24 April 2008

The Trials of Travelling with Toddlers

Having now made it halfway round the world and with the benefit of a a few hours sleep in a real bed, we can probably be far more objective about how we found long-haul travel with a toddler than we might have been had we written this last night.

All in all, I think we survived the ordeal quite well. We really couldn’t fault the Auckland – LA leg, as we got bulkhead seats with extra leg room and Noah was able to sleep in a bassinet, even though he was rather too big for it with feet sticking out over the edges, but he slept 8 hours of the 12 hour journey and we even managed about 6 hours ourselves. Getting through LA airport customs was an absolute doddle compared with what we had been expecting, and I think we were feeling rather pleased with ourselves after Stage 1.

We always knew Stage 2 would be a bit more trying. What with having to allow 3 hours for checking in at LA with so many additional security measures, then an 11-hour flight to Frankfurt, a 4-hour wait and then another 1.5 hour flight to Bristol, it was bound to be more of a challenge. We were pleasantly surprised and rather fortunate to get an upgrade to Business Class on the LA-Frankfurt leg, it had definitely been a factor in choosing a Lufthansa ticket as they are known to be pretty good at upgrading industry travellers and they didn’t fail to disappoint this time either! We even had a spare seat between us for Noah, so the 3 of us travelled like kings with so much space! Having said that, and this is going to sound a little ridiculous, but none of us could get comfortable on the lie-flat beds, they aren’t actually flat, and are on more of a 30 degree angle with your feet lower than your head and poor Noah kept sliding down the bed in his sleep as he moved around so we had to keep moving him up which disturbed him, and neither Mark or I got any real sleep to speak of either as it was very noisy (we were right by the galley and toilet, and there were two other young children who were up all night, and a guy behind us snoring like a freight train!). So what should have been an amazing experience didn't quite turn out to be all it was cracked up to be.

The effects of several days of travelling and time-zone changes kicked in for Noah by the time we were waiting in Frankfurt. Again we were fortunate enough to have business class lounge passes but Noah was pretty ratty by this point, and we were very conscious of trying to keep him quiet so as not to disturb all the other travellers in the lounge. It was a BIG relief to touch down in Bristol some 21 hours after setting out from our hotel in LA.

Last night Noah was awake 3-4 times as his body clock was clearly struggling with the 8-hour time-zone change from LA to England, and after surviving all the flights without the need for any drugs, we finally gave in and administer some Phenergan, as much for our sanity in trying to get a few hours unbroken sleep into all of us as for anything else.

We are very pleased that we had packed such a big arsenal of new activities for the plane, sticker books, magna doodle, fuzzy felt set, mini chalk board, videos on the iPod etc as his attention span was not particularly long on any one activity! I really sympathise with any parent who has to go on a long trip with a wee one, and hats off to any parents who are brave enough to travel with more than one child in tow at a time!
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