You'd think, after clocking so many miles of trans-continental travel over the last year and a half, that there wouldn't be much left for me to learn about long-haul flights with a toddler. You'd think that 15 flights across the ocean would be enough for me to have this whole flying-with-my-kid thing down.
Well, yesterday's debacle proved that in fact, there is so much that I have yet to learn. And so, herewith, I share with you my list of What Not To Do When Traveling With Your Toddler:
First and foremost, do not forget your baby sling, lest you find yourself with a tired, squirming toddler on one hip who is vehemently insisting that she be allowed to get down and RUN! RUN! RUN! as you navigate your way through through four airports, while also dragging a suitcase, a diaper bag, and an unreasonably overloaded handbag.
Second, do not pack 200 lbs of things to take home with you. And certainly, try to avoid having five suitcases to haul. It will prove incredibly problematic when, in the event that you have forgotten a vital piece of baby carrying equipment, you are required to navigate through Narita airport pushing a luggage cart piled higher than your sight-line one handed, while lugging said squirmy toddler who would much rather be sleeping. Or running.
Third. Do not listen to that little voice in your head that says, "We don't need extra ziplock bags. We always bring them, but never use them, so let's just save a little space, shall we?" For, when you discover that you're child's amoxicillian has exploded, you will have no means by which to contain the pink goo that is rapidly spreading all over everything.
Fourth. Do not, in an attempt to avoid your usual travel uniform which consists of old leggings and a tunic that gives you the distinct appearance of a disheveled vagabond, wear your newly purchased, favorite pair of paints, the last pants in the entire continent in that particular size and colour. For, when you inevitably spill coffee all over yourself, you will not only feel great sadness at the prospect of having ruined your new trousers, but you will also end up looking like a disheveled vagabond anyway.
Fifth. Do not engage your child in rowdy horseplay on the airplane. Fun as it may be, when she whappes you in the face mid-flight causing your nose to bleed, you will curse your parental irresponsibility.
Sixth. Ensure that you do pack extra clothes for yourself. For, when child-induced bloody nose leaks everywhere, you'll want a costume change so that the remaining 20 travel hours will not be spent looking like a disheveled vagabond who was recently in a bar fight.
There you have it, a comprehensive list of the what not to do when traveling with a toddler.
I'm sure that I have saved a million mothers a million stressful moments, because while the above tips may appear self-evident to a layperson, let me assure you that these lessons can only be won through experience.
Or perhaps a little common sense. Of which, evidentially, I have a shocking dearth.