My Thoughts on Traveling with Kiddos, Good Idea or Bad?

Scuba diving on the Palancar Reef in Mexico. Spring 2013

Scuba diving on the Palancar Reef in Mexico. Spring 2013

Before we had children Nathan and I traveled a lot.  We spent our vacation time taking cruises, staying at resorts, scuba diving, going on road trips, visiting family, and exploring places and countries we had never seen before.  We had a bucket list a mile long of things we wanted to see and do.  Of course being pregnant and then having children puts a bit of a halt on these sorts of adventures for a little bit, but we decided way before having a family that we were not going to let having children slow us down from traveling and doing the things we loved. And then we had children…

Our first few months after the boys were born are somewhat of a blur now.  We were so sleep deprived and busy that our days and nights seemed to run together at times.  We were just going through the motions and trying to enjoy it all as best as we could.

We drove to the beach and spent a week there when our boys were only four months old.  We quickly learned that vacationing is much different after children than before.  We had a rather enjoyable week, but there was very little sunbathing, playing in the ocean, and riding bikes.  We had family with us, so we had help with the babies, but it was still vastly different than all prior vacations.  Reality check for us.

Our next vacation was only two months later.  We flew down to Miami, Florida to spend a week in the Keys with Nathan’s family.  We were optimistic, but of course nervous about flying with two six month old babies.  Nathan dropped me off at the airport with one child, one car seat, the diaper bag, and ALL of our luggage.  I managed to get both of us checked in and get our bags checked while he parked that car.  I found out upon checking in at the airport that we could not sit together because there is only one extra oxygen mask per row, hence there cannot be two lap babies side by side.  Great. Now we are going to be apart during this flight, each with a child. We made it through security without having to take our shoes off since we each had a baby in a carrier attached to our chests.   It was a short flight, and the boys actually did quite well.  Up to this point everything was going just fine.  We got our car and headed to our resort.  It was only at this point that we realized we had a three hour drive to get there.  I repeat, a three hour drive after our plane flight.  Oh boy.  This wouldn’t be a big deal, except that we had two six month old babies with us and they were tired of traveling.  Our boys successfully screamed the entire three hours.  That will almost send a person to the crazy house.  As a matter of fact, I think Nathan and I would have both willingly been checked into the local asylum if that meant we could get away from the screaming.  But, we survived, and so did the babies.  The trip was filled with lots of fun memories and wonderful days full of time with family, but the nights were a different story.  The boys did not sleep.  At. All. It’s not that they didn’t want to sleep, because they were exhausted, but something about being away from home made them not be able to sleep.  Sure, they would fall asleep, but they didn’t stay asleep.  Nathan and I were up nearly every single hour for every single night of our trip.  Every single night Nathan and I vowed to one another that we would never do this to ourselves again.

Marathon Key, Florida in September 2014

Marathon Key, Florida in September 2014

And yet, only three short months later, we did.  We had planned a trip to the Midwest to spend Thanksgiving with Nathan’s family.  We booked our flights.  We had no idea what we were in for.  The flights went fine.  The trip however, was a different story.  Our boys were nine months old at this point and sleeping fairly decent during the night, so we figured that they would do the same while traveling.  Wrong. We were up all night every night.  We tried everything.  We tried sleeping on the couch, sleeping with both babies in our bed, sleeping on the floor, sleeping in separate rooms so the children would be separated.  Nothing worked.  They cried and would not sleep.  We literally were so tired we couldn’t think straight, and on top of that we were spending this time around family that we didn’t see very often so we were trying to keep our “happy face” on at all times.  Not only were we tired from not sleeping, but our children were just as tired.  Only difference is that they don’t have a “happy face” to put on.  They were fussier than normal during the whole trip from their exhaustion, which of course meant we had to try harder to keep them happy.  On our third or fourth night at around 2am Nathan and I were almost in tears as I told him that we need to go home.  And I truly think that if we had driven there and had our car there that we would have started the twelve hour drive home right then and there.  But we didn’t drive, so we had to wait a few more days to fly home.  We have never been stretched so thin in all of our marriage as we were during that trip.  The day of our departure came and as much as we were sad to say goodbye to Nathan’s family we couldn’t have been more excited to get home and get some sleep.

Our flights didn’t go as smoothly on the way home.  After boarding our second plane, we taxied to the runway and were notified that there were mechanical issues and we had to turn around.  Insert big, deep breath.  We got back to the terminal and were told to stay on the plane while the mechanics came to take a look.  After about an hour we were told to deplane and that our flight was delayed.  We got off the plane and there we were, stuck in Atlanta with two little boys who were tired and unhappy, and we didn’t even have our stroller because it had already been plane side checked.  We found ourselves a little corner to sit in and did our best to keep the boys distracted and happy.  We finally boarded the plane again.  Our take off was delayed again.  “You gotta be kidding me,” I remember thinking. Nathan and whichever child he had (I can’t remember) were sitting in the row behind me and my child.  They started to cry.  There wasn’t much more we could do to help them at this point.  They were beyond tired and just needed to be home.  It was at this point that I realized that we were the parents that every passenger dreads to see coming to sit next to them.  Oh well, there wasn’t much we could do at this point.  It was so bad that the flight attendant came out of her little room to see if there was anything she could do to help them.  Talk about embarrassing.

After that trip we mutually agreed that we would NOT find ourselves at the mercy of others by flying with babies ever again; and we haven’t.  We have done several road trips, however, and these seem to go much better.  When the boys get tired of being cooped up in their car seats we simply find us a rest stop and get out and play with them for awhile.

Nathan and the boys during our most recent road trip to Greenville, SC. October 2015

Nathan and the boys during our most recent road trip to Greenville, SC. October 2015

Our most recent road trip with our boys was only two weeks ago.  We had a short two and a half hour drive to reach our “home away from home” for the next week.  This particular trip was for Nathan’s work so he was busy during the days.  This meant that I had to find things to do with the boys to fill the days.  They are toddlers now and being cooped up in a hotel room all day just wasn’t going to cut it.  I took them to the mall, and various parks during the days we were there.  Friday rolled around and I was given the responsibility of checking us out of our hotel and packing the car.  Sounds easy, right?

Friday morning we woke up and had our breakfast in the hotel room.  I started trying to pack things up.  I was in the bathroom when I heard the boys turn on the dishwasher in the kitchenette.  We had fought with that thing all week long.  They were fascinated by the dishwasher and constantly were turning it on.  I would turn it back off nearly immediately as soon as they would turn it on and tell them “No”.  Well this time, I was getting ready and decided to just ignore it for a few minutes.  When I did finally walk into the kitchen area, I was there just in time to see a huge wave of water come rushing out of the dishwasher.  The water nearly flooded the kitchen before I could get it stopped.  The boys thought it was great! They were splashing and laughing, walking in it and sitting in it too.  I found that the dishwasher was obviously broken and it wasn’t draining at all.  I was cleaning up the mess with towels from the bathroom and by this point the boys had moved on.  When I looked up from my current dishwasher situation to check on them they were in the bathroom with about five of their toys in the toilet.  They were splashing and having a grand time.  “Oh my word!” I thought to myself.  I quickly ran to the bathroom and they both started saying, “Uh Oh.”  That’s right, boys.  Major uh, oh.  Only they still thought it was funny.  After removing the items from the toilet, I tried to pack as quickly as I could.

I finally got us all packed up and then had a thought.  “How in the world am I going to get all of this stuff to the car and get it all loaded up, while keeping the boys safe?”  For a second I thought about leaving them in the room, but immediately decided that was not a good idea.  I determined that I had no option but to make multiple trips while carrying the luggage and trying to convince them to walk with me.  We left the room and headed to the car.  They did fairly well walking to the car.  They ran off in different directions a couple times and I had to drop the luggage to chase after them and retrieve them.  I finally got them both put in the car and I started packing it up.  I had more luggage to get out of the room, so I got them out of the car and we headed back to the rear entrance of the hotel.  We get to the door and my key doesn’t work. At first I couldn’t believe it.  I tried again, like three times or so.  The key definitely wasn’t working.  I just stood there for a second to gather my thoughts.  The boys had already taken off running.  I chased after them.  I picked up Maverick and put him on my him and I held Maxton’s hand.  We started the long walk all the way around the building to the front entrance.  As we walked inside I could feel the sweat beading on my lip.  I was exhausted, physically and mentally.  I stepped inside with both children and the young boy at the counter asked if he could help me.  Haha.  Did he even need to ask?  I got a new key from him, shoved it in my pocket and back down the hallway to our room we went.  We got in the door and started all over again with my second load of luggage.

I’ve had many people ask me what I think about traveling with kids.  My first reaction is always to say “Don’t do it!”  But, I’m only kidding.  Travel as much as you can! We have had more interesting and difficult and amazing and fun times than I could ever write in a blog post.  But you know what? At the end of the day I would do every single one of the trips again.  Although vacations are very different than traveling before we had kids, these moments and memories are priceless and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

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