Since we’re still on vacation I’ll be breaking this up into multiple posts.
Getting There: Spring Break this year was planned to be a bit more sedate than some previous trips. My cousin had just given birth to a brand new baby girl, and we were looking to go somewhere that was a relatively short flight from the Northeast. The first time traveling with a newborn can be somewhat daunting. We settled on the Sheraton Sand Key in Clearwater Beach, FL. I’ve never been to this area of Florida in the past, so didn’t know what to expect.
Originally, we were flying direct (IAD-TPA). But, when my cousin decided to bring her family along, we wanted to spend more time with them which necessitated being down there sooner. By the time I made the change, the prices had risen so the only way to switch was to connect through EWR. All in all, not that bad since we only had a 1-hour layover in EWR and short 45 minute flight to EWR.
Our youngest, Charlie, isn’t quite as good a flier as Catherine. Catherine has always been a go wherever, whenever kind of kid, at least when it comes to airplanes. Whether it’s reading, watching something on her iPad, coloring or sleeping, she’s managed a ton of flights, including to and from Rome. Charlie, on the other hand, likes to fidget, run around and generally do everything you’re not supposed to on a plane. So, we weren’t sure whether to take him to Europe this summer or not. The TPA trip would definitely be a test!
Well, he squirmed a bunch IAD-EWR. Not a long flight, so not the end of the world. On EWR-TPA, he fell asleep just as we were taxiing away from the gate, so it looked good for everyone to grab a nap. We were sitting in F but still had to negotiate with the flight attendants to get blankets. At any rate, Catherine and Michelle passed out shortly after take-off and I was about 20 minutes behind. I woke about 30 minutes later and Michelle was enjoying a salad with Charlie, or so I thought.
I later found out that the flight attendant had decided it was imperative Michelle be woken up for a meal choice, with a nice hard nudge. Charlie stirred shortly after, and that was the end of quiet time on the airplane. Catherine, who can sleep through a hurricane, slept until just before descent. I usually wear an eye mask and headphones when I nod off on a plane, and yet I still used to get woken up 50% of the time to be asked what I wanted to eat. Other than a meal I had on a Lufthansa First Class flight, I can’t remember any meal I’ve had that was anywhere close to worth being woken up out of a deep sleep for, let alone both mother and baby. I usually pre-ask the flight attendants not to wake me up. But, alas, I did not think to tell Michelle to do so.
Arrival at TPA was easy. This was my first time at TPA, and I was pleased to see a kid’s area right near the gates. We were flying United into the A terminal, so I’m not sure if other terminals have the same.
The play area was completely self-contained, which is a huge plus for parents. One of the reasons I prefer Admirals Clubs to United Clubs when I travel domestically is the kid’s areas in most clubs. It’s a dedicated room with a heavy glass door that kids can’t escape from. Sounds funny, but it really puts your mind at ease knowing your kids can have as much fun as they want without you watching them every second. Most of the Admirals Clubs have a separate sitting area inside the kid’s play area for adults with tables to eat and work. So, you’re only a few feet from your children but still able to relax or catch up on work while they burn off steam waiting for your next flight.
We hopped over to the train to pick up our bags and be on our way to Sheraton Sand Key.
When we go away for something more than a long weekend, one of my daughter’s favorite parts is when my wife over packs. Then, she gets a nice big suitcase pile that Daddy pushes her around on in the airport. I’m 100% sure it’s dangerous and she could fall and hurt herself. But, she has so much fun doing it, I can’t resist. When this option isn’t available, she usually sits on my rollaboard with her feet dangling over my backpack while I pull her that way. I hope someone from Briggs and Riley doesn’t read this and violate my warranty!