I took my first flight with just me and the girls yesterday, and I am happy to say that we made it in one piece — after a delay and change of airports, in both New York and Florida. I’ve traveled several times with just one girl by myself, but never both and I’m glad the first time is over because I definitely made some rookie mistakes. (There were things that I did thinking that it would make my life easier and it ended up making the trip more stressful; i.e .I was over-prepared and had too much stuff.) But the good news is that I’ve learned from my mistakes and now I know what not to do when you are traveling alone with more than one child.
1. Don’t let them fall asleep in the car on the way to the airport.
Both girls fell asleep on the way to the airport. I had to wake Harlan up when we got there so she could help me with things. Avery had to be woken up in order for us to go through security. Both girls woke up in a bad mood and then didn’t want to nap again on the plane.
2. Don’t try to do it all yourself.
Many airports will give your significant other a pass to help you get through security and to the gate. Honestly, it was so incredibly hard to get through security with two cranky kids plus all of our stuff, I wanted to cry. Thankfully, the people at the security area were very patient and helpful but the point is if you can get any help, take it.
3. Don’t overpack your carry-on items.
I packed so much stuff for those “just-in-case” moments that, unfortunately, all of the bags were heavy and just too much to handle.
4. Don’t let your child wear shoes that have metal on them.
Children are not required to take their shoes off at security. That was super helpful to me because it was one less thing I had to do, but I made a mistake: I let Harlan wear a pair of boots that have a zipper on them. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, that was until she went through the metal detector and it went off. They told me to take off her shoes and have her go through. I didn’t mind it but Harlan did. She threw a fit when I took them off and threw herself in the ground (which is so not like her.) I’ll never let her wear those shoes to the airport ever again!
5. Don’t keep the kids seated while waiting for your flight.
I tried to keep both girls in one place while we were waiting for our flight. Once we got on the plane, they started to get antsy. I wish that I would have let them run around in the terminal to get a little of their energy out before sitting in a seat for a couple of hours.
6. Don’t forget to take your toddler to the restroom before boarding the plane.
I asked Harlan if she needed to use the restroom before we boarded and she said no. I took her word for it, which was a major mistake. As soon as they shut the cabin door she told me she needed to go. I had to tell her to wait until we got in the air and it was safe for us to move. Not only was that difficult, but the teeny tiny bathroom that we had to squeeze all three of us in didn’t help either.
7. Don’t schedule a short layover.
We had a 30 minute layover in DC before our other flight to Florida. I had to get all of our carry-on stuff plus wait for our stroller at the gate before I could go to our next gate. It stressed me out so much because I was terrified I was going to miss our next flight. Originally, I scheduled flights that close together because I wanted to get to Florida as quickly as possible, but I quickly realized it wasn’t worth all of that stress.
8. Don’t let the flight attendant give your toddler a full drink.
Harlan loved being able to ask for a drink and snack all by herself. The flight attendant gave her an entire glass of apple juice. She drank 3/4 of the drink and then as she was playing with Avery, she accidentally spilled it all over her and the seat. It wasn’t her fault and she didn’t mean to but it was very hard to clean and dry her off with a baby on my lap. She also needed to go to the bathroom three times on the flight from drinking so much.
9. Don’t forget extra chargers for electronic devices.
Harlan played the iPad for most of the time on both flights. She was able to play games and watch movies while I focused my time on squirmy avery. About halfway through our second flight the battery went dead. I have an extra batter pack that would help charge the iPad, but I forgot it at home. Big mistake! It would have made the last leg of our trip go much smoother if Harlan could have finished her movie.
10. Don’t stress.
I’ve been stressed out about this trip since I booked it on Monday. The purpose of this trip has been very stressful and the fact that I am doing it on my own is stressful. My stress rubbed off on the girls which made them extra cranky during our flight. Next time I do this I need to remind myself to relax and take it easy!