Our decision to travel with our son JJ was simple: we like to travel and we like his company. One rare trip we took across the pond without JJ, and after a few days we said we would never do that again (note – we are doing it again).
I distinctly remember a flight during the time my wife was pregnant with JJ. We were on a jetway behind a mother and her two kids. The kids were four and six, and when one made a bit of a peep and the mom said, “That’s it, no more Bloody Marys for you.” The relaxed nature of the mom, the ease with which these kids traveled was reassuring. The kids knew how to travel, they were relaxed, and not overly excited. We glimpsed our future.
Since that time JJ has flown with us over 230,000 miles, having been to Alaska thirteen times, Mexico a eight times, Hawaii four times, Europe twice, Asia once. He has received frequent flier status on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and US Airways. He loves airports, and we discovered we love airports with play areas more than the lounges that serve the upscale traveler. He gets comfortable with earphones and an iPad and makes himself at home on the plane. He carries his own luggage, and prefers to carry-on rather than check it, he likes his suitcase.
Not that there have not been adventures – running out of diapers in Beijing while boarding the flight back to the states – thankfully Delta had diapers on board. Our toughest time was when he had an earache and refused his bottle (he has had three ear aches in his life, all before we were to take off on a major flight). Losing his favorite baby-blanket in Hawaii (he was to the point of giving it up but props to American Airlines to make an all out effort to find it).
Our son is comfortable in any hotel lobby, in any airplane, and never quite understands if he has to move more than five seats back. He has given us the excuse to get larger hotel rooms: I always liked extra space, now I have fatherhood as an excuse to get a suite.
Before having my son I was the kind of guy that would never look at a kid on the plane. I would hope they didn’t sit next to me. I would make the snarky comments about how they should put the kids in the baggage hold. Now I smile at them all, wave at them, let the parents know it is ok to have their kids on board and if they need help we are there to help them.
Travel with a child – easy. Thinking about someone else taking care of the kid while we are off somewhere else – not easy at all.