I rarely travel with just the kids. Our children’s grandparents are local to us. If we do go on vacation, my husband comes with us. I never have the role of the sole parent on a vacation trip. Until two weeks ago…
…two weeks ago I traveled with my son to Orlando. I shouldered the responsibility for ensuring that both of us reached our destination in Orlando in one piece and with all our luggage. I was exhausted for the airport security/airline travel/baggage claim portions of the trip. The trip was fabulous…by the way!
Here’s how I traveled with my son:
- I let my son pack a backpack with whatever he wanted on the plane journey and at the hotel. I told him not to over pack as he would need to carry it himself.
- He chose sticker books, a Lego kit in a ZipLoc bag, books, 2 TMNT guys, 1 motorcycle, a Little Tikes camera, and an autograph book. I convinced him to bring a stuffed animal or tow…he still loves his soft toys!
- Bring a comfort item in case your child is homesick. The attentive staff at the Loews Royal Pacific Beach Hotel arranged my son’s stuffed animals/guys each night. It was a fun to come back to the room to see how the guys were arranged!
- I packed all other clothes, shoes, toiletries, etc.
- I sometimes let my kids pack a small rolling suitcase, but on this trip I wanted my son to have as little to carry/drag through the airport as possible. He’s 7, tall for his age, but I didn’t want him drifting away from me as we walked to the gate.
- I packed one carry-on rolling suitcase.
- I checked one larger rolling suitcase, as we had to pack for April weather in Florida — pants, shorts, sandals, sneakers, sweatshirts, rain ponchos, sunscreen, and bug spray.
- I knew that I couldn’t fit everything we needed in two carry-on rolling suitcases and safely navigate the terminal with my son. If I was flying with a tween or a teen, I would let each child use a carry-on rolling suitcase. Checking one large suitcase helped.
- Navigating security is always challenging. I designated my son as the helper. He put the bins on the conveyor belt, calculated how many bins we needed, and took off/put on his own shoes. He still wears velcro shoes, which made the security process go smoothly.
- Once all our carry on bags were through the security, I instructed my son to stand by my side while I put on my shoes, counted the bags, put my laptop back in the suitcase, and took a breath. Note: On this trip I remembered not to wear an underwire bra when going through security, but forgot to remove the water bottles from the bag I used when walking around Universal Studios. Ooops. The security person was sympathetic…I was mortified.
- In the airport, I talked to my son about staying with me. I could not hold his hand as I was pulling a suitcase. We worked out a system where I would allow enough time to get to the gate, so that we could walk at his pace. This strategy meant we were super early for our flight, but I was not stressed out.
- Since we arrived at the gate early, we had time to use the restrooms and buy a meal for the plane.
- Restrooms — This was the only issue that my son argued about the entire trip. When he is with Coach Dad, he uses the mens room. When he and I are together, he goes in the ladies room unless I know the place very well or I can stand outside and wait for him. On this trip we traveled to airports, theme parks, and restaurants. For the most part, I was more comfortable with him accompanying me in to the ladies room. He was not happy, but as a parent I have to make decisions that my kids don’t like. As a woman traveling with a young boy, I wanted to ensure that he was safe.
- Food on the plane — On the outbound journey from BWI to Orlando we ate McDonald’s on the plane. I bought a bottle of water. I chose McDonald’s as I knew my son could carry the two bags of food while I managed the drink. I spilled a little Diet Coke on myself…I’m a little klutzie at the best of times!
- On the homeward journey from Orlando to BWI, I bought the most efficient “eating on a plane with your kids” meal. I purchased a pizza lunchable for my son and a pretzels with hummus cup for myself with a drink for each of us. He was occupied for quite some time creating his pizzas! Of course, while he was chowing down I ate all the hummus…he was not pleased with me!
- I packed several bottles of water and a Ziploc bag of snacks in the suitcase I checked.
More posts to come on our #orlandomom trip! Look out for posts on Gatorland, Disney Studios, Sea World, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and of course the Blue Man Group!
I was provided with airfare, hotel, and park tickets by the Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau as part of the #orlandomom blogger trip. My opinions are my own.