Don’t listen to what they say. Go see.— Chinese Proverb
Traveling is definitely one of the “it” things these days, especially for vibrant young millennials who choose to capture captivating moments and share them with the world. The pictures are often worth more than a million words and there is never a thing out of place. I’ve been fortunate to author a few of these moments and they were, at that moment, perfect. I have traveled both alone and with friends, but being a mom of a beautiful little angel, I thought it was time for her to travel, too. What could go wrong about wanting to share the world with the most precious thing to me? Word of advice: When preparing to travel with a child, DON’T EVER ASK THAT QUESTION. Perfect example: This picture on the left is of a woman who was at peace with life and was living it up in Paris, weighed down by merely a simple luggage set and lip gloss in her pocket. The picture below on the right is of the same woman who was beyond exhausted after recovering from food poisoning earlier in the week, who packed late for her and her little girl because “life” and who had the privilege of lugging a huge car seat, checked bag, backpack and carry-on through DFW. The girl carried her stuffed cheetah named Zooma.
In this picture, she chose to wear the shades because quite frankly, she needed them. Hi. She is me and I am probably accompanied by a million other parents in the world who do this often. First of all, I applaud EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU because this was not graceful, fun nor picture perfect. It was hard, tiresome and discouraging and this was ALLLLLLLL before TSA. I believe we all go through things to benefit others, so if I can help just one momma, daddy, aunty, uncle or just a poor unfortunate soul who is about the same size as the carseat (like me), traveling with their minis, then I did my job. If you want to thank me, send prayers or travel points or you can simply not make the same mistakes I did.
Be Prepared. Like I said, I had food poisoning so I lost three days of preparation, but thank God for buybuy Baby because they had the most important tool for traveling: extra-wide toilet seat covers for the kiddo. I found some on Amazon, but I wouldn’t have gotten them in time. Luckily, they had plenty and with a few disposable nitrile gloves and some travel-sized Lysol wipes, we were ready for anything! I also found it very helpful to confirm booking with a real representative to make sure our reservations were linked…because of course they weren’t. This type of preparation can help you avoid that headache if a computer decides that your 6 year old really should sit next to a complete stranger (face palm). Time saving choices such as Global Entry (GE) and CLEAR are a tad pricey, but also life changing, especially with a kid. With both GE and CLEAR (available free for kids on a parent or guardian’s account until age 12 and age 18, respectively) we were able to be escorted to the front of the GE line, cutting our security wait down to less than a minute. We also didn’t have to remove shoes, jackets or electronics. With a child, this can be a huge time saver. Instead of paying the full fee, see if you can pay for someone to add you to their CLEAR plan (there is often a discount associated with this). The Chase Reserve Sapphire card has several benefits associated with it, including up to $100 credit you can utilize for your GE application. With a 3 minute span from getting to the CLEAR line to making it through to the other side of security, we were winning…until I realized I left her car seat in my truck. I literally wanted to cry. Then I thought I would just pay for a carseat when we got to the rental car facility. Then I remembered I was OCD as heck, so I turned around hoping for pity from the TSA representative. Yeah, that was a fail. Because we had already gone through security, we were not allowed to “turn around” even though I was LOOKING at my truck right before I walked through the body scanner. Unfortunately, we would walk down a few gates to exit the secure area and make a circle back to my truck to get her car seat. After 10 minutes of incomprehensible complaining of her legs falling off and my back holding on to ONLY hope, we checked the car seat, went back through security and found the lounge. The drinks were much appreciated. All three of them. Even if a parent is at their wits end before getting on the plane, kids don’t care. Try to pack some mentally stimulating games while you wait. O and don’t forget that neck pillow for you and a favorite toy for them! If there is a delay, these small items can make all the difference. Airports like Baltimore-Washington International have a really fun area for kids to play in case of delays or if boredom starts to set in before the flight boards.
Pack Snacks. This is self-explanatory, but I am so glad I packed more than I normally would have. We didn’t really need them on the plane, but driving in LA traffic during rush hour was not the quickest thing in the world and she definitely got
hungry pissed off hangry on the way. Instead of the usual snacks, I opted to pack belVita crackers and other protein heavy snacks and we also grabbed a few waters before leaving LAX. If you have access to a lounge, you can always grab a few things for the road there. Check your credit card company to make sure you are utilizing benefits such as Priority Pass to access over 1,300 lounges in over 600 cities. If you don’t have access to a lounge, that’s cool, too. Sometimes the best snacks are from your own kitchen. Get your little helper to pack a nice kit for themselves. You never know when either one of you might need it! Pack extra in case they don’t share <no comment>.
In-Air Entertainment. I opted for mix-media for my little one. The iPad was great, but I appreciated this time to also read with her and do practical activities with her. Our lives are so busy, so it’s nice to spend this time simply talking. Kids are funny and have plenty to say if we listen. As far as screen time goes, ABCmouse and Disney+ for the win. I completely forgot to link up to wi-fi and download a movie or two on the initial flight (thank God for the guy beside me with Mandalorian), so she didn’t have her favorite cartoons; but ABCmouse had content available that was stored in the app which could be accessed even after going into airplane mode. She was happy learning and I was smitten with Baby Yoda. If you don’t have ABCmouse, check it out! They normally have specials that include a trial period! She enjoyed her videos and apparently she picked up the game of chess on my phone which she tested out the next day (see above)…
Pick Up the Rental…The NEXT Day! Picture it. Los Angeles, 2020. Friday evening and 2 days before the #GoldenGlobes. We exited the plane and found our way to baggage claim…for me to only realize I was about to push a checked bag and a carry-on while hauling a car seat and a backpack outside to catch a bus to the rental car facility and wait in line to pick up our vehicle. Long sentence, right? Imagine how I felt DOING all of that! Tired and achy didn’t begin to describe how I felt. I tried to get the little lady to push the carry on, but after her falling over on top of it (she’s good), we decided that Zooma was her only responsibility. WHAT I SHOULD HAVE DONE was ordered a car to pick us up upon arrival and grabbed the rental the next day. I encourage anyone traveling alone with a kid to make this process as easy as possible. Check in advance to see if your employer, organizations you belong to or even the hotel you’re staying in offers traveling discounts on rentals, Uber, Lyft, taxis, shuttle buses or even private car services for you and your family.
Make Sure Your Points of Interests Are Open for Business. Nothing would be worse than planning a trip and going to one of your favorite spots on the last day to only find out they were not yet opened (we were early birds! – See Exhibit A). But what do real ones do? We wait! (And pray we don’t miss our plane in the process!). Around the holidays, some business owners may choose to have unconventional hours to meet their clienteles’ needs or give their employees extra time with their families. Thankfully, this was a business-as-usual day for Kamal Beverly Hills and we were fortunate enough to leave with some of the most beautiful pieces we could have ever asked for. We will be visiting again on our next trip, but ordering faithfully in the meantime!
And Lastly…Teach Gratitude Every Moment. You may not think about this when traveling with little ones because as parents, we are just trying to make sure they make it back in one piece…while we retain our sanity; but our kids are watching our every move. Intentionally use gestures of a simple thank you and say please when addressing someone, especially those in service. Be patient and understand that the humans standing in front of you are probably just as frustrated as you when unexpected things happen; but they are still expected to do a job with respect. Moreover, if you choose to yell at someone because of something that probably will ultimately work out, you’re still going to be waiting there like everyone else until you can board…if they let you because you might be considered a threat…just saying. Worst of all, you have shown your kid it’s ok to be a jerk. Just because people are paid to be of service doesn’t mean they should be shown any less respect than the person they serve. Also, I have never let my kid get too cozy on a plane that I forget my fellow passengers (Carman, this is for you). I urge all parents to control your kids. This isn’t about a crying baby or a child with special needs. This is about the parent who lets their kids kick and push and do whatever else they can to the person beside them or infront of them with NO corrective actions put in place (I was a victim on many occasions). Newsflash: that’s annoying and rude. Before the door was closed, I had a chat with mine and versed her on the rules of the skies. She said ok and we had no issues. She was not perfect, but she quickly corrected her own behavior. Even when she was a few years younger, we still didn’t have problems because I knew what to do to keep her content.
We also brought along thank you cards and chocolates for the hotel staff who made our stays extra special at the Andaz West Hollywood and made a call back to Julie who was the manager at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach, thanking her for her kindness during our stay. She was a lifesaver after such an exhausting day of travel. Small gestures truly go a long way and can often brighten peoples’ day. Being this was her first trip since she was two, I did not expect perfection, but I did expect her to treat people kind and with respect. She did just that.
So hey, I’m no travel guru and I definitely don’t have all the answers, but after everything was over and done with, I can say I had the perfect trip with the perfect travel buddy. She did indeed create picture perfect moments that I will treasure for a lifetime. I simply can’t wait for other trips and who knows, maybe we can catch a show or two! For now, I’m ordering a car seat travel bag. Until next time, Cali!
-Sham, Sandy & Zooma (not pictured)
Here are the links to products, places and services that made this trip perfect!
buybuy Baby, Extra Wide Toilet Seat Covers, Toilet Seat Covers, Global Entry, CLEAR, Chase Reserve Sapphire Card, Priority Pass, ABCmouse, Disney+, belVita crackers, Kamal Beverly Hills, Hotel Andaz, & Hyatt Regency, Newport Beach