Oof, hello there. We’re back. Been back since Monday morning, actually, but only just now surfacing. It’s been a crazy week of re-entry, jet-lag, and Thanksgiving. But I wanted to write about our travel experiences before the memory completely escaped me. Part 1: loooooooong airplane travel.
When M and I got married, we considered going to Hawaii. Cliche, perhaps, but there’s a reason for that! Ultimately, we decided it was entirely too far to travel from Boston, especially since we didn’t have two weeks to spend there. Thus, the prospect of going this time, now with a pair of three-year-olds in tow, was a little daunting. Most terrifying of all was the length of the plane travel. But, when your dad calls and says we’re all taking a big family trip to Hawaii, do you really turn that sort of thing down? Hell no.
Our particular flight configuration had us flying from Boston to Chicago (~2 hours), and then getting on the long-haul flight direct from Chicago to Honolulu with the rest of my family (just over 9 hours). We left our house at 5AM Eastern time, and arrived in Hawaii at about 3PM local time (8PM Eastern time). 15 hours of travel, more than 11 of which was in the air.
It was brutally long, especially back in cattle-class, where we were crammed in to the least amount of space possible, and the flight attendants treated everyone like a major inconvenience (thanks, United! Friendly skies, my ass). But we survived without major incident. Here’s how I think we managed it:
- Don’t underestimate the excitement factor of going on vacation. Having something fabulous waiting at the end goes a long way to getting everyone started out in a reasonably good mood.
- Snacks, galore. While they are nice enough to let you buy overpriced food on board [grumble grumble], my kids were clearly not going to go for the Thai Chicken Wrap. I had a big bag of favorite snacks and treats. Yes, it meant we were a little short on eating meals of real substance, but at least no one was starving.
- Screen time. I have long maintained that travel is not the time to limit exposure to TV, movies, video games, and the like. We had the DVD player, fully charged, which can get us at least two full-length movies, and maybe a few shorter shows. We had our laptops with us, which could double as DVD players in a pinch. We had our iPhones, with a few episodes of Backyardigans loaded, not to mention the highly-coveted games. Additionally, there were two movies on our flight, at least one of which was fairly kid-friendly (Despicable Me). Or, at least, kid-friendly enough that I was happy to let them watch it.
- Other activities. In addition to movies and games, we also had paper with stickers and crayons, mini-Magna Doodles, and Water WOW coloring books. Yes, this all sounds like a lot of stuff. But M and I each had large-ish backpacks, and the kids carried their own backpacks. I had minimal stuff of my own, but that’s alright.
- Extra people. While I’ve gotten pretty comfortable in flying solo with my kids, I would avoid doing so on such a long flight if at all possible. Being able to pass them off to my siblings or my parents was a nice way to kill another 15 minutes or so.
This being a daytime flight, unfortunately there was very minimal sleeping. I think Rebecca took a bit of a nap, but there was no way Daniel was going down. Still, we survived, and when we got off that plane (in 80-degree weather), my pair and their 2.5-year-old cousin were positively bouncing off the walls. The 9-month-old was a little dazed, but also happy to be free.
The flight back was a rather different beast, as it did not leave until 5PM. Ah yes, the red-eye. Our strategy was to let them watch a movie as soon as we were airborne, and then attempt to get them to sleep the rest of the way. VERY mixed results, and a matched set of unfortunate potty accidents (don’t forget the extra clothes!). But at least it was dark, they dozed, and heading east with the jetstream makes the flight almost an hour and a half shorter. Bleary-eyed and desperate to be home (a day late, but at least we weren’t throwing up anymore), the 8-hour red-eye, two-hour layover, and two-hour flight back to Boston were just kind of an exhausted blur.
I’ll talk in another post about the good and bad of jet lag. But the long flights were the parts of this trip I dreaded the most, and while they weren’t exactly a barrel of laughs, we survived them without killing each other. That’ll go down as a success in my book.