Last month we visited Hawaii for a week with our extended family and we had a great time. I was hoping RB40 Jr. would enjoy the trip and it went off without a hitch. We used to travel much more, but when we had a kid, we decided to put off traveling until he can enjoy it too. He’s 3 now and it’s so much easier to travel long distance with him.
On the other hand, my brother’s kid is not even a year old and he already been to New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Hawaii (twice), and Vancouver BC. Wow, that’s a lot of traveling for the little guy. Actually, he did very well on this trip too. He enjoyed the beach and the adults had a lot of fun with the baby.
3 is the magic number
I think 3 is the perfect age to start traveling long distance. The only thing we had to bring with us was the car seat. And we didn’t even have to lug it along if we were willing to pay $12/day to rent a car seat. My brother on the other hand, had to bring diaper, wipes, baby food, formula, bottles, and a bunch of baby accessories. It was much easier for us to pack because RB40 Jr. eats regular food and he doesn’t need special pants or anything like that.
Well… Here is a story for you. We rented a house in Hawaii because we had 8 people total. It’s much cheaper than hotels when you have a bigger group. The three of us shared a big bed and Jr. slept in the middle. One night at 2 am, I groggily pushed the soggy sheet away and thought why is Jr. drooling so much? Wait a minute, why are my shorts and shirt all wet? Wake up mama! Jr. wet the bed for the first time in his life…. This was really surprising because he never wet his bed before. We put plastic sheeting down when he was potty training, but his bed was always dry in the morning. I guess had too many activities that evening and the kid forgot to go potty before hitting the hay. Luckily, the bed had extra padding so the mattress didn’t get soaked. Now, we just make sure to remind him to do his business before going to bed.
Anyway, packing for this trip was great because we didn’t have to check anything. We all just took carryon bags and that was it.
Last year we took a short flight to the Bay area and Jr. liked it so that was a good test run. The flight to Hawaii was much longer at around 6 hours. That’s a long time for a super active little boy and I was dreading that he’d be running up and down the aisle. Surprisingly, he did really well and sat in his seat pretty much the whole flight. We got some crayons from the hostess and that kept him occupied for a bit. We read the in-flight magazines. He liked the aircraft safety card and wanted to go down the evacuation slide. We also looked at all the pictures in our great guide book – Hawaii The Big Island Revealed. He got obsessed with the lava and really enjoyed learning about volcanoes. He also fell asleep for about 90 minutes so that really helped too.
Our flight back to Portland left at 11 pm so he slept the whole way though. That was even better. One girl (4 or 5 year old) screamed her head off for like 3 hours until she fell asleep from exhaustion. Poor kid probably had an ear pressure issue or something like that. All in all, it went off much better than I expected.
I think the key for us was we expected a relaxing vacation. When we didn’t have a kid, our vacation days were full of activities. This trip, we usually went to visit various places in the morning, and then came back to the rental to rest in the early afternoon. We went out for a short excursion in the evening a few times, but usually we just hung out at the pool and took it easy. We didn’t do long hikes or anything like that because it’s tough with 2 kids in the group.
Another big difference between 1 and 3 year old is the ability to leave our kid with the family for a bit. One day, we took a helicopter tour and the rest of the family went to explore Hilo. At 1 or 2 year old, it would have been a lot more difficult for Jr. to let us go for a couple of hours.
This trip went really well and I’m excited about the possibility of even longer trips in the future. Next year, I want to go to Thailand for a couple of months and bring Jr. to meet all his relatives. That will be a really long flight, but I think we’ll be able to do it. I want to take these extended trips before he starts grade school because I don’t really want to pull him out of school for 2 months. I guess we could go during the summer break, but everything is so much more expensive in high season.
So do you travel internationally with your children? Please share your experience so we can be more prepared for our future oversea trips.