I love traveling. I love the hustle and bustle, sights, sounds, and energy of a busy airline terminal. As a child, my parents would save diligently so we could make the cross-country trip from California to New York to visit relatives.
After college, I yearned for travel adventures beyond the U.S. My wish was granted when I married an airline guy. As a ticket agent, my husband had access to great travel benefits.
We went to Paris for our honeymoon.
When I was pregnant with my first, an airline friend gave us a great piece of advice:
"Take the kids traveling as much as possible! Show them the world is a big amazing place."
I had a lovely stepdaughter in Seattle, and we made the trek from San Diego to Seattle often. We also traveled with her back and forth between the two cities.
It didn't seem difficult.
"This traveling with kids is easy," I thought to myself.
When my son was born, I took him to New York to visit family. He was 6 months old. My mom came with me. Piece of cake, right? Ummm...My son was antsy, crying, spitting up and difficult the entire flight from San Diego to Albany - about 5 hours.
I stepped off the airplane feeling like I'd run a marathon: sweaty, exhausted, my clothes stained with spit-up.
And I was just getting started.
By the time our second came along, my folks were living in Utah. I was working a part-time job and able to take the kids to see my parents on a regular basis. The San Diego-Salt Lake City flight was around 2 hours. It was stressful and challenging, and I learned a few things.
Always ask for an aisle seat. You're going to be getting up and down a lot with the little ones.
Pack your own snacks. Have lots of extra diapers and wipes. You'll need those wipes for a lot more than cleaning dirty butts.
After the third child came along, you'd think we might have given up flying. Nope. By then we were living in Atlanta, and we flew back to San Diego every summer to visit my in-laws.
One summer, my stepdaughter was with us, so we had all four kids. The two youngest, both girls, were around 1 and 2. My son was 6. My stepdaughter was 11.
The two youngest were in their carseats in the middle and window seats. I had the aisle seat next to them. My stepdaughter was sitting across the aisle from me.
On approach to landing in Atlanta there were thunderstorms, and it was extremely turbulent.
My stomach lurched with that elevator-drop feeling as the plane hit a pocket of air and dropped.
I was leaning across the aisle so I could hear my stepdaughter above the roar of the engines when suddenly, her hand flew to her mouth, and her eyes got big. She looked at me and pointed behind me.
I turned to look at the girls.
The youngest was puking violently into her lap. All it took for the middle child was one whiff, and she was a goner, vomiting all over herself as well.
I was stunned and helpless, strapped in for final approach. I grabbed a vomit bag and reached into the diaper bag for wipes - always within reach under the seat in front of me.
I had no hope. Between the two girls, there was a bucket of vomit.
My stepdaughter was laughing so hard she was crying.
My husband and son were a couple of rows back, oblivious to our plight.
Both girls were crying and struggling, yelling "mommy!" and trying to get free of their carseats.
I did what any good mother would do. I grabbed the airline blanket, put it over their laps, vomit and all, and tucked it up under their arms.
"Don't move," I admonished.
It felt like an eternity before we landed.
My poor girls continued crying, as the other passengers got off. Everyone who walked by looked and immediately turned away.
It didn't smell so good.
After the entire planeload of people disembarked, the flight attendant cheerily walked toward us.
"Everything okay?" She asked, just before her face fell. She'd gotten within smelling distance.
"Oh dear," she exclaimed as she backed away.
I gingerly extricated the girls from their car seats.
One of those gross mommy moments.
I had to strip the poor kids down in the parking lot and change them before we made the 30-minute drive home from the airport.
Stuff happens when you travel with kids. But, you know what? Don't let it stop you.
From London, to Scotland, to Paris, Italy, and beyond, my kids have grown up with the travel bug. I'm glad we never let a little vomit stop us!
The Dynamic Vomiting Duo