There’s Joy In the Journey…Or Is There?

Vacation is a wonderful thing. It can be relaxing, rejuvenating and a chance to spend quality time with your loved ones. It can also be exhausting, expensive and frustrating when things don’t go as planned. When you add a toddler into the mix you walk a fine line between the two. Our summer vacation was a little of both.

We did the smart thing and decided to vacation with my in-laws. We always vacation well with them and they give a wonderful reprieve from toddler duty. Since we had decided on a place that included a one hour plane ride, a five hour drive and 8,500 feet elevation it was a long trek for a toddler and I was already on edge wanting it to be a fun journey. I was especially excited about the plane flight as Little Man loves airplanes and his excitement is contagious. I couldn’t wait to hear him squeal with delight as he watched us take off into the ‘big sky’ as he calls it.

The morning started out alright but then we got to our seats on the plane. It was a small plane with only 2 seats on either side. I was already annoyed that one of us had to sit across the aisle but figured we could trade off sitting next to the kid as he enjoyed the scenery out the window. The window that every seat has…the window I expected us to have. But as I got to our aisle instead of a little porthole there was a wall. I glanced at the already full plane and this was the ONLY aisle without a window. The only free seats were in an exit row directly behind us. To cap it off our seats didn’t even recline. I begged my husband to ask someone to switch seats with us, he was hesitant and I can’t blame him. Where were we going to find three people willing to switch to the WORST seats on the plane, literally! The flight attendant asked us to strap in quickly as they were preparing for takeoff and I sat down in a huff across the aisle from my husband who was having a heck of a time trying to get my son to sit still and allow him to put on a seatbelt. As we began to pull away from the gate my son said in a pleading voice, “I wanna see!” That was the clincher… the tears started to flow down my cheeks. I was so angry at the airlines for not making it apparent online when I had selected our seats. I was so mad at my husband for not finding some way to fix this horrible injustice. I was angry at my fellow passengers who heard my dismay and request for a seat change and did nothing. But most of all I was just ANGRY! I knew it wasn’t anyone’s fault but I had worked SO hard to make this a fun and special experience.

Notice the lack of window?

I tried desperately to change my attitude and enjoy the rest of the flight but was thwarted at every turn. Once we were in the air I took Little Man to the seat behind us so he could look out the window for a minute. No sooner had I placed him on my lap and glanced out the window that a flight attendant told us we needed to leave. I guess FDA regulations prohibited Little Man from even being in that row for a second. I looked at her with pleading eyes as she could see how badly my son wanted to see out. She softened a bit and said he could walk up to first class as there may be a window up there he could look thru. We plodded down the tiny aisle bumping elbows as we went. After arriving we could see there was no window and as I tried to turn Little Man around to go back to our seat he had a meltdown. I carried him screaming back down the aisle knocking a man in the head as we went. Thankfully he had his own kids on the flight and gave me a compassionate glance.

That’s pretty much how the flight went. I spilled cold water all over myself, Hubby spilled coffee down his leg and into his shoes and we walked a very fine line of trying to keep Little Man entertained and distracted enough so he wouldn’t ask to see out. In a word it was MISERABLE!

I wish I could say I was able to shake it off and enjoy the rest of the journey but even as I sit here and write the emotions flood back. I am still so upset and recalling my disappointment, and my sons, makes me want to cry all over again. I think the entire experience made me super sensitive to anything further going wrong and when you are traveling with a toddler things don’t go according to plan, it’s just the way it is!

Thankfully once we arrived at our destination I was able to calm down and enjoy the rest of our vacation. Watching Little Man’s face fill with joy as he experienced activities for the first time made it worth all the effort.

So what vacation horror stories do you have to share? Any tips for future travels with a toddler?


  1. When you were about two, we had to fly from Chicago to Naples, Florida on a DC3 (ancient even in in 1983!) Busy little tyke that you were, I let you run at top speed, shrieking with joy, up and down the aisle of the plane to blow off steam. You had a blast and since you were decked out in your best little pink and white Polly Flinders dress with pinafore, no one had the heart to tell me to strap you back in a seat. Those were the days!

Speak Your Mind