Friday, February 15, 2013


I was talking with a friend yesterday about traveling with kids. He happens to be headed on vacation this weekend since his boys are off next week from school.  It got me to thinking about past vacations with the boys... Uy yuy yuy!

We were fortunate enough, when the kids were younger to go on a yearly vacation.  Mike worked out of town all week and took two flights back and forth which meant he racked up the frequent flyer miles.  Cha-ching!  We typically had enough saved for a couple free tickets a year so the expense of the flights was not horrible.  Four tickets anywhere, in any economy was really hard to digest - especially with the added expense of food and a hotel and car rental - and then how about the excursions or theme park entry fees???!!!  UGH.  There are so many other things to spend the money on!  I remember we used to sit and debate if we should actually spend the money and go or not.... From where I sit now?  I say GO! I also say, THANK GOD WE DID!

Yes, we did go somewhere every single year - up until the time when the kids schedules didn't jive anymore - once they got busy with sports obligations, jobs and college visits - we always took a "time out" for some rest and relaxation.

But was it really relaxing???? Nope.  Not all the time.  But it was memorable!  My friend got me to thinking about one certain trip.  I thought I'd share...
So, to set the stage visually here goes.  Mike was working in Henderson, Nevada on a work related project.  The nearest airport was Las Vegas.  Sounded to me like a fabulous vacation, a nice break to go somewhere warm with the kids.  It also gave Mike a break from flying all that way home for once.  He was flying to and from NV weekly and for anyone who lives in the Capital Region, it's a known fact that there are very few places to fly to directly from Albany.  It's necessary to take at least two flights unless the trip is to a major hub like Charlotte, Atlanta, Philly or Detroit (for the most part).
So, this one week we made these wonderful plans for me to fly to Las Vegas with Jeremy and Chris and Mike would meet us at the hotel where he was staying and it would be fabulous and relaxing and just oh so wonderful!  Well, in actuality it really WAS a lot of fun once we got there but it was the in between stuff that was soooooo stressful!  When I met Mike upon arrival I swear I threw Christopher at him and ran screaming for the bar.

The flight was the problem.  Who knew Chris had issues with cabin pressure?  I learned quickly.  Not pretty... oh no, whoever happened to be in front and back of us was really unhappy.  I was the dreaded passenger nobody wants around them.  I was on the plane alone with the boys, I hadn't expected for there to be flight problems and I wasn't prepared.

I had taken the boys many places by myself while Mike was working.  I had no problem with flying.  If anything I could give them all the attention they needed because I wasn't driving and I was able to focus on their needs fully.  Jeremy?  No problem.  He was reasonable and I could talk to him about keeping his feet down and not pushing on the seat in front of him or flipping the food tray up and down so it annoyed the passenger in front of us.  He was older by almost three years of course so there was definitely a differnce in what was expected of the boys when out in public.  Jeremy was no problem, a little gentleman and a conversationalist with most people around him.  He was curious and observant plus he loved the flight TV so he was entertained.
Chris was younger, needed constant attention and absolutely did not want any part of being seatbelted for the duration of the flight.  Chris wanted to roam the aisle, which was the only place there was other than the bathroom... I have never sweat so profusely in my life.  The trip to Las Vegas was the longest one I have ever flown.  I thought I would blow a gasket and cry my eyes out.  My nerves were shot by the time we got to the hotel and I never thought I'd calm down.  

I was a combination of frustrated, humiliated, embarrassed, exhausted, angry and who knows what else.  I remember it after all these years!  It was a real doozy of a trip.
Jeremy was probably six which means Chris was three.  What was I thinking to take them across the country myself?  I guess I hadn't expected a tough trip plus the dry desert heat sounded great and to give Mike a travel break was good too.  It was memorable.

I know I don't remember all the details, and I'm sure after telling the story so many times over the years I have embellished a bit but the gist of it is right on the money...

The taxi picked the three of us up at home so we could literally be dropped off at the entry of the airport and check our luggage without hauling it in to the terminal.  No problem, it all went fine.  Jeremy rolled his little bag along and I had one for me and Chris.  Perfect.  The trouble was, I left their backpack in the taxi and didn't realize.  Big trouble.  That backpack had all of their in-flight toys and treats so I could keep them occupied.  Oh dear God.
By the time I realized it the taxi was gone and we had to hurry to the gate (of course who is ever early when traveling with kids???).  We had no choice but to go without.  What did I have in my purse?  One package of plain M&M's...
Have you even played with M&M's without eating them?  My boys have!  I swear I entertained them for the entire first flight by making them sort them by color, line them up in rows, make the shape of a house, create a rainbow, a smiley face, etc.  We put the tray table down and played with those M&M's forever.  They were sticky and getting their colors all over our fingertips but I was desperate to keep them occupied, especially Chris!

I wouldn't let them eat the treats... not until I had exhausted every possible thing that could be done with an M&M.  You'll never look at them the same anymore probably!  Ha hah.  Well, it was quite an interesting trip.

I do recall the flight attendant was good to us.  I don't know if it was out of pity for me or if it was passenger complaints. I don't think it mattered to tell you the truth.  I was just glad she brought us those little wrapped cookies sometimes.   I also remember some sales guy for Kubota Tractors who was seated across the aisle from Jeremy, he had a tiny tractor in his briefcase and he gave it to us.  I don't think it was a toy necessarily; more like a keepsake to give to perspective customers after a sales pitch.  Didn't matter to me though, I was thrilled for the kids to have something to argue over besides eating the M&M's or Jeremy telling Chris he didn't line them up right or that he guessed a color was wrong when I asked if I was holding a red one or a yellow one...
 Oh my gosh, I'm getting a wave of body heat just sitting here thinking of that trip!
Did I mention that it really WAS a good time all in all?  It didn't stop us from heading out year after year beyond that and Chris still loved vacationing regardless of his ear aches.  The boys were a joy, even if they were a challenge.  I adore my boys :-)

Thank you for reading.


  1. An evening post!!! I was so surprised to see this. I love your vacation story. Felt as though I was on the plane with you!

    I have to say, I went 10 years without a vacation when my kids were younger. Single mom, limited income, no extravagances... but we found ways to be together and be happy. All my time at work was used for doctors visits; school outtings, babysitters days off... we make sacrifices.

    But once we were in the position, we started camping. I had so many fond memories camping as a child with my family so that's what we decided to do after Jimmy and I got married.

    The first trip we tried as a family was 2001, we borrowed my sister-in-laws pop up camper and went to Hither Hills Campground in Montauk, LI. Big mistake going the week before Memorial Day weekend! It was brutally cold, rained the entire 5 days and we ended up in a hotel by night 3 because everything we owned was soaked and wind whipped! Ally even fell in the ocean with all her winter clothing on! It was funny.

    Never went back there, which is a shame, I have such fond memories of that, but we have taken a vacation every since. Our favorite spot is Salisbury Beach, MA. I found it by accident! In fact, I love it so much, I'm going to the beach in Salisbury on Sunday for a little "me" time... It's 30 minutes from Ally's bagpipe band practice and I need to re-group and can't think of anyplace else to do that since I'll be out that way anyway.

    We got brave a few years ago after I had a health scare and we used a tax return to take the kids on a cruise. It was one of the most unbelievable family vacations! It was spur of the moment, right after my son's graduation from HVCC and on his 20th birthday, so off we went to celebrate a few good things. We had flying nightmares and because I literally had the 24/hour cruise line on speed dial, I think they were afraid to leave port until we got there! We arrived 15 minutes after the ship was supposed to leave port and they waited! Talk about sweating bullets and being a complete mess. My husband tells the story perfectly. I was happy go lucky when the travel started and by the time the airlines messed us up big time, I grew horns and was miserable. Fell asleep the first night of the cruise at dinner! Thankfully everyone else was tired so no one was disappointed.

    I'm sorry to say I don't have many younger vacation memories with my kids, because we just didn't go on vacations.

  2. I am flying for the first time next Friday with my daughter (17) & son (13) I am so nervous they may need to bring toys and M & M's for me to line up, lol. Thank you for continuing to share your stories with us. <3

  3. I don't take any medications regularly, but I need them to fly! I wonder what kinds of crazy pictures I would make with M&M's while on Ativan. ;-) I think that was very clever of you and I'm so impressed you managed to get that package to last a whole flight. And thank goodness for the kindness of tractor salesmen! So what I get from this post is you can't take it with you. Plan for the future but live in the now. And at the end of a crazy flight, comes a good vacation! Thanks for sharing.

  4. This post brought up so many traveling memories for me, especially when the kids were all umber the age of 5. When my kids were young we lived in Atlanta. We used to drive home to the capital region for 3 weeks in the summer. Oh the packing...I'd spend days packing everything we could possibly need. My husband would help drive us to his family in PA but then he would fy back and we'd be on our own traveling to NY and then all the way home by ourselves. I would endure afternoons of screaming, nursing while feeding the other kids at the pizza shop and frequent diaper changes all the way. It was exhausting. I'm also remembering the time I traveled with Ben (3) and Izzy (9 months) to Albany the week after Christmas. Our connecting flight got delayed. That is the most stressful thing for a mom of young kids. I remember we were all frantically pushing in line to get booked on another flight. The airline person picked me out of the crowd and served me first. I was so thankful. Hauling around diaper bags, snacks, toys always sent me into stress mode.
    I flew out to CA yesterday all by myself. What a treat! Packed in less than 20 minutes. Enjoyed my breakfast sandwich and coffee. I read my books. I felt so like me again! Guess what? I miss my kids though! I don't like traveling without them. I worry too much and of course there was about an hour of rough turbulence during my flight. i talk to you everyone around me. i am that annoying person on the flight that wants to connect. I almost offered to help a young mother hold her baby so she could use the bathroom. Too bad that we no longer trust each other to accept that kind of help.Thank you for sharing your boys with me! I love my kiddos too!! They are such a part of us to our deepest core!!

  5. Mrs. Stewart, You sound so much like my mom. That M&M thing? totally something she would do. My parents always say that I was the bad baby and my brother was a good one. They have stories that I would clear out the entire restaurant where we were eating because of my fussing and loud (personal) questions about other people and my impersonations. Sounds like Chris and I both, at a young age, had the charming quality of being able to annoy people in confined areas. WOOT!

    Thanks for your story. It brightened my morning. I'll think about Chris when I fly to Tennessee, Louisville, and Vanderbilt this week.
    (OH and for the record I promise I read yesterday! I was just running super behind--I always read before I get ready for school--- and commenting would be either rushed and a waste or get me in even more trouble with my mom ;)

    Keep sharing the stories! I love them.

  6. Regina,

    Loved today's post. I can totally relate to traveling with small children, although not by myself! My in-laws moved from Buffalo to Daytona Beach when my daughter was a baby. After my third son was born in 1993, they decided they were not traveling back to NY any longer because it was too much for them. That started many years of road trips to visit them. We traveled by car the first year in '94 only to breakdown in South Carolina, renting the last car available in the town, to head back on our way. We would go visit them in August because it would take us three days to drive down and three days to drive back. I swear you would just get one fed and changed and it was time for someone else to be hungry and need to use a bathroom...with the next one at least 60 miles away! My kids were great travelers when it came to being able to read, play video games, sleep and sometimes not pester each other. As the years went by the number of us traveling dwindled, as the kids got older and graduated from HS. I have many fond memories of hundreds of hours spent on the car rides to DB to visit my in-laws. I am thankful that my children were able to visit them so they could get to know their grandparents and spend some time with them each year! I miss those days and my in-laws! My last one will graduate this year and it will be odd not being tied to just school breaks for vacations!

    It's funny how you mentioned Chris having problems with cabin pressure. I haven't flown very many times in my life. But every time I've flown west, I had trouble with cabin pressure. When I stayed on the east coast, no problems!

    Thanks again for sharing. I'm sure many parents can relate!

    Hugs and peace

  7. I'm 25 and I'm someone that always worries about money. I still live at home and don't make a heck of a lot at my jobs. However, I still crave vacations. I'm going to Atlantic City for a few days next week while on vacation from work. I am planning a trip to Cedar Point at the end of June and a cruise in August (yes, a Carnival cruise even after what happened to the Triumph). Although I will worry about money the entire time on each trip, I will still have the time of my life. I crave those trips because I work hard all of the time and need the relaxation. To me, nothing is more relaxing than laying on the lido deck of a ship or laying on the beach. Sometimes rejuvenating in life is a more important way to spend your money than anything else.

  8. Traveling with you ones is tough but also rewarding in the same sense. I remember traveling to Florida when my oldest was about 1 and a half. The trip down and most of the trip itself was great. The last day we were there we attended a family members wedding. Well during the picture taking Brendan decided to find a berry and eat it. I tried to get it away from him but was unsuccessful. That was it. We went to a fancy restaurant for dinner and he decided to vomit on the table, he vomited all night so no sleep, and he also vomited the trip home. On the lay over flight I went to put clean clothes on him but he went through all of them. We arrived in cold and snowy Albany with him only in a onesie. Now we had contacted a doc in Florida explained the berry and were told it may make him sick. We get in the car and drive home he didn't vomit again. We did make the trip every year with all the kids and never had another experience like that. Thank you and God bless

  9. Well I don't think I will be traveling with my boys any time soon. My 5 year old has the smallest bladder ever and he is looking for a bathroom after a one hour trip. I will wait for my boys to get a little older before resuming our family trips. In the meantime, we will keep busy with local activities.