Most blogs give advice on how to do things, this time I’m going to mix it up a little by sharing my worst traveling mistakes with you, so you can think about the advice for yourself.
- Cheap flights might save you money but will cost you blood, sweat and tears.
We managed to book a flight for 60 Euros for two adults and two children (one is still a baby). The flight was from Germany to England and took off at ten o’clock at night. The baby will sleep, right? Wrong. No-one slept and the flight and subsequent three hour drive from London up north felt like an eternity and took a day to recover from. Which leads to my next point:
2. Don’t drive where you can fly. This was another cost choice that went wrong. An hour in the air that we saved translated into seven hours in the car in traffic. Again, baby had some complaints!
3. Don’t try to impress the other passengers with your super-mum abilities. Taking coloring books, stickers, craft packs, library books and coloring pens may look like you care more about your child, but the ensuing loud swearing from you as you lose everything during the first spot of turbulence onto the floor will undo all of your hard work.
4. Taking extra ultra-fun in-flight entertainment will also lead you to mistake number four; taking more than the bare minimum in stuff. Why? Because you will end up carrying all of it. If you fly regularly alone with children you will know this but I still do it and believe every time when my daughter tells me „I will pull and carry my own case mummy“. Yes, of course you will dear, for all of five minutes! After this, mummy dear carries everything up and down steps and into the plane. It is a great workout but leads to more swearing and sweating than your average gym visit.
5. Trying to save money by taking your own snacks. Nowadays you barely get through security with your clothes on, never mind your mini pot of humous and sausage roll. Just don’t do it to yourself. Fast, or spend those 5 Euros on a sandwich. Just don’t save money here when you have to lug it through the airport (having some of it confiscated), try not to forget it when you need to go to the toilet with two children (the cubicles are getting smaller every year), and get a „are you kidding“ face from your children when you present your precious goods on the flight. You may then be tempted to fling it in a tantrum in the bin and order pringles for everyone.
6. Things that the airport are supposed to look after will be treated like they have leaprosy. So if you take your expensive pram or carseat, it will not look the same at the other end. Bits may be missing, stains may appear (red wine?!) and most of all, it could be irreparably damaged, but this won’t be covered by any insurance because everyone knows you shouldn’t trust them. How are you going to travel the other end with a broken car seat? No-one seems to care about this. Catch 22 there it is.
7. I have managed to travel alone with one or two children during the time where I was either pregnant or breast-feeding, so none of the crazy trips could even be made better with the thought of a cold beer or a glas of red at the end of it. Chocolate helps.
8. I assume many things in life and one would be that the computer an airline uses would seat a parent and child next to each other. Directly next to each other. Appears computers are caring creatures, then one sat my six year old across the aisle from me. Sadly the people on the desk pointed this out while I was checking in the buggy, so I had to swap it back to being seated together.
9. I pack for everyone when we travel, but I am the one that always ends up with the worst luggage. I am the one without socks or a toothbrush, not the children. I am the one sitting with nothing to do but read the germ-infested in-flight magazine cover to cover three times because the baby amazingly fell asleep on my lap and the older child is happy with the iPad (I gave up on educational activities).
10. My biggest regret is frantically trying to look like I have it all covered. I work so hard looking like I am in control and soothing the baby that I mostly get ignored by staff, even when struggling up airplane stairs with one baby strapped onto me and the other child holding the strap of the suitcase I am lugging up the stairs while it is raining horizontally. The best flight I ever had with children is when I had a migraine and basically started crying in pain when the stewardess came around with refreshments. She gave me some good painkillers and they looked after me for the rest of the flight.
And one of the best things about flying with young children? Obviously getting to see the family you dearly miss and showing your children things about the world around you and for an ex-pat the „other“ part of you and your life. As far as I am concerned, the flight itself is a black hole made no better thanks to the lack of airline support you get. However I have to say that many, many kind people have offered me seats, helped carry my luggage and chatted to my children while they were bored in queues. The kindness of you strangers gives me the courage to do it again.