Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Good times with my traveling kids

When writing about and preparing for airplane travel with kids, I find it's sometimes easy to just think about the difficulties and challenges that come with it. There are challenges to be sure, but there are also so many wonderful things about traveling with your children. Reading TravelToast's list today: 20 things I wish I knew before I started traveling with kids made me think of this.

What really stands out when I think back on the trips I've taken with my own family, are the small, wonderful moments that happen in the midst of everything when you're traveling or visiting a new place.

As an adult I know I sometimes get caught up in the big stuff of travel: the sights to see, the destinations to get to, and all those timetables to keep track of. Kids however will often find and show you the small wonders. To paraphrase the old saying: Travel memories are what happens while you're busy worrying about the next flight.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite moments from my travels with my own children:

Putting stickers on the luggage
For one of our earliest trips with both kids, I got out a whole whack of stickers and let the kids put them all over our suitcases. Just so they'd be easier to identify at the luggage carousel. The kids got into it heart and soul, putting sparkly stars and old left-over Star Trek stickers (don't ask) all over the bags. Some of the stickers fell off of course, but several years later most of them are still there and they do really do help make our luggage stand out!

Taking the big suitcase for a walk 
My son loves our big, green, heavy suitcase with its little leash and all its wheels. Watching this air-travel pro maneuver this over-sized piece of luggage through the airport can give me the giggles. Even if we get a replacement suitcase, I think we might just have to bring it along for my son's sake! 

Swimming in the Blue Lagoon
Our layover in Iceland was fantastic, and the visit to the hot pools of Blue Lagoon were amazing. Just hanging out in that hot water, beneath the veil of steam was a fantastic experience. The kids loved it and my daughter later imagine that dragons must live there, and I don't disagree.

Snow-days in Sweden
When we visited Sweden for Christmas 2009, there was an amazing amount of snow. It also got very cold. -20 Celsius (or colder!) for several days. Still, we did go outside. The kids bundled up so that their arms stuck straight out from their sides, making snow angels in the deep drifts, trying out their new cross-country skis, or going down a hill in the local park on a toboggan. Watching my stiff-armed, red-cheeked kids get into the fun of the snow was great. They even helped shovel snow! 

Sleeping on the plane
Last summer was the first time I traveled with my children as the only adult. I was reasonably sure it was do-able, but yes, I was somewhat anxious. And then I found myself sitting on the plane to Amsterdam, halfway through the 9 hour flight with two sleeping children, curled up beneath their blankets. Just watching the two of them sleep, leaning on me, all tucked into their seats was a great travel-moment for me. 

Watching "pooda" in Maui
Every morning when we stayed in our condo in Kaanapali, the kids would sit out on the lanai and watch the big snails crawl by in the shady garden. My daughter, who was 2 1/2 at the time, called the snails "pooda" and was completely fascinated by them. She still remembers this vividly, and it just goes to show how it's not always the big showy things like volcanoes and coral reefs and awesome beaches that stick most in the mind of your children, or you. 

Barefoot in Keflavik
On our trip to Sweden for Christmas 2009, we went through Iceland's Keflavik airport on the way to Europe and on the way back to Canada. By the time we were headed home, the children had gone through so many security checks that they had the routine down pat. While standing in line for the metal detector and hand luggage x-ray scan in Keflavik, my children were so quick taking off their coats, shoes and socks (!) and placing them all on the conveyor belt that it made the security guy laugh. Seasoned travelers to be sure! 

Rolling around in the waves of Maui
We spent a lot of time on Baby Beach, aka Pu'unoa Beach, outside Lahaina on our Maui trip with the kids. I have awesome memories of that beach, including watching my kids roll around in the waves like seal pups, laughing the whole time, while the Pacific ocean washed over them. When I went in the water on a boogie board with my son, he cracked up completely. Hey, moms should be good for a laugh, right?

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