We've done this once so I shouldn't be anxious about it, right? Wrong. But I did learn from my mistakes and from my triumphs and have put together a list of what I believe are important tips for any parent getting ready to travel with their child.
- I will check my luggage. I thought waiting for our luggage at the baggage claims would be an unnecessary (waiting) step that would just add to anxiety and boredom for Brian. But changed my mind after my incident with a screaming boy in the Atlanta airport while trying to carry our backpack, shopping bag of recently bought goodies, our rolling carry-on, a purse, and a booster seat. I, obviously, didn't think that one through. This time all I'm bringing with me on the plane is a backpack with my wallet, the iPad, a change of clothes, headphones, and snacks.
- Noise-cancelling headphones are awesome! I bought them right before our last trip, just wanting to cover all the bases. I wasn't really sure how they would work but Brian wore them the majority of all the flights. They must've helped, otherwise he wouldn't have tolerated them for five minutes.
- Over-pack. Don't try to pack light. Last time Brian became quite sick and I didn't have a thermometer to keep track of his fever, no medicine, no pedialyte, no nothing. It wouldn't be a big deal but I didn't rent a car (and won't be this time either)- so then it becomes a big deal. I am going to be prepared for anything and have a HUGE suitcase for our one night stay.
- Don't be shy to ask for help. When airlines ask for the elderly or families with young children to go on board first, jump in line. You have a child with autism. My child with autism needs to touch each seat until we get to our own (which is usually in the back because I ask for seats that have no one sitting around us- so far have been lucky in that category), that can be a hassle when you have a crapload of people behind you trying to get to their seats.
- On the plane make sure to ask your child if they need to use the bathroom near the end of the trip. On one of our flights Brian decided he needed to pee while we were landing. We couldn't get up and I just had to sit there and keep telling him to wait while crossing my fingers he wasn't going to pee his pants right there.
Also, if you are anxious your child is obviously going to feed off that and behaviors will be exacerbated. So maybe a margarita should be lined up prior to the plane ride. Our flight leaves at 11:00 AM- is that too early for a drink?