Traveling is always an adventure. The adventures within have no bias towards stage of life, state of mind, or emotional condition. To the security guards and flight attendants, we’re just another traveler trying to make it through without anything buzzing or setting off any red flags.
I used to enjoy traveling. During college, I went with a small team to Nigeria for a few weeks. On the way back to the States, I happily took a sleep aid to beat jet lag before I landed. It worked beautifully.
These days, with 3 young ones in tow, sleep aids are a distant memory. Instead of blocking out the noises around me trying to catch some shut-eye, I’m trying to keep my kids from being those noises so others will stop giving me the stank eye!
If you’ve been doing this overseas life thing for a while, I’m sure you have some good stories. Things like running through those mile-long airports to catch the next flight; showing up to the airport to find out someone’s ticket didn’t get logged; lost luggage; delays for hours..or days; waking up kids in the middle of the night to catch the first of several flights in a day; those same young kids not sleeping more than a few winks in a ridiculously long amount of time; puke, fevers, and more; being separated from your family by several aisles with no one willing to switch…and so on. (All these are real-life for me!)
(I literally think this every time: look cute for the first glance from those we haven’t seen in years! But, reality strikes again. Maybe I’ll just wear pajamas this time!)
Let me share one of the most horrifying-then, funny-now stories:
The pre-story is too long to share, so the short of it is that I had our second baby in late August, when we were already supposed to be back in China. My husband was in a leadership position, so he had to go back one week after the baby was born. No biggie, right?! *Insert wide-eyed emoji here.*
After another month of recovery (ha, “recovery” with a toddler and newborn) and gathering of paperwork, we were ready to join my husband. My parents graciously accepted my desperate plea of accompanying this tired momma and two littles across the ocean. Bless their hearts.
Everyone wants a good night’s sleep before a 36-hour travel day. Sadly, the munchkins and I didn’t get it. The toddler was too scared to sleep by himself at our friend’s house, so he stayed awake until 1:30am. He finally crashed on one end of the couch, with the baby and me on the other end. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well. I was awake by 3:30 to get everything packed up and ready to go by 5. Not a great start.
Our first short flight was traumatic, as you can imagine. A toddler with so little sleep sees everything as a tragedy, right? Somehow, we managed and got a few minutes of sleep.
Then came the long 13-hour trek. Once boarded, I was horrified to realize none of us were sitting near each other. My mom was a few rows in front of me, my dad a few rows behind me. And all of us were in the middle seats. You know the weight that scenario carries!
All 3 of us begged our aisle-sitting seatmates to switch with one of us. But, who would?! I specifically remember the guy sitting next to me saying, “I booked this seat months ago. I’m not moving!” I eventually settled in, realizing it would be his loss in the end. He would have a baby and toddler passed over his head numerous times, the awkwardness of me nursing a kicking baby, and the wafts of poopy diapers being changed (because I can’t leave my toddler sitting by the window while I go change a diaper).
Honestly, the rest of the flight is kind of a blur. My parents hadn’t traveled that far before, so they did their best to help me while not getting air sick and trying to sleep a little. I do remember my toddler barely sleeping at all and feeding him any snack he wanted and allowing him to watch any show or play any game because, survival. I also remember my baby sleeping in the carrier almost the entire trek, which was a downright miracle since he had barely slept at all the first month of his life! The Father knew what sanity I had left at that point, and helping the baby sleep kept what little there was intact.
It was a blissful reunion with my husband once we walked off that plane. I’m sure I looked like one haggard lady, but it didn’t matter to him. We were all together again!
Every time we embark on a long trip, I spend a lot of time praying the week or so beforehand for my attitude specifically. It’s so easy for me to get angry when things don’t go the way I expected them to, annoyed at people who don’t seem to know what they’re doing, and frustrated with my kids who don’t really understand how to handle themselves while in such a big transition. I ask for grace upon grace, patience without needing to fully understand, and joy to share with others.
Just because it’s a tough travel day for me doesn’t mean I get to take a time-out from showing Jesus to everyone who can see.
What awful-then, funny-now travel stories do you have to share?
*Original source unknown. If you’re the artist, let us know! We’d love to credit you!
**Check out our Pinterest travel board as well as our friends’ board at Taking Route. There are some great tips for anyone, and a lot for those of us with kiddos as well! I’m definitely using some new ones for our trip in a few weeks!