traveling with kids – when the wheels come off the bus

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As much as I have traveled with my two kids, once in a while, things still go sideways.  Perhaps that is what I love about travel…..the element of surprise.  Yesterday I traveled with my two kids from North America to Paris.  Normally my husband would join us but unfortunately his eye fell out this summer (retina detachment) rendering him unable to fly.  This new development of single parent travel had me on a mission to be even more prepared than usual.  The words my father spoke to me so often growing up were running through my head as I packed  – Preparation is the key to success !  and Failing to plan is planning to fail ! We would be ready for anything !

Well, inevitably, we made it.  I write this post from a  lovely little vacation rental apartment in Le Marais, Paris, while my two jet lagged kids sleep quietly on the sofa bed beside me.  Our journey, however, was not without incident.  My first mistake was to make the decision that my 5 year old should no longer use a sippy cup on the plane.  She stopped using them years ago for daily usage, but I like them for planes because my kids often bump those flimsy tray tables with their knees. You can see where this is going, right?  It took my daughter all of 30 minutes into a 9 hour flight to soak her clothes in apple juice. There were a few tears (not by me thankfully) but I was thrilled to be able to pull out the set of back up clothes for my sopping wet child. Finally…..I’d been able to use these darn things I’d been toting around for years on trips.

Thankfully….lightening doesn’t strike twice, right?  Turns out it does actually.  8 hours in, my daughter starts saying “Mommy…..I feel sick”.  I scramble for a motion sickness bag (folks, check these in advance – turns out not every seat has one).  Like a champion, my daughter manages to silently empty the contents of her little tummy into the bag.  A few wet wipes and a Ziploc bag later and we are as good as gold.  I, however, have added something to my exhaustive list of flight preparations…..check seats for air sickness bags (or BYOB).  On a side note, perhaps someone for the airline industry can explain to me why these bags look like they have been rinsed out and recycled or something?

When we arrive, exhausted, at our rental apartment, despite very detailed instructions by the owner, the key is not in an unlocked mailbox as expected… is in a locked box.  8pm on a Sunday night, 2 tired kids, 1 tired mom.  3 bags, 3 backpacks = the urge to sit on the ground and weep.  Somehow I manage to pull a contortionist move and squeeze my hand into a little hole above the mailbox and successfully retrieve the key.  Another surge of adrenalin – I am feeling unstoppable !  Throw me another curve ball world, I am ready !

One hour later, armed with my list of top restaurants in Le Marais, we are out to grab a quick bite before bed.   A few blocks, a right turn that should have been a left, and I am taking my young children on a stroll down a lovely block full of peep show establishments.  I believe in really getting to know a neighborhood, but this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. “Why yes, the people are naked kids ! “.   Eventually, however, we stumble across a perfect (and very family friendly) pizza place, where I quite promptly guzzle a glass of wine (or was it two?).  Food in our bellies, gelato in hand, we stroll home and collapse into our beds.

It is now day two, and after a 5 hours sleep and a cup of coffee, I am fully optimistic that I can get it right today.


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