30 May 2017

Advice for Those Traveling Around the World With Small Children

1.  Don't.

No, but Seriously.  If you can avoid 30+ hours of travel with a toddler, then by all means, avoid it.  Have you considered staying home? Maybe you are like me and get stir crazy at home.  Maybe you need to visit family.  You know what is great? Skype and Netflix.

Bear demonstrates the preferred way to travel.

Stay in your house.  Ideally in your pajamas.  Wait there until your child can book their own plane tickets with their own money.

If you can't stay home, perhaps your child can stay home.  Do you have parents? Siblings? Neighbors? Strangers from the internet who seem even sort of legit? Perfect.  Leave your child with these people.

But if you really can't avoid it...

2. Bring some extra adults.  I went into this outnumbered, and look, I do not recommend it.  Consider this: when your preschooler has to go potty on the airplane, you will need to supervise.  You can't leave the toddler in the seat alone because she will climb over the seat in front of her onto the head of the nice businessman who is just trying to do some work on his laptop and is already not that happy with you after the apple juice incident.

"Mom, why is it not allowed to throw shapes in the toilet?"

So anyway, there will be three people inside an airplane bathroom.  And not in a fun way, but in a "you aren't holding the toilet paper right!" way.  And then the toddler will be afraid of the very loud flushing and start to sob hysterically.  And then someone will knock on the door and ask "aren't you done yet?" and you will have to use all your adulting power to not kill that person.

At this point I am, I think, contractually obligated to state that Benjamin offered to come home with me, or to take one of the kids with him, but I insisted that I wanted to do it on my own. I don't like to do things the easy way.

Battle wounds.

 3.  Take your time.  I think.

This is where Benjamin and I differed in our planning for the trip.  He's a "rip the band-aid off" type of guy and just wanted the minimum overall travel time.  I wanted to divide the travel into manageable chunks as much as was possible.  I mean, there is really no dividing the Pacific ocean, that thing is just really big.  But we drove to Auckland, stopped and spent the night.  Flew to LA, stopped and spent the night.  Flew to Atlanta, stopped for dinner, and then finally flew home to Baltimore.

Stopping in Auckland was crucial, because it turned out Pax was sick all over herself and her car seat and a few other things.  So having a chance to rest and bathe and do lots of laundry turned out to be really clutch.  Then Bear threw up all over the bed that night - I assume he felt left out. Stopping in LA I think was also a good reset.  Getting to the hotel was a bit more of a pain than I was expecting, but the kids did sleep that night.  Plus hotels often come with continental breakfast, and there is nothing kids love more than making their own waffles.  There is nothing I love more than large pots of coffee.

America, home of proper-sized pizzas.
Stopping in Atlanta was a bit of a disaster - largely because we discovered that US McDonald's is not as evolved as New Zealand McDonald's and does not have a pancake happy meal.  What the hell, people? Bear decided to protest this sub-par customer service experience by lying down in the middle of concourse A and screaming "BUT I WANT PANCAKES!" at the top of his lungs.

In conclusion - stop if you can stop long enough for a sleep and a meal.  Otherwise carry on as quickly as possible.

4.  Seats.  Buy your toddler a seat.  Airlines generally let you take anyone up to age two as a "lap baby." But just because you can doesn't mean you should.  We went without car seats, which I think was the right choice (actually the only feasible choice) for moving through airports, but man would it have been nice to be able to restrain Pax.  Having recently learned to walk, Pax was eager to practice her new skill up and down the aisle of the airplane for the entirety of our thirteen hour flight.

5. Packing.  Pack light.  Once you get two kids settled into airplane seats, you aren't actually going to be able to get into anything in the overhead bin.  Plus that rolling carry-on is just going to slow you down when you have to sprint after your preschooler who has realized the McDonald's thing is entirely your fault and the only solution is to sprint down the moving sidewalk to the international terminal.
Pax, dumping a juice box on the guy in front of us.

So what can you leave out? Toys.  Do not bring any old toys except the special stuffed animals.  Otherwise stick to electronic entertainment via tablet/phone and buy a couple of small toys in the airport.  Novel toys contain more hours of entertainment than ones they have already played with a hundred times at home.  Also bring like two books, maximum.  Those things are heavy.

Thank you, Octonauts.

Things you definitely need: baby wipes, a plastic bag for trash, sippy cups that don't leak, non-messy snacks, chargers for all your devices, and drugs.  For travel with children, I totally endorse better living through chemistry.  I recommend promethazine for the children - it is a sedating antihistamine that also works against nausea.  With my two puke-fountains, that is crucial.  I actually don't recommend adults taking anything too strong, you need your wits about you for all the kid-chasing, filling out customs forms, and making connections.  Except...

6. Wine.  Planes serve wine.  On the international flight it was free.  On the flight from Atlanta to Baltimore, I didn't care how much it cost.  But before I could whip out my credit card, the woman across the aisle said, "I will pay for her wine."  God bless you, ma'am.

7.  When you arrive at your destination - have childcare set up.  Drink plenty of water.  Take a long hot shower.  Sleep for a few days.  Cry a little bit.  Then give yourself a goddamn medal because you made it.


1 comment: