I've taken books out of the library about flying on airplanes to familiarize him with the process we'll go through. And then, of course, we've been practicing his ringbearer duties. I've made arrangements for his uncle to help dress him, because he will also be wearing a suit. Hopefully, that will make my son more likely to wear his own.
There's the question of what sorts of things I need to take on the plane to keep him occupied and happy; what I'm actually allowed to bring on the plane; what should I pack for us, considering we're going to need to pack lighter than we normally do. And of course, the question of how to handle all the luggage by myself, while holding a toddler's hand.
The last six weeks have been busy for us. First, to secure funding for the trip, then to secure the airfare, hotel rooms, rental car. All of this should have been easier than it was. But unfortunately, in the five years since we last used AAA, they seem to have taken a turn for the worse.
We planned our entire honeymoon through AAA simply by telling them where we wanted to go, our budget, and what dates; they did all the rest. This time, however, the first person that we got wasn't even capable of understanding what city we wanted to go to, and when we left out of frustration and went to a different AAA office -- the one we had used for our honeymoon -- we didn't get much better service. The woman we were assigned to couldn't access the same information from her computer that we had found from home using the AAA website. She even told us, somewhat condescendingly, that "We have a direct connection to the airlines; we don't use the Internet." Well, that's kind of foolish, if you ask me, especially when the comparison flights pop up so easily on their own website, and she had to make multiple calls just to find the info she dug up.
When she quoted us ticket prices hundreds of dollars higher than we'd found on their own site, we turned her down. Of course, at home, we ran into further problems, with the AAA website not taking our method of payment, even though the same method worked a couple minutes later on another travel planning site. We didn't get our AAA discount, but at least we were allowed to pay!
On top of this, I was still trying to go through this agent to get information on hotels and rental cars in that area that have AAA discounts. She was out a number of days and didn't call me back in a timely manner on the days she was in. The only information she gave me was a hotel near the airport that was at least $50 a night more expensive than anything we'd been looking at. Finally, I ended up doing it all myself, making use of my husband's membership discount for a certain hotel chain. Fortunately, I also discovered a way to receive our AAA discount through Hertz Rental Car without going through a AAA agent.
This was all very stressful and is probably part of the reason I've been feeling as bad lately as I did before I started avoiding gluten and dairy. I will definitely be writing a strongly-worded letter later.
Griping aside, my main focus right now is how to make the best of the trip for myself and my son. So I'm hoping that there are some parents and/or travelers out there who might share some tips. How would you entertain a toddler on the plane? My son is almost 3 and enjoys stickers and coloring, so I'll be bringing some activity books for us to do together. But I'd also like thoughts on anything that you might make our trip easier, whether on the plane or otherwise.
So far, in our discussions about the upcoming trip, KFP is excited and open-minded about the new experiences to come. I'm optimistic that, with just a little more planning, we can truly make this a trip to remember.