Travel with kids is challenging. And it is endearing! Seeing experiences through their eyes is the best! Here is a summary of travelling to Thailand and Cambodia with my 6 year old and 2 year old.
For a few weeks before take-off, I prepared the girls. We looked at pictures of the plane and I showed them what their seat would look like. We practiced buckling up and talked about what take-off would feel like. We gave them new bags and let them select special toys to pack. I also prepped them for airport security.
I stalked travel blogs and processed my fear with anyone who would listen. Over and over.
I packed my Osprey bag o’ many pockets with everything I could think of: healthy snacks, homeopathic remedies, changes of clothes, wet wipes, diapers, hand sanitizer, gum, ginger, peppermint oil, small trash bags, neck pillows, a few surprise toys, iPad loaded with WonderPets, trayblecloths, and every trick I could think of.
Checking my bag one more time. Can you feel my fear?
Departure security was a breeze. We had to go through once in Atlanta and again in Korea. The girls were champs. I was thankful I read ahead of time that kids no longer need to take their shoes off. I saw some parents dealing with kid shoes when they didn’t have to. When we left Cambodia, Cedar got a pat down. She was furious but complied. The worst security was returning to Atlanta. After going through customs, we had to go through security again (!! after we landed, grrr). My foggy brain wasn’t on top of it. I didn’t realize Norah had a bottled water from the flight. She got into a screaming match with a TSA agent when her water was taken. It was ugly. Meanwhile, I inadvertently took a set of silverware (knife included) from the plane which made it through without notice. I guess everyone was distracted by my 6 year old screaming.
When we flew from Bangkok to Phnom Penh, Scott flew back to the US. I failed to prepare Norah for this separation which happened rather quickly. So going through passport control and security in Thailand? Norah was crying and yelling, “I want my daddy. Don’t take me from my daddy. Daddy!! Daddy!! I don’t want to go with YOU!” I didn’t think I would make it through with my apparently abducted child. I was also afraid she was going to bolt when we had to walk through the metal detectors separately.
Except for the flight-we-will-not-speak-of, the flights were smooth. I wasn’t able to sleep or relax and had to be creative to stay one step ahead of the girls, but I was happy. The first flight I ever took my children on was 15 hours! Where is my medal?
- I used a babyleg to cover Cedar’s buckle during take-off so she would be less inclined to unbuckle.
- I removed the girls shoes right away to minimize accidental kicks to the seat in front of us.
- I asked the flight attendant to disable the “call” button on Cedar’s controls.
- I filled a prescription of Valium for my sweet husband.
- I packed kid-friendly headphones for the girls and Scott packed a splitter so they could watch the same screen.
We also packed LIGHT. No stroller or carseats. Minimal luggage. Smallish soft-structured carry-on bags. I know many parents have to travel with gear. I don’t think I would have managed that gracefully.
Korean Air was amazing. There was always a flight attendant walking around with someone’s baby or toddler. They tried so hard to convince Cedar to go with them. She wasn’t falling for it. They kept the kids on a sugar-high which I wasn’t thrilled about. Every time they saw a child, they offered candy/brownie/cookie. An example of the kid’s meal: corndog, spaghetti, potato chips, yogurt, juice, pudding, candy bar, brownie, bread/butter/jam, and tiny packaged snacks I didn’t recognize. Even the breakfast meals looked like that. It was astounding.
Other brownie points for Korean Air:
They were very much on “crying child patrol.” If a child was fussy, they must be soothed at all costs. Which meant, even if the seatbelt sign was on, I was encouraged to hold Cedar. Children were allowed to break any rule.
The toys they gave the girls were perfect. Magnadoodles, aquadoodles, colored pencils, crayons, stickers, stencils, coloring books.
There were video games, kids music, good movie choices, cartoons, and read-aloud books.
Soft blanket, pillow, bottled water, slippers, toothbrush/paste, wet wipes, headphones in every seat.
Lots and lots of food and drink.
At one point, I thought “Wow, this is started to get really challenging. We must be almost there.” That is when I took this picture. Yep. Only half-way.
The final return flight was the best. Norah sat with my mom on a different row. Cedar slept 10 of the 14 hours! Of course, much of that was ON me which meant I didn’t get to move much.
The time difference was 12 hours. When we arrived in Thailand, jetlag only affected Cedar. The first night, she stayed awake crying, “It NOT nighttime. It NOT.” In a bleary daze, I decided to give her half a melatonin that I’d brought for us. She was asleep in 15 minutes. So I used the melatonin for the first few nights.
Coming home, the jetlag hit both the girls. And for almost a week, they woke between midnight-3am asking for breakfast. Ah well. I just got up with them, poured cereal, and put a movie on.
They loved every type of transportation we tried. I worried we would never get them buckled in carseats again!
P.S. one of the strangest things I saw: A woman with a newborn in a bucket-style carseat. The baby was strapped in. But the woman was carrying the carseat while riding on a moto. The carseat was sort of dangling from the side. A man was driving and a toddler was seated between them. I’m not sure why she bothered with the carseat.