Monday, August 5, 2013

Traveling with four little monkeys. (And a warning to never fly Air Tran.)

I didn't get any pictures of the plane rides to and from Virginia; my hands were just a little bit full. But I want to document the trip, with some dos and don'ts for next time.

I wasn't able to find a deal for a nonstop flight, so I had to suck it up and do a layover despite it being me plus four monkeys hauling all our stuff from Texas to VA. I was a little nervous about how it would go, but everything about the flying experience was great, enjoyable even. I'm a believer in waking the kids up to leave early in the a.m. They don't have time to get cranky about anything and are just a little drowsy for a lot of the trip. So we roused them out of bed at 5:30 a.m., stuck bagels in their hands, and left for the airport. Rick dropped us off at the curbside check-in, which we really had to do since there was no way I could get four car seats/boosters plus our luggage in. Then it was flight, hour layover, flight, and we were there. Seriously, no problems, nobody got lost or upset, even. As soon as we were in the air, I looked over and saw the boys pulling out their workbooks and crayons. A while later I noticed the man next to Everett helping him read what to do in his sticker book, so both boys were set! Faye needed some treats to keep her (relatively) quiet and happy, but she was easy to deal with. On every flight, as soon as the seat belt sign went off, I stood up in the aisle, wrapped Isla tight to me in the Moby wrap, and rocked her to sleep. (She will NOT sleep on me, ever, unless she is in that wrap.) She doesn't sleep for super long on me, but it was enough each time to get us through til it was over.

The only thing I would change about the flights is to bring LESS JUNK on the plane. I spent hours collecting all these activities for them to do, organizing it into different bags, having some special snacks, etc. And it was such a pain to lug it all around the airport and on and off the planes. They hardly used any of it! Just waiting for the beverages to come by and playing with the little straws in their juices occupied them for a lot of the time. The boys did use their workbooks and played some games, but I could have brought half the carry-on items that I packed.

During the take-offs and landings, Everett would get super silly and goofy. He uses this funny announcer-like voice and would sort of narrate the plane coming in for a landing. I hope everyone else thought all three of the older kids' shrieking and laughing was as funny as I did.

The ride home was just as smooth, except for the fact that Air Tran almost didn't let Isla on the airplane. Apparently you have to bring your baby's birth certificate with you to fly these days. I didn't see that in the small print, so I didn't have hers. It wasn't a problem when we traveled to VA, but when my dad dropped us off in D.C. for the return flight, the Air Tran employee demanded some proof of her date of birth. I had nothing, so she said I had to BUY HER A TICKET. I obviously was not going to do that, and I started getting a little upset and sort of demanded that she let me and my baby get on the dang airplane. Air Tran lady said I had to buy a ticket for the baby or leave. I have never been so upset with an employee! She basically ignored me then, and luckily I had the idea to call Rick and have him take a phone picture of her birth certificate and sent it to my phone. Thankfully he woke up to my 3 a.m. call and was able to do it quickly. (We're getting close to the take-off time by now...) The Air Tran lady was SO not helpful; I had to get her attention, show her the picture, beg her to accept it even though she complained that it was too small and couldn't I enlarge it so she could read the birth date clearly? And THEN she proceeded to give me a five-minute lecture on how, because of my behavior and language (I did not swear), the airline has the right to refuse my boarding the airplane. At this point I'm worried about missing the flight, but she took her sweet time in making sure I knew that my "behavior" was not acceptable. The kids and I ran down to the gate and barely made it on the flight before it took off. Obviously, we will not be flying Air Tran again. I realize I should have had the certificate, but the woman was extremely rude and did not even try to help me at all. Ok, my Air Tran bash is over. (Except to say that now, a week later, sometimes Faye will be playing and will say something like, "you need to wet my baby on the pwane! Dat was so funny, mom!" Glad she got a kick out of my dramatic performance at the airport.)

The car rides to and from the Outer Banks were less enjoyable, but not too miserable. Everett actually rode with my sister Ashley and her family, plus sister Mackenzie. They reported that he was the perfect traveling companion, just sort of talked to himself and played and maybe seven hours into the trip finally asked when they were going to get there? This really saved us; had he been in our car there would have been a lot more fighting going on! (Faye sort of specializes bothering Everett, and somehow she always makes it look like he was the bad guy.) Carson sat up with Pappy and manned the GPS most of the time, occasionally playing the license plate game, or dots and boxes with Pappy when traffic was really slow. I sat by Isla and kept her happy for the most part. Faye did amazingly well on the way to the beach but was a real pill on the way home; about eight hours of whining and crying to let her out of there! Phew, I don't really ever want to do all that again. (In retrospect, I think I could have helped the ride home go a lot better, except that I was so exhausted I wasn't making much of an effort to entertain or help Faye.)

Isla had various random things to gnaw on to keep her occupied. The poor girl still has no teeth.
I figure once our youngest kid is three or four we could do long car trips, but I really hate sticking babies and toddlers in their car seats for hours and hours. And hopefully we never have to do this again without Rick. But grateful to my mom and dad for driving us down and putting up with the whining and crying that went with it.

One last thing, I am quite proud of myself and the kids for doing all the traveling with zero mind-numbing electronic devices to entertain them. I did sneak a DVD player in one of our carry-on bags as a last resort in case everyone was freaking out, but we did NOT use any sort of show, phone, ipad, or anything else. Carson did discover TV in our room at the beach house, and he is still trying to process what it all means to change the channels, that you can't pause it, etc. Ha!


Born to Run said...

That flight lady sounds awful!!!!

I am glad the trip was good otherwise. :)

Melissa S. said...

Seriously?!?! Instead of getting angry, I would've broken down in tears and not gotten anything done. So sorry. That is super lame.
And those are a LOT of "plan Bs" packed away. But seriously, better to have too much then too few. I haven't flown with kids since I had 3 and prego with #4! Kuddos to you!

Jamie said...

We have flown at least two roux trips per year (four last year) and only once have I gotten the birth certificate thing. But it freaked me out so bad that I always bring both birth certificates every time now! You should write an email to their customer service dept. it is TOTALLY unacceptable that she treated you that way! Glad you had fun at the beach, your instagrams were so cute!