“In America, there are two classes of travel: first-class and with children.”
— Robert Benchley
Knowing that we didn’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn to leave home before our 10:00am flight, we drove to Philly last night to get the three-hour drive out of the way, and stayed at the Sheraton Suites Philadelphia Airport. The room was quite nice—though there was an awful odor surrounding (and in) the hotel while we were there—and the bedroom (where Victoria and I were sleeping) was separated from the living area (where Ari was sleeping) by a door, so we didn’t have to worry about making noise while we finished organizing our bags from the trip.
Ari’s schedule was pretty thrown off by the evening travel and late-night arrival at the hotel, but we finally got him to go to bed around 11:45pm. We weren’t far behind, and were in bed by 12:15am. The bed felt amazing, but, just as I was dozing off, I heard Ari starting to talk, and the talking quickly escalated to screaming for mommy and daddy! Since Vic is pregnant (and a sleep-dependent Schwartz), I got back out of bed to help Ari calm down. After trying (and failing) to use my normal child-calming strategies, and now exhausted and at my wits’ end, I finally laid out an extra blanket, sheet, and pillow on the really hard floor, and said, “Fine, I’ll sleep here next to you.” Of course, Ari immediately laid down and went to sleep, so I thought, “Great! I”ll stay here another few minutes so that Ari will still see me here if he checks whether I’m gone.” Unsurprisingly, within two minutes, I was fast asleep, and was still passed out on the really uncomfortable floor when Vic woke me up at 6:20am this morning. At least I got to enjoy the comfy bed for a few minutes …
We caught the 7:40am hotel shuttle to the Philadelphia airport, where we checked in and connected with Zayde (Marvin) and Oma (Debbie) who were also just checking in. We headed up to go through security, only to be told that our stroller (the BOB Revolution SE) was too big to be allowed through security, so back down to the check-in counter we went to check our stroller. It was a frustrating moment, especially since we had flown with the Bob only a year before with no problems at all, but the rules had apparently changed in a way that makes traveling with a child harder.
Speaking of making travel with a child harder: when the flight was ready to board, we went up to board early because of our young child only to be told that American Airlines had done away with early boarding for travelers with young children. Really? Really? We had to wait while all of the priority ticket classes boarded (literally half the plane’s passengers), then waited through Zone 1, and finally boarded when they called Zone 2. Let me tell you: there’s nothing quite like trying to carry a toddler, a backpack, and a car seat down the aisle on the plane while also trying to not smash people’s heads as you pass.
Luckily, the rest of the travel day was adventure-less. Ari loved his first flight experienced: he slept, he played, and he even exclaimed “Weeeee!” with a big smile when we hit some turbulence (Vic had a very different reaction to the turbulence). Plus, since he was in the window seat and we were seated just behind the over-wing emergency exit rows, Ari was able to look out the window throughout our trip.
A big part of our successful travel day was directly attributable to the great research Vic did leading up to our trip: because of her diligence, we had purchased a travel car seat—Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat, which weighs just seven pounds(!)—to use on the plane. It fit perfectly in the seat and strapped in easily using the plane’s seat belt, and so Ari was able to ride the same as if he were in a car.
We landed in the rain at the Phoenix Airport, got the rental car, and headed off toward Sedona. We stopped on the way for lunch at a Schlotzsky’s Deli (one of the few restaurants open on Christmas Eve Day after 4:00pm), and then finished our drive in the dark. We arrived at the beautiful VRBO rental, and were welcomed with hugs from Jeremy and Anya and tantalizing smells emanating from the kitchen.
After figuring out who was staying in which room, we all sat down to a delicious Channukah feast made by Anya: