Monday, October 11, 2004
The longest day. Not only was our vacation over but we have to get up at 5:00am to get to the airport by 6:00am for our 8:00 flight. We get ourselves ready and then wake the girls–why are they able to sleep today when they can’t instead of one of the other days when they could, I’d like to know! Charlotte is asleep scrunched against the headboard with her legs tucked under her and her butt up in the air, too cute. We had to call a cab because we had too much luggage for the hotel shuttle. We almost had too much luggage for the cab! Once at the airport it’s very very hard to manage all of the stuff and two sleepy girls. We somehow cope and check in and then it gets a bit easier because at least now we’re only carrying two strollers and one carseat and two carryons. There are lots of business people on the flight and I feel bad for how slow we are getting through security and all. But there’s not much we can do. Our flight is uneventful, but a bit late. As we deplane we realize our strollers aren’t there and we thank the lord the agent in Milan suggested we get tags checking them through to SFO attached to them so we don’t have to worry about them coming off of the baggage carousel in Heathrow. We get through security in the speedy center line and then have to run to our next flight which is boarding already. Genevieve was so good, as sleepy as she was (and tired of walking in general) she kept up. I was a bit bummed we didn’t have any time to shop as I wanted to pick up a British Marie Claire and more Noddy books for Charlotte. Oh well. Once on board we get diverted for two hours due to a medical emergency. A guy a few rows ahead of us had almost fainted just as the plane was about to takeoff, so they had to call the doctors on board (one of whom arrived on the scene and shouted “oh my god, what happened to him!” which I didn’t feel was much of a bedside manner) and then the paramedics and after all of that they decided the guy was fit to fly anyhow. The whole time they wouldn’t let us out of our seats so the girls were restless to say the least, plus it was getting pretty darn hot and stuffy on that plane. We departed and the rest of the flight went about like we expected–Charlotte roamed the aisles and wouldn’t settle down to sleep (we finally had to just strap her in her carseat and let her cry it out for about twenty minutes) and Genevieve was pretty bored but played by herself, watched movies, bugged me and Mark and the lady sitting across the aisle from her until we called her off so the kind woman could get a break from her chatter. Once at SFO, we were met outside of customs by Mark’s dad and return home, and it’s still only 4:00 on the day we left Milan. Tired, yes, but what a great vacation!
During this trip I picked up a few pointers I’d like to share with other parents:
- Request the bulkhead row. Your child will want to play on the floor and maybe even sleep there. It might be a bit inconvenient not being able to have ready access to your carryons, but I think it would be worth it.
- Two sturdy umbrella strollers (like the Maclaren Daytrippers we brought along) are really the way to go for a vacation like this. A double would have been too wide in many instances, and Genevieve is still not able to go the distance when we’re out all day.
- Hook a small backpack like the Evenflo one over an umbrella stroller so you have it to climb towers, but you won’t have to go all day carrying your child.
- You need a strap on packable soft chair if you’re traveling with a child that still uses a highchair. Ours is a bit different in that it is a stadium seat that straps to a regular chair, but the idea is the same. There were so many times when a highchair was not available (like in our rentals) or when it was the straps were missing or it was otherwise insecure. With the “red thing” in the diaper bag, we never had to worry.
- Good websites for planning a vacation are Slow Travelers atwww.slowtrav.com and the Fodors forums at www.fodors.com/forums
- Above all, don’t let the naysayers (and there are many) stop you from traveling with your kids. I cannot count the number of people who said “why take them to Europe, they won’t remember it anyway” (so I should not celebrate birthdays, lock them in the closet and beat them because they won’t remember it anyway?). It’s not like there is a ration of trips and you have to save them until your kids are older. Sure, if you can only take your kids on one trip to Europe in their lifetimes don’t do it when they’re one, but figuring that you’re going to travel throughout their childhood the younger you get them used to the disruptions in their routine the better. And lets be honest, it’s the parents who want to go to Europe. Why should we be forced to spend the next 18 years at Disneyland? I think kids gain a lot from travel even at very young ages, and the whole family benefits from experiencing new things together.