Monday, April 16, 2012

Lots of airplanes

On Sunday, Marco and I both looked at each other and realized that we have been home from South Africa for one month.

I thought I would post about the airports, airplanes, and what it was like traveling with two young ones.  We received a lot of helpful advice before we left.  We were also greeted with, "And how did the kids do?" when we got home.  So here are a few of our experiences... 

Packing and Traveling Light: 

Before leaving Canada, we pre-booked a car rental for a Toyota Corolla.  With a small trunk space in mind, we knew we had to pack light.  From other traveling experiences, we have also learned to not pack so much!  A trip can get tiring when you carry extra baggage and gear.  So, we shared suitcases and tried to take only what we needed.  For example, enough diapers and wipes to get us started instead of the whole lot, Joel's infant carseat but decided to rent one for Ellie, and a lightweight, compact Joovy double stroller instead of cumbersome ones we've seen.  We were also fortunate to have easy access to a washing machine at the guesthouses we stayed at but also knew from other trips, that it is relatively easy to find a place to do laundry.  So we packed a week's worth of clothing for the kids, with a couple outfits for each day, and then for Marco and I, enough clothes to fit in half a suitcase.  A friend introduced me to compression bags and I would highly recommend them to anyone trying to pack as much as you can into a suitcase.  It definitely helped condense the bulkier items like children's clothes, socks, and underwear. 

Navigating Airports and through Security:

This was probably the part Marco and I were most anxious about.  We find navigating airports and going through security, customs, and immigration a challenge sans children.  And here we are traveling with 2 children under 3.

I found a Joovy stroller on Kijiji before we left and it was money well spent.  Joel would sit in his infant carseat at the front and then El had the option to sit or stand at the back and take in the airport adventure.  I would usually push the stroller and Marco would push the baggage cart. 

When we reached security, it was helpful to have all the liquids, gels, etc. in the clear bag ready to go.  No need to hunt for the items and get flustered before getting into the line.  When we reached the front, we were pleasantly surprised how friendly and helpful the airport staff were.  I think the big brown eyes and smiles from of Ellie and Joel helped :).

And a traveling tip, if you are ever routed through the Frankfurt Airport, there is a security line designated especially for families.  So refreshing! 

Packs for the kids:

Where would we be without our backpacks from MEC?  Some essential carry-on items included:
* extra large Ziploc bags for messy clothes, accidents, or the possibility of air-sickness
* adequate clothing for the days spent traveling and just in case once you reach your destination
* a blanket for the airport floors.  Then you don't need to worry about your little one wiggly and stretching on a germ covered floor.
* new toys that haven't been seen or played with.
* a set of triangle crayons that won't roll off the airplane tray
* emergency fruit snacks and granola bars
* empty water bottles to fill up on the other side of security
* and comfort items from home to help make the plane rides calm.  For us that meant bringing a special panda bear, pjs, and afghan along too.    

As we got closer to departure day, I was worried about how traveling internationally, on two-10 hour flights would go, with two young ones used to the routine and rhythm of home.  Ellie and Joel were a joy to travel with for which we were grateful.  Yes, we did have our moments when we knew there were many eyes on us, watching to see how we would respond.  But, overall they did incredibly well!

I hope these tips are helpful for you as you plan your next traveling adventure.

1 comment:

Kirstin said...

You know I was waiting for this post, my friend. :) Thanks for sharing!