Surprise! We didn't go to California for the holidays, and truth be told, that wasn't ever the plan. The real plan I had to keep quiet for a few months now, with the help of my mom, to surprise my sisters and dad. Which was harder than I thought. The closer the trip got I knew there was something we had to get through first -- 6+ hours on the plane with our toddler. More than once I lamented the fact that I wasn't still nursing. I mean, how easy would that be? It sure made flying with Paityn when she was 4 months easy. But I'm not, so this go round we had to get a little more creative, while still relying on food as a distraction. Obviously.
What We Packed I researched a bit online of tips and tricks and things that are OK to take on the plane with your toddler, and then relied on what we hoped Paityn would love to fill in the rest.
Knowing we'd need to pack winter clothes we checked two bags leaving room in our carry on to include only things we'd need as we traveled. We brought with us a backpack filled with snacks, a few baby food pouches that TSA thankfully cleared, an empty sippy cup, a book full of stickers and Skullcandy headphones that fit Paityn on the smallest setting and when worn backwards. We also downloaded a handful of Daniel Tiger episodes from iTunes to our phones -- which is just her jam. Then in our hands we carried her favorite baby and stuffed bear, blanket and the Ergo.
Our Experience Wednesday morning we woke early to get ready, grab last minute things and right before we left Landon gave Paityn a sweet blessing to help her be comfortable and calm as we traveled on one of the busiest days of the year. Then off we went to my aunt's house who had saved the day earlier that week and offered to take us to the airport.
From the start of our traveling experience till the end things went as ideal as I could've ever imagined. Getting through security was an absolute breeze -- we didn't even have to take our shoes off! We had the perfect amount of time to grab breakfast and some juice to fill up her cup. We resisted boarding early to minimize the time Paityn had to be stuck in a seat on the plane. When we did board we amazingly found that our trick of booking the window and aisle seat worked -- no one had booked the seat in-between us. Do I get to call this a Christmas Miracle?
Our layover in Seattle was only an hour or so, but Paityn was spent, having not napped yet. She totally kept it together, but got a little weird. Running around with her tongue out and spinning in circles weird. We just went with it as best we could. Except for those few minutes where I was walking back to our terminal carrying lunch in my arms and she decided to sprawl out on the busy walkway floor and fuss. That was a little stressful.
Our Seattle to Fairbanks flight was my largest concern, it's a solid 4 hours and even makes me antsy. Luckily Paityn passed out in Landon's arms after take off (and after sticking stickers all up and down her arm) and stayed out for the next two hours. She spent the next two happily watching Daniel Tiger on our laps, having some snacks and just hanging out. Have I mentioned it just went ideal? We were so spoiled.
We touched down in Fairbanks a little before 4:30pm and were welcomed by pitch black outside and my mama waiting for us downstairs! On the short drive over we made a game plan of how to surprise my dad and sister -- we decided on setting Paityn on our porch right outside the door, dinging the doorbell then running to hide. From around the corner we got to watch my dad turn on the porch light, open the door, and find Paityn just standing waiting on the other side. So sweet!
I can't tell you how good it feels to be home. We're enjoying an easy Christmas Eve all together, which is just what I hoped for. I'm calling this trip a success so far! But have to make this trip again in another 7 days, so if you have any extra tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!