Written by Bébé Voyage resident sleep expert, Aimi Palmer
I have just returned from a weekend trip to the UK from Chicago with my husband for a friend’s wedding. As this was a weekend trip, my parents kindly offered to look after our two daughters so that we didn’t have to put them through a weekend of little sleep and over stimulation seeing friends. Plus, who wouldn’t take up the offer of a weekend without kids to catch up with close friends and have a good party?
Packing my bags, I was so excited to be putting in clothes that were dry-clean only, as I didn’t have to worry about snotty noses, sickness or my children’s drool. Uncomfortable high heels and hand luggage only! No worries about whether we should gate check the stroller or concerns about the car seats being at the other end when we land.
As the weekend trip progressed, I quickly came to realize that traveling without kids may have fewer perks than I initially thought. Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing spending some time with my husband without having my name chanted on repeat for either a snack, potty break or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. But by the end of the trip I decided that traveling with kids has more going for it than you would think. Here is my list of reasons behind this decision:
1. Getting to the Airport was Surprisingly Stressful
We always drive to the airport so that we have the car seats with us rather than dealing with the train or fitting the seats into a taxi. We ordered an uber and the driver followed his google maps. We hit bad traffic pretty much straight from our house and he didn’t know the area well enough to go through the back roads to the highway. Had we driven ourselves we would have made it to the airport much quicker. As it happened we thankfully still had time to make our flight. Stressful, though.
2. Making our Way Through Security Was Faster but Miserable, All the Same!
On this occasion we made it through the airport in record time. Of course. The time we didn’t have the children to keep occupied is the fastest time we sped through security on record. Although it was nice not having to empty my bag and have fruit pouches and water bottles checked by security, we did encounter some miserable people that just wanted to get through and onto their flight. Needless to say, no one, including the TSA was charmed into a smile by a traveling married couple (where was my daft 2-year-old pulling silly faces when I needed her!).
3. Boarding the Plane Last Means Losing Track of Carry-Ons (And Annoying Other Passengers)
With children, we board first, get settled and get all the fun stuff out of the way (pressing every button we can find) before everyone else boards. The added bonus of this is that if you have hand luggage you know your bags will be above your head. So if you need anything you don’t have to disturb the people three rows back and when you land, you won’t have to cause chaos to get your bags back. On our return trip, our bags were two rows back so we had to frustrate a lady, who was already in a rush, to get our bags. Oops – sorry if you are reading this and remember us 🙂
4. Aaah , Believe it or not, I Missed Wipes!
I am a clumsy person so it was inevitable that I would spill something, and on this occasion it was red wine! My first reaction was to reach for the diaper bag, get a handful of wipes and clean up my wine-stained jeans. But wait, no children – no wipes! That’s right, my obnoxious self made sure I packed nothing children-related which meant continuing the journey in wet, stained jeans.
5. No Children Meant We Didn’t Get the Friendly Attention We’re Used To
When passengers board a plane without kids they all pray (particularly on a night flight) that they don’t sit next to a family with a child that will cry all night. We too were walking on wishing for this. Flying without the kids would mean we could eat our food hot, watch a movie and not spend 8 hours walking the aisles. But we quickly realized that we missed the attention and friendliness of everyone. Usually people comment on how cute the girls are or how well-behaved they are and we tend to end up having great conversation with strangers. Instead, it was just my husband and I commenting on other people’s children and how well-behaved they were, and no communication with anyone else on the flight.
6. I Actually Got Bored!
Our return flight was a day flight which I always dread as we need to try and fit a nap in, entertain two toddlers and not cause too much chaos. It’s exhausting to say the least, and we are on countdown from five minutes after take off. But flying without kids means no distraction. I have to admit that I actually got bored during my flight. I ran out of good movies to watch, I was too tired to do any work and I had no intention of walking the aisles. The time went so slowly and I actually wished I had the kids to play games with.
7. Long Lines At Customs!
Our children are American and we are on visas in the US which means customs is a guessing game on which line we should take. We recently received our global entry to help speed customs up, but also to know we can all go in the same line and not get it wrong. However, for those without global entry and who know how bad the Chicago airport can be – with kids they usually allow you to skip the line to get through faster. Therefore kids and customs may be painful, but it’s quicker than without the kids!
8. I missed my children…
I had a wonderful weekend, seeing friends and not having to worry about a schedule and naps and being able to enjoy my food without sharing it between two little mouths. But I did really miss the girls and couldn’t wait to get home to read them a bed time story.
Next time we travel as a family, I will not complain about the difficult elements of traveling with children and enjoy the perks of having them with us.
Aimi is a British Mum living in Chicago with her husband and two fun loving girls – 3 year old Jessica and 20-month-old Lexi. After many sleepless nights she became involved in sleep training and has set up her own sleep consultancy My Little Sleeper. Aimi works with children of all ages and sleep troubles and offers a 15% discount to Club Bebe Voyage members.