Happy Easter Monday!
I’ve been AWOL from the blog these last few weeks. If you’re following me on any of my other social media accounts, you’ll notice I’ve been traveling with the family. It was our much awaited summer vacation. From sand to snow at all degrees of weather (literally), so says my husband. It’s been a crazy and exhausting, but definitely all worthwhile. The entire 3-week experience is too much to compress in one blog post, so I will split them up accordingly in succeeding entries. There is much to tell.
Looking back at it all now, I feel I’ve gained some new insights in traveling with toddlers that are worth sharing. It’s all good too as I feel I was able to adjust better in preparation for the trip.
Dive into the details. For starters, I will say that it helped a lot that my husband and brother-in-law are great travel planners. We traveled with my brother-in-law’s family for most of the trip, and even months before the boys would sit down over Mary Grace ensaymadas to research and plan the different aspects of our “adventure”. They spent a lot of hours and sleepless nights working through the little details of what we would do and when (and of course, how much it would all cost).
They’ve always been like that, even when we’d take trips when it was just the four of us (my husband, brother-in-law, my sister-in-law and myself). Now with our families it’s a much bigger production number, taking into account everyone’s wants, needs, concerns and limitations. Somehow though they make it work.
It really helped that they read through all the fine print beforehand. My brother-in-law discovered that to go on our 4-Day Bahamian Disney Cruise, we needed a separate Visa into the Bahamas. It’s a good thing too, or else we may not have been able to board the ship in the first place! (Side note: There is still a debate about this point amongst travel agencies, but we chose to play it safe and get one anyway). Apparently getting a Visa into the Bahamas (from the Philippines) requires you to send all original documents to China, which is host to their nearest embassy. My sister-in-law had to open a Fedex account so as to ensure that the mail back of all our paperwork would have an appropriate charge account, and could get back to us in time.
Pack your bags early. Contrary to my usual travel cramming habits, I had the suitcases out a week before the actual trip. I slowly filled each one according to what we’d use in each stop, and what gifts we needed to bring and carry. It helped manage the weight distribution too. And with the boys’ early planning and day-by-day itinerary, we knew exactly when we would do laundry; so I knew how much to pack. Of course with Sam my little Peacock, I still packed several extra outfits. My husband kept questioning me about it, but I stuck to my gut. And true enough, every other piece of clothing Sam owned got soiled at one point.
Expect a disruption in their routine. The different time zones, activities and in between travel (we jumped from East to West Coast), was “not kid-friendly”, as my husband says. The kids’ schedules were topsy-turvy from the very beginning. The routine I am so used to and fond of was totally thrown out the window. And even when I’d try to get them back on track somehow, the next day there would be something new, or we were traveling again. The girls would eat way past lunch time and sleep way past dinner time, for most of the trip. Sometimes we were jumping flights, there was really no time to eat anything but the crackers that I had in my bag. They would nap at odd hours, or not at all. Once, Jamie was so tired and battling jet lag she slept from 4PM one afternoon until 4AM the next morning.
I am such a routine person and I value their sleep and rest that this bit was hard for me. I had to constantly tell myself to just let it go (cue Idina Menzel) and go with the flow. Naturally, with their systems out of whack and their routines lost at sea, their emotions were constantly on a roller coaster ride.
Nonetheless, having this in mind, it helps to expect it, and to plan against it. I’d have a bunch of crackers and packs of cereal in my bag for eating emergencies. At the very least they’d have something in their stomach. I packed pajamas and toothbrushes and washed them down at some airports so that in case they fell asleep on the car ride home, I wouldn’t need to wake them to get them cleaned out and changed. I let them nap at the oddest hours for however long. A lot of the time, we would get them to bed past 10PM. I think I surprised even myself with how flexible I was with the lack of our routines. Taking these entire three weeks as an anomaly to our typical days, helped, and I figure I’ll just work on getting us back on track once we get back to Manila.
Have confidence in your parenting. I have Coach Pia to thank for this one; and I think the rest flowed and followed because of it.
The day before our flight out I saw Coach Pia and had a few moments alone with her before our meeting (my very own private #BetterMe!). I started telling her about our trip and about my apprehensions. Essentially I laid down all my fears. Coach Pia just smiled at me and said, “You forget they’re YOUR kids, and you’re one of the most resilient people I know.”
She was telling me to find the confidence in the way I parent the girls. I can handle any kind of situation and they would respond to me, because of the relationship I’ve already established with them. And of course, as it is in my genes to be resilient, it’s no doubt that they too inherited this trait. “They take their cue from you,” she said (talk about leading by example!). Besides, children by nature are resilient, and so I should believe they’d hold up in any situation we faced, for as long as I set the tone and pace.
I think that was the most helpful insight of all, because finding that inner confidence did get me (us) through a lot of situations I normally would have stressed about. But if you ask me how one would know when to trust in your current parenting skills, I wouldn’t be able to give an answer.
I don’t think there’s a definite criteria for it; but just by knowing your kids and yourself, then you’d just know.
So there we have it folks. The prelude to our summer vacation. And if you are about to go on yours (or are already on it), I hope that you find bits and pieces of this helpful in your travels as well. What are your family travel insights and tips?