traveling with children

Back when it was just the Hubs and I traveling together I would board the plane, look at the movie selections and if nothing sounded good I’d take a sleeping pill and wake up at our destination. Now, we are traveling with a small entourage– three kids and counting and things have gotten a little more complicated as you can imagine.

When you don’t have children it’s hard to understand how stressful it is to just make it onto the plane. I always feel so much better once we’re seated on the plane and all the hassle of check in is out-of-the-way. The hassle of being on the plane is another matter altogether.

Our flight home started in Atlanta and I do not have praiseworthy things to say about the process at Hartsfield-Jackson. No one was helpful in the least as we tried to get  three kids, five backpacks and five carry-ons through the machines and find our shoes in the end. They inspected one of our carry-ons, analyzing gummy bear vitamins and Starbucks mugs. Then took out my peanut butter because it’s now considered a dangerous substance in the hands of some people– I suppose pregnant women with three kids must fall into this category. It is true, I am quite scary at times. I could drone on about this and why I find this absurd, but I won’t since you probably think it’s absurd as well. But safety first, of course.

Typically, we like to only have one connection. Getting to the other side of the world is hard enough, but when you have to stop multiple times it starts to wear on a gal. American cancelled our original flights (which caused a huge headache getting out of India because they messed up some of our re-ticketing) and gave us an extra stop which meant we would have to fly on three different planes to get back. The first flight was the shortest and least eventful, except for some snippy flight attendants who told us we needed to have an adult with each child. Um. Well, since there’s only two of us, and three of them and two seats in each row, that means either myself or my husband would need to split in half. Which one shall it be, we asked. Then he suggested we have them with another adult. Oh, great, an adult we don’t know sitting on the outside while my minor child is by the window out of our view. No, I don’t think so. Thankfully he dropped it and our oldest sat on the outside of the row just across from my husband who was thankfully still in one piece.

The second had our entire family in one entire row and bodies tangled up trying to find a comfortable way for three kids to sleep in three tiny airplane seats. Use your imagination. One meltdown occurred before sleep arrived and it wasn’t me this time. And I have to confess, every time we pull our luggage past the first class seats I have selfish, materialistic thoughts of someday being able to fly that way– with my legs up and not swollen and away from my fellow passengers. Some day.

Our stop in London was brief, but it always makes me feel a little better just being there and drinking a fresh cappuccino. British Airways and Heathrow get major props from me (can I use the word “props” since it’s not the 90’s?) for being customer friendly. They sent us straightaway through the family line with no waiting; they were very friendly and helpful; and BA won my heart over with their care for my kids. They actually cared that the kiddos didn’t like the food and wanted to help in anyway they could without us asking them a thing. I knew there was a reason I loved the British so much. It seems so many airlines view passengers as hindrances instead of customers which makes no sense to me. But I digress.

Still, I spent a fair amount of this eight-hour flight busing a little girl to and from the bathroom. Okay, it wasn’t just her– pregnancy doesn’t help in that regard. So, thirty-one hours later we arrived gladly at our apartment. Not really refreshed or well-rested, but in one piece and with all our luggage. And our children didn’t throw up this time like they did on the way over. It was like watching dominoes fall. I’ll spare you the details, but American would do well to invest in barf bags that don’t have holes in the bottom of them– and that’s all I’ll say about that.

I longingly watched a family with older children, the youngest looked about ten and dreamed of the day I only had to carry my own bags. But, I don’t want to wish the time away. I suppose it goes by quickly enough on its own. Still, if anyone’s found a way to enjoy international travel with small children, drop me a note and some tips. I could definitely use them.