Travelling. With kids.

I feel like I have so much to blog about lately, but unfortunately it would take forever to share every little detail of our lives these past few days. It’s funny how a transition like this makes every detail of your lives feel worth sharing though, so if you want to hear more details feel free to email for more.
Since I can’t share everything right now, I’ll start with our travel as promised. I was hoping that I would have tons of tidbits of information to share for those of you looking forward to travelling internationally with small children in the future, but I’m not sure I learned much. All I can tell you is how it went for us and that we survived.
Actually things went pretty well. We drove all the way from Sioam Springs to Dallas, because that saved us one leg of the trip and insured that all our baggage could make it on the airplane.The car ride was like any long car ride, kids went back and forth between being bored, being loud and being entertained. We are thankful for all the extra special new coloring books and things that were given to us for the trip. I didn’t let the kids open them until it was light enough to see in the car. Those helped pass some of the hours.
We had planned on getting there early, which we did. We thought (somewhat foolishly) that we would check the baggage and then have time to leave the airport to get lunch with John’s parents, who had driven us down. Thankfully we realized after we followed the maze of roads through the massive Dallas airport that we wouldn’t want to try to get out and back in again. So we said good-bye at the door after all our baggage was loaded onto carts by two very helpful porters.
Since we got there early, there were no check-in lines for British Air and we were able to get all the bags checked without issue. Of course by the time they were done there was a line behind us just because it took so long. Then because there must not have been tons of flights leaving yet, we were able to speed through security as well. “Speed” being a relative term as 10 carry-ons and 3 kids does slow things down quite a bit. The airport personnel were extremely nice and gave us our luggage carts back after security so that we wouldn’t have to carry all 10 bags on our own.
We had plenty of time to eat lunch and find our gate. I even fell asleep for about half an hour as we waited for boarding. We took the option to early board with the kids so we could deal with the luggage without being crowded.
While waiting to take off, we let the kids open the gifts we had saved for the plane (the ones from Miss Barb that they had been begging to open since we left the house). Those helped pass the time and I knew Barb had included gum for takeoff. We let the kids watch a movie after takeoff as we waited for supper and then after supper the boys went straight to sleep. We hadn’t let them nap that whole day (other than Seth’s impromptu 10 minute nap right before we reached the airport) or the day before, so they were super tired. Elise, who is old enough to deal with both the discomfort of airline seats and the over-excitement of the journey had a harder time. For her, I decided to use melatonin when she started to get worked up about the fact that she couldn’t sleep. John did not sleep, but I was able to doze on and off throughout the flight.
I think the hardest part of the trip was the next bit – London Heathrow. Actually, London Heathrow is a nice airport and in general I don’t have any complaints except for the confusing directions to get to the right terminal. We thankfully knew where to go having travelled this route before. The hard part was the fact that the kids bodies were still telling them it was night-time and we had no carts for the bags. We also only had 1 1/2 hours to get through security and to our next gate. So if you can imagine us trying to hurry with three tired kids each wearing a very heavy (at least in kids’ terms) backpack, while trying to roll 5 suitcases you can imagine it wasn’t the high point of the trip. Will was the most helpful and never complained. But Seth eventually gave up on the backpack carrying and kept asking for water, which of course we didn’t have since we were about to go through security. Elise also had a hard time carrying a backpack that far, but she made it. Thankfully, because of our obvious need for help, the airport personnel waved us through to the fast pass lane, which means that we bypassed the “pre-security” area that they have and we only had to go through the main security line. They also offered to check our rolling baggage since we’d be on a smaller plane. We very gratefully accepted their offer. So security went smoother as we only had the 5 backpacks and the kids. And in London they don’t always make you take off your shoes, and so they let us go through without that extra hassle as well. The security personnel were extremely friendly to the kids as well. It was a pleasant experience.
We made it to our gate with just enough time for a bathroom visit before boarding started. The next flight was relatively easy, though Elise did start getting nauseous. The Basel airport is actually very low key, which is nice since that is where we were to do customs. The first difficulty that we had there was that Will got separated from us on one side of an automatic one-way door that for some reason wouldn’t open for him. He had to wait several minutes for someone to come help as we couldn’t get to him. He was pretty scared until he realized we weren’t going to leave him and then he stoically waited in his courageous fashion. The second difficulty just had to do with the sheer volume of bags we had to get from the baggage claim out the door. Thankfully customs is almost non-existent in this airport. You just have to walk down the green line that says “nothing to declare” and you are out. The hard part for us is that we had about 6 carts of baggage (which we couldn’t all roll at once) and once you exit customs you can’t come back. So I had to take the kids through first and John passed the carts through the door. Someone had told us we could ask for help, but neither of us felt courageous enough to try to find the office and stumble over German. Thankfully once out the exit our host family was waiting for us and helped us get the bagage to the van and loaded.
So here are the few words of advice I have:
-Make sure to arrive early at the airport, especially if you have more than the normal amount of luggage.
-Pack (if you are not given) special gifts for the kids to open on the plane with some new exciting activities, gum, snack, etc.
-Bring your children’s special loveys or blankets to help them feel comfortable enough to sleep.
-Take advantage of porters (they did most of the check-in work for us) when they are available.
-Take advantage of luggage carts for carry-ons. Even if you can possibly carry all the luggage, it makes it much easier if you can roll it on a cart when you have the chance. There will be plenty of times where you will not have that chance and you will be thankful for taking the opportunity when you had it.
-If you can get by with less carry on luggage, I would suggest you try. Ten bags was not fun, but we did make it, so it is possible.
-Bring gum for the kids, and make sure you keep it where you can find it, we misplaced ours for the second flight. Thankfully all the kids were fine as we taught them a few more tricks to relieve pressure.
-It helps if you know the airports already, so if you don’t perhaps talk to people that have travelled through them to get helpful tips and the basic rundown of the routes you will need to take to get between terminals.
-Smile a lot, people will probably respond better to your family and large amount of baggage.
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
-Give your kids lots of grace.

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