If you and I were sitting down for coffee and you asked me how things really went while traveling with the girls overseas (because it was surely a mess at times, right?), here are a few things I’d share with ya.
For reference, Hadley is almost five and Sadie is exactly 2.5 years old.
I’d tell you that our overnight flight to Amsterdam (seven hours) was a breeze because the girls slept almost the whole flight. I let Sadie sleep on me and Jamie took Hadley. Sadie wiggled a lot as she struggled to stay comfortable in one spot, which means I barely slept a wink, but I was just happy that they weren’t fussing.
I’d tell you that the 10.5 hour daytime flight home from Stuttgart, Germany to Atlanta was by far the easiest flying experience we have ever, ever had as parents. Can you believe that? In hindsight, it makes sense though: They were constantly fed with snacks, meals, unlimited drinks, coloring books, dozens of movie options on their headrest screens, etc. They also had Jamie’s and my complete, undivided attention because we had nothing else to do or anywhere else to be (we did not purchase on-board WiFi). They never fussed – not once (longtime readers know that this is not the norm when we fly!) They loved it. I still can’t believe it. I would do an overseas trip again with them in a heartbeat.
I’d tell you that being disconnected from my phone for the majority of the trip was incredible since my kids were right there with me. I only had Wifi when we were at my sister’s house in Germany or at our Airbnb in Switzerland, which was basically just the morning and evening of each day. We did not purchase an international plan, rather leaving our phones on airplane mode the entire trip. Because I had my whole little world with me, I knew it was okay if I was unreachable for a few hours. Besides taking some pictures, our phones were away and we were able to 100% focus on each other. It was outstanding. For this reason, I am so glad the girls were with us. If they were at home, I would have had an international plan so I could be reached at any moment. It was so great to go off the radar for a little while.
I’d tell you that packing for them was easy. We only brought exactly what they needed and nothing more. They each had one carry-on size suitcase (that we checked) and one backpack as a carry-on. Not overpacking was extremely helpful while traveling with them.
I’d tell you that we brought Sadie’s sound machine with us all the way to Europe because it’s that crucial to her sleep… and sleep she did. She was worn out most days and slept so well (except for when we were all jet lagged the first night and laid in bed together watching football at 3 a.m. local German time!)
I’d tell you that my kids ate like garbage for nine straight days and we couldn’t have cared less. We wanted them fed and full and happy so that we could carry on each day with a fun trip. It was their trip too, after all. Doesn’t everybody splurge a bit with eating and drinking fun things on vacation? They’re only human. Whatever, man.
I’d tell you having a Camelbak water bottle for each girl was a lifesaver. I don’t think a single restaurant had “kid cups” and usually served my two-year-old full-sized glass cups. Don’t mind if I do transfer that right to your plastic Camelbak, Sadie Rose, before you shatter that glass on the floor and cause a scene!
I’d tell you that I nearly got arrested in Atlanta for having an apple in Sadie’s carry-on, and that that cute little security beagle pounced on me as I walked past like he’d finally caught his prey. Whoopsies! Ma’am, you absolutely cannot bring back fresh goods from overseas. We’re going to need you to go to this back room for questioning. We need to search every inch of your family’s belongings. You understand that we need to throw this away? You got it! Whatever! MY BAD. As my husband rolls his eyes and laughs as he watches this intense scene because DUH, ERICA YOU CANNOT BRING BACK FOREIGN PRODUCE. lol.
I’d tell you that being at an Airbnb that supplied a potty chair was gold. These things are crucial.
I’d tell you that I’m glad we only had to push one kid in a stroller because the parts of Europe we were in were not stroller-friendly (or handicap-friendly for that matter which is so sad to me), and definitely not double-stroller friendly. Yeesh.
I’d tell you that I’m glad we didn’t do this trip before both kids were 100% potty trained because changing tables didn’t really seem to be a thing (plus changing diapers on airplanes is just the worst).
I’d tell you that I’m glad we had the comfort zone and safety net of my sister for the first half of our trip until we were over our jet lag and comfortable driving and being out and about on our own with our kids. Though we had the best (best best best) time, I can’t say I’d recommend doing a European trip on your own with kids this young, unless you are well-traveled internationally. Not having Jennifer would have made the beginning of our trip quite a bit more daunting.
Finally, I’d tell you that I’m so stinkin’ glad I brought my kids. We saw so many cool things and experienced so much, and I would have missed the heck out of them if they didn’t come. Though I like (and need) solo time occasionally, I generally like to be with my kids. I miss them, and I get anxious for realz being away from them for too long. So we were ready for any struggles that would come with bringing them, but honestly, the struggles were minimal. Dare I say we didn’t really have any. And you know I keep it real in this space. 🙂
So, my vote is to travel with your kids, to the next state or internationally. People usually meet the expectations laid out for them, including children. They may do better than you think. If you plan well, research your lodging, and have the mindset that this is their vacation too, you’re golden. Give them grace, give yourself grace, make memories, and have fun. 🙂
In your opinion, what can make or break a trip when you’re traveling with your children?
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to three little girls (ages 7, 4, and 1) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo