Never ask a 5-year-old to pack her suitcase. Night-vision goggles, a pirate sword and a bucket of rocks will never make it through security.

And if your holiday travel plans include crossing time zones, don’t be surprised when your little one asks for Apple Jacks at midnight.

Angie and I recently made a trip to Florida to visit friends. It was our first trip to the southern part of the country, where football is a religion and sweet tea is liquid gold.

She and I have traveled a lot over the past two years, and her favorite trips are those that require airplane rides. She enjoys making her way through the bustling airport and gliding up the escalators. She likes watching traffic on the tarmac and exploring the terminals. From finding her seat on the plane, to finding her bag on the luggage carousel, Angie loves everything about flying.

“My favorite part is the whoa-ies,” she said. Yes, my daughter even enjoys turbulence. “I like when it gets all bouncy and weird.”

She talks from liftoff to landing and befriends everyone — especially the pilots, who invite her and her beloved stuffed cow into the cockpit.

For Angie, flying is pure excitement.

But for me, it’s stressful. I’m worried about the crowds, about losing Angie in the shuffle. I’m anxious about malfunctions, delays and stormy weather. I’m afraid I will lose our boarding passes or my house keys. Most of all, I’m afraid that my daughter will get sick or scared, or that something bad will happen and I won’t know how to help her.

Fortunately, there are things that make plane trips easier for both of us. Sticker books and crayons. A steady stream of snacks. Strawberry-flavored chewing gum. Flight attendants with friendly smiles and airlines that let passengers with small children board first.

The most important thing is a sense of adventure, which Angie always remembers to pack.

On our way to the Sunshine State, connecting flights took us to some unexpected places. In Dallas, the airport was filled with military men and women dressed in uniform. Angie saluted every one of them.

In Charlotte, N.C., we shared honey-glazed chicken wings and sweet potato fries and watched college football on a big-screen television.

When we finally arrived in Florida, the rental car company gave us a sleek white convertible with black leather seats. It was the first time either of us had ridden in a car with the top down. We let the wind blow wild through our hair.

We saw alligators and armadillos and visited an aquarium full of sharks. Then we walked on a beach with sand so white it looked like sugar. At night, we listened to the thump of pecans falling out of the trees.

What an adventure it was.

It is special to take a trip with a child. They travel like the rest of us ought to; they are in no rush, with no expectations or fears. They don’t worry about where they are going or when they are going to get there.

They simply embrace the journey.

Angie giggles at the buoyancy she feels in her belly as the aircraft lifts off the ground. She throws open the window shade and watches green and brown patches of land grow smaller beneath us. She looks across the horizon and sees an endless sea of puffy whiteness.

“Look Mama, the sky is so beautiful,” she says as we soar somewhere over Georgia. “I could curl up and go to sleep out there.”

And when our bags are tucked away, my house keys are safe and we are secure in our seats on the plane, I can sometimes embrace it with her.

I watch the sky go from powdery blue to golden orange as the sun sinks below the edge of the earth. I wait for the Big Dipper to appear just beyond the plane’s wing. And I hold my daughter in my arms as she finally, thankfully, falls asleep.

If you are traveling this holiday season, may you be safe and happy. May you see past the challenges and experience the gifts. May you enjoy the journey.

Wendy Fontaine’s Party of Two column appears every other week. Her email address is: [email protected] or follow Party of Two on Facebook.

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