Arizona for Thanksgiving – Trip Logistics

Since I continue to get a lot of hits on my blog from folks searching for tips on how to travel with a baby/toddler, I thought I would share tips and details from our recent Thanksgiving trip to Arizona. I have written a few versions of this post before, but as those of you with children know, as kids grow, so too do the details.

I should note that I handled all the planning and logistics of our travels myself.

car packed


Checked Luggage: 1 carry-on sized suitcase and 1 medium-sized suitcase (John had his and George and I shared the larger one). Since I have Premier 1K status with United, there was no charge to check our luggage on either leg of the trip. I would have gladly paid the fees for this though because not hassling with suitcases on board is ideal. We usually have too much going on to fiddle with that kind of stress and (literal) baggage.

Gate-checked Luggage: We checked George’s full-size Uppababy Vista stroller at the gate just before we boarded and used the Uppababy traveling bag.

Carry-ons: My large MZ Wallace carry-all bag (my small cross-body purse was inside), George’s Skiphop monkey suitcase and John’s carry-all bag. G and I each carried an extra change of clothes in our carry-ons in the event of a mishap. Fortunately, we didn’t need to use them. We also brought G’s back up car seat with us – a Combi Cocorro. George sat in this seat on the plane. Now that George is 2, he is officially required to have his own seat in the plane, per most airline standards.

Airport: We flew direct from Houston (IAH) to Phoenix (PHX).

Aircraft: We were upgraded to the Business First Cabin thanks to some upgrade vouchers I needed to burn. For our seating arrangement, John took an aisle seat and George and I sat across from him (with G in the window seat). The row seating was 2-2, so this was the best arrangement for us. We had the same cabin and seating arrangements on the flight back to IAH.

Food at IAH: Since our flight left from Terminal C at IAH, we had plenty of options for food. However, since we were going to be served breakfast on board our flight, we only picked up a few bottles of water, coffee (for John) and a bagel (for G). We also packed some healthy food (back-up) options for G and me.

United Club at IAH: Terminal C has two large Clubs, and we popped into the one by Gate 31 to do a diaper change in their clean and spacious bathrooms. We also used our brief time in the Club to organize our carry-on bags.

Holiday Complications?: Truthfully, we beat the rush. The Club was pretty full, but the Terminal didn’t start to populate until we were about to take-off.


Transport: We rented a car from National. I had some free rental days stockpiled, so we used 3 to cover our time in Arizona. The only expense we had was for gas when we filled the car before returning it.

Hotel: No hotel needed on this trip – we stayed with my in-laws.


Food at PHX: Although we knew we were getting a meal on the plane, we packed lots of snacks. I packed fresh grapes, blueberries, watermelon, raisins and yogurt raisins in G’s hedgehog lunch bag. Pre-Check doesn’t flinch with the ice pack so long as you send it through the x-ray machine in its own bucket. The only door item we purchased at the airport was a few bottles of water.

hedge Collage

United Club at PHX: The Club serves its purpose, but it is small, dingy and unappealing. This place needs a makeover.

Getting through the airport: We took advantage of having G’s stroller and pushed him around in it. This made getting through the airport much easier.

Holiday Complications?: Because we traveled on a Saturday morning, we missed the crush of the holiday crowds. However, I find the PHX airport to be generally unorganized and, thanks to lots of work travel, I’ve seen it bursting at the seams with chaos.


Items worth having: I am definitely a fan of packing as light as possible, but sometimes life is better when you have certain items handy. We spent a lot of time considering what items to bring with us and we think the following items were helpful when traveling with G on this trip:

  • Bath Toys
  • Snacks
  • Small bag of toys/books for the plane – with a few new items to keep him interested
  • Skrunks blowup travel bed – G loves it!

Staying with my in laws made everything easier. Because they already have so many kid-friendly items (like a high chair and bath mat), we were able to leave a lot of hear at home. Amen.

I am always open to travel tips and suggestions, so please feel free to share yours with me!

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