I´ve published this post a while ago, when Lu was still much younger and have updated it now that we have more travel experiences. At the moment we have a good balance of travelling just us two and travelling with Lu as a family, so the difference is even more present sometimes. But he´s also 8 years old now and a very big boy already so we have no problems what so ever. Honestly we also never had many to start with. I´ve written this post with the intention to make you laugh so please don´t take it too personally. But, there is surely some truth in in it as well and some of you might relate to some situations described below. I suggest you read first the “without the kids” side and then click on the right side for the “with the kids” version.
On the plane
After a stressful week at work you are finally sitting on the plane. You open the inflight magazine and search for the “movies” section. Then you exchange some friendly words with the person sitting next to you, turn off your phone and you are all set for the long flight. The moment the stewardess comes down the aisle with drinks you order your second Bloody Mary (you had the first one already at the airport). The chances you will fall asleep after you had the first meal are big and before you know it, you have reached your destination.
You almost miss the flight because the packing at home took ages, you forgot something and had to drive back and on top of that you were stuck in traffic five kilometres before the airport. There is no time for a Bloody Mary, you go directly to the boarding gates. Guests travelling with children can board first, but you are late anyway, so that doesn´t really help you. When you find your seats, there is no place for your hand luggage, well, because you were late. Finally you manage to sit down. If your child is under 2 years of age, he can travel for free and can sit in your lap. In this case the parents cannot eat the food at the same time, because one of you has no space for putting down the tray table. If your child has his own seat you spend about 10 minutes persuading him that the seat belt is not something he needs to buckle, because he did something wrong, but because it is good for his safety. Finally you are all sitting like you should. People around you start giving you weird looks, so you just don´t talk to them. You remember, that you forgot to put your phone off. Somehow you entertain your child until the drinks come. You do not order alcohol, because people might give you even worse looks. Every now and then you excuse your child´s behaviour for kicking the front seat. You draw straws with your husband, to decide who goes for a diaper change in the ridiculously small toilet. I don´t have to mention, you don´t have time to watch the movies, right? Your child finally falls asleep in your lap, but then you suddenly feel the need to visit the bathroom. Dilemma! The bladder pain prevents you from sleeping. Somehow you get through all of it it and as soon as the plane lands you start enjoying your trip.
In the car
Singing to loud music while your feet are hanging through the window on a hot summer day, your husband/boyfriend is driving and you check the map every now and then. It doesn´t even matter if you get lost, you are on an adventure and the main thing is – you are there together.
All the windows are closed – you do not want someone to catch a cold, do you? Your feet are sweating, but you do not want to turn the AC on full power. Instead of Tracy Chapman you are listening to desperate crying sounds of your child, while he is trying to free himself from the car seat belts. You offer him some food and he calms down for a while. You read books to him. You hide behind your seat and then scare him with a sudden turn accompanied with a lion roar imitation. He will laugh, but your husband might just drive the car into a ditch, because you will unintentionally scare the hell out of him also. You stop playing hide and seek for everyone´s sake and persuade your child to watch other cars on the road through the window. You remember to check the map. You see that you forgot to take a turn and you are now heading in the wrong direction. Your husband turns the car around and drives very fast because he wants to make up for the lost time. Your child falls asleep because he likes fast driving. You turn the radio on. In best case scenario, a song from Tracy Chapman comes on, you hold your husband´s hand for a moment and nostalgically think about the old times.
You take a towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, a book, phone and money, head to the beach and find a great spot in the sun. You take out your book and start reading. You go for a swim. You continue reading. You feel hungry, so you go for some delicious fish snack and drink a glass of white wine or a beer. You return to your towel and are too lazy to read, so you fall asleep. You turn yourself around eventually – you want your tan to be even. You read and swim some more. You stay on the beach until sunset, drinking another beer before going out for dinner.
You take: sunscreen for your child, swim helpers, hats, many towels, fruits and healthy snacks, 3 different swim suits, toys to play with in the sand, camera, at least one inflatable animal, maybe also a small boat and a tent to keep safe from the sun. You search for a spot in the shade. You forget YOUR sunscreen, but who cares about the tan now. You play with your child in the shallow water for hours. You get sunburned. As soon as you start swimming out into the open sea, your child starts screaming in panic because he thinks you are abandoning him, so you quickly return to the shore. You don´t sleep and you did not pack the book anyway. You leave the beach before sunset. Your child is too tired to walk after all that fun in the water. You carry him. He is getting tired and hungry. Nobody feels like going out for food, so you have to cook dinner.
After a lazy breakfast you head to the first museum, so that you do not have to wait in a long line. You walk around the town for hours, visiting every gallery you see. You go to an Indian restaurant for lunch and cocktails in the evening.
Your child wakes you up at 6:30. He is starving, but the breakfast is not serving yet, so you give him some bread leftovers from the bakery. He eats them all so while you are eating breakfast later on, he is already full and is all the time complaining that he wants to go out. You do not go to museums. You go to parks and playgrounds. You stop every now and then for about five minutes because your little one has spotted an ant colony, is chasing pigeons, stares at other children, has to investigate every trash bin he comes across or wants to take a swim in a fountain. You go to an Italian restaurant, because your child only eats pasta bolognese and watch TV in the hotel room in the evening.
Winter skiing holidays
You wake up, eat your breakfast, ski for some hours, eat your “Germknödel”, ski some more, take a shower, go for dinner, drink some wine, go to sleep. On repeat for the next 5 days.
In the morning you need 15 minutes to dress your child. By the time he is ready to go, you are all sweaty and have to change your clothes. You go to the children ski slopes area. He has so much clothes on that he moves like a robot. Every 10 minutes you check if he is too warm or too cold. At least three other kids have the same winter overall on, so from a distance you don´t really see which one is yours. Going for a toilet with him will cost you 20-30 minutes. If you are lucky he will not have an accident while you are waiting in the line, otherwise you have to return to your apartment to change all his clothes. He loses his hand gloves. For the fifth time this month.
You take your time, you eat slowly and drink wine. You order something spicy. You speak about what you will do the next day. Occasionally you throw a glance at table No. 3 (older couple, she stares at the flowers on the table, he takes a sip of wine, they don´t talk) and table No. 7 (family with 2 loud kids throwing spaghetti around, parents are nervous, a plate just fell and broke). You wander if this is what is coming your way in the next years. Then you say to your partner: “We will never be like that, will we?” You drink more wine.
You are too busy feeding your child, so before you can eat, your food is cold. You order something he will like also, so you can share the meal, therefore nothing spicy. You only drink one glass of wine. You talk about various strategies on how to put your child to sleep once you are back at the apartment. One of you must visit the toilets in order to change the diaper. Instead of eating a dessert you quickly analyse the poop colour, pay the bill and carry the child to bed.
You go for a walk on the beach after dinner, watch a movie or spend the night out partying and drinking. You sleep good and most importantly, as long as you want.
You spend at least an hour to get the child to sleep. You try everything, but nothing helps. So you just lay down with him in your bed. Accidentally you fall asleep also. You wake up at 2AM because you are hungry. You stand up and drink a glass of water. When you come back you only have about 20 cm space on your side of the bed. Somehow you manage to roll the child over and gain 10 more centimetres. You wake up in the morning with a serious neck pain.
So, which option do you prefer? I think once you have experienced the “with kids” one, you learn how to appreciate the “without kids” one even more. As I said, we often take time just for the two of us, and that´s a great thing. Use it, if you ahve the chance.