IAHP Visit – Traveling Day – Friday
Friday, August 4th, 2017… The day we had been waiting for. We were heading to the airport to start our journey to bring Little Z man to The Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential. Today is what I have dubbed our Traveling Day.
11 months after my first journey to Philadelphia. It was almost like a dream. Never in a million years did I think we could pull this off.
But thanks to the help from a wonderful organization, The Elks of Canada, we were there at the airport. Starting our journey to the IAHP in Philadelphia.
I had to say I was completely nervous to be traveling by air with Zakari. He’s not one for crowds and we had a layover in Chicago.
We arrived at the airport 2 hours early like they recommended. Then we saw the line to check in. We had tried to check in the night before online, but it said we had to check in when we arrived. So we got in line and waited our turn.
We started getting nervous when the line wasn’t really moving. Were they canceling flights. We had taken a chance and flown United Airlines. yes they had bad publicity lately, but we figured they would now be on their best behaviour since the world was watching.
We finally reach the check in desk and everything was fine. They let us check our bag and off to security we went. Thankfully we were the only people going through security at the time.
The people who were running security were amazing. I quickly explained to them that Z has autism and that I could not let go of his hand. They were very compassionate and kind. They had us remove our shoes. We were told that Z could keep his on, but then they noticed they were light up shoes, so they said he had to remove them. Well Mr. Z was more than willing to comply.
From that point on he was convinced you’re not suppose to wear shoes in the airport.
They let me carry Z through the metal detector. We quickly gathered our belongings and made our way to customs. We had 2 back packs, Z’s car seat and 1 carry on because Hubby thought that it would be worth the money to check a bag. Boy was he right! I could not image trying to juggle an extra bag. While the carseat was a pain to drag around, it was a blessing to use on the plan.
We found a little alcove in the waiting area and Z climbed on the couches and got all his wiggles out. They kept changing gates, so we just stayed there till we heard they were boarding our flight. The Winnipeg Airport is very small so its easy to just stay put and move to where you need to be when its time.
We got in line and when we made it to the front the flight attendant said she had called us to board first. We must have missed her call. She said because I had called ahead to let them know about Z’s special needs they wanted to make sure he was taken care of.
When we got on board, Hubby helped me install Z’s car seat. I have to say, if you have a busy child, make sure to bring your child’s car seat on the plane. Z knows when he’s in a car in his carseat, that’s where he is expected to be.
Take off went well. I was worried he might freak out about his ears popping, but he just plugged them. I had brought ear defenders, but he was not interested in using them.
When they came around with snacks and drinks, they brought him one of those squeezy apple sauces, which he enjoyed. But of course in total Z style, he managed to dump my glass of coke on my lap. Thankfully I had already drank half of it, so I was only a little wet.
The biggest challenge for me was preventing him from kicking the chair ahead of us. He is use to traveling in a van where he has lots of legroom.
Luckily the person in front of him had no one sitting beside him, he was able to move over. That being said I made my best effort to stop him from kicking the back of the chair.
About 30 mins into the flight Z decided that he wanted to go play outside. Try as I might to explain to him that we are thousands of feet in the air, he still wanted to go play outside. This was one of the many times this trip this poor guy’s mom rained on his parade.
After our 2+ hour flight we landed in Chicago. We waited for the plane to empty out and then we uninstalled his car seat and made our way off.
There waiting for us was a United Airlines employee with a wheelchair. Z needed the opportunity to stretch his legs. But the employee invited us to put his car seat and bags on the wheelchair, and escorted us through the airport to our next terminal gate.
I was so grateful he did! Boy oh boy is the Chicago airport huge! Because he escorted us, we were able to have time for a bathroom break as well as get Z some popcorn to snack on on the next flight.
Because we were right by the gate, we were able to board first. United was able to upgrade our seats so Z had more leg room. Z snacked on popcorn and watched a few episodes of his show I had downloaded from Netflix to his tablet. He started to doze off to sleep just before we landed.
Once again we let the plane empty out before we gathered our belongings and got off. There waiting for us was another United employee with a wheelchair. We thanked him very much, but told him we knew where to go as I’ve been to the Philadelphia airport before and Z needed to stretch again.
We made our way to the baggage claim. Grabbed our bag and made our way to catch the shuttle to the Alamo, the car rental company.
By now it is Saturday. Z is tired, and a giggling mess. As I waited for Hubby to finalize our car rental, Z is jumping from couch to couch in the empty waiting area.
A few people in line were staring, but frankly I didn’t care. He was not disturbing anyone. It’s after 1am and my kid is right on the edge of having a party or having a meltdown. I’m wanting to mark this up as a good traveling day, so I’m voting for the party option. I could handle the dirty looks, those would disappear as soon as we got into our rental car. The meltdown however would follow us to the hotel.
A few minutes later we were away from the dirty looks and cruising to our hotel to check in.
35 mins later we arrived. I had made arrangements with Expedia to be able to check in at 2am. But when I went in, the front desk needed 45 minutes to reboot the system so that the sign in would count as a Saturday check in. So back to the car I went, and off we went to look for food.
A quick trip through a drive through, we still had a bit of time to kill. So Hubby ran into a 24 hour Walmart and picked up some supplies we were going to need in the morning. I waiting in the car while Little Z slept. Of course just before Hubby was about to come out of the store there was a torrential downfall. By the time he got to the car with the bag they were both soaked.
Now I made a huge mistake, while waiting for Hubby. I went and rechecked the hotel we were staying at’s reviews. When I had booked this hotel, the reviews were ok. Now since I last check there was a terrible review. I went into panic mode. Do I call Expedia and try to get into a different hotel? I’m tired and sleep deprived at this point and a bit irrational.
We head back to the hotel and when we arrive there is a sign, “Back in 15 mins.” Are you kidding me? I’m tired and it’s now almost 3 am. I start praying, is this a sign we should find another hotel? I get on the phone with Expedia and am put on hold. As I wait the woman come back to the desk and removes the sign. I hang up the phone, I guess this is where we are suppose to be.
A few minutes later we are parked near our hotel entrance. I’m panicking. Maybe we should check it out first before we bring in the bags and Z? Nope, Hubby wants to bring everything in in one trip. I put the card in the door and slowly open it…
Much to my relief, it looks nice and clean. A quick examination and I’m feeling a bit better. Z immediately makes himself comfortable and takes up a whole bed.
Here we are, we’ve made it. Finally able to kick off our shoes and get cleaned up from our first Traveling Day.
Our Adventures have just begun after our first Traveling Day.