• A summer holiday 
  • Author avatar
    Amelia Slocombe
  • babiesblogholidaylifemotherhoodrelationshipssummer

A summer holiday 

Rock of Feather does summerWhen Arthur was 8 weeks old, we booked a holiday to see my husband's brother and his family in Houston. Yes that's right. Houston. For some reason, I didn't think it would be a better idea to try Majorca first. To at least test the waters and see how Arthur coped on a flight. Nope. I just dived in head first and booked a 10-hour flight to a destination with a 5-hour time difference.

My defence? Aside from sheer bloody stupidity, I think I justified it at the time because said holiday was not actually due to take place for another 10 months. And by that time Arthur would be just over 1 year's old.

In my sad, naive, sleep-deprived little mind, a one year old was practically an adult. And travelling with a tiny adult in tow was unlikely to prove problematic. He would definitely be walking (I have no idea why I thought that would be a positive). Eating practically everything. Possibly talking as well - at least to the extent that he would understand when I told him he had to be quiet. Yes, I know now that that sounds utterly ridiculous, but I had had very little experience of children of any age up until that point. And how completely misguided I turned out to be!

Fast forward 10 months, and my husband and I were at the airport. Equipped with enough food, formula, books, electronic devices  and cuddly toys to entertain a small toddler army. We were feeling smug. We were making the use of my BA Executive Card and had set ourselves up in a little corner of the lounge. High chair nabbed. Postman Pat on the iPad. Small barricade of furniture surrounding us to ensure that Arthur couldn't wander off anywhere. We were ready to fly!

How wrong we were. From the moment we boarded the flight, our best-laid plans crumbled. Arthur was bored after 5 minutes. He hated being strapped in. He wouldn't eat a thing. He refused to nap. He started to get overtired and cried. Then he screamed. We were only two hours in and I was contemplating suicide - if the other passengers didn't kill us first.

I'd like to say it got better from there. But it didn't. Arthur cried regardless of what we did and refused to sleep for pretty much the entire flight. When we finally arrived in Houston, they couldn't find our buggy. When we finally located it, suspiciously wet with what I can only hope was rainwater (even though it wasn't raining) we then got stuck in the immigration queue for 3 hours. My desperate pleas to the stoney faced customs officials to let us queue jump went unnoticed. There were no exceptions. No fast track. Even the BA crew (including the pilot) were in the melee with us. Something to do with a "red alert" that I can only assume was related to the rantings of some unknown terrorist making casual threats to kill us all. I probably would have welcomed it at that point to be honest.

We eventually made it through customs. Only to realise we had to get on a coach to the car rental depot. And when we got there, the cretin at the desk refused to install our car seat (hired from them) for "health and safety" reasons. So my husband had to attempt to install a seat with fixtures and fittings that bore no obvious relation to our beloved Maxi Cosi. Only he couldn't get it to work and we ended up, in our desperation, doing the unthinkable. Travelling in the 100% certainly that Arthur wasn't strapped in properly. We were terrible parents on top of everything else. Did I mention that Arthur was still screaming by the way? Like a small bald possessed chimp with anger management issues.

Anyway, 19 hours after we left the sanctuary of our house, we finally got to our rental accommodation - it was round about midnight by this point and all we wanted to do was sleep. But Arthur, now thinking it was 6am, was suddenly ready for the day. And he was not happy when we tried to tell him otherwise.

To cut a long story short, whilst it was wonderful for Arthur to meet his extended family, especially at Christmas, it made me realise that long haul travel with a toddler was an absolute no-no. Especially to a time zone that made him think it was time for bed at two in the afternoon. So I made a promise to myself that, despite my previously held belief that I would be one of those people who would remain an intrepid traveller throughout motherhood, strapping my baby to my back as we travelled all over the world, any plane journey over 4 hours was now well and truly out. At least until Arthur was a teenager.

So. Anyone reading this with a toddler contemplating a long haul holiday. Have a long hard think about it. Perhaps your child is one of those angelic types who sleeps in strange places, eats strange food, adapts to timezones without complaint and whose cry sounds like a premature kitten. If so, go for it. And, by the way, I hate you and don't want to be your friend. But if you have a toddler who is anything like my Arthur, take my advice. Go to Center Parcs.
  • Author avatar
    Amelia Slocombe
  • babiesblogholidaylifemotherhoodrelationshipssummer

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