Yes, we are those crazy people who have three small children and decide to fly them across the world over Christmas break to be with our family.
First of all, our family is amazing. All of them. We love them and miss them and want our children to have our extended family in their hearts and know them as they grow. So visits like this have always been our number one priority.
Usually when going home Patrick and I travel separately. I usually go first with the kids for a few weeks so we can extend our time home. This time, because the kids are in school and because we have three kids now, I didn’t think it was a good idea for me to leave early without him. So Patrick took all three weeks off and we all traveled together. Here is how it went down:
Patrick, “I want to save the $1,200 and keep Jude as a lap infant.”
Kim, “Um… ok but that is all on you. I will not deal with him.”
Patrick, “No problem. I’ll deal with him. I’ll chase him up and down the aisles.”
Kim, “The flight from London is 10 hours…. and he’ll be 18 months by then…”
Patrick, “No problem.”
So we did it, we bought tickets for us, Aydan, Drake and Jude was a lap infant. I ordered our tickets early enough with British Air that we were able to secure the bulk head and bassinet seat for Jude. I made sure to order the kids meals and my gluten free meal. Everything was set. Our itinerary was nearly perfect: GVA-LHR (4 hour layover) LHR – SEA. Total time: 15 hours. Simple. We’d leave Geneva after breakfast and be in Tacoma in time for dinner.
I’m going to make this long story extremely short:
Our 10 o’clock flight from Geneva to London was delayed 4 hours due to fog. All four of those hours we sat on the plane. No food was given to us. Thankfully I’d packed a full lunch for the kids just in case this happened. As soon as we landed at Heathrow we found out our flight to Seattle just left. We spent the next 4 hours in Heathrow with no food or water trying to:
- Rebook to still get to Seattle that day. *We had planned for Jude to be dedicated at our church on Sunday morning, so if we couldn’t get to Seattle that day we’d miss that event where we were going to have an after party and see people we wouldn’t get to see for three years.
- Rebook for the same flight a day late. After not being able to find any way to get to Seattle that day we needed to be sure we were rebooked for the BA flight the next day. Once we were rebooked we found out we lost out on the bulkhead… 10 hours in a middle seat with an 18 month old…
- Track down our luggage. After checking baggage claim, we quickly gave up on this and decided that we’d just be without luggage in Seattle until ours found us.
- Book a hotel… this was almost impossible. The BA rep told us that Heathrow usually lands around 69 flights an hour each day. This day they were only landing 24 an hour… so you can imagine what finding a hotel was like.
- Get some dinner (yes we left our house at 8:15AM… the flight to London was only an hour and we did so much that it was already dinner time.)
- Get a taxi. This took us over an hour of standing outside in the taxi cue in freezing weather. I was very grateful that I decided not to at the last moment throw the kids’ coats into the checked luggage.
- Fall into bed in our hotel rooms… no first we needed to get three kids settled into bed… then we could sleep.
The next morning was good. We wandered around the area a bit then slowly made our way to the airport. The flight was on time. It took just under 10 hours. Jude was crazy the whole time. He was a good boy, no crying, he just didn’t want to sit still and never slept. Patrick kept to his word and spent most of the the time chasing him around. I did give him a few longer breaks every now and then. We arrived in Tacoma just in time for dinner, a day late and missing all our luggage but happy and healthy.
Our time in Tacoma was awesome. We had a ton of family time, and saw a few friends. After a few nights there we made our way to Walla Walla for Christmas.
More travel logistics… my parents bought a car in Seattle which we tracked down from my aunt and then we were able to drive that over the pass and across the state to where my parents live in Walla Walla. This saved us $500! Thanks Mom and Dad! The drive should have taken us 4.5 hours but we stopped along the way to see family and it took us about 10 hours. The kids were troopers they loved seeing all the relatives and were very happy to finally be at Wito and Wita’s house.
Christmas in Walla Walla was perfect. It snowed before and after. My parents had a ton of fun activities for the kids and took them sledding and build ramps for the sleds. Then on Christmas morning we were all VERY surprised by my brother and his girlfriend who flew on the 11PM flight to Walla Walla the night before. I’ve never had a happier Christmas morning. The kids loved opening all the gifts and playing with all the toys and having the family around was perfect. We hadn’t been home for Christmas in 7 years!
After a great New Years we made the trip back across the state… again pulling off logistical issues to save more money on a rental car. This trip was also long because of the snow. But it was great being back in Tacoma. The kids got a ton of time with their grandparents and cousins and before we knew it it was time to head back to Geneva.
Thankfully the flights went off without a hitch and Jude slept for the first three hours of the long flight! We were home in about 13 hours.
- iPads and great headphones for the kids are a must.
- When you are delayed and everyone around you is freaking out and there are literally fist fights happening inside of elevators you are on… just remember, your kids are watching you. If you remain cool, they will usually remain cool as well. I’m so grateful that my husband and I handle travel stress the same. We just calm down, be kind and work out what needs to be worked out. There is no yelling. No getting angry with the airport staff. We don’t stress out running around trying to figure things out without thinking through all the options. We slow down, check the kids and their needs and then quickly make decisions.
- Always travel with extra food.
- When given a choice, travel with BA. Even though this whole mess happened because of weather we were still reimbursed all our hotel costs, taxi costs, and food. The reimbursement was quick as well.