I decided to do something brave–travel alone with my two kids.
There isn’t much that frightens me but being trapped on a plane with an infant and young child is the type of experience I dread. A series of horrible scenarios runs through my head. What if my son won’t stop crying? What if my daughter has a tantrum and I have to go all Mommy Dearest in front of other passengers? What if my son poops one of those poops you smell a mile away and the captain hasn’t turned off the seatbelt sign yet?
All of those things I can bear with backup. There is strength in numbers. I traveled with the kids in April and their grandparents and we all survived. But could I do it alone?
The answer is, yes. Hell, yes.
I flew with my kids to Washington, D.C., last week. Here are my observations on traveling alone with young kids:
The TSA hates mothers and women who wear underwire bras. I have now flown out of three different airports with an infant and young child. I have been patted down once and hand-wanded twice. I missed one flight because screening took 45 minutes so a TSA screener could empty out my diaper bag. And everyone knows a diaper bag is like a puzzle box. You have to pay close attention to how everything came out so you can fit it all in again.
Before the last flight, a TSA screener figured out the reason I had set off all the machines–my underwire bra. If you see a bra-less woman at the airport in your future travels, cut her some slack.
Rely on the kindness of strangers. From the guy at the Smithsonian who helped me down the stairs with my son’s stroller to the teacher on the plane who shared M&Ms with my daughter and played a rhyming game with her, strangers can help you out and it’s OK to accept the help.
Good memories don’t have to cost a fortune. I went on this trip using points, booked a hotel close to the Metro for cheap transportation, and went to free museums. We splurged on room service one night and a pedicab ride.
Teach your kids how to take pictures. My daughter documented me meeting my prince at the National Zoo. Not my greatest angle but whatever.
Buy every App you can find and let your kids play on your phone with headphones. It’s OK for your kids to zone out to games so you can have 5 minutes of peace and quiet. Normally I wouldn’t allow it for long but traveling alone with little kids is hard enough.
Your kids are more capable than you think. My daughter was an asset on the trip. She entertained her brother while I showered and while we were on the plane. She wheeled around her own suitcase and opened doors for me.