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Later this summer, my older sister is getting married in South Carolina, and since my husband will be deployed again, that means I get to travel across the country (from California) with a 5-month-old and a 2-year-old by. my. self. Oh my goodness. By. My. Self.

Hold me?

Cross-Country Travel with a baby and a toddler - things to consider when you're planning.

So far here’s what I’m planning:

  1. I already have a car seat for Anneliese with my parents in SC. I think I’ll buy another for Joseph and have it shipped there too. That way I don’t have to haul car seats through the airport or check them and risk having them thrown around and damaged or lost in transit.
  2. I need to look into valet service at the airport. I didn’t even realize this was an option, but someone mentioned it to me on Twitter, and it sounds AWESOME. I could pull up to the departures entrance and unload my baggage and kids, and the valet would park the car for me. When I get home, I won’t have to haul luggage and kids all through the parking area to find the car either. Helpful!
  3. I recently got an easy-to-fold stroller for Anneliese for when we run errands or go out places where there isn’t a shopping cart for her to sit in. She’s still less than 2 and isn’t a reliable walker when we’re out and about, so a stroller is a good option (and I wear Joseph in a sling or carrier). I think I’ll take that for the airports — we will have 1 or 2 layovers each way — with Anneliese riding in it, Joey on my front, probably a backpack as a carry-on, and my purse, which can fit in the stroller basket. We can gate-check the stroller at each plane.
  4. On the plane, Anneliese will have her own seat and will ride with a C.A.R.E.S. harness for safety (Child Aviation Restraint System).

    Joseph will have a Baby B’air restraint, which will let him still sit in my lap/in my arms, nurse, and move comfortably but will protect him from flying out of my arms in the event of turbulence. (This happened to the child of the person who invented this harness, and the child hit the ceiling! SO SCARY!)

But help!

I’m not sure what I’ll do once I get to South Carolina…I may have to rent a car for the duration of my visit, because the car we’ve borrowed from my dad before is getting older and less reliable, and he said he doesn’t feel like it would be safe enough for the 2.5-hour trip to the wedding (and then back).

I’m also not sure if I should drive back in order to fly out of the same city (where my parents and in-laws all live, and where I’ll be for most of the visit), or if I should try to fly out of the wedding city instead (cutting out another long car trip with the 2 kids by myself).

I know that by then Joey will be less floppy, more sturdy, and able to travel better (I hope), and I’ll have more practice as a solo mom of two, but I’m still sooooo nervous about this trip. Anyone? Advice? Tips? Thanks in advance!

Edited to add: I wrote this a while ago, but now I’m thinking I may just fly into the wedding city to begin with, stay there for our visit, renting a car, staying in a hotel, and then fly home. It would be simpler, though possibly a bit more expensive (hotel vs. staying with my dad) BUT it would also be a nice little vacation for me and the kids – going to the beach, parks/gardens I went to when I was a kid, etc – and 2 of my sisters live there so they could get some bonus Aunts time, Uncle time, cousins time. I need to figure out how to get my car seat from my dad 2.5 hours away though.

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  1. I flew from New Hampshire to Seattle by myself with a 10mo son and 3yr old daughter. What I didn’t plan but worked out perfectly is that on the flight back we had a short flight to Chicago that was manageable and then a longer one from Chicago to Seattle. The timing worked so that when we boarded the plane in Chicago it was the kids bed time. They slept the WHOLE way to Seattle. It was amazing!! Once I had to ask the flight attendant to hold my son so I could use the bathroom but he kept right on sleeping. It’s also really helpful if you find someone while waiting for the plane who also has kids or looks kid friendly. I did this and asked if the other mom would mind if we sat nearby in case I needed assistance and she was more than happy to. We’re still friends to this day. Finally, I had a double stroller and put my daughter in the stroller, my son on my back and our carry on’s in the 2nd seat of the stroller. That worked really well.

  2. We have CARES seatbelt too! It’s amazing!

  3. You are brave!!! I’m flying in two weeks from Cali to R.I. With my 7 mo. I’m so anxious to do it by myself with all the “stuff” we have to bring! I can’t imagine doing it with two. Good to know about the b’air. I never heard of this and it will surely come in handy :)) btw… I’m dreading diaper changes in those tiny bathrooms! Good luck and I’m sure you’ll have some super nice people to sit with (that’s my hope)

  4. Bring extras supplies for unexpected delays: lots of diapers and snacks. Get some new toys for A to help keep her busy mind occupied.

  5. If you fly into the wedding city, which I recommend, if none of JW’s friends have one to borrow then you can usually rent a car seat with the rental car. But…Couldn’t Daddy bring A’s car-seat with him when he comes down for the wedding? Or are you coming into town several days ahead?

  6. I flew to Ireland with my baby boy when he was 4mo and 10mo. But I have never done it with two kiddos! Joseph will be a good age to fly, not too wriggly yet and still little enough to fall asleep on you while you nurse. It must be hardest when they are walking. I think you really do need a stroller for Anneliese, somewhere to keep her still while you can at least use the restroom or pay for a drink or check-in at the airport. My 22mo runs away from me now ALWAYS! Maybe special busy bags for her on the plane etc. while you nurse Joseph? Lots of snacks for her. And take all the goodwill and ask for all the goodwill you can from fellow passengers. I got a lot of sweet bulkhead seat changes (more room at the front, worth it) just not being afraid to ask people to move if they could, and asking at every check-in desk too to change my assigned seat. YOU are who these privileges are meant for, so use them!

  7. Thanks for sharing the Baby B’Air. We’ll definitely get one when we fly with Liam. I’d fly into the wedding city. Don’t stress about money, you guys are so good with saving, just think of it as a mini vacay. You deserve a little break Emily!

  8. When I flew to Louisville last summer, I didn’t have to take anything. Contact a local LLL, or better yet have your sibs barrow carseats from friends whose kids have out grown their carseats, pack n plays, fp rock n plays etc….. Literally all of my needs were met, I just had to throw them out to the universe! Best of luck, you’ll do fine, just besure to nurse on all take offs and landings to avoid ear popping.

  9. We are going to Israel in October, I haven’t been on a plane since the 90’s. I’m stressing out! I would love advice… and maybe a small miracle. (My 3 year old is crankkkkkyyyy!)

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