Share Your Plane Trip with Young Kids Disaster Story

Sharing travel tales of woe? How is this productive? Rest assured, I am not trying to encourage anyone to wallow in self-pity or scare the pants off some new parent preparing for their first airplane trip with a young child. Mistakes are our best teacher. And why not let someone else make them instead of you? So I’ll go first. Here are my top 5 travel screw-ups!

Christy Rounds’s Best Travel Mistakes

Soaked the Seats
O.k. So this isn’t just one mistake. It’s really about five or six. Remember when I said you can learn from mistakes? Seems in some cases, I just don’t. On many airplane trips, I brought an empty sippy cup for each child. When the flight attendant offered drinks, I’d have him / her put the kids’ apple juice in the sippy cup instead of the plastic cup. Smart, right? The problem is, I’d often forget the sippy cups. And invariably, someone would spill their apple juice. So if you were one of the unfortunate souls who had our seats for the next flight, all I can say is, I’m really, really, really sorry!

Smelled like Puke
From the title, I think you can guess the story. I was flying from Reno, NV to Traverse City, MI after a sales meeting. My parents had flown out to watch 6 month old Gracie while I attended my meetings. So Gracie and I were 1/2 hour into an 8 hour trip when she threw up, soaking not only her outfit, but all my clothes as well. Well… I’m not a total idiot. I had a change of clothes for her. But nothing for me. So I spent the day desperately trying to ignore the wrinkled noses and gagging sounds. If you were one of the unfortunate souls who had a seat next to us on one of those flights, all I can say is, I’m really, really, really sorry!

Miscalculated Diapers Needed
How many diapers can a baby go through in a flight? That depends. Does your baby have diarrhea? Mine did. So the normal 4 diapers for 8 hours in transit didn’t cut it. Did you know that it’s very hard to find diapers in Chicago O’Hare? Maybe there is a new baby supply store now, but I assure you, there wasn’t when I truly needed it most! I can also tell you that maxi pads and duct tape are not an adequate substitute. No, I didn’t really do that. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Injured the Baby
Dumb doesn’t even begin to describe this one. I was flying with three little kids – ages 4,3,1 – from Salt Lake City to Traverse City, MI with a stopover in Minneapolis. Thankfully, my parents, who had come to watch the kids while I attended a convention, were traveling in first class. I was distracted with trying to break up an argument between the two older kids, so I absentmindedly dropped a raisin into an empty pop can and handed it to the baby to uses as a rattle. Instead of rattling, my little guy reached into the pop can to get the raisin and sliced his finger. The slice was deep and I couldn’t stop the bleeding. In a few minutes, there was blood everywhere.

The flight attendant told me that if she opened the medical kit, she’d need to file a report when we got to Minneapolis, and I would miss my connecting flight. Not wanting to spend the night in Mpls with three young kids, I tried to stop the bleeding myself. Other passengers were begging me to have the attendant open the $&%*#@ medical kit. We finally got the bleeding slowed enough to not get bounced from the connecting flight. And once again, if you were one of the unfortunate souls who had a seat next to us on one of those flights, all I can say is, I’m really, really, really sorry!

Checked Car Keys in the Luggage
By now, you are wondering why you’d read a blog written by a complete idiot. But wait… I’ve saved the best for last. May of 2009, we were flying from Paris to Grand Rapids, MI with a 3 hour layover in Altanta, GA. Again, I was flying alone with the kids. Do you notice that all my disaster stories happen when I’m flying alone? That’s because my husband is smart enough to avoid all these problems! Anyway… the kids were 6, 5 and 3. There was no movie on the flight from Paris, so I expended a lot of energy keeping them entertained.

Exhausted, we finally arrived in Grand Rapids at 5:00am Paris time. The airline had lost our luggage. That wouldn’t have been a big deal, except for the fact that after 6 weeks of not using my purse in Europe, I’d packed the purse – with car keys inside – in my checked luggage.

O.k. So I shared my tales of travel shame and woe. Now it’s your turn. What are your stories of disaster? They don’t need to be dramatic, just something we can all learn from or empathize with! So go ahead, share…


  1. Christi, I loved these stories! I don’t have any of my own yet, but that’s only because we haven’t yet flown with our baby. With a move overseas looming, I’m sure there will be MANY “tales of travel shame and woe” to come.

  2. Oh if only my son would have been a baby when it happened! A few years ago when my son was twelve we arrived at the ticket counter in Albany, NY to fly out to see my parents in Augusta, GA. I tried checking us in at one of the electronic kiosks but it kept coming up with my name instead of mine and my sons. I got in line and stood there for what seemed like an eternity, only to find out when i reached the counter that both tickets were issued in my name. Yikes!! We had about an hour to board and the ticket agent said i’d have to purchase a new ticket for my son through them…US Airways or contact Priceline who issued my tickets incorrectly and get them corrected. I was panicked since i had about an hour to do all of this and check our bags and was put on hold by Priceline forever who at first said they couldnt do anything. I freaked, asked to speak to a manager, etc. Finally they agreed to change one of the tickets into my sons name with some rather expensive fees but still cheaper than an off the rack ticket. Whew! I got back in line and everything worked out in the end. I was sure they were wrong of course so when i powered up the laptop i checked to be sure and low and behold I had purchused two tickets in my name somehow instead of one for each of us. I have no idea how this happened except i remember buying the tickets late at night and probably was tired and obviously didnt double check. Anyway, note to self ALWAYS double check ticket purchases for time/place/name, etc.

  3. Missed the flight because I was stuck in security.

    I was flying alone with a one year old and a three year old from Frankfurt to San Francisco and we were stuck so long in security that I didn’t notice when we came out that the gate had changed without notice.

    They are allowed to do that. We ran to the wrong gate, only to find out then and by the time I got to the right one, we watched the plane pull away from the gate.

    ALWAYS CHECK THE GATE. Every screen you pass by, look again. And again. And again.

    We were then put on a Washington D.C. flight. The SFO was overbooked but three places opened up last minute. I think a very nice gate-agent took pity upon us and made sure we were on board.

    Instead of arriving at 4pm, we were there at midnight. Not looking at the gate screen cost me 8 hours and a lot of sweat!

    • Ouch! What a nightmare to have a gate change add an extra 8 hours of transit time – especially when traveling with little ones. I hope you had enough food / diapers!

      • We’re tickled and aclatuly astonished that the sneek-peek pic is sooooo wonderful! Considering all the squirmy kiddos you did a fantastic job! Can’t wait to see the rest of them! Thank YOU for a wonderful session!