Travelling with children is…….. well where do I begin.
Escape, family time, 24/7 cuddles and giggles – well of course that is top of the list of requirements when you sit down and book it.
However it is when you get past the packing – heaven forbid you forget the swimming nappies, grobag and calpol – and start your journey to the airport, that is when the fun truly begins.
So we embarked on our summer holiday last week – a week on our favourite Balearic island of Mallorca. A magical place and somewhere we hope to return to (retire to) one day.
Having only booked the flights 48 hours before we left – yes that may bring many of you out in a cold sweat but this is how we were rolling this year – the flight options were let’s say somewhat limited. We had to opt for a ‘budget’ airline (nameless) and let’s just say I have no issue with that until the ever faithful add on hold baggage page – why oh why is it so expensive for me to take some clothes on holiday. Nudist beaches are not that popular are they?
So being the person I am I was determined that my family of 5 only needed to check in ONE suitcase – yes just one. And let’s just clarify the details now – we have 3 children – aged 2, 4 and 7. Nappies are still present in our lives – so that makes it ONE suitcase of nappies. My thought process was ‘we wont need much’, ‘it is only for one week’, ‘we all have carry on luggage’. All of that was true but let’s remember 2 and 4 year olds don’t carry their own carry on luggage – lets just say paying for extra baggage would have been cheaper than my essential appointment with my osteopath on our return.
Aside from that – and a toddler car seat which we decided was the right thing to bring with us – we somehow made it on to the plane. Smooth and seamless and with the obligatory airport Pret sandwich and final flat white consumed, suitably smug.
However when the realisation that my family of five were not sitting together – and by that I don’t mean separated by a row – I mean seat numbers thrown in the air and children scattered from row 5 to 13 to 19 to 26 and a final 28. Knowing that I cannot legally leave my 2 year old to fend for herself in row 5, while I read my magazine in row 13, an announcement was made by the extremely helpful air hostess to which there was a tumble weed moment of silence. No one offered up their seats – we stood at the front of this plane – all eyes on us, all passengers assuming we were holding up the flight – when in fact all we wanted was at least a couple of seats together. Awkward. Eventually a very kind couple gave up their seat and we scrambled around to all sit vaguely near each other.
My empathy for these fellow passengers grew after I handed out the ever so faithful juice cups. As I witnessed the arcs of fruit juice from those darn little cups being accidentally squeezed on to our neighbouring passenger’s laps in unison……. why oh why does this always happen? Thank goodness the WHSmith haul of treats had included an extra large bag of chocolate nibbles – enough to pass round to placate said passengers. Everyone loves children on a flight don’t they?
I do laugh at myself when I travel en famille as I always do and always will have my little box of travel beauty must-haves for the flight – do I ever get to use them – what do you think? My skin’s hydration and relaxation is not top of the list when you are trying to entertain 3 children on a flight – but I can always dream that I am in fact travelling solo, long haul, first class, eye mask and cashmere socks essential.
And then we arrive – I will spare you the tale of the trek around 4 floors of the rental car park to find what we aptly christened the holiday ‘bus’ – and the near death roundabout experiences upon exiting said airport, instead I will fast forward you to a holiday that will remain firmly lodged in our hearts for years. A holiday filled with mint choc chip ice-cream, ‘mummy watch me jump in’ and sun kissed skin.
Holidays are so important – to re-group, to re-charge and to re-look at life and your priorities. When can I book the next one????