Here are the trip details...the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Left via US Airways Christmas Eve. Had two flights that day and an hour drive to final destination once we landed in Reno. The first flight was the longest. I would highly recommend this if you are traveling with a toddler and have to do two flights. US Airways was not accommodating to senior citizens or people traveling with children. I would not recommend. JD cried (rather screamed), I cried, it was the definite UGLY part of our trip. Side note: who knew SO MANY PEOPLE traveled on Christmas Eve? Every flight was jam packed!
"Not amused by the length of this flight mom"
Arrived in Lake Tahoe where GranBeck and Tracey were waiting for us at the airport. This was the first highlight of JD's trip as he loves GranBeck. We also arrived to beautiful snow capped mountains and a clear crisp day.
Drove through the beautiful mountains (and very safe roads I might add, which I appreciated) to get to our home that GranBeck's rented for the week. We arrived to a whole new world for JD and a lot of new family for all of us (JD's favorite being 4 year old cousin Alex who he is still talking about daily). Everyone was excited to be together, that was clear. We were excited we survived the first leg of travel safe and sound. We also asked and received for a rather stiff cocktail and appreciated our new family even more when they gave it to us! :)
Christmas was filled with lots of eating, presents, stockings, family, laughs...and a new one for us...gambling. HA! After JD went to sleep on Christmas night...mama and P-Daddy (and Uncle VP) could be found at one of the local Casinos. It was weird but fun at the same time. I think what I found most odd was how many people were there. I don't know...I just kind of felt like we were the odd ones for going to a casino on Christmas. Apparently my logic was off because everyone in Nevada seemed to be joining us.
The entire crew at Christmas dinner
GranBeck and JD Christmas morningIn the remaining time there we shared more laughs, decorated sweatshirts (in true GranBeck fashion), relaxed, sledded and gambled a bit more. Oh and JD slept like a CHAMPION. Call it baby stress from all the traveling, call it being 6300 feet above sea level, or being worn out by his new cousin Alex...we aren't sure but it was AWESOME! People we are talking 3 hour naps and 14-15 hours of sleep every night!
Uncle VP and JD chillin in the snowWe flew home on Southwest Airlines. JD has a peanut allergy and they are one of the few airlines that still serve peanuts as their free snack so this was an obvious worry of mine going into it. BUT I have to tell you they could not have been more accommodating and nice to us. We filled out the appropriate paperwork online when we booked our flight and when we checked in reminded them of this and were treated like royalty... not like we were putting them out. Which is interesting because we kind of were a pain in their rear because once you fill out that information they are flagged to take all peanuts off that plane and ask all passengers to not open anything containing peanuts that they may have brought onto the plane. They never once made us feel like this was an inconvenience.
Our first leg of the flight was again the longest and this time we went scream free. WOOHOO! We made several trips to the airline bathroom (as JD decided right before we left that going potty in a real potty was super fun), ate lots and lots of snacks, and listened to lots and lots of songs on mommies ipod which as a combination all worked! It was no less stressful because I was on edge that he was going to scream but he didn't and that made it one successful 4 hour flight.
We arrived in Chicago, Midway wayyyy past JD's bed time and had a stupidly long layover. Note to parents: when traveling with a toddler DO NOT FLY THROUGH CHICAGO MIDWAY. It seriously is one of the worst airports I have ever flown through. Way too crowded and the gates are not large enough to accommodate the amount of people.
In general it was a wonderful trip filled with lots of firsts and great fun. But I don't think we will be traveling with OUR toddler on a plane anytime soon. :)
Here are a few other items we found helpful...just in case you decide to travel with yours...
1. Children's Benadryl (specifically the "perfect measures")=does not make our son drowsy AT ALL. But as a side note (and before I get baraded about giving my 2 year old benadryl) this was mostly due to JD's peanut allergy and we were taking precautions before getting on an airplane that sold snacks with peanuts in them. Oh and I do hear that OTHER parents use Children's Benadryl for the purposes of drowsiness when they fly and I would have been TOTALLY okay with this happening to us too but, alas JD loves to defy all odds and so awake he was! :)
2. Lots of favorite snacks. For us this includes cheez-its, fruit snacks and dried fruit. We threw in some snack sized oreo's which were a HUGE hit because JD doesn't get sugary snacks that often and he loves "cookies."
3. Antibacterial wipes. This is especially important if you are traveling with a baby/toddler with a peanut allergy because you can wipe down the seats, windows, etc just in case there was anyone sitting there before that had peanuts. We were given this advice before we left and were grateful for it! And really, in the Swine Flu world we live in, this isn't a bad thing to do anyway I guess.
4. While in an airport, anything that moves such as the "people movers" (shown below) can keep a toddlers attention for quite some time. Would highly recommend. Helps pass the time for parents and toddlers very well. :)
5. IPOD with non children music. Yep, thats right our son loves rap music (Timbaland is his favorite) and this held his attention for a good 45 minutes on one of the legs of the flight.
6. Once at destination, if car travel is required of any distance other than 15 minutes, must stop at the nearest fast food place and pick up fries for cranky toddler who has already been traveling for too many hours to mention. This will buy you some time before a meltdown.
7. After arriving be sure to have another toddler or child there available to play with at all times. This one is HUGE and highly important if you would like to also get to enjoy yourself on said vacation.
JD, P-Daddy and Alex on Christmas DayA Big Thank you to GranBecks for organizing this special trip...one we will remember forever!