Remember Flying Without Kids?

I remember when vacation meant a week of sleeping in, eating meals over the course of hours while enjoying a bottle of wine and long leisurely days laying on the beach. I long for those days sometimes but I generally love vacations with my kids, too. What I don’t like is flying with my kids. A friend of mine told me she’s getting on a plane this week without her kids. I’m so jealous. I’ve flown without my kids once in five years. It was the most glorious trip ever.  I didn’t have to feed anyone, get anyone down for a nap or worry that someone was going to be unable to equalize the pressure in their ears and scream bloody murder for three hours. It was awesome. Here’s what flying looks like before kids and after kids:

Before: Getting to the airport exactly one hour before my departure time because that’s all I needed.

After: I now arrive at the airport two hours before departure because we travel with an entourage made up of 7 suitcases, a stroller, two car seats and two children who only want to run in opposite directions from each other. Moving through the airport is like driving an 18 wheeler: long, slow, wide turns while constantly checking to make sure I haven’t run into someone or dropped anything/anyone off on the side.

Before: Sharing knowing, annoyed glances with strangers over the screaming child in 9B.

After: Dodging eye contact with everyone around me because my child is seated in 9B screaming his head off. Instead, I share knowing, sympathetic looks with the other people traveling with kids and gratefully accept the bag of half-eaten Cheetos from the mom across the aisle in hopes it will shut my kid up. 

Before: I would pick out a book just for reading on the airplane knowing I would have a chance to sit there for several hours, uninterrupted, able to totally engross myself in the characters and plot.

After: My reading material consists of something that includes  an illustrator listed on the cover or the Sky Mall magazine.


Before: I ordered more than one drink without dodging disapproving looks from other passengers.

After: I order more than one drink but it’s usually for the six passengers seated around me who are being tortured by my kid crying or my kid’s movie that is inexplicably still audible despite him wearing headphones, and those who will need surgery for their herniated disc caused by my  kid repeatedly kicking their seat.

Before: I wouldn’t drink anything for an hour before the plane in fear of having to actually use one of those broom closets disguised as a bathroom.

After: I contemplate letting my kid pee in a bottle rather than taking him to the bathroom. I made the mistake once of scheduling a trip while  my kid was in the middle of potty training. Never again. You think airplane bathrooms are gross? Try being three feet tall with questionable balance. There aren’t many places to put your hands to keep from falling over.

The next time you are flying and seated near someone traveling with kids, offer to buy them a drink. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it as much as you.

Photo Credit: Chef Cooke via Flickr   

8 thoughts on “Remember Flying Without Kids?

  1. I have to say, I don’t mind flying with kids and I have not had many people get bent out of shape. People who have had kids remember what it was like and are really sympathetic. I feel like they are rooting for you, actually. If people are upset about kids, well… too bad.

    It gets better. I’m stepping back on the baby train now, but I’ll tell you I took my girl on a red eye flight to the Bahamas and she really impressed me/surprised me.

  2. The absolute WORST experience I ever had was when my girls were 23 months and 4 months, old. We were flying from Australia back to Mississippi. I kid you not, neither of them slept (which means I didn’t get to either) for 30 hours. 30. THIRTY HOURS. And 4-month old thought my boob was the ONLY pacifier on the planet. Oh, did I mention that I’M the one who has trouble dealing with my ears under pressure?? Yeah. Lots of crying on my part. I don’t think I dared fly again until they were teenagers! 😉

  3. Haha – love it! Great minds think alike – just posted today about how my air travel has changed since having kids (well, the general post wasn’t about that, but I mentioned it!)… All my carry-ons used to be about looking my best and staying fresh on the plane – these days I have no delusions that I will look my best or stay fresh on the plane. Long haul with four boys – need I say more?? 😀

  4. You’re much braver than I am. We do road trips. Much less expensive with a family of 5 than flying. The drawback – MUCH more time in an enclosed space! The plus – we are the ONLY ones in said enclosed space (except at rest areas and restaurants). We had my daughter puke all over the table at a Cracker Barrel in Nashville and when I took her to the bathroom to change her clothes, my husband paid the check, gathered our two sons, and forgot to tip the waitress. OOPS! We didn’t go back there…..thankfully we live in Wisconsin so we don’t ever have to. Hang in there – it DOES get better when they get older!

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