I went to hell recently and I’d love to tell you how that particular adventure came about. I think it was September when I had a sudden epiphany. I’ve got holidays coming up. And I’m bloody exhausted. How relaxing and adventurous would it be if I went on holiday to Nice (YES the one in France) with my adorable child and spent my mid-year break relaxing on the beaches of Southern France instead of hanging around my house wearing tracksuit pants and watching crappy Wiggles DVD’s? Genius Fernandez. I’ve been to Nice before, it’s awesome so why bloody not was my attitude in a moment of insanity. I gave my credit card details to the lovely lady at Qantas and remember thinking, I have a beautiful little girl who is about to share the adventure of a lifetime with me. The best mother in the world. We just had to survive a 27+ hour plane trip without me becoming homicidal and all would be sweet.
Oh yea. And just some unsolicited advice for those contemplating taking their child or children on a long haul flight. I would avoid reading websites with the heading, “How to Fly Hassle-Free with Small Children” because quite frankly, it’s not going to happen. IT”S A BLOODY LIE YOU LIARS!!!
Rather than giving tips that may or may not be appropriate for your family’s situation I felt it might be more useful to relive MY trip, hour by hour, so you can see what’s it’s REALLY like to travel with a toddler.
PERTH TO SINGAPORE 5 HOURS
Hour 1 – Isabella had a good morning sleep so she is alert and interested in her surroundings. Flight crew are fantastic and refer to her as a little sweetie. She smiles back and says hello to passengers in surrounding seats. The crew have provided colouring in pencils, pencil case, paper and a small deck of cards for the kids onboard. I am relaxed.
Hour 2 – Food is served and Isabella indicates she doesn’t like it by pushing her plate off the tray-table as she reaches for my meal. I give her my food and she is happy. Her food is scattered on the floor and across the pillow I’d hoped to use. I am still relaxed. Our adventure is underway!
Hour 3 – First nappy change. It’s all over the inside of her pants and smells bad. I have spare clothes so no problem. The toilets are tiny she won’t lie down on the pull down change-table so we struggle vertically for ages while I clean her up. She continually opens and slams shut the syringe disposal box so I get cross and she starts to cry. Loudly. I did the first change and it went ok. I am pleased.
Hour 4 & 5 – Isabella is getting restless so I let her walk up and down the aisle talking to passengers. Some are kind enough to engage her for a few minutes and I use the opportunity to pick up her food from the floor and scrape it off my pillow. As we fly into Singapore I silently high five myself.
TRANSIT – 2 HOURS IN SINGAPORE
Our connecting terminal is 20 minutes away. Isabella runs like a maniac to every departure gate and is stopped by officials carrying guns. When cautioned for the fourth time by the military I become frazzled.
SINGAPORE TO LONDON 13 HOURS
Hour 8 – The crew provide colour pencils for the children and again, Isabella warmly greets all passengers and crew with a wave and a smiling hello. People from the Perth flight stop and tell me how angelic she is. I agree wholeheartedly and try not to look too smug. The man sitting next to us seems pleasant. I tell him I may need to get past him if Isabella requires the toilet and he is fine with that.
Hour 9 – Isabella needs the toilet and is very tired. She keeps throwing her colour pencils on the floor and screams when I don’t pick them up. Dinner service has commenced but Isabella smells so bad that I apologetically ask the man next to us if we may get past and I spend the next 30 mins near the toilet as we can’t get back to our seats. I am starving.
Hour 10 – Isabella wants more milk and begins crying hysterically but she won’t let me touch her and when I try she throws herself into the window and cries louder. The hysteria goes on for 40 mins before she falls into an exhausted asleep. I shovel down my dinner even though all I can smell is baby poo.
Hours 11 & 12 – Isabella sleeps and I try to do the same. Unfortunately this is not successful as I’m scared she’ll roll off the seat onto the floor thereby waking up. I’m exhausted.
Hour 13 – Isabella wakes up crying and soaked from all the milk she’s consumed so I am forced to wake up the man next to us so we can go to the toilet. Isabella won’t stop crying. I hate my life and my kid.
Hour 14 & 15 – Isabella is still crying. I am close to tears and want to get off the plane. I can’t take anymore.
Hour 16 – Isabella has stopped crying but wants to sit with the lady directly in front of us so she keeps insisting the man with her move. They are honeymooners who I sense are contemplating remaining childless. They try to ignore her but it’s hard as she’s standing on their feet.
Hour 17 & 18 – I am sleep-deprived, stressed and claustrophobic. Isabella fluctuates between clingy, teary, irritable and uncontrollable. I want to jump out of the plane.
Hour 19 – I keep my seatbelt tight so I don’t do anything that might harm myself or the passengers around me. I try to convince Isabella to walk up an down the aisle in the hope a childless couple may find her appealing and offer to take her off my hands. Forever.
Hour 20 – We arrive in Heathrow. I bend down to kiss the airport carpet and like an old person I have problems getting up. I still have to navigate from Terminal 3 to 5 before our 2 hour flight to Nice. I haven’t slept for 24 hours and am close to a breakdown. Isabella wants to be carried and as I have no pram this seems to only option but she weights a ton.
TRANSIT – 3 HOURS IN HEATHROW AIRPORT, LONDON
I am now almost catatonic. I want to crawl into bed and sleep for weeks. I am also constipated from eating random crap on the plane and I smell of sweat and baby poo. I’m thinking this holiday is the worst idea I’ve ever had. The only worse idea is the decision to have a kid. In fact, where is my kid? I almost lose Bella in Heathrow.
Hour 24 – We finally board the last leg of our trip. We are traveling with a multitude of rich looking people headed to Nice. They are relaxed and tanned and beautiful. We are haggard and teary and smell of shit. No-one wants to sit next to us on the plane.
Hour 25 – The British Airways hostess is extra pleasant when she finds out I’m in hell. “All the way from Perth with a little one BY YOURSELF!” she exclaims. When I ask her if she wants to stop and play with the little one for 10 mins she suddenly thinks the Captain is calling her. I didn’t hear him.
Hour 26 – If my nerves were guitar strings they would’ve made a high pitched twang sound and snapped by now. My eyelids can barely stay open and Isabella’s voice is like chalk down a blackboard to me. I need a holiday from my flight. Which means I need two holidays. But there’s only one. And right now it’s HELL.
27 HOURS – NICE FRANCE
We arrived. I survived. So did Bella. But honest to god those 27 hours felt like a lifetime. Would I do it again? Probably. And only if I could fly business class.
Thanks for reading!