Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Travelling alone with kids, halfway around the world, enjoyable or not?

There are many people that tell me that they'd love to come to Japan, but they just couldn't bear the thought of the long flight. Are you afraid to travel alone? Or maybe, you're not afraid to travel, but you have kids and you're afraid to travel with them? I live about 8,000 miles from home. I don't have the option of not travelling (and not alone either)- but I do have the luxury of travelling with four small kids (now age 2-7), when I started it was age 4 months- 3 years. Yes, imagine boarding a plane with a baby in hand, 2 toddlers in tow, a diaper bag swaying from your arm, and three car seats- dangling one from each arm, and one strapped to your back. Makes travelling alone seem like a breeze (I wouldn't know and I'm sure I won't know for some time). People are always asking me "how do you do it?", "why do you do it?".

For some reason, this trip back, I had the idea to buy a cheap watch (of course digital and spider man - so I could give it to my 5 year old who is learning to tell time-this made the flight even more fun, as I was constantly asked "can I have my watch yet, is it mine now?")- and I used the watch to keep a timeline of the events that unfolded from door to door on our trip from Massachusetts back to Japan. Now, I won't bore you with the entire 4 page spread, but I did photograph it, so if you are bored, (or travelling)- and you are looking for something to read, it is here for your enjoyment. I will however make a list of some of the highlights of my trip:

1) Leaving the house at 2:37 AM to head for the airport, nothing like stirring up a perfect situation for happy travelling children.

2) Checking in over 15 bags, including our 4 carseats (yes, for the first time ever, I did not take a car seat on the plane, I felt sort of naked).

3) Spending 8 hours and 5 minutes (to be exact) in 4 different airports in 3 different countries.

4) Having to go through customs and immigration 5 different times.

5) Using an airplane bathroom at least 15 times, yes I forgot to record a few.

6) Taking over 20 minutes to report 1 lost bag (yes, this included photocopying ALL my itineraries, my passport, EVERYTHING).

7) The taxi driver fitting all the bags in the van, including hoisting the 69 pounders up himself, and I'm sure they weighed more than him.

8) Actually being able to watch 3 20 minute TV shows that I downloaded onto my iPod touch :)

10) Finding out that China actually has a HOTTER airport than Japan, which I didn't think was possible.

11) 8 hours and 12 minutes- the amount of time Hazel the 2 year old slept for the duration of the 31 hour and 19 minute trip. And she arrived home in good spirits!

12) Surviving on 5 hours of sleep in 48 + hours and still having patience left in my pocket.

13) ZERO- the number of complaints I got about my kids and the number of minutes that I was bored.


  1. OH. My. Gosh. Can I EVER relate to your post. I've lived in Saipan for 30 years. I used to travel from here to Wisconsin to see my family at least 2x a year when they were little. At that time we only had an island hopper flight out of Saipan. It took about 13 hours just to get to Honolulu (now a days with the 747 it takes about 7 and a half). The island hopper stopped on every small island between here and Hawaii...it was HELL. AND it was a small plane-2 seats on both sides-your head almost hit the ceiling when you stood up. Yep...I can really appreciate this post..brought back memories!

  2. I will remember this next time I complain about bringing my kids to Shaws with me! :)

  3. Oh my gosh, I CANNOT imagine taking that island hopper. You must have had every pocket full of patience :)

  4. I love how you find humor in all things! Travelling with kids could be quite a nightmare, I know. I remember before I was a parent I'd do ANYTHING not to be seated next to kids (and somehow always found myself next to them - the irony of life, I guess), but now that I am a mother of three, I sure can appreciate how difficult it is to actually fly them around the globe. At some point my husband and I just took turns in standing next to the toilets so the kids can always have a chance to go if they had to... was this too much? I'm not sure I care. Just wanted to get home in peace. :)

  5. omg....you are well organized.....this makes me happy
    because i am planning to travel with my baby and 4yrs old........
    it's a challenge for me.......i think i can do it now......