Jenn at Juggling Life wrote this great post about traveling with young kids. It made me smile with recognition… and with pleasure at not being in that particular phase anymore! It also made me think of some of my own traveling adventures.
Single Parent Traveling
I drove all 4 of my kids (sans daddy) from San Antonio to Pensacola in one day. It was a long 12 hours, and I was grateful to collapse at our friends’ home when we arrived. We took 3 days to drive back home, because we did a lot of sight-seeing on the return trip. This included a new windshield in Mobile, AL (compliments of a flying road gator), keeping the kiddos from seeing too much on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and making them behave and not complain while we toured a plantation house.
True Confession: I refused to start potty-training the youngest until AFTER this trip. He was ready, but there was no way I was taking away the diapers and making extra potty stops!
Traveling with a baby
Ever heard of Alligator Alley? It’s the portion of I-75 that runs between Fort Lauderdale and Naples, FL — straight across the bottom fat portion of the state. In recent years, it has much improved in safety, but 17 years ago it was a pretty scary drive in dark or rainy weather. SuperDad drove it on a dark and rainy night while I reached back from my shotgun position and desperately tried to comfort a crying baby in his carseat… 17 years ago.
There was no place to stop the car, so I could get into the back seat to be near the baby. There was no place to stop the car so we could safely remove the baby from his carseat. There was no place. to. stop. the. car.
There was no way to stop the crying. He cried for over an hour. I think I cried for half of that time.
Can I just say? SuperDad has nerves of steel. When I cracked and begged him to let me pull the baby out of his carseat at 55 mph on that dark and rainy road so he might STOPCRYING, my wonderful and wise husband said NO. I knew he was right. And I love him for this.
The idea, of course, is that everyone sleeps and you wake up refreshed and ready to start your day in a new and wonderful place. And you have saved money doing it! The idea is mere theory. Reality, my friends, is different. Very different.
We flew from Seattle to Tampa, FL, when the first two kids were 2yo and 3yo. We were trying to save money. The kids did nap on-and-off all night. SuperDad even napped on-and-off all night. I, however, rediscovered a truth about me: no matter how tired I am, I can’t sleep sitting up. I can doze off, but I will wake up cranky and unsatisfied, and absolutely not feeling well.
After packing up the airport rental car, we drove to a Denny’s for breakfast. We ordered a hearty breakfast, but I took 3 bites of my much-antipated meal, and headed for the bathroom. A few more truths about me: if my headaches get too bad, I need to throw up. I hate to throw up, so my body fights this need. And I can’t throw up in a dirty toilet. I returned to my family, looking like death-warmed-over. I demanded sleep. NOW.
SuperDad really is a super dad and a super husband. He drove to the nearest decent motel. He got us a room with 2 double beds and promised we would check out by noon. He tucked the kids into one bed and me into the other bed. (I don’t know which bed he slept in, because I was out like a light.)
So in my experience, Red-Eye flights do NOT save you money. But at least we were rested and ready to drive the 3 hours to grandpa’s house later on that day.
Being a military family, we move every few years. When MM was 3-1/2 and EB was 2, we moved to Germany. This means that our two little boys observed their precious toys and beds being packed up by strangers and put in crates on a truck. This means that we boarded an airplane in Seattle and after a transfer or two, completed our travel in Frankfurt, Germany. Did I mention that we did this with a 2yo and a 3yo? From Seattle to Germany?
A few important details: EB had food allergies, so we had to pack his own meals and snacks. There is a limit to how many toys you can take with you. The other passengers probably don’t appreciate toy dinosaurs falling on their heads. There’s no good way to change a 2-year-old’s poopy diaper on an airplane… frankly, there’s not even really any way to do it. It’s smelly. It’s messy. But it’s gotta be done. (Having the kid stand on the closed lid of the airplane toilet is the best I could come up with)
Oh, and being a military growing family meant that 3 years later? We made the reverse trip, from Frankfurt to Seattle. With a 6-1/2 year old, a 5-year-old, and a 2 year old.
God bless the people who met us on each end of this flight and took good care of us for the next week while we struggled to get rid of the jet lag.
Seat-of-your pants Travel (aka, “RUN, Forrest, RUN!!”)
And last but not least, I strongly recommend that you get to the airport in plenty of time for your flight. Even if your flight is only from El Paso to Dallas. Because I still have not forgotten RUNNING through the airport with a 2yo on my hip and our ever-present overnight/medicine kit in my hand, following a ticketing agent as she held onto the hands of the 7yo and 5yo. Everyone had a backpack on except the ticketing agent. She ran, the boys ran, I ran, and we met up with my dh as he ran from the rental car return. We caught the flight, but my blood pressure still goes up just thinking about it!
Now it’s your turn: What are some of YOUR memorable travel stories with kids or pets?