Travel gets a lot of good press. It’s supposed to broaden horizons, engage the mind, enliven the spirit.People rhapsodize about being refreshed and revived by the experience and tend to wax poetic (often ad nauseum) about the new places they visited.
Sometimes, these people give themselves fancy monikers: they are wanders, adventurers, enlightenment-seekers, world-citizens.
They are rarely, however, parents of small children.
That’s because travelling with kids is about as far removed from the transcendental experience claimed by adventurous singletons as my $20 target diaper bag is from a Louis Vuitton tote.
Travelling with kids is many things: a multi-day marathon of misery; an extended exercise in agitation; a stressful, exhausting, crazy-making nightmare.
But rejuvenating and invigorating it is NOT.
Now I will admit that before I had children, I imagined taking my future offspring on wonderful journeys to out-of-the-way and culturally significant locales. I pictured them all smiles and sweet naps in unlikely places.
Then the hubs and I had two kids in two years and the reality of schlepping our little family anywhere more exotic than IKEA came crashing down around our ears.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Travelling with children involves spending two straight weeks beforehand attempting to pack half the stuff you own into a space a third of the size of your house (if you’re lucky), assured in the knowledge that you will forget something vital — like that beloved blankie or stuffie, or less important but still annoying: your own prescription medication.
It requires waking at some oh-dark-thirty hour for an over-priced, over-sold flight that leaves forty-five minutes late for no reason and is populated entirely by people who not just dislike, but actively despise anyone under the age of eighteen.
It means spending ridiculous amounts of money at restaurants along the way to feed said children, who, owing to equal parts tiredness and capriciousness, will turn their noses up at the proffered food as “strange” or “yucky”. “Gourmet” Mac and cheese is, I have discovered, rarely my children’s version of delectable. Instead the kids will consume their body weight in complimentary bread rolls and the French fries found under their chairs whilst you imbibe that second mimosa because it is, after all, 9.37 a.m. and you’ve been up for eight hours.
Travelling with Smalls necessitates paying as much as one would for several good bottles of wine (or in our case, half a dozen mediocre ones) in order to spend the day wandering around child-friendly attractions like zoos and aquariums. This will invariably be performed with gritted teeth and forced smiles whilst your children clamour to ignore the presence of the majestic wildlife (who are invariably sleeping, defecating, or boinking each other’s brains out) in favour of that one game on your phone you let them play with that one time at the airport when they would.not.be.quiet.
It results in sleep deprivation so epic that you are reminded of that terrible newborn/teething stage (year? Decade?) because despite your best efforts and years of attempted sleep training, your children insist on joining you in the “big bed”, whereupon they wake you every half hour with a well-placed right-hook to your jaw.
So to those kind souls who asked how our recent holiday went, you will understand when my response consists of the single-word measured assessment: tiring.
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