When I made the decision to stay home full time with Quinn, I imagined taking full advantage of the freedom that came with the schedule. I figured she and I would hop in the car on a whim and drive up to Skagit Valley (240 miles N. of Portland) to visit family and friends. No longer would I be limited to the Fri-Sat-Sun trip I’ve become so accustomed to over the past 13 years. However as it turns out, I’ve been swept away by very few whim’s over the past year. From the beginning, Quinn has never loved being in the car all that much. After about an hour in the car she’s ready to move onto the next thing, thank you very much. I’ve made 5 trips up to Skagit Valley over the past year; 2 – by car, 2 – by train, 1 – by plane. Each seem to have their pro’s and con’s.
The car is long and confining, but you have the freedom to stop frequently and if your child is wailing, you get to save the apologetic glances that you make when on a plane or train. You also are able to pack as much stuff as your trunk or wagon will hold (in our case), thus avoiding the irritating task of weighing out what’s more important; clothes or toys??? And once you’ve decided on toys, then deciding WHICH toys will provide the most entertainment. The truth is, she could have done without any of her toys since my parents house provided endless desirable items. With the price of gas currently, it would cost us roughly $90 round trip.
The train offers wide open spaces, bathrooms and a dining car, however it’s still a confined space and a train is QUIET. Quiet spaces + 13 month old’s = a battle waiting to happen. I am able to feed/nurse Quinn at any time plus there’s the “breeze-way” in between cars, that allows for additional privacy/tantrum throwing. A train is very long — a 4 1/2 hour car ride for us is 6 hours on the train. A ticket will run roughly $60 – $90 per person (children under 2 are free).
Air travel is of course so quick however when you add up the early arrival to airport + layover, you’re looking at 4 hours or more. In fact, on the way up, Quinn and got stuck in Seattle due to a delayed flight & mechanical issues. We finally made it to my folks house at 4:30 p.m. A whopping 6 1/2 hours later. The 6 1/2 hours was not too terrible because it was broken up into so many smaller parts. 15 minutes to the airport, 1 hour at PDX, 1 hour flight to Seattle, 2 1/2 hours at SeaTac, 30 minute flight to Bellingham, 30 minute drive to folks house. All of this seemed to work in favor of small children, at least my small child. I could let her run around (sort of) at the airport and she was able to nap in the Ergo or on my lap at some point, I was free to nurse and feed her meals whenever, bathrooms was never too far away. The return flight back to Portland was much quicker, clocking in at roughly 4 hours.
Air traveling, alone was a pain when you’ve got to lug the gigantic carseat with you. I checked a piece of luggage, carried Quinn in the Ergo, wore my carry-on (a backpack) and pulled the carseat behind me in this (which sucks). (I know, it’s got 1 1/2 stars, but it’s all they had at Baby’s R’Us and I was desparate. This bag broke somewhere on the flight up to Washington and I plan on returning because come on… it lasts LESS THAN ONE FLIGHT?!? Anyway, I think I’ll invest in this for our next air travel, which has great reviews. I saw it in action at SeaTac, with a mom traveling alone, with 3 kids, one being pulled in their carseat, and two walking beside her. She was my HERO.) The really tricky part was when I had to throw the carseat on my back to hike up the 5 million stairs at Sea Tac, which I had to do 3 separate times. Seriously, I was balanced so precariously with all that extra weight on me that the slightest breeze would have sent me flying backwards. The other, more obvious downside to flying is that it’s the most expensive. After taxes I paid $288. Something that I like to call a “special treat”.
By the time we take our next trip, I’m crossing my fingers that Quinn will be old enough to better handle the long car ride since that’s my preferred method of travel, unless our magnolia tree starts growing plane tickets and I can hire my own personal assistant to drag that carseat to and fro.
Do any of you have travel tips when it comes to traveling with small kids? Horror stories? Helpful fellow travelers?