, I keep saying I’ll do an update about Poppyseed and our flight to Japan, but I never make the time.  We’ve had so many fun but very time-consuming things going on….a trip across the world, catching up on work, hosting cousins at our casa, etc. etc.  It’s been SUCH a fun month.

Anyway, traveling to Japan with a 15 month old was actually sort of a breeze.  I’m not kidding.  She had never flown before – EVER – so I had no idea what to expect.  Now she has spent 34 hours of her life airborne (5 flights in all) and I’ll probably never worry about flying with a baby/toddler again.  One trip made us feel like old pros.

In order to get to Okinawa we had 2 flights.  We flew from Houston to Tokyo (14 hours) and then from Tokyo to Naha (almost 3 hours).  On the way home we flew from Naha to Tokyo again, and then from Tokyo to Seattle (9 hours) and then to Houston (5 hours).  It took about 22 hours of travel time to get to Japan, and 25 to get back to the US, so we were definitely feeling delirious by the time we got where we were going.  Despite the longer trip home, I actually much preferred breaking the travel time into 3 flights instead of 2.  Fourteen hours was just way too long to be on a plane with a toddler.

My last post mentioned some items that I packed in order to help pass the time.  I got two quiet books from Amazon (thank you so much to Chelsea for that idea) and they were both a hit. She absolutely LOVED them.  (If you click the image below you can get the amazon link yourself.)

Additionally, I took the advice of my cousin’s wife and bought one of those clear makeup travel containers with several pouches. I went to the dollar aisle in Target and bought tons of little toys that she’d never seen before – pipe cleaners, stickers, a slinky (OMG SHE LOVED THE SLINKY!), a little bell, band-aids, and several other odds and ends.

Finally, I got Oatmeal’s iPad and downloaded a painting app, a few Daniel Tiger episodes, and a little peek-a-boo animal app.  This was actually not useful in the least. I guess since we never play iPhone/iPad games at home or watch TV, she just isn’t into it yet.

Riding the parking shuttle at the airport.

Riding the parking shuttle at the airport.

We didn't want the hassle of a stroller, so she spent most of her time at the airport on Oatmeal's shoulders.

We didn’t want to have to deal with a stroller, so she spent most of her time at the airport on Oatmeal’s shoulders.

Running around the terminal while waiting on our flight back to the States.

Luckily Oatmeal has the speed of a ninja.  We almost lost her a couple of times.

A new walker in an airport - it should be a sport!

A new walker in an airport – it should be a sport!

The infamous slinky.

The infamous slinky.

It can be done - Poppyseed ate her normal paleo food on the plane rides.  I packed meat and fruit in small lunch boxes and tossed in some fruit pouches and larabars for good measure.  No airplane food and nothing processed!

Poppyseed ate her normal paleo food on the plane. I packed meat and fruit in small lunch boxes and tossed in some fruit pouches and larabars for good measure.  (I didn’t pack Fiji water, ha!  Thanks United Airlines for that.)

Stickers, stickers everywhere!

Stickers, stickers everywhere!

A lot of people have asked me if I gave her something to make her sleep on the plane.  I won’t lie, I was really on the fence about this. I’ve never given Poppyseed any type of medicine other than when she got bacterial pneumonia – which in my opinion is pretty darn worthy of medication. So the thought of giving her baby benadryl to make her groggy wasn’t really an idea that I loved. But I still found myself walking to the pharmacy section of our grocery store in search of a small container, just in case. That’s when I found this bottle of Zarbee’s, which contains vitamin C, zinc, and melatonin as its active ingredients.

We tried to give her a teaspoon on the 14 hour flight from Houston to Tokyo, but I ended up wearing it.  She was awake for the majority of that flight.  I think she took one or two little catnaps on that entire fourteen hour stretch.  I know it could have been a LOT worse, but it was exhausting to not be able to take much a nap myself.

Probably the only time she slept for more than 30 minutes on the way to Japan!

Probably the only time she slept for more than 30 minutes on the way to Japan!

We had better luck on the 9 hour flight from Tokyo to Seattle on our way home.  We were able to give her the recommended teaspoon, and she did sleep for about 7 hours of that 9 hour flight and even stayed asleep in my arms as we went through customs!  I felt a lot better using a homeopathic medicine, but you have to go with your gut and health care provider’s advice on this one.

Right before she fell asleep on the way back home.

Right before she fell asleep on the way back home.

Hour 1 of Tokyo ---> Seattle nap.

Hour 1 of Tokyo —> Seattle nap.

Going on 7 hours of sleep as we made our way through customs in Seattle.

Going on 7 hours of sleep.  She never opened her eyes as we went through customs.

Lola had been awake for almost 26 hours when this was taken.  Luckily Starbucks is international.

Lola had been awake for almost 26 hours when this was taken. Luckily Starbucks is international.

Only one person in this picture is feeling refreshed as we landed in Houston!  Guess who?

Only one person in this picture is feeling refreshed as we landed in Houston! Guess who?

Overall, I had all of these horrible fears about traveling with a toddler.  I thought she would scream from ear pain on the way up and down each flight, but that didn’t happen at all.  Maybe it was because I nursed and/or gave her a bottle, but I think there were even a few landings where she slept and it didn’t seem to bother her at all.

I also feared that the other passengers on the plane would hate us, but honestly I got nothing but smiles and good vibes from everyone around us.  There were actually a lot of other kids on the plane – newborn babies, older babies, toddlers, and kids – and so we didn’t feel strange at all.

This was the only crying fit that I remember.  I think she cried for about 5 minutes, until Oatmeal just said, "Baby, you can't get off of this plane and no one wants to hear you cry, so you better just put your head on Daddy's shoulder and go night-night."  I think she sputtered for another minute or so and then did just that.

This was the only crying fit that I remember. I think she cried for about 5 minutes, until Oatmeal just said, “Baby, you can’t get off of this plane and no one wants to hear you cry, so you better just put your head on Daddy’s shoulder and go night-night.” I think she sputtered for another minute or so and then did just that.

My last concern was that we didn’t buy Poppyseed her own seat.  It was just so expensive that I couldn’t do it, but I worried about her having to spend the entire trip in our laps.  But it absolutely worked out!  She did fine in our laps on the first flight, and on the second flight the plane was only about halfway full.  We were able to raise the arm between two seats, allowing her to lie down and nap.

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On the third flight, she sat in our laps with no trouble.  The fourth flight (the 9 hour flight that she slept through) was also not full and we had an entire row (4 seats) to ourselves.  But the arm between the seats wouldn’t raise, and so every time I tried to put her down she was too cramped and would begin to wake up and fuss.  So, I ended up holding her the whole time and thinking to myself that I was so glad I didn’t waste $1500 on a seat that she would have refused to sit in anyway.

Another pleasant surprise was that we managed to sit together as a family on all 5 flights, even though we didn’t book our tickets at the same time and were seated on different rows for each flight.  Every time we’d check in at a terminal we’d ask the airline employees if they could switch Oatmeal’s seat to be next to us, and four of five flights this worked.  On the last flight the lady sitting next to me saw that Oatmeal was stuck in the back of the plane and graciously offered her extra legroom seat to him!   (Who can blame her for not wanting to spend 5 hours next to a baby?!)

All in all it was a really awesome experience to fly across the planet with my family.  I went into it as prepared as possible, and I would not change a thing about what I packed or didn’t pack if I were to do it all over again.   The only thing that made me feel really dumb was the realization that there IS a changing table in airplane lavatories – something I only realized after I changed about a dozen diapers in our laps or on the floor of the plane.  (In my defense, I’ve since been told that only 1 bathroom per plane is typically equipped with a changing table.  So mamas, if you go to change a diaper in one bathroom and don’t see it, just wander around until you find another bathroom and you’ll eventually find that one!   Thankfully we were only dealing with wet diapers when we were changing her out in the open.)

I’ll end this post with a few pictures that will prove that Asian airports are way more awesome than American ones.  American moms know that going to a public restroom with a baby or toddler can be really gross.  There’s nowhere to put the baby (if you don’t have a carrier, which I didn’t), and nowhere to nurse privately.

In Japan, however, you can find one of these handy little seats in every restroom!

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There was also a very spacious “nursing room” with a privacy curtain, two padded changing tables, a sink, and a cell phone charger next to every single restroom in the Japanese airports.  I’ve never seen anything so comfortable or well equipped in the States!

Potty training your toddler?  No problem, there is a potty seat hanging next to the toilets in each women’s restroom.

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And since I know you’re curious, here’s a close up shot of that fancy schmancy toilet.

Yes, I pushed every single button on that panel.  Some more than once.

Yes, I pushed every single button on that panel. Some more than once.

So, we did it.  We flew across the world with our toddler.  I never should have doubted that we could do it!

 

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Comments

  1. Karington says:

    The good ol’ slinky!!! Love it!

  2. I am so glad she was such a good little traveler! 🙂

  3. Was wondering how you got on. Glad it all went well.
    Am currently travelling with my toddler (15 months today) and thankfully she’s coped well too. We’ve had train rides, plane flights and car trips to get from one side of the country to the other, and then from the top to the south, with no major hassles. My husband has stayed at home so wrangling her and all our luggage on my own is not the easiest, however 🙂
    Like the slinky idea though – will be looking for one of them!

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