The kids and I recently took a trip to Florida to visit family. My husband made the trip from Denver to Orlando with us and stayed for the first week we were there. The kids and I stayed almost a week longer since we didn’t have any camps or big events to rush home for. Flying with multiple children (or even one, depending of the temperament of said child!) is always a daunting task. I was thankful that my husband would be along to help on the over three hour direct flight.
Since Cooper is now three, he needs his own ticket. Though I miss the days buying one less ticket, I absolutely love not having a big, sweating, squirmy baby on my lap. There are few things as difficult as trying to cram yourself under the seat in front of you to retrieve food, toys, pacifiers, spit up cloths or clean diapers with a toddler on your lap. The last flight I took with Cooper was a disaster…so bad that if his tantrum had happened while we were still waiting to take off, I’m pretty sure we would have been escorted off the plane. His ears were hurting, which I could tell by how he held them and screamed, but also, he just wanted off. He wanted to jump, to run, and get off mommy’s lap. That made two of us. So this time, I decided we’d bring his car seat on the plane instead of checking it with our bags.
Because I needed a way to get the car seat through the airport and onto the plane, not only with the help of my husband, but also without his help on the way back, I looked at the various options on the market to roll it through the airport. Most of the options I found online looked complicated and I wasn’t sure if they would require more concentration to take on and off the car seat than I felt I would be able to manage quickly and efficiently while simultaneously micromanaging three children or they were made specifically for a certain brand of car seat. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money so I decided to try a little MacGyver Mommy experiment.
The next time I was at Target, I picked up a two pack of bungee cords…and they were on clearance for three dollars and change. Perfect. I got them home and packed my rolling carry on size suitcase with a quilt while I conducted my experiment. I put the back of the car seat flat against the front of the suitcase and threaded one of the bungee cords through the hole that would hold a seat belt when strapping the car seat in forward facing. I pulled the cords though and then crossed them over each other behind the suitcase in an X before pulling them up and hooking them onto the soft handle. Then I took the second cord and wrapped it around the top part of the car seat and looped it around and made an X with that bungee cord before hooking it both ends on to the extendable handle. When I tilted the suitcase back to roll it behind me, the bottom of the car seat didn’t hit the floor.
The next step was to see if I could not only pull the seat and the suitcase with my bungee cord contraption, but Cooper as well. I strapped him in his car seat, and tested it. With his extra weight, I realized I needed to make the bungee cords even tighter. A pull here and a pull there and voila, I could easily drag the suitcase, the car seat and a strapped in Cooper through the airport. And I could wear my backpack/diaper bag/carry-on on my back.
On the day we were actually flying, my homemade contraption worked perfectly. I wasn’t sure if it would fit rolling down the aisle of the plane (ideal) or if I would have to disassemble it just before we boarded and have my husband carry it above the heads of the other passengers (not at all ideal). I am happy to say, it was tight, but we were able to roll it between the aisles and all the way to our seats. This was going to be a key part in the level of ease or difficulty I would have on our return to Denver without Daddy. Phew!
If you intend to travel with a car seat for your infant or toddler, make sure it is labeled by the manufacturer as “certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” It should be on a sticker on the side of the car seat. You can see the sticker on our car seat in the picture on the left.
Do you bring a car seat on the plane? And if so, how? It’s not easy!