Category Archives: travel

The road trip

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People laughed when we told them we were driving from Chicago to South Carolina for our summer vacation.

“Your kids can stay in the car for that many hours?” they said.

“We’ll be fine,” we said, “we are going to take our time to get there, have a couple of overnight stops. It will be an adventure.”

And an adventure it was. (There’s a lot of yelling and throwing in adventures right?)

Besides, as Constantinos Kavafis, one of the greatest poets of my people, said: it’s not Ithaca but the journey to Ithaca that matters. (Especially if Ithaca is a beach in South Carolina- if you ask me!)

We had it all figured out:

– We planned to drive about 6 to 7 hours the first two days leaving us only 2 to 3 hours on the last day.

– Our route was pre-mapped with enough stops for bathroom and play breaks and we were staying at hotels with a pool so the kids could have some fun after spending most of the day strapped in their car seats.

– We had enough snacks for 3 hour stretches within reach of both children and emergency snacks (lollipops and candy) in the front.

– We went on an itunes shopping spree the night before, buying them all the shows they love, ensuring hours of entertainment.

– We got each of them Bluetooth headphones so they could watch their shows without annoying each-other and most importantly us.

So on Saturday morning, and only one hour behind schedule ,we got into our car and headed south. The music was good, the kids were watching their iPads; we were excited and optimistic about the future.

One hour later….

– The boy tried and dismissed all of the snacks.

– Took his headphones off and threw them on the floor at least seven times.

– Was tired of watching his iPad.

– And we were stuck in traffic on the Interstate just outside of Chicago.

I started to think that maybe this was a mistake, a 16 hour long mistake, each way….

the road trip
But then something wonderful happened. The boy fell asleep… for two hours. And like many children before him he was re-set after the nap.

The trip got better. He had his moments of “frustration” and my daughter did ask “how many more minutes until we get there?” more than just a couple of times.

Sure, there were times when we wished that, like a taxi, our car had a divider so that we could open a little window, quickly throw some snacks at the kids and close it to get back to some adult conversation. But we enjoyed the time together anyway. The route was beautiful for the most part and Satellite radio kept us entertained.

It was also an educational experience for all of us:

– We saw the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and drove through an Indian Reservation.

– On our way back we spent some time in Savannah and explored the beautiful southern city, admired the Spanish moss trees that line every street and visited a beautiful historic cemetery with haunting statues.

– We learned that bugs have not evolved enough to stay off the high-way and my windshield at times looked like the site of a massacre.

– My daughter finally learned the right words to the song “Milkshake,” by Kelis, and no longer says “my milkshake is bad but it’s better than yours.”

– We discovered the song “Lonely women make good lovers” on one of the many (you guessed it) country stations that SiriusXM has to offer.

– We ate fried pickles, which taste just like regular pickles only they are really bad for you.

– Turns out my husband can say things like “don’t make me stop this car” and keep a straight face.

So would we do it again? Ask again in six to eight months.

Travelling with Vs travelling without kids

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Last week, for the first time in five and a half years I took a flight without kids. Holy shit it’s different! And by different, I mean better…. Much, much better.

First, I should clarify that since the birth of my daughter five and a half years ago I have been on more flights that I can remember, some as long as 17 hours and others as short as two hours. So flying without kids was a cause of celebration in and of itself. The fact that I was going to San Francisco, one of my favourite cities, where I would spend 3 days with my husband just walking around, drinking [a lot of] nice wine and eating nice food was really an added bonus.

So here are the main differences between traveling with and traveling without our beautiful bundles of joy.

Arriving at the airport

With kids

You arrive at the airport at least 2 to 3 hours earlier.  Go through security where you have to open and taste all of the liquid foods you are bringing on board; try to fit the stroller through the scanner and convince the children to let go of their dolls/stuffed animals so they can go through as well. Then, you run around the airport frantically looking for a semi-nutritious meal to give the kids before you get on the plane. The kids, of-course, don’t eat any of it so all you’ve done was spend $15 on a ham and cheese sandwich no one wants.

Without kids

You arrive about an hour before, check-in and leisurely go through the security line. If you have time you grab a coffee or a drink while reading your book and waiting to board.

Bag of tricks

With kids

You bring at least 20 lollipops for take-off and landing and other major crises, granola bars, crackers, candy, drinks, toys, iPads, headphones, crayons, colouring books, stickers extra clothes, wipes, and diapers, because you need to be prepared for every possibility.  Of-course, chances are you still forgot something.

Without kids

You bring a book and a bottle of water.

Other passengers

With kids

You board the plane carrying one of them on your hip, one or two bags of tricks (depending on the length of the journey) and yelling at the other one to move because there are people behind her. You can see the fear in everyone’s eyes as you near them and the relief as you walk past their seat. Some avoid eye contact even, as if you are wild animals and you will not go near them if you don’t feel challenged. And then, as you approach your seat you see the panic in everyone’s eyes. Yes they may try to disguise it with nervous smiles. But their eyes say it all.

For the next X hours you smile nervously at those around you while apologising for the car and food that is thrown at their head, the toy thrown under their seat that they have to pick up 20 times, and the screaming and the crying (and not just the children’s). Eventually, you land exhausted, with wrappers of candy and crumbs all over the floor and apologise one last time to everyone in the seats in front , next to and behind you. They say politely “they weren’t that bad,” and the really nice people  say “we’ve all been there dear.” But you can see the relief in their eyes and even some candy stuck in their hair from one of the many battles during the flight.

Without kids

You smile politely at the person next to you, chat for a few minutes and open your book. The only time you apologise to them is if they have an aisle seat and you need to go to the bathroom.

Arriving at destination

With kids

At the very least, you arrive exhausted and a little broken, wondering what [the fuck] you were thinking doing this with kids and dreading the flight back home. Worst case scenario (and I am speaking from personal experience) you have been puked and/or pooped on, you have no clean clothes for yourself because you didn’t think of that possibility when packing the bag of tricks.

Without kids

You arrive refreshed and excited for the vacation. Your only problem is that you finished your book on the flight here. But you can buy a new one at the airport on the way back.