Finally the time had come for us to take our first air trip as a family of four. If you recall my packing challenge a few months back for a van and unlimited luggage weight, you can imagine how long I stared at the open suitcase in front of me vis-a-vis what I had wanted to bring for the girls on our 3-day adventure. I will get it out of the way and say some things about how I chose to pack so we can move on to more interesting things!
I put the girls in as many matching outfits as I could. It made it easier to count and visualize what they would where for when.
- All of Sam’s activities / distractions whether on the plane or in the hotel, had to fit in a backpack that she could carry. Everything else we used, were from apps on the iPhone. Thank goodness for Dora too, as it made it easy to convince Sam she needed one.
- I decided it was okay for them to share certain things: towels, washcloths, toiletries and the like. Sam shares dirt and germs with her sister anyway on a regular basis…
- I really only brought enough things for the duration of our stay. Normally I pack and plan contingency outfits and items so that in case of an emergency, I’d have extra things to reach for without having to spend unnecessarily. This time though, I rationalized that it wouldn’t hurt too much if I needed to purchase one or two items as needed. Well, it might hurt my husband’s credit card (Which he claims has fallen critically ill beyond his wildest dreams from our Labor Day shopping spree), but I promised to spend wisely (oh I always do! 😉 ).
- I decided to live without my Mac for a few days. 🙁 Normally I bring my computer with me everywhere I go, but as I’ve come to realize, the girls keep me busy enough as it is. Bringing it would have only added to our carry-on weight, and we already had our hands full.
Somehow we made it onto the flight with time to spare; Sam was quite the excited little traveler (who woke me up at 4AM saying she wanted to ride the “big blue jet”). She got her own seat this time, a first for her and she absolutely loved it. She couldn’t stop talking. She enjoyed her table too where we put her pretzel snack and her cup of water. She ate and drank contentedly and didn’t waste a crumb or spill a single drop. It was also Jamie’s first flight, which is a milestone I record in their baby books.
Side note: If it is your infant’s first trip on a plane, be sure to tell the stewardess and ask for a “First Flight Certificate”. Both my girls have one and I was so glad that the stewardess on our flight with Sam brought it to my attention, otherwise I would never had known it existed!
It was really a “business” trip more than anything since Jamie needed to make a personal appearance at the Philippine Embassy in Washington to get her passport, but we decided since we were there anyway, we might as well take a little tour around the area. We didn’t plan on going very far, given that we would always need to send Sam to a clean potty at least every two hours or so, and Jamie as well would need to feed and get changed. Also, we imagined it wouldn’t be a very pleasant experience lugging the double-stroller up and down the Metro. Then there was also the weather forecast which said “scattered showers” — and I didn’t want the girls to get wet and sick again. So we kept things simple and headed only about 2 miles out.
We spent the day inside the Museum of Natural History, where Sam was sufficiently fascinated with the “stuffed” animals on display in various parts of the museum. She kept going back to a few of them, especially the display of the deep creatures in the ocean, which had all sorts of bioluminescent lighting as part of its attraction. She did like the dinosaur exhibit too, and we spent a good amount of time just circling that area.
Afterwards, we trekked into the “mall” to get touristy pictures and sufficiently tire Sam out for the rest of the evening, running around the grassy area. That worked according to plan. Then again, she was up at 4AM bouncing on the bed.
When I think about it, it’s funny how my husband’s and my sight-seeing habits have changed since we had the kids. When it was just us, we would push ourselves to see as much as we could in the time that we could do it; even if it meant walking in the rain for miles. Now, we just plan on making it to one attraction, at best two; and our pace has slowed considerably. Nonetheless, the girls were troopers, I’d have to say. There were minimal tantrums and minimal accidents — for the most part. I love the fact that Sam is old enough to appreciate and remember certain things and it’s so much more fun to take her around these days. Jamie as well seems very amicable and easy-going, and it was a fairly painless to take her around with us. It killed my back to have her asleep in the sling while we walked all over DC, but it was the only way. It also made it easier for me to protect her from the evil raindrops because she was covered and close to me under the umbrella.
The worst part about the entire trip was the flight back home; as heavy rains cancelled our flight when we were already at the airport. Luckily we had got on an evening flight back instead, making it a 9-hour delay at the airport terminal. I don’t know how we (I) survived that, with Sam and Jamie both not napping and running low on interesting games and distractions to keep them pre-occupied. Thank goodness as well that our bags came with us, as I had packed my breastpump in it and desperately needed to express milk!
In any case, we survived and came home in four complete but tired pieces. Sam fell asleep on the ride home, and while I was uncomfortable to have sent her to bed without a sufficient scrubbing (I was only able to wet towel her clean after we landed), I didn’t have the heart to wake her up to get her clean. Jamie seemed to have not noticed the difference, and she went to sleep as usual. It has been days since the trip and we are all still recovering, but at least I now know what to expect for future flights with the girls!