Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Trip stress, stress trippin’

People keep asking me, “are you getting so excited?  It’s coming up so soon!”




I’m in full freakout mode because, yes, it is coming soon.  Less-than-two-weeks soon.


On the 21st, I will take my life in my hands and fly half way around the world with my husband and two children.  I’ll give you a moment while that sinks in: half way around the world; two children.


We’re heading to France, to Nantes, the city in which I was a student and in which I taught conversational English to delinquent high school students (okay, okay, they weren’t actual delinquents, but they were sometimes quite bratty.  It’s all right, though – I taught them all the American swear words I could think of and they decided I wasn’t a complete waste of their time).  I lived with a family as a student there and they became like a second family to me.  When I was placed in Nantes to teach, imagine my surprise to be living in the school dorms a ten-minute walk from my old host family!  They came to my wedding, now we are going to their daughter’s.  Other than Sarah, she’s the closest thing to a sister I’ve got, and I dearly love her.


Here is Nantes:




To get there, we must take two planes and a train.  Let’s talk about the asinine way that “rewards” travel works for a minute.


Now, I knew that this wedding was going to happen sometime.  Solene started dating Chris in 2005 or 2006 (Leland was in Europe at the time, which is how I know this).  I think we’ve been saving air miles from our Alaska Air credit card since about 2007 in anticipation of this trip.  Fact: there are direct flights from Seattle to Paris on several carriers.  Fact: these carriers are said to be “partners” with Alaska Air for rewards miles.  Fact: a person cannot fly direct from Seattle to Paris with rewards miles. 


It seems the Delta has the lock on all rewards partnerships flying direct from Seattle to Paris.  In order to avoid a long flight with a stop in New York (or other points east), we have to fly out of San Francisco.  Even less conveniently, we had a choice between staying overnight in Paris before our flight back to the States or staying overnight in San Francisco because the train/flight combinations would not work outside of those two options.  We chose an overnight in San Francisco.


So, yeah, several hours in airports and on planes and then a couple hours in the train station in France and then three more hours on a train to get to our destination.  I’m a little bit stressed.


There’s only so much I can do, outside of packing very, very well, to prepare for this trip.  There are two movies loaded on the ipod (Toy Story 3 and Lion King) as well as hours of kids’ songs.  I have snacks and bribe candy.  The Seattle airport has a kid zone, kind of an indoor playground.  We’re flying at night (sort of), so I’m hoping we’ll all catch a few zzz in the air.  I even bought disposable diapers.


Clearly, we really want to go on this trip.  Oh, sure, we could have planned to leave the kids with Grandmas and Grandpas, but I think that might have been more than they (the grandparents and the kids both) could handle, and Jamie is still nursing.  He’s not ready to wean, and I’m not ready for him to wean, so that seals that deal.  And Charles, well, I just love him.  Let’s just say that I might be overestimating how much my French family wants to meet my kids, but I’m using that as the main excuse to keep from missing them for ten days.


Do any of you have any advice for me?  Other than imbibing in copious quantities of alcohol as soon as we make it through this mess?  I’m confident that, my atrophied French language skills notwithstanding, the stay in Nantes will be a blast.  I figure that if I keep my expectations really, really low about the trip there, not only can it not be worse than my imagination, but also I’m just begging to be pleasantly surprised.


Chris and Solene said...

I can't put in words how happy we are that you decided to come with all your family.

I know how stressful travelling with children is, in particular on a 1:1 child to adult ratio. After many a trip with Batiste we're still alive and although stress can be high we still do it on a regular basis. Maybe we're just a bit masochistic...

There will be alcohol on arrival if you need or a croissant/pain au chocolat depending on which mood you're in.

Amelia said...

I'm just as likely to need a bath!

Tony said...


I thought we were going to France!
**I couldn't resist**

Sylvie said...

Been there, done that :-) And planning to do it again next summer with all 4 boys in tow(after we take a second mortgage on the house to pay for the flight).
San Francisco might actually be a good thing. The boys are going too excited to sleep at first. So you might get to catch some zzz on that second flight after they are finally tired enough.
The jetlag is going to be a killer when you arrive, for you and for them but you should be better after the second day if you force yourself to not take a nap (except on that train ride) and go to bed at local time.
One thing that was always helpful to me was my mom buying some diapers (couches) and wipes (lingettes) in advance so I did not have to pack half of the suitcases with diapers or to do a first thing in the morning run to the store the next day to get some. Maybe your friends can help you with that...The sizes are a little different so go with the weight indication.
Everything is going to be fine! And you will be surprise to see how fast your French is coming back. Have fun and bon voyage!!

Leland said...

Don't throw a brick straight up into the air.