What is Flying by the Seat of your Pants?

In the past, airplanes weren’t equipped with the instruments and functions that they now have.   To fly pilots had to steer by the feel in the ‘seat of their pants’.  Thus, started the idiom that has come to define our family.

I’m Jamie.  I am a normal, run-of-the-mill, stereotypical stay-at-home mom.  I have 3 kids, ages 7,5 and 3.  I make home-cooked meals, I drive to soccer and dance lessons. I do a load of laundry a day.  I try to save money, eat healthy, work out, read books, volunteer at the school, teach boy scouts, serve in a church community,  have play dates, go to the library, be close to God,  be close to family, stay in touch with friends, and be the best mom I can be.  Usually, I feel I am failing in all areas simultaneously because I spread myself thin, trying to do it all.

Family Pictures - Nov 2014 - Family (2).jpg
This is Jackson (6) Hallie (4) and Mariah (1) with my handsome travel partner, Dave in 2014

There is one thing that I do that is different than many other stay-at-home moms I know.  I travel.  With kids.  A lot.   Our family has been on 70 flights in the past year.  I mostly travel with my whole family, but I’ve been known to take trips alone or just the kids and I and also as a couple, with my husband.  I have always dreamed of a stable home and predictable life.  I  knew being a mom would be my most important calling and job in my life.  But I never could have imagined it would include seeing the world in so many ways while fulfilling my role as a mother.

San Diego, California                 Maui, Hawaii                  Las Vegas, Nevada

Five years ago, I had only taken a handful of flights ever.  I was the oldest of seven kids and although my parents took us on road trips each year and showed us the world (or rather the US of A) as best they could,  taking nine people on a flight together was a bit out of their financial reach. Because I hadn’t flown much, I was actually a {bit} terrified of flying.  I had seen that show in the 80s that shows the top of the plane being ripped off and flight attendants flying out of the plane… terrifying!  On the  only international trip I had taken, I remember thinking I was going to die. I gripped my seat in terror for 16 hours of the flight.

Chicago, Illinois              Denver, Colorado            Fort Myers, Florida

But five years ago, all this changed.  My husband was hired by US Airways in their corporate office.  He had just finished an MBA and was searching for jobs to use his sparkling new degree.  We had no hopes or dreams of working for an airline, it just happened.  And when it did, our eyes grew wide at the possibility of exploring the world more fully and we began to dream.  We made lists of places to go and things to see.  We put up a map and talked and planned night after night together.  Working for an airline we get to fly for free in the US and for a small fee internationally.  However, we fly stand-by, meaning we only get the left over seats IF there are any.

Boston, Massachusetts        Washington DC          Rotenberg, Germany

Because we fly stand-by we have the opportunity to fly for a fraction of the cost.  However, stand-by is not actually ‘free’.  You pay in uncertainty.  In being flakey and uncommitted when visiting family or friends. You pay with stress of never knowing if you will make it to a desired destination and never being able to plan in advance.   You pay with anxiety as you watch the seats on your ideal flight filling up.  You pay with disappointment and packed bags that never lift off the ground before returning home.  You pay because planning ahead and ‘getting the best deal’ is not usually possible.  You pay by booking something you may never get to use.  You pay with making plan a,b,c and d and usually doing z (and being grateful it worked out that way).  Most airline employees know this and have experienced these stresses. In fact, many decide it is not worth it to travel stand-by and buy confirmed seats just to by-pass the madness.  However, for us, we love a good deal.  We also love being together as a family and want to include everyone in the fun, so traveling frequently at cost would not be possible for us.

New York, New York           Indianapolis, Indiana           Nauvoo, Illinois

We are never quite certain what day or time we will arrive in which airport or in which city.  Thus, we’ve learned to travel ‘by the seat of our pants’. We’ve learned to be totally flexible and last minute.  Our extended family has learned to not be shocked by a call saying we will be visiting in a couple of hours. Frequently, we wait to get on the plane before we book a car or hotel.  More frequently, we sit outside a hotel and book from our phones before heading in to check in.  We usually book several rental cars in many different locations and times just to cover our bases.  Most of the time, we don’t know exactly which flight we will be taking home.  We just have to check in and see what feels like the best fit for us at the time.  We sometimes have to take early,early morning flights waking our kids up.  Sometime we fly late into the night, hoping that ours kids will sleep on the flight and wake up enough to walk off the plane and through the airport.   Sometimes we take a red eye through the night and pray we all get to sleep.  You see, we don’t get to choose the prime time for traveling, we take the left over seats that no one else bought.  We make do with what we get.

Big Island, Hawaii                Snowbird, Utah               Portland, Maine

This blog is meant to pass along the many things I have learned traveling with small children without being able to plan for our trips in depth. I often get asked travel advice for being on a plane for little ones.  I have typed up countless novels for people. This blog is meant to get everything I’ve used and learned is all in one easy to access place.

Carlsbad Caverns, NM              Saguaro NP, Arizona           Austin, Texas

Traveling is valuable for our children and our families.  I want to show families that it can be done… quickly, easily, without too much work and provide memories and connections forever.  Sometimes the thought of travel is so overwhelming that moms don’t want to do it more than one big trip a year, but smaller more manageable trips are possible (and even desirable!)

So plan (or don’t plan) your next adventure and lets experience this world as a family!


3 thoughts on “What is Flying by the Seat of your Pants?

  1. So much fun! I grew up traveling all over the World and I love experiencing new places and hidden gems. Can’t wait to read your adventures and get some awesome tips:)


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