My daughter still qualifies as a "lap infant" because she is only 1.5 years old. My husband still qualifies as a penny pincher because he happily takes advantage of the "lap infant" price to my general discomfort.
We recently flew from Alaska to California to visit family. There are always two legs to this trip, Anchorage to Seattle or Portland, and then on to San Jose or Sacramento. The total travel time is no less than 8 hours of pure bliss.
The hardest part for me is that when my daughter is in my lap, she would like to be nursing nonstop. And when I say "she would like," what I mean is that she will scream and cry and kick if that's not what's going on. She's very pleasant, but when told she can not nurse right now, she becomes a different creature all together. This particular probably can't really be helped though, so I chose to focus on the things I could control.
It's hard enough traveling with an adult on an airline these days and making sure you're fed. It's harder with a child. A vegan family traveling is really left to their own devices. So I bring plenty of good stuff.
When Violet was younger, I would make up tiny tupperware with mashed yam, avocado, peanut butter, dates, pretzels, and such all individually wrapped and ready to feed. Of course, now that I have two extra hands without complete motor control, deciding what foods I want flung around an airplane is a difficult task. Here's what I came up with:
1. Lara Bars and Cliff bars (mini versions of both!): Cliff Bars are my go-to when we're out and I have to grab something to feed the munchkin, but they are pretty big for a tiny girl, so I end up giving her some of it and wrapping the rest and then it dries out and I try to feed the rest to her later, but it's not chewy anymore... Anyway, I found these minis when I was at Target on Christmas Eve after realizing that my homemade pajama pants were not going to be a good present for anyone because they were hideous and didn't fit right. I like Lara Bars as well because they have few ingredients and I like all the ingredients in them. Frankly, if we were at home I'd be giving my daughter dried fruit anyway, so add some grains and nuts and I'm happy.
2. Edensoy Soymilk in the juicebox containers. It's over three ounces and I was all ready to say, "That's for my baby," but no one even asked. You CAN bring them on the plane though for your child, you just have to set them out and explain if they ask. I like Edensoy anyway because the only sweetener they use is malted barley.
3. Edamame. These are great for snacking, but not for all babies as they can get messy. Luckily, we eat them enough that V is a pro and didn't make a mess with them.
We got through our flights without starving and on our flight back we were even able to get a nice tofu stir fry and veggie sushi made fresh at SEA/TAC.
Violet has been going through this adorable artistic phase, but she's also going through a crayon-eating phase, so there was no way I was bringing crayons on the plane to be eaten and thrown everywhere. Painting is her favorite, but I would hope that the reasons this was out of the question would be obvious. So, in a flash of genius that can only come in the shower the afternoon before your red-eye flight, I screamed, "MAGNADOODLE!" I dried off and went right out and picked one up.
For the record, I was so right. The Magnadoodle has a hand handle, the pen is attached so it can't be thrown, and my toddler can draw on whatever surface she wants with it and it will still only mark on the screen. It's not an electronic device, so it's fine for take off and landing, and it was cheap. This really was my crowning glory of ideas. I could retire now.
We also brought along her favorite doll, an anatomically correct boy doll that she will not allow to wear clothes and whom we've named Dickie for obvious reasons (don't be gross, Dickie is one of the few words she can say at this point).
Our final entertainment was to bring a couple of her favorite books and ours. She didn't get that into reading on the plane, and I couldn't get comfortable to read, but they have come in handy in the past.
As far as getting through the airport with our sanity, I wore Violet in the Ergo (had to take her off through security), we gate checked her car seat even though it was a PIA to carry around (would it have been so hard to design it with some kind of hand hold?!), and I brought her diaper bag as my carry-on (although you can bring a diaper bag in addition to your carry-on, I just didn't want to carry more). It all went pretty smoothly. She slept on every flight for part of the time, nursed for hours, and didn't cry. She didn't drive anyone too crazy, and she got to see both sets of grandparents.