Back in the swinging 60's, my mother was a stewardess for Pan Am Airlines. Those were the days when being an international stewardess was one of the more glamorous and prestigious jobs a young woman could have. My mother was beautiful, college-educated, spoke 5 languages and wanted to see the world. She was perfect for the job. And though she only did it for a few years during her twenties, she was bitten by the travel bug and has spent the rest of her live traversing around the planet. Even today, she's one of the more well-travelled people I know.
Whether by nature or nurture, the bug was passed on to me as well. Travel has always been one of the great passions of my life. To paraphrase Confuscious, we live in interesting times...and I'm curious to see how we're all living in them. I constantly want to embark on new journeys, meet different people and immerse myself in various cultures. It's not for everyone. But I'm a big believer that the sum experience of my travels has greatly shaped my perspective on life and made me who I am.
To maximize my travel opportunities, I've always taken jobs that have allowed me to see different parts of the world. Not just any places but places off the beaten path that one wouldn't normally visit during the course of a lifetime...like Sri Lanka, Honduras, Pakistan, China and United Arab Emirates. As I'm sure you can understand, travelling to these places involves spending insanely long hours (sometimes even days) on an airplane. Therefore, I've learned that it's important to try and make the journey as pleasant as the destination. So it's in this spirit that I've spent a lifetime collecting an enormous trove of valuable travel knowledge.
If you miss your flight from Paris to New York, I can tell you which other airlines fly direct, how many flights/day they have, and which ones tend to arrive on time. If you find yourself with a long layover in Bangkok or Dubai, I can tell you the best places near the airport to get a great meal. And depending on the aircraft you're flying, I can even tell you which seats you should request to make the trip more comfortable.
I've even perfected a flying ritual designed to provide me with maximum comfort while up in the air. I won't go into the details but it entails multiple pillows, my IPod, Bose noise-cancelling headphones, Dewars Scotch, beta-blockers, an electronic Scrabble machine, and a book of Sunday New York Times crossword puzzles. Whether I'm flying to Sacramento or Seoul, these usually do the trick.
But now, Internet....I need your help. Because despite all my past travel experiences, I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO FLY WITH A BABY!!!
Really, I'm not kidding. BossLady and I are taking the Peanut to Dallas to see her grandparents this weekend. I'm terrified that my 11-week old daughter is going to be "that baby." You know which one I'm talking about. There's one on every flight. The baby who starts screaming at take-off and doesn't stop until the wheels come down. The one who poops so much that the whole cabin smells. The one whose parents have that look of sheer terror on their faces.
We're taking the car seat and the Baby Bjorn. Unfortunately, she doesn't like to sleep in either one of them. We're going to breast feed her at take-off and at landing. And we're going to bring along plenty of blankets. People have told me to bring her favorite book or toy. But she's 11 weeks old! She doesn't have a favorite book or toy. She likes to pee on my sweaters and shit on my hand. Do you think that's gonna work on the plane? She likes when I sing Cure songs to her. Unfortunately, I think the rest of the passengers would rather listen to a screaming baby than hear me sing.
One idea that I have is to buy an enormous value-sized box of ear plugs at Costco and dole them out to everyone on the plane like the fucking Pied Piper. Then, I'll buy a few rounds of cocktails for everyone sitting near us. For good measure, I'm even contemplating bringing a box of Krispy Kreme donuts to pass around and soothe the masses. What's that expression? You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar?
Anyway, it's times like this that I'm thankful for Al Gore inventing the internet. Because, to all of you out there in the ether, I need your cumulative parenting wisdom. We parents have to stick together so I'm begging you...do any of you have some well-worn parenting tips on how to travel with a newborn on a plane? What worked best for you and your child? And any tips on the easiest way to navigate the whole airport screening process? Anyone? Help!