I’m writing this blog in my head as I walk through Regents park, on a cold and wet summer’s evening. My feet are cold – I’m wearing my sandals, the only pair of shoes I’ve been wearing for the last three months in Europe. I went out without a rain coat…not even thinking….my glasses are covered in rain drops and I’m having my second shower for the day…a cold one this time. Maybe I should’ve waited…but I saw a break in the clouds, my youngest son had gone to bed early, the park gates were still open and I was taking my “me” time no matter what the weather. I just wasn’t prepared for it..after all, it is summer isn’t it?
Well, it should be, but I happened to check Londons weather and compared it with Melbournes weather and yes both were the same. 17degree, partly cloudy with showers. One city going into summer, the other coming into winter.
On my long, now short walk, I curled my fingers into my jumper, pushed my glasses over my head (I couldn’t see out of them anyway), and figured that while my Melbourne counterparts were experiencing the same weather, I was still enjoying long hours of sunlight (5am – 10pm), admiring the greenest, lushest velvet grass…and best of all, I could still go and defrost afterwards in a big bath of hot water…I knew that my husband would love the opportunity to be out here running in the rain…yet, me….well I’m just pretty Melbournian. There’s no reason to go out in bad weather when you can be curled up inside, instead and because in an hour/ this evening/tomorrow, the sun will shine again.
Londoners take the opposite attitude, if they waited for better weather, well they may never be out again.. Locals go out whether its rain, hail, or snow ( who else invented a show about muddy puddles!). I like this…all it takes is some good warm weather gear, and some blankets provided by the local cafe for some alfresco dining. If your going out with kids, dress in t-shirts but bring jumpers, raincoats, umbrella…basically prepare for all weather…! Of course, it’s all about perspective, ask a Russian from Siberia or Moscow what they think of the London summer and they would probably tell you how warm and mild it is.
So this year, the London summer is taking it’s sweet time to arrive. Last year, we arrived in April to 2 degrees as London was experiencing a long cold winter snap and a delayed spring. However, almost overnight summer snapped into place by June and suddenly it was reaching high 20s, even 30 degrees. A heatwave was upon us. Hard to to describe it as a heatwave when compared to the 40 degree+ + summer experienced in Melbourne only a few months before. But a heatwave in London is different. I laughed too, when I heard the term used but soon I too was feeling it….a humid oppressive city heat, trapped amongst the buildings, and with little relief in a small apartments not designed for airflow or with any type of cooling device….where exactly is the fan/evaporative cooler switch because I could not find one…
However, London city planners are bright, cool and fun people. They must be because even if it only reaches 30 deg for some of the two months of the year that is summer, they have loaded the city with lots of fun water play areas for kids and families. Places such as the Princess Diana memorial water fountain (a round fountain with water spurts, fast water gushes, steep bits, flowing bits etc..), free water play area lidos (Hampstead Heath), south bank spurting jets and so on and so on. Now why didn’t Melbourne think of that….a cool idea for a real summer heatwave….!!
So, my evening walk through Regents park could’ve been very different if the summer sun had arrived and wasn’t too busy hiding behind the thick heavy clouds….I would’ve been walking through the leafy park, watching squirrels and passing many a local relaxing on the grass stripped off to their boxers and bikinis lying in a strategically placed position, avoiding the shady areas, enjoying a picnic, a glass of Pimms, ….as anyone would do…an ode to summer in London!
So maybe by the time we leave London in a month we may get to glimpse a little bit of summer sun amongst the rainy, grey overcast days. If not, as I fly over London with a birds eye view I will wistfully admire the greenest of green patches stretching for miles and be secretly thankful I’m not living it!!
You would think that speaking French would be easy given that something like 30% of English words come from the French language. It’s no coincidence that words like nouveau, espionage, cuisine, etiquette, encore and meringue, sound a little French and fancy. However, the list does not end there, no it goes on and on…(google Wikipedia just to see how long…). There are many more words, some less obvious than others, such as comfortable, ponder, air, garage, orange, and even car. In fact, when you are in France, you will be amazed at how many words you recognise in the written form….words like pavilion, regrete, fatigue.
However, this is where the similarity ends..You may think you know French but do you really? You might be able to sing along to the words of Kylie Minogue’s hit song perfectly, (remember, Je ne sais pas pourquoi?) or you may find yourself using French/English words in your everyday conversation with ease…such as when asking your beau for a rendezvous! You might even write RSVP on the bottom of every invite and actually know what it stands for. In fact, since watching Master chef, you probably know the difference between a terrine and a gratin…..or better still, maybe you pepper your sentences with real French words like voila! But does this mean you can speak French? And more importantly can you be understood?
We all know it’s a disaster to try and say many of these French origin words phonetically…. somehow, we just know how to say them (those familiar to us, anyway). But can you think back to when you first tried to say any of these or other French sounding words? Did you cringe when someone corrected you ( its not fox pas…its foe pah!). Did you first whisper it quietly before feeling bolder and more confident to talk about your “déjà vu moment while having hors d’ouvers at the haute coutture shop?”
The words you already know may seem like child’s play…but what about all the rest..e.g the ENTIRE French language…what do you think then… Do you think you’ll just be able to fake it by putting on a French accent and sounding all posh?! Well…. close enough…pronouncing any of the words with a French flair is defintiely a good start.
So when WE got to France, I was feeling particularly smug. Firstly, I had a background in Italian and some Spanish so this was just another one of those Latin languages. I also found, that I could recognise many of the words I saw, I just couldn’t say them in a way that was understood by anyone except for me.
Somehow, an ocean exists between the way I say a french word and the way it’s meant to be said…. When we were in South America, I cringed when I heard someone pronounce “hola” like they were some rodeo riding a bucking bronco… (oooohhh laaaa). I thought, how could they get it so wrong… but then I found myself in France, wondering how my request for “creme brulee” was not understood, then mistaken for cafe au lait, until finally I had to point to the word on the menu… ahh, ickkrrrreme brulayy!. That’s what I thought I said, but no..
I met someone who told me, the French aren’t rude, they just don’t understand what your saying. I think there is a lot of truth in that.
I remember my Italian cousin finding it hard to differentiate between the sounds of beach and bitch. There is a huge difference, and you don’t want to make the mistake of getting it wrong. So when your speaking French, do you really know what it is that your actually asking for! Carrying flash cards or miming the words might just be safer!
The French people we met weren’t as arrogant as I originally thought or as the stereotype suggests. When I asked ” parlay vou anglais” the answer usually was: yes a little. This had changed from ten years ago when as a backpacker in France, the answer back then, was almost always no. Given that we are struggling with speaking French, I gather the French might also be finding it somewhat difficult speaking English…..a bit of vis-a-vis.
French is not the sort of language, you can learn from your French phrasebook, no it’s not that simple and no you can’t be that lazy…. even the phonetics to help you with the pronunciation are way off the mark…. no, French is a language that must be learned by audio means. So for this visit to France I packed a beginners 1 & 2 learning french audio CD pack.
Even my eldest son couldn’t get it quite right…. Up til that point he was doing brilliantly, repeating a word he heard once and getting the pronounciation perfect immediately. Yet we arrived in France, and he couldn’t quite seem to get bonjour right, preferring to say bonjour’d. Let’s say, I stopped asking him to “repeat after me”….
We found google translate useful, if not hilarious at times. We had to write several emails to book camping accomodation for ourselves and confirming a spot for our two donkeys. One email confirmation returned to us google translated as “yes, we have room for you and your asses”! It was funny because it sounded so correct and yet was horribly incorrect – the French would never be so crude, well not in a first email. You will find the French to be unusually polite – addressing someone as madame or monsieur. This form of greeting is not just reserved for the “older” generation, but used all the time. It helps if you greet this way also upon entering a shop or store.
So what is the best thing you can do to help in the foreign language speaking department? Start young and early. There is a reason why many German and Dutch people speak English almost better than you. Language learning starts early and its offered more than 30 minutes per week, more like 30 minutes per day. I would often find myself forgetting that the German person I was conversing with was speaking to me in their second or third language.
However, if you didn’t quite start at age 3, never fear. It can be harder learning a new language as you get older as it requires more effort. However, it’s never too late. Visit a tourist country and you’ll find locals with very little schooling and who are sometimes a lot older than you (in their 60s+) conversing in 4, 5 or 6 languages. Unfortunately, a native English speaker often has the expectation and assumption that everyone can or should speak English, no matter where they are in the world.
There is nothing quite like the experience of being misunderstood and the frustration of miscommunication to be more sympathetic to those who you encounter in the same position whether it be while travelling or meeting a non English speaker in your own country. There’s nothing quite like a bit of humour, empathy, understanding and some patience to help someone get their message across or at least let them know that what they need to say is important even if it is a struggle. So even if its talking in monosyllables, a series of unintelligible grunts, pointing fingers and comic hand gestures….,we’ve all been there at some point…even if we have to think way back to our toddler years!
Packing up home, leaving your city/country, saying goodbye to family and friends to head off for an indefinite period of travel….. is this really the best or the worst decision you could make for your family?? Will it be something that your kids will love, hate, hold against you forever, or never want to return home from??
Will they grow up to be scared of change, or embrace new situations and opportunities? Will they never want to leave home again (e.g. not even when they’re 40!) or will they be on a new world adventure before they hit puberty?? Will it make them smarter, brighter, the next Nobel peace prize winner, or will it completely confuse them… And most importantly, will there be more or less tantrums…!!!!
What about the impact on your family as a whole? Will it turn into a nightmare holiday or the cherished experiences of a lifetime? Will you want to kill each other or grow closer as a family? Will you leave only to return in a week, a month or never?? Will your kids adjust, enjoy, find playmates, rekindle old family ties and friendships when you return or will these special relationships be lost forever?? Will it be the best of the worst time of your life?? And most importantly will your relationship survive??
All these questions and more have entered my mind at some point. My biggest concern was losing those familial connections… I grew up without cousins, aunty’s uncles etc. because my parents migrated from Italy to Australia and a big expanse of ocean filled that gap. Having said that, I have spent lots of time visiting family in Italy and I know that these relationships can still exist – living in the same street or even country doesn’t necessarily equate to great family relationships.
I don’t know the answers to any of these questions and that’s okay because it may be that we will experience some of all of the above…
What I do know, is that whatever experiences my children have, whether positive or negative, these will all be life experiences that we are undergoing together as a family… I also know that we can contribute positively to those experiences by the way we as parents deal with any of the challenges and learnings we face….I also know from travelling overseas previously that relationships especially important ones can last the distance, and we have a lifetime to nurture these.
Don’t fool yourself, the primary reason your travelling is for you. This is yours and hopefully your partners desire – it doesn’t mean it may not become your children’s though.. Ask your kids initially – before leaving home, and they’ll probably say that they are quite happy thank you very much, hanging out at their local park/playground/home with friends and playing with their toys etc….
So why do it?? Exactly, my son’s question “Why?”
When faced with this question, I paused for a moment… how to explain that this is our choice…. not one forced upon us through circumstance, hardship (as my parents had done), a new job or re-location. We are actively choosing this even though we have no idea what’s in store…crazy when I stop and think about it sometimes!
As simply as we could we spoke to him about wanting to spend time together as a family, sharing something we both enjoy with our boys, seeing and experiencing the things that we often only read about in a book and giving examples from our past travels such as meeting people that are our good friends today. Travelling gives us family time, helps us to teach our son about the world by experiencing it first hand, and who better to do that then us his parents.. So, be prepared for THE question…. WHY?? What possible playground, park, friend, toys etc. could be overseas that aren’t at home (and please don’t use Disneyland!).
what was left of our furniture
We thought we had considered both the emotional and practical needs of this big life transition for our kids. While we had not booked tickets until a month before departure (all dependent on the sale of my husband’s sole trader business), we did begin to prepare about 6-8 months earlier. We organised a big house clean up, a garage sale, charity donations, ebay sales etc….. Although we spoke lots about it part of me was probably still unsure whether this would actually ever eventuate….
My son had coped well with this process so far, better than we thought – he chose what toys to take, what toys to sell, what toys we could pass onto family and friends, what to pack. He was better at letting go of our “stuff” than I was… He went with his dad to take his special packed boxes to storage to see where our things would live while we were away. Even when the house was mostly empty except for some kitchen wares, our bed, and a few last boxes, my son still seemed okay.
What we didn’t quite anticipate was his reaction when the last bit of furniture left the house and we were leaving to live at our granddad’s house….. Suddenly seeing the house empty and having to leave, was very emotional and overwhelming for him….. We could’ve kicked ourselves for not giving more thought to this “finality” as for the two of us it was just the last of the practicalities.
We returned a few more times to the empty house and our son soon lost interest in coming back to the house. It meant that when we were overseas the return to home or his room, (which was now occupied with other people), didn’t quite have the same appeal.
The best thing we did was not go straight from leaving our house to the airport and on a plane!! That would’ve been utterly disastrous…. We spent a week at our granddad’s house so that we were still in a familiar space even after saying goodbye to our home. A week later, after our last goodbye’s to family and friends, we boarded our flight with our two young boys, headed for Santiago Chile. Tired, excited, nervous and barely believing that we had made it this far….
South America, was our first destination continent…even though I had travelled to South America before, I wanted to share this love of the continent with my family and to explore even more of it.
We gave ourselves an initial 6 months with a flight outbound to London. Most countries will not let you enter or leave without an exit ticket. Our ticket was valid for one year and could be changed based on flight availability. I wasn’t particularly excited about road travel with our youngest son, but we were open and flexible to see how it would all go and we could follow the warmer weather once autumn/winter hit.
The view of Santiago
So where to start on this continent?? Given that my previous experience of Chile was all of about 5 days, it seemed strange to chose this as our first port of call… However, it was an easy and direct flight to the capital of Santiago from Melbourne Australia(17 hours was long enough!), and we discovered that not only were cars reasonably cheap to buy in Chile but as a foreigner the paperwork was easy enough and we could cross borders with a Chilean registered vehicle.
It seemed like a good place to start our journey. We weren’t sure how far our travels would take us or how long we would remain in South America – time would tell… … I remember backpacking in my 20’s through South America. In 6 months I had been through a number of countries, catching overnight buses and flying between destinations easily (as a single person) – I got to see many of the cities and famous landmarks…I tangoed, salsaed, sambaed and fo hoed my way around the continent.
Ruta 40, Argentina
This time we have travelled the distance as a family and this time around we have seen more countryside than cities. While we have not seemingly progressed very far in terms of map distance we have still during four months covered about 12,000kms…every kilometre we have driven ourselves… we thought it to be slow going, but at times we were travelling at the same pace as other single/couple road travellers who were on the same route as us…. We saw the boring bits as well as the exciting ones, we didn’t just plonk ourselves in the middle of somewhere – we got to it..
Amazing volcano country
.In my 20’s if I had landed in Chile I would’ve flown straight to Torres del Paine, or Puerto Natales or even further to Ushaia and that would’ve been my Chile Patagonia experience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…. but after driving and reaching Torres del Paine, and as beautiful as it was…. we found Chile had other national parks that were less visited and less famous and that were just as stunning, or even more so and much more family friendly……
After four months on the road and coming to the end of summer, we contemplated how much further we wanted to go – we had only travelled through two countries in South America (through Chile and Argentina), yet there was still Bolivia, Peru and Brazil….not to mention the north of South America…… We were very mindful of health issues, particularly for our little ones……. we wanted to avoid high risk areas of yellow or dengue fever, malaria and possibly other rainforest borne diseases. It’s always a hard one as a parent….assessing the risks and the advantages…..
We discussed flying to some of these countries, as we were tiring of the car travel, particularly with our youngest son who wasn’t so fond of being in the car…..(we had good days and bad days), but even flying was costly as a family to even our nearest neighbour Peru or Brazil….
So just as we were starting to feel a bit like our tent – worn out, we decided to ditch the car travel. We were over dusty roads, boring bitumen ones, strapping kids in when they just wanted to play, noisy traffic, rude drivers, and the enormous kms we would need to cover……to cross countries not just the continent… sure we could do night drives and early morning starts to cover the kilometres but did we really want to? My one and a half year old, was never so great with car travel, even as a younger bub, he slept less in the car than when in a bed – my older son could go two hours napping in the car at the same age. At that time, we had done road/camping trips in Australia, but for a kid sitting in the front seat of a land rover between his parents was a lot more fun than in the back seat. Being squashed in the middle of the back seat wasn’t always so much fun for me either – try breastfeeding too.
We didn’t quite find the “perfect” way to road travel.. Camping was great fun and a wonderful experience for the kids and us… However, it wasn’t a long term solution, even when intermingled with other accommodation, which then gets expensive. We had tried and decided that a motor home was not for us, which left little other options for car travel for a family of four… Surely, there could be other ways to travel as a family….. we tossed around the options of walking and by boat…. maybe one of these could be for us….but how and where could we start this new trip??? Two weeks after selling our car in Santiago, the place where this all began, we boarded another flight. This one was going to London, UK via Toronto…. where a new adventure awaited us….
Possible South America vaccinations/ health risks to be considered
Hep A and B, Typhoid (off the beaten path) – not available for kids under two years old in Australia. Tetanus, Pertussis, Diphtheria, MMR, Chicken pox Influenza, Malaria, Dengue Fever, Yellow fever, Rabies, Chlorea (Peru) Altitude sickness (Peru/Bolivia)
Travelling with kids is a lot of things…. it can be challenging, intense at times, tiring, and trying…but its not impossible and nor will it kill you (can’t promise your sanity will remain intact though). It will broaden your understanding of what is possible and you will look back and be amazed at the places you’ve been to, and the experiences/emotions you’ve shared as a family – nothing like 24/7 living to really get to know one another. Sometimes our imagined fear is much worse than the reality itself.
If you enjoy or like to travel for an extended period than you can either chose to keep on travelling and do it with your kids or you can wait til your kids have grown up and left home. Current statistics put kids flying the coop at early 20s or later and so your faced with the other potentially disastrous situation with leaving the kids at home to look after the house (parties alert) while you travel….
I remember as a 20 year old, making grand travel plans with my boyfriend at the time, who simply turned around and said – these are your dreams not mine…. which is true for your kids as well – it’s important to remember whose dreams they are. However, sharing your loves and interests with your kids is a wonderful thing and giving your kids the opportunity to see you; mess up, get lost, work things out, try a new language, communicate beyond language, make friends, discover new places etc is all part of life’s learning curve…. We want to travel as a family so we can share these experiences together… BUT we also know that are kids are on this ride with us… and it may not always suit them. It ‘s not a one size fits all approach, but about finding how to travel that suits your family at the time.
I don’t know what the future holds. What I do know is that my partner and I have both lost our mums at a young age, and that this time, right now, is as good a time as any … At a time when our peers are making career choices, investing in business, renovating, re-locating to a second or bigger home, we are not… its sometimes a scary feeling that in some ways our “progress” in the ‘real’ world has stopped… we are not making money but we are spending it fast…. However this is our family’s story not anyone else’s…. and so we all chose our own stories to write.
Travelling with kids takes on a different meaning. I have travelled previously as a single person and as a couple with my husband. Travelling at that time was about going somewhere on a whim, changing countries as often as you change underpants – catching planes, overnight trains without a moment’s thought, walking everywhere, eating poorly/living cheaply, leaving the doldrums of routine and responsibilities behind, getting through your book wish list and writing journals while lazing on a beach, cafe, park, lake/mountain side/whatever (ALL DAY), getting lost and not caring, going to places with exotic sounding illnesses and hoping you didn’t come home with anything other than a funny tummy, experiencing the culture, and working/volunteering for travel. Essentially an exercise in real self indulgence and complete escapism.
Well let me tell you that there is no escaping from your responsibilities as a parent when travelling with kids. In some ways its a little easier (because there’s two of you, so its shared), but a lot harder in other ways because there is just the two of you the entire time… through sickness, jetlag, moments of insanity. You thought negotiating with a friend/partner traveller was hard in the past (remember the silly arguments of deciding where to eat, where to go, sleep, etc) well now you have 2 other little travellers whose needs often take priority and there is little room for negotiating!!
Yes travelling is different, but hey, my kids have adjusted pretty well to this whole travel thing, so now its our turn to re-adjust our travels from a single person to a family unit… its not so hard..
Travelling as a single person vs travelling as a family
I’ve had very different experiences of cities/countries I’ve been to as a single person and then re-visited as a family – some have been better experiences, others, well they’ve just been different.
As a single person, I travelled and saw mostly cities in South America. This time as a family, we have spent more time in the countryside (which is amazing by the way) than the cities.
My experience of London as a 20 something year old, was mainly about work, nightlife and living frugaly in an 8 person share house. I spent the last two weeks before flying home doing some last minute half hearted sightseeing. Sure, I enjoyed having a walk (as a means to getting somewhere) through some of the popular parks but its a completely different experience when your hanging out with kids in some of the most beautiful parks in London.. It becomes a lifestyle and a necessity when apartment living. I’ve never been a keen fan of taxodormy, but kids love being able to see wild animals at close range without fear. So this time around, I’ve loved visiting the museums, the parks, and have met lots of other international families along the way. Sure I’ve missed out on lots too – special tours, audio commentary’s, interesting exhibits like the crown jewels at the tower of London. But I’d like to think, my kids have saved me a lot of time. As I’ve walked past the enormous queue’s at a lot of these attractions, I just think… I’m glad its not me….
Travelling with kids can be really fun especially seeing things from a kids perspective.. You get to enjoy being a kid again too. Next time, you factor in legoland, a trip to disneyland, a puppet/kids show etc, just check whether this ones for the kids or secretly for you too…
Kids are more likely to be “out there” and this will get you all sorts of experiences you couldn’t get even if you paid for it….No matter how interesting you think you are, kids are just much more fascinating without having to try too hard… and people are more interested in you as a traveller because you are travelling as a family…
On a ferry crossing in Chile we had two local musicians hand their drum over to my son to join in their impromptu performance, we’ve had a busker improvise a song for our son just for him, a female quartet came over to serenade us when my son – the only one – got up to dance to their music… So you get to enjoy a myriad of unique experiences which will be part of your family’s travel stories and you don’t have to do a thing….your kids will do it for you…naturally…
My kids are littlies, yet they are still learning lots during our travels overseas… My son knows what country/city we are in (although he did shout out excitedly that he had the American flag, when he was handed a free British flag..opps!), what oceans we have crossed, what local animals look like (in real life not just from books), what Spanish/French/etc sounds like. My sons might not be able to articulate everything they see and learn but the interaction they have with the country and the people, have been absorbed by them and will make up the glomerate of experiences that is their world and form their behaviours…. In Chile my eldest son built volcanoes out of sand, in Argentina his favourite word was “vamos”, in London he played all sorts of games/stories that involve animals from the woods, knights/towers, in France he learnt about donkeys and built castles out of rocks and it goes on and on…
I can’t tell you whether its best travelling with little ones or older kids… each will have their own pros and cons…. From our perspective, all ages are great and it doesn’t matter when you go. Each time it will be a different experience and perspective based on your kids life stage/personality at the time.. My one year old, can still go to a museum and have a valuable experience, seeing the animals, being able to touch and feel specimens etc…The next time he goes, he will experience it differently again and something new will catch his eye or he will see the same through his 18 month old perception.
If you see travel as stressful, difficult or a nuisance, than odds are, you wont enjoy it with children… travelling with children wont make adjusting to a new language, culture, finding your way around and dealing with challenges any easier.
We came to the conclusion that even without trying too hard my kids are getting something wonderful from “just being” wherever it is they are. Learning about the big wide world can happen by bringing the world to our kids, allowing them to explore while still in the safety and comfort of a parents arms. To learn that the world is really on their front doorstep, to really care about the world by seeing all the wonderful things on offer, and to learn that it doesn’t have to be a scary, dangerous or fearful place, and in fact that there are children like them all over the world that aren’t so different after all..
So our kids have found new friends in playgrounds to play with even when they don’t speak the same language, experienced the diversity of an international city like London, visited some of the local or best museums in the world – imagine going to see the dinosaur bones that were dug up in that precise region (Argentina/saurus) and discovered that Chile doesn’t mean spicy or even cold – its an actual country!
If you really want to have an adventure, jump in the deep end and go for it.. and don’t forget the kids!
After enduring a 15 hour flight from Melbourne to Santiago with two young kids (a 3 and a 1 year old) no one at the end of the flight planted a “we survived the flight” sticker on me…. They give those stickers away for almost anything these days! Passengers clap the pilot when they land the plane, yet where’s the clap for the families and the “Yeah you made it!” in return?!
Preparing for a trip overseas with kids can be a bit like planning for labour and birth.. You spend a lot of time worrying about the flight (labour) and less time on what will happen once you get there (baby arrives). The if’s and what’s of the flight seem to preoccupy the mind. Questions such as, how will it go (I’ve never done this before!), and what to do if it all goes pear shaped run through the mind. Its unpredictable, uncertain and most likely painful…. Like birth, there can be things you can take to make it easier, or you can go au natural…. However, no matter what happens, you can’t go back or stop mid flight…. you just have to see it through!
After about 12 hours or sometimes two days, it’s all over …. Your ecstatic…. Suddenly your faced with the realisation that what you’ve been planning for months has actually happened and here you are in a new country about to embark on a life changing adventure….. You even consider doing it again once the jetlag and flight become a distant memory.
We chose the most direct flight route. Melbourne (Australia) to Santiago, Chile with a stopover in Sydney. We could have saved $1000 per ticket if we had gone via the Middle East but it would’ve meant 39 hours on a plane.
We flew during the day, not that we had much choice. It worked out well as the kids began the journey fresh and well rested after a night’s sleep. An early stopover meant that the changeover of planes happened early in the flight rather than interupt a potential sleep moment…
The flight to my surprise, went quite smoothly. I even got to watch a whole movie and this never happens at home…! There were some testy moments but this can happen at home without having the added stress of being in an overcrowded space for a prolonged period.
My 3 year old happily watched ABC for kids epsiodes, we read stories and books together (always worth taking some of your own entertainment and snacks!) He managed a little nap but no more…. By the time we reached 9pm our time, we were trying to help him wind down for some more sleep, but then the cabin lights went on and it was breakfast time…..
Our 1 year old, was the only one who really managed to rest, napping easily on me. Despite, thinking it would be a struggle to hold him the entire time, it was enjoyable and comfortable ( I sat there and watched a movie!). He required a bit more effort in the entertaining department when awakebut we let him have regular crawls and look out the window. Our fears regarding the flight was worse than the reality!!
After such a long flight, it was a relief to arrive in Santiago at 9am (midnight our time) and to be processed quickly and efficiently. We were ushered to the “preferential” aisle bypassing the horrendous immigration queue. This is common in Santiago – there is often a special aisle for pregnant women, families, elderly, people with a disability. It was fantastic. By this time, my eldest son was exhausted as were we….
See next blog – Tips for flights with kids
Living life on the move – by road, foot, sea and air