What's one of the funniest experiences (good or bad) you’ve had traveling with kids?
Well, it wasn't funny at the time, but after travelling with our 15 mo for 25 hours from Canada to Vietnam, and waiting at customs for over an hour to get our "pre-approved" Visas stamped, we left the stroller at the airport! I had to go back the next day and was escorted by armed guards back into the arrivals area to claim my stroller - which was the only one there, by the way. Very few sidewalks in Vietnam!
We were flying to CA while I was breastfeeding our second daughter, Lucy. I had a bottle of breastmilk with me that the flight attendant graciously heated for me. I was standing in the galley and uncapped the bottle. Because of pressure some milk squirted out and sprayed a businessman waiting for the bathroom. It got on his hand. He shrugged, smiled and then LICKED IT OFF. He said, "Yum, just right!" and had no idea it was my breastmilk. I just about wet my pants. What a nice man!
As we were beginning our 18 hour, 3 leg journey from Burlington to Maui with our 4 and 1 year old, my husband chooses the breakfast of champions -- a jelly donut. Sitting on my lap, my one year daughter is cuddled up with her blankie (a.k.a. "toe-toe") and bottle ready for take off and a long nap when she spies the donut. She must, must have a bite. Well wouldn't you know it, she gets the center bite. The one with the ooey-gooey, jelly dripping out of it and right on to her blankie. Now we have 17 and 1/2 hours to go with no "toe-toe". Not the best beginning to a trip we've ever had. Looking back now we laugh, but not so much at the time.
A visit to Versailles, one of the most famous sites of the French Revolution. The kids were so cranky and inclined to disagree that we felt like we were experiencing our own mini French Revolution. It wasn't funny while we were living it but now as we look back on the pictures it is at least memorable and the looks of torture on their faces make us laugh.
Funniest and most exasperating took place a couple of weeks ago on a trip to the USA. After stopping at a nearby diner for a quick potty break, buckling them back into their seats and setting off on the highway, my youngest (2.5 years old) announced that she had to go pee yet again. 10 minutes later after stopping in a nearby town for another bathroom break she made another pee announcement and we stopped AGAIN (3rd time in 30 minutes). Luckily that was it until we made our destination but at the time it was quite humorous. At 9 months pregnant, buckling your child in and out and taking them in and out of bathrooms can get....tiring. ;)
Our funniest experience is an ongoing one... it happens every time that we tell people that our family of 13 is "homeless"; that we live in our rv! :) Some people don't believe us, some think we are crazy, and some feel sorry for us either because they think we are crazy or that we 'have' to live in an rv for financial reasons. We have had so many funny experiences on the road - it's been a trip ;)
Although it's unlikely to ever make the international adoption handbook, our first trip as a family of 4 began less than an hour after we met our youngest son. After a 2yr wait, scheduling and circumstance conspired to put our newly formed family in the back of a Qualis hurtling at top speeds through the curvy jungle roads of Southern India. Since the newest addition to our family had rarely experienced road travel what happened next should have come as no surprise but I'm embarrassed to admit that we were all absolutely astounded and unprepared when our little guy threw up the ENTIRE length of the 1.5 hour journey. Despite 4+ years of solid parenting experience I teetered on the brink of tears the entire ride, convinced that our youngest would always associate us with dry heaves. Luckily our younger son remembers very little of this trip but it did make a big impression on our older son-the onlooker-who loves to bring up his younger brother's shockingly weak stomach whenever possible.
This is a "funny after the event" experience. We spent an afternoon snorkelling on a remote spot on the Red Sea (Egypt) with a group of friends. There was a camel nearby and my husband took our 11 month old daughter over to have a closer inspection. The owner of the camel asked us if we’d like a photo of her with the camel while it was sitting. "sure" we thought, "why not?". BUT then without warning he climbed on the camel and commanded it to stand with our precious cargo tucked under his arm! Apparently to show her off to the nearby villagers. We had a good laugh about it later, but my heart was beating quickly at the time watching my precious baby trot off on a camel.
About five months after our epic, month-long trip to India, we went to Boston for the weekend. It was our first hotel stay since returning. When we got in the hotel room, Mirielle sat on the bed, picked up the remote from the tray, and asked, "Mom, can I watch Rama?"
I laughed, loud. Before our India trip it was, "Can I watch PBS Kids?" But clearly, letting her watch the local cartoons in India did have an impact. Also it was a reminder that even for a world traveled American preschooler, her favorite things about travel are TV, swimming pools, and breakfast buffets.
We arrived in Railay,Thailand without a room reservation. The search for accommodation, laden down, with luggage was hot work. So Luca and I guarded the bags at a cafe/bar while Phil continued the search solo. We ordered two 7-Up's eschewing Luca's usual fruit juices for something easier on his tummy as he'd had a few days of “Thai belly”. Our drinks arrived bedecked with a slice of lime, a flower and, as always, with any drink in Thailand, a straw. Luca and I, both thirsty from our exertions, began to quaff. I did think that perhaps my 7-Up tasted a bit odd but it was Luca who said - “Mama, WHAT is in this?”. While taking another sip, I replied with a confused look “Hmm..I don't know. Maybe it's the lime or....” while, mentally, the penny had started to drop. Our drink was a draft. At the same time the barman, noting my bewilderment, came over to confirm that we were both drinking Vodkas and 7-Up! My 2 year old son and I. From a straw. “Woops!” is probably a massive understatement!
Our family adventure holiday to Iceland with our 11 year old son was a mixture of thrills and spills: being soaked to the skin whilst horse-riding, having our white-water rafting trip changed from a gentle Grade 1 paddle to a Grade 3 glacial torrent, snow-mobiling on a glacier and being hideously seasick on a whale-watching expedition. I laugh now but at the time I vowed in future to avoid all holiday activities with hyphens in them!
My funniest (and worst) experience traveling had to be arriving at a "luxury" apartment that we had rented for a month in Boston. Our son Tommy was one and we just starting a grand 13-month traveling adventure with all the foolish optimism we could muster.
The landlord greeted us at the door with an oily smile. The first thing I saw was a wide opening leading to a steep set of stairs. They were unfinished and dirty. We had no safety gate—it hadn’t fit in our car. Tommy had learned to walk the previous week.
Despite the fact that it was June, the landlord was intent on showing us the gas fireplace (he made no mention of air conditioning, a calculated omission).
I glanced in the kitchen cabinets and saw stacks of saucers but only one pot. A cigarette butt sat at the bottom of the garbage can. In the bathroom a ponytail holder hung on a hook in the shower and the bathmat was dirty. Before I could say anything, the landlord’s phone rang and he vanished without saying good-bye. Needless to say, it was an interesting month.
On our trips together we find we always laugh more than we do at home. This is partly due to being out of our depth culturally, and partly due to bonding and shared experiences. We also find its important to see the funny side of things in adverse circumstances. Like trying to meet up the with the van driver who would transport our bikes home at the end of the trip in Venice, where neither bikes or vehicles are permitted to enter. Or finding out I was pregnant two months in to a year long cycle trip of New Zealand, Samoa and The States. Often the children bring their own comedy; and they always bring, or collect their own toys; like the three kilogrammes of stones we had to lug around the Baltics. This year we have 18 smurfs hanging off our handlbars. Life is a comedy; you just have to see it that way.
The first time we traveled to China, we were very taken aback by the sheer number of people that wanted to say hello to our son. Blonde hair and blue eyes is a dime a dozen in the States. In China, he was quite unique. I was hesitant at first. What did these people want with my son? Nothing. They just wanted to shake his hand and say hi. Something that started out as a bit odd turned into the best part of our trip. We met so many more people than any other trip we had taken. By the end of our trip we had him posing like a pro with all of his many fans. We learned a valuable lesson- our son was a door into local life. Instead of standing back and watching the others around us, he threw us right into the mix with his curiosity and cuteness.
We've traipsed all over with our little ones, but one of the funniest memories is of my son when we visited Walt Disney World. At only 20mos he was a big fan of Cinderella. In the Rose Garden he tried to plant one on her with his face covered in drool and his nose running. He screamed with delight when we had the Cinderella character meal at 1900 Park Fare. Who would have thought our Cars-crazed toddler would be more excited than his big sister to see a princess?!
Other highlights include making friends with everyone wherever we go. And, dancing. There is always lots of dancing whenever we go away!
I have been very fortunate in that both of my daughters were good airplane travelers from the time that they were infants, however, both have been bothered from time to time by ear pain when the plane is descending. On one occasion when my older daughter was about 3 years old we were flying to Prince Edward Island and after an uneventful flight the plane started to descend and Katie's ears started to hurt. My husband and I were both trying to soothe her but she became distraught and, oblivious to the fact that we were still several thousand feet above the ground, started to yell repeatedly "I want off this plane right now"!!! At the time, I was mortified by the disturbance that she was creating but we still have a good laugh about it 11 years later.
In the summer of 2009, we visited Edisto Beach, South Carolina. While playing in the surf, some people near us started yelling, "Shark! Shark! Get outta the water!!" I thought they were playing a joke on us, but who really takes a chance with that? We hustled it out of the water and the people explained that they had seen TWO fins sticking out of the water, which is a hallmark of a shark since their tail fin is vertical (unlike dolphins who have a flat tail fin). Needless to say, we stayed up on the beach and played in the sand. A while later, our shark came back and actually jumped out of the water a few times....it was actually a pair of dolphins swimming close together. Best shark encounter ever!
We took all four children to London last month. My younger boys found these cool fedoras they just had to have. We thought they looked so cute cruising around Londontown in their fly hats. Then we saw our 8 year old sitting at a corner with his hat upturned trying to get people to toss in coins. Horrified, my husband asked him what the ^&*( he was thinking. He said "I see people doing it everywhere, it looks like a good way to make money."
We've had many a mishap, but one of the funniest (in hindsight) was when our son Calvin, who gets notoriously car sick, threw up in our van just miles before arriving at our destination. The smell was terrible (even after trying to clean it up roadside) but we figured we were lucky to we didn't have to put up with it for long...until we pulled into our four-star hotel and realized the only parking option was valet. We were mortified to hand over the keys, knowing what awaited the poor man!