Disclaimer: This post is filled with random ranting about airline travel as well as some of my current “survival tactics” when flying with Eliana. WARNING! This post contains overly processed food, BPA and PVC-filled plastics and a shudder-worthy amount of germs. Consider yourself warned.
Before I travel I have to write down my “packing list.” I’m famous for making packing lists that include silly things like “this note pad” and presumably obvious things like “shoes.” (Really? Would I actually forget to pack shoes??) My list hasn’t changed so much over the years so you’d think I’d be logical about it and have a document on my computer that I can just reprint before each trip. But, no. I can’t do that. For me, the ritual of writing down all the items and crossing them off as I go is soothing. I have tons of legal pads filled with these lists. Now that I pack for two, I have my list and Eliana’s list. The packing list has reached a whole new level. And my carry-on bag? Ugh. My neck hurts just thinking about that monster. My carry-on is so huge that even if I packed Eliana inside of it, I’d still have space for more “necessities” and “in case of emergency” essentials.
But, moving away from my obsessive list-making and onto the food-related part of this post…
Because food is an important part of almost everything I do, food is also an important part of the list. I spend time planning and packing Eliana’s snacks so she has a tasty variety of healthy goodies to enjoy while we travel. When the plane takes off, I start shoving food into her mouth right away so she gets full, because I know what is coming. What inevitably happens? Eliana happily munches away on some of the tasty goodies I brought for her, but then the snack service starts. Even if she is full, some crinkly, brightly colored packages catch Eliana’s eye and it’s all over. Eliana drops whatever she had been eating and goes right for the corn-syrup-laden highly processed stuff that the airlines are doling out. And let me tell you something that might shock you: I let her eat them up. Because when it comes down to it, I’m literally trapped in a small moving tube for hours with a toddler. And for anyone out there who isn’t a parent, caregiver or teacher of toddlers, toddlers are willful little buggers who get their minds set on something. And when they aren’t happy, they can bring the noise.
And I’m going to tell you another little piece of information here: I can’t stand the screaming kids on airplanes. In my head, I used to judge those “weak” parents who couldn’t “control” their kids. And now that payback has entered my life and I’m the parent with the screaming kid, I can stand the screaming even less because, presumably, I’m supposed to be able to make the noise stop. And also, it is happening right in my face, so that sucks in a whole different way. So I’ve tried some “tricks” such as bringing out new toys, showing her videos of herself on my phone or even letting her have “acceptable” junk food like Tings. But, it doesn’t work. What I’ve learned after becoming a parent to this toddler is that I can’t make my tiny human stop screaming unless I take “extreme measures” such as letting her eat a plane-full of prepackaged junk food.
So, unless the pilot has so rudely put on the fasten seat belt sign forbidding Eliana to walk the aisles like Ms. America greeting and touching anyone who doesn’t shrink away from her, I let her go bananas with the snacks. (And, yeah sorry, that was my kid who tried to climb into your lap on your last flight). Chemical filled crunchiness that makes her poop a strange yellow color? Go for it! Animal crackers cooked in a pound of non-fair trade sugar? You betcha! Oh, a snack dropped onto the floor and she quickly wrestled it away from me and shoved it into her mouth before I could blink? Gross, but what can I do other than breathe very deeply and then be glad that I’m the Crazy Lady who wipes down her row “haz-mat style” with alcohol wipes the moment we sit down.
Now that you’re sufficiently appalled by this 180° and wondering if you’ve somehow drifted off of teeny tiny foodie, I have to say that the airplane is a place of survival mode where I just want to get the heck off the plane with as little drama and as much peace as possible.
How do I talk myself through her feeding frenzy of preservatives? I remind myself that a big reason why I’m such a stickler about preparing organic, natural, whole foods at home is because times like this will happen and if I feel good about what she eats on a regular basis, I feel less badly about the munchies gorging that happens only every so often.
But, that doesn’t mean I will forgo packing the snack bag. In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m pretty stubborn, so I will keep on packing the snacks.
Here’s what I packed for the flight back from visiting my parents last week:
- -Greek yogurt
- -Cheese sticks
- -“Cheerios” (Really a cereal called “Purely Os” with an ingredient list I like better.)
- -Dried apple snacks
- -Carrot sticks
- -Water (Eliana can use an actual straw. Woohoo! It’s way easier to keep a straw in a water bottle than to freak out every time her sippy cup lands topside on the floor.)
- -Straws (Not only as spares for the water bottle but also as a new, exciting teething toy or piece of entertainment. Who knew?)
And here’s what Eliana actually consumed:
- -Ice, ice and more ice
- -Dirt from the floor
- -Airline pretzels
- -Airline cookies
- -Dried apple snacks
- -Water, but probably because it is super exciting to use a straw.
- -Straws (She didn’t actually swallow any bits of them but not for lack of trying. How come she’s so stubborn?)
And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here’s a list I came up with on the flight the other day.
The Top 6 Things I’m Thankful For During Airplane Trips
- 6. Wise neighbors who sprint to a new seat far, far, away as soon as the fasten seatbelt sign goes off. Thus, leaving us with the entire row to ourselves.
- 5. Bulkhead seats with extra legroom. Eliana literally bounces off the walls and the seats. They are so worth the extra price.
- 4. My newfound ability to temporarily suspend my germ-a-phobic tendencies for a few hours while Eliana sticks her hands into the seat back pockets where you know there are snotty tissues.
- 3. Friendly passengers who actually enjoy Eliana popping over every three minutes to say, “Hi!”
- 2. Thoughtful flight attendants who ignore the captain telling them not to let kids walk around in the galley, drop off more snacks without us asking, and refill our ice cups with a smile.
- 1. And what I am most thankful for during an airline trip (or ever, really) is my amazing husband, Matt, who walks the aisles with Eliana, makes conversation with random strangers who want to engage with Eliana and generally does whatever it takes to keep both his girls happy.
Safe travels, everyone!