Friday, March 16, 2007

21 days until take off

I did most of my traveling before kids, so when I got kids I was sort of prepared. But then things really change.

I had never noticed if there were changing tables or not in the ridiculously small bathrooms (try to squeeze yourself, a diaper bag and a pooped bay in there and you better not be lightly claustrophobic). I had never noticed how almost impossible it is to carry a baby and a diaper bag down the aisle without hitting someone's head (by which they will hate you even more than they did when they first spotted the baby).

Or how you juggle a baby, yourself, your shoes, your computer, your bag(s), your stroller, your jacket, and now your ziploc with fluids, through security without soaking in sweat. Or how to explain to 20 suit dressed men on board the plane men that your baby has been awake for the past 15 hours and is crying of exhaustion, and not because your lack of parenting skills and believe ME, I would love if my baby would shut up, after all I'm getting the close-up version straight into my ear.

Anyway.

The first time I traveled to Sweden on my own after having had done the same trip with kids, it was like a dream! Why did I ever complain about the seemingly endless flight between Stockholm and Chicago? It was 9 hours of reading, movie watching, quiet (at least no one was demanding mine attention). Pure vacation.

But back to the travel with kids aspects... Here are some things I had missed despite over 200 000 frequent flier miles...

- Some of United Airlines aircrafts (domestic), and the ones I always end up on, does not have changing tables in the lavatories. Changing a poopy diaper at the seat is not really appreciated among the other passengers so you and your baby better practice diaper changing on top of tiny toilet lids in confined spaces before going on a flight. It's a four hour flight from Chicago from California. Of course your baby poops then.

- SAS does not have child fares on Stockholm-Chicago. If you want your own seat for your baby - better be ready to bring out your wallet and pay full price. And they still have no Baby Einstein movies in the entertainment system.

- SAS staff at Arlanda Aiport cannot be expected to carry gate-checked items (like an umbrella stroller weighing in at 7 lb) up the little stairs from the tarmac up to the aircraft, they might get back problem (it's amazing they can handle luggage at all, actually we should be thankful we don't have to load our own suitcases). Thus you better be prepared to carry your baby, and the tons of others stuff you unfortunately need when traveling with kids, the three kilometers from terminal F to the baggage area.

- the TSA folks are there for security only. God forbid they would help (even out of pure humanity) you lift and quirk the stroller through the x-ray machine with a baby on your arm, shoes in your hand, trying to keep track of the boarding passes (that you always have to show twice). They stand and watch and wait. And sigh when the stroller gets stuck.

- But Americans (except TSA employed Americans) are GREAT at helping out when you're in need. They're friendly, talkative and makes things soo much easier (and I'm really the kind of "can do it myself thank you"-Swedish type). Sometimes you have to stop nice elderly American ladies, who hardly can reach the over head compartment, from helping to bring down your heavy diaper bag, risking to crush themselves.

I have 21 days until my next fight to Sweden... but only bringing one kid on a "quickie" visit to Stockholm. Anyway, I've lined up a grandmother to pick up the pieces at Arlanda on Easter Day.

6 comments:

veronika said...

Du verkar resa mycket! Det påminner mig om en gång jag flög satt precis längst fram vid väggen då jag hade en liten under 2 år.Så behagligt med "vaggan" de hänger på väggen åt dig, det gör så att du får betydligt mer utrymme.Bebisen får också mer plats att leka på.Som tur är har mina barn alltid sovit mesta tiden på flygningen även då de var bebisar. Min minsta flög första gången över atlanten då han var 2 veckor.Men en gång hamnade jag brevid en kvinna som hade två små barn och de skrek mer eller mindre hela flygningen.Stackarn , har aldrig sett någon som var så nära ett nervsammanbrott som hon var.
Jag har flygit många gånger själv med mina två barn och tyvärr älskar jag eller råkar att packa alldeles för många väskor...varför blir det alltid så??? Så mina barn har lärt sig att dra bagagekärror sedan de kunde gå...:)Be om hjälp, de är hjälpsamma överallt utom svenskarna på arlanda, speciellt de på parkingsbussarna.

Annika said...

Ja, nog kan det vara stressigt att flyga med småbarn. Det kommer jag också ihåg. Nu ska vi väl hoppas att det blir en lätt resa för dig eftersom du bara reser med ett barn den här ggn.
SAS-personalen i KPH, som jag har mest erfarenhet av (förutom Sthlm då) är fruktansvärt OTREVLIGA.
Tänk att du åker hem så snart...

Anne-Marie said...

Det är stressigt att flyga utan småbarn så jag kan verkligen förstå hur intensivt det kan vara med en baby. Det är trångt också med "vanlig" packning. En gång flög jag Finnair från San Francisco till Helsingfors och det gör jag aldrig om - de hade satt in fler säten än andra flygbolag vilket innebar att man fick trycka ihop sig ännu mer.
Min bil har INTE någon pil för tanken - jag blev faktiskt litet besviken.

JaCal said...

Veronica - (Hej - välkommen hit!!) - ja, perfekt med vaggan faktiskt. Dock är sonen för stor denna gång (bummer). Sitter dock vid väggen fast vid fönstret nu - hoppas golvet kan utnyttjas... Jag är minimalist när det gäller packning - planerar i veckor i förväg... ;-) Fast ska nog ändå träna barnen i att bära packning - verkar praktistk...

Annika - ja håll tummarna. Flög ju i oktober också - då gick det jättebra - han sov hela vägen dit och hem. Tror inte jag har sån tur nu. Ja tänk... 21 dagar så är jag i Stockholm!!

Anne-Marie - ja, det är tur att jag rest så mycket innan att "rutinerna" sitter. Attans med pilen - du får hålla utkik i andra bilar - hade ju varit kul om du haft en utan att ha sett den!

Miranda said...

Cool, you have booked your flight!
Are you taking your boy or your girl?
If its not the boy i will probably hear the crying from my house!!ha ha!!(Only joking he would be fine i am sure, but he sure loves his Mommy!)
Hope you have a lovely time and an easy flight with some kind of help from someone should you need it. I know i'll have an extra lookout for anyone now, who may need a helping hand!

JaCal said...

Miranda - yes! And don't worry - I'm taking the boys so the neighborhood will be nice and quiet... Too bad we won't be on the same flight, would be nice to know that someone has practice to fly the plan if no one else won't be able to! :-) I hope it goes well. The son can be charming when he is in a good mood...