Door to door it was about 28 hours of travel. TWENTY EIGHT! That is not something to be taken lightly and especially not when you are traveling with a four-year old. But we did it, and there were no meltdowns unless you count the fact that we were turned away at the American Airlines Business Class lounge in JFK even though we had purchased business class tickets. But, that happened, and we moved on. And then we got to wake up to gorgeous sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean, the energy of South Beach, and the fresh ocean air. Yup, it was worth it.
The more I travel with our daughter the more I realized the less we actually need. This is the best part. On our first 14 hr journey she was 9 months old. Due to numerous issues it unexpectedly ended up being only my daughter and me on that first 14 hr flight, and EVERY SINGLE ONE of our bags were taken off of the plane. No car seat, no stroller, no clothes. Nothing. This is because the bags were checked in under my husband’s ticket, and suddenly he couldn’t fly with us, and had to join us a few days later. So off went the bags, and onward went the two of us. And in the end it was fine. She didn’t need the extra “stuff”, and as stressful as it was at the time, thinking back none of that stuff really mattered. And I suppose this is the point – the more relaxed my husband and I are when it comes to traveling the easier it is for all of us. V has it down – she knows how to manage the long-hauls. She just gets on with it like the rest of us. She has been doing it for as long as she can remember. And my husband and I do everything we can to make each trip fun for us all.
So over the years we average 4 trips a years with our daughter, and practice makes perfect. We have a system down (more or less), which makes traveling work for us. It is rare when we dread flying or our next adventure.
So here goes…
- Get rid of any expectations you might have for your trip. Plans will fall through and change. It is ok. Take it day by day, and understand it is FINE to simply do nothing.
- Break the rules – you are all on vacation. At home, we do 3 meals a day. We also eat our vegetables, and we rarely have dessert. V is in bed by 7pm. On vacation this goes out the window. Dessert is a good thing. It makes the trip fun. Who cares about bed. Everyone is tired so just go with it, and do whatever works at the moment.
- AIRBNB – the best. Hotels have their advantages, but sometimes you just want to eat where you are staying, and you do not want to spend $100 a night. AIRBNB is amazing for families.
- Be respectful. No one wants to hear your kid scream on a plane (or anywhere else). From a young age we decided that when V had a meltdown we would remove her from the situation we were in if it was a public space and practical (restaurants for example). Also, kids will cry – it happens, but it is really up to the parents to keep it under control. During one meltdown on an airplane we took V into the bathroom and closed the door until she calmed down. No one really needed to be part of her tantrum.
A few things…just a few that make those long (and short) hauls easier.