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Friday, February 28, 2014

Packing and travel

Early morning at Heathrow

It was a long journey to get to Greece and really tested the kids (and, we'll be honest, the parents). Because we have traveled domestically quite a bit with L1 and L2, I thought that the journey would be trying, but that we could handle it without too much trouble. Especially when L1 was young and we flew on planes, passengers getting off the flight would comment on how wonderful a traveler L1 was: they didn’t know he was there, or he was making friends with passengers around him. No one made those comments to us this time around, although several people commiserated with us about the difficulties of traveling with children.  

The flight to Greece was considerably longer and more complicated than any of our domestic flights ever were, and the dynamics between the boys were different than when only L1 flew with us. The kids fought for room in the window seat. They had meltdowns because they were overtired. For the final leg of the flight to Greece from London, I held a screaming L2 while the flight attendant took a very long time to check our passports and boarding tickets, carried him still screaming onto the plane, still screaming while other passengers boarded. L2 had barely slept the previous two nights and was simply past what he could bear.  He finally settled down and eventually went to sleep, and I will never see those people on the plane again.

On packing: My goal for this trip was to pack light. What that really means is being able to comfortably carry your belongings with you. We did not achieve that goal, and here are some of the mistakes we made. Jim pointed out that I should have had a bigger rolling bag, which would have solved many of our packing problems. I believe that a person will always pack to the capacity of whatever their* luggage will hold, and so packing light means restricting the space you have. But Jim was right. Since I wasn’t using my rolling bag as a carry-on, it could have been bigger without compromising the ability to comfortably carry it. The second mistake we made was to give each child their own backpack to carry their teddy bear and toys. What were we thinking? Of course the kids did not actually wear their backpacks for more than the walk from Grandma Jenna’s house to the car for the ride to the airport on the very first day. After that, J and I juggled our luggage (K: rolling bag, diaper backpack, computer bag; J: large frame backpack, computer bag) plus stroller, two kids and their backpacks, and stray hats (which the kids also rarely wore). The added conundrum of packing light is that with two kids you need more stuff but can comfortable carry less because you also have to also be able to carry the children. I’m already making a mental list of the things we can leave behind so that we don’t have to carry them home.

* For correct S/V agreement, I know “their” should be “his” or “her”, but see Grammar Girl for an argument in favor of the informal use of “their” in this situation.

A rare example of L2 wearing his backpack.

Asleep on the plane (finally)!

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