Sunday, July 14, 2013

Travel Fail

We started off on this journey on January 5th, 2013 with 1 hiking backpack, 2 large suitcases, 1 duffel bag, 1 carry-on, 1 stroller in a stroller bag, and 1 weekend bag (thanks to my SIL Katie for giving it to us as a wedding gift.  This is an AWESOME bag).  Not to mention the bag that contained all of Desmond's necessities for the 8-hour flight from NYC to BCN: several books, the iPad, earphones, lots of treats, a stuffed Curious George, crayons, paper, a matching game, and several crappy dollar store things.  We probably had over 300 lbs of stuff (Desmond included) between the two of us.  300 lbs. of. stuff.  And that was just a small fraction of what we own.  I had a hell of a time trying to figure out what to pack for a year-long trip and fretted over my decision not to bring that third pair of boots.

Like I seriously thought I would wear that fancy red dress while traveling.  To what?  Oh, right...all those theatre shows we went to and fancy dinners we had with that awesome babysitter we found.  You don't remember that?  Me neither.
Ha ha ha.  Silly little Scarlett.  If I could go back to 6 months ago, we'd buy another hiking backpack and get ride of the suitcases and duffel (but keep the carry-on bags) because, as you know from your basic science class where they showed you those videos of gorillas and spiders carrying their young on their back, it is much easier to carry a heavy load than to pull it, especially on cobblestone streets hundreds of years old.  

When I was pregnant, so many people would tell me and Billy to make sure to travel as much as we can or to go out as much as we can because once we had a kid, it would all be over.  I would nod my head and fear would wrap its icy cold tendrils around my little heart.  I loved traveling.  I loved eating at new restaurants.  I loved going to the movies.  And now everybody was telling me that as soon as this little fetus gulped its first breath of air, all would change.  I half-expected it to be like a scene in one of those movies where all hell is breaking loose and I'm pushing the baby out and as soon as the doctors hold it up everything freezes.  Everything's quiet except for the monitors beeping.  And then, he is looking directly at me, like really looking at me, dangling upside down, and he says, "It is over.  Everything is over."  And then I blink and everyone starts moving again and it gets really loud and I'm all disoriented and that's how I would know that my old life as I knew it would never be the same again.

Unfortunately, my life isn't an awesome movie and that scene sadly didn't happen.  So I took it as a sign that I didn't have to give up the other loves of my life and that this crazy little being, my beautiful little boy, would be a part of it.  And I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything.  And you know what?  It is not as terrifying as people make it seem to travel with their kids.  Yes, it's a hassle.  Yes, if I could hire someone to carry my bags, make all of our reservations, invent a transporter a la Star Trek: TNG, I would because it is not easy to travel when you have to take care of just yourself, much less a husband and a two year old (total different levels of care needed).

It was awesome for Des to have his own seat and his own space.   He loved getting the drinks and cookies from the flight attendants who absolutely loved flirting with him so that he could blow them more kisses = more Biscoff cookies for mom.  

Kids aren't the only ones who need a surprise!  Make sure you surprise your partner with something sweet.  It goes a long way to improving relations when you start getting snappy at each other from the stress of travel.

Look at how happy he is.  See?  Totally worth it.  I could now slink down in my seat and uncomfortably sleep, knowing my two guys are happy and content.
Kids don't need much: feed them, give them something entertaining, have a backup.  The end.  While traveling, don't try to force them to eat when you do, to sleep when you do, to be awake when you are. There will be time for that later.  While you're shuttling from country to country, it's important for them that the transition be as smooth as possible.  Let them tell you or show you what they need.  I made the mistake of trying to get Desmond on the new Barcelona time (7 hours difference from STL) and tried to force him to sleep when all he wanted to do was play in his new chair on the cool plane.  He screamed bloody murder when I tried to get him to lie down and cried for a good 5 minutes after I gave up.  20 minutes later, he put his own head on my lap and started rubbing his eyes.

Here we are at a bus station in Granada, ready to head out to Hungary.  Notice the time on the wall: 2:38 in the freaking A.M.  

5 bags.  5!  And this is after we sent one of our friends home with a large suitcase filled with superfluous clothing that we hardly ever wore and didn't need (we now know that we have to pack clothing that works for winter AND summer).

Curious George and the iPad: our sanity savers.  And all of those books we brought him?  They became superfluous after I downloaded the Reading Rainbow app on the iPad.  Best app ever.  Des loves it so much, he sings "I can go anywhere" all the time now.
Kids are super resilient.  Yes, they get cranky but if you treat it less like a chore and more as the fun adventure it should be, traveling with kids isn't bad at all.  They'll feed off your energy and hopefully, by experiencing travel with their cool parents, grow up realizing that being able to travel is such an amazing privilege and gift (just the fact that we could hop on a plane, watch movies on said plane, and get off the plane to be halfway around the world blows my mind).

Or they get so sick of terminals, trains, buses, and suitcases that they live the rest of their adult lives in one town, which is OK, too.  I'll still love to travel to come visit him.  

No comments:

Post a Comment