My first US trip with my 18-month old daughter was the quickest and one of the bravest adventures that we had together, so far. The whole trip was fun and overall it was pleasant in spite of the crazy jet lag. Thanks to my generous best friend and her family who made our one week stay as fun and comfortable as possible.
“It felt like an extension of our home!
After a few days of receiving our US Visas, and probably a few days more trying to bag a cheap flight to Los Angeles; finally, I settled to flying Philippine Airlines. As much as possible, everything must feel comfortable and familiar because it was my first long haul solo flight with my daughter. It’ll be easier to approach the flight attendants if in case I needed a little bit of help. And the last thing I want is to have issues in communicating what I need in the midst of toddler tantrum. I mean, we never know! It felt better to go on a flight with at least a sense of familiarity so that the sudden change in the surroundings and people won’t be too drastic for the little one. But really Kerrigan didn’t mind where she’s going or who she’s going with. She has that natural friendliness and an adventure-loving spirit in her. For as long as she’s entertained, she’s fine! As for me, I was just focused on making the flight pleasant for her and yeah, entertaining!
Our house was just 11km away from the airport but because of the ’normal’ heavy traffic, we always have to allow an hour or two to get to the airport with at least three hours more for check-ins, security checks, immigration etc. Apparently, I miss calculated the time and ended up spending too much time fixing our luggage and misread the departure time in the itinerary. All of that stuff gave me a slight anxiety attack, but I had to keep the anxiety level down for the sake of a nice flight with my daughter. Surprisingly, we were just in time for boarding, we had half an hour to sit back and wait for boarding. It was also an opportunity to chat with a fellow passenger. At some point though, Kerrigan got bored so I had to wheel her around with the stroller to entertain her until they opened the gates for boarding. Actually, if we hadn’t go around I wouldn’t notice the gate reassignment, so yeah I thank my daughter’s boredom on that one.
For this flight, I made sure I packed her some snacks, milk, a sketch pad and some crayons and yes the iPhone for some educational videos. It’s really important for us to pack light with only the essentials. One rechargeable entertaining system was the ONLY way to go for mom’s who would love to have everything in a single device. Because really, I could already imagine how difficult it’ll be to carry a backpack with a protesting toddler in a stroller. Luckily, Kerrigan was very entertained with the two empty seats in our row, a few jumbo crayons with a sketch pad and some educational videos on the iPhone. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the ‘realness’ of the jet lag. I was waiting for her to fall asleep on her regular schedule, but she didn’t. She did sleep only for a few minutes so I had a moment think about our fun and bold travel to the US, our journey to get our Visas, packing, planning and all sorts of stuff. It was crazy but one of my proud ‘#MomGoals’ achievements. I also got to watch some movies, check on the distance we’ve travelled and our height from the ground from the small entertainment screen onboard. I also imagined what it was like to look at our airplane from the outside. Finally, it sank in that where we were and where we were heading. We were thousands of feet from the ground, travelling at more than 500mph and I don’t even feel the speed! I know thoughts was just all over the place!
“Sometimes for us to be able to do courageous things, we just have to stop ourselves from worrying.” – Elle Anorma
After I came back from the lavatory, I found Kerrigan awake so immediately, I looked for ways to entertain her. We did puzzles, coloring and even recorded a few videos in the flight until I realized I won’t be able to sleep with her super awake. At about an hour or two before we landed, Kerrigan decided to sleep. It was morning in LA and evening in the Philippines. And right then and there, I remembered that jet lag is real. But still, I wasn’t taking it seriously until we were in San Diego. I was touring with a sleeping baby in a stroller.
Watch our travel vlog here.
Parents might think that it isn’t possible to enjoy a long haul flight with an infant or a toddler in tow. I don’t blame them because the idea of a long haul flight is already a gruesome idea to most people I know, let alone if you’re on it with a little one. But there are fun ways to make your trip a little more fun.
Now, here are the things that I could do to have a better flight next time:
Get some sleep before the flight and do at least two weeks of full workout before you travel. It helps with conditioning your body from long walks, heavy bags and energetic toddler.
Prepare your daughter for the sudden change in time zone. I’ve read about beginning the body clock adjustments at least a week before the flight. Maybe start her off by matching her nap times with your destination’s time zone.
Carefully plan everything, your luggage, carry on, places to visit and all. Just take the packing seriously to avoid the hassle of bringing too little and too much. If possible, pack lighter because you’ll need the energy to entertain your kid or kids and not on carrying heavy carry-ons. I suggest to not overdo on bringing extra clothes. One extra light garment partnered with a jacket (depending on the weather) is just fine. Some bibs to keep the food off your kid’s clothes and baby wipes to rub off dirt are a better alternative.
Only bring her guaranteed favorite snacks and pick the ones that have less color or no color at all to avoid messing up her clothes.
No need to bring the crayons and sketch pad, unless picking up toys and chasing rolling crayons is your favorite workout routine. Stick with a no slip and with a stand gadget and one soft toy. It’s far more entertaining and convenient than having multiple pieces of toys.
Bring a snack bar for yourself or a piece of chocolate for extra energy, you’ll need it to help you deal with you and your kid’s jet lag.
Use small bottles or containers for alcohol, cologne, toothpaste, baby cleanser etc., put them all in a drip-free bag. But place the alcohol, baby wipes and diapers in an outside pocket, while snacks and milk should be on top your other stuff in the bag so you can pull it off and put it back easily.
Opt for a separate smaller bag with a sling to secure your passports and other travel documents. Never mix it with your diaper bag. It’ll end up at the bottom part of your bag and you’ll hate to look for it, while you carry your kid in your arm because the stroller is still in the airplane.