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Travelling with Tots

March 13, 2013

Forget about moving your life to an entirely different continent and culture.  Forget about leaving family and friends for at least 6 months and heading off into the unknown.  The only thing that concerned me as we approached Heathrow airport was how on earth my husband and I were going to survive the next 24 hours of travelling with a 2 year old and a 6 month old.

 My response to any stressful situation with the boys seems to be to pack for a small nuclear holocaust and therefore my hand luggage contained 2 entire packs of nappies (what if we were held over/delayed/hijacked – you wouldn’t want to run out), 2 packs of wipes, 4 changes of clothes for each of the boys, 2 entire changes of clothes for my husband and me, 12 bottles (I kid you not) of cooled boiled water and a first aid kit. My personal hand luggage was, rather optimistically, a book.  It wasn’t opened.

 As it was, the flights passed rather more peacefully than I’d expected, although not as peacefully as I’d hoped.  We’d had to get up at 3am and in my wildest dreams I thought that the early rise, combined with the drone of the jet engines and the warmth of the cabin might lull both children into a deep and lasting sleep which would carry us the length of the journey from London to Dubai.  It wasn’t to be, particularly for Son 2 (6 months) who found the whole process a little unpleasant.  He didn’t really cry, thank goodness, but he did grumble and remain unsettled despite my pulling out all the big guns (Sophie the Giraffe; The Growling Lion; and, to the undoubted dismay of my fellow passengers, my singing my way through The Seekers back catalogue which is normally a failsafe calmer). 

 Son 1, however, was having the time of his life.  He’s ever so slightly addicted to ‘Telly’ (his capital, not mine) and it is one of the banes of his little life that his mean and cruel parents limit it to an hour or so after lunch (depending on how long his brother sleeps and how many emails I have to catch up on…).  Here he was, however, on an aeroplane (thrill no. 1), with an apple juice (thrill no. 2) and being positively encouraged to sit still and watch as much TV as he could (thrills no.4 to infinity).  He immediately assumed a slouch, put on the headphones and zoned out giving my husband and I an immediate insight of how he’s going to spend his teenage years.

 We arrived in Dubai with minutes to spare for our connection and I genuinely thought that we’d miss it.  However I reckoned without a very wonderful if incredibly officious man from Emirates Airline.  He marshaled those of us with the Islamabad connection and positively frogmarched us through the airport, insisting that security open up more lanes to get us through, and onto the aeroplane which was waiting for us.  Phew.

 The last obstacle to negotiate was Islamabad airport.  Yikes, it was busy.  People were 5 deep at the baggage carousel and, I’m sad to report, no one seemed to be obeying the courtesy of standing behind the yellow line.  Tsk. Sons 1 and 2 and I crashed with our bags onto the floor by a pillar whilst my husband headed into the 5 people deep fray to retrieve our bags. A chap in a very jolly uniform with lots of dangly bits then tried to get me to move both (exhausted and emotional) boys and all our hand luggage a metre away from where we were as he claimed that we were blocking the corridor. We weren’t blocking anything and there was no way I was going to move anywhere, so each time he tried to get us to move I smiled broadly, nodded vigorously to agree with everything he said and didn’t budge an inch. It worked and eventually he went away. 

Miraculously, all baggage, pushchairs, car seats and children made it through the journey. I had 9/10 of a pack of each size of nappy left and at least 5 bottles of water. The spare clothes hadn’t been touched. I think we can count that a success.


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