Travelling with Toddlers: Brave or Stupid?

Yes, I can still type although the rest of my body isn’t moving so well. Just got back from another wonderful trip to see Oma and Opa. We were celebrating Zoe’s 1st birthday, if you can believe that! The stinker was that the girls’ father had to change his plans last minute and couldn’t travel with us. Instead he met us at the gate in Germany and dropped us off there on our way home. Which meant I had to endure a 2 hour airplane ride with 2 toddlers and myself.

Word to the wise: check with your airline before traveling about their infant policies, what kind of seats are available and whether your stroller will be meeting you planeside or in the Arrivals Hall. And then another piece of advice: don’t believe anything they say and have a back up plan. This would be where I failed yesterday. Knowing that I couldn’t have 2 infants on my lap, we booked one “child” seat and one “infant.” European airlines don’t allow personal car seats on the plane, but instead offer a little tiny belt that loops onto the adult one. Needless to say, they weren’t impressed by my pulling the regular belt tight to the seat before strapping Eva in. So thank you to the nice strangers who answered the call for “A Volunteer Lap!”
Then there is the actual plane ride to deal with. On the way there, both girls fell asleep immediately and I had a relatively nice ride. Our return flight, however, was something else entirely. I am fully aware that it is probably not good parenting to allow your toddlers to eat box after box of M&M’s. But these were desperate times. I’ll leave it at that.
And then there was the stroller issue. Aware that Heathrow doesn’t bring strollers back to their owners at the plane, we had spent several hours on the phone trying to understand how I was to carry 45 pounds of children and my belongings all the way to passport control and then to baggage claim. The final “solution” was to arrange for a wheelchair to carry us through the airport. (I’m dead serious. I have two toddlers; I am clearly handicapped.) The problem was when we got off the plane and my “Assistance” took one look and said, “Oh, we don’t DO babies.” I should have made a big stink but instead I just took a big breath and hauled everyone and everything through the airport, stopping at Passport Control long enough to have both kids make a break for it, with me running around behind the Immigration desk while screaming at them to come back. By the time we got to baggage, I was literally soaking wet.
And that, my friends, is a little cautionary tale about traveling with children. It doesn’t mean I won’t do it again (in fact, we have tickets booked in March) but it does mean that I won’t stop at Plan A or Plan B. There will be a Plan C and probably a back up D in our future. Now I need to go find the ibuprofen.