Ever since my first trip across the border to Canada when I was a newborn, I have loved to travel. Maybe it's because I'm a Bolivian who grew up in the US, always aware of other cultures; or maybe because my parents always pushed us to learn more about, well, everything, but as soon as I arrived in Spain to study abroad in college, I started to travel in earnest, seeing much of Europe, Africa and, later, Central and South America.
Since my kids were born, I've slowed down a lot, but by the time Monkey turned one, we had traveled to Bolivia, Mexico and India. If journeys were lessons, the trip to Mexico taught me to never give a 7-month-old an ice cube and that, if I were to do so, I should have packed myself an extra outfit because I certainly needed it. On the bright side, that trip is what convinced me to buy Monkey his own seat for our flight to India. He slept for nearly 10 blissful hours in that carseat, 10 hours he would have otherwise spent on our laps because our chunky Monkey would not have fit into the bassinet.
This time Monkey has his own seat and it's Munchkin who is travelling in a bassinet. She will barely squeeze into it, but I'm sure she'll also spend a fair amount of time in the Ergo, on the floor and fighting Nikhil for space on his seat because keeping a curious 13-month still in one place is nearly (completely?) impossible.
In anticipation of entertaining our kids for hours on end either in transit to the airport, within the airport or on the plane, I'm packing a favorite toy and a few stickers and playthings they've never seen before. I'm hoping the novelty will keep them amused. The airline (clearly not American-based) promises to provide toys, warm milk and kid-friendly food, but I'm not taking chances. And for those of you who read my blog post "My Beef with TV," I want you to know I'm selling out. Any time my kids are enclosed in the same room as hundreds of other people for 12-15 hours at a time, I become TV's biggest fan. Monkey will be allowed to watch TV and play games most of the flight, unless it keeps him from sleeping.
Speaking of which, one reason we picked this flight is because it's overnight. That means the 12 1/2 hours will fly by, right? Well, let's do some math. My kids sleep about 10 hours a night. The flight starts 3 hours after the bedtime and ends nearly six hours after they normally wake up, which means that after they get settled, they will probably sleep about 7 hours. That's if they got any sleep in the airport--likely for Munchkin, not for Monkey. If they get no sleep, we'll have a crying baby on our hands but the potential for 10 hours of sleep on the plane. But then airlines do that thing where they wake you up and feed you at odd times in attempts to get your mind adjusted to the new time zone. That's probably not going to work, especially because by the time we arrive at our destination, the new time zone will indicate that we've arrived one hour past their bedtime which will seem entirely unfair to both kids. What will probably happen is that they will each take turns being awake, just to ensure their parents are tired by the time we've arrived. At least we'll be ready to sleep that night!
The commute abroad doesn't quite end when we get off the plane. There will be long hallways to walk through, customs to clear, and baggage to pick up. But there to greet us, with open arms, will be our family. Nieces and nephews to play with our kids, their aunts and uncles to share a laugh with and grandparents to lift the children from our arms and spoil them rotten. This is why we travel. Though the flight is long, the journey is wonderful.