Our love of travel didn’t stop when we were joyfully surprised with the arrival of our son. We were expats living in London, and living far away from our families meant that our son’s first flights were long haul to Texas and to Australia. By his first birthday, he had visited his first four countries and just as many continents.
Travel with a child is just a part of life for us.
Sure its hard at times. Kids complain, get tired and stubborn, and they weirdly don’t seem to enjoy sitting on a terrace just to watch the sun go down. But, he has memories of places we wouldn’t have expected him to remember, and often asks if we can go back to somewhere we’ve been. His all time favourite place in the world is a cliff top hotel in Cornwall…because it has an indoor pool.
Over the years, I’ve learned that long haul flights can be easier to manage than short haul, and truly, you are the only one who hears your baby making noise on a plane. My philosophy is to over-prepare– bring spare changes of clothes for everyone, and feed the child every time he opens his mouth. The last piece of advice started on his first flight at 4 months old, and continues to this day at the age of 6. However, under no circumstances do you feed a child anything sugary on a long haul flight. Never ever. Never.
I once flew solo with our son to Texas when he was about two years old. Mark was waiting for us in arrivals when we landed in Houston. I handed him his son and walked away. Four years later, and I’m still not ready to talk about what went down on that plane, but trust me. It was bad.
We often speak to people reluctant to travel with kids out of concern that it would be too hard or too disruptive. I can tell you that every nightmare scenario you can imagine, will happen. They will crawl under the seats up the rows, moving sleeping passengers’ feet out the way. You will sit next to a whisky drunk passed out pensioner who is blocking access to the aisle while your newly toilet trained child insists on getting up to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes. And you will hold a sleeping baby in your arms for 10 straight hours because you don’t dare want to wake him.
But flights are a finite amount of time, and those few hours of perceived torture are soon forgotten when you arrive somewhere you’ve never been before, and you see the world open up before their very eyes. Experiencing and learning new things together makes all the bumps along the way so very worth it.