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Remember that time you went on a Contiki tour to Europe and had the most hazy, yet incredibly amazing time of your life?
Granted, your liver almost called it quits and broke up with you, and most mornings were spent recovering from too many shots of Ouzo. You probably don’t remember any of your trip, except for one thing – it was fucking awesome.
Yeah, don’t we all.
These days, pub crawls and hostel brawls have turned into endless trips to Disneyland and other amusement parks that all look the flipping same. You can probably name every single character that Disney has ever invented, and you’ve probably met Mickey Mouse in person so many times, that you probably wished you could just jiu jitsu kick the shit out of his eternally happy grin.
Welcome to the new dimension of holidays with kids. It’s a never-ending rollercoaster of joy and wanting to jump off a bridge.
PLANE RIDES WILL NEVER BE THE SAME
Okay – somebody tell me who quoted this? “It’s not the destination, but the journey that counts.” Mate, get fucked. You were clearly spared from traveling with kids.
Pre-kiddos, you arrive at the airport, beaming with joy and filled to the brim with excitement of the wonderful adventures that await. You eagerly make your way to the departure gate, hugging your loved ones goodbye as you embark on your virgin voyage.
Leisurely strolling down the duty free aisles, you test make-up samples and make your first holiday purchases.
When the plane hits cruising altitude, you knock yourself out with free economy class booze, because well, FREE BOOZE!
You put on your headphones blasting your favourite tunes because that crying baby in the front row just doesn’t seem to want to shut up.
Your back is turned on your child for less than a split whilst handing passports to the check-in lady, and your child has vanished into thin air. A million possibilities run through your mind of what has potentially happened to your spawn – you resort to the worst and have managed to convince yourself that he has been abducted by a child slave driver from Asia lurking at the airport. It’s a lost cause, he’s probably already halfway to Cambodia.
When you’ve finally calmed your distressed flaps – you manage to locate your rogue child and proceed to customs, farewelling your parents with tears streaming from your eyes. Not because you’ll miss them, but because there will be no one to pawn your kids off to.
The second you make it through customs, you charge towards the boarding gate, propelling your minions along – hoping and praying – that they don’t stop at the duty free and touch anything. Because you really don’t want to start your holiday having to pay for a smashed bottle of Tequila that you didn’t even have the chance to drink.
You’re so attuned to the sound of crying hysterics – it takes you 20 minutes before realising that the fellow Mum in the front row is struggling to deal. Attempting to think of ways to console her, all you can come up with is, “My dear – this too, shall pass.” Because that’s just what Mums say to each other when there really is no hope in sight.
When it’s your toddler’s turn to start chucking a fit, you contemplate dropping those sleeping tablets in your bag and letting your hubby deal with it.
Mum just K.O’d. Sorry, boys.
SUNBATHING BY THE POOL? DON’T EVEN.
After a long flight, you wake up in a king-sized hotel bed after a rejuvenating sleep and make your way down to the breakfast buffet. You sit back in your chair, hands wrapped around your cup of latté and smile tenderly at your partner. Life is marvelous.
The sun beckons – it’s time to make your way down to the water. You find a sunny spot to lay your towel on, and the rest of your morning is spent working on your vacay tan.
A dip in the pool is followed by an ice cold Pina Colada at the beach bar. Oh, look at that massage tent over there? Genius.
An hour later, you leave the tent with loose muscles and feelings of zen you have never felt before. A perfect time for a nap under the tropical afternoon sun. Bliss.
Your nocturnal kid wakes up you up at the crack of dawn. Disoriented and unsure of where you are or how you got there, it takes you a solid few minutes to realise that you’re actually on holiday.
You keep your minion company and watch Paw Patrol for an hour in the local language until you both fall asleep again.
Nekminnit, you jump out of bed and realise it’s 10am and the buffet breakfast you booked with your room is about to finish and your child has started throwing a fit in hunger. So you convince your husband to sneak down to the buffet with zip lock bags in search for leftovers to feed his famished family.
After scoffing down crumbs of the buffet, you spend another half hour trying to convince your toddler to put on pants and packing everyone’s swimming gear, because no one seems to possess any knowledge on how to get ready for the day.
The few hours of the day that you have left are spent applying and reapplying sunscreen on the kids. And by kids, I also mean your big man child. In turn, you forget to slip, slop and slap yourself because you’re too busy preventing your child and man child from turning into roasts – so you have now turned into a walking Mum on a spit whilst trying to save your children.
ROMANTIC DINNERS WILL CONSIST OF A THIRD WHEEL
Each meal in every city you visit is meticulously planned – Zomato and Yelp must be consulted with before you make the executive decision to eat anywhere. Ratings must be 4+ stars and the prerequisite for having a memorable dining experience must comprise of crowds spilling out of the restaurant’s entrance and having to queue for at least an hour.
A 5-course degustation is ordered with your other half, as you gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes whilst sipping on some fine Shiraz.
You call restaurants in advance, not for a booking – but to ensure that they have a plentiful supply of highchairs and walkways wide enough to shove your bulky ass pram through.
Top ratings my unwashed ass. The only criterion you have prior to visiting restaurants consists of food that is edible, and the inclusion of nuggets and fries on the kids’ menu.
Your meals are always eaten cold because most of your time is wasted making negotiations with your child to eat his damn plate of food. Why waste your money on a 3-Michelin star meal when everything tastes like ass when it’s cold anyway?
Oh, right, your spouse is at dinner too. Those loving pre-children gazes you used to give one another are placed with looks of scorn because he never seems fazed about your toddler’s picky eating habits. And you just want to knock him on the side of his head because he always gets to eat his food steamin’ hot. What a royal dickbag.
SIGHTSEEING? THAT IS A FOREIGN WORD TO ME.
A comprehensive list of must-see places is devised months before you depart for your trip. You spend weekends plotting them out on a map, trying to figure out how to tackle each one in the best logistical way.
Hours are spent at world renowned sights and historical monuments trying to get the perfect shot. You end up with 72 selfies taken from every angle under the sun of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and you finally manage to get the perfect snap holding it up like you’re fucking Hercules.
Using the one free hand you have in between scrubbing up the shitstorm that just came out of your child’s diaper and defending yourself from his wild, flailing legs – you manage to jot down a single place of interest you can fathom taking your family to without going ape shit.
It was an easy pick because 9/10 places are not child-friendly. Yes, you rank sights depending on what amenities and facilities they have for children.
Is there a baby change room nearby?
Does it have a lift?
What are the chances of losing my child?
Will I have to mow down people with my pram?
After 102 attempts at posing for a family photo in front of a world famous monument, you give up once and for all. Each one of your snaps either has you holding your child chucking a tanty, or frantically darting after him.
DON’T EXPECT TO RETURN WITH A SUITCASE FULL OF NEW CLOTHES
A full day of shopping must be planned for each city you visit because, after all, you need to return home with the latest catwalk trends in your suitcase.
Of course, shopping is classified as a form of exercise, so after a few hours of throwing your money at vendors in exchange for the latest threads, your poor feet are sore.
That foot massage you’ve been longing is calling. How convenient, because the mall you’re in just happens to have a massage parlour offering relaxing foot rubs to struggling shoppers who have had such a laborious time picking out new shoes.
You haven’t purchased a new pair of undies in five years, but your kiddos seem to be rocking the latest styles. You convince yourself that it’s socially acceptable to look like you just crawled out of a swamp, as long as your kids are looking on point, parenting goals are met.
Shopping has barely commenced as you hear a public service announcement being made in the department store calling out for the parents of a lost, hysterical child. You look next to you and notice that your child is no longer traipsing next to you.
Oh, FFS. It’s your child. Again.
Your hubby has fallen asleep on the couch he found outside and doesn’t have an inkling of a clue that the offspring you share is lost in a foreign country.
Traveling with kids is a whole new ball game, for better and for worse. I would love to hear some of your funny travel experiences with kids – do share!