If you're planning on traveling with toddlers, there are a few things you should know. Including the possibility of potty problems on planes. Be prepared.

Traveling with Toddlers: A Cautionary Tale

If you're planning on traveling with toddlers, there are a few things you should know. Including the possibility of potty problems on planes. Be prepared.

I’m back from my week-long “vacation” with my husband and our 16-month-old daughter. If you’re asking yourself why I put vacation in quotation marks, you’ve obviously never traveled with a toddler.

Months ago when we planned our trip to Seattle and Portland, we figured, how hard can it be to bring Cassie along? We’ll plan ahead and everything will go just fine. Other people take family vacations all the time. Besides, we need a getaway–we haven’t taken a real vacation in two years. Cassie will love the adventure.

Clearly, we were delusional about traveling with toddlers.

Fast-forward to a Skybus airplane departing from the Columbus airport one week ago: Cassie’s wearing her EarPlanes ear plugs to mitigate the changing air pressure, I’m holding at the ready snacks aplenty and our brand-new portable DVD player loaded with Teletubbies, and the plane’s just taking off.

Then, I hear it. That unmistakable sound of biohazard-like diarrhea, also known as “toxic poopie,” filling my child’s diaper. Really filling it. Several times. Jay and I look at each other, both thinking the same thought: “NOOOOOOOOO!”

Of course, we can’t get up to change her. The plane is taking off. Seatbelt signs are on. Even the flight attendants are seated and belted. So we wait. And wait. It seems like forever, but maybe 10 (or 100) minutes later, the seatbelt sign goes off. I pop out of our seats with poor Cassie, literally dripping with toxic poopie. But as I make my way up the aisle, the flight attendant stops me. “You’ll have to sit down. Someone else is using the lavatory, and we can’t have anyone stand up here waiting.”

Again, “NOOOOOOOO!” But I dutifully go back to our seats, poo-dripping child in tow, to impatiently wait. When the lavatory is vacated, we make a beeline and get in … to the smallest airplane bathroom known to man. I manage to pull down the changing shelf (about the size of a small bookshelf), get her poo-soaked clothes off and into a Ziploc, clean her up with wipes, put on a clean diaper, dress her in a clean outfit, and even wash my hands.

Don’t ask me how I did it. I was in a complete horror-induced blur. Possibly a waking blackout, if there is such a thing. But wait … it gets worse.

When we get back to our seats, Jay informs me that the diarrhea soaked through to the car seat she was strapped in. He tried to clean it up with paper towels, but to no avail. The only thing that was going to get rid of the lingering porta potty smell was a good washing machine and much detergent. Too bad we had another FOUR HOURS of flying to go.

Well, we somehow made it, though both of us (and no doubt, our fellow passengers) felt like passing out from the horrendous smell. Cassie napped innocently, watched her ‘Tubbies, and patiently waited for the flight to end. Eventually, it did. We made our way to a fine hotel with laundry facilities, where we eradicated the toxic poopy’s existence and began the rest of our trip.

I’ll admit, I’m starting with the worst point of our trip (which also happened to coincide with the beginning). But throughout the rest of this week, I’ll share more tips and tales of our adventure to the great Pacific Northwest. Good times, people! Good times!

If you're planning on traveling with toddlers, there are a few things you should know. Including the possibility of potty problems on planes. Be prepared.

12 thoughts on “Traveling with Toddlers: A Cautionary Tale

  1. Mommy Bits says:

    LOL. Susan, I am so sorry but that made me laugh so hard. Just hearing about the airplane bathroom reminded me of traveling with SM when he was a baby.

    You deserve a medal for surviving!

  2. I had something very similar happen as well. Only I was driving from NY to Missouri to visit my family with my 6 month old in a snow storm. I stopped to change her finally and waded through the snow with her and the diaper bag. Fought my way into the bathroom to the changing table. Opened up my diaper bag and realized I only had two wipes in there and the rest of them were back in the car in the shin high snow. It takes a soldier to be a mother. You have to have a little MacGyver in you at all times. Talk about multi-taskng and problem solving.

  3. Yikes! That made me laugh so hard. I can’t imagine how horriffic that must’ve been for you at the time. But at least it makes for a good tale, right?

  4. You all should’ve heard it in person. Hilarious! I was almost crying.

    I’m so glad nothing like that happened when me and O traveled. I wouldn’t have been able to handle it.

  5. just4ofus says:

    OH MY! I didn’t even know that they had changing table is the airplane bathrooms.
    I hope the trip was great after that!!!!!!!!!

  6. Ohhh yeah. I’ve been there. Not with toxic poopie, but with poopie nonetheless. After traveling with toddlers, you need a vacation from your vacation.

  7. Marketing Mommy says:

    Toxic poop plus plane, that’s quite a load to deal with (pun intended), but we’ve all had to deal with either travel blowouts or car seat messes. I actually replaced our Evenflo car seat because removing the cover meant finding a screwdriver and disassembling the whole thing. I once had to beg a front desk guy to loan me a Philips head screwdriver and hook up a garden hose so I could wash down a puke-covered car seat. Also on day one of a “vacation.”

  8. RedBullMom says:

    Ohhh…I feel your pain (and second-hand chuckles). We brought our two toddlers (3.5 and 2) to Orlando from the Northwest last spring and on the way back it was vomit galore for 4 hours until we hit SLC for a layover. We had brought plenty of clothes for the kids for just such an incident but my husband was not as lucky.

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