People say travelling long distances with children is stressful and that they wouldn’t do it. We talked so much about it before, that I almost believed it myself at the end and got really nervous.
Of course, the preparation is quite different. What to take with you? Where to stay? How much has to be fixed before you go? Quite some things to consider, which can make it harder. But at some point the departure date arrives, you pack, you go and see what happens. Some things we did, which made that day less stressful than it could have been:
Take a cab to the airport
Annika convinced me to take a cab from Soumya’s place to the airport instead of public transport, or a combination of airport taxi and public transport. And we booked one that would definitely be big enough. That was such a good decision. You get picked up when it’s about time. At least in Helsinki, where traffic is not an issue, you can be sure to arrive on time. No delays, no bus which is so full that it won’t fit your luggage. And you just have to touch your bags twice. When getting into the cab and when you arrive.
Before travelling we got a Diner’s card, which allows you access to lounges. Unfortunately not available everywhere, but if it is, it makes the stay at the airport so much more relaxed. Especially with kids. You get some food, you get some peace, you get some internet ;)
Take with you, what you can carry, but not too much…
…so that you’re still able to move. We took almost a bit too much, as we took a separate bag for Linnéa. This one we immediately forgot at Helsinki airport, so that the police came and got me into an argument. Don’t laugh about security. But it’s sometimes so hard not to. :) We packed:
- A lot of diapers. Be aware that most airport don’t sell them. They sell all kind of crap, but no diapers. If you don’t wanna rely on other parents, as we did once, take them with you.
- Extra clothes for the kids
- Food for the kids. But be aware of food regulations. In Australia we had to wait quite a bit in a queue at the airport to declare it. But there’s no way around that I guess.
- All our electronics.
All that we packed into our two Deuter trail backpacks (20 and 28 liters). If you don’t fly with one of the really cheap airlines, even the bigger one should go through as hand luggage. They are perfect, as they have quite some smaller pockets to stuff things into and you can access them from the top or from the front. This helps a lot while digging for the one spoon you swear you’ve seen a little while ago.
Hotel at the airport
You never know what happens on a trip like that. Two stop-overs, three flights of 11, 7, and 4 hours. We were arriving right after midnight. So all we didn’t wanna do is going to the city, search the place, a long drive etc. We booked our first hotel right next to the airport and were able to get there in just a couple of minutes. That there was a 24/7 supermarket right next to it, was another advantage, we didn’t know about. This I’d recommend to everybody.
Something you cannot plan, but what you should always carry with you and enforce if possible. We had quite some time in Melbourne, before our flight to Auckland was ready to depart. Almost 12 hours. On the way from Singapore to Melbourne we sat next to a mom who was travelling alone with her child and she invited us over. Immediately. That was amazing. She helped us at the airport, with the customs, the cab, etc. She introduced us as friends everywhere at the officials and made us feel welcome the moment we put our feet on Australian ground. We went to her place, she made breakfast for us. We could shower, relax, and even see the beach. Unbelievable, as we started at -15° C. Thanks a lot for making our waiting time so much more comfortable!
That being said, all in all it went pretty smoothly. The time-difference horror didn’t even appear, as Linnéa stayed awake in the plane until I think almost 4 Finnish time. And she wasn’t even cranky. Until the end she played, painted, learned letters and numbers. Amazing young girl. Then she fell nicely asleep and was almost adapted to the new rhythm. Niklas slept really nicely during the first flight, but complained a lot at takeoff of the second. Poor other travellers. But to all who had to listen to the screaming for around 15 minutes, you can be sure that the person having the kid on the lap feels worst of all. :) After that, he fell asleep for a while, but stated to be bored pretty soon after that. I had to carry him around quite a bit, but that way you start talking with the crew or other passengers. It was quite OK, even though – cannot deny it – a bit tiring. Being in Melbourne at the beach was fantastic for Linnéa and she fell asleep just before heading to the airport. There she was fitter than any of us, but then she didn’t even notice the takeoff in the plane. Me neither by the way. And a couple of hours later, we were in Auckland.