Travelling with Kids - The Practice Run
With release of my new book coming out in August this year, we are planning a serious amount of travel in a national tour (as well as overseas). We will be taking both boys with us - one as we do not want to be apart from them for so long but also because we want them to experience this travel with us! It is very much way out of my comfort zone - up until a couple of years ago I had not done very much travel at all! Travelling with kids is another whole new ball game too - even more so when doing work on route!
If there is one thing that we have learnt so far with all the events we have done it is that you need to be prepared for the unexpected! Something will happen it is just a matter of what! By the way parenting is just the same right so mix these two together and you really have to think on your feet - this gets easier and easier with practice so.....we decided to do a practice travel trip to Wellington - a place I am largely familiar with as my sister has lived there for 10 years and it is a relatively short flight. This I did on my own with just our eldest son.
For those of you who also may be embarking on travel with kids you may find some of these things that I learnt helpful as well.
There was a little bit of doubt if it would be worth it (financially and time wise) to do a practice run - but it absolutely was! I had very little work to do while away and not with a strict time frame so this took the pressure off. Travel and parenting is so much about confidence, doing a practice run really boosted my own belief that I could actually do this!
However long you think something will take - pretty much double the time. This is everything from getting to the airport, checking in, going to the toilet, eating - you name it with kids it will take longer. I took for granted that as an adult travelling you can just 'push past' things like needing to go to the toilet - children absolutely cannot! Then they take a lot longer to do things! There were a couple of times we needed to move fast and Arjun really did - like getting to a shuttle and then there were times when he was very much in go-slow mode (so there was a bit of 'come on Arjun!').
We have only just recently got a couple of iPads (we got them free in a Vodafone business package) so the boys have not really ever used them or even now get them that much. I did take one with me but didn't use it on the plane, only a couple of times late at night when he was really tired and had exhausted his other activities. This was also to give me confidence that I could actually do this without relying on them. We took his Pokemon book along with a couple of activity books and his Aunty gave him a great sticker book which was perfect (no pens required!).
On The Plane
As many of you know now I have learnt to book a window seat if possible ???? We did this on the way down but didn't on the way back and that didn't not work out so well! Managing children on the plane is not easy. I had taken Sahan on a plane when about 10 weeks old. While there are still challenges to this (see previous blog here), in some ways very young children are easier as they do not move! You very much have your parenting on full display and in a very confined space - doing what you need to in order to get through this really is the name of the game - doing this practice run has really helped me to know that even when things do not go according to plan we will still get through it!
This was a little more challenging for us. Arjun still needs some down time often in the afternoon and sometimes on a really active day will still have a sleep (even at 4!). It was hard for me to know just how tired he was getting as he just goes until he drops pretty much (sound familiar!). After a day where he was awake at 5am, had been on the cable cars and then Te Papa he got really tired (and still with a bit of a way back to our apartment) so we ended up finding a quiet spot inside Te Papa and sitting there for a while doing his sticker book. On another day he had a little rest on my lap while on a bus :)
This one is more for the mums! It might sound really funny but I have become so used to using our big trusty nappy bag everywhere we go. You can just throw everything in there and take it on the pram. This trip of course there was going to be no pram and even my work handbag was not going to be practical as I needed both hands free. I got this great bag below for $20 from Kmart (bargain!). It was perfect as I could fit a surprising amount of things inside - lots of snacks, wipes (always need wipes), phone, a couple of toys and even a little drink bottle - but then could sling it right across my shoulder and have hands free to help Arjun and carry him in a few places when those little legs just had nothing left!
I could probably write a whole separate post on food while travelling! The main take home points I have for you is that you need loads of snacks! It can be really easy to get caught out especially in places where food is not kid-friendly. Plus I found that Arjun was so out of his normal routine and therefore so was his usual food intake. This is ok! I did make my muesli slice for us to have with us on the first day and on the plane - something that was quite sturdy too. The sandwich box was just $3 from the Warehouse Stationary (!!) and fitted perfectly into my handbag.
Of course though when travelling it is just not practical to have all homemade food especially when you do not always have facilities to make this. So I had my favourite Nairns Oat Biscuits, some popcorn in a single serve portion (from I Am Vital) and much loved Pics Peanut Butter Slugs (for me!). And yes Master 4 did get some treats too!
This was one of the coolest things for me was just seeing how much Arjun grew and adapted so quickly to the challenges of travel. I did need to give him a couple of peep talks in places, like when he just sat down and didn't want to walk any further when we were exploring the botanical gardens - the only one way home was to walk! But he tried so hard and really got that with travel there are some 'not so fun parts'. At the very end of our trip when super tired we had to wait 15 mins for the shuttle to pick us up from the airport (to the car). I was fully braced for a huge tantrum but he just said to me 'that's ok Mum it's all part of the adventure'.
Overall we both loved the entire experience, even with the challenging parts. It was a really special time for both of us and there is nothing like being somewhere new and in a different space to the usual everyday routine - it's good for the soul!
Now the next challenge is taking both boys away....(gulp!)....stay tuned and happy travelling,
xxx Dr Julie Bhosale